Our Sizzling July continues with one of my all time fav authors! Everyone, meet Brita Addams!
Welcome to My Twisted & Kinky World!
Hi Brenda, great to be here! Thanks for having me.
Let's start off by telling everyone a little bit about you!
Well, I've been married to my best friend for many years and together we've raised three children. We have two grandchildren, one of which lives close by, the other a couple of hours away. We also have four grandpuppies.
Grandpuppies! I love it!
Hubby and I love movies, have date day every Friday without fail, love to eat out, and travel. I read like a crazy person and am fortunate enough to have fulfilled the dream of becoming a published author. And that's me in a nutshell. J
So, I know when I sit on writer panels I am always asked this question. When did you start writing?
I'll give the standard answer. LOL. I've been writing since middle school, though mostly for myself, until three years ago. I've taken creative writing courses and written articles for newspapers and such, but three years ago was when I decided I needed to get serious about writing romance.
What inspired your first book? What was the title? Was it published?
My very first book was my very last book published. I wrote it, and then let it languish on my hard drive while I wrote fourteen others. However, I kept going back to it, adding, subtracting, editing, etc. The name started out as Her Inconvenient Marriage, but is published as Demands of the Heart.
I have known a lot of authors who have done this, me included. There are just some stories, like a fine wine, that take awhile before they are really ready!
Have you always written erotica? If not, what else do you write/have you written?
I actually write erotic romance, with the exception of my two Romeo Club m/m erotica shorts. I define the difference this way.
Porn is all about the sex, no story required.
Erotica is all about the sex, but we need a brief set up to get it going.
Erotic romance is about the romance, with some hot sex to make it just right.
That is a great way to look at it! I know every author has their own definitions when it comes to 'porn,' 'erotica,' & 'erotic romance' so I appreciate you sharing yours with us!
What made you decide to write erotica romance?
I'll give you two answers, starting with erotic romance. I love romance and love the erotic aspect of it if the sex is well-placed and not forced. Romance was a natural fit for me, having lived with the love of my life for many years. We share a unique bond that can't help but be a part of everything I write.
That is wonderful!
I decided to write erotic romance when I read, literally thousands of romances and felt I could write one myself. I haven't looked back since.
The erotica pieces came about after a discussion with a friend. I proposed the Romeo Club and that's what I wrote. Erotica is exhausting for me as a writer, because it's essentially, one very long sex scene, with little story. I much prefer writing romances with sex as component of the story, rather than it being the story.
I am sure your fans enjoy your preference too!
How would you classify your erotic romance writing?
For the last year or so, I've written m/m romances, as that is where my interest lies at the moment. However, I personally have more m/f stories published and will very likely write more het. Everything I write is unadulterated story-driven romance, of whatever pairing strikes my fancy.
I'm not into fantasy as a reader, so I'd be hard pressed to come up with one as a writer. I really live a life grounded in reality, and though my characters are obviously fictional, I base them very much in reality.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Save for the Romeo Club stories, which are in first person, I write in third person, always.
I talked to a friend about that this past week and we debated the quality of the story in the various POV's. I'm of a mind that to get the depth of both main characters, the story needs to be told from each POV. My example is that if Hero A is tall, dark, and handsome, he isn't going to expound on that for the reader. (Unless, of course, he's conceited, and then he isn't very sympathetic, is he?) The way the reader knows about a character description is through the other character's eyes.
If the story is told from one POV, then I find, as a rule, the characters come off as rather one-dimensional, except in the hands of a very good author. I know of several, but they have many years of writing under their belt.
The other thing is, I allow my characters to guide the story, within reason. With a strict outline, that isn't possible and often you end up with a contrived story, because the author is willing to bend when the story dictates it.
I've learned a lot about style in the last three years, and that can be a double-edged sword.
I've had good editing and I've had horrendous editing. I've had editors who didn't know a flip about historical romance, which is what I write more than anything else.
The horrendous editing allowed me to continue making the same rookie mistakes every new writer makes – passive voice (was, was, was,) filter words - my favorite example – he felt his heart beat, or he felt his dick get hard. OF COURSE he felt it, we would hope so, because no one else feels it; repetition – the reiteration of a point ad nauseum. Eventually it feels like brow beating, and it is pure author intrusion; overwriting, and myriad other things.
