Thank you for the opportunity to chat with NOR.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am a six foot tall, leggy blonde who, at this moment, is cruising along the Amalfi Coast on a 192 foot yacht which happens to be crewed by an all-male staff, each of whom bear an amazing resemblance to Olivier Martinez. Except the captain-he's Sam Elliott. Not a look-a-like. THE Sam Elliott. And did I mention I write fiction?
I'm an erotic romance writer who is nowhere near six feet in stature, I may someday be blonde if this outbreak of grey hair doesn't stop, and I live on a lake in the snow belt region of the western Pennsylvania-New York border and I have access to a 17 foot fishing boat.the most luxurious thing on it being a remote controlled trolling motor. With the truth stated, who's ready for a little more fiction?!?
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
I love my heroines because they're all strong women and they all have a fine sense of humor. I like to think I'm already like them in that regard, but if I could add the qualities of Tessa Ward from LOVE'S ALLY to my present characteristics, that would be divine. She's feisty and headstrong without being abrasive. She's the queen of innuendo and has found a man who can keep up with her quips and oftentimes renders her speechless-and some of his methods in doing so are hotter than Hades! And deep down, Tessa is just as vulnerable as each and every one of us, so it makes that quest for brazenness not too far out of the realm of possibility.
What's your favorite genre to read?
My favorite genre to read is historical romance. I've been an Amanda Quick fan from day one. I really enjoy Stephanie Laurens because I love a series.getting to know a variety of family members and friends and see how their lives entwine. I apparently like that more than I thought because my first book, THE CAKE BABE, ended up having a cast of secondary characters that have demanded their stories be told. When devastatingly studly men talk.I listen. I love reading paranormal, as well. So if I'm not diving backward in time, I'm engrossed in one of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters or a vampire tale by Linsay Sands.
Who or what influences you when you write?
Hormones and the ever-present voices in head.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
There honestly isn't a `typical' writing day. I do try to get up and knock out emails first thing. Usually while enjoying a nice cup of black tea. Since I sit all day long, at some point in the morning I try to do some time on the elliptical, or as I like to call it, waging the war against the convergence of the two large, expanding land masses that are my ass cheeks. Then it's basically writing all day until it starts getting dark. I find I lose concentration when the sun goes down. But it might have something to do with the fact I always like to be done by seven o'clock so I can watch that cutie Shepard Smith do the news. No matter your political beliefs.you've gotta love those dimples!
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
When the muse gets blocked.the blocked get cooking. I hit the kitchen and carry my creativity into the world of desserts. If I wasn't a writer, I'd be a pastry chef.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
I'm thrilled to say my next release will be part of Ellora's Cave Jewels of the Nile IV anthology in December. It will be the first time one of my books has gone straight to print, although the anthology will be available in e-book format as well. And this story, Enlightening Lucinda, is a departure from my contemporary offerings. It's an historical set in Victorian London and the heroine is a painter of erotic art.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I have my final two Henderson brothers, the twins Sam and Matt, waiting patiently to have their stories told. Those two are a handful. When last we left them in the final chapters of TWISTED STEEL AND SEX APPEAL, they were quite possibly headed for a three way with the heroine's plus-size best friend. I'm not sure how that turned out yet. But Sam keeps nudging me to give him a little kink under his laid back, computer guru exterior. We'll see about that. And I definitely want to do a sequel to LOVE'S CHOICE. I've had lots of requests for Tawny's story.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? -In general and in you're writing career
In general, as happy as I am at this moment. I'm blessed with a supportive family and wonderful friends. From a writing standpoint, I see myself continuing with the e-publishing. It's working for me. An amazing editor has been bestowed upon me (a fact I thank my lucky stars for each and every day) and I'm with a publisher that validates my writing abilities with each book that's accepted. Would I love to have something out with a New York house? Of course I would. That's certainly a goal I'm actively working toward.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
If you're asking from a fictional standpoint as it pertains to heroes I've created, that's easy: Collyer Evans from LOVE'S CHOICE. He's a hot, southern male with great looks, charm, manners and a respect for his lover that goes bone deep.no pun intended. If you mean in real life, after twenty-seven years of marriage, the answer is pretty obvious.
What do you do for inspiration?
