- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
When Christina asked me to drop in to chat about hitting the New York Time Bestseller List for the first time, I jumped at the chance. (Of course they didn’t want me to talk about how to write a New York Times bestseller--the Squawk Gals have that down pat!) But when I sat down to write this blog, I wondered what wisdom I, Samantha James, could impart. Well, my first thoughts were these:
Number 13 is NOT an unlucky number.
And never say never.
It’s human nature to dream big, you know? When my husband was a kid, he wanted to be an Olympic champion in track-and-field. I wasn’t a kid; I was nearly thirty when I discovered romance novels. And I wanted to be the next Kathleen Woodiwiss. Or maybe I’d be the next Jude Devereaux. Or Johanna Lindsay, and Fabio would grace my cover . . . (uh-oh, did I really say that? Maybe I should duck and run here!). No matter—someday I wanted to be on the bestseller lists along with them.
A confession here: I’ve been in the biz a looong time. I wrote fifteen category contemporary books and a novella before switching gears and making the move to historicals in 1992. Yes, there was a part of me that still longed to be the next Kathleen Woodiwiss. But facts were facts. I was, literally, starting over from the bottom of the heap. I write the kinds of books I love to read—and I love books that make me shed a tear or two and make me sigh when the last page is turned.
I pour my heart and soul into each and every book. I’ll continue to do that with every book I write. Yet there was a part of me that said THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL was special. Simon Blackwell is . . . and always will be . . . a very special hero. My editor loved the book. She loved Simon. But the ultimate question is . . . what will readers think? Will they buy it? Will they find Simon as special as I did—as I do?
From the very beginning of my career, of course I’d dreamed about hitting the New York Times list—the top 15. Getting that phone call from your editor or agent that says “You’re a New York Times bestseller!” After all, it’s THE MOTHER OF ALL BESTSELLER LISTS. But there are no magic potions. No fairy dust. I’d had my reality check long ago. Sure, I’d made the Waldenbooks bestseller list numerous times, the USA Today list. I’d made it onto the New York Times expanded list, but nowhere even close to the Top 15. But in my mind, it wasn’t just a long shot. It just wasn’t in the cards. It would take climbing mountains—moving mountains--to get into the Top 15. Did I want it to happen? Silly question, isn’t it? Did I think it could happen? Hell, no. But, as always, there was a part of me that had imagined what I’d do if that particularly miracle really did happen..
Truly, it’s just like Eloisa said in Sunday’s blog—it’s incredibly nerve-wracking when your book is released. After all these years, you’d think I’d be used to the waiting game. I’m not. It still gets to me. The week following the on-sale date is especially trying to me—Wednesday is usually the day of reckoning. It’s the pits—and that’s where it hits, right in the pit of my stomach. What will readers think? Will they buy the book? Will it make any lists? Which list—or lists? How high? How low? Or will it simply tank?
Week one came. Number 27 on the NYT expanded list, 46 on USAT. Whew. And—a very pleasant surprise--#15 on Publishers Weekly, a first. Week two came, and while I tried to tell myself the pressure was off, it wasn’t. My husband was at work. I was alone, except for Micki and Sass (faithful canine and feline, one at my feet, the other on my desktop). Would Simon maintain on the NYT expanded list? Drop off? It was 4:30 in NY. I checked my e-mail every minute. Really. Stared—glared--at the phone. 5:30 in NY. Nearly 6:00. Nothing happened. Nada. Finally I went downstairs, grabbed Micki’s leash and took her for a walk around the block.. I was gone seven minutes. Seven minutes. The one time I should have played the waiting game just a bit longer, I didn’t. The phone was ringing when I walked inside. I sauntered toward it. What was the point in hurrying, I asked myself. It was probably one of my girls.
It was my agent. Excited, almost babbling. “Oh, where have you been? I e-mailed you twice, left a message on the phone, tried to call your cell . . .” (I’m like everyone else these days—I’m never without my cell—except this time. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe SIMON didn’t drop off after all, and so I said. Imagine my shock when she practically screamed “You’re number 13! You’re number 13!” It took a minute to sink in. Then I did a rather unladylike thing (you can tell I run on emotion, can’t you?) covered the mouthpiece of the phone . . . and screamed.
