Welcome Coffee Time readers. I am Kimberly, reviewer and contest coordinator at Coffee Time. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with erotic romance author, Fran Lee. She has three new books out from Ellora’s Cave and another from Resplendence. Pull up a comfy seat, pour a fresh drink and grab some favorite snacks. We are about to get started.
Hello, Fran! I am so pleased to meet you.
Thanks for inviting me, Kimberly! Happy to meet you, as well.
What made you start writing erotic romance?
I have always loved sensuous romance, whether reading it, or writing it. It is so difficult to write a love scene without adding just a touch of eroticism. When you read a love scene that someone has written, and your breath begins to quicken and your heart rate begins to ratchet up, it is a terrific letdown to have the bedroom door slam shut in your face just as the h/h are getting to the nitty-gritty. Major bummer!
I found that I was wishing I could see inside the bedroom door (just a peek or two). So when I first wrote romance, even when I was way younger and far less experienced, I gave folks just a peek. However, nowadays, a peek is hardly enough. Readers seem to want those doors wide open. I figured that I would let go a bit and run with it. And here I am.
To you, is there a difference between erotic romance and erotica?
Yes. But that really depends on the writer and where he or she is taking the reader. I feel that a well written romance story can be explicit and erotic without being termed “erotica”. It is the degree and the use of erotic material in a book that makes it erotica rather than simply an erotic romance. Erotica is "Explicitly sexual literature or art, concerning or arousing sexual pleasure." Wikipedia
Erotica has a plot and characters, but romance seems to be secondary to the erotic acts which drive the story. Relationships and romance at times appear to be incidental rather than an important factor in classic erotica. The key ingredient in erotica is the end result…the sexual pleasure and the highly sensual read that takes you there. Erotica doesn’t require a “HEA” ending. It simply requires satisfaction at the end. The Kama Sutra for instance, is ancient erotica. It leads the reader to the end result of pure sexual pleasure.
Erotic romance has a well-constructed plot, solid characters, and usually the erotic interludes (and there can be loads of interludes) are part and parcel of the relationship building. There must be a romance in there somewhere, and it must be the focal point of the book. Sex for sex’s sake can be pleasant, but to me, erotic romance is where it’s at.
I have just finished your book, Out of Her Dreams, which was released in June 2009. It is a fantastic read and I enjoyed it very much. Stepping into the world of professional wrestling was a unique storyline for you. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the research you did in order to create Out of Her Dreams?
Why, thank you! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! LOL! I would have to say that, having been forced to watch pro wrestling with my gung-ho wrestling enthusiast mom back in the 60’s when our local TV programming picked it up taught me a great deal about the showmanship and the crowd-pleasing antics that pro wrestling was back then. Every Wednesday night, come hell or high water, I was dragged into the living room where I pointed out the fake punches and showed my mom where the guy on the bottom was only pretending to be in pain…and she told me I was full of beans.
Then, later in my life, I became interested in martial arts, and as I learned those skills, I recalled the wonderfully campy wrestlers with their masks and capes and huge bellies, and I kept their actions in mind as I taught my students after getting my own black belt. I actually taught them some of the holds I had seen (and later realized were excruciatingly real and painful!) and taught them how to get out of a grappling hold.
Then when my teenaged grandson dragged me to a couple of WWE/RAW matches that came to our city, and I saw the “new” pro wrestlers and realized what wonderful athletes and stunt men they had evolved into, I dug into my stack of old stories that I had written many years back, dusted off one that I had childishly titled “The Wrestler and the Lady”, and updated it for the new century. Basically, most of my research was “seat of the pants” except for talking to my grandson’s high school wrestling coach, who had done a five year stint as a pro before getting his shoulder mangled in a wrestling accident. Boy, was that an eye-opener! *whew*
I fell in love with Samantha Hastings and David Chance. They are such wonderful characters. Often, an author makes the characters unrealistic, yet these two seem very real and normal. Was it hard to achieve that relatable quality?
Would I sound fat-headed if I said no? When I write, I write people, not characters. Every character in my books has a base in total reality. I combine the characteristics of real people I know, and throw them into situations that I can have loads of fun with. In fact, most of the time I am writing, and am chuckling and laughing like a fool, and people look into my room and roll their eyes. “Mom’s writing again…”
There is a line in Out of Her Dreams that really touched my heart. “Sometimes dreams are nothing more than other spirits trying to touch ours.” It sounds like something my mother or grandmother would have said. Is there a story behind that line you could share?
I adored that line when it came out of my thoughts. No story behind that. I simply wrote what I firmly believe. I have had many paranormal experiences, and I know we are not alone, even in our darkest hours.
Hallie’s Cats came out in late July and this is a romance about brothers who are leopard shifters. It has received several great reviews. Will you tell us a little bit about this book?
