Guest Interview - Portia Da Costa
One of the first erotic novels I ever read was Entertaining Mr. Stone by Portia Da Costa. I loved it! It was so fresh and different from what I had been reading – and hot?? OMG! I have to admit that the first fan letter I ever wrote to an author was to Portia after I finished that book. I’m so pleased to now be able to call her a friend of mine and to invite her to talk with us at Fierce Romance.
Portia, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! Very nice to be here at Fierce Romance. I'm Portia Da Costa and I've been writing romance, erotic romance and erotica for around 25 years now, 20 of those years as a published author. I've had about 30 books and novellas published for a variety of publishers and under quite a few different pseudonyms, as well as over a hundred short stories in magazines and anthologies. I'm best known, I think, for the books I wrote for Virgin Black Lace, but I'm now loving being an author for Samhain Publishing, Spice Briefs, and in 2012, Harlequin Spice. I've mainly written contemporary set stories, but I've also written a few with paranormal themes, and now I'm writing historicals too.
When I'm not writing, I love to watch television - lots of television! - and naturally, I'm a voracious reader too. I live in West Yorkshire, in the UK, with my long-suffering husband and my adored and adorable cats.
Speaking of television, I know you and I are both huge Simon Baker fans! I’m excited that we now write for the same publisher. Tell us about your latest book.
FAR FROM PERFECT is my first title for Samhain Publishing and I'm absolutely thrilled to be published by them. It's a lightish and fairly sensual contemporary romance, that's category length, and "category" in tone and storyline. I've been working on FAR FROM PERFECT on and off for quite a few years actually, but the moment's never been right to publish it, because I've always been so busy with my more erotic writing, and my commitments to various publishers. I never felt I had the time to do the book real justice. But recently, it *did* feel like the right time to complete it and hone it and polish it to the best of my ability, and the work paid off when I submitted it to Samhain and they accepted it.
FAR FROM PERFECT is a blend of several of my most loved romance themes. The hero and heroine have known each other since Anna, the heroine's, childhood, so that makes it a kind of "friends to lovers" story. The twists of the plot means that they've shared passion once already, but even though the experience was blissful, the aftermath was an emotional disaster, and the two have been estranged for several years as the book opens. However, Nick, the glamorous Italian hero, has a scheme that involves them getting together again, in an "engagement of convenience". He's the first to admit that his motivations are complex, and even though on the face of it the engagement is a ruse to lift the spirits of his seriously ill father, underneath, Nick realizes he's only been waiting for an excuse to court and be close to Anna again. Anna, for her part, is both wary and initially reluctant, but she quickly follows her sense of duty and doing the right thing. Plus, there's no way she can deny that she's still fierily attracted to Nick. These two are both incredibly strong willed and passionate characters, so their passage through the story is chock full of emotional fireworks, wild desire and furious conflict. But of course they do get happily together in the end after this crazy, bumpy ride.
I loved FAR FROM PEREFCT. Great sexual tension and characterization. But then I’m not surprised at all. What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I'm not sure, really. Perhaps some readers might not realize how long I've been an author, and also, only the other day, I encountered someone who was surprised to learn that I'm British. Some readers might also be surprised by the fact that even though I'm best known for writing erotica, I have had a couple of sweeter romances published under the pseudonym MEGAN PAUL - NO SWEETER CONFLICT and FORBIDDEN.
See, now I never knew about your Megan Paul persona. Do you have any rituals you follow when writing?
No particular rituals, but I do like to get some of the day's "admin" type chores out of the way before I settle down to writing fiction, as well as do a little bit of exercise to stop me turning into a potato. Although those might just be classed as a form of procrastination. :)
I should do more of that exercise procrastination! Most people think a writer’s life is really glamorous. What’s the least glamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?
Oh, emptying the kitty litter tray, most certainly. Ewwww!
The things we’ll do for our kitties! If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be & why?
That's a very tough one. I'm a very different person to my characters as a rule, although I do share their values and general outlook on life. Most of them are considerably younger than me, so I doubt if I'd have the energy these days to get up to all the high jinks some of them enjoy. Having said that, it might be fun to be Anna from FAR FROM PERFECT. Despite the emotional baggage she carries with her from her run in with Nick in the past, she's a sensible and optimistic young woman who throws herself full throttle into life. She has a loving father, friends and relations. She runs a business of her own that she's making a success of through hard work, and she lives in London, a city that I love. And then, of course, as domineering and difficult as he is, the most gorgeous and sexy man she's ever met walks back into her life. Yes, I wouldn't mind being Anna for day. Or perhaps a night? ;)
If you had to choose one of your books to turn into a movie, what would it be and why?
