Mary Jo Putney
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?
I like having people on the cover, preferably a couple in a moment of tenderness and emotion. Note: tenderness – crazed, stoat-like passion isn’t as interesting. But it can be difficult to get a cover with two really appropriate looking people–male models are often too young and they lack gravitas – so a single appealing person is also good. My publisher, Kensington, has done some very fine covers of women in gorgeous gowns which may not be historically accurate, but – GORGEOUS!
2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?
I look at my computer, my computer looks at me. I pause to pet whatever cat is lying in front of the keyboard. I sigh with frustration. Real progress tends to kick in only when deadline panic looms!
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?
I think it’s necessary to have empathy with all characters in order to make them believable, so all of mine have some connection with my own experiences. Sometimes the original experience is transmuted into an event so different that only I understand the connection – but that connection must be there.
4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?
The heart of a good romance is the developing relationship. It’s how two people fall in love, develop trust, overcome challenges, and make a deep, lasting commitment. There may or may not be graphic sexuality – some of the most wonderful romantic stories I’ve ever read were “sweet” books such as those by Eva Ibbotson and Georgette Heyer. What matters is the relationship.
In erotica, graphic sexuality is essential. The erotica that is written for the romance genre has the sexuality, but relationships are an essential part of the mix. Porn is sex for sex’s sake, and there may be elements of “Sex is dirty and isn’t that great!”
I don’t know if I’d say that romance readers are getting naughtier, but there is a very large market for very hot books. A well known writer friend of mine speculates that perhaps the genre might split in two, with one part focusing more on the relationships and the other on the sexuality. I don’t know if it will happen, but it’s an interesting theory!
Actually, no! As soon as I started thinking about the characters and the story I thought of that title, and it was so right that I never considered anything else. Luckily, my editor and publisher agreed with me.
6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?
Mostly they want to know when the next book will be out.
7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?
I’ve never actually been asked that question, but if I was, I’d say something like, “I love what I write and they sure look like real books to me!” If I was feeling catty, I might ask, “How many romances have you actually read?” Often the answer would be “none.” But my friends and family are too polite to actually ask such rude questions.
8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.
1) The Spring Bride by my friend Anne Gracie. A delicious Regency historical, and third in her Chance Sisters series.
2) Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. She’s a terrific urban fantasy writer who creates wonderful relationships.
3) The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod. It’s a Victorian/steampunk/urban fantasy/mystery and the first in a new series. Pat Elrod is a terrific writer, and the book was a real page turner, with a nice little bit of romance as well.
4) The Year We Fell Down, Book 1 of The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen. This is New Adult romance, intelligent and intensely emotional. In the first book, the heroine was an athlete who had a life changing accident that put her in a wheelchair, and the hero is an athlete who smashed up his leg and is living in the room across the hall. It’s brilliantly done.
5) The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a fantasy novel, and a finalist for the Hugo for best novel of the year, which is the top award in American science fiction. The youngest, mixed blood, and most despised son of the elven emperor, Maia is raised far from the court in virtual exile. Then his father and older brothers die in an airship accident and Maia is suddenly emperor. But while he is young and under-educated, he is not stupid. It’s a great story with great worldbuilding.
9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!
I was still working on Not Always a Saint when my publisher, Kensington, asked what I’d like for a cover. I didn’t have much time to think about it, so I said, “The heroine is in a gorgeous red gown sweeping up a staircase and peering mischievously over her shoulder.” Artist Jon Paul Ferrara did exactly that, and the result is spectacular! So I wrote the wedding night scene to match the cover. Daniel and Jessie had a lot of fun that night.
Mary, thank you for playing.
The Lost Lords Series : Book 7
by Mary Jo Putney
After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.
Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling. Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife-a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is more…