Today we have erotic romance author Leah Braemel here for an interview for Erotic Romance Weekend. Leah is the author of several steamy novels, including her first, Private Property. Please join me in welcoming her to Secrets!
Hi Leah! Thank you so much for joining us for Erotic Romance Weekend!
Thanks for inviting me!Can you please give our readers a little bit of background about yourself?
Do you know that I always find this question the hardest--for someone who makes up stories for a living, my own real life is...not so exciting. I write full-time so my day usually consists of hunkering over my keyboard agonizing over word choices and character flaws. I've worn a lot of hats in my non-writing life -- apart from being the mother of two sons, and a wife for 33 years, I've worked for a security firm that saw me dealing with bomb threats and masked bank robbers to irate corporate vice-presidents and Hollywood-types who don't understand why they can't have an elevator specifically for them. I've also taught office and computer skills at a private college, specializing in training women escaping abusive relationships. But my biggest challenge lately has been my writing.What made you decide to start writing?
When I was about seven, my older sister introduced me the idea that you could write your own stories. She was in love with the original Star Trek and used to write "episodes" that we would then act out. Wow, I thought, all those stories and people talking to me in my head could actually be written down? I could make them come to life? Cool!Your first book is Private Property. What inspired this book?
Soon I was creating my own worlds complete with maps and floor plans. But after one brutal (and probably accurate) critique from Sis, I never dared show anyone my writing again. At least until about six years ago -- when I was chatting to a woman on an online group. She had written a novel and was telling me about her search for an agent. For some obscure reason, I told her I wrote too--probably because I didn't know her from Adam so her opinion didn't matter so much (at that time.) She asked to see some of my writing, so I screwed up the courage and put some up for her to see. Next thing I knew we were working together--and soon I learned the joys (and agonies) of having a critique partner.
OMG those first few stories I sent her came back with so much red ink, you'd think someone had severed an artery. But with each swipe of her editor's pen, I learned. She then started challenging me to seek publication too. At the time, I thought it a fools' errand. After all, I'd been told that everyone thought they had a book in them, that I'd not have a chance. To my shock, within a year, I had my first contract.
In 2007, the Romance Writers of America were holding their national conference in Dallas -- two of my critique partners live in the area, so they invited me to come down and stay with them. One of them lives on the shores of Lake Arlington, which is where Private Property is set. It was a lovely large house, surrounded by even bigger mansions and the part of me that had once worked for the security firm started wondering what type of security they'd have/need. I'd seen The Italian Job around that time and liked Charlize Theron's character's role of breaking into safes (the older movie Sneakers had also stuck with me--Robert Redford's company did similar type "sneaks".)Did you always know you wanted to write erotic romance or did it just "happen"?
As I stood on the dock that late July evening, the first kernels of Jodi, Private Property's heroine, began to form. She'd been stuck in a van in the "damned Texas heat" while analyzing the security of one of the mansions, with the intent of having to break into it and prove the flaws in the existing security. Back in those days, I "pantsed" or wrote without a full idea of where the story was going. So I sat down and started writing it once I got back, then Sam Watson walked into the room and OMG he was such a larger than life character, he nearly took over. Well, actually he does take over in that story, doesn't he? ;) Then he opened the letter Jodi handed him and whoa, the story took a twist that I hadn't quite expected. ;)
I'd always loved romances but would have sworn that I wasn't writing romances but thrillers or a sci-fis. Then after a conversation with an editor five years ago, when I looked back at my writing, I realized all my stories, even back when I was a teen, revolved around a romance. As for the erotic side of it? I'd never known erotic romances existed until my writing buddy from Lake Arlington was raving about one she'd just read. So I bought it, read it, and went "Wow!" From there, I found my own writing getting hotter and hotter too.Where do you find inspiration for your characters?
Everywhere! I'll borrow a habit from someone sitting at another table at the coffee shop, add in a snippet of angst from an overheard conversation at a restaurant, a hairstyle from a guy in the mall.What can readers expect from you in the future?
Some are drawn directly from the headlines -- for instance, Brett's childhood history in Texas Tangle was drawn from an article I read about some children who had been locked in a shed in Texas that summer.
Some are drawn from my own experiences. At the very start of that story, the heroine Nikki is robbed, excuse me, burgled -- unfortunately that happened to me in real life. That experienced inspired the conversation that Dillon has with the deputy sheriff:
“Nik’s been robbed.”
