Today I have the pleasure of hosting award-winning erotic romance author, Belinda McBride. She’s written over 40 books, novellas and short stories, and she shares candidly in an interview about the ups and downs of her writing career. Please leave a comment and help welcome Belinda to my blog downunder!
Hi Belinda, can you share a little about your journey to publication?
Well, I had a couple false starts. Eons ago, I was a playwright and was actually contracted to write for a local theatre festival. Anyhow, I was in an auto accident that not only bashed my body, but my head as well. The head injury was minor but I had memory, cognitive and depression issues afterward. I had to re-learn to write and felt as though my creativity abandoned me. Years later, I purchased a laptop and in time, the creative spark came back. I began writing for fun and as a creative outlet, and in time, began to research the industry, which seemed poised to undergo some major changes. Turns out by choosing to submit to independent publishers, I’d taken the right path. 🙂
How long did it take to get published?
Well, that’s a question without a concrete answer. I wrote, subbed to and was ignored by one house, I missed the deadline at another house. When I finally figured out how the process worked, it went quickly. I subbed my first story in the summer of 2007. In the spring of 2008, I received 3 contracts over the course of a weekend. But in those months, I only subbed out to a couple publishers, I focused on writing the next project. My advice to new authors? Read the submissions page carefully, and follow up to make sure they got the manuscript.
What authors do you like to read?
Well there’s a big question! I love an awful lot of authors, and this week, I’ve been cleaning my bookshelves, sorting the keepers from the books I want to donate. Keepers include Patricia Briggs, Neil Gaiman, Laurell K Hamilton, Marjorie Liu, Nalini Singh, Gina Showalter, JR Ward and many others. In independent press, I read Z.A. Maxfield, Sarah Black, Joey Hill, Lynn Lorenz, Jessica Freely, Marie Harte, Cat Marsters, Kate Pierce, and many, many others. I know I’m dissing someone by not including them on this list!
Do you have a favorite genre in books?
As a general rule, I enjoy darker stuff, paranormal, urban fantasy and sci fi.
Is there a genre you’d like to try writing and haven’t yet?
I’m not particularly comfortable writing comedy and contemporary. Would I like to try them? Not really. I seem to want to throw in some kick, whether its kink related or something fantastical. I’ve done a couple short westerns, and I would like (and do plan) to write a longer western romance.
Tell us about your latest release.
My upcoming release (July 31st) is The Bacchi, which will release at Loose Id. It’s a m/m science fiction romance. Remember the seductive green alien from Star Trek? Well, this book features my version of a sexy green alien. His name is Lefi Dhrahn and he’s a Somian, which is a sensual species that is always born in twin pairs. Lefi is a twin orphan. He’s an elite prostitute and sex therapist. His love interest is Afton Teris, a police inspector from Valora. The Valorans are a hermaphrodite species who are brilliant, cerebrial and quite puritanical. Afton is shocked to find himself falling in love with a man, as he orients as a male and homosexuality is unknown within his culture. Together, Afton and Lefi investigate a slave trafficking ring that puts them both in danger.
Can you tell us a little about your current WIP?
I’ve got a couple I’m working on right now. My current manuscript is Dream Hunter, which is an Arcada book and the sequel to Blacque/Bleu. Blacque’s little brother Travis finds himself in an unexpected relationship with Dylan, a fae with dark designs on Arcada. I’m also starting Concrete Cowboy, which is the prequel to Gift of the Maggie, a holiday short I did at MLR Press. This is the love story of a cowboy who’s lost his roots and a rancher who thinks he’s lost his family.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser who plots. LOL! Seriously, I develop my characters quite thoroughly, because they are the foundation of the story. If you know your characters inside-out, they’ll do the majority of the work. I develop my plot by drafting a beginning, a middle and an ending with notes on major points, dialogue and situations. Then I let the characters go and carry the story along. I learned early that if I didn’t know where I was going, I’d never get there.
Do you have a favorite character in your books?
