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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Author Interview: Ashley Ladd

Whipped Cream is very pleased to welcome Ashley Ladd. She lives in south Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. You’ll often find a mixture of romance, adventure, and humor in her books (along with very spicy romance) because that’s what Ashley loves to read.

I asked Ashley how she judged a good erotic story when she’s writing.

“If I start to squirm, if I sigh because I’m falling in love with the hero and feeling the romance,” she said, “and/or if my panties get wet while I’m writing my stories, then I know I’m on the right track. If my story just takes off and drags me with it, I know it’s going well.”

She told me that she sees the biggest public misconceptions about erotica are that is has no value, no substance, that anyone can write it, and that it’s porn. “I guess that’s about four things,” she added, “but they all stick in my craw. First of all, there's a romance to it, and a story. There are 3-D characters and a plot. It's not pure sex. They're as hard or harder to write than sweet romances. My brain and heart have to work as hard to write erotic romance as a sweet romance or even a mystery. Often, my erotic romances are also paranormal or sci-fi or a mix of another genre.”

Ashley writes both straight and erotic romance. “Both are challenging,” she admitted, “but erotic romance is more so. I love a great story, a good plot, and great characters so I always make sure they go into all my stories, sweet or erotic. However, in the hot erotic romance stories, I have to find ways to fit in the sex naturally and vary the sex. It's hard to come up with different ways to do sex after 20 or 30 books. My editors are usually screaming ‘More Sex, More Sex, More Sex’ and so I have to add more sex. But believe me, I'm up to the challenge. Currently, I have both sweet and erotic romance stories out with publishers and agents on submission.

And with finding new and inventive ways to come up with sex scenes, she’s also written some scenes that she admits would have embarrassed her if they had happened in real life. “In Price of Fame, published by Ellora’s Cave, the heroine was getting it on with her vibrator. Her door was locked, but the bed was making too much noise so her mother and her neighbor (the hero) came to make sure she was okay. She hurriedly dressed, hid the evidence under her bed, and then let them in to assure them she was fine. However, her mother dove under the bed, pulled out the vibrator, and waved it in front of the hero's face while she scolded her.”

Her own most embarrassing moment, however, was not in the privacy of her bedroom, but out in public. “As a teen, I rode horses and I was just starting to compete,” she shared with me. “In the not too distant past, my horse and I fell while jumping and I was still skittish. Thus, every time I felt like I was going to fall again, I would do an emergency dismount. Well, I felt like I was going to fall while I was in the middle of a competition, so I jumped off. A judge asked me why I dismounted in the middle of the competition and I just knew everybody was laughing at me, especially the cutest guy I'd ever seen in the universe. I knew my instructor probably wanted to crawl under the bleachers and die of shame. The only good part is that afterward, I met that really cute guy and he comforted me.”

Ashley told me that her dad is really supportive and reads all her stuff. Her husband doesn’t read. And her kids only like fantasy, sci-fi, and mangas. “They won’t even read sweet romance and are embarrassed that their mom is a romance writer much less the spicy, hot stuff,” she said. “My cousins keep asking me about my writing and want to be supportive, but they're all very religious and I'm afraid they would not understand about the erotic romances so I only tell them about my sweet works. Since most of my recent releases and upcoming releases are all erotic romances, I've not told them about any of those.”

But, even if Ashley’s husband doesn’t read her work, he’s certainly not adverse to participating in research. I’d asked Ashley what food she considered best for eating off another person’s tummy or other body parts. “Only one?” she asked. “Chocolate or butterscotch syrup in excellent—off other body parts. In my book “Purrfect Justice,” out at Ellora’s Cave, my hero and heroine eat cookie dough (several flavors) off each other.” She smiled. “I’m dying to do that—maybe tonight.”

One thing she will not be eating off her husband’s tummy, or anywhere else for that matter, is asparagus. “I can’t stand the smell,” she admitted. “It’s one of my daughter-in-law’s favorite foods and she tried to fix it for me when she was living with us. I didn’t want to be rude, but I just couldn’t get near it. I’m afraid I hurt her feelings. Ditto for sauerkraut.”

Ashley shared with me that, while she used to work for the Coca-Cola Company, she doesn’t like Coke at all. “It has a harsh acidy taste that makes me want to choke,” she said. “Pepsi and RC are so much sweeter, and thus, better tasting that Coke.”

And, finally, on a much more personal note, Ashley told me she didn’t get her first pedicure until she was in her 40’s, but now tries to get one at least once a month. “I really got into painting my toes after I started doing karate,” she said, “and my feet were bare most of my off hours from the day job. Every now and then, I’ll even have a cute design air brushed on them.”

