Just before my 13th birthday my parents moved house, which involved me changing schools. The new school was bigger than my previous and had two advantages – the first being it was mixed sex, and the second being the student-run library. I signed up to be a library almost immediately. I got a shiny badge and access to a roomful of books. If heaven’s not like that, then I don’t want in.
My librarian duties meant spending my lunch hour tidying and organising books, after which I could do whatever. I usually sat down in a corner with my packed lunch and a Sweet Valley High story. I could polish off both in about half an hour. I read everything in that library, but what I loved more than anything else was The Belgariad series by David Eddings.
Many, many years on and I still love the fantastic world Eddings created. Somewhere in my house is the book he wrote about doing that, which contains advice to aspiring authors. I bought it because I wanted to write something as epic, with princesses and knights and dragons. The first fiction I wrote, at about 15 was about a princess. I never finished that novel, never mind a stack of them.
Though I’m perfectly happy being a science fiction author now, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am had I not read The Belgariad and its sequel series The Mallorean. That desire to write something as epic, as in the vein of Tolkien only with less death, is the bedrock of who I am as an author.
Sorry for the late post today. Frankly, the weather’s been so nice, after being crappy for so long, my head is full of gardening and birdsong LOL! Thank goodness for auto-reminders, although I only just saw that too, having already been out with the dog and having drank a cup of tea sitting on the patio. Here’s just a little of what I did yesterday, after a trip to the plant store. So lovely to be in an apartment with good light again, and have plants indoors!
So, to get to the question of which author I’d like to be, well, that’s an interesting one. There are so many authors whose work I love and admire, some of whom have already been mentioned by others here, but there really isn’t any one I’d truly want to be, because then I couldn’t be me, and I’ve grown quite fond of my strange, quirky self (and it’s about damn time too, after all these years!). What I’d really love, though, are some of the attributes of other authors, kind of smooshed to fit my personality and voice.
I want the imaginations of Stephen King and Charles de Lint (to name just two of many!), the prolific abilities and business acumen of Nora Roberts or Maya Banks, the opportunity to write books that become classics, like JRR Tolkien–you know, stuff like that. But really, what I secretly dream of–although it won’t be a secret anymore after this–is the ability to create and sustain a character people come to love, like John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport in the Prey series. I love how Sandford makes the setting and people come alive, how Lucas has remained recognizable throughout the series but has also grown and changed, just like people really do. If you read the first book in the series and then read the last, it would be like seeing someone you haven’t seen in years but instantly recognize because they were memorable and, although time has brought changes, they’re still the same person. Another character like that is Harry Bosch, created by Michael Connolly, and yet another is Jack Reacher, in Lee Child’s immensely popular series.
Of course, characters like that are generally more suited for genres other than romance, but Nora Roberts did the same thing with her In Death stories, embraced wholeheartedly by romance readers, so there’s still hope for me! I’ll just keep plugging along here, hoping for the day a character rises up and says, “You know, I could be a series…” *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*
What are your favorite characters that have stood the test of time, and what is it you love about them?
Brace yourselves. I usually whine about how hard it is to answer some of the topic questions, right? Not this week.
Which writer in all the world did I secretly (or not so secretly) wish I could be? Easy. Andre Norton.
There are books by other authors that I wished I’d written. Several of Robin McKinley’s books fit that bill. So do some of Anne McCaffrey’s and Charles de Lint’s. And while I admire all kinds of writers and envy the ever-living heck out of their writing skill, Andre Norton is the one author I wanted to be. To this day, I still have this tiny voice in the back of my head urging me to live up to her example.
Andre Norton began publishing in the 1930s. At first, it was YA adventure and even a few westerns. But when that upstart, hack genre, science fiction, got started, she jumped in with both feet. She wrote and published over 70 years. By the time of her death in 2005, she had over 300 works published. SFWA inducted her into their hall of fame. She was awarded Grand Master of SF in 1983. in 1998, she won the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. All great stuff to aspire to.
