Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Opal Carew, author of the amazingly hot erotic romance “Forbidden Heat”. Thank you for joining us at Coffee Time Romance, Ms. Carew. My name is Lori (Lototy), and I am thrilled to be doing the interview with you today.
Thanks, Lototy. I appreciate this opportunity to share with you and your readers.
We all want to know a little about the author who can turn a blank page into such a sizzling hot read. When you began your writing career did you ever imagine writing erotic romance would be such a huge draw for readers? And why do you feel this way?
First, let me say that my original career was in high-tech, often doing research in new directions of technology, and before that I was an avid science fiction fan. What that means is that I know anything is possible, even when it seems very unlikely. I mean, look at e-books. Last year, a lot of people still thought that e-books would never really catch on, yet now publishers are talking about new publishing models related to the introduction of the iPad.
When I first started writing it seemed hard to imagine that erotic romance would be something publishers would actually consider. I had thought about trying my hand at erotic stories, but they didn’t have the heart I so love in my stories. I was encouraged when Black Lace, a line of erotic books for women, was introduced in the mid-nineties, but I missed the romantic aspect. Thus, I continued trying to write a great Harlequin book and get it published, as well as writing paranormal romance novellas and books.
Finally, I sold a novella to New Concepts Publishing and that kicked off a string of sales to them (about a dozen stories) where they encouraged me to make my scenes hotter. After that, I took a look at one of my partially completed Harlequin-type books and realized it would be much better as an erotic romance. That story started with the idea that my heroine would accidentally sleep with her boyfriend’s twin brother (because she thinks he’s her boyfriend acting out her sexual fantasy to sleep with a stranger). Thus, TWIN FANTASIES was born and that was my first sale to St. Martin’s Press. In the end, writing an erotic romance gave me my big break. I would never have imagined that erotic romance is what would allow me to start writing for my dream publisher.
A trait that I find lacking in most erotic novels is emotional depth of the characters, but your characters excel in both the sexual and emotional component. How do you develop characters with such an intrinsically sexual but at the same time deeply emotional nature?
Thank you! I love to hear that because that is an area that I find a challenge and I am always trying to improve my skill.
In my real life, I spend a lot of time learning about self-growth through reading and attending workshops. I believe in empowerment through understanding yourself and what stops you from moving toward your success. When I create my characters, I quickly determine what blocks they need to overcome (such as fear of commitment, fear of taking risk, fear of love) then decide how, through a sexual scenario, they will overcome that block.
I would imagine having such a successful writing career requires a tremendous amount of focus, support, and interests. How do you manage or compartmentalize your time between family life and writing?
I’m very flexible when it comes to time. I hated the nine-to-five aspect of my job as a computer analyst. Now I have no particular routine I follow, other than sitting down to email when I get up in the morning, (which leads to no end of procrastination from writing.)
The key is, I know when my deadlines are and I monitor my progress carefully to ensure I stay on track. I set weekly goals for writing and if I start to fall behind, I take steps to recover. I work any hour of the day or night, because I love that freedom. That means, however, that there’s no time that is clearly defined as leisure time, thus there’s always a little guilt associated with not writing, (even at midnight on a Saturday). For that reason, I recently set a personal rule that I write only during weekdays except if I am falling behind.
Much of what you write involves the complexities of the unusual or extreme in sexual relationships. I love how your characters explore and surpass their limits, both sexually and emotionally. Do you study all types of physical and psychological aspects of sexuality in order to achieve this level of awareness for your characters? And what types of research do you find to be most helpful?
I’ve read a lot about women’s sexual fantasies, from a psychological as well as from a cultural and sociological point of view. (In other words, in addition to reading psychology books, I read magazines and websites articles, watch popular TV shows, and read novels. LOL) I also do research on possible sexual positions using the Kama Sutra, by reading articles on websites and, occasionally, by watching blue movies! (Sometimes, I need to ensure the physics works!)
All the research is important and adds depth to the characters and/or the stories, but I think the most helpful for some of the edgier sexual situations is going to various websites that cater to alternate lifestyles (like BDSM, swingers sites, etc.) and websites that sell items, like bondage gear, dungeon furniture, or even just lingerie. Also, Sexapalooza (link: www.sexapalooza.ca) is an adult sex show that takes place in several cities in Ontario, Canada (where I live) once a year and it is a great place to find new ideas.
Is this the most difficult component to your writing, or do you find that creating the actual storyline is more complex?