This one is waaay different from Out of Her Dreams, and I was letting my inner child play. I love shifters, and I wanted to create a story that had elements of reality, paranormality, and danger. If you have read my books, you know I love humor, and my heroines are full of vinegar. And if a hot leopard shifter can’t handle one little female with attitude, then he has to call in his little brother for reinforcements!
I really loved writing the younger shifter, Cal. He is (in human years) certainly not young, but in shifter years, he’s barely coming into his puberty and is like most teenagers…eager to get started. His innocence and his naiveté show when they first meet Hallie, and I think I got more e-mail about Cal than about his big sexy bro. It’s a short novel and it contains a hot shifter ménage, m/f/m, but filled with plenty of plot and plenty of fun. I loved writing it.
Also, Dictated by Fate is out from Resplendence. Can you tell us a bit about this story?
You know how many of us make assumptions when we first meet a person? We take one look, and we assume we know a great deal about that person because of how they are dressed…how they behave? Well, often those assumptions are so far off the mark, it’s hilarious.
My hero, Tonio is in a pot of trouble because he isn’t interested in marrying and “continuing the line”. He has emotional baggage from a failed love affair and a less than ideal childhood, and he is not interested in tying the knot. His father recently died, and his will takes that option out of Tonio’s hands. He has to be married within a year of his father’s death, and stay married for at least two years…or his cousin Luis gets the entire family fortune and all the properties. And Tonio is hesitant to marry a woman who will just be after his fortune. And he is tired of being fawned over.
My heroine, Chris, is in a nasty pickle. Having lost her great job a few months back, she has run through her savings, since working lousy low paid jobs won’t pay the rent. But she has gotten behind in the rent, and the new, good-paying job came too late to prevent an eviction. She manages to finagle another week by doing housekeeping around the apartment building, but she is living on borrowed time, with no help in sight.
Tonio travels to Los Angeles to check out his properties there, which haven’t been doing too well, and runs aground of a shoe-eating vacuum cleaner wielded by a woman who instantly takes a dislike to him…and Tonio has never known a woman who didn’t fawn over him.
He pretends to be there to see the apartment for rent, and Chris sees him only as a man who wants the apartment she has loved and cared for. She is waaay less than hospitable. But when her nemesis admits he is the landlord, and he will help her out of her predicament if she will kindly help him, she is utterly floored. Of course, a man who looks like him would only need to buy a wife if he’s gay. Been there…done that.
This woman seems to hate the sight of him. He should be safe enough from her fawning all over him…because she must be a lesbian. A real woman would have fallen at his feet. The perfect short term wife. But her lack of interest really bothers him.
I loved writing this one, too! I got my first review on this one earlier this week, and was thrilled! I love to know that folks enjoy my books.
On your website, you say that things got in the way of you reaching for your dreams. If there are any aspiring authors here today, what would be your words of wisdom?
Hmmm…wisdom? Spell that, please? Kidding! I genuinely could not even begin to offer words of wisdom…just words of common sense. If you really want to write, whether it’s romance or suspense or horror, remember this…you have a lot of GOOD competition out there. Learn what sells by reading. Read good books, by good authors. Compare your own writing and look at your grammar, your spelling, your dangling participles…etc. If you feel confident that your book stacks up well against the competition…is exciting, interesting, and a good, satisfying read, then you move to the next step.
Get a critique partner who is going to be blatantly honest with you about your stories. Family and friends are afraid of hurting feelings. And when you have gotten that book all spruced up and ready to go, check out the publishers you would want to publish your book. Carefully follow their submission guidelines, down to the last tiny dot. Make sure your book fits their genres. Then send. If you get a reject, especially one that doesn’t tell you anything about why it was rejected, ASK. If you get a reply, and that person tells you how your book could be improved to fit the guidelines, take it to heart. Send again. Just don’t give up.
I know I enjoy listening to music when I read. Do you have certain pieces you listen to when you write?
LOL! Music is a distraction to me. I get tapping and bouncing on my chair and humming and forget what I’m doing completely. I do my very best work in a house that is quiet, when everyone else is asleep. I don’t mind “white noise” at all. The hum of a fan or the sound of the fridge running is nothing to me. It is part and parcel of the world. But if there is music or TV, I start paying attention to IT, and lose my train of thought.
For my final question, I will ask a fun one. What song best describes your life at this moment in time?
My Way, English lyrics by Paul Anka, sung by Broadway baritone Robert Peterson. J
I think this will wrap up our conversation with Fran Lee today. I want to thank the Coffee Time readers for coming. Thank you, Fran, for letting me bend your ear. I have had a delightful time getting to know you. Thank you, too, for the opportunity to read Out of Her Dreams. It was pure joy. Please come back and chat with us again sometime.
I think I did most of the “ear bending”, Kimberly! LOL! Thanks so much for having me here! I really enjoyed it! And thanks from me, too, to your great readers.