Those are all the impressive, but ultimately dry facts about a woman whose books affected me deeply growing up. I suspect most of us remember being lonely from time to time. Especially as kids. Maybe the fact that I was born a complete and hopeless geek in a time before anyone even had a word for what was ‘wrong’ with me made it worse. But it was pretty common for the other kids to ditch me so they could go do whatever they were going to do without the odd duck in their midst. Yeah, yeah, here! A tiny violin. Let me play you the whining song of my people. It retrospect, it was a good thing. Turns out the neighborhood kids were larcenous. I grew up without a police record. And when I got left behind, I made up stories that occasionally involved their messy deaths.
Then one day, when it was my cousins and sister who ditched me, my aunt Betty pulled out a box of well loved paperback books. All by Andre Norton. She handed them to me. I started reading. And suddenly, I was reading stories about strong, determined women – often isolated, sometimes the last of their kind – always people who don’t belong anywhere, but who manage to carve out a sense of purpose and belonging.
I want to have the longevity in publishing and the story-telling skill that she had. I’d really like to be as prolific, but I have a long way to go on that. But most of all, I want my stories and my characters to have the kind of impact on someone that hers have had on me.
I’ve given up wanting to be Andre Norton. I’m happy being me and writing the stories I’m driven to write, but everything I write – maybe the fat that I write at all – is due to that first, dusty box of books that made me realize that strength doesn’t often come from running with the crowd, but in going it alone on your own path.
This blog cycle, we’re talking about the author we’ve always wanted to be. This is a hard one for me because there are a so many authors I I seriously admire. Picking one would be like trying to pick my favorite MANhandler pic. Can’t I just love them all? Okay, okay. Let me think…
It’s no secret that I love Diana Gabaldon with a crazy passion that probably alarmed her a little the first time I met her. I’m 6’1″ and a naturally exuberant person. She’s probably 5’3″ and incredibly soft-spoken and even a bit reserved. It’s impossible to be as tall as I am and not feel like I’m looming over such petite people. And then, when the conference coordinators have her seated to meet her fans, I have to either bend over to shake her hand or kneel in front of her. Of course I knelt. What did security think would happen? Yeesh. Anyway, Diana’s literary voice is rich and varied, and I’ve coveted the almost melodic “sound” of her storytelling since I read the first page of Outlander. I’d love to create the passion in readers that she’s cultivated over the last twenty years. I’d also like to find myself still writing after that long. Above all, I’d like to look back over the stories that will create my legacy and know I touched readers, gave them respite from the world’s demands if only for a while and helped them fall in love with my characters the way I have.
Another un-secret is my passion for absolutely anything written by Larissa Ione. When we started chatting on social media and privately, there was some very private Muppet-flailing and a few total fangirl moments. When she first emailed me? I may or may not have screamed, depending on your definition of “scream.” She’s been amazing to me, and I want to do the same for other authors who are finding their way through the difficult world of publishing. But back to the point of this paragraph — I’ve found that, the more I write, the harder it is for me to read. I can’t turn off my internal editor. It seems like I’m always rearranging scenes, catching typos, counting the “to be” verbs — all the things we authors aren’t supposed to do if we want to find success. With Larissa’s books, I get sucked into the vibrant world, the relationships, the (hawt) sex, the storylines. I admire her ability to write such clean, crisp stories. Her creativity is off the charts. The way she crafts her worlds and scenes engage every one of the readers senses. That, that, is what I want to look back and know I’ve done.
Finally? I have to be very frank and admit that I want to be me. What I spend my days doing is a total dream come true. There’s no way to describe the feeling of getting that first contract, landing a superstar agent, having your editor call you (insert your definition of “spastic” here), or finding out your book received an awesome review from Romantic Times magazine. All of these things and more have come to mean more to me than I can explain. I love what I do. I’m passionate about it. It’s everything I ever dreamed it would be. It’s also infinitely more difficult, unbelievably frustrating, guaranteed tear-inducing at times and worth every damn minute.
