Today we’re delighted to have as our guest Diane Saxon, author of spicy contemporary romance novels including the best-selling Loving Lydia, published by Liquid Silver Books.
Diane lives in an enviably beautiful part of the Shropshire countryside, not far from last summer’s RNA conference venue, Harper Adams University, as I discovered when I happened to sit next to her in one of the conference workshops. Diane’s books sizzle with devastatingly attractive heroes but they wouldn’t have come to life had not her own real-life hero, her husband whom she describes as tall, dark and handsome, insisted she give up the demanding day-job and follow her dream of becoming a writer.
I asked The Write Romantics what questions they’d like to put to Diane and, surprise, surprise, the spicy side of things was uppermost in their minds! Over to you, Diane.
Hi, thank you so much for asking me to join you here today. It was an absolute pleasure to read the questions from The Write Romantics and I had fun answering them.
When did you first have that dream of becoming a writer, and what was the demanding career you gave up in order to fulfil it?
I’m not sure I understand myself when I had the “dream”. I can only say it came alive the day I put pen to paper and made it happen. I’m not one of those people who can say I’ve written all of my life. I haven’t. But I have read all of my life, and I have fantasized and when we moved house last year, I found a small scene I had in my drawer from when I had my eldest daughter. Twenty-two years it took me to turn that small amount of scribbling into a book – Flynn’s Kiss, published in April 2014.
The demanding career – an Office and H.R. Manager. Two hours travel a day, plus phone calls every evening and with the ability to work from a home computer, submitting PAYE etc, I was frequently up until after midnight, or on-line before six in the morning.
As relatively new writers, The Write Romantics are well used to clawing their way through the submissions process and we’re always intrigued to know how others achieved their ‘breakthrough’ and what happened when they got ‘the call’. How was it for you?
Unbelievable. Really. I made several submissions of Loving Lydia and had two American publishers interested within three weeks. I was on my own when I received the news and I still hippy chick danced around my house. The first stage was a request for an R&R and I can confess, I worked my socks off to make that manuscript right. Next came the contract and the boogie dance became even more frantic. I cannot describe the thrill of getting that first contract, but seeing the front cover of the book made it a reality. Loving Lydia’s front cover was exactly what I imagined.
I would advise any new writer to do their research. This is not a standard CV you are sending out to employers to see if their criteria matches yours. It is far, far more complex and if there is one thing I can lay claim to, it is the ability to put my “business head” on. When you send in your submission, check what THEY are asking you for. This could make the difference between an automatic rejection and a contract. Every single submission I have made has been different. Read and re-read their requirements. I cannot emphasise it enough.
Why did you choose your particular genre and what appeals to you about it?
Romance has always appealed, from the moment my sister, Margaret, read The Princess Bride to me when I was ten. Even then, the slight naughty thrill and humour struck a chord and perpetuated when I realised those slim books my mother took from the library each week contained stories to melt a young heart. I can’t tell you every teenager does this. In my class at school nobody seemed to know the whispered words of Mills & Boon. It was my secret thrill, my escape. By the age of fourteen, I’d moved on to Wilbur Smith – great volumes. I didn’t read his books, I lived them. An avid reader, I took advice and books from Margaret, read them with as much enthusiasm as she did and fell into the romance. As we matured, so did our choice in material. When we discovered Nora Roberts, we opened a whole new world of American authors, where romance, like real life could be naughty.
Did the genre in any way influence your decision to sign with a US publisher?
To be honest, not really. Like any author looking for a publisher I did my research. I sent my manuscript to the publishers I believed would be best for the book I had written. My Atlantic Divide Series is based on one American protagonist and one English. When Liquid Silver signed me, I re-wrote the entire story in US English.
Your books so far have been published within an impressively short time-scale. How many hours do you spend writing in a day, and do you have set times when you like to write?
I write every day. My best time is between 7.00 am and 1.00pm. Revisions and editing take place in the evening, but my artistic flow seems stronger in the morning. Thinking time, developing a scene, creating dialogue comes when I walk my Dalmatian, Skye, for hours at a time. I always take a notebook and have been known to record scenes, but I find this less natural than writing it down.
On your blog you say you write ‘contemporary romance, stories with humour, and quite often a cowboy or two’. OK, so, why cowboys?
Oh, now this is where I start to sound a little mad, but authors out there will understand. Loving Lydia is the first in my Atlantic Divide Series. When I started to write, I had the idea that a young woman with a horrific background would join her sister in America and her life would change. I had no pre-conceived ideas, but when she landed at the airport, a cowboy was waiting. That cowboy, gorgeous, gentle, understanding Sam, dictated the rest of the book to me and when I write, I have a cowboy in my head.
Do you enjoy writing your series books more than singles titles, and is it something you plan to continue in the future?
Absolutely, my cowboys and I won’t be parted. I’m currently writing the next in my Disarmed and Dangerous Series, where cowboys are always present, and even now, I know where the next in that series is coming from. As for my single titles, I love them just as much. But where they are a flash of imagination, content to end, my Series are a dream intent on visiting me every night and expanding to the horizon, and beyond.