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Author Interview: Jax Cassidy

Whipped Cream is pleased to have Jax Cassidy whose newest book, Art of Sensuality, has just been released by Parker Publishing.

Jax told me when she reads a good erotic story, she wants to feel the emotions and envision the story like it was a movie playing in her head. “I’m all the about the senses,” she said, “touch, smell, taste, sound. The sensual imagery is often more exciting for me than the explicit sex.”

The HEA is important as well. She told me, “I have to believe that the characters should be together or else it’s going to disappoint me. Perhaps I come from the old school of romance, but sex doesn’t always spell erotic; it’s the love story that pulls me in and keeps me interested.”

Jax didn’t start out to write novels or romance. She started out as a screenwriter and enjoyed writing romantic comedies, horror, and indie-type screenplays. “Along the way I met a fellow screenwriter,” she said, “who nudged me to write romance. My first attempt was a paranormal/urban fantasy called Ghosthunter, which was an idea I’ve had since I was a kid. Unfortunately, I didn’t sell that project and ended up shelving it when my friend Eden Bradley introduced me to erotica.”

Jax shared with me that she fell in love with erotica, and even though she wasn’t very comfortable with writing sex, decided to give it a try anyway. She teamed up with a co-writer and they wrote as Cassidy Kent. Jax felt, though, she needed to prove to herself she could write independently, so on August 10, 2007, Jax and her co-writer parted ways. “It turned out better than I hoped,” Jax said, “because during the break up of our writing partnership I was offered a contract with my current publisher, Parker Publishing, and am still amazed at my accomplishments!”

“I come from a very artistic family of overachievers,” Jax told me. “There are eight of us! My brothers and sisters are exceedingly gifted in acting, painting, crafts, music...I feel blessed to have the ability to write and paint without any real formal training. That said, singing is not my forte at all because no one can clear a house like I can!”

Jax started on her writing path when she was about seven and decided to write what she calls “a fairytale of sorts.” Her oldest brother had the first Tandy computer and showed her how to type on it. “I think I was bit by the writing bug, which also propelled me to be a computer geek of sorts. I had won a lot of writing contests from elementary through high school, but it never occurred to me I could do it professionally. I had dreams of being the next Entertainment Tonight correspondent when I was swept into the world of movie making.” She had also been a news anchor for her college television station and had to write creative pieces for her segments.

“The thrill of writing made me search for other avenues to focus on and that’s when I discovered screenwriting,” she continued.” After years of this competitive industry, I was more than happy to jump into novel writing. Let me tell you, it was the most difficult transition! When you’re trained for writing dialogue, nothing is as demanding and scary as the mechanics of writing women’s fiction.”

That’s when Jax and Kristen Painter decided to form Romance Divas discussion forum. “We were both new writers who couldn’t find everything we needed to know about romance in one spot, so we created it,” Jax told me. “It was our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the writing community and provide a safe forum for authors in search of support, camaraderie, and family.”

Jax said that all the twists and turns in her journey have been a great learning tool for her. “I can see my growth as a writer in every new project I do,” she said. “I didn’t want to have any regrets and I’m glad I followed my dreams and made things happen because it’s starting to pay off for me personally and professionally.”

When Jax isn’t writing, she told me she is very busy in local and national charities. “I’ve given away original artwork to various organizations,” she told me, “and last year I went skydiving for the Heifer Organization and raised $3,000. I’m currently working on creating a group to campaign against human trafficking in East Asia, as well as raising funds to invest in shares in the Heifer Organization to help small villages in Vietnam to cultivate their own livestock to sustain food for their families. It’s a huge endeavor and the true reason I write is because I want to be afforded the ability to continue doing these things.”

On a personal note, I asked Jax what her favorite food was. “I am a big foodie!” Jax said. “I love any kind of ethnic cuisine and the artistry of the dishes always amazes me. If I were to choose just one, I couldn’t.”

And, she can definitely tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. “Pepsi is sweeter and I love sweet,” she said, “but I can take either when I am desperate for some sort of caffeine.”

Finally, I asked Jax who she would choose to play her if a movie was to be made of her life. “That’s a hard one. I would probably play myself,” she told me. “Why? I started out as a child actor and spent a lot of time in the entertainment industry, so who better to play myself than ME!”

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Author Interview: Dalton Diaz

Whipped Cream is very pleased to have with us this week Dalton Diaz, who recently released Love Cuffs, co-written with Ashlyn Chase.

Dalton told me her favorite erotic romance author was Joey Hill, who she describes as “an amazing writer.” She believes Emma Holly, Susan Lyons, and Lora Leigh also write excellent erotic fiction. “When I’m in the mood to laugh and play, it’s Ashlyn Chase and Chris Tanglen,” she said. “When I read these authors, I’m interested in how the story is going to play out as well as the blistering sex scenes. They all understand that the sex is integral to the story, plays into the story, instead of it being gratuitous. In other words, yeah, I'm going to enjoy reading a good sex scene no matter what, but I'd much rather read about two characters that I care about making love.”

