INTERVIEWWelcome to At the Corner of First and Romance, Mina! Tell us about Cerise - she's a very intense character. She likes what she likes and refuses to compromise! How did you come up with the idea of her?
Ahh, Cerise. Where did I find her? In a pair of high heels. I saw these killer heels at Macy’s, they were pyramid-studded and pointy and absolutely badass and I pictured the type of woman who would wear them. I’d been fantasizing about writing a really strong, uncompromising female lead for a while and when I saw these shoes, she started to appear. Loves fantasy, loves kicking ass, confident as all hell but with a silly streak to match.I loved William because he struck me as an alpha male, even when he was trying to be a beta. What kind of challenges came up when developing such a complex character?
Well, at the time I wrote this, I’d pretty much had it with alphas. I wanted to write someone open, willing and subservient. Then again, I wanted him to be manly and sexy in a strong way, so that may be why he comes off as a little alpha. He’s a man, you know? But he’s a sweet, giving type rather than a grabby, possessive trope. The challenges I mainly faced were to make him sexy and desirable but keep him from being too dominant. I kept telling myself “Dream man who wants to make your wishes come true”, and the character kept coming to me that way. It was like my mantra. He’ll give whatever you want, so come up with everything, you know?Erotica is becoming more and more mainstream. What makes an erotica novel different than a romance novel? Would you classify HTDYV as one of these?
Great question. Because I’ve been lucky enough to get to know erotica superstar Tiffany Reisz, I can answer this without question. Erotica doesn’t need a happy ending. Erotica can have multiple partners, some taboos, and can blur lines that traditional romance can’t. Erotica isn’t porn—there’s plenty of plot and finesse to be had—and at the end of the day, the sex has to drive the story forward. How to Discipline Your Vampire is erotic romance, which means it’s very sexual and the sex drives the plot, but in this case it has a happily ever after.This is unlike many vampire books already out there in that it isn't blatantly obvious William is a vampire, although it's central to the storyline. Was it a conscious decision to make this story different from other vampire romances?
Yes, It was definitely a conscious decision to downplay the vamp. The story is that of William and Cerise, the power play and the role play, and not as much about the paranormal. It’s a facet, and it’s important, but I really wanted this to be about them as a couple and growing together. I write paranormal; it’s just what I do. I like all things fantastical. But since this is story driven and not world driven, I decided that it wasn’t in-your-face-vampire stuff. I do like that stuff, honestly, just not for this story.How did you obtain your literary agent?
I’m represented by the incredible Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. She’s my dream agent and good friend. Everyone needs an agent, in my opinion, because you need a professional to look out for *your* best interest. I’m so lucky to have her as my partner on this journey.From start-to-finish, how long did it take you to write the first draft of How to Discipline Your Vampire?
First draft? About six months. Revisions…around a year. I re-wrote the second half of the book or so, then re-wrote it again. Drastic changes. So total time would be a year and a half.At what point in your writings did you decide that you wanted to be published?
When I was a kid. We’d be playing in my grandmother’s yard and I would choreograph the entire day with scripted scenes, bossing everyone around like a crazy person. I started writing creatively then, and I wanted a book on the shelf since I was a child. I lost sight of that for a while because it seemed pie-in-the-sky, but once I started pumping out fiction on a regular basis, I thought that pie may be a little lower than sky-height. ;)What was the most surprising thing you learned as you went through the publishing process?
How nice everyone is! My gosh. You’d think big publishers and editors, brand name authors and the like would all be ego-maniacs, but in reality they’re the nicest people ever. Ever. This week I went to RWA nationals and met mega-stars, I mean, like the superheroes of romance. Were they nice? Beyond. Hell, I played iPhone games with Alice Clayton and Jenn Probst for cryin’ out loud. It was amazing.Are there more stories like this in the pipeline for you? What's next?
Yes! I’m currently working on several novelettes with the same themes as How to Discipline Your Vampire. They’re VERY fun, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements. :)
Erin’s chastisement this weekend was a faint memory as I ran my hands over the sumptuous fabric of the black and purple kimono hanging in my bathroom. Unreal, I thought to myself while I unraveled each complex piece of the ensemble. I had done my homework on kimono-wearing during my free period earlier that day. There was the obi, the mae-ita, and the obijime, all finally wrapped around my waist. My outfit was now complete. Instead of putting my hair in a geisha-style bun, I decided to flat-iron it so it fell in long sheets around my face. I used my “winter complexion” pressed powder, clipped in a few black extensions and put on some matte red lipstick to complete the look.
Look out, Kyoto.
I smoothed my clothing and walked as steadily as I could in the high platform sandals William provided. He had put on quite a show the past few scenes, so I knew I would have to hide my shock at whatever he had done this time.
But no amount of preparation could have possibly kept the shock and awe from my expression when I walked into my bedroom.
Or should I say dojo?
William had placed lacquered bamboo parquet on top of my hardwoods, giving the room a much brighter feel. There were also about five or six tatami mats in various points in the room. The furniture was gone, as expected, and all that occupied the space was a simple tea set on the floor, and arrangements of fresh cherry boughs and blossoms in every corner. I was breathless at the sight and the smell. It was like a movie set.
But he wasn’t there. I suppose he was planning on serving me, so I arranged my robe carefully as I sat on the tatami mat closest to the tea setup. I took a moment to inhale and exhale slowly, centering myself for what was to come.
Geishas had to be graceful, calm, and subtle while maintaining their aura as the center of attention. William had a tough audience today.
Before I could hear his approach, William stood in front of me, and then bent into a low bow. As he stood, he kept his head and eyes downcast as he poured hot water into the green tea leaves that were in the pot by my feet. I gave his calves a whack with my fan.
“How dare you take from me,” I chastised.
“Cherry Blossom,” he said quietly. “I hope you received my apologetic appeal. Would you allow me to serve you tea today? I understand if you choose to send me away.”
I looked him up and down in approval. He was wearing simple black drawstring pants and a loose black robe. I could see his chest exposed in a long, low V. I was very pleased. “You may serve me tea,” I said simply, and he made me a cup of green tea.
He kneeled by my side, wordlessly, while I sipped in contemplation. “Have you decided my fate, Cherry-san?” he asked after I had placed my cup on the floor.
“I believe I have, servant. You took from me, so today I will take from you.” I gave him another sharp whack with my fan.
His gaze burned, and I had to look away. Focus, focus, I told myself.
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