Interview with Susan TaylorWelcome, Susan! How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
It seems like forever but really only for about a year and a half.
What do you like best about writing?
Creating characters. The crafting of their personalities. I always try to think of them in terms of what’s in their wallet. For Dustin, he’s got an slim wallet with a couple of credit cards (Amex, Diners Club). For Claire, she owns a messenger bag that’s filled with technology, a notebook or two, tons of pens and sticky notes.
How did you come up with the title, Secret Desire?
Well, it’s about a secret desire, so I went with the basic element of the premise.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
You mean there’s life beyond crafting fiction????
The sad answer is no. I had to retire after neurosurgery went awry.
How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)
Vanilla journalist takes control of her life, owning her secret fantasies including connecting with Dustin and the desire to write erotica. (Phew 139…sweating!)
Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
I’d say I knock out a synopsis, some stories are more like tables, but once I get into the writing, say 30% mark, the characters start reacting, and I let them take me. If I’m lucky I can type fast enough.
Did you have any say in your cover art?
Funny story. The cover artist did the work for Tiffany Reisz’s venture into Felt Tips, an anthology of erotic stories. I saw the stock photo and used that image for Claire. Sexy librarian. She’s featured in the book trailer. Low and behold, without contacting her, Etopia contracted her to do the cover.
What do you think of it?
At first glance, I cried. So much skin. But then I settled down, and realized so much beautiful skin. I thought the wall was priceless in being broken. That’s exactly what is going on in the character. I don’t know if everyone gets it, but I do.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
So many. Well, I’m going to my favorite writer, Stephen Dobyns.
“In the years since I saw you on Sunday, I left my house and walked out across the Earth, with only my occasional luck and knowledge of cards.” That’s not just a line, it’s a whole story.
What do you do to market your book?
Pray. This has been a learning experience more so that writing. Try to get involved in the market at various levels. Including do things like this blog tour, social media platforms which I had zero knowledge of before. And writing. Writing the next book.
Do you have imaginary friends? When do they talk to you? Do they tell you what to write?
That’s exactly what happens with the characters. They begin to become layered and dimensional. I’d think the story should go one way at the beginning but then it doesn’t resonate with who they’ve become by the middle or even ending at times.
How do you get to know your characters?
I’ve done everything from imagining what’s inside their wallet, refrigerator, what they like to drink, what they don’t like to wear. The character building, depending upon how deep I need to go, can turn into analysis.
Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?
Too funny. I was just thinking of Sophie’s Choice this morning. Too coincidental. I’m yes but not an obvious one. Fran. She’s dark and a freer person because she’s so narcissistic. I had to hold back and let Claire’s arc form, whereas Fran appeared in true form from start to finish. Her wounds are there but the cause is invisible. Her story is called Savage Secret. I don’t know if it will get published since it’s not a sweet tale.
When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?
Not always. Some minor characters become more and more important in delivering the plot at times. That happened with a release later this year involving a paranormal story.
I’m constantly on the lookout for new names. How do you name your characters?
I’m lousy at naming them. I think about their inherent characteristics and research names. Like Claire = clarity. That was her arc. Dustin=on a dusty motocross trail. Ocean of Love, Marissa= from the sea (she’s a mermaid). Sara=princess in The Cowboy Rode a Harley.
Are you like any of your characters?
I think we all are like our characters to some degree either directly or how we strive to be exact opposites, the other side of the arc. With Claire, it was the discomfort of coming out and putting it out there that, hey this is what I write. I still have bouts of anxiety. It’s hard being a parent and teacher. My issue, I get that.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Just finished Beautiful Bastard. It was beautifully erotic, and I finished it in hours.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
I like the feedback. I want to know what works and what readers think. What do they want more of and what didn’t work. Absolutely want real thoughts.
Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
It’s all the same: Country Music. To me it was weird, hugely all over the place in type but conveys some heartfelt emotion and hey, it’s Nashville, baby!
About the book:The problem with twins is that they look so much alike… By day, Claire Robertson is a staff writer for a small publication in Seattle. But when the lights go down, she writes sizzling and oh-so-naughty erotica. She keeps these stories safely tucked away, hiding her secret fantasies of her hero, Dustin Murray. The man who stole her heart six years ago. And then jumped into bed with her twin sister.
Dustin never forgot Claire, or her twin sister’s lies that tricked him into sleeping with her. Nor has he forgotten that her sister’s threats have kept him silent for six years and cost him the woman he loved. Now that Claire’s returned home, Dustin isn’t about to lose her again. But it’ll be another thing to convince Claire he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to win her back.
When Claire accidentally sends the wrong story to her editor, things really heat up. With hot the new black in publishing, her editor thinks he’s struck gold and queues the story for publication. The last thing Claire needs is for everyone to learn that she’s got secrets of her own…
ExcerptThe man’s gaze fell to her legs still carelessly strewn across her desk. Her heart thundered in her ears. Warmth from his sharp exhale caressed the skin at her ankles.
She bit her lip and decided—-no regrets for trying “And?” She returned his mocking raised-brow expression in an eye-for-an-eye stare down.
“I’m Thornton Maxwell...your attorney.” He turned away, but not before she caught his look of displeasure. “God. Woman, do you even know what a mess you’ve got on your hands? We need to talk. A real pressure cooker is about blow.”
Cynthia froze. This wasn’t part of her erotic fantasy. What was he talking about? Should she just come out and admit she had no idea of what was going on or get him to divulge what demanded damage control?
