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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Author Interview: Belinda McBride

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Belinda McBride whose book Missing You was just released last week by Changeling Press.

Belinda has an interesting way of researching her shifter stories, which she swore initially she’d never do. “Late one rainy night,” she told me, “I was sitting on my butt in the mud managing an accidental breeding. The mail was neutered and still managed to tie the female, and I had nothing better to do that watch the reactions and behavior of the other dogs. It played out like a comical-drama and that’s where Belle Starr was born. Any time I need inspiration for my shifters, I just sit quietly and watch the pack. Their social structure is amazing, and their interactions are so sophisticated.”

The same situation inspired one of the most embarrassing sex scenes she’s written. “It’s also from Belle Starr,” she told me. “It’s a ménage that takes a very unexpected twist. It’s one of those cases where the writer knows a bit too much about her subject matter-- remember that night in the rain? Anyhow, one man ends up tied to the heroine, the second man ends up tied to the hero…somebody falls off the bed, it's really a big mess by the end. But it’s hot…”

Another one is from a WIP. “One is really a string of scenes all linked together; the hero manages to go through six partners within the first two chapters of the book. Very tacky, very pathetic, and it illustrates the out-of-control nature of his life. It’s a WIP and the sequence embarrasses me, but I’ll defend it.”

Belinda told me that she observes a lot... not just in her pack, but as she moves through her daily life. It’s these observations that form the basis for most of her research. She may use the internet or library for details, but she said, “In writing erotic romance, so much of what we’re writing is human behavior. When I first decided to write a M/M romantic relationship, what I saw on Internet boards and, sadly, in erotic fiction didn’t reflect reality as I know it. So, I went to my gay and bisexual friends and acquaintances and asked, watched, and listened to what they have to say about their lives and feelings and the things they want from life.”

Belinda told me she’s always lived too much in her imagination so it was natural for her to move into creative writing. She started in play writing and poetry, but a car accident resulting in a head injury derailed her for a time. It took a year of rehab before she could read and write well enough to return to college, and she said that she didn’t feel the slightest spark of creativity at that time. So, she switched her major from Theatre Arts and Literature to History and Cultural Anthology.

“Fast forward many years,” she said. “After a weekend visiting a friend who is a well-respected poet, the spark flared, and I set out on a yearlong orgy of unrestrained, almost stream-of-consciousness writing. I moved into erotic romance because there are fewer limits to the imagination. I can write the fantasy I dreamed up as a kid, or the history I learned as an adult. I can write multiple partners or interracial or interspecies, and my editors encourage me, the readers embrace it.”

I asked Belinda what character from a book she would entertain for a evening. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” she replied. “Nathaniel from Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. We’d spend the afternoon doing one another’s hair, then we’d have dinner (probably off his back and tush), and then we’d sneak into Guilty Pleasures during daylight hours and have a private party. Nathaniel would be the entertainment. At the very end of the day, I’d have him shift into leopard and cuddle, ’cause how often do you get to snuggle with a giant cat?”

Belinda shared with me her most embarrassing moment. “My fiancé kinda liked public sex,” she said. “Hell, he just liked it whenever, wherever. We got caught in the act at work. It was a carpet store, and we were in the storeroom on a roll of nice plush hi-low. Our boss found us. I walked around the rest of the day with my panties down one leg of my jeans. And no, we didn’t get fired.”

I asked Belinda to share with us what writers she thinks write excellent erotic fiction. She told me, “You know, there are a lot and more emerging all the time. I love Emma Holly, Laurell Hamilton, Marjorie Liu, Beth Kery’s books always hit an emotional button for me. Charlotte Boyett-Compo does an excellent wounded male, (my favorite kinda male!) Denise Rossetti, Kate Pierce, Cat Marsters always cracks me up and really pushes the boundaries. Lacy Savage and Hunter Raine write sizzling sex, and Fiona Jayde writes great action. Hmmmm…did I miss anyone? A lot, probably! Morgan Hawke. Love her stuff.”

There are a few things about Belinda you might not know. She’s a Coke drinker. She told me, “Pepsi is lighter and sweeter, Coke has a strong spice undertone.” Her oldest daughter is quite proficient at tying cherry stems. “No,” she said, “I have no idea how she learned, and I’m not asking.” She’s also mildly bi-polar-- “and proud of it!” When she’s ready to enter an “up” cycle, she becomes very compulsive about everything. “I check my email every few minutes,” she said, “check the mail, keep the phone by the chair. I don’t want to miss anything. It’s a terribly stressful and non-productive period, but it doesn’t last long.”

Finally, I asked Belinda what one piece of advice she would give to a new writer. “If at first you don’t succeed,” she said, “or you get rejected or harshly criticized, learn and move on. Don’t let it bring you down.”

You can read more about Michelle and her works at her website.

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