Today I am honored to be chatting with my talented friend Shawna Moore about her latest erotica book, published in the Exotika line from Ellora's Cave. I met Shawna at a local writers conference a few years ago. We struck up a conversation and have been friends ever since. Her writing sizzles, steams and could even spontaneously combust at times. You will see what I mean in a moment.
Since childhood, Shawna Moore has delighted in creating fantasy worlds and fictional characters. Her first skit was performed before an audience of stuffed animals and dolls in her parent's living room. Shawna portrayed all four of the characters. In junior and senior high, she served as Editor and Features Editor of the schools' newspapers. After working in the medical field in a variety of capacities for 15 years, she realized one of her fondest dreams in 2001 and embarked on a full-time writing career with the blessing of her real-life hero. Over the past six years she's written multiple manuscripts including single-title contemporary and historical romances, novellas, short stories, erotic romances, erotica and women's fiction. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, taking long walks in her neighborhood, shopping, listening to the music of the Beatles, keeping in touch with friends, and, most of all, spending time with the man of her romantic dreams. Her publishers include Ellora's Cave, Triskelion Publishing and Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.
Please tell us about Helle in Heels.
Helle Hawthorn is a woman born of the Devil and a mortal woman-who-went-to-Hell. Though Helle possesses her father's sexual charm and good looks, she was born with her mother's conscience. Most women will relate to HELLE IN HEELS since this story taps into the feminine tendency for caring/nuturing and self-sacrifice. It also demonstrates how we can dare slaying our sexual demons and finding fulfillment in a variety of ways. Helle is dealt an ultimate blow, and she is forced to leave behind her otherworldly powers and true love in order to save Earth from Satan's wrath. While she knows that dealing with the Devil always involves a crooked deck, she demonstrates keen intelligence and unflagging determination when escaping a hellish situation that's getting hotter with each passing moment. Though Helle is quite an adventurous sort and very much a sexual being, she doesn't hesitate putting another's needs before her own when a situation warrants. All the same, Helle tells her one lover that she's, "Your mother's worst nightmare and your daddy's wettest dream." Always sassy and savvy, she never forgets the sexy Greek who brought her the most love and orgasms. Menlikus, the story's hero, shows how far he will go and how much he will risk to reunite with the woman of his wildest and most romantic dreams. It's a tale of personal loss for the gain of the masses. Taking chances to bring peace and betterment to your own life and the lives of others. For readers who enjoy explicit sexual content, HELLE IN HEELS keeps the hellfires burning. It blends paranormal elements with white-hot sex and an edgy, sassy tone and brings this work to Ellora's Cave's new Exotika line.
How creative and not to mention hot! What is your writing process or method?
For at least five days a week, for 8-10 hours (sometimes more), I write, edit, research, and work on the promotional aspect of my career. My work area is always organized. Clutter cripples my creativity and productivity. That bit carries over from the days when I worked in and managed medical offices. I plot each novel, novella or short story in advance, always allowing for spontaneity in the creative process and for additional scenes. I love those surprises dealt by characters as they guide the story toward reaching their goals, defeating the demons (inner ones and those posing as villains), and overcoming conflict. Many times scenes are discarded or placed somewhere else in the story. But I don't cleave to words even though I've spent time putting them on paper or on a screen. Words aren't that precious they can't be replaced by others or left out if they hold no meaning. Sometimes I will write the entire first draft without editing the previous days' and weeks' work. Other times, I will start each writing day by proofing what I'd written the day before. I research as I go, unless I'm writing an historical romance. When this is the case, I do most of the research and set up special files before starting the story. I allow nothing short of a family emergency or life-threatening situation to interrupt my writing time. But I buffer in breaks each day where I can check e-mails, tend to a less-demanding task, etc. Of course, even the best laid plans go astray some days. As often as possible, I try rewarding myself for a good day of writing. Many times this is simply by indulging in a bit of chocolate or stealing an extra kiss from my real-life hero (but he never guards his kisses very closely anyway).