I couldn’t believe it. Twenty-two years and thirty-three books later, THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL, my seventeenth historical, jumped onto the New York Times Bestseller List. And sure enough, there was a voice message from my agent, my editor’s assistant (my editor had left early, the list came in late) . She called a few minutes later, as stunned-and as happy as I was. Then my husband called. His response ? You don’t think it was a mistake, do you? Another withering glare at the phone—and him when he got home. Yes, he’s now been forgiven. Yes, much groveling involved. Much champagne too, two nights in a row.
So those wise lessons of wisdom? #13 is not an unlucky number. It’s the luckiest number in the world. And, oh, yeah . . . never say never.
And note to self: When Aidan’s story (Aidan is Simon’s brother-in-law, Annie’s brother) comes out next spring, my cell goes with me everywhere—even if I have to tape it, tie it, glue it to my body.
What is the most wonderful, fabulous surprise you’ve ever had? And what was your reaction? Did you scream like I did? Cry? Drop to your knees and whoop and holler? C’mon, let’s hear it!
Check back later to see if you won the autographed copy of THE SECRET PASSION OF SIMON BLACKWELL. You can scream then!
Samantha James will be our guest author tomorrow, Tuesday May 22, when she’ll talk about her publishing career and her triumph with her newest book, The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell. Samantha is a wonderful writer and one of the nicest authors in the business —but we at Squawk don’t hold that against her. At least, only a couple of us do. She’ll answer all your questions and give away an autographed copy of The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell, so make sure you come to Squawk Radio for the talented Samantha James.
Samantha James wrote her first book in a three-ring binder and finished it on a typewriter on the kitchen table. Her gift to herself after selling her first book? A new computer.
This veteran author’s books have won numerous awards and appeared on national bestseller lists. Her historicals have ranged from Medieval to the Victorian era. Her latest book is The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell, which landed on the prestigious New York Times Bestseller List. Her loves include travel—and of course, browsing through castles in the British Isles. Visit Samantha’s website at http://samanthajames.com/ !
I used to be a huge movie and theater-goer. I saw pretty much everything, even if I had only marginal interest. But gradually over the last three years or so, my movie and theater attendance has dropped dramatically. With theater, a lot of it is expense. Even with half-price tickets, you’re looking at fifty bucks minimum, so I want to know a show is going to be at least somewhat worth my while. But frankly it usually isn’t.
To paraphrase David Spade, I’m starting to feel like movies and theater should be called “not tv” because that’s what they are. Books can still be called books—I generally get the same satisfaction out of them that I always have. But more often than not, after a night or afternoon at the theater or movies, I think to myself, “Well, I’ve got half a dozen things on my Tivo that would have been more enjoyable than that....”
Which brings me to my first reason for why I’m all about television these days. I knew even before I got Tivo that it was an invention that could have been created solely for the delight of Shauna Summers. Yet it’s still so much better than I ever could have imagined! Whenever I have a tv watching friend who is thinking about getting a Tivo or a DVR (I have both), I say to them, “You think it will change your life, but you have no idea.” And everytime they come back to me and say, “I know you said it would be great, but it’s so much better than that!” Thanks to Tivo, I watch at least three times as much television as I ever did before, and I try to convince myself it’s okay because at least I’m watching more effectively and efficiently—I only watch what I really want to watch and no commercials. I pretty much never channel surf or lay around watching nothing.
The second thing that makes television the best of all entertainments is DVDs. I ask you, what is better than an entire television series on DVD? I watched the first five seasons of X-Files on DVD several years ago, and I have to say, it was one of the most satisfying entertainment experiences of my life. DVD is how I discovered Sports Night and Joan of Arcadia (is Season 2 ever coming out?), got caught up on Gilmore Girls, and savored all over again the genius that is Buffy, Angel, and Veronica Mars. It’s so much better to have hours and hours of great stories and characters, rather than just two.
