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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday: Interview with Elizabeth Amber

This is part of a series looking back at the first five interviews we did on Whipped Cream. This interview originally appeared on our site on June 24, 2008.

Whipped Cream is very excited to have Elizabeth Amber with us. Elizabeth is an art historian and museum junkie and her studies of urns, frescoes, and other Greco-Roman artifacts embellished with satyrs celebrating the annual grape harvest inspired her series, The Lords of Satyr.

Discussing the difference between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography, Elizabeth told me, “Each form is valid and will always find readers. Pornography typically focuses more on titillation than on story structure or characters’ emotions.” She sees the scale (from cool to hot) like this: sweet romance, romance, erotic romance, erotica, porn. She also admits she likes them all, plus many subgenres.

She said, “I think it’s great that authors are able to mix and mingle genres these days. My Lords of Satyr series in erotic historical paranormal romance. Five years ago, I don’t think I could’ve sold a mixed bag like that.”

Elizabeth also told me that she likes erotic romance with good characterization and plot and great sexual tension. Some authors she enjoys are “Lora Leigh, Elizabeth Hoyt, Lisa Valdez, Megan Hart, Jaid Black, Kate Douglas, Kresley Cole, J Ward, Shayla Black, Gena Showalter, and many more!” She feels it’s important, though, for an erotic author to read outside the genre as well. “I read a lot of nonfiction and many other subgenres of romance,” she told me.

It’s important to realize that erotic romance isn’t just sex though, she told me. “All the other elements of good storytelling must be there as well: good characterization, plot, voice, pacing, and a healthy dose of sexual tension. My Kensington editor told me she pulled my first novel out of the slush because she responded to my voice.”

The main thing to remember if a writer wants to write erotica, though, is to write what she herself feels intriguing. “If you go with your instincts,” Elizabeth said, “you’ll write something real, and readers will likely respond. As in actual sex, if you’re faking it, your partner (the reader) will know.”

She also cautioned about worrying about what other people (including your mom) will think of you when they read your work. “If you go down that road, you’ll self-censor your way to blandness,” she told me.

Elizabeth admits there are a lot of gray areas when you’re writing sex, but she doesn’t find out-and-out cruelty in a book sexy. She said, though, “I think that almost any topic can make a great, sexy book, if the author cares about it and takes the time to make the characters and situations believable and dramatic.

“In my second novel, Raine The Lords of Satyr, the heroine is a hermaphrodite, something I hadn’t seen another erotic author write about. After I read about how hermaphrodites were treated in the 1800s, I immediately got a story idea I was driven to write. In the 1800s, some of these individuals earned their livings by traveling to medical establishments where they were questioned and examined. I immediately imagined a character like that as sympathetic and I wanted my hermaphrodite heroine to accept herself and to find a lover who accepted her as well.

“That’s the great part about being a writer. You can create happy endings for deserving characters. (And spectacularly awful endings for evil characters.)”

For fun, I asked Elizabeth a few personal questions. When I asked her to share with us her most embarrassing moment, her response was, “Ack! You want me to tell you that?” And in true author fashion, she left a lot of the details up to the readers’ imaginations when she said, “Okay, it had to do with first grade--me all decked out in my spiffy Brownie uniform at school, and having to pee, but being too shy to ask permission. That’s all I’m saying.”

Her favorite food is chocolate in a heart-shaped box, with cookies being a close second. “What do I eat more often than either of those?” she asked. “Salad.” Joined no doubt by a Diet Pepsi, because she informed me she can definitely taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke. “I have a friend who’s a Coke-aholic,” she said, hastening to add, “(the drink, not the powder). Her perception is that all the restaurants and machines offer Pepsi, not Coke. I see it just the opposite.”

She also shared with me a couple of interesting habits she has. “I saw an Oprah show once about weird habits,” she told me. “Two of the weird habits her audience members had were habits I have: 1) I obsessively arrange my money in my wallet from small denominations to large. 2) If I pass someone I think will be stinky, I hold my breath until they’re gone.

“I had never really thought about the fact that I do these things until I heard others on Oprah say they do them. Now, I occasionally ask friends if they do these things. Some think it’s crazy and others are like, yeah, I do it, too.”

Finally, I wanted to know who would play her in a movie if Hollywood ever did the story of her life. “I’m a Sex and the City fan,” she said. “I like to think I’m Carrie, but I think Miranda would play me. I work too hard and too much, and I don’t always get the guy.”

You can read more about Elizabeth and her works at her website, http://www.elizabethamber.com

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