Do you have a tried and trusted approach to writing a brand new novel? Do you invent the characters before the plot, or vice versa, and do you have to know the ending before you begin?
I am what’s classed as a panster. In other words, I fly by the seat of my pants. Or so I thought, until recently when I realised I do have a system. I may not sit and plot and scrawl notes, but my stories are character driven. I meet my main character on one of my long walks and we get to know each other very well before I put pen to paper. I know the start of my story, I know my character, and I know the end. What happens in between, is more often than not a surprise.
Are there any other genres you’d like to try in the future?
Oh my goodness, where to start? First of all, I have a new short story, part of an anthology due which is now out on pre-release (see below). I’ve never been one to stick to a single reading genre – read twelve historical and I want to see a thriller, a paranormal, a comedy. So why should I keep to one sub-genre for writing? Romance is romance.
My new release – For Heaven’s Cakes – is a humorous paranormal with a shape-shifting wolf. Following on from this, I have a full paranormal romance novel with a shape-shifting dragon and a screaming banshee that I’ve just finished. And in January, my time-travelling sci-fi/dystopian short story Short Circuit Time is due for release by Hartwood Publishing. I’ve also just finished an historical romance, more about that another day. And between you and me, I started writing a thriller long before Loving Lydia was conceived. It’s far longer than the others, and much darker. This is my goal for 2015. To finish the thriller. (Read more about Diane’s latest books below).
And finally, can you give us any advice on how to write good sex scenes? (Well, we had to ask!)
Yes. But it’s not sex. It’s love. I write romance, first and foremost, with happily ever after endings and sex is an integral part of that relationship. I imagine a camera rolling, a beautiful film playing out for our hearts to become involved in, our imaginations to fill in the gaps. Even when my main characters have not declared any love interest in each other, if they have sex, they are already emotionally involved. The reader will know that, even if the character doesn’t yet. Don’t be afraid. Grab a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate. (Not at 7.00 am obviously) Close your eyes and let your own imagination roll. Write what comes into your head and flows through your fingers. If you don’t like it later, you can delete the scene, but if you restrict that imagination, allow the thoughts of “what will people think?” and “is this sentence construction correct?” interfere, then it will show in your writing and your scene will feel contrived. Just as I write humour in my stories, I don’t exclude it in my love scenes. If something wants to be funny, let it.
And if you’d like the chance to win one of Diane’s books, see the end of this post!
Paranormally Yours, is available on pre-release right now. Find it here:
For Heaven’s Cakes by Diane Saxon
Twelve years of living in Ireland smoothed Beau’s rough edges, and hard work as a construction worker made him a wealthy man. The call of his pack is stronger than he can resist though, and he isn’t averse to returning to show his small home town in America what he’s made of himself.
What he doesn’t anticipate is meeting the local pharmacist’s daughter – in his wolf form. By day, he renovates the pharmacy, and tries to cajole the lush assistant into having dinner with him. By night he watches Catherine bake her fantastic creations and blossom through her art.
Sleeping on her bed each night in his wolf form isn’t exactly ideal, but how does he tell her the wolf she’s come to love, is the man she lusts over?
Beau dipped his head…
Just as he thought. She tasted of warm spices and honeyed wine. He moved his lips against her full, soft ones, and closed his eyes in ecstasy. Yes. He’d known she’d taste that way. He deepened the kiss, and pulled her lush body in closer so he could feel every rounded curve pressed against him.
He cupped the back of her head in his hand and twined his fingers through her silken hair. He tilted his head to get a better angle, slipped his tongue inside her mouth, and rejoiced at the faint mewl she emitted. The woman was full of little sounds. He squeezed her, and delighted as the mewl turned to a groan.
He smoothed his hand down her back, took a hold of one cheek of the fine ass he’d admired, and molded it to bring her hips flush against his.
Coming Soon… Short Circuit Time
In the year 2086, Zaphira is alone, the last survivor of biological warfare on Earth. Before he died, her scientist father promised other survivors would come. Nobody has. So when a horribly mangled android shows up claiming to be her father’s assistant, Aiden, who has been sent through time to rescue her, she’s both frightened and astounded. The last time she’d seen Aiden, she’d been sixteen, head-over-heels in love with him and had literally thrown herself at him, leaving her devastated by his rejection and him running for the hills. The following day, she’d been told of his death. Eight years later he’s miraculously back, this time asking for her help. Without it, he won’t survive. But can she really put a dead man back together with tweezers?
Thank you, Diane, for being our guest today. It’s been fun and we wish you continued success with your books.
But before we go, today’s Saturday Spotlight comes with an exciting bonus and I believe it’s a first for us on the blog! I’ll leave Diane to tell us all about it:
First, I’d like to thank Write Romantics for inviting me along. I’ve had a blast answering these questions. Then I want to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to drop in and visit.
Leave a comment telling me what your favourite sub-genre is with your contact details (email address) and I will send one lucky winner an e-copy of either my anthology or any one of my backlist.
(To leave a comment, click on Comments at the end of the tags below)