“She okay? They rough her up at all? She need an ambulance?”
“No. She wasn’t there when they took her stuff.” Thank God for small miracles.
“Then she’s been burgled, not robbed.”
If he hadn’t been in the truck and Tiny in his car, he might have popped the deputy in the jaw. “Jesus H. Christ, Tiny. Robbed, burgled. Nik’s stuff is gone. What the fuck difference does it make?”
“Cause one’s right, and the other ain’t.”
Okay, so I didn't swear at the officer, but I was thinking it when he corrected me.
Sometimes I use real people for physical characteristics or traits. I'd seen a guy at a restaurant with his hair cut in a Marine's high-and-tight (that's where it's trimmed really short on the sides and is thicker on the top) His hair was so thick on the top it reminded me of a mink's pelt that I wanted to run my hands over. So in Private Property, I describe Mark's hair as being cut that way.
Sam, whom you first meet in Private Property and then gets his own story in Personal Protection, is a combination of several people but physically I borrowed his size from a football player I used to date who was 6'5". That overwhelming size just fit Sam's character so well. Sam's heroine, Rosie, was inspired by Rosie Perez -- with her smart, sassy, confident approach to life. Sam and Rosie as a couple with him being so tall, and her so short? I used to work with a guy named John at the security company. John is 6'7 while his wife is 4'10. They were the cutest pair to watch, especially when they danced so when writing Sam's heroine, I knew she had to be tiny in contrast, too.
Occasionally, I'll write a character and then discover a similar-type character in a movie, which is really cool because it's not like they've influenced me before I wrote them. For instance, I'd already written the introductory scene of book #4 in the Hauberk series, Hidden Heat, where the hero Troy is very cool and calm as he kills a man (who is a killer, but you don't know that in the beginning paragraphs.) Then I saw the movie "RED". When Karl Urban's character is introduced, so calmly discussing household problems with his wife over his bluetooth while he's killing a guy, I practically grabbed my hubby and said "Oh my God that's Troy!"
A couple months ago, after I'd already signed the contract with Samhain for Hidden Heat, I was in our local mall and saw a woman who could be the twin to Jazz, Sandy's friend in Hidden Heat (Jazz will be the heroine in book #5 which I'm working on.) Confident, short skirt, long legs, suede knee-high boots, fancy lacy stockings, tattoos...yes, I have been known to whip out my smart phone and discreetly take photos ... or maybe not so discreetly.
I also use my friends for inspiration -- for their names, or occupations or knowledge I often "red shirt" them into my stories -- in Personal Protection it's mentioned that Sam's first lover, for instance, was Becky Sue--named in honor of my first critique partner. Nikki from Texas Tangle is named for a reader-friend who is very supportive, while Nikki the character breeds Arabian horses, which is what Becky Sue does in real life. In Tangled Past, there's a housekeeper named Martha -- that's another writing friend of mine. So whenever there's a name of a secondary character, there may be a story behind the name. ;)
I've got two books (so far) coming out next year -- Samhain is releasing Private Property and Deliberate Deceptions (book 3 in the Hauberk series) in a print book called Private Deceptions, so if my readers prefer to read print books instead of ebooks, now they'll be able to buy the whole series in paperback.Books or eBooks?
Book #4 in the Hauberk series, Hidden Heat, is also scheduled to be released in spring 2012. It follows Sandy, Sam's assistant, and Troy, the head of Hauberk's international group as they explore beneath each other's facades, and discover...well, all sorts of fun, and some not-so-fun, secrets.
I have other projects in the works too, but nothing I can talk about publicly yet.
LOL from my groaning, overloaded bookshelves, and the piles of paperbacks on my desk's hutch and the floor, I'm definitely having to switch to ebooks. Plus ebooks have the added bonus of letting me change the font size--something my eyes definitely like, especially in the evenings when I finally grab a few minutes to read. Plus I love being able to tuck my Kobo or Kindle (yes, I have both) in my purse, knowing that if I'm not into one book on my trip, then I can easily flip through the hundreds of others on the device. Something I couldn't easily do with a paperback.Vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate! Preferably covering strawberries or almonds ;)Ooh, yummy! Thank you so much for joining us today!
Thanks for hosting me!
Leah has been so generous as to offer not one, but TWO eBooks to give away! That means TWO chances to win! She's offering a one eBook copy of her first book, Private Property AND one eBook copy of Texas Tangle. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck and happy reading!