I have various favorites and they all tend to rise to the top at some point. Overall, I love Helios Dayspring. He’s very Taoist in many ways. He’s also a contradiction…a reluctant king, a sexual submissive who is also very dominant. He’s intuitive with his lover, humble in his role as king, but committed to making the best world possible for his people. He’s also got an amazing, wry sense of humor.
Lefi Dhrahn from The Bacchi comes to mind as well. He’s very compassionate though he’s in great personal pain. He eschews violence and fighting, yet he battles for Afton. He’s sunny but sometimes allows himself time to be very dark. I enjoyed writing him, particularly from Afton’s perspective.
What makes a great romance hero?
Sacrifice, flaws, a complex character, an absolute commitment to his lover. I do love alpha males like Griffin Hawke, but I also enjoy the subtler heroes like Afton Teris. Afton is no alpha, though he’s smart and dangerous. He’s a bit puritanical, and as a hermaphrodite, he’s got feminine characteristics. But Afton kicks ass and takes names! And once he gets past his angst about loving a man, he digs in his heels and will not be denied.
What makes a great romance heroine?
Many of the same elements. It’s no secret I love a kick-ass heroine. I like her to be the partner to her hero, but there’s so much room to play with heroines. She can be a tough heroine like Rose Lee and Belle Oakley, or she can be demure and delicate, but still formidable. One of my favorite heroines is Victoria from Dos Lunas. She’s a librarian and was modeled loosely off women like the late Caroline Kennedy and Grace Kelly. She’s a lady. She’s also a femme domme. I love her, she is confident and a top, but still wants the same thing from her man that any woman wants. Her lover Diego is made stronger and more complete with her as his partner.
What is the nicest thing a reviewer has ever said about one of your books?
Truly, I’ve been blessed because I’ve had an awful lot of reviews where so many nice things were said about my books. I’ve written over 40 books, novellas and short stories so there’s been a lot of reviewing going on. I do recall someone mentioned that I had the ability to dig into the psychology of my characters. And a reader said she’d like to spend an hour in my brain. LOL! (that gave me a terrifying visual!)
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?
Actually, I don’t. I try to stick to a schedule: business in the morning, family throughout the day, then writing at night. Unfortunately, the writing must come when it will, even if I’ve got other things planned. For me, I have to remember this is my job and sometimes it’s difficult for my family to understand that as well.
Erotic romance or erotica – is there a difference?
In my opinion, they are different genres. In erotica, the story is about the sexual journey. The sexuality is the plot. Without sex, there is no story because the story is the sex. It’s not pornography, some erotica rises to the highest artistic levels.
In erotic romance, the backbone of the genre is romance and the conventions of the romance genre must be observed: it’s the journey of two (or more) protagonists on their journey to an emotionally satisfying ending. Infidelity is a no-no, as is an unhappy ending. In erotic romance, the sex is part of the plot and character development. It should never be gratuitous. A sex scene advances the plot or reveals something about the characters. If you take the sex away, you cripple the story. If someone asks for a story that stands alone with the sex taken out, that is not erotic romance. It’s either gratuitous sex or a romance with sexual elements.
The Bacchi – available 31st July at Loose Id
(science fiction, M/M, intersexed)
Lefi Dhrahn lives a life of luxury and decadence, but is tortured by memories of a lost love. He survives the pain by surrounding himself with sex, beauty and all forms of self-indulgence. When he meets the alluring Inspector Afton Teris, Lefi believes the detective will make a very nice addition to his string of conquests.
He doesn’t count on falling in love.
Afton Teris is a Valoran hermaphrodite and like all members of his species, is stern, cerebral and disapproves of the frivolous prostitute. Afton orients as a male, but the beautiful Lefi Dhrahn stirs him sexually, making him question everything he knows about himself. To further confuse his emotions, Afton finds himself tempted by the forbidden pleasures surrounding the Bacchi.
When a kidnapping ring strikes close to home, the two go undercover on a brothel barge to investigate a slavery operation. There, Lefi is confronted by painful memories from his past, while Afton is faced with a horror that threatens his future, and perhaps his very life.
Their survival lies with one another, but only if Lefi can set aside his pain and listen to his heart.