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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Author Interview: MA Ellis

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome M.A. Ellis, whose latest book Filigree and Fantasy is out from Ellora's Cave. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.

Whitney is ecstatic over her internship in Macedonia and the opportunity to hone her craft at the hands of a filigree master. Little does she know the old man has an ulterior motive for her presence—using her talent to save the dwindling numbers of his family’s canine shapeshifters, the Sharplanjat.

Jovan isn’t a shifter, but his sense of duty rivals that of the Sharplanjat—until his unbridled attraction to the woman who might very well hold his family’s future in her hands forces him to throw caution aside and hold her. Taste her. Drive her to the brink of exquisite passion and beyond.

Mesmerized by the virile, violet-eyed foreigner, Whitney is more than ready for a quick, steamy affair. But the extremely determined Jovan has more than several days of scorchingly wild sex in mind.

But when she finds out his family secret will she run screaming in fear or embrace the fantasy that can only be found in his protective arms?
"How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?" I asked M.A.

"I’ll give you the simplistic answers. Straight erotica has a central focus on sexual enlightenment in some form. Erotic romance has romance and emotionality at the core, coupled with physical attraction which leads to amazing sexual moments. Porn is sex for the sake of sex. There isn’t a remote chance it can be misconstrued as ‘love’ in any form."

Some of the authors she believes write excellent erotic fantasy include Emma Holly. Joey Hill. Lora Leigh.

If characters are able to have one night of hot, passionate sex and then walk away, in M.A.'s opinion, it's not erotic.

"Erotic romance is just that—an ongoing attraction that might have started as the pure physical attraction but quickly turns into an emotional bond," she explained. "If you get that down, then the eroticism follows. I want my characters to have innocuous conversations with each other but secretly be thinking how hot the other person is making them. To me, that’s real life. And if I’m writing a love scene and I don’t get some sort of visceral reaction, then it’s just sex and we have to start over."

One of the biggest public misconception about erotica is that it's a form of porn.

"I’ve done radio interviews where the term ‘soft-core porn’ often comes up. I point out there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman exploring her sexuality," she told me."If she’s on a journey to find out something about herself, that’s not porn. In my opinion, there’s a difference between a woman coming to terms with something she wants to experience and an author weaving a tale of how she achieves that goal versus the image of bodies frantically jumping from one sexual position to the next until everyone’s screaming ‘harder’ and ‘faster’ as they work toward the money shot."

M.A. told me that you won't read anything in her writing where the characters' actions are explicitly described if they are into something she finds pornish or degrading. She does let her characters do what they want, however M.A. writes what she feels the readers need to know.

"An example, I had a heroine who shocked my hero when, during the course of some verbal foreplay, she made a comment about ‘face painting’. But there was no way I was going to do a choreographed scene with that happening. That’s not to say I’m going to slam any authors who write that. If it’s part of the character’s desire and her partner is fine with it, then it’s between them. But I do get to be omnipotent on some things. Ahhh, the power! I mean, really. Fists are for boxing and thrusting in the air at concerts…not thrusting elsewhere," she said.

" Did you always set out to write erotica or did it evolve from something else?" I asked.

"I wrote an 80,000 word historical that won a contest in 1989 and was promptly rejected from a NY publisher. It still hasn’t seen the light of day. But the impetus of my taking the plunge into erotic romance was an erotic poem I did for my writing portfolio at college. And let me point out, this was when I went back to school after a ten year break that included motherhood and corporate wife duties. I got great feedback from my peers and the professor on that poem. When I finally decided it was time to quit making excuses and work toward my goal of publication, that poem came to mind and I thought, ‘what the heck’. I did my research and decided to aim high and submit to Ellora’s Cave. I feel very blessed that they liked my voice and took me on."

Her family is very supportive in their own way. Her former husband continues to promote her "like a wild man, which is awesome," she told me. Her son is her webmaster. Her daughter tells everyone what she does and that her career started later in life, which she finds inspirational.

"None of them read my stuff, which is fine with me," she assured me. "That they regularly tell me how proud they are that I pursued my dream is enough for me."

I asked M.A. to share with us her most embarrassing moment.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to speak without thinking…the most embarrassing moment cured me of that. I was at a comedy club in this small town where my husband was orchestrating an expansion of a pet food plant and some of the workers showed up and we invited them to join us at our table. During the course of the show—and there was half-priced drinks involved—the comedian did the ‘shout out’ question and asked all the ladies in the audience what occupation they found sexiest. I immediately yelled out “construction worker”. Hoots from the audience reaffirmed I wasn’t the only one who fantasized about guys with huge tool belts. Pleased that I had ‘interacted’ I turned around to whisper something to my husband and met with two shocked, one amused and one cocky expression from the guys at our table…all construction workers!
Finally, I asked M.A. what advice she would give to authors who want to write erotica.

"Read the genre. Over and over. And not just one publisher. This works twofold: it gives you an idea of the variety of writing and it also helps you consider where you might want to submit your work. You’ll see what calls to you and then write YOUR story. Don’t try patterning it on anything else because that’s probably not going to work for you. I’d also suggest checking out the calls for themed submissions at a publisher’s website. It’s a great way to get your work in the door."

You can keep up with M.A. on her website,

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