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Saturday, August 20, 2011
Author Interview with Seleste DeLaney
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Seleste DeLaney, author of Badlands, a steampunk/alt-history romance novella from Carina Press.
I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.
After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation's border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.
Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen's assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever's reluctant ally.
As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn't find them first...
I asked Seleste how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
"What they obviously have in common is steamy sex. The differences after that are more subtle. In erotic romance, the love story is a key focus and the sex plays into that romance, and most readers expect a HEA or a HFN," she said, adding, "If it’s a series, I don’t until the last story in the series, but I might be odd in that regard. Erotica doesn’t require romance per se, the sex can be there just because sex is good and sex is fun, but it doesn’t have to factor into a love story. However, there must be plot, and the sex needs to fit the plot. Pornography doesn’t require plot and it certainly doesn’t require romance. To me, porn is designed for the titillation. Do erotic romance and erotica fall under the umbrella of pornography? Of course, but the reverse isn’t true. It’s kind of like saying, 'Yes, bananas (erotica) and apples (erotic romance) are fruit (porn).' It doesn’t mean that just because something is fruit it is necessarily an apple or a banana."
In her opinion, the best erotica still has a fabulous story and great writing; you get more than just hot sex, you get great characters, settings, and a fabulous plot.
"It’s like any other genre," she explained. "It just has more sex."
The characters and plot come first for Seleste.
"If I don’t have those things, the sex is just fluff. Are there some kinks I’d never write about? Eh…maybe. If I can’t see the appeal when I write it, I don’t see the point of putting it in. So some types of degradation play or very violent S&M probably won’t ever make it into my stories (at least not in a good way)."
Her adult romances have always had sex in them, but the story that first earned her the "erotica" billing didn't actually start out with any sex it it. Of Course I Try was initially an almost-flash-fiction piece that consisted of the last scene in the final story. The publisher wanted it longer, and the sex fell naturally into helping the reader understand Jocelyn's point-of-view regarding Max.
"What is the most embarrassing sex scene you’ve ever written?" I wondered.
"I don’t know if I’ve ever been embarrassed writing them, but I have been embarrassed at other points. For that reason, I’m going to call out the first scene of Of Course I Try. It was not only my first release, but it also starts right off with sex. That’s the story my mother told everyone, including my second grade teacher, about. It’s the one my grandmother-in-law read while sitting on my couch. Basically it’s the one that shouted out to the world that I write sex. I’m not embarrassed about that fact, but the shouting I could have done without."
On a personal note, I asked Seleste, "If you had to pierce a body part, what would you pierce and why? What about body piercing is sexy?"
"If I was thinner, I would definitely get my belly button done. Alas, I like food (especially stuff that isn’t good for me) too much so it will probably never happen. A student once told me I should get my eyebrow pierced. I have debated it, but never taken the plunge. Overall, on me I really prefer tattoos. Actually, in general I prefer tattoos. However, smaller piercings on the right men I find really hot too. As for a reason, most body modifications imply a certain edge to the person’s character. Buttoned up lawyer by day, but his nipples are pierced? Oh yeah, totally hot."
For food eaten off a person, she told me, "Since men often have that wonderful treasure trail (and possibly more hair), I’m going to go with anything that won’t stick to it (I am very much NOT a fan of hair in my mouth). I’m thinking grapes would be safe. Yeah, we’ll go with grapes. Now, if we’re talking about tummies or other less hairy body parts, I’m a fan of chocolate or whipped cream."
She can't bring herself to eat cooked oatmeal, however, even though as a kid she knows she ate it. She's not sure what changed, but something about the consistency makes her gag.
"Can you tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi?" I asked.
"Definitely yes. Coke has a much sweeter, gentler taste to it (we’ll call it erotic romance). Pepsi on the other hand has more bite and sizzle (we’ll call that BDSM erotica). I’m always shocked when people can’t taste the difference. My first thought is they are either virgins or they have sex the same way every time."
Finally, I asked, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"
"Read some erotica for starters. Learn about sex. Tab A goes into Slot B isn’t enough. If you’re writing for relationships that don’t mirror your own (for example, if I wrote M/M), talk to people who fit that relationship and have them look over your work as beta readers. But the key thing to me is learn how to tell a compelling story. The best written sex in the world is fabulous, but if it’s just the sex, it’s going to fall short. Think of the sex as the whipped cream and the story as whatever you want to put with said whipped cream. Fine on its own, but even better with pie (or some other yummy dessert). And, don’t give up. Perseverance and stubbornness are half the game with publishing. Within that advice though is the caveat of don’t quit learning. If you don’t gain any skill as you go, all the patience in the world won’t mean anything."
You can keep up with Seleste on her blog, http://selestedelaney.wordpress.com