The third and very personal reason for my bloated television viewing schedule is knitting. I’ve really gotten into it since I moved back to NYC, and it’s the perfect thing to do while I blaze through The Daily Show, House, Lost, Men in Trees, Grey’s Anatomy, American Idol and my Sunday news shows (just to name a few…).
But the biggest reason I think television is the best is because that’s where the most innovative, fresh, and compelling storytelling is happening. The number of A-list movie stars who are moving to television support this theory (just this morning at the gym I saw an ad for a new TNT show starring Holly Hunter). If you don’t believe me, then you haven’t watched recently. And here are three shows that I feel prove my point, the shows I feel are not to be missed. And yes, it was very hard for me to narrow it down to three…
1. Friday Night Lights--the best and most realistic portrayal of a good marriage ever
2. Battlestar Galactica--religion, politics, good vs. evil, and the most layered and compelling characters ever
3. The Office—I could watch the first five minutes of the Season 3 opening episode (“Gay Witch Hunt”) at least once a day, and I often do. Every single episode delivers some kind of satisfying Pam and Jim moment and then there’s Dwight—I actually do a pretty good impression…
So here are my questions for YOU:
Is it just me or has the quality of movies gone downhill in the last couple of years?
What are your thoughts about serialized/must-watch-in-order shows like Lost, 24, Heroes, and Jericho? I love them but am starting to feel overwhelmed. Plus, I’m hesitant to take one on unless I know it’s not going to be canceled.
For you procedural show watchers, what’s the appeal of CSI and Law and Order over other kinds of dramatic television? I feel like newer shows like The Closer and House straddle the two—procedurals that have deeper characterization and character dynamics. Discuss.
I’m not a sitcom watcher (except for The Office)—hard for me to invest for some reason. For sitcom lovers, what’s the draw over hour-long television?
How does reality tv fit in? Some of it is a train wreck, but some of it is pretty great (Project Runway and Amazing Race for example). I have a theory that after twenty minutes, almost anyone will be sucked into almost any reality show. Discuss.
This summer I will be watching on DVD The Wire and the last two seasons of La Femme Nikita. What about you?
So I’ve been in the unfortunate position recently of needing to hire an assistant for the second time in less than a year. My most important requirement in an assistant is that I don’t mind looking at her face everyday (I got this bit of advice from a former colleague and have found it to be extremely true and wise). My second most important requirement is that my assistant get (if not love) the books I work on. Somewhere amidst these two is the need for someone detail-oriented and semi-organized who can keep on top of everything an editor has going on—seeing manuscripts and page proofs through the production process; dealing with authors, getting them what they need; creating title information sheets for sales and marketing; doing mailings, filing, copying, etc. Shouldn’t be so hard to find, right? Well…..
All my friends and colleagues keep saying, “Working for you? That would be a great job!” Now I realize that part of this is bias—my friends and colleagues love me, but even I have to admit, I’m a pretty great boss. I’m a firm believer in mentoring, since I have benefited from it so much myself over the years. I’m fairly low maintenance, don’t have a temper, encourage the use of every last vacation day, regularly bring baked goods into the office. But of course, as it’s turned out, I’m not really the issue. Most of the candidates I’ve met have been very interested in the job, even if I don’t particularly want to hire them (usually I like her face, but she doesn’t get commercial fiction/romance or she writes a great readers report but I don’t like her face).
Given the general enthusiasm and awe I get from people when I talk about working in publishing, I think I expected an endless supply of possibilities, but in reality, not so much. So here’s some interview tips for a job as an editorial assistant:
1. When asked what you like to read, don’t say “Oh, I read everything!” This is not helpful, and let’s face it, probably not true. I recognize that for a lot of kids coming out of college, they’re going to be more familiar with “literature” than my kind of books, but really? Your favorite authors are Charles Dickens and Tolstoy? And you’re interviewing here? Which leads to my next tip.