Writing the sex scenes is absolutely the easiest, and the most fun, part of my writing! When I sit down to write a sex scene, the time just blazes by. Figuring out the storyline, ensuring the characters’ growth is progressing appropriately, the pacing is exciting, and all the elements are in place I find to be much more complex.
In “Forbidden Heat” you have a M/M/F relationship when Danielle tries to bring Trey and Jake back together again by instigating a ménage scenario with the two men. Her background reveals much about her character’s actions, and makes her much more real for the reader. How did she impact you as her story came to life?
Danielle’s story touches my heart. My sons have a friend who was given up to foster care by her mother at a young age. As a mother, my heart cries out to her. I wish I could have been there for her, been able to hold her in my arms and tell her how special and wonderful she was. She’s a young woman now, and we have come to think of her as a part of our family. It was because of her that I created Danielle, whom I was able to give a wonderful and happy future where she will be well loved.
As the pressure between Jake and Trey builds, Trey’s sexual orientation plays a significant part. Was this an intentional ploy to heighten the tension, or did Trey’s reticence to being gay evolve along with the storyline?
Usually this kind of thing would come out first for me, because I try to develop my characters first, as far as what block they need to overcome in order to grow. In this case, I knew what Danielle’s issues were, and a little of Jake’s issues, but I hadn’t consciously figured out Trey’s. As I developed the storyline, when I thought about bringing Trey’s sister into the story and Trey asking Danielle’ to pose as his girlfriend, it was an ah-ha moment. Why would Trey want her to pose as his girlfriend? His whole character opened up for me at that point.
Danielle tries to force the issue of Trey and Jake’s relationship, and finds her heart caught up in the mix. When writing a multiple partner love story, how do you mange to keep the heart in the story, and not have it get buried in the sex?
I try to develop characters with fears and issues the average person can relate to, which allows them to empathize with the characters, and care about them. When the reader cares about the characters, then the sex enhances that feeling rather than getting in the way.
Trey and Danielle have such strong personalities in the storyline, but it feels like Jake is the glue that binds them together. Is there always a quiet hero in your work, or is he as unique as he feels?
I don’t always have a quiet hero, but sometimes. For instance, in SECRET TIES, I had three heroes. Kyle was the quiet studious type, Shane was laid back, and Max was a high-powered executive, and a Dominant.
This is the first book of yours that I have had the pleasure to read, but I guarantee it will not be the last. What can we look forward to next? And what is in the works under your name Elizabeth Batten-Carew?
I don’t have anything coming out under Elizabeth Batten-Carew. I’m writing everything as Opal Carew now. I’m even re-releasing my older works under the new name, with Sinful Moments Press, labelled as Opal Carew Classic so readers will know they’re re-releases. CHRISTMAS ANGEL came out in December, SPELL BOUND (formerly DARKEST NYTE) will be out in a month or so, followed by MAGICAL DAWN.
In June, Red Sage Publishing will be releasing CRYSTAL GENIE, a new erotic fantasy romance novella (featuring a male genie!) in e-book.
From St. Martin’s Press, my July release is BLISS. Like FORBIDDEN HEAT, this book has a couple of characters from one of my previous books, BLUSH. BLISS features J.M., a Tantra expert and Kara, a woman who writes a sex column and thinks Tantra is total nonsense. I really enjoyed working with J.M. again, and with a second hero, Quinn, who is totally sexy and a Kama Sutra expert. I really enjoyed showing Kara’s growing understanding of Tantra. I especially loved writing the hot love scenes!
I’m moving to a schedule of three books per year with St. Martin’s, so my release after that is in November. PLEASURE BOUND is about a bad-boy turned Mr. Nice Guy who falls for the girl next door. Ty has left his tough ways behind, including his Dominant-submissive sexual lifestyle. As the story opens, we find he is in love with Marie, the woman who lives in the apartment across the hall. She’s recently broken up with her boyfriend and Ty is giving her a little space before he makes his move. Unfortunately, his old rival, Zeke, makes a move before he does. I love this book because the guys are hunky and tattooed. Also, as the story progresses we see Ty recover his bad boy edge (in a good way!) and Zeke show his sensitive side. And the sex is even more smoking than usual, IMO! But maybe I’m saying that because I particularly loved the threesome on the Harley, and the one where Ty masters both Marie and Zeke in a dungeon. But that’s just me! ;-)
I thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and allowing our readers the chance to know such a gifted writer. You have an amazing capacity for love and sensuality in your work, and I am thrilled to have been able to share it with everyone today. Please visit Opal’s website, and peruse all of her delectable books, as well as the trailers that go with them. Thank you again!
Thank you for the kind words, Lototy! It was my pleasure!