Bolder and Older: Desiree Holt (Erotic Romance)
I’m delighted to kick off the first edition of Bolder and Older (Starting a writing life after 50) with USA Today bestselling author, the amazing Desiree Holt. The woman is a machine when it comes to putting out books, but she also one of the most delightful people I have ever met. And talk about a big heart…hers is humongous!
So, let’s get started with this dynamos response to my questions. Take it away, Desiree.
Desiree, please share a bit about your early years? Where did you grow up and what career(s) did you tackle before moving into writing?
I grew up in Bangor, Maine, a typical New England small town. I loved it, but I really wanted to see the world. Plus, I always wanted to be a writer. In high school I worked on the school newspaper and wrote a column for the local newspaper. At the University of Michigan I was the first female sports reporter, and when my twins were young I worked as a stringer (assignment reporter) for five local weekly newspapers. I’ve dipped my toe in a lot of waters, including retail sales and public television, but my favorite career, other than writing, was managing musicians. My clients covered the gamut from folk, to Top 40, to country, to rock, and everything from solo performers to five piece bands. I loved every minute of it, and have incorporated the experience into some of my books. Joy Ride and Downstroke, to name a couple.
You are known as the oldest erotic romance writer. How old were you when your first book published?
I began writing when I was 68. I had no clue whatsoever what was involved in writing something that an editor would even look at, never mind contract. I was 70 when my first book was published and I never looked back. I like to think that all the years of my life provided me with rich experiences that I use to tell my stories.
Turning 80 this year means you have seen a lot of history through your eight decades. Do you bring any of that into your work, and how do you think the world today compares to the past?
Wow. The world has changed so very much, in fashion, fads, language, politics, and a lot of other things. I don’t incorporate any of that historically into my books because that’s not the way I write. I like my stories to be timeless. But I do feel that the different types of people I’ve met have helped me shape my characters. The one exception would be the books I write about the music business and the changes I’ve seen through the years. For example, in one book my hero followed the traditional, difficult path to get a recording contract, in another the band uploaded their tune to iTunes, sold it for 99 cents and became a Number One hit. I’ve also had to revise some of my older books that are being rereleased. For example, many people no longer have a landline, and flip phones are hardly ever used any more. Things like that.
Did you read erotic romance before you started writing the genre? What attracted you to the hot stories?
No. As a matter of fact, I had to read some before I wrote one. I was invited to participate in an open submission call and I had to figure out if I could actually write that hot and that explicit. I downloaded three books, read them and thought, Okay, I can do this. Now I only read a very few erotic authors, although I love the genre. I am always afraid another author’s voice will bleed into mine. But I think it’s a genre that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I love the emails I get from people who say they read my books as couples.
Do you find a difference in digitally published books and traditional print? Have you published a digital book on your own, or only through publishers?
I find that for the most part traditional print books tone down the erotic flavor, with some notable exceptions. For example, I am writing the first of a 4-book series that will go mass market and the first thing both the publisher and editor told me is we love your hot erotic, but could you please dial it back? It’s a question of what the wider market wants. I have published several books digitally as an indie writer as well as with publishing houses. Again, those I do as an indie author have a different flavor than those with a publisher. It’s really just a question of the same story with adjusted language. (grin)
Are you in a critique group at this point in your career, or do you revise and tweak your manuscripts before sending to your editor?
I am not longer in a critique group although I have a couple of authors I brainstorm with. And I have a fabulous beta reader who has been with me for 5 years. She knows to point out to me plot inconsistencies or where a scene is rushed or a character doesn’t ring true, as well as the flow of the story. Margie Hager, I could not do this without you.
I understand you are an exercise advocate. Have you always been, or is this something new since you moved to Florida? Would you say exercise helps keep you younger in mind as well as healthier in body?
Exercise wasn’t even in my vocabulary until I moved to Florida. I had tried working out a few years ago although not enthusiastically. When I moved to Florida my son got me to join the Y and now I’m addicted. My balance and flexibility have improved tremendously and I feel good about myself. My last report from the doctor was the best in a long time. So yes, I guess you’d say exercise is a key to good health. Plus, I’ve gotten to enjoy it. I encourage everyone to find a method of exercise that appeals and stick to it on a regular basis.
Do you plot your books, or just sit down and write?
It’s a mixture of both. If I have, for example, a theme I need to stick to I try to create a plot, or at least the outline of one, But my stories are character drive, so I usually outline my characters first, then lay the What If game: What if they were stranded in an airport or got caught in a robbery or met at a cocktail party at a resort, or…..well, you get the idea. My characters tell me where they want me to take them. So while I try to start with at least a semblance of an idea, I usually just sit down and write and let my characters lead me.
How many books have you released? How many more do you have planned for this year? Do you have an approximate timeline for the releases?
I have released a total of 217 books. Not all of them are available any more. A 4-book series with The Wild Rose Press is being updated and revised to release either later this year or earlier next. There are several books I’ve gotten the rights back to that I’m still sitting on. I have eighteen books either in development or ready to be revised or re-edited and released, and another 15 in development.
Wow, you are a major producer!
Is there anything more you would like to share with our readers?
I am so overwhelmed by the response I have gotten from readers. I never thought I would enjoy this level of success and I never take it for granted. If not for every one of them I would have none of this. I hit a new milestone this month when I made the USA Today Bestseller List for the first time, and I bless every person who bought that box set, Hero to Obey. I am floored by the number of emails I got about my characters in my story, Stormy Weather, wanting to now if I’d write the next stage in their story so, yes, you hear it here first. Either later this year or early next, Zane and Dara will make another appearance.
Where can readers connect and follow you?
Facebook Desiree Holt Author
Twitter - @desireeholt
To stay in touch sign up for my newsletter here
And download my FREE app here:
Good grief, lady! You are everywhere, but I’m not surprised. Thank you, Desiree, for taking the time to answer the questions. I wish you continued success with your career and life.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, sprung to adulthood in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She is a member of RWA and has served as President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband.