"This story becomes less about an older woman educating a younger man in the ways of love, and becomes more about two people with emotional baggage trying to build a better life for themselves," she explained, "and learning about the importance of putting the past behind them through the positive power of love."
She's currently working on the second of her Gods of Love series of novellas about the erotes (aspects of Eros) and their interactions in modern-day society. Aphrodite Calling is the story of Himeros, god of sexual desire, and Gina, a career woman in desperate need of Him's unique brand of sexual assistance. She's also working on the third book, tentatively called Sex Club Secrets, about Anteros, the god of requited/unrequited love. The first book in the series, Platinum Passion, was released in December and is about a long-term marriage in need of a boost, which it gets from Pothos, the god of sexual yearning.
Jennifer has always written, ever since she was young, but it wasn't until she was at university and someone dared her to write a romance that she started taking writing more seriously.
"Of course that first attempt was rejected, but I had positive feedback about my unique writing voice. For years I dabbled in writing as a hobby until after my divorce, when I finally felt it might be possible to reach for my dreams, so I rewrote an erotic romance called Seducing Serena and submitted it to Red Sage. They bought it for their Secrets anthology (Volume 28), and it was when I got that trade paperback copy of Volume 28 in my hand that I finally felt like a 'real' writer," she said.
"What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotic romance?" I wondered.
"I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that erotica and erotic romance are the same thing. In my mind, they are not. I write erotic romance, and I define it as sex with an emotional connection, where the protagonists have the possibility of a happy ever after ending. So it is never sex just for the sake of sex. The emotional connection and development of a sustainable relationship – where the focus is on the 'romance' – is what distinguishes erotic romance from erotica or pornography."
For Jennifer, the characters definitely came first. She usually gets a strong sense of the two—three, in a ménage—main characters and what their first interactions might be. She then sits down and starts writing.
"The characters are actually so strong in my head by that point that they usually take me on the journey, rather than the other way around," she explained. "Quite often I'll get a sense of where the story is going next and go to write it that way, only to find the characters saying and doing other things that lead me in a new direction. That is one of the things I love best about the writing process. It surprises even me where we end up sometimes!"
Jennifer has set up a small section of the bedroom as a study area. She has a new chair with lumbar support, which is great for her back. A small window looks out on two of the neighbor's houses and lots of gorgeous, green trees.
"Green is my favorite color, and I love the view here," she told me. "It is a sunny day, with a gentle breeze tickling the leaves – very restful. There is always coffee – long and black. My cat is never far away – she's either curled up behind the laptop screen, or sitting on the desk looking at me as I type, or near my feet. Actually, to be technically correct, she belongs to my two daughters – or they to her – but I love her hanging out with me in my writing space!"
She needs peace and quiet when she writes, rather than the music other authors use to evoke a mood. Her best times to write are when the rest of the family are either out or asleep—she loves those times.
Jennifer is from Melbourne, Australia, and she lives out toward the Dandenong Ranges to the east of the city. From there, they have access to the city, shops, nightlife, and restaurants, but also easy access to the hills, where they can enjoy cafes, art, nature, and greenery.
"I do love my greenery!" she reminded me. "There are beaches if we want them, weather that offers an interesting four seasons in a day (and if you're from Melbourne, you know how to dress in layers and peel them off/on/off!). But most of all, it is familiar. It is where I was born, where I grew up, and my family are here. Love it!"
"What is the most embarrassing thing your mother ever did to you?" I asked.
"I'm sure there are lots of things I could answer here, if I cast my mind back, but one that quickly comes to mind is how she used to cut our hair, to try and save money. Instead of taking us to a hairdresser, she would sit my sisters and I in the kitchen at home, plonk a bowl onto our heads and cut. Oh…my…God! The end result was hideous. My fringe was about 1cm long (and I have a high forehead, too!). And then we had to go out in public like that. Actually, I think she only did that once, come to think of it. But once was definitely enough!"
"What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?" I asked.
"I visited a sex shop a couple of times with my long-suffering partner in tow, as I needed to learn a bit more about the world of sex toys and who might actually visit such a place. No way was I going there on my own! I imagined a room full of sleazy guys in raincoats, but it actually wasn't like that! There was a business-like female shop assistant who was most patient with my questions (e.g. How the hell would you use something like this? And why?). It was an interesting and very informative visit. Or two! And my partner thoroughly enjoyed himself," she said with a smile.
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Write the story you want to write, and don't try and write for a particular publishing line, or what you think someone else wants. If you look for a publisher after you've written it, you have a better chance of staying true to yourself and that unique little voice inside you. Also, connect. With other writers, through Yahoo, social media, local writer's groups and support organisations. Writing is an isolating activity, and it is important to feel that connection with others who truly understand what you do. Most of all, don't give up. Keep striving for that dream and one day, you'll get there!"
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