Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Trained for Seduction. Long and Short Reviews welcomes Mia Downing whose latest release Trained for Seduction has just been released.
The hero, Chase Sanders, is a smart, sexy guy who is not turned on by the fact that the heroine, Kate Wells, is a blonde bombshell. However, he is attracted to her 170 I.Q.—so he spends the book finding ways to make her talk his version of dirty to him—chemical names for explosive chemicals, lists of obscure gun facts, and more.
"It made him so different and unique that I had a blast finding things to turn him on and it’s erotic romance, so she has a lot of smart things to say," Mia told me with a laugh.
I asked her if Mia was her real name.
"Mia Downing is a pen name, and my editor gave it to me. I was fresh out of ideas, and she said, 'I think Mia Downing would be perfect for you.' And since she names everything else I do (like my books, because my titles really suck pickles) I took it."
Mia started writing in fourth grade because she hated the way Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH ended.
"I wanted a sequel because I didn’t like the fact that those rats who could talk were off in a valley, and we didn’t know which rats lived, and why couldn’t the mice visit? So they visited, and it was awesome. I wrote 50 pages of story in pencil in a notebook. It was probably horrible, but I was hooked then," she explained.
In creative writing in college, she wrote stories that "made people argue like a bad Jerry Springer show," she told me.
"They didn’t like that my chain-smoking heroine sat with a gun and contemplated her sorry life while waited to murder her drug-dealing, cheating, flea-bag husband. Why didn’t she get help, why was murder her only solution? I actually left to have a cigarette in the cafeteria (it was cool to do so then) and I came back and they were STILL fighting. I think I got an A, but more importantly, I learned that good writing will make people have strong feelings, both good and bad.
"I got into erotic romance because I liked the money, and the idea that it was just words, written for money, and I wouldn’t care about the characters or subject matter. How stupid was I? I love my smutty characters, and I think they actually have more levels of depth than other characters I’ve written because there’s no ceiling on what they can feel or how they need to show it. I also like the money," she admitted with a grin.
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I wondered.
"Good dialogue. I want the snappy back and forth between characters that entertains and enlightens, but serves to move the story forward. I also want depth, and conversations that will take place in anyone’s life if they were in the same shoes. The last part I like is dialogue that sounds like the character. There’s nothing worse than a book where everyone sounds alike, or a series that has heroes that all sound alike. It’s important they be different."
Mia has an interested way to make sure all her characters do sound different. She writes all her scenes in dialogue, with no tags (he said, she said). Then she puts the scene away for a while. Then she goes back and sees if she can tell which character is speaking. She will add in tags when the conversation isn't clear and, also, add in the thoughts needed to be heard by the character with the most at stake.
"James Frey has great exercises in his how to write books that help authors develop great dialogue. I think it helped me!" she said.
Mia has recently finished a male/male erotic romance that she's excited about.
"I never intended to write m/m, said I would never do it, thought it was out of my comfort zone, and then my editor asked me to write her something to fill a spot. I dragged my feet but then saw it as a challenge, sort of like the tough guy on the playground saying you’re chicken. I don’t back down from a challenge I can win, so I jumped. It doesn’t have a title at the moment, so you’ll have to check in with the blog and see what it will be christened," she said. "The story is about Jordan, who has inherited half of an island paradise and a business partner, Ryan, both guys around thirty. Jordan wants to sell, Ryan can’t afford to buy his share and fears developers will ruin everything that is good about his island. In the midst of it all, the two are mourning the loss of a mutual friend and loved one, and he’s the one who brought them together. This story is very hot but very conflicted and hopefully deep. My test reader cried. We’ll see if my editor cries, too. That’s always a good gauge of writing. If your stoic editor cries at the sad stuff and squirms in a good way when the characters get busy, then you are doing something right. I wrote this story during an interesting time, since I had just lost my real job during the sale of the business, so I needed a huge challenge. I kept chanting, write faster, and got through the stress. Interestingly enough, I started the week before I found out I was losing my job, and finished my last day of work. So it’s full of sadness and conflict, because I was sad and conflicted in a different way."
I asked her, "How do you come up with the titles to your books?"
"Lots of tequila, a dart board and those magnets with words on them that you can string together and make poems. None of these are used together. Well, the tequila is used with everything. Tossing darts at choices seems to be a good solution, sober or not. The magnets don’t seem to stick to the dart board, so I put those on the fridge and play with them when I get lemons for the tequila shots." She then admitted, "Actually, in all truthfulness, my esteemed editor names them all. Exceeding Boundaries was something else two times before we hit that name. Spy Games: Trained for Seduction was hard to name, and it had a different name, too. Finally, I got really smart and just stopped trying to title my books and started to send them in with the character’s name on the file. Jake’s book, Spy Games: Lethal Limits, was submitted as Jake. The new m/m is going by Jordan at this point. I did name Spy Games: Endgame, and I haven’t convinced my editor to let me keep the title yet. I want this title something fierce, enough to fly to her house and clean it, and not the ‘sweep the dirt under the rug’ version of clean, either. I don’t like to clean, and I think her house is as messy as mine, because she’s always working. But I’d go forth and clean. Endgame has to do with Charlotte waiting for final mission, a suicide mission where she will take down the bad men that took everything from her. Endgame is a stage in chess where you are setting the pieces for the final run to checkmate. Charlotte wants her endgame pieces to move fast and furious until she meets her hero, Aaron. Then she can’t seem to get the pieces to slow down!"
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?"
"Read the genre, but then write what you’re comfortable with. For example, there are many stories that are rated as wonderful that I just don’t relate with, like infidelity. I just don’t find cheating on your lover to be with the hero/heroine of a book to be acceptable. Therefore, writing to that market wouldn’t work for me. By reading the genre, I know what people expect, what level of heat I’m comfortable with, and what subject material interests me the most."
About the Author: Mia Downing started creating heroes at age four, but her heroes then rode ponies to rescue the princess, and only kissed her on the cheek. Today, Mia's heroes still rescue princesses, but the price of their toys and the expertise of their seduction leads to a lot more than a peck on the cheek. When Mia isn't busy creating new stories for her readers she fills in as an underwear model for a prestigious lingerie company. She also lives in CT with her family, and enjoys horses and knitting.
Emma Walters didn't choose to be a spy, but when her crazy father was caught selling bombs to the wrong people, she was given a choice--become a spy or rot in jail. Her exciting new life as agent Kate Wells becomes more so when she discovers her new boss is the agent--undercover and investigating her father at the time--who took her to third base. Emma is already in half in love with the dark and dangerous Chase Sanders. Kate wants nothing more than for him to finish what he started, but he's the devil incarnate. And one doesn't make deals or fall in love with the devil.
If someone had told Chase he'd fall in love with a certain virgin when he was on his last mission, he would have shot them dead, sniper style. She was nothing more than collateral damage, damn it. But watching the sexy new spy morph into a bombshell killing machine is too much to bear. So when the powers that be command him to train her in the art of seduction for her first--and possibly last--mission, he's scared witless. Making love to Kate means preparing her for sex with another man.
Somehow, Chase has to find a way to get Kate in--and out--of her mission without dying. And without falling in love.