With March’s arrival, we have melting snow and budding flowers. What more fitting way to celebrate it than with an author who writes as two personalities, one sensual, one steamy.
K: I see that you write two genres, Marianne. One is contemporary romance, and the other is erotic romance. What made you choose to write two different romance genres? Was it interest in both or the call of the market?
MS: I enjoyed writing contemporary romances and thought I could never write anything erotic. Then my editor mentioned how sensuous my mainstream books were and that it wouldn’t take much to switch gears and try writing an erotic romance. Knowing the market paid better for erotic books, I decided to try one. And Strip Poker for Two” has been my biggest seller.
MS: Yes. I kept wondering if I was using certain graphic words too often, or how to describe all the action in different ways. Also, had to make sure the scene “looked good” in my head and was realistic.
K: Tell my readers about some of the differences in Marianne’s and April’s writing personalities.
MS: April’s more daring in sex scenes. Marianne still writes “hot” scenes, but they’re not as graphic or long as April’s sex scenes tend to be. As April, I tend to scrutinize the sex scenes extra closely so I don’t have the hero and heroine doing something impossible!
K: If I’m counting correctly, you have six books available. Four as Marianne and two as April. Out of all six books, which one is your favorite?
MS: I always say “Street of Dreams” by Marianne Stephens (time travel) is my favorite. I have the hero and heroine detectives traveling from 2039 to 1965 to catch an escaped killer. Knowing 1965 and the Long Island, New York setting very well, I enjoyed using my “been there, done that” first-hand knowledge…including the East Coast Blackout in November 1965…which I used in the story.
K: Which of your six books was the easiest to write and which one was the most difficult? Care to share why the one was difficult and the other easy?
MS: “Gone to the Dogs” by Marianne Stephens, was the easiest and I think it’s because I wrote it in first person. I was in the heroine’s head all the time and the story just flowed. Making it somewhat humorous while still keeping the suspense in it had me writing faster as scenes flashed into my mind all the time.
“Sexy Games” by April Ash, was the hardest to write and I think trying to have the hero and heroine role-play three different scenarios within their romance scenes had me going crazy at times. I had to remember that the hero/heroine felt a certain way, but when role-playing, he’d/she’d have to react differently. Also had to have them “talk” outside their normal speech usages and patterns when role-playing.
K: I found the mystery premise of Gone to the Dogs very appealing. Would you say you write mystery as a subgenre or would you call it more romantic suspense?
MS: I think romantic suspense. Romantic Times called “Street of Dreams” a romantic suspense and I think “Gone to the Dogs” has enough suspense in it to place it in this category, too.
K: Have you ever had the desire to write a romantic genre on the other end of the spectrum such as fantasy or maybe paranormal romance?
MS: “Second Sight Dating” by Marianne Stephens, is a paranormal romance about a psychic who uses her “gift” to match couples. “Street of Dreams” is also considered paranormal because of the time travel element. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a shapeshifter romance…something I’ve not yet tried.
K: Do you think you could ever dip your toes in the vampire or werewolf romances?
MS: No. I’m not drawn to those books…although I just read one for a contest and thought it was great!
K: So what about these paranormal genres hinders you from writing one? The research? Maybe you’re just not into vamps and werewolves? I ask because technically, they’re shapeshifters and you mentioned writing a shapeshifter romance.
MS: I could never “get into” vampire or werewolf movies. Maybe all those bloody images connected with these characters have formed a block in my mind. But as I said, I read a vampire story recently and liked it!
K: Is there a special time that you like to write when the words seem to flow better than at other times?
MS: I write at night. It’s quiet and I have fewer interruptions…family obligations tend to control my days.
K: Does your family support your writing career?
MS: Yes…and my husband is my technical/computer advisor! One daughter says she has to skip the sex scenes because she can’t believe her mother wrote them! And, my 86-year-old mother, plus two aunts around her age, read my mainstream books.
K: If you could change one thing about your writing career, what would it be?
MS: I would have started sooner and kept at it. I let things slide a few years when I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere. Should have kept plugging away!
K: Yes, I have to agree that’s what a lot of writers say about their careers. This is a tough business and people are easily discouraged, but not giving up is half the battle.
K: Do you have any advice for those who might have thoughts of writing their very first erotic romance?
MS: Read other erotic romances and see how the authors let the scenes play out. Check language and positions!
K: I appreciate you talking with us this month, Marianne.
MS: Thank you for the opportunity to be here. You asked some different questions I’ve not encountered with other interviews…and really got me thinking! Happy writing!
K: I appreciate that, Marianne! I try really hard to create interviews that keep readers coming back.
If you’d like to visit Marianne and her alter ego, April, follow the links below. You can also visit her publishers for more information.
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-310-marianne-stephens.aspx Cerridwen Press
“Gone to the Dogs” now in print
“Anything You Can Do” now available
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-441-april-ash.aspx Ellora’s Cave