The good editing cured me of the worst of those habits, made me conscious of the mistakes and the value of selecting just the right word, rather than five to say the same thing. Words are powerful tools, and now I'm more mindful of that when choosing mine.
Very powerful lessons all, but the good editing also ruined reading for me, to some degree. I now hold other authors to a much higher standard than I did before, and if I find myself rewriting sentences in my head, I don't finish the book. Sad but true.
I couldn't agree with you more! Good editing makes a world of difference!
What is the process you use for writing?
I start with a basic outline of where I want the story to go, but I never set anything in stone, because that's simply a futile effort. I'm dealing with more opinions and suggestions than my own, namely those of my characters and the story itself, which always is a better judge of the paths traveled than I am.
I do, however, come up with a cast list, and flesh that out pretty thoroughly. Of course, I add characters along the way, as dictated by the story, but the core cast is set down before I've even written the first word.
Sounds very much like a screenplay…
I keep a set of 4x6 index cards for each book I write. On them, I jot down the pertinent information, starting with before the project actually starts, and adding as I go along. I also keep a timeline, so I never have that dreaded lost feeling.
Ugh, being lost while you are writing is the worst! *cringes*
Many times, I discuss the general plot and story with my husband, who has always served as my number one advisor. I also talk out situations with him when I get stuck and need another brain. It truly helps to have him in my corner.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Managing my time. I live with a constant sense of urgency, that feeling that I must get a certain number of words written each day. Now, I don't think myself a failure if it doesn't happen, but I do consider how far behind that puts me. My arbitrary deadlines tend to eat my lunch.
My children are grown and my husband is retired, so on one hand, I don't have the kids around to take my time away from writing (I certainly couldn't have written while we raised them,) I do have the wish to spend all the time I can with my husband. Anyone who knows me knows that I adore him and any moment spent with him is precious to me.
It sounds that way. *smiles softly*
He affords me a wonderful balance, though. He does all the cooking and kitchen clean-up, which gives me the time to write until dinnertime each day. Then, the computer goes away, and we spend our evening together.
There are weeks when the days fly by, and they have invariably sucked sand, all due to outside influences, beyond our control. Those are the weeks when my time is spent tending to things I'd rather not, and my writing time suffers for it.
Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want your readers to grasp?
Simply put, no. If they come away with the feeling that love is love and a true love is a rare and precious commodity, then I'm happy. I don't moralize in my stories. No embedded meanings anywhere. J
How do you come up with your book titles?
Honestly, titles are the bane of my existence. I've had titles that came to me before I ever wrote the story and others that take much effort to come up with before I can submit a story for publication.
I wrote SplendidCaptivity around those two words. However, The Rogue's Salvation came well into the editing process, after I had a really bogus title to begin with.
Sometimes titles come from lines in the book itself, and they jump out at you. Chocolate, Tea, and the Duchess was like that, as was Lord Decadent's Obsession. However, it isn't always that easy for me, so lots of times, I consult friends or family, give them an idea of the story, and see if they have any suggestions.
The funniest thing for me right now is that I'm 98k into a story about old Hollywood, and haven't got a clue what to title it. The working title isn't quite right, but who knows what it will end up being? I don't at this point.
I am sure you will come up with something! *grins*
Are your plot lines based on real life experiences or are they purely fiction?
For the most part, they are purely fiction. I've written two books that were loosely based on stories in my family tree, but the rest are products of my fertile imagination. J
If you had to name one character you have written that was the most like you, which character in which book would that be?
Without doubt, my all-time favorite character is Phillip Allard, Duke of Thornhill, from Chocolate,Tea, and the Duchess, from my Sapphire Club series.
Phillip is a very complex man, bound to his title by duty and honor, yet very much driven by secrets that could destroy not only everything that title stands for, but could rob him of his very life. For much of that life, he's honored his family, his title, and this country, and in the process, given himself short shrift. He's very conflicted, while maintaining a very controlled demeanor.
Phillip is so compelling for me that I'm going to write a fourth Sapphire Club book to continue his story. There's much yet to tell, so he informs me. Hopefully, I'll get that done in the fall of this year.
