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Saturday, September 3, 2011
Author Interview: Cassandra Carr
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Cassandra Carr, who lives in western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. Her debut novel, Talk to Me, was released by Loose Id in March of this year, and she has two new books under contract. The first, Head Games, is book one of the Buffalo Intimidators hockey menage series. It will release as an e-book in November 2011 and in print in March 2012 from Siren Bookstrand. The other, Caught, a BDSM holiday-themed novella, will release in December 2011 from Loose Id.
Cassandra didn't plan to be a writer; she went to school for human resource management and later moved into marketing.
"I've done a ton of jobs within the marketing arena, including being the Director of Marketing for a small dot com. When I got laid off from that job (thanks economy!) I did some contract work, while at the same time writing fan fiction," she said. "My mom, who is a writer, read one of my stories and told me I should just fictionalize it and turn it into my own book. That book was my first MS and it now bears little resemblance to the original fan fiction."
In addition to her erotic romances, Cassandra also writes "straight" romance, but admitted that at this point she finds erotic romance easier for her to write.
"Overall, straight romance can be very challenging because there tends to be more facets to the story," she explained.
"What does your family think of your writing?" I asked. "Do they read it?"
"My mom is a writer of women's fiction, and she's read my current release, Talk to Me. My dad's older sister, an ex-English teacher, read it too. Both liked it. My mom wants to read Caught so she can see exactly what a BDSM holiday story is like! I eased my sister into erotic romance before my book came out so that she'd be prepared for mine. I even sneaked in a few ménage books - and she liked them!
"I write under a pen name for a lot of reasons, but one of them is to protect my husband's family. They're a Big Fat Italian Catholic Family and though they came to my book release party to support me, I don't think they're particularly crazy about my choice of vocation."
I asked Cassandra how she did research for her books.
"I saw the most hilarious t-shirt on CafePress.com the other day – 'Erotica writer seeking research assistant - apply within'. I wanted to buy it in the worst way but figured my hubby wouldn't be too pleased!" she told me. "I do research a variety of ways, but one of my favorites is going right to the source. For instance, for my BDSM holiday novella, Caught, releasing in Nov/Dec 2011 from Loose Id, I talked to both Doms and subs. I also asked someone in the Lifestyle to read the book to tell me if the situations were realistic or not. It's a pet peeve of mine when I read a BDSM book that has nothing to do with reality."
There are two research books specifically for BDSM that Cassandra thinks are great whether a person wants to just write about the lifestyle or actually get involved in it: SM 101 and Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns. For general erotica, she would recommend the same writing books everyone uses--Goal Motivation Conflict by Deb Dixon, etc.
"Erotica really isn't that different from other types of writing - it just has more sex!" she explained. "You still need to have solid characterization, a believable conflict, and a great plot. Also, the story has to have sizzle. The characters need to have a compelling reason to get into bed - great chemistry is a must."
"What writers do you think write excellent erotic fiction?" I wondered.
"Maya Banks does an awesome job - she's probably my favorite. Others I like include Jaci Burton, Joey Hill, Cherise Sinclair, Natasha Moore, Miranda Baker, Cat Grant, and a slew of others. My to-be-read pile - both physical and on my Nook - stands at over 200 books!" She looked around for her husband, then whispered, "And I keep buying more."
Her favorite erotic book, however, was a tough question to answer because she's read so many that she's liked.
"Probably Sweet Temptation from Maya Banks' Sweet Series," she finally concluded. "An Alpha male Dom who pushes his sub... " She shivered in delight.
On a lighter side, I asked Cassandra, "If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?"
"A specific person? Gosh, I don't know! I think it would be cool to live in either Victorian or Regency England, but only as someone with money. My hands are far too delicate for scullery maid work!"
Talk turned to food and I wondered what food she considered best for eating off another person.
"Funny you should ask this! In Talk to Me my heroine eats off my hero - mostly chocolate sauce. Hey - a girl's gotta eat dessert! I wrote that based on what I'd like to eat off a guy. I'm a chocoholic - what can I say?"
In fact, Cassandra admitted that she adored food, and it would be hard for her to pick out one favorite. She loves New York style pizza (or, really, any style), sushi, ice cream, warm chocolate chip cookies… it was getting close to lunch time! She also loves a good drink—wine or fruity martinis. However, don't try to serve her tuna fish. She can hardly be within ten feet of it without wanting to gag.
Finally, I asked her what advice she would give to writers who want to write erotica.
"Learn how to write a sex scene. Read books from erotic authors you admire and see how they do it. The absolute worst thing is an erotic romance with badly-written sex scenes. Also, within those sex scenes, be sure everything makes sense. This seems like such a simple thing, but is often overlooked. In Talk to Me, my editor pointed out that my hero would've toppled over at one point. Her comment was something like 'Geez! Drew's got to have a hand on the bed or something here. No one is that coordinated.' It was a very good point. When I went back and looked at the scene I cracked up thinking about him trying to do all the things at one time - I'm not even sure two hands would've been enough!"
You can keep up with Cassandra on her blog, http://booksbycassandracarr.com/wordpress/,