2. Even if you prefer to read Literature with a capital L, find out what kinds of books the publishing house is known for and specific titles the editor has worked on, if possible. Although, to be honest, I can smell research over genuine experience and enthusiasm a mile away. But at least put in the effort to seem informed?
3. Have questions, preferably smart, insightful ones, that allow for us to have a bit of a conversation. One candidate (who I didn’t choose in part because the last three books she’d read were some kind of translated Italian weirdness that I’d never even heard of, but she talked about as though I should have) asked me about my own career path—great question! Another asked about the daily tasks of an editor, aside from reading manuscripts (I actually just extended an offer to her today—I really like her face!). When I ask them if they have questions and they say, “I can’t think of any…” Not a good sign.
4. We’re not corporate as in a law firm or Goldman Sachs, but a brush through the hair and actual shoes instead of flip flops is probably a good idea. Seriously. Showed up in flip flops. Do they teach interview skills in college anymore? If they don’t, they should.
5. Readers reports. Next time I go through this process, I’m going to follow the advice of my friend Kara Cesare and give them an example of what a readers report should be. When I give them a few different books to read, I feel like I’m clear on the assignment—“I’ve read these already, so I don’t need a summary. I just want to know what you liked, what you didn’t like, what worked, what didn’t, what would make it better.” But it’s like they think it’s a trick question. Which I guess I can understand. After all, I’m giving them books that we’ve already published (in most cases), so I must like them, right? I tell them not to overthink and to follow their instincts. But I seem to keep getting term papers, rather than the Chris Farley show (“Remember the part where….that was awesome!”) My favorite was the interviewee (obviously not a romance reader) who, in discussing a very sexy vampire romance, wrote that the battle between the good vampires and the bad vampires could even be a metaphor for the fight between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Right….
So hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a new assistant. If you meet her at RWA, please be extra nice to her. I really don’t think I can face going through this process again any time soon.
If you have any questions about what it’s like being an editor OR an editor’s assistant, I’ll be popping into the Comments later to answer them!
I have to confess that I’ve never had the pleasure of working directly on a book with editor Shauna Summers but she and I have shared several really large pieces of chocolate cake and had many deep philosophical discussions about Brad Pitt’s hair. (With the general consensus being that his LEGENDS OF THE FALL hair was the best.) Shauna is not only one of the most gifted editors working in women’s fiction today; she’s also one of the nicest. And as you can tell by the list of authors she’s worked with, she has a real eye for talent.
She’s currently a Senior Editor at the Bantam Dell Publishing Group where she edits and acquires all kinds of commercial fiction, particularly romance and women’s fiction. Some of her authors include Mary Balogh, Kay Hooper, Karen Marie Moning, Madeline Hunter, Tara Janzen and Shana Abe. Shauna previously worked at Ballantine Books where she edited Suzanne Brockmann, Gaelen Foley, Cherry Adair and Laurell K. Hamilton. After a two year sabbatical from publishing, Shauna returned to the business and her first home of Bantam in July 2005
We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Shauna to Squawk Radio for the next two days. She’s promised to pop in and answer your questions whenever she gets a chance as well. So let’s give a hearty Squawk welcome to Shauna Summers!
KITTY:What’s coming up next for you?
TONI: Well, Kitty, I’m a busy bee these days.
I just agreed to two more books for Avon. These books will not be in the Red line, but will instead come out in Avon’s mass market contemporary program. But fear not, readers, they’re the same kind of book I’ve been writing all along – super sexy and super emotional – just no longer marketed as erotica.
Meanwhile, I’ve just finished up another Lacey book for Penguin (SEVEN NIGHTS OF SIN, April 2008) and have also just agreed to write a third. I’m still at work on a continuing series at Ellora’s Cave, as well as taking part in an anthology with them that comes out in September, and as Toni, I’ll even have a short story included in an anthology coming out from Berkley next year, for which the proceeds will benefit a battered women’s shelter.
