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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Author Interview: Reece Butler

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Reece Butler, whose newest book Barefoot Bride for Three should be available this fall from Siren-Bookstrand. She also has out Cowboy Sandwich and Cowboy Double-Decker which are selling well and soon to be released in paperback.

Reece told me that growing up she would never even consider reading romance, because she was a science fiction and fantasy gal. For years, her life was taken over by a full-time job, commute, two children, a husband, and home. When she did start reading again, she went to mysteries, but found her brain was too fried at the end of the day to concentrate on the plot.

"I couldn’t remember who did what in the conservatory and what was hidden behind the aspidistra," she admitted. "Then one fateful day I was desperate for something to read. My Auntie Bee had sent a romance to me, one she loved. I was so desperate I sat down and opened the dratted thing. It even had a white cover with hearts and a cupid on it. A few hours later I closed Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Philips.

"Oh My God! In those pages were fantastic characters, an intriguing plot and it was even funny. I was hooked. For the next year I scoured the local library and read one to three books a night. Most weekends found my butt stuck in a chair with my cuppa tea beside me. My husband wasn’t impressed but I was addicted to the wonderful people and happy-ever-after. I preferred being in their world to my own."

Then Reece found the right anti-depressant. She discovered that the main purpose of life wan't making it through the day and collapsing, oblivious to the people around you. She began participating in real life again and realized that even she could have a "happy ever after."

Her husband found an old book on how to write romance and brought it home, telling her, "You could do this."

She started writing regular contemporary romance but realized there was a greater likelihood of being published if she wrote erotic romance. Her goal is to write so you could take out all the sex and still have a darn good romance.

"Of course, the sex is fun, character-building and usually involves the heroine dumping the restricting rules she was raised by," she explained. "I like the challenge of bringing sexual fulfillment into a relationship early in the story and still being able to create tension between the characters. It pushes me to discover more about the characters and how they react to each other."

At Reece's first RWA convention she pitched a 113,000 word erotic novel with a Dom/sub relationship. She came in second in one contest and finalled in another.

"It wasn't picked up, thank goodness, because I made lots of new writer mistakes. That was in 2005. I wrote six more books (and outlines for another thirty) but no one wanted them. I mentioned to a friend in my RWA Chapter that my novella Cowboy Sandwich had just been rejected by a publisher because they’d already bought a ménage that month and weren’t allowed to buy a second. He told me about his publisher (yes, a male writing erotic romance). It seems that Siren Publishing Inc. not only published erotic romance, they had a category for erotic cowboy ménage!"

She has a series of nine erotic historical cowboy ménage romances in the works.

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

"Let me first say that my 81 year old mother asked if she could tell people her daughter wrote smut. I said yes, as long as she also said they pay me for it. What is smut? I say it’s one step beyond whatever the reader is comfortable with. One’s comfort zone may change from day to day. To me, pornography has one purpose – to help the reader ‘experience self pleasure’. The writer’s ability or story line (or lack thereof) isn’t as important as the details as what goes where, when and how. Porn is like wood veneer – it has its purpose and, in the right circumstances, is fine. However, if I’m to invest my time in reading I want to use my whole brain. This requires a story with characters that I care about.

"I see (good) erotica as having a decent writing style involving an interesting plot and characters. However, the romantic character development is not the main focus of the work. I expect more of an emphasis on providing an erotic response in the reader. If my brain is fried from work, stress or the like, a deep story or plot is too much. Decent erotic writing can provide what you need to sleep, or wake up with a smile.

"The best erotic romance occurs when a darn good romance has interesting characters that need to develop; a plot with goal, motivation, conflict (thank you, Debra Dixon) and consequences (thank you, Sharon Page, for your addition to the GMC Big Three); character arcs and at least a happily-for-now. This is what I want to provide my readers."

She went on to say that compared to regular romance, erotic romance just has more detail regarding the physical relationship between the main characters.

"We say what goes where, when and how, what it feels like, why it’s important to the characters involved, and how it affects their lives and. However the level of sexual detail is greater and the relationships may involve than one hero and one heroine (ménage) or other erotic details." Reece's upcoming nine-book series has three heroes falling for, and staying with, each heroine. She considers these happily-ever-after stories quite reasonable since the series is set in 1870 in Montana Territory.

"History says gold fever brought hordes of eager miners and there were about a thousand potential husbands for every available wife," she explained." The fictional town sheriff is eager to cool down the hordes of bachelors descending to whoop it up each Saturday night. If matrimony settles the men and the women are happy he doesn’t mind who sleeps where or who stays awake enjoying themselves."

Reece doesn't live near mountains or cowboys, and there aren't gold rushes, mining, or logging camps near her. So, to learn more about ranching, she spent a week at a ranch to learn about roping, penning, and horseback riding with a western saddle. Then she spent two weeks in Montana researching Gold West Country, experiencing ghost towns, walking and driving in the Beaverhead National Forest, as well as talking and listening to everyday people.

"What someone in, say Alder or Ennis thinks is a boring everyday life, is exciting to me," she admitted. "Listening to stories somebody’s old Uncle Frank used to tell about the time the young bear went after Emily’s berry pies cooling on the porch – that is reality. How she was so mad, after picking berries for hours and baking in the heat for the church social that she went after that ole bear with her broom, hollering words she didn’t even know she’d ever heard while the fool dog cowered under the porch. I can make up the story, but what type of berry is ripe at that time in Alder? What varmints are a nuisance in Ennis? Where did she get the other ingredients for the pies? How hot was the kitchen with that wood stove going? These are the details that can make a book sing."

You can keep up with Reece on her website,

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