There’s no one author I want to be, but the two listed above are people whose talent, compassion and magic I admire and aspire to. If I could mash their skill together and mix it in a potion, I’d drink it right down. At the very least, I’d end up with a restraining order. At best? I’d be everything I want to be. Instead of scaring these two lovely ladies, I think I’ll just bust my ass and do my best to follow in their footsteps. It might take longer, but it’s the only way I want to get there. Plus I don’t have bail money. :D
Who are the authors that inspire you? If you could be any author in the world for a day and experience what it’s like to have their skill, who would it be?
OMG, I am supposed to narrow it down to a favourite scene?! No way. There are just too many. Instead I am going to share a few of my favourite authors and two books that always get me hot and bothered. When I’m grumpy, pissed off or generally not in a happy place I turn to certain books for comfort. My book copies are battered and dog-eared, showing the multiple reads they’ve been through (well, and the trip from the UK;). I love Nalini Singh, Maya Banks, Christine Warren or Ilona Andrews. If I want something more fantastical I turn to Lisa Shearin (so much fun, but the romance is only a subplot!).
But when I want sexy I usually end up with
Brianna Wyatt may be a victim of her father’s machinations, but one look is all it takes for Cole Masters and Tyler Cannon to offer her their own style of ménage a trois blackmail.
Brianna Wyatt’s father is blackmailing her into doing what he wants by threatening to send her brother to an institution. She would do anything to keep that from happening, including go along with his demented scheme of her getting pregnant by Cole Masters—a man who’s been rumored to share a woman with his best friend, and who leaves Brianna’s innocent senses in shambles.
Cole is sure he’s about to be blackmailed—why else would a man whore his daughter? But there’s something about her that neither Cole nor his best friend, Tyler Cannon, can deny. They want her, and don’t hesitate for a second on making their own offer. Her brother’s protection for her body.
When danger flirts with Brianna’s life, there is nothing they won’t do to keep her safe. Including listening to what their hearts are saying.
I love the story and Cole and Tyler are absolutely smoking! The romance develops quickly, but I can follow Brianna’s reasoning. And I love the twists and turns the author throws in.
The other book I keep coming back to is
Victoria Stark is an Imperial Navigations Pilot known among the sentient battleships as the Victorious Star-for sacrificing her captains to save her ships. Strong-willed and resourceful, she has never lost a ship she’s flown-and never serviced a captain she’s had. Captain Ravnos of the Mercenary dreadnaught Hellsbreath rules his crew with an iron will. First Officer Seht is a skeldhi prince whose specialty is erotic discipline. They’re on a mission, and in need of a nav-pilot. Kidnapped into service on the Hellsbreath, Victoria is caught between two very different men locked in their own private and erotic power struggle. To complete the mission and return to her duties as an Imperial Officer, Victoria must become Prince Seht’s rehkyt-a pet, literally and figuratively. Not allowed on the furniture and kept at the end of a leash, Victoria discovers that there are worse things than servicing your captain…
Holy moly, this book is hot! Ravnos is a dominant like no other and Seth, an alien, has an addition that makes the sex that extra delicious. However, the stories may not be for everyone. There is a touch of non-con in both this book and even more so in the sequel Fallen Star. At first I struggled a little bit with this aspect, but the author is skilled enough to keep you glued to the page.
If you enjoy scorching hot menage stories both of these will work for you. Let’s just say they always do for me;).
Tina Christopher-Sexy Steampunk & Sensuous Sci-Fi
I’m in the business of reading and writing tons of love scenes and one of the favorite ones I’ve ever come across would have to be the first love scene between Teyla and Logan in The Pleasure Girl – Book 1 of my Desperadoes series (Siren Bookstrand).
Teyla is a pleasure girl in a post-catastrophic world where electricity has been knocked out and the world’s climate has gotten colder. In order to survive women do things they’d never ordinarily do. Logan has come to Teyla’s secluded farmhouse looking for a warm bed and a sexy lover for himself and two of his friends. He plans on being with her alone for one night before his friends arrive.