And more immediately, I and fellow author LuAnn McLane are embarking on The Blondes Have More Fun Book Tour, a four-state signing tour that will keep us occupied throughout much of the month of June. If readers want a signed copies of our books and happen to live in the Midwest, they should check my website in June to see a list of bookstores that will have them.
KITTY: So, imagine I’m purely a Toni Blake fan and I’m not all over the erotic side of the market. Stop looking at me like that. I said *imagine.* Would I like your Lacey Alexander books?
TONI: That’s a tricky question, Kitty. Sometimes people who know I write under both names will buy a Lacey book, then tell me how surprised they were by the “erotic content.” So trust me, they are very different, and if you’re easily offended or uninterested in reading about very extreme sex, Lacey books may not be for you. (EC even puts disclaimers on most of my books, so consider yourself warned.)
On the other hand, many of the same readers subscribe to both Toni’s and Lacey’s newsletters, and often the very same reviewers give both Toni and Lacey great reviews. I recently announced my double life on a readers’ loop I take part in and was delighted to find that many of my reader friends there who knew me as Toni had already been reading and enjoying my Lacey books, as well.
So I guess it comes down to your sensibilities and your interest in erotica. If Toni readers want to pick up a copy of VOYEUR and check it out, I’m grateful and I hope they love it. And if Lacey fans want to give TEMPT ME TONIGHT a try when it comes out next month, I would very much appreciate that, too!
KITTY: So why do you write about such “extreme sex” in your Lacey books? Why isn’t “regular” sex a good enough topic? Brockway made me ask that question. As dense as last year’s fruitcake, that girl.
TONI: First of all, Kitty, I’ve learned through writing erotica that “regular” is often in the eye of the beholder. But to address your question, as I said, in each Lacey book, I strive to take readers on a complete erotic adventure, one that they’re probably never actually going to go on. With Lacey, it’s all about fantasy and exploring sexual ideas. Besides, there’s an awfully lot of erotic books out there right now, so I also hope to give readers something a little different than what they may have read elsewhere.
KITTY: So you’re saying your Lacey books are different than every other erotica book out there?
TONI: You’re putting words in my mouth, Kitty. (And here I’d started saying nice things about you, too.)
I can’t really say what other erotica is out there, because to be honest, I’ve read very little of it. I only know that my readers and editors often indicate that my books are filled with more extreme situations than much of what they’re seeing – and they seem to like that : )
When I sat down to write my first erotica (a book called FRENCH QUARTER, which still sells well more than three years after it’s release) I didn’t want to know what other authors were writing – I just wanted to take a stab at creating a highly-charged, envelope-pushing sexual adventure that I thought women would enjoy. So that’s what I do now with every Lacey book.
I also try, in many of my books, to write stories featuring very average, normal women who I hope readers can relate to, someone who is just as surprised as the reader when she finds herself swept up in a steamy erotic journey.
KITTY: Are you concerned that current readers of both names you write under may feel deceived when they discover you kept this secret for so long? Not that I have anything against deception, mind you.
TONI: Don’t be silly, Kitty – my readers are far more sophisticated than that!
Actually, a few people have suggested to me this might happen, but I can’t see why, especially since I was contractually obligated not to say anything for a long while. And I pretty much see this a personal decision for any author, where many factors come into play. So while I expect some people to be surprised, I’d be amazed if anyone was actually upset.
KITTY: So where can readers learn about all your many personas and books?
KITTY: Finally, how weird is it to refer to yourself in the third person? Because Bevarly does that a lot and we find it annoying as hell.
TONI: It’s pretty weird, frankly, and I have to do it a lot, mostly with my editors and agent, and also close friends – otherwise, they don’t know which one of me I’m talking about. The double life thing is pretty crazy, actually. One thing’s for sure – Lacey has added an entirely unexpected element to my life. Trust me – no one who knows me personally would have ever expected me to write erotica. Just goes to show that maybe we all have undiscovered parts of ourselves.