Don't you just love it when the characters let you know that there is more to be told? It makes writing their stories so much easier!
As I said above, Phillip Allard for sure. I'm also going to write a sequel to The Rogue's Salvation, and tell the story of Peter, the Rogue's older brother. He emerged, quite unintentionally, as a forceful character, and one that requires his own story.
In the Hollywood story I'm writing, a character came to the fore late in the book, and he is quite a guy. Of course, I can only portray some of that in this book, so he'll get his own stage
What other types of jobs have you held before becoming an author?
I've had a few. I've worked for insurance companies, been a receptionist, a secretary for a CPA firm, a substitute teacher in a middle school, I ran a kiosk in a shopping mall, where I put photographs on items like hats and t-shirts. I was the state director of a program for handicapped children and their parents, did several years of public speaking on behalf of our local March of Dimes chapter, and in recent years, I've served as promotions manager at several e-publishing houses. Now, I'm blissfully retired, if being a writer can actually be called retired. J
Do you travel much concerning your books?
We love to travel! I'm a non-professional genealogist, and have done lots of traveling in the pursuit of my family tree. I love research, spending hours in the cemeteries, libraries, or online, tracking down facts.
I am huge into genealogy myself. It's like a scavenger hunt that never ends!
For my writing, I've actually only attended one convention that being GayRomLit last year and I will attend again this October. It's not as massive a convention as some, which makes it very nice for me.
Next year, we plan to take a trip of a lifetime, which will be all about research for my books. J
What current projects are you working on?
I'm bearing down on the final few thousand words of a book on old Hollywood, which spans the years from the 19teens to the early 1930's.
The main character is Jack Abadie, a young, gay man, who makes his way to Hollywood at a time when homosexuality in Hollywood and in motion pictures was not only accepted, but embraced. However, the tide turned in the mid-twenties, after several scandals rocked the public's confidence in the motion picture studios. This story takes Jack through the minefield that was Hollywood at that time.
Then I'll be on to the sequels I mentioned above.
What is your latest release and where can readers find it?
My latest release is called, Demands of the Heart. It's a m/f erotic historical romance.
In 1807, idealistic Richard Fanshaw and Victoria Bramhill are consumed with each other, their young love blooming amidst a series of carefree soirees and stolen moments.
But jealousy and greed turn what they have into something ugly and twisted. They’re wrenched apart by vile lies and deceit when Victoria’s freedom is sold to pay her father’s debts.
Six years later, Victoria is a widowed and a cynical Richard has just returned to England after years in India. Having been given the impression that Victoria’s marriage was a happy one, a chance meeting renews Richard’s anger over Victoria’s betrayal and sets in motion his plan for revenge.
In September, Dreamspinner Press is publishing my m/m historical, For Men Like Us.
Most authors offer some sort of e-pub of their work. Do you offer traditional paper versions as well?
Some of my books are in print - the Sapphire Club series, A Minute After Midnight and An Evening at the Starlight from Noble Romance and Splendid Captivity from Silver Publishing, but all of them are available in all e-pub formats from the publishers and the usual third-party sites.
What is the toughest criticism you have ever received? How did you handle it?
Hmm. Let me answer the second question first. When I first was published, I took criticism personally. I never refuted the critic, but privately, it hurt. However, I've grown and I have a better idea of what readers want. I also consider that I'm a reader and I'm rather tough on books that don't meet my personal criteria of good reading.
I handle all crit the same way. I'm grateful that someone read the story and if they liked it, I'm thrilled. If they didn't I feel bad, but then chalk it up to personal preference.
I know that with each story, I gave everything I had at that particular time, with the knowledge of the craft that I'd managed to glean. Am I wiser today than when Serenity's Dream was published in 2010? Oh, yeah. Particularly in the editing department.
I do get put out when critics "take off points" for things that the author has little to no control over, such as cover and editing, which is a very sticky point. Authors look to editors to safeguard them from poorly edited books. Too often, solid editing is a cursory function, and if not done properly, the publisher has in effect, left the author twisting in the wind, because it's their name on the cover.
Also, if the critic states that the story wasn't as long as they wanted it to be, or it ended differently than they wanted it to, that is cause for a session of uproarious laughter.
