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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Author Interview: Christina Phillips

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Christina Phillips, who has two stories out with The Wild Rose Press.

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

"My personal take is pornography is primarily explicit sex with the sole aim of arousal, without necessarily any plot, relationship development between the characters involved or any kind of happy ever after," she said. "Erotica generally focuses on the heroine's sexual journey and has a plot. The heroine may have several sexual partners, but not necessarily form a lasting relationship with any of them. Erotic romance is, essentially, a romance, and as such has a plot and well developed characters with their individual goal, motivation and conflicts, who form lasting, loving relationships with each other by the end of the book. The main differences between erotic and non-erotic romance is the sex is a vital component of moving the plot forward and showing the developing relationship between the hero and heroine. Also, love scenes are more explicit and the language more graphic in an erotic romance."

Christina said it seems to her that people confuse both erotic romance and erotica with porn.

"I've been told I write dirty books and porn, and always by people who have never read anything in the genre, never mind my own writing," she told me. "My response to that is always, no I don't write dirty books or porn, I write erotic romance and what's wrong with writing about love?"

Christina started writing soon after she and her family immigrated to Australia ten years ago."

For nearly nine years, Christina wrote contemporary romance, although she can see looking back that each book had progressively hotter love scenes. "Obviously my subconscious was trying to tell me something there!" she said. "First I wrote a few category romances and after several of the 'lacks emotional punch and excitement' form rejections, started to get requests for full manuscripts and then revisions. But things never quite clicked into place, so I made the decision to try my hand at first person chic lit, which I found very challenging but enjoyable. Unfortunately, even though agents nibbled, chic lit was in the throes of dying a horrible death so I switched genres to paranormal romance which, bizarrely considering I'd never seriously pursued that genre before, had always been my first love."

At the beginning of last year, though, she got so fed up with the "almost but not quite what we're looking for" rejections from agents and editors that she went into a slump with her writing. Her CPs urged her to try erotic romance.

"Although I wasn't sure I could manage it, I decided it would be a fantastic way to stretch my writing muscles," she told me. "But then, as I began to write my first erotic romance, Foretaste of Forever, I discovered I absolutely loved being able to get completely inside the action as it unfolded, rather than pulling back at the last moment. I was hooked!

"I find both straight and erotic romance writing have their own challenges, but currently I'm enjoying writing erotic romance so much that I can't see myself going back to straight romance just yet.

"And I'm thrilled that in June this year I signed with my dream agent for my first full length historical erotic romance."

"Has your family read your work?" I asked.

"My husband has only read one paragraph of my new release,Touch of the Demon, , and that was because he looked over my shoulder as I was writing it," she admitted. "It's the only time I've seen a grown man reel!! The look on his face was hysterical. He has yet to read the published versions! As for my two adult daughters, they've been incredible with their support and are very proud of me! However, that stops short at actually reading my books. While happy that I'm published they're still suffering trauma from my chosen genre and have yet to admit to their boyfriends' parents exactly what it is I write." She laughed and added, "I can't think why. When my brother discovered I wrote erotic romance he was fascinated and wanted to know if it was autobiographical. And as for my in-laws, they wanted to know if that meant I wrote 'rude bits.' My response? 'Of course not. I write erotic romance!'"

On a personal note, I asked Christina, "If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?"

"I'm actually pretty happy being me," she said, "but I wouldn't mind a bit of strategic genetic engineering here and there. Not that I'm gagging to be the Bionic Woman or anything like that, just a few improvements and an overhaul would be cool!"

She wouldn't tell me her most embarrassing moment though, saying, "I try and pretend all my embarrassing moments are just horrifying nightmares!"

Her favorite food is Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (and don't forget the cranberry sauce). "When we moved from the UK to Australia," she told me, "and despite the 100 degree temperature and lack of air conditioning, we still had the full roast turkey, stuffing and roast potatoes even though I was so hot I all but puddled on the kitchen floor!!!"

She can't bring herself to eat liver however. "Even the thought of it disgusts me. All offal is revolting! And I can't get my mind around anyone wanting to eat brains!! Actually anything slimy or which has tentacles turns my stomach."

"Have you," I asked, "ever known anyone who could tie a cherry stem with their tongue?"

She grinned. "I have obviously lived a very sheltered existence as until recently I never even knew such a feat was possible!!!"

Finally, I asked, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"

"The same advice I'd offer any author wanting to write romance" she said. "To me, the most important aspect is the romance, and the turbulent emotions involved in falling in love. Get to know these unique characters, crawl under their skin-- feel what they're feeling. With erotic romance, the sex tends to come before the love, so in my own writing my hero and heroine are drawn to each other sexually, before love develops. It's essential for an author to be comfortable writing explicit sex scenes and using language appropriate for the genre since otherwise these scenes might become awkward for the writer rather than a pleasure (and I strongly believe they should be a pleasure to write, even if the actual writing of them is very challenging!) And each sex scene should be there for a reason - to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine, not just for titillation purposes."
You can keep up with Christina on her blog, http://christinaphillips.blogspot.com

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