LOL! Most of my books would be a bit difficult to make into mainstream movies because a lot of them have a high percentage of wild, kinky sex in them. They'd probably have to be art house, with a limited release. I think FAR FROM PERFECT might make a fun "chick flick" though, possibly even a "rom-com" to a certain extent, because I've tried to instill a degree of wry humour into it that the right director could probably bring out. Plus, it has wonderful London as it's setting, as well as a brief trip to Italy, complete with a stay at a gorgeous villa.
My forthcoming Spice novel, IN THE FLESH, would make a good movie too, with it's lush Victorian setting and scope for amazing period costumes. It's also got a fairly filmic storyline, with elements in common with "Indecent Proposal" and even a tiny bit of "Wuthering Heights" and perhaps a hint of "Upstairs Downstairs". I think with some careful handling of the sex scenes, it would make a grand but quite fun emotion driven costume drama along the lines of "An Ideal Husband" or "The Importance of Being Earnest".
I’d love to watch those movies! What do you think is the most difficult thing about being an author?
I think there are lots of fairly difficult things about being an author, but, *because* they are difficult, that's exactly what makes the job so very rewarding. Ultimately, there's a real sense of achievement in completing a piece of work, and a genuine elation when you receive feedback from readers and discover that your creation has provided them with enjoyment.
Being an author is sometimes tough because it involves long hours, and you never really turn off. Plots and characters play through your mind most of the time, and knotty problems absorb your thoughts and sometimes cut you off from reality and the simple pleasure of relaxation. There's also, often, a sense of frustration with your own limitations. We all strive and strive to improve our work, and when we get to one level, there's always a new, higher level of accomplishment to struggle towards. But, having said that, there's huge joy in writing and I don't think I'd ever want to do anything else!
I so agree! What element of story creation is your favorite? (Characters, settings, plots, etc.?) And why?
Oh, characters, characters, characters. I just love creating and getting to know my story people. I love that special moment when they seem to become real and take on a mind and a life all of their own. It's especially fantastic when they surprise you with ideas and character traits that are completely outside of what you'd originally envisaged for them. That just feels like magic.
I can’t wait for more Portia Da Costa stories! What’s next for you?
My next publication is another from Samhain Publishing, a light paranormal erotic novella called A TOUCH OF HEAVEN, that's due for release in July. It's the story of Miranda, a middle aged woman, living alone, who becomes involved with the beautiful and mysterious younger man who moves in next door to house-sit. Gorgeous Patrick has a fondness for sunbathing naked, and his angelic touch with therapeutic massage is so delicious that one thing inevitably leads to another.
I've also got another Spice Brief coming out a bit later in the year, in September. This one's called ANOTHER CHANCE, and it's a naughty but quite poignant BDSM story that's loosely linked to my first ever Spice Brief, CHANCE OF A LIFETIME.
I also have short stories in a few anthologies this year, including FIRE AND ICE in The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance, and CONCUBINE in Obsessed.
I'm looking forward to these! Where can our readers find out more about you?
My web site - http://www.portiadacosta.com - has information about all my current and forthcoming titles, plus a wide selection of my backlist. There are excerpts available there for almost all the books listed, so lots of opportunity to sample my writing. I also have a blog - http://wendyportia.blogspot.com - although I'd be the first to admit that I'm not a regular blogger. There are some "pages" there that might be interesting though, including a list of all my Kindle titles, a list of my forthcoming titles and projects, and a page all about my lovely cats! I also hang out on Twitter a lot and my username is @PortiaDaCosta. I tend to tweet about life, the universe and everything there, with a bit of publication news every now and again. I'm also on Facebook and Goodreads, although I'm not particularly active on the former. Twitter is your best bet for keeping up with what's happening with me.
I admit to hanging out on Twitter with you quite often. While you’re here at Fierce Romance, is there a question you’d like to ask our readers?
Yes, I wonder what the general feeling amongst readers is about authors who switch to writing in different genres, or write in multiple genres? This is inspired by my own situation, of course. Even though I've written romance under another nom de plum, when writing as Portia Da Costa, I'm best known for my women's erotica and erotic romance - first for Black Lace, and now for Spice Briefs. But FAR FROM PERFECT *isn't* erotica. It's very sensual, but it's not graphic and there's none of the full on eroticism or kink that's part of my best known work. What I'd like to ask is whether readers who've enjoyed my erotic writing would be prepared to try something with a slightly lower heat level from me, because they like my voice and my writing style? I'd also extend the question to cover writers in general, not just me. For myself, I've no intention of giving up writing erotic/kinky stories/novellas/books, but I would like to write in a wider range of heats and styles, and I hope that my readers will enjoy *all* my writing not just the super hot stuff. :)
Many, many thanks for inviting me to visit Fierce Romance. Answering the questions has been a lot of fun!