She pretended unconcerned boredom in an attempt to buy some time to think. “Someone’s got his panties in a real twist.”
This wasn’t the first time she’d needed legal. But if he was her new go-to man, she was tempted to screw more things up.
This was a conundrum. He was too damn good-looking. This type of man didn’t appreciate a dumbbell. Did he know how hard she worked or that sometimes contracts needed to be bent? “Explored” is what she liked to call it. Wasn’t that why McGavock Publishing hired a boatload of first-year attorneys anyway? Shoot, he was probably upset because his weekend golf game was about to be rained out.
He paced in front of her desk while raking fingers through his thick, dark hair. Cynthia noticed the way he flexed and moved his arms, his muscles pumping and expanding. He stopped, spun around, and marched back to her desk.
“Lewis, when you cross out clauses and write your own notes into a publishing contract, we don’t have a legal leg to stand on in court when an issue is disputed. The things you’ve included to get an author to sign without consulting legal is tying us in knots. The next time you promise a writer the moon, you better consult me first and NASA second. Not whatever pops into that pretty little head of yours. You need my help with this lawsuit, and I expect your cooperation. You might as well know now that’s going to mean during office hours as well as evenings and weekends.”
His finger was pointed directly in front of her face. She imagined sucking the tip until her sex-crazed brain finally grasped his message.
What? She was floored. Her stomach felt punched, the fist of surprise still lodged in her ribcage. Her mind reeled. It wasn’t possible. She was being threatened with a lawsuit for a couple of silly additions to a contract, and now this man expected her to drop everything. Was he joking? Slowly she inhaled.
“I’m innocent.” She stared back at him. “Sure, I’m not beyond bending the rules, but a lawsuit? No, that’s not possible; it’s impossible. You’ve got to help me.”
“We definitely need a sit-down. Not your usual brush-off and expectation for legal to jump through a hoop. This one is serious.” His gaze swept over her face and downward. The space between them crackled with static energy. He was more than steamed. But he was ready to step in and help her. A spasm of pleasure trilled in her veins. He was her knight in shining armor. She wasn’t the enemy. Not his at least. With all that pent-up fury of his, it was a shame to let it go to waste. He was handsome beyond belief...another time, over cocktails or at a party, she’d not think twice about what her body wanted. His dark eyes weren’t all anger...passion brewed there, pulling the cords to her attraction, making her skin tingle. Oh, my. He wanted to school her good. But maybe she could teach him a thing.
“Thor…Thornton, sit down.” She recouped her confidence. He was in her dominion. The door was closed. Her assistant always knocked before entering. The glass panels were mirrored. He was so near...all she had to do was reach out to him.
She met his bad-boy stare with excitement screaming in her ears.
“Please.” She was almost purring, beseeching him over the rim of her eyeglasses.
“Fine, I’m all ears.” He pulled up a chair closer to her desk. “Well?”
She studied him. If the man ever smiled, he’d be drop-dead gorgeous. She let the papers slip out of her fingers, and she pushed her glasses up on top of her head. Cynthia rubbed her ankles together, and his eyes fixed onto legs.
Ding, ding. Johnny, she had a winner.
She lifted her legs and stood, acting as if arranging her papers was vital. She felt, rather than saw, that his gaze was upon her.
“Client-attorney privilege?” She rounded the desk, trailing her fingers along the surface.
“Yes, whatever you share. Go on.”
“Where shall I begin?” She stopped and leaned back on her desk, directly in front of him. Eighteen inches of space separated them.
“Haven’t you ever longed for something to the point of breaking a few rules? Just once?”
He held his spine erect. He gripped the armrests. She noticed the fine hairs on his fingers, but no ring. She placed the toe of her shoe on the corner of his chair, her ankle only an inch away from his grasp. Her silk skirt lifted, sliding up her thighs, and his gaze shot to the revealed set of black lace Agent Provocateur garters.
She licked her lips and unbuttoned a pearl button. He flared his nostrils ever so slightly. He stared at her fingers. She undid another button. He became a statue. A rather alluring, attentive one. She continued unbuttoning the rest of buttons. She didn’t open her shirt, hoping he’d notice her breasts were unhampered by a bra. The only sound in the room was their breathing.
“Don’t stop now.”
She opened her shirt, revealing ample cleavage. Her nipples hardened at the thought of his mouth teasing her skin.
She rubbed her leg against his thumb. He touched her ankle, lightly at first, before running his fingers up the back of her calf. She pushed her hips forward, her skirt lifted further up and over her thighs.
He made a low, primal sound, melting a reserve within her. “Do you like what you see?”
Their eyes locked and she smiled. She traced a finger along the bottom of her lip. She stuck just the tip into her mouth and sucked, playfully removing any doubt of where this was going.
“Hmm,” she whispered. “What do you want?”
He closed his eyes and moved his hand over her knee. She went beyond merely teasing him to wanting to feel him deep inside her body.
About the author:"I love the concept of falling in love. The type of romantic journey that is so intense, it's borders on insanity."--Susan D. Taylor.
After growing up in Miami, she moved to Nashville where she taught biology and special education. No longer a public school teacher, Susan now writes about consuming passion, how attraction plays out, and characters that are either going to incinerate or meld like warm caramel.
Susan lives with her husband, two blue heelers, two cats, a gecko and a snake. An RYT 200 (Yoga Alliance) practicing in vinyasa flow when she's not writing her next hot romance.
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