Nine Naughty Questions
1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?
The headless abs, no doubt. (Oh. Are there biceps in that pic?) But I have no idea why that’s my preference. I really like all kinds of romance novels but I’m attracted to those tummy muscles, I admit. In fact, in the book I’m currently writing – No. 3 in the Erica Jewell series – there’s a woman with “a six-pack that puts Jack’s to shame”. I love abs.
2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
I SWEAR at my keyboard, sometimes I beg and plead with it to produce some words. Any words. Not even good ones. I don’t care. Often when I’m in that frame of mind the romantic scenes can turn suddenly violent. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?
Well I generally say that Erica Jewell – my series protagonist – is completely elusive. That I have no idea who she is; she’s someone I’m yet to understand. I’m told by those who know me well, however, that Erica is me (what does this say?). But I think I’d like to be more like her. She’s much braver and more tolerant than I am. For example, I wouldn’t fly to a horrible place like Saint Sebastian (as she does in Monkey Business) no matter how much I loved the man on death row, and I couldn’t spend more than ten minutes in a room with Erica’s mother or boss.
Erica’s stories have emerged from my own weird fantasies about being recruited into a secret organisation of tough guys. I’d like to hang out of a helicopter with a big gun on my hip. I want to be Lara Croft.
4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
I think they’ve been naughty for some time now. Mills & Boon have been producing naughty stuff for ages. Some of the “tame” sub-genres of M&B have quite descriptive sex scenes in them, and so does lots of other romance fiction. Those rural romance authors really know how to write a hot sex scene. I’d put some in my books but I can’t think of what to call the rude parts. His “willy” and her “girlie bits” probably wouldn’t cut it. Not very sexy. I’d be giggling and blushing while I wrote it, and that would show in the writing. Maybe I should go hang out in the bush?
But I digress. The difference between romance, erotica and porn? Well, cross porn off the list – that’s just sex with no story. Or a vague plot that gets us to the sex as fast as possible, and then long scenes detailing the act itself. But it’s rarely more than that (not that I’ve watched, er, read much porn).
Erotica? I’m not sure. There’s sex, of course, but it’s sexier than porn. There’s focus on non-rude body parts like the softness of her throat, the bulge of his… bicep. There’s a story, and characters who discover things about themselves and each other. Erotica can be either romantic or a love story, where the end is not necessarily a happy one.
You know, I reckon 50 Shades is just a romance in disguise. So is Twilight. Of course “romance” is all about Happy Ever After. Always. No matter how you get there or what happens in the S&M room or vampire crypt on the way.
5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?
Oh, yes. Monkey Business was called “Emerald Island” originally because I’d wanted a jewel theme for this series (Rough Diamond, Emerald Island…). But Monkey Business popped up and it was so right. Really tells so much about the nonsense that goes on in that book. It’s full of surprises, and I’m not sure how much I can tell you here without spoiling it. But let me say this: Monkey Business is (if I may say so myself) funny, thrilling, dramatic and pretty sexy, even with waves crashing over the sex scenes.
Probably my mother’s. That she WON’T read my novels because she’s terrified she’ll see herself in Erica’s mother. I’ve assured her that Erica’s mother is a cross between Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances and Kath from Kath & Kim. And that’s nothing like my mum. (Hello? Mum? Read my books!)
Grab a copy of Monkey Business here
7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?
I ask them to name a single work of fiction that doesn’t have a love story/romance/raunchy stuff in there somewhere. There really aren’t many. Like songs. How many songs have been written that aren’t about love? We love love. And sex. They’re so base. But apart from that, have you seen the romance fiction sales figures? The fact that romance outsells all other genres isn’t the surprise, but rather by how much.
8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.
Not all of these are strictly romance, but as mentioned above, there’s love on the boil in all of them.
– I’m a member of a recently-formed panel of authors called “The New Romantics” which includes Margareta Osborn (powerful stories about family and the land), Jennifer Scoullar (strong environmental themes), Kate Belle (sexy as hell). Their books are all fabulous and all very different.
– Ellie Marney’s YA crime novel Every Breath. Some of the hottest kissing scenes I’ve ever read. No sex of course – the characters are only 17 – but that kissing!
– Helene Young’s wonderful romantic suspense Wings of Fear.
– Jenn J McLeod’s – House for all Seasons.
– Jaye Ford’s Blood Secret.
– I think that’s more than five.
9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!
Well, there’s a gently bubbling brook, just like the one in Bambi. She’s standing on the shore, watching him, remembering her jungle fantasy that looks remarkably like the scene before her. He’s naked, his back to her. Finally, he turns. The water line sits just below his navel (OK so it’s a bit more substantial than a brook … there’s fish and possibly crocodiles …) but anyway he’s walking towards her and the water’s getting shallower and, OMG, those abs…
Kathryn, thank you for playing.
Check out Kathryn’s books here