Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Koko Brown. She has recently published her first self-published title, Player's Ultimatum, this past Thankgsiving. It's landed on All Romance eBooks Top Ten Bestseller List and also made Amazon's Top 100 Kindle List for both erotica and multicultural.
"I’m pretty shocked at the book’s performance since it was initially written four years ago for one of Harlequin’s novel contests," she admitted. "Of course it was way too hot for them, since I really didn’t change any of the love scenes. I also didn’t change the plot which revolves around a woman posing as her gay best friend’s fiancé until he can ink a lucrative football contract with a professional soccer team in Italy."
She is also working on three contracted manuscripts for Ellora's Cave and one for Loose-Id, all sequels to the paranormal romances, Charmed and Forever, I Do, she has published with each publisher.
Koko started writing in 2002, but then took a four year hiatus after the death of her mother.
"I just didn’t feel inspired to write," she explained. "However, I found myself in a new home and town and of course bored out of my mind. So, I picked up my first erotic romance, fell in love with the genre, decided to pen my own and the rest is history."
Koko doesn't have an actual work schedule for her writing, since she still works full-time and doesn't see herself leaving her day job because she loves it.
"I work in tourism so I travel for free all the time and it’s a pretty easy gig so I’m not going anywhere. Therefore, my writing is worked around my day job and my other interests. However, I do have a daily writing goal of 1k words minimum a day."
Because she likes to travel, she tends to visit the cities/countries where her books are based.
"I started this trend when I penned my first and still unpublished novel, Heart of Harlem. I’d been there often as a child, but I made a special trip just to research the area and discover nuances I’d never paid attention to in the past. And it really helped. In my opinion there’s just so much Wikipedia, Map Quest or a Convention and Bureaus website can do for you."
" What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotic romance?" I asked her.
"I think the biggest misconception is that erotic romance doesn’t have any romance or a plot. I would like to think that my books feature a good dose of both. My sex scenes are never integral to the storyline, they only enhance it. And if you were to take them out I think that the story would still be enjoyable."
Kate Hill and Jet Mykles are on her list of favorite erotic authors for the same reason; their sex scenes are hot, but they are secondary to the storyline.
"They both have this great ability to transport the reader to other places," she told me.
One of the most important parts of good writing, for Koko, is good character development.
"If your readers can’t connect with your characters, they’ll either put your book down or forget your book as soon as they're finished," she explained. "Great characters can live on in readers forever and they’ll return to the book time and time again."
When she's writing her own books, an idea is usually sparked first, then she sits down and figures out the plot first, then the characters.
"The plot comes to me fairly easily. I can plot a book from beginning to end in about ten or twenty minutes," she confessed. "If I’m stuck sometimes I will call a critique partner or a fellow author and we’ll have a brainstorm session. Of course, I already have a pretty good idea what I’m going to go with already; I just like to hear other people’s opinion of my plot before I get my elbows dirty. Even though coming up with a plot isn’t that hard for me, does it mean the plot will stay that way during the writing process? Never. I’m a plotter at the beginning of all of my stories, and then I switch gears and become a punster and allow my characters to take over."
"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?" I asked. "How many have you written and which is your favorite?"
"The most surprising thing about writing a book is that I finish them," she said. "I have so much going, it's just a task to sit down to write. I’ve written only nine full manuscripts with eight of them actually seeing the light of day. My favorite book would have to be my first novel, Charmed. It’s a vampire romance I wrote in two weeks, while on leave from my former job as a high school American Literature teacher. Player’s Ultimatum is a close second because the hero, Japanese Brazilian soccer player, Paulo Saito, is so arrogant, but devilishly sexy. If you read my reader reviews on Amazon, you’ll see most of them have his name in the title."
On a more personal note, Koko shared with me that as an adult she's not had any embarrassing moment and is very comfortable in her own skin.
"For example, I recently posed for a cover shoot for Ellora’s Cave. Even though there were quite a few people in the room and the male models were deliciously nude and I’m in a state of undress, it felt like another day at the office."
Finally, I asked Koko, "What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?"
" I think the best advice would be from Debbie Macomber. She said that in order to get everything we need to get done in life we should set goals and not just long term ones but daily goals as well. I’ve applied this to my writing and I’ve accomplished quite a bit ever since. The worst advice I’d ever received was from the judge of a writing contest I’d entered for a young adult interracial romance I’d penned. Of course, I disregarded everything she said because she wasn’t my market considering one of her comments came off as racist."
Find the author online at www.KokoBrown.net, www.facebook.com/authorkokobrown, or www.kokobrown.spreadshirt.com, a t-shirt shop inspired by her novel Nerds Are Freaks Too)