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Saturday, September 4, 2010
Author Interview: Tina Donahue
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Tina Donahue whose latest book In His Arms has just been released by Ellora's Cave.
I asked Tina how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
"Erotic romance to me has a substantial plot linking the characters together. It’s not just about the sexual journey (erotica) or the sexual gymnastics (porn)," she responded. "Erotic romance is about the emotional connection between the hero/heroine…the sex is a result of that emotional connection."
In the same vein, for a good erotic story, there has to be a strong basis for the people to get together and stay together. It's not enough for the couple to just think "Wow, he's hot" and/or "Damn, she's stacked."
"The sex has to begin in the brain, not just the eyes and the groin. There has to be a sultry and measured sexual dance (emotional foreplay) between the two before anything happens. I have to feel their need for each other," she explained. "I have to ache with them when they’re apart. When they touch for the first time, I want to be able to let out a satisfied and excited sigh, just as they would. The only way to achieve that is with emotional build, not sexual gymnastics."
Erotica is not just about the sex… that's the payoff. In Tina's opinion, the best erotic romances have that building emotional connection between the hero/heroine before there's any action.
"You have to make the reader want them to be together so badly, she actually hurts for it as they do," she said. "The reader needs to be an active participant, not a voyeur simply watching the action."
Tina does much of her research for her books via the Internet.
"When I wrote Deep, Dark, Delicious that took place in Miami and involved two chefs of Cuban heritage, I found everything I could online," she told me. "I did extensive research into Cuban cuisine, which many reviewers/readers/fans just loved. And believe me, before I did the research, I knew nothing about cooking. Still don’t. If I didn’t have a can opener or access to fast food, I’d starve."
She doesn't recommend using technical manuals on sexual positions as a reference book if you want to write erotica, however.
"Erotic romance has very little to do with the purely physical aspect of the relationship…it all begins in the mind, heart and soul," she explained. "So, I’d suggest a beginning writer should read everything she can get her hands on in the sub-genres she prefers (contemporary, paranormal, urban fantasy, historical, etc.). See how other writers are plotting and how they get the characters together, how they create conflict, what steps they take to ensure an HEA, what they do to move the reader to laughter, joy, tears, etc."
Another thing for writers who want to write erotica to remember is that it's easier and you'll succeed faster if you know your market.
"You can’t just slap a bunch of sex scenes together and expect to be pubbed. Doesn’t work that way," she warned. "There has to be a great story too. In fact, readers are demanding that more and more. Study the market, read everything you can in the sub-genres you prefer, write constantly (this isn’t a hobby, it’s your vocation) and don’t give up no matter how much rejection you get. If you stick with it, you will get good at it and you will sell."
I asked Tina if she'd ever written non-erotic romance.
"I began by writing contemporary romantic comedies if you can believe it. Because I tend to write funny, I found the romantic comedies fairly easy to write. However, because I’ve always preferred emotional build between characters and hot sex scenes, I find that fairly easy to write too. They each have their challenges, as all genres do."
There's only one boundary between porn and erotic romance Tina won't cross.
"I've very liberal," she told me, "but if the hero is hurting the heroine and enjoying her pain, or if everyone is just screwing around for the hell of it, then that's not for me."
On a personal note, I asked Tina if she could be anyone she wanted, who she would choose.
"That would be a toss up between Oprah Winfrey and Vanna White, for these reasons:
"Oprah: Mega rich, owns her own network, can pretty much do what she wants, gets to meet interesting people every day and gets paid well for it.
"Vanna: Gets to wear beautiful gowns and does very little work turning those letters on Wheel of Fortune and gets paid very well for it.
"Yeah, I know, I’m shallow – but those babes have it made."
If she had to have a body part pierced, she would choose her navel.
"Those dangly diamond navel jewelry thingies (don’t know what they’re called) are so sweet and sexy," she told me. "I think body piercing is sexy because it conjures up images of ancient times when the human race was far less civilized, which in itself is sexy – all those pillaging, ravaging Vikings and such."
Speaking of navels, she feels that jelly beans or peanuts fit perfectly and are great for eating off a person's tummy. For other body parts, she would go with the old standards: caramel, chocolate sauce, or whipped cream.
"What is your most embarrassing moment?" I asked her.
"When I was a freshman in high school and was trying to act cool, I lied and told these two truly cool girls I was dating this awesome guy from another school. Trouble was, those girls knew the guy. Their best friend was dating him. Obviously, I didn’t know that. But I soon found out. I wanted to die."
Tina shared with me that her favorite food is a tostado with lots of sour cream and salsa, but she can't stand cottage cheese. "It's so slimy it gets to the bottom of my throat and I start gagging," she said.
She also doesn't like Coke OR Pepsi, admitting proudly, "I'm a Dr Pepper girl!" When she's not writing, even though she can't cook, she can usually be found watching The Food Network.
"What those people come up with simply fascinates me," she explained.
You can keep up with Tina on her blog, http://www.tinadonahue.com/blog/