As for why Liz is referring to herself in the third person, too, I have no idea what her excuse is ; )
Thanks for the interview, Kitty!
KITTY: No problemo. Just tell me where I can get hold of the phone number of that guy from the cover up top. I gots me a set of fur-lined manacles ...
KITTY: So what’s this secret of yours? Have you channeled Elvis, do you have an alien baby – what is it?
TONI: Well, Kitty, the secret is – in addition to writing sexy romance as Toni Blake, I’ve also been writing erotica under the name Lacey Alexander for three and a half years.
KITTY: Wait a minute. We all know you write erotic romance as Toni Blake – and now you’re saying you write “erotica” as Lacey Alexander. Isn’t that calling this drink “vodka” and that drink “Absolut?” What could possibly be so different about these books that you took on a whole new name to write them?
TONI: Kitty, you sound like a woman who knows her vodka.
As Toni Blake, I write very sexy romances that contain plenty of passionate sex scenes, but the stories are also very emotional and layered and complex. They’re very hot and sexy, but they pull at the heartstrings and leave you sighing romantically at the end.
As Lacey Alexander, I write erotica. These books are about the sexual journey of a woman who will ultimately fall in love, but she’s going on a wild, erotic adventure to get there. In “Lacey world,” what I call “extreme sex” has no bad emotional repercussions, the sex is always fabulous, and all is well in the end. Also, Lacey books contain way more outrageous sexual situations and graphic language than a Toni Blake book ever will.
I know it can be confusing for people since my Toni Blake books are currently being marketed as erotica in the Avon Red line, but most anyone who’s read them will tell you they’re good old-fashioned (even if very sexy) romance novels. Whereas Lacey Alexander books are definitely erotica that just happen to have a little romance mixed in. It was weird for me when Toni books were placed in Avon’s erotica line, but it was a marketing decision that paid off, so I have no complaints : )
KITTY: So Toni books are romance and Lacey books are erotica. Frankly, the Lacey stuff sounds like good old fashioned soft-core porn – and about time. So how did that happen?
TONI: Well, Kitty, a few years back I was “between publishers.” That’s an author’s pleasant way of saying their old publisher no longer wants their books. My editor had told me two devastating things, that I didn’t write sex well and that I just wasn’t a very good writer, period. (True story.)
As you can guess, this was very demoralizing and I was pretty sure I was washed up in the business. Of course, I was busily penning new projects, not anywhere near giving up, but in the meantime, a friend suggested I try something entirely new to get my confidence back, and she mentioned the emerging erotica publisher, Ellora’s Cave.
I’d never even thought about writing erotica before, but I accepted the challenge. I did no research, didn’t read what they were buying, any of that – I just sat down and wrote what I personally thought would make a good erotica novel. I figured if they rejected it, I wasn’t meant to write erotica – no big deal. But thee days after submitting the novel to EC, they bought it – and a second career was born.
And for what it’s worth, the Lacey stuff might be better categorized as hardcore than soft ; )
KITTY: Why did you keep your second persona a secret? Was it your friends? Because honey, I can sympathize. I personally have been dumped by many very cool people once they discover I’ve been working for Squawk.
TONI: Fortunately for me, Kitty, sounds like I have better friends than you ; )
As it happens, right after I sold to EC, I also sold my first single title novel as Toni Blake. Contracts are complicated things, and my new Toni Blake publisher included a clause saying I would have to keep my erotica identity a secret. I’ve since moved on from that publisher, so I could have revealed my double life before now, but let’s be frank, Kitty – a girl still has to worry about creepy men and stalkers. And, honestly, I expected the erotica to be a one-time thing. I had no idea that book would sell so well, but when it did, it only made sense to continue – and it quickly got to be a much bigger part of my career than I ever expected.
KITTY: So you’re saying you write smut for the money, is that it? What a practical ‘tude! I like you, kid.
