|Posted by Michele Zurlo on November 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM|
TSR Welcomes Erin M. Leaf
TSR:Tell us about The First Time is the Sweetest.
Erin: The First Time is the Sweetest is the first novel I've ever written and it went through three major rewrites until it got to the point where I was happy sending it anywhere. In a way, it was my test novel. I'd been wanting to write a book for years and years and I had at least a half dozen started and languishing on my computer, but none interested me enough to bother sticking with them. This novel was fun and not too serious. I wanted to write a love story and I wanted to write something I thought other people would enjoy. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. I knew nothing about dialogue tags. I didn't know how to make the characters act out their emotions and littered the manuscript with far too many descriptors.
When I submitted it to a few publishers they rejected it because it was written in first person point of view. Happily, Siren-BookStrand accepted it but with the caveat that I rewrite it in third person. That was the hardest writing I've ever done since I worked as a technical writer and had to document an esoteric database. However, I learned a valuable lesson: most romances are written in third person because that's what sells.
Since then I've written two more novels and I'm hard at work on my fourth and I'm pretty comfortable with how to put a book together. My second ménage romance was just accepted for publication and I'm really excited about it.
TSR:How do you develop your characters?
Erin: I've been making up stories in my head forever, so I don't even consciously develop my characters so much as daydream about scenarios that I think would be interesting, fun, dangerous, or all three. I toss some characters into my idea and imagine how they might react. I love juicy plots and lots of unresolved sexual tension. I adore suspense. The characters' personalities develop out of this initial daydream. Then I add a basic plot and see what happens. It's just a ridiculous amount of fun to play pretend in my head all day.
TSR:Why a virgin heroine?
Erin: The virgin heroine idea grew out of my love of romance novels. When I began reading them back in the 1980s, virgins were all the rage and my favorites involved a strong hero initiating a blushing virgin into the joys of sensuality. Even now it's a trope that is scattered across the romance genre. It adds tension and a delicious sense of adventure to the plot and I really wanted to take it to the extreme. The first time can go either terribly wrong or deliciously well. I wanted to focus on that and see what my characters did with it. I think it worked out pretty nicely.
TSR:Tell us about your poetry.
Erin: Poetry is my first love. Long before I ever thought about writing a novel, I wrote poetry. I have been widely published in literary journals, have two poetry chapbooks, won a very prestigious prize, and have been on the final or semi-final list for a slew of book awards for several of my poetry manuscripts(under my real name). Poetry is an art form that is so different from prose that when I sat down to write a novel I had to unlearn many of the techniques that I often used in my poems. And I can honestly say that it's taken me over twenty-years to get to the point where I feel what I do with my poetry is art,where I'm pushing the boundaries of what language can do in a way that is completely original. I've worked with forms as well as free-verse and it still surprises and moves me every single time I write a poem that is both beautiful and heart-rending and perfect.
TSR:How did you get into writing erotica?
Erin: Erotica is the opposite of poetry. No, really, that's precisely why I started with erotica. I love so many other genres: sci-fi, fantasy, chick-lit, non-fiction, but erotica is naughty. It aroused a sense of rebelliousness in me that was completely at odds with the very conservative (literature-ally speaking) world of poetry. There are some gorgeous erotic poems, but tell any poet that you read or write erotica and you can watch their lips curl ever-so-slightly in disgust. This drove me crazy because I have loved romance and erotica from the moment I got my hands on an old copy of Fanny Hill. I discovered Anais Nin, then moved on to Emma Holly: I was hooked. Erotica is delicious. It's arousing. It's fun to read and writing it felt like I was eating chocolate after chocolate. The decadence is just so damn appealing I couldn't help myself.
TSR:What is the recipe for a great story?
Erin: Suspense! I don't mean every story has to have a murder or some kind of mystery, but it does have to contain a sense of conflict or yearning in the characters or situation that grows until it reaches a climax. I love unresolved sexual tension. I love the way people fall in love, the nervousness, the passion that can't be denied. I love writing about characters who can't help themselves. They walk around thinking about their lover, wondering what he or she tastes like, wishing for forever. Add another layer of suspense and conflict outside of the love relationship and voila! You've got a great recipe for a novel that no one will want to put down.
TSR:What’s next for you?
Erin: My next erotic menage will be available in April 2011 and I can't wait! It'scalled Appassionato, and it's about a rock star, his best friend, and a small-town high school librarian who wake up one day in a world where people have begun bonding to each other. And yes, it's got telepathy! And other fun powers, but I don't want to give too much away. I had a great time writing this book. Famous rock star? Check. Hot best friend? Check. Ordinary girl? Check. Throw in some paparazzi and superpowers? Awesome.
Right now I'm in the middle of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you have to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. The book I'm working on is science fiction, my second in that genre. Hopefully I'll find a home for it when it's finished. After that I plan to write another novel in the bonding universe of Appassionato. I have so many ideas! I'm seriously thinking about shape-shifters. Big cats are so slinky and sexy, don't you think?
TSR: Haven't had enough of Erin? Check out these links:
The First Time is the Sweetest is also available at Amazon in Kindle format, Barnes & Noble online in Nook ebook format, and will be available in print in a few weeks. I also have a couple erotic stories at my website that you can read for free: Constellation (m/f) and The Mechanic (m/f). Just go to www.erinmleaf.com and click on Free Reads.