New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Helen Hardt answers the Booktopia Book Guru’s Nine Naughty Questions.
In addition to being an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance and erotica, Helen is a mother, a black belt in Taekwondo, a grammar geek, an appreciator of fine red wine, and a lover of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
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?
I like covers that are more understated – case in point, the covers for my Steel Brothers series, which each center around an object that is important to the story.
2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
It’s not all that exciting! I’m wearing comfortable clothing, drinking coffee (sometimes wine if I’m having trouble with a love scene), and speaking out loud (I use voice recognition software.)
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?
Every author puts herself in her characters and stories. Some of my characters are very much like me, some not at all, but every character I write is affected by my own life and experiences. This is what makes every author’s voice unique.
4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
This is a great question, and one I get asked a lot. To me, romance fiction is fiction that centers around the romantic relationship of two (or more, in some cases) people and has a happy ending. Erotic romance is simply romance with more graphic love scenes, with sex often playing a major role in the relationship. Erotica is sexually explicit literature that uses a story to evoke sexual desire and emotion. Porn is just sex with no story. Its goal is to stimulate sexual arousal in its purest physical form without emotion.
Are romance readers getting naughtier? No, I don’t think so. The masses seem to mistakenly think that Fifty Shades of Grey was something new. Erotic romance had been around for ten years previous, and sexually explicit romance and erotica have been around for ages. Romance readers have always been naughty. Fifty Shades just brought it to the public’s attention.
5. Please tell us about your latest novel. Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?
My current release is Possession, book three in my Steel Brothers Saga. It concludes the trilogy focusing on Talon Steel and Jade Roberts. No, I didn’t have a secret alternative title. I decided on the titles for the first three books before they were ever contracted.
6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?
Very rarely do my family or friends read my books! I get the most memorable reactions from fans. The ones I love most are when a fan tells me that she never reads, or hasn’t read in years, but my books brought her back. Reading is so important, so if my books do that for some people, I’m thrilled.
7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?
I tell them that romance fiction sales account for over fifty percent of all fiction sales, so we must be doing something right!
8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.
I have so little time to read for pleasure! But here goes:
Over the Edge by Meredith Wild – This doesn’t release until 22 November 2016, but I was lucky enough to get to read it early. If you’ve ever fantasized about being with two unbelievably gorgeous men, give this a read!
Reckless in Pink by Lynne Connolly – If you like historical, Lynne writes some great Georgian novels. This is part of her Emperors in London series, which are all wonderful.
Faking It by Leah Marie Brown – If you’re looking to laugh your ass off, give Brown a try. Vivia’s quest to find herself is hilarious.
The Master by Tara Sue Me – A beautifully written story of a natural Master and a scarred submissive.
Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas – Kleypas never disappoints. And the heroine’s name is Helen!
9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!
My favorite scene in Possession is the last scene in the book, when Talon finally lets go of his past and gives his trust to Jade. It is a love scene, and I cried while writing it. It’s hot but very emotional.
Thank you for playing, Helen!