Here’s a snippet of a prelude to a love scene that some readers have told me they loved because it was unique because of the hero’s request of wanting to be shaved…down there. LOL
“Do you have a special man in your life?” The question erupted from the bathroom, rocking her world.
“Excuse me?” she called out, wondering exactly what he meant by that question.
“A boyfriend? Husband? Someone you’re dating?”
“Good. I prefer a woman who is available.”
Teyla blinked in astonishment. Odd comment coming from a guy who wanted to share her with two other guys. Three guys and her? Oh, lord, she’d better not think about it.
“Do you do this often?” she blurted, instantly regretting asking the question, realizing it was none of her business. But it was the first thing that popped into her mind, and when she was nervous, she did have the tendency to say stupid things.
He appeared at the doorway, shaving utensils and a couple of facecloths laid out on a folded towel in his hand. That damned bottle and two glasses clutched in his other hand.
He was smiling at her. That hot, sexy shadow made him look both dangerous and erotic at the same time. He wore that same crooked smile as when he’d caught her watching him at the window earlier. The smile made the sides of his eyes crinkle, and she noticed tiny laugh lines at the corners of his mouth also. The knowledge that he appeared to be used to laughing made her feel so much better. Safer, too.
“Why do you ask?” he asked. “Are you jealous already?”
His sense of humor was a definite asset.
“Maybe,” she teased, feeling some of the tension ease out of her shoulders.
He strolled to her dresser with the mirror and placed the glasses and the bottle, which she noted as whiskey, and the utensils and towel down beside her pitcher.
“Before we begin, I want you to shave me,” he said softly as he prepared the items, laying them out on the dresser.
When he finished, he looked at her, and his intense gaze made her catch her breath. She didn’t want him to lose that erotic-looking five o’clock shadow. It made him look so sexy and dangerous. The look excited her. But he was paying her. If he wanted a shave, so be it.
She made a move to stand, but he ordered her to remain sitting as he whipped up the lather. When it was a frothy cream, he turned to her, and to her surprise, his hand fell to the stud on his jeans.
Nervousness fluttered through her again. Gosh, she thought she would have a few minutes more before they had sex. Or did he want her to shave him while they were having sex? Lordy, now that would be interesting.
“I…I thought you wanted a shave?”
Her eyes latched onto his fingers as he unzipped.
She swallowed as he lowered his jeans. His package pressed boldly against his white briefs. Definitely big. Very big. Oh boy. Oh boy. Dr. Liz, girl, what have you gotten me into?
“I want you to shave me down here,” he said and stroked the outline of his big erection.
Her eyes widened at his words.
Down there? Oh my God.
“I’ll pass you the items. I want you to just sit right where you are.” His voice had gone deeper, hoarser. His eyes darker. They glistened with fire. His body scent, strong and dominant, whispered along her nerve endings, making her very aware of her sexuality. Very aware of him.
“Pull down my underwear. So we can get started.”
Both their breaths shot through the silent air like rockets, and her fingers trembled as she did as he asked. His flesh felt scorching hot to her touch as she slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of his briefs. Tugging, she inhaled sharply as…
Here’s a bit more as the scene continues a couple of paragraphs later…
Anxiety almost overwhelmed her as she began to shave him, and she found herself scrambling for something to say. But what did one say while shaving a man in such an intimate area on his body?
“Have you done this before?” he asked, his voice sounding strangled, as if he were maybe afraid? Well, maybe he should have asked before she’d gotten started.
“It’s a little late to be asking that question, isn’t it?” She couldn’t help but laugh.
“I hope not,” he retorted, amusement lacing his voice. There was that humor again. She smiled and lifted her gaze from his magnificent size to peer up at his face. She shouldn’t have looked up because his eyes were so dark with desire she could barely stand the spear of need bursting inside her lower belly.