This also ties in to what Dalton told me she thought the biggest misconception about erotica is: that it’s about the sex instead of the characters having the sex. “I want to be inside those character's heads as they're having their minds (and other things!) blown,” she told me. “It's what the characters are feeling emotionally as well as physically, and having it all described in arousing detail. The world has seen enough of the slot A, B, and C cardboard sex pornography. There's nothing to that but the sex, which is, to me, the grand difference between erotica and pornography. Give me erotica any day!”

Natural Law, by Joey Hill, used to be her favorite erotic book. That is, until Rough Canvas, also by Joey Hill, came out. “How can anyone not love Marcus and Thomas and the love they have for each other?” she asked. “You can see their growth from start to finish. Not to mention the hot sex! It has everything you could want in an erotic romance.”

I asked her about her current works and she told me that if she could entertain anyone from a book it would be Seth Foster, a bisexual lawyer from her current WIP. “He keeps trying to steal the show!” she explained. “The poor guy is bound by rules being set by the hero and heroine of the book, so my only rule would be... no clothes. The rest would be up to him because he's just too cool a guy to resist. I hope you will soon be meeting him.”

When she’s not writing, she told me she can usually be found reading and doing research. “They're both research, really,” she said, “though one can sometimes be tedious, and the other is never disappointing. I let you guess which is which!”

She also told me that the hands-on research has also been embraced by her writing friends. “I have one critique partner who questioned the physical placement of a body part and got her husband to give it a test,” she told me. “She emailed me the results, not only proving her point, but mentioning that her husband told her - in complete awe - that she has the best hobbies!”

On a more personal note: she does know someone who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue. She’s not naming names, but says it’s a well-known author. “I can only watch in awe,” she said. “I imagine it would be a good tongue exercise, though, and it would be fun to see the look on people's faces if you succeed, male and female alike. Huh. I'll have to give it a try.”

Her favorite food is dark chocolate and almost anything covered in dark chocolate. Two exceptions to this? Scallops and Brussels sprouts. Those she wouldn’t eat even if they were covered in dark chocolate. As a matter of fact, she told me, “Both are completely banned from my house.”

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Author Interview: Sapphire Phelan

Whipped Cream is happy to welcome Sapphire Phelan, author of erotic and sweet paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance. Her newest work, Unwitting Sacrifice, an erotic Lovecraftian horror novella, is being released by Under the Moon on November 8. As Pamela K. Kinney, she also writes horror, fantasy, science fiction, as well having a non-fiction ghost story, Haunted Richmond, Virginia published. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Bast.

I asked Sapphire how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.

“Pornography is sex without any feelings,” she told me. “Just the act to ‘get’ off. Erotica is a sensual act, but the people involved don’t have to be in love with each other to have relations, and it doesn’t need to have a HEA at the end. Erotic romance is two people in love doing an act to shows how much they care for each other. There is usually an HEA with this.”

She disagrees with what she sees as the public misconception that erotica is porn or that writers of erotic romance or erotica are writing “dirty sex stories.” She said, “Erotica is not just about physical sex, but of the mind and soul as well.”

Sapphire said there’s most definitely a line between porn and erotic romance she would never cross. “Sex between a minor and an adult,” she said, “Sorry, that is terrible. As a mother, I would never write anything like that. Also, a human having sex with a real animal.”

Along with her erotic fiction, Sapphire has two “sweet” stories out: a super hero romance story, To Save the Day, is an Amazon short, and the other, “Old Friends,” can be found in Cobblestone Press Quarterly’s December 2007 issue.

I asked her who she would be if she could be any person...and she has her sights set high. She said, laughing, “A best selling author?”

On a personal note: her favorite food is sushi; she can’t bring herself to eat any kind of melon (even watermelon); and when I asked if she could tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, she said, “You’re talking to a Coke fan here, so yes!”

But, there’s a lot more to Sapphire/Pamela than meets the eye. As I said in the first of this interview, along with erotic romance, she writes nonfiction, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. She’s not alone in her love of science fiction, because her husband is a big fan as well. She enjoys designing and sewing costumes to wear at sci-fi conventions. As a matter of fact, she and her husband both enjoy costuming and conventions, but she admits that her writing has taken lead in the enjoyment race.

Along with her writing and her costuming, she also has film and stage credits to her name—both acting and directing. You can find a list of her credits here.

As you can see, Sapphire keeps herself busy, mostly being at her desk writing. “And, yes,” she confessed, “the house and husband sometimes suffer for it!”

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