Celia May Hart writes erotic romance for Kensington Aphrodesia. Her first book for them, Show Me, (being from Missouri, I love the title) is a Regency set historical, with a tad more spice than traditional. ;-) Welcome, Celia!!
Q.) First tell us about your book; I love the concept.
CMH.) SHOW ME is set during the Regency and is about Portia Carew, who has been both jilted and had her reputation smeared. Her mother drags her off to a country house party in an effort to restore the latter and marry her off…but Portia’s been burned and doesn’t want any part of it. In exploring the library of her hosts, she discovers a collection of erotica and well, she isn’t as pure as the driven snow as her mother would like to think. She sets about pleasing herself, Mark Knightson, the hero, catches her at it, and offers to teach her the art of self-pleasure. Unfortunately, he’s yet to learn the art of self-control. Matters snowball from there.
Q.) Do you consider your books romance, erotica or erotic romance—or something else like historical romance? What made you pick this mix of sub genre?
CMH.) Mine are definitely erotic romance. They’re too explicit to be called historical romance, where the sex can be steamy but not so frank. It’s romance because each one that I have written so far has had a happy ever after ending. I make ‘em suffer, and there is loads of sex, but there’s happiness at the end. I actually wrote Regencies under a different name, so it made sense to stay in that time period for me. And well, frankly, sometimes it was hard for my characters to keep it in their pants.
Q.) When planning a book, what comes first—character or plot? And what do you do next—start writing or plot things out?
CMH.) Often it’s just a scene. The library scene came to me first in SHOW ME. Then I have to figure out who these characters are, how this story is going to work within this historical frarmework (bearing in mind that there are consequences to breaking society’s rules). So it’s scene, characters, plot.
Q.) What do all of your books/novellas have in common? (themes, character traits, setting, sensuality, etc.)
CMH.) So far they are all set during the Regency period (1800-1830 or so). The themes in all of them, though, are about forgiveness, redemption (which sounds like rather an odd thing to have in an erotic romance, but there you have it), particularly about getting a second chance at finding and keeping love.
Q.) What is the highest compliment someone has paid you about your book and what made it the best?
CMH.) It’s one I’ve received twice so far: that they couldn’t put it down until they finished it. I’ve always wanted to write those books that keep you up at night reading until you’re done, no matter what time you have to get up for work in the morning.
Q.) Who are your favorite authors/books and why?
CMH.) I read pretty widely. Current favorites are: Jacqueline Carey, Mary Balogh, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Bear, Naomi Novik.
Q.) How long have you been writing? Can you tell us anything about your road to publication? How long? Mistakes you realize now or tips for people starting out?
CMH.) I’ve been writing stories since I could construct sentences. Writing for publication started initially in college, but I sucked so I just wrote for fun until about 1999. I was first published in 2005 under a different name.
I don’t think I made any really big mistakes, except not comprehending for four years and keeping the first three chapters when they really needed to be gone! My advice is to keep writing, keep reading, keep learning, get hooked into RWA and your local chapter so you learn from their workshops. Keep writing — I think your mind needs to learn how to write in such a way that you don’t do it consciously any more.
Learn to revise too. Each time I learned something new, I’d apply that technique to that first sucky book from college. I wrote a new book, and then I’d go back and revise the old one. I eventually sold it — minus that sucky first couple of chapters, of course.
I’d also add that I don’t read critically (well, incorrect history bugs me), but I don’t read to go — oh how did they do that? And so on, because every time I try it, I just get sucked in again. I’m praying its working via osmosis.
Q.) Any new projects on the horizon? What would you like to try next?
CMH.) I’m writing my third single title for Kensington Aphrodisia right now. It’s a time travel Regency-set historical sexy adventure with paranormal elements. And no, I’m not kidding. I’m hoping I’m going to be able get some noirish sassy banter in there as well.
Books that I’ve already done that are coming out are a novella in THE HAREM (December 2006) and MADE FOR SIN (February 2007).
I’d like to write a sequel to SHOW ME, with some of the secondary characters, because I grew quite fond of them, but I’ve yet to come up with a pitch compelling enough for my editor. There’s time a plenty yet.
Thanks, Celia, for chatting with us and everyone else–check out Celia’s books at her site!!