The tips of his luscious lips tilted upward again and his smile zeroed in on her like a heat-seeking missile. Suddenly she just wanted to be swept away into his strong arms. To be held. To be taken by him.
Oh, boy. He was a client, for God’s sake! Becoming emotionally involved, even thinking emotional things was taboo! Men looked at her like an object. Nothing more. She shouldn’t want to have Logan holding her and making love to her. This is just sex, remember that, Teyla.
She continued with the shave, going slowly and carefully and keeping her mouth shut. Thankfully, he said no more, and when she finished, she wiped him with the wet face cloth he handed her. A couple of rinses later, he was as clean as a newborn.
“I assume you wish to supply the condoms?” he asked after he returned the shaving items to the nearby dresser. She nodded and pointed to the night table beside the bed.
“In there. Pick your size.” He slid the drawer open and skimmed the several boxes with his fingertips. Obviously, he knew the drill with pleasure girls. Most preferred to supply the condoms. She was one of them.
Condoms were expensive, just like everything else these days, but well worth the expense to ensure her condoms were fresh and hadn’t been tampered with or inadvertently damaged. Men tended to keep them folded in wallets or in areas where tiny holes were inadvertently poked into the protection. The last thing she needed was a sexually transmitted disease or a baby without a dad.
He lifted out a box of condoms, opened it, but didn’t take any out.
“Before we begin, let’s get a little more acquainted. You’ve touched me and seen some of me. Now it’s my turn. Let your breasts free.”
To her surprise, she creamed at his instruction. She liked the expectant look on his face, and for some odd reason, he didn’t make her feel like she was dirty as most of her clients did. He didn’t make her feel like an object. He just made her feel kind of sexy and shy.
Her fingers trembled as she reached for the small, delicate buttons on the negligee. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he watched…
I hoped you enjoyed the excerpts to the prelude to one of my favorite love scenes.
More info on The Pleasure Girl .
I’m having a difficult time thinking of my favorite sex scene I’ve ever read. I don’t read many romance novels, mostly because when I get the chance to read, it’s usually a murder mystery, and well, sex and romance take second to the plot. Sex can be implied, and if the writer takes the reader into the bedroom, it’s for a few paragraphs, not pages.
I know…that’s not what you want to hear from a writer that pens m/m romance. I write hot scenes in my books, but it’s not where my heart lies – it’s in the characterization and plotting.
I like sexual tension, but there are some scenes that are damn sexy when it’s just sex and eventually the relationship moves to something more meaningful. Some authors are just really good at writing sex scenes. They instinctively know how to hit all the emotions and bring in the senses without overdoing it with purple prose (Which I’ve been accused of when writing one of my first sex scenes! Since then, I’ve tried to tone it down : )
I once took a class in writing sexual tension, and the instructor talked about the twelve stages of intimacy:
- Eye to Body
- Eye to Eye
- Voice to Voice
- Hand to Hand
- Arm to Shoulder
- Arm to Waist
- Mouth to Mouth
- Hand to Head
- Hand to Body
- Mouth to Breast (or nipples in the case of m/m)
- Hand to Genital
- Genital to Genital
It doesn’t matter if it’s a man and woman, woman and woman or man and man – intimacy is intimacy and these steps are the same for everyone. One of my favorite sex scenes is from an older m/m romance by J.B. McDonald – In the Rough. Rick has always been in love with Jay, but Jay doesn’t have his act together, and Rick believes he’s not the right person for his friend. The sex between them is achingly hot because of how Rick feels. It’s also wonderful to watch Jay change his perception of Rick and admit how much he loves him.
For archangel Razi-el, he had no choice. He would break God’s commandment again if it were to save Uri-el from a demon’s talons. Yet even God’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. No longer Razi-el, he is now Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.
When a Protector kills an angel, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uri-el to capture the killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. He knows better than to go after forbidden fruit. Refusing to give in to temptation, he ignores his body’s tempestuous arousal for Uri-el until a heated argument turns his blood into molten lust.
As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to make a choice between life and death if he is to save Uri-el again.