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Saturday, October 15, 2011
Author Inteview: Madison Layle
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Madison Layle, half of the writing team of Layle and Keaton. Their latest book Falke's Peak, book two in the Puma Nights series, was released yesterday.
I asked Madi (as she's known to her friends) to tell us a little bit about the book.
A graduate student working in animal genetics, Beth Coldwell is in town to track and tag big cats in the wild. Her prospects for the summer only improve when she meets Kelan and Reidar Falke and decides the sexy brothers are the right pair to fulfill her other, less than scientific, desires...
But her research is a threat to the Falke family secret. When Kelan, in cougar form, is captured, that secret comes closer than ever to being revealed. He escapes, but not before Beth draws a blood sample, and analysis shows this is no ordinary mountain lion.
Kelan and Reidar cannot deny the powerful attraction they feel toward Beth. She might just be their destined mate. But if they reveal themselves to her, will she embrace who they are or see them as just another science experiment?
Madi's first book was actually a very sweet romantic novella called Diary of Dreams, which is still available via Cobblestone Press online, but even before she released her second solo novel or even her first co-authored novel, she'd already made the switch to more erotic themes. She had a very hot dream and, when she awoke, all but ran to her computer and penned what because one of her best-selling novels, Owning Rachel.
"It’s a kinky, hard-core BDSM story about a triadic relationship between a successful female attorney and two incredibly sexy men. When I wrote it, I have to say I wasn’t sure any publisher would take a chance on it because it was so different and more risqué from anything I’d written before, so I showed it to my critique partner at the time. She loved it so much she encouraged me to submit it…immediately. Plus, it inspired her to write spicier stories, and we soon became writing partners and co-authors on the very successful erotic series called Incognito in which Owning Rachel is book #2."
I asked her how she personally distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
"To me, pornography is the “lazy reader’s story” because, like the word itself implies, it has photography included. Porn doesn’t let the reader use their imagination to envision the tale through the author’s words, but rather through the photographer’s interpretation. Good erotica and erotic romance don’t need static imagery like that. They both take the reader on a journey of sexual exploration and pleasure through the written word, and the only distinction I give between the two is that erotic romance delves deeper into the characters and their emotional connection. Erotic romance tantalizes while also tugging at the heart strings, but really good erotica tickles other sensitive areas," she said with a grin.
She feels that one of the public misconceptions about erotica is that it's easy to write. She told me that even authors or other genres have been known to dismiss erotica as just a bunch of pages of sex with little substance.
"We’ve all met people who say, 'Oh, I could do that,' or, 'I’m going to write a novel,' but they never do. Or if they start, they never finish. And there are some people out there who take it up as a hobby thinking they can easily pen a bunch of steamy sex scenes that everyone will want to read, and of course they’ll land a publishing contract, too," she said. "Not so fast… Hobbies are fine if you want to get your hands dirty in a flowerbed, make model airplanes, or take up scrapbooking. But writing truly entertaining erotic fiction takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and sometimes painful honesty. It is not something you can succeed at if you only come at it half-assed." She paused and laughed, "Can I say that word here?"
Madi and her co-author, Anna Leigh Keaton, were working on what would turn into Falke's Peak. Their publisher was counting on them delivering something as great as the first manuscript that had landed the initial contract.
"We were shooting for 50- to 60-thousand words, and we reached just over 50-thousand, literally two scenes from being finished, when we reviewed the story and decided to scrap it and start all over from the beginning," she explained."Now, I know a lot of aspiring writers might think that’s crazy, because we’d put countless hours over several weeks into the story already. But we made the right choice. We take our writing very seriously and refuse to pen something mediocre for our readers, so if the story isn’t good enough, it’ll never see the light of day. That’s the kind of commitment I’m talking about."
When she's writing her own fiction, there are certain elements that go into making a story great. Of course, the sex scenes have to be hot, exciting, and non-typical. She also has to really like her protagonists.
"They can’t be perfect, because no one is, and it’s sometimes their faults that make them likeable," she said. "But they also have to like each other; I know that sounds strange seeing as how I’m talking about fictional characters, but within the story itself, their relationship and how it develops are absolutely paramount. Outside events can stir things up and keep a reader interested a little while, but if the characters are one-dimensional, then you might as well forget it. The story won’t hold the reader’s interest, and quite frankly I doubt I could finish writing the tale if that were the case. I have to care about the characters and be invested in what happens to them, so that my readers can do the same."
"Who is your favorite erotic author?" I asked.
"That’s easy, but you’ll think I’m biased, and I guess I am," she said with a laugh. "Still, Anna Leigh Keaton really is my favorite erotic author. I enjoy reading her solo works as much as I love having the opportunity to write with her on joint projects. She has an amazing way of bringing that extra emotional touch to her stories, and I admire that."
On a personal note, Madi's had her ears pierced for years, but if she had to get another body part done, she'd go with her belly button.
"On the right person, and when not done to extremes, I think piercing can be very sexy," she explained. "The allure might be because it’s like something forbidden, outside the norm. Unique surprises have the potential to be very sexy. And let’s be honest, it can sting. A tug on a piercing can get your attention, too, long after it’s heeled. For some, a little pain is pleasurable, even arousing. "
Madi's favorite food is seafood—she loves shrimp, fish, lobster, crab, and crawfish.
"And calamari," she said, "Yeah, I know that’s squid. Fried, it’s still good. I’ve even enjoyed caviar on special occasions. The only seafood I avoid is when it’s raw, such as raw oysters."
She can't bring herself to eat snails, however.
"Yes, I know there’s another name for them when they are on your dinner plate, but I don’t care. They are slimy snails, and I couldn’t eat them regardless of the name or seasoning."
Finally, I asked Madi, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"
"Two things: First, read some 'good' erotica. (Look for not just best-selling titles, but also those that have garnered awards/honors in the publishing industry. You want to write like a pro; start by reading stories written by them.) If reading it makes you blush, however, forget it. But if it makes you hot, then you might just be able to pull it off. The key is to know your genre. How else can you give readers what they want until you know what you, as a reader, likes?
"Secondly, don’t be shy. If you think you can skirt around blunt terminology during a sex scene and use flowery prose to tell the tale, think again. That might work for mainstream romance. But readers of erotica like it steamy, sticky, and direct. Tell it like it is or don’t bother trying to write erotica."
You can keep up with Madi on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/madisonlayle .