I’ve been on a blog tour lately. The bloggers have asked fascinating questions, causing me to think back to how my writing career began . . . and inspiring me to let loose a few secrets.
The following author interview was first published at Deal Sharing Aunt, a wonderful blog site featuring many new authors, books and special deals!
Be sure to scroll down to the end to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
Interview With Elizabeth SaFleur
DSA: Where are you from?
ES: I consider myself from two places – New York and Virginia. I spent most of my childhood in upstate New York, between Buffalo and Rochester, where it snows six months of the year. When I was fourteen, my mother married a (real) cowboy and we moved to a Central Virginia horse farm. Can you say culture shock? But both states will always own a piece of my heart. New York for its gritty honesty and Virginia for its beauty and charm.
DSA: Tell us your latest news?
ES: My first full-length novel, Lovely, debuts January 1. This is probably the biggest news I’ve had to share since I got married nine years ago. They both felt like the start of a new era. But my book marks a serious foray into a “writing life.”
Lovely is the first of seven Elite Doms of Washington novels that will be published over the next two years. My husband didn’t realize someday his wife would become an erotic romance author. But he’s slowly warming up to the idea. It helped when I named him Lead Research Assistant.
DSA: When and why did you begin writing?
ES: I’ve been writing since I was five, starting with poetry. I wrote my first novel at age seven: the Mystery of the Bunny. A real bestseller! Over the years, the desire to write never left. But I didn’t get serious about it until three years ago. Truthfully, I can’t not write at this point. My head would explode if I kept all these stories inside.
DSA: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
ES: For the first time, a few months ago. I answered the question, what do you do? (a standard Washington, DC cocktail question) with the answer, I’m a writer. Until then I’d always responded with I’m in public relations. It feels good to own the writer role. The impending publication of Lovely is what pushed me over the edge. There’s nothing like a publisher saying, yes, I’ll put your baby into the world for you!
DSA: What inspired you to write your first book?
ES: I assume you don’t mean “The Mystery of the Bunny.” LOL Lovely was written over the last two years, but the story came to me in 1996. While sitting at an outside café in Washington Harbor watching the sailboats glide by on the Potomac River, I thought I saw a woman being lashed to a mask. I wondered, does she like that? Jonathan Brond, the hero in Lovely, answered. He asked, would you like to find out? He’s been talking to me ever since.
DSA: Do you have a specific writing style?ES:
I tend to write long, especially around the sex scenes but always trying to delve into what’s happening to the characters emotionally. Reading sex scenes that are just “insert Tab A into Slot B” doesn’t do it for me. Exploring the emotional development of the characters—both in and out of bed—is exciting. So, I write what I like to read – relationships that evolve over time between complex characters with deep-seated (and usually conflicting) motivations and desires.
DSA: How did you come up with the title?
ES: Lovely’s hero, Jonathan, calls Christiana Snow “lovely” throughout the book. But the meaning goes deeper than a mere endearment. Very little is “lovely” in Washington, D.C. Yes, it’s a beautiful town, with cherry blossoms in the spring and regal white monuments and memorials. But it’s also a town where a lot of ugly things go on, like the constant jockeying for power. When Jonathan meets Christiana, he is stunned by the contrast of his life against what she represents. Her innocence and honesty captures Jonathan’s attention immediately. Christiana is like a wildflower in a sea of hothouse orchids.
DSA: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
ES: I’d like readers to feel the struggle that both characters undergo around maintaining their power (Jonathan) and independence (Christiana) while allowing love to enter their lives. In Washington, especially in politics, one is often forced to choose between love and power. Jonathan certainly faces such a choice.
DSA: How much of the book is realistic?ES:
Ooo, I’ll never tell. Okay, I’ll tell you a little bit. I worked in Washington, D.C. for fifteen years, often supporting public affairs efforts. I’ve been to Capitol Hill many times: sitting in the congressional gallery, attending hearings, and visiting members’ offices. I’ve also been to umpteen receptions, charity events and galas mixing business, finance and government officials. My characters are 100 percent fictional but you could say all that experience provided inspiration for them as well as events, setting, motivations and more.
DSA: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
ES: I wish my characters were real. But sadly they are, at best, composites of various people I’ve met. As for the events and plots points, I don’t want to give too many spoilers. But, about fifty percent of what happens in Lovely has occurred in some fashion in real life to people I know.
DSA: What books have most influenced your life most?
ES: Books are a huge part of my life, so I could list a library here. But the day I finished Joey W. Hill’s Hostile Takeover, I decided I wasn’t going to “cheat” my own Dom, Jonathan by trying to make him into someone he wasn’t. I kept trying to tame him down. But Jonathan wanted to be far more hardcore than I originally allowed. In the end, he won. So, you could say she provided me permission to unleash the character as he wanted to be.
Other books that have impacted me are Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and just about everything Anne Rice has ever written. The Mayfair Witches are a favorite series, and her Sleeping Beauty series, which I read in the early 1990s, opened me up to a whole world I had no idea existed. I haven’t looked back since.
DSA: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
ES: My critique partners are definitely my saviors and mentors. Patricia A. Knight, Marilyn Lakewood, and Kris Michaels are fantastic authors and even greater friends. They understand what a writer goes through, and the self-doubt that can arise. All three of these ladies have talked me off the ledge more than once (and probably saved my stories from going with me!).
(Editorial addition since this interview first aired: And Rachel DeLune, a new erotic romance author!)
DSA: What book are you reading now?
ES: I just finished reading Cecilia Tan’s Slow Surrender series. Once I finish edits on the second Elite Doms book, I’m dying to read more of J. Kenner. I read her book, Wanted, recently and now I want more.
DSA: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
ES: I’m actually on the hunt for some new erotic romance – especially from new authors. They could write paranormal, regency, contemporary or other. Does anyone have any suggestions?
DSA: What are your current projects?
ES: I’m deep in edits on Untouchable, the second Elite Doms book, and writing the Lovely sequel, which will be the third book. Lovely’s sequel picks up the summer Christiana graduates from college. She and Jonathan are going to hit a rough spell when their age difference begins to strain their relationship. It also doesn’t help that another Dominant enters the picture.
As for Untouchable, we meet uptight heroine, London Chantelle. The story opens with her visiting a private BDSM club in an attempt to exorcise unwanted submissive desires. But then she runs into client Carson Drake—a man who has very different ideas for her. Carson makes a cameo in Lovely, and he “told me” in no uncertain terms he was next in the Elite Doms line-up. Those bossy Doms! But, while Carson is tough, he’s also loyal and dedicated. Of course, London poses all kinds of challenges for him. It’s been a fun and complex story to write.
DSA: What would you like my readers to know?
ES: How much I appreciate what they do for authors – reading, reviewing, giving feedback and reading some more! Most writers would write regardless. But readers inspire us as much as our characters who whisper in our ears. And we do listen to what you have to say about our stories. We cherish your feedback.
Also, if anyone ever has questions for me or even just wants to say hello, I love to hear from readers. I can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook or Twitter.
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