Sometimes something as simple as the way a man in line at the theater will lean down and whisper something into his date's ear and then her following response. There are times I just know they're sharing a really special moment and other times when I'm certain she's just asserted herself and said she's buying the Sno Caps (her favorite) instead of the Milk Duds (his favorite) and he's just going to have to deal. I can use both of those scenarios with equally great literary results. Songs are great influences as well. Television specials and documentaries. I think anything that sparks an idea inspires me and I've got tons of ideas.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I'd like to try something with a paranormal element. I have one of the secondary male characters from LOVE'S CHOICE telling me from time to time he'd make a great werewolf. I'd love to do a vampire story but in both cases, I'd hate to not do justice to the genre. That would be awful. I'm keeping both fiction writing feet planted firmly in the here and now.
What type of book have you always wanted to write?
I have a 100,000 word historical that won NJRW's Put Your Heart In A Book contest many years ago. The prize for winning was the manuscript being sent to an editor at a NY house.that promptly went out of business a month later. It was sent on to Kensington and I got a lovely hand written, three page rejection letter from a senior editor. At the time, my children were three years old and I just couldn't bring myself to try and revise it at that point. It's still around-and I have started revisions, which have been very slow because quite frankly, that earlier writing sucks. I was apparently possessed by the point-of-view hobgoblins at the time! I'm hoping to be able to craft it into an historical time travel. I'd love to be published in historical romance.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
Scrolling through photo after photo of hard bodied, well-manscaped hunks? It's deplorable! I'm surprised that dude from Dirty Jobs hasn't knocked on my door and asked to pull up a chair and help me slog through the muscled manliness J. As for research for specific items or characters careers, all I can say is "Google, take me away!" I find research pretty fun because I usually end up way off track but learn ten new things I wasn't counting on. By the time I got done researching the art of air brush graphics for my heroine in LOVE'S CHOICE I was just about to the point where I was ready to sign up and give it a try myself. Or buy a motorcycle and have it customized. FYI, I did neither.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
I try to be way ahead of deadlines (because I set an alternate deadline date ahead of the real deadline date and this is solely rooted in the fact I have issues with people who are not punctual) but I ran up against a deadline last December. I didn't like it-it was much too stressful and I've vowed to not do that to myself ever again.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
New Year's Day 2007 and it was my husband's personal mantra "You must have goals to achieve success" that finally got me motivated after years of creative writing dormancy.
What would you like to tell your readers?
I love feedback and I want to thank all the readers that continue to email me. I'm constantly amazed and excited when I see those in my inbox. I will always want to know what my readers really think about the stories and characters I've created. I took a step away from the sexy men in the first three books of the "Hot & Henderson" series to do LOVE'S CHOICE with its yummy, southern hero. I gave the fantasy element a whirl with SEDUCING THE SIREN. I'm trying to expand as a writer and while positive reviews are great, it's the reader's opinions that are most important to me. So please, hit my website or send me an email to let me know your thoughts.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
Write what you're comfortable writing but don't be afraid to at least try something new. You'll know right away if it's not working. Trying to follow the current trend isn't necessarily the way to go if the integrity of your writing is going to suffer. I can't recall any bad advice I've received.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I have the main characters and the plot fairly embedded in my brain and usually jotted down on a page of notebook paper but that's usually it. I write as I go and let my characters lead the way. They haven't steered me wrong yet. And this allows all my secondary characters to pop up where and when they're needed. If I didn't work this way I highly suspect I wouldn't have six books to my credit. THE CAKE BABE was never intended as a series springboard. It just sort of happened when the hero's brothers kept multiplying and showing up at inopportune moments!
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I don't belong to a critique group. I never have, actually.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My poetry has been previously published in literary magazines but my first book was THE CAKE BABE. It was the story I crafted immediately after that New Year's Day epiphany I mentioned earlier. It was published June 1, 2007 and it's doubly special because it's not only my first book but also my first foray into erotic romance. That story had me pushing my pre-defined literary limits, as well as my opinion of e-publishing, and that has turned out to be a good thing.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
My website is www.maellisromance.com and it's in the process of being revamped. I have a new email address: MAEllis.Author@gmail.com and I just took the daring leap into the wonderful world of MySpace. You can check that out at www.myspace.com/maellis_author
Thank you Mary Ann for this opportunity. It was lovely getting more insight into you and your work. It was lovely meeting you at the Romantic Times Convention and I look forward to seeing you in person again.