What element of story creation is your favorite? (Characters, settings, plots, conflict, sexual tension, etc.?)
Ooh, this is a tough question since I love all of these aspects :) I'm particularly fond of creating passages of dialogue and steeping stories in sexual tension. I've always been a keen observer of those around me. How couples respond to each other verbally and physically. Some of my positions in the medical field relied upon these observation and listening skills. I enjoy fast-paced books and love not only the action sequences but also the verbal exchanges among the story's characters. When they start talking, the stories really come alive for me. I'm right there, in the thick of the scene. My characters vocalize their parts quite clearly, and I transcribe their conversations. As for sexual tension, I've always loved the "dance" between a couple. The static that builds in a delicious way when they aren't quite certain of the attraction but are certainly interested in finding out more about each other. The gliding of fingertips over a forearm to brush away water droplets. A furtive glance filled with the promise of something more. Feeding each other a ripe berry drenched in dark chocolate. Raising a glass to toast what is yet to come.
Characterization would also rank high on my list of favorites in the writing process. Creating these fictional people from a composite of various personality traits and quirks is a joy. And I love quirky characters best. All of the women's fiction novels I've written contain at least one quirky character. Kick-ass heroines are another character type I enjoy reading about and creating.
When it comes to conflict, I love dealing my characters lots of dilemmas. And I try keeping those dilemmas as believable as possible. Although I'm happily married, I harken back to disasters from my dating days when plotting the romance portion. While romance fiction isn't reality, I'm a firm believer that I must personally experience the more intimate portions of my erotic fiction works in order that they ring truest to readers.
Settings allow such myriad possibilities. Sometimes the setting increases the tension. Sometimes it lends itself to the naughtiness of the plot and characters. It must always find the reader living the story vicariously or I've missed the mark. My setting research has often yielded future vacation destinations. If possible, I like to visit the places where I set my stories. Often the budget and time constraints don't allow for this type of research so I check out travel magazines, AAA literature, and online sites for details about climate, landmarks, flora, fauna, etc.
What do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
Publishing is as much about business as it is about creativity. And getting ever more so with each passing day. After embarking on a full-time writing career, I soon learned I had to budget hours for working on promotional ideas including newsletters, chats, online lists, designing of promo literature, setting up book signings, meeting booksellers, etc. Also, getting published doesn't mean you'll stay published. The rejections still arrive. Editors change houses. Publishers' needs and focuses change. More authors are vying for fewer spots on the shelves and on established e-publishers lists. But it's a learning and adapting process, and I'm nothing if not tenacious and publishing-goal-oriented. In another vein, my creativity is sometimes tempted to take vacations without giving me advance notice. I buffer in time for this although it's far from an exacting science. Though there are harsh realities in publishing, it's a career that has brought me the utmost joy. I wouldn't trade my writing career for any other career.
Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Remain true to your author voice but remain open to editorial input once published. Seek the opinions of your friends--published and unpublished--and let them read your work. Learn to balance writing what you love with what is selling. Don't rush in and try to write to market if that isn't the fiction of your reading preferences or voice. Write something every day, no matter how much or how little. Reward yourself for those good writing days with a pampering session or simply by curling up with a good book. Realize there will be bad days. Days when the words won't come as you'd like. Or they'll come and come out all wrong. But at least you've written something and it can later be edited. Cherish your author friends for they may become some of the most precious people in your life. Mine have. Realize that life will take you away from your writing from time to time, but don't become distracted by the mundane. Keep your focus on your writing goals. Write down those goals if necessary and do your best at reaching them--both long-term and short-term. If you find they're proving impossible, revise accordingly. Make the goals realistic. Dare to dream about achieving a certain level of greatness in life and in your writing career. Strive to make those dreams become reality. Always make time for your loved ones and for yourself. A neglected writer is an unhappy one, and this will show in the writing. Live life to the fullest. Cherish your writing. Realize your process may change, but above all, protect your process.
Thanks you so much, Shawna, for being an interviewed guest here! To to read more about Shawna's books or to buy them, please visit her website at http://www.grant-moore.com/ .