TONI: Well, Kitty, I won’t lie to you – I like money. It puts food on the table, you know. But I wouldn’t keep writing it if I disliked it. I really rather enjoy writing my Lacey books for the following reason: Lacey’s work is very contrary to my real self, so it’s an interesting challenge to step outside my normal boundaries, push envelopes as far as I possibly can, and see what happens. I have a rule as Lacey – I don’t censor her, ever. If something totally outrageous pops into my head when I’m writing a Lacey book, it goes on the page, and I don’t delete it, no matter how much I might be tempted to ; ) It’s also an interesting challenge to sometimes write about things that don’t necessarily appeal to me on a gut level, but I really like to take Lacey readers on a complete, no-holds-barred erotic journey, and sometimes that means kinky stuff ; ) Sometimes my characters get aroused by things that may not arouse me, and they frequently do things I would never do, and I love the challenge of making that feel real and believable to readers.
I also find Lacey’s e-mail very gratifying. People e-mail me to say my books have made them more daring in the bedroom or that they’ve shared my novels with their husbands and it has improved their sex lives and marriages. I’ve received many e-mails asking me to please never stop writing these kinds of books. To which I say, wow – if I can do all that with my erotica, that makes it seem pretty worthwhile.
KITTY: So why tell us now?
TONI: Frankly, it’s gotten hard to keep the secret. It’s not easy living a double life ; ). And I do have a new Lacey book coming out from Penguin/New American Library – today, in fact. So it seemed like a good time. Plus Penguin did mention I was Toni Blake in their sales catalog, and I knew it had leaked out in other places, too, so it just seemed like time to “come out of the closet,” if you will.
KITTY: So you’re no longer worried about creepy men and stalkers?
TONI: Well, actually, Kitty, I am. And I’ve noticed you have stalker-like tendencies, so frankly, I’m even a little nervous about this interview. But I decided to simply announce it in romance-friendly circles like this one, and I thank the lovely ladies of Squawk for inviting me to do so.
KITTY: Hon, unless you’re nickname is “Beef Cake” and you ride a hog, you’re safe from me. So tell us more about this Lacey book you have coming out today.
TONI: Thanks for asking, Kitty! (And people say you’re not nice!)
VOYEUR is the wildly erotic tale of a mystery novelist on retreat in a mountainside home – who, it turns out, isn’t quite as alone as she thinks, due to the webcam on the homeowner’s computer. She soon finds herself doing things in front of the camera, and having e-mail conversations, that she never could have imagined. And things really heat up when the guy on the other end of the camera decides to close the distance between them and come face-to-face.
KITTY: Yeah, yeah...nice, nice. That’s me. Get on with the interview and stop making goo-goo eyes at me. Geesh! I hear you have a Toni book coming out in June, and another in July. Tell us about those.
TONI: It’s difficult to draw my eyes away from such a ravishing woman, Kitty, but I’ll try.
TEMPT ME TONIGHT comes out from Avon Red on June 1 and is the story of a woman who returns to her hometown on family business after many years away, only to be confronted by the lost love who once betrayed her. The chemistry between them still burns strong, so strong she fears she can’t resist him, but she refuses to let him get the best of her. So she decides that she’ll seduce him, finally get to have sex with him, and her curiosity will be laid to rest. Of course, that’s not how things go …
Then at the end of June (the 26th, I believe) Avon is reissuing my first Red book, SWEPT AWAY, which is super exciting for me! Look for a new cover and a new, smaller mass market size this time around. SWEPT AWAY is the story of Kat Spencer, who gets stranded on an island with “the one who got away,” and now he’s even hotter than he was the first time around. Of course, she’s kind of engaged to another guy. And there are bad dudes with guns chasing them. And he’s trying to get her into bed at every turn. So she’s got her fair share of problems.
And in other big news, TEMPT ME TONIGHT is being excerpted in the June issue of Cosmo! So color me excited. The issue should be showing up in stores any day now. Although, that said, the excerpt is pretty … condensed. So to get a true taste of TEMPT ME TONIGHT, readers should check out the excerpt on my website.
Come back this afternoon to read Part Two of Kitty’s interview with Toni Blake.