Saturday, July 10, 2010

Interview & Giveaway: Lisabet Sarai

Please give a warm welcome to Lisabet Sarai, a successful romance author, who is here to talk about writing steamy fiction, what bothers her when it comes to romance fiction and finally, about her latest book, Necessary Madness. Welcome, Lisabet!

Thanks for inviting me to chat on your blog, Nikola!

Let's get straight to the point - how does one get into writing steamy fiction?

I don't think there's a single answer here. I've always loved to write (I penned my first short story at six and my first poem at seven), and I've always been fascinated by sex. I was a shy nerd during high school and college but "blossomed", sexually speaking, when I was in grad school. Making up for
lost time, you might say! My first erotic stories were fantasies written for a lover.

I was inspired to write my first novel, Raw Silk, after reading Portia da Costa's Black Lace classic Gemini Heat. I loved its diversity and intelligence. Then I thought, "With my imagination, I'll bet I could write something like that." So I did! I now realize how incredibly lucky I was to have my first submission accepted by a top publisher.

The romance market is huge right now. What sets your books apart?

Well, for one thing, I don't tend to write real alpha heros. I'm more interested in nuanced characters who might not look like Greek gods but who have brains instead.

I tend to take genres and twist them into possibly unrecognizable forms. For example, I wrote a shape shifter romance (Serpent's Kiss) but the shifter isn't a were-wolf, were-cat, were-stallion, etc. He's the reincarnation of the Mayan god Quetzlcoatl, who takes the form of a half-bird, half-snake. My paranormal books tend to be minimalist in their allocation of power, rather
than playing off rival races of super-creatures. And I write BDSM that's simultaneously extreme (by romance standards) and intensely emotional.

Compared to many romance authors, I pay a great deal of attention to setting. All my books are set in real places: Bangkok, Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Worcester, Guatemala. With the exception of Guatmala, these are all places I know well. I feel that a rich sense of place helps better define my characters.

Your latest book, Necessary Madness, is your first full-length gay romance. What was it like writing it?

I really enjoyed writing the book. I felt a deep connection with both Kyle and Rob, but particularly with Kyle because of his experiences with the psychiatric establishment. I spent nearly three months in a psychiatric institution when I was in my late teens, and I drew on those memories to bring Kyle's anguish to life.

As far as the sex scenes are concerned, I believe that desire is a universal experience, so I don't have any problem writing about relationships between two men (or two women for that matter). My perspective is more or less pansexual. I'm obviously concerned about whether I've accurately portrayed the dynamics of gay sex. I've read quite a bit of gay erotica, written by men, so I'm hoping that I'm more or less in the ballpark.

What's the hardest thing when it comes to writing a romance?

I think the most difficult aspect is convincingly portraying the powerful emotional connection between the lovers. Real romance isn't about fun and flings. It's about a spiritual bond that goes far beyond the physical, even though it is expressed in the material world. As Joni Mitchell wrote:

I remember that time you told me
Love is touching souls
Surely you've touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time.

Touching souls. Conveying that mystical dimension of love is tough to do well --at least for me.

Is there anything that bugs you about romances?

They're too predictable. Because you know that the ending will be happy, it's difficult to create convincing suspense in a romance. I prefer to read, and write, stories with more ambiguous conclusions. My erotic thriller Exposure is a good example. It doesn't have an unhappy ending--you just don't know what the main character will decide to do.

Romance these days also has an unfortunate me-too quality about it. Vampire books are popular, so everyone writes a vampire book and after a while, they all sound the same. Originality does not seem to be highly prized. Now M/M romance is
the latest hot fad. My M/M work sells much better than my heterosexual work, but I really don't want to confine myself to writing one genre. I enjoy variety in both my reading (as you obviously do!) and my writing.

What's the process like when it comes to hot covers?

Usually the publisher will ask you to submit ideas for the cover, with a questionaire that covers things like the appearance of the characters, the setting, the tone, and so on. Very often the author will get to see the initial draft of a cover and have the chance to request changes. That happened with my latest cover, for my upcoming (in August) vampire menage Fire in the Blood. In the first version of the cover, two of the characters were perfect but I thought that the third looked kind of like a zombie! (He isn't.) I requested a change and the final version is far better.

Necessary Madness was an interesting deviation. I had found photos that I used to build my mental images of Kyle and Rob. The artist agreed to use them on the cover, a rather unusual situation. My favorite cover, I think, is Raw Silk. I love Exposure, too. The former was designed by Ann Cain, who is also responsible for the graphic design of my website. The latter was done by Stella Price, who's also a romance author.

What's next in store for Lisabet Sarai?

Well, despite my comments above about not wanting to be typecast as writing only M/M, I'm currently at work on a M/M science fiction tale. It's a dystopic tale of the near future, set after a devastating plague that is blamed on the gay community. It's fairly political, as you might guess. I don't want to say any more, though.

Since you've given me this forum, I'd also like to mention that I'm the series editor for the Coming Together Presents series of single-author charitable erotica. We've already published two volumes, by M.Christian and Remittance Girl. I'm currently working on two more, which I
hope will be out by the end of the year. The first two books support Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, respectively. As an erotic author, I'm proud to work for the benefit of responsible sex education, women's rights, and free speech.

