Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Authorsday - Cris Anson

Hot Hot Hot! Is how I describe how Cris Anson writes. Hotter than even Justin Beiber.
So here she is answering some questions for me today.

1. How did you pick the genre you write in?

Back at the turn of this century, I was published under another name and my editor kept telling me to tone down my love scenes. When I first heard about Ellora’s Cave, the company which put erotic romance on the publishing map, I was thrilled to know I could write as steamy as I wanted. Now reviewers call my work “incredibly, sinfully erotic”, “scorching hot”, “explosive and passionate”, “atomic fireball hot”—well, you get the picture.

2. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Wish I didn’t, but it’s been seat of the pants for me. I start with two protagonists and, usually, an ending, and maybe an idea for just a scene or two. Period. That makes for lots of angst because I don’t know how to get where I’m headed, so I simply plod along until the characters come to life under my fingers. I don’t write the synopsis until I’ve written “The End” to any story. With PUNISHMENT AND MERCY, an erotic historical ménage from Ellora’s Cave released January 2010, I really struggled to come up with reasons to keep the characters apart and I kept sending chapters to my editor for comment and direction.

It wasn’t until I was invited to join the Ellora’s Cave Cougars (see Tempt the Cougar blog ) that I had to write a synopsis for the group before actually writing the story to be sure I wasn’t duplicating anyone else’s ideas. Now, having a sketchy Trip-Tik for Giselle and Con’s story, I feel more in control of their destiny. Maybe this feeling will stay with me.

3. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?

How much time it takes for promo. I used to think that being published was the Holy Grail. Now there’s a whole new set of goals: getting my name known, finding and enhancing my “brand”, getting my books reviewed, doing blogs and interviews, having a website and a presence on MySpace, Facebook and other social networks, arranging book-signings, attending conferences with an eye to meeting new readers. And oh yes, actually doing the writing so that I can keep my name before the readers.

4. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?

See #1. When I submitted my first “hot” book to Ellora’s Cave, it took nine months for them to acknowledge my submission (it got lost twice what with editorial turnover and growing pains) but I was determined to be published by the premier publisher of erotic romance. Finally, in January 2005, DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS was released and I’ve been with EC ever since. I’ve done five full-length novels and two “Quickies”, with a Cougar novella coming up plus two books (romantic suspense and contemporary romance) for their mainstream imprint, Cerridwen Press. By the way, all of these are still available in downloads, and most are in print as well.

5. Describe your book.

PUNISHMENT AND MERCY takes place in 1694 Massachusetts Bay Colony. A young widow is flogged in public for sexual congress outside matrimony, and her irate father forces her marriage to a blacksmith. But the blacksmith’s apprentice falls in love with her. What’s a woman to do when she winds up loving them both? A reviewer (4.5 hearts, Shannon, The Romance Studio) says: “I dare any reader to have a dry eye by the end of this captivating story!”

Also, I just sold an older woman/younger man story to EC, tentatively entitled WHAT SHE NEEDS. A debut erotic romance author meets a Dom who wants to teach her the finer points of D/s—for research purposes, of course. They “click”, but horrors in their respective pasts lead to a frightening incident that breaks the fragile bond of trust between them.

6. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I like to think I’m good at dialogue, description, mood setting and emotional impact. The last draft before sending it on to my editor consists of going through the manuscript line by line, searching for weak words and substituting those with power, action and/or emotion. My problem is plot (which is why I write seat-of-the-pants style). Oh, and I’m a stickler for punctuation and spelling.

7. What’s your favorite quote?

Attributed to Shaquille O’Neal: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In other words, Go for it. Don’t stop writing. Don’t ever give up.

8. What was your favorite scene to write?

Probably the beginning of DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS. I kept playing the music from Richard Strauss’ opera, SALOME, and envisioning the divorced, poor-self-image heroine, who was cajoled into attending an adult costume party, doing her own dance to that music with her own seven veils. This was the moment she realized she was a desirable woman and thus began her own coming-of-age story at the age of 39.

9. What was the hardest scene to write?

There’s a hospital scene in my Cerridwen book, SECOND BEST (the “bad” twin’s story, the sequel to FIRST TO DIE, with the “good” twin), where the hero is forced to make a “Sophie’s Choice” kind of decision between the two people he loves most in the world. I cried buckets while writing that. Here’s a typical reader reaction: “I sobbed watching Jack choose what was asked of him…” (5 bookmarks, Natalie S., Wild on Books)

10. Who is your greatest cheerleader?

It was, without a doubt, my late husband, Ed. As sick as he was (bedridden with emphysema for the last eight years of his life), he always had words of encouragement when I needed them, and he delighted in sharing my every triumph, whether simply finishing a chapter or first draft, or receiving a good review or that welcome royalty check. I’m grateful he was able to see my first two erotic romances published. I still miss him, but I know he’s still proud of every small or large success I achieve.

Author Bio

After the death of my husband of 22 years, it took me three years to come out of my grief and feel alive and open to new experiences. Now I consider myself a senior citizen and “cougar” —hey, one is never too old to dream about, or experience, romance. I’ve been writing since the ‘90s and read voraciously across all genres. I enjoy my garden during warm days and have just discovered Zumba for fun exercising. My wish list includes sleeping on the floor of the Grand Canyon and dancing a tango or two with Gilles Marini.

Book Blurb):

DANCE OF THE ROGUE, the final book in my DANCE series

Love-’em-and-leave-’em bad-boy Rolf has met his match, and she’s nothing like his usual dalliances. Older, plus-sized Fantine embraces her curves and her femininity. A weekend of pleasure that begins as a sizzling sexual distraction sparks a connection neither wants to relinquish. Fantine brings Rolf a link to the dark-eyed, dark-haired father he always suspected was his, not the blond-haired, blue-eyed sire of his brothers. Amid the joy of learning of his new family and a relationship of steamy sexuality and deep emotions, Rolf becomes the man he never thought he could be, and the lover of Fantine’s deepest fantasies.


Helen Hardt said...

Wow, Cris, that's a gorgeous photo of you! I've had Punishment and Mercy on my TBR for a while and am looking forward to it. I had to smile at your description of your writing technique -- I am exactly the same way. Great at emotion, mood setting, dialogue, but plot is my nemesis! I've tried plotting workshops, storyboards -- seems I'm fated to be a pantser. Great interview, and I wish you the best!


Melinda Leigh said...

Now just about everybody wants love scenes hotter! You were way ahead of the times, Cris.

Dalton Diaz said...

Cris! I read the first part of your interview with my jaw on the floor. We right the exact same way, and targeted EC for the same reason! Winters' Thaw was also the first time I wrote a synopsis before the story.
#6 - exactly the same!
#7 - My fave was passed on by Suz Brockmann, "So no you already have." (Put on your Yiddish cap!) Means the same thing as Shaq's.

KM Fawcett said...

Great interview Chris and Cris!

Dalton Diaz said...

OK, we write the same way. Oy!

Darah Lace said...

Cris, great interview! Your favorite quote particularly hit home. Taking that first step is half the battle to succeeding. Thanks for sharing!

Cris Anson said...

Thanks for all the comments. It's good to know I'm not the only writer who has trouble plotting.

Helen, I wish I looked liked that without all the PhotoShop magic LOL.

Dalton, don't worry about typos; you write RIGHT!

Juniper Bell said...

Thanks for the great interview! Cris, you're a new-to-me author but you've really whetted my appetite. I can't wait to read your books now! Punishment and Mercy sounds wonderful.


Cari Quinn said...

Great interview! I'm a pantser too...seems like there are a lot of us!

Punishment and Mercy sounds like a book I need to read. Best of luck in the future!