I usually equate that to American Idol. The judges are there to judge the singing of the song, not the outfits the singer wore, or if the song was the "right song for them." The singer put forth a song—did they sing that song well? Period. End of obligation of said judges.
The toughest criticism I've ever gotten. Well, I had an editor once who was an author herself and only wrote contemporary chick-lit. The publisher gave her my historical romance and she didn't understand the first thing about 19th century mores, customs, nobility, etc. My heroine was a widow, left in poverty by her soldier husband. Few women worked in those days and she'd quickly fallen into destitution. One common solution at that time was to become a wealthy man's mistress. It was accepted practice and many men treated their mistresses considerably better than their wives, if they had one. My hero didn't have said wife, having been widowed, and desired the company of a lady without the encumbrance of marriage.
Said "editor" drove me insane with her corrections of the language I use in historicals, (she preferred contemporary sayings like, "Yeah, right" and "I've got your back") and at one point, referred to my heroine as a whore. That was the limit for me.
As for reviews, of course I've gotten unfavorable ones, but I don't worry about them, because the good ones far outweigh the bad ones, and after all, they are both simply someone's opinion.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything? If so, what?
In my life? Absolutely nothing. I've had a wonderful life and am blessed with some of the best people on the planet as a part of it. I adore my family and my friends.
There are a very few people that I've had the misfortune to cross paths with, who have shown themselves to be toxic, but I don't count them amongst my nearest and dearest and they can't hurt me unless I allow that to happen.
I've learned lessons, though, from both factions. Some bitter and some bittersweet. I am, however, the creator of my own destiny and I'm pleased with my road so far, but as poet Robert Frost said, "I have miles to go before I sleep."
Each day is a new adventure.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Keep writing, keep learning, take advice from those who know, and never give up.
Also, please, don't self-publish. Seriously. Self-publishing, unless you are already established and wish to reap the profits that you share with the publisher, is a rabbit hole with no bottom.
There are many successful self published authors; however everyone should know what they are getting into before they take this route! Do the research before just throwing your story out there so you can see your name in print!
Anyone with a few dollars can self-publish, but all writers need the services of a qualified editor. None of us can manage without one. I've read many stories by people who haven't got a clue about commas, passive voice, filters, story, character development, plot, showing vs. telling, head hopping, and the list goes on. My list of "Don't read this author again," is a mile long and they are, for the most part, self-published.
I could not agree more about editing. Self-publing is the easy part, and you don't even need a few dollars to do it on sites like CreateSpace & Lulu. However, just because you can do it, doesn't always mean you should. Editing seems to be the biggest step that self-published authors skimp out on. *frowns*
Also, overall, the most horrendous covers and titles come from self-published authors. I happen to think that a naked ass has no place on a book cover. Criteria – if you can show the cover and/or title on a bus full of strangers, you're good to go. LOL
Covers are another good point about self-pubs. I have noticed that if the self-pub is e-pub only, the covers seem to be more provocative than those you would find on a printed book.
Though I've had a couple of covers with naked torsos, I am steering clear of them these days. I truly don't believe that naked sells books. Sex, yes, but the naked on covers, not for me.
A friend says he needs eye bleach after seeing them, and I tend to agree with him.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for stopping by Brenda's blog. I love visitors and you can find me in a variety of places.
If you'd like to read excerpts or whole first chapters of any of my books, visit my Bookshelf page.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for dropping by My Twisted & Kinky World!
Thank you Brenda for inviting me. I've had a blast!
*waves to Brita*
Don't forget to check out these other Sizzling July Interviews!
Amara - July 1-3
Evan J. Xaiver - July 4-6
S.L. Armstrong - July 7-9
Brita Addams - July 10-12
Leigh Ellwood - July 13-15
Blaine Arden - July 16-18
Leigh Jarrett- July 19-24
A.D. Cooper - July 22-24
Giselle London - July 25-27
Rachel Haimowitz - July 28-30
Aleksandr Voinov - July 31-Aug. 3
Aleksandr Voinov - July 31-Aug. 3
Don't forget to stop by my Smashwords for the Summer/Winter Sale! Selected Titles are up to 50% Off!