Monday, September 6, 2010
Interview with Belle Sloane, Author of Sweet Charity
Belle has been a member of LERA (Land of Enchantment Romance Authors), the local RWA New Mexico chapter, since 1996. She says it was one of the two best writing decisions she ever made--the other being joining an incredible critique group. Belle describes her background as “an Army Brat who grew up moving back and forth between the Washington DC area and Germany.” She moved to Albuquerque after grad school.
Belle has been writing seriously since 1998. She also loves to cook (Julia Child is her idol), has a passion for jazz (Diana Krall is one of her favs) and also has a paper fetish. She loves card making and paper art. Of her hobby, she says, “When your main outlet for creativity takes months to complete, it’s nice to create something beautiful in 30 minutes.”
Q. Belle, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview for NM Romance Writers. Let’s start with your motivation as an author. What inspired you to write Sweet Charity?
I’d taken a break from rewrites of The Guardian, and my good buddy Tami Sinclaire suggested I write some spice. The LERA Rebecca contest was coming up and I decided to give it a go. I wrote the first 30 pages basing it loosely on the backdrop of the first book I wrote (which will remain in the garage forever) set in ABQ in the early 1900s. I loved the hero of that book, Dillon Ramsey, and was thrilled to give him another chance to come alive. Oh and it was released September 1st, by the way. Ha!
Q. Can you tell us the level of steam of the story (sweet, spicy, steamy, erotica)?
It’s erotic. Very hot.
Q. Do you have a blurb you’d like to share?
After the death of her parents, Charity Blythe finds herself trapped in a loveless arranged betrothal set up by her guardian. Her intended is a selfish, thoughtless man who sends her to a physician because he’s unhappy with how she responds to him when they attempt relations. Dillon Ramsey, MD helps her unlock the secrets of her body. Through that self awareness Charity has other realizations as well. Through her mouth watering interactions with Ramsey she finds her way back to the strong, assertive person she was before her parents’ accident.
Q. Very intriguing! Tell us a little about your main characters.
Charity grew up a spunky independent gal. When her parents were killed the year before, she was swallowed up by her grief, a shadow of her old self. She wants love and passion and forever after, but knows she has given them up for the practical arrangement made by her aunt, her guardian. Her aunt has tricked her into believing that is the only way to get her inheritance.
Dillon is the physician that her intended, Edwin, sends her to for consult, because of her perceived lack of responsiveness. He has avoided relationships since his fiancé left him at the altar two years ago. Once he meets Charity, he has to rethink that whole no more serious relationships thing.
Q. Describe the world or time period where the story takes place.
It takes place in Albuquerque 1910 when New Mexico was still a territory. Albuquerque had a lot going on back then. The population grew in leaps in the early 1900s because of all the people coming to NM for TB treatment.
Q. Were there any parts that were difficult to write?
Since I’m devoted to writing the kind of spice for readers who enjoy erotica, as well as women who don’t normally seek out this kind of stuff, I tried really hard to walk on the edge of really sexy without going over the top. I think that was my biggest challenge.
Q. Do you have a blog or web site related to Sweet Charity or your work?
I have a blog, it’s http://www.bellesbuzz.blogspot.com/. Since I’ve yet to dive into the whole website thing, I’m attempting to make my blog as much a website as possible. I have a Facebook page as well.
Q. Are there any reviews of Sweet Charity as yet?
I’ve been sending out tons of review requests but haven’t heard back yet. I’m excited to see them, whether they are positive or negative.
Q. I think the cover art for Sweet Charity is gorgeous. Can you tell us a little about the cover creation process and/or the cover artist? Did you have input into the design?
Thanks so much, I really lucked out. I think it’s perfect. When you sell to Red Sage, they request that you fill out two forms--one on bio stuff, excerpts, quotes, etc. The other one asks for information/ideas on what you’d like for your cover. It’s pretty neat. Writers don’t usually get much input on covers. I just love Cat Lovington’s cover for The Cowboy Way, so I made suggestions consistent with that type of image. The final cover is actually the third version. Every incarnation was sent to me to see what I thought of it, and if I had any suggestions.
Q. That’s wonderful they included you in the cover art creation process. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about Sweet Charity?
Along with all the spicy fantasy, I worked hard to instill the fun regular guy and gal experiences into the characters. I think that softens a lot of the intensity that many people associate with erotica.
Q: Is there a sequel/s is the works, or what’s your next project?
Sweet Charity is a stand alone. The one I’m working on now is set in Tombstone, AZ in the 1890s, in a bordello. I’m still working out some of the plot points, but I think this one will be longer than Charity. It’s a fun story, with some serious and surprising triumphs in the end. I love that.
Q. It sounds like you have a great follow-up story in the works! Can you tell us about your journey to get Sweet Charity published? You mentioned you got a request from a contest win but then had to hurry to finish the novel, is that right?
Well, as I said I’d written about 30 pages when Theresa Stevens, then of Red Sage, requested the full MS, through our Rebecca Contest. You can imagine--I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. But, I was determined to get the book to her in a reasonable amount of time. So, I wrote constantly. One weekend I wrote from 5:00 am to about 11:30 or 12:00 noon. It was the most incredible experience. The words just poured out of my head in an unending stream. I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. That’s never happened to me before. Sure hope it happens again. :) I finished the rough draft in a month, an amazing first for me. I sent it in, and about a month later I got an offer. It was a great feeling. Something I’d waited for, for over a decade.
Q. For other writers out there, please tell us a little about your publisher.
Red Sage Publishing, Inc. is a house that produces erotica only, in both eBook and paperback forms. It was established by Alexandria Kendall in 1994. The first anthology of their Secrets volumes was released in 1995. It’s a great company to work for. One the many things I appreciate about them is that when you email with a question, you hear back very quickly, within hours sometimes. If people want to know specifics about Red Sage, (passionate wisdom :) ) just email me at email@example.com
Q. Now tell us a little more about you. First of all, are you a pantser or plotter?
I used to be a panster all the way. But over the last five years I realize I’ve started writing the first 3 – 4 chapters then going back and working out a lot of story stuff before I go any farther. I guess I’m a combo.
Q. Where’s your favorite writing space—home office, kitchen table, Starbucks, library?
I have a writing space in the back of the dining room. In fact I occupy the whole back wall of the room, situated right next to a big brick fireplace. Very cozy.
Q. Any favorite TV shows or films (past or present) that inspire you?
I love romances, comedies and thrillers. But that’s not where I get my writing ideas. I get my inspiration from places. I know that probably sounds odd. I’m an incredibly visual person. I’ll drive by or visit a place, and have a day dream/fantasy about the people living there and what they are trying to accomplish or how they lived 100 years ago. Like the castle in the town where I grew up (Heidelberg, Germany) was the location of the first draft of the paranormal with Siren Audio Studios. I just started imagining this 300 year old (hot) wizard guy visiting the gardens at night, and wondering what would he strive for? What would be missing from his life? Once my imagination catches on to an idea, it’s off and running.
Q. Do you write to a soundtrack, household chaos, or do you prefer quiet to work?
I get up a 4:30 every morning and write in the dark, the only light coming from my computer screen. Complete silence. I started writing early in the morning back in the 90s when I decided to get serious. At that time I was a total night owl, and boy was that first month hard. Now, I look forward to it, I still have kids in school and a menagerie of critters. Early morning is the only time for peace, and minimal distractions in our house.
Q. Do you have an agent and how did you chose him/her?
No I don’t have an agent, but I guess it’s something I’ll need to do eventually. I’m a rebellious by nature, and the thought of having TWO people (editor, and an agent) telling me what to do is a bit overwhelming.