That is so great! Lisabet, thank you so much for this chat and the very best of luck with Necessary Madness!

Lisabet has graciously offered a choice of two e-books to be given away to one lucky person. The winner will get to choose between the contemporary M/F novel Getaway Girl and the M/M Tomorrow's Gifts.

Giveaway rules are as follows:
-ends July 25th

+1 for tweeting about this contest
+2 for following my blog (old and new followers)
+2 for adding the link to the sidebar
+4 for posting about it
+4 for visiting Lisabet's site and coming back with the title that you found most titillating!


Keta Diablo said...

Lisabet, I so agree with you about predictability in today's romance. We take a certain risk when we write outside the box but I think it's worth it. When my first Crossroads novella was released, the main character Frank McGuire stirred a lot of controversy. A rough and tumble, no-holes-barred private investigator, he waltzes on to the scene fetishes and all. Some readers had a hard time with his forceful nature, others love him. I don't know about you, but I write the characters as I see them warts, blemishes and all.

Good for you that deviate from the norm.

By the way, I absolutely love the cover for Raw Silk. Wowzer!

Best of luck with your new release, Lisabet. You deserve it for all the heart and soul you put in to your writing,

Cyber hugs, Keta

marybelle said...

I follow. Raw Silk looks amazing. Another must read.

Mary McCall said...

I love what you said about love is the touching of souls. That's such a beautiful way of putting the spiritual connection. And you are absolutely right about the predictability. Trying to come up with something original invariably takes me into historical fiction as opposed to historical romantic fictions.
Best of luck with sales.

Carol L. said...

Hi Lisabet,
Congrats on your newest release. When I read your words "I think the most difficult aspect is convincingly portraying the powerful emotional connection between the lovers. Real romance isn't about fun and flings. It's about a spiritual bond that goes far beyond the physical, even though it is expressed in the material world. As Joni Mitchell wrote:"
To me no truer words could have been spoken. That is what I enjoy the most in reading any type of Romance novel. That to me is what makes the story acceptable and believable. I've not read any of your work yet but that will change as I have Necessary Madness on my TRL now.
I'm a new follower.
Carol L.

Ryan G said...

Thank you for the interview, it's always interesting to read author's thoughts on the genre they write in.

I would love to enter the giveaway.

+2 for being a follower.

+4 Monsson Fever would be the book that has a fantastic title, cover, and plot.

Cate Masters said...

Wonderful interview. Your passion for your writing shines through, Lisabet. I love stories that fall outside trends, and even genres. I'm not a believer in any sort of label. The more original, the better. Congrats! Wishing you much success.

Erotic Horizon said...

Hi Lisabet

Great interview and I agree with so much of what you said here..

I have quite a few of your work - but I was sold by the cover of Necessay Madness - Loved it them, still love it now...

I have also read some of the Coming Together pieces - they are good and a great way of finding new to me authors... Thank you for your input..

Congrats on Raw Silk - that's next on my list.. I do love your m/f stuff jsut as well as your m/m work.


Sherry said...

I really enjoyed the interview and your website it was great. All of your books look great and I couldn't just pick one book here's the two that grabbed my attention Serpent's Kiss and Halloween Heart-Throbs.


Gabby said...

Great interview, it was very interesting.

I took a look at your website and it was very nice! Like Sherry thought I had a hard time picking just one book from your list that I really liked.

These are the one's that captured my attention the most! Monsoon Fever, Serpent's Kiss, and Shortest Night!

I'd like to be apart of the giveaway too!

+2 Just became a follower!

+4 out of the three I listed.
Monsoon Fever was the one that most captured my attention!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks to all of you who've commented! I really appreciate your taking time to read yet another interview!

Good luck in the drawing.


orelukjp0 said...

I loved Getaway Girl.
I don't tweet or any of that. I hardley ever even llok at my facebook or my space any more. Just so busy and no time to relax.
But I do love Lisbet's works and I enjoyed her interview.
Thanks for entering me in the contest.

joey said...

Nikola I am now a brand new follower of your blog. I browsed around it and I hafta say I luv your blog.

Lisabet, your interview was awesome. About the predicability of romances....I hafta have a HEA of HFN ending but, even though I know its gonna happen I still "fret" thru the whole book that the main characters will do somethin stupid and not get that HEA...*grin* I luv'd Necessary Madness it was wonderful!

The book that grabbed me on your site was the erotic thriller Exposure....looks dee-lish! *grin*

To you both, thanks for the good time and the chance at great



stacey said...

looks enteresting just starting to like M/M book.Can't wait to see how i like yours
I'm a follower

Pat said...

it is a great interview and a follower. I would love to win this book

Pat said...

it sounds like a great book

Terry Mac said...

Thank you for hosting this giveaway, and the interview. I enjoyed reading her comments. Very interesting books, and love the site.

+2 new follower of your blog
+4 posted about this giveaway on my FB page with a link back here
+4 Visited Lisabet's site, toss up btween Serpent's Kiss and Monsson Fever. (Think the kiss is weighting in a little more though!)

Thank you

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I will add this blog to my favorites, it is great.