Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Wicked Wednesday - Susan Lyons

An interview with Susan Lyons for the Erotica Romance Reading Challenge


1.  Welcome to our little slice of the pie .... Firstly let us know what genre do you write and why...

I write the full range of romance, from sweet short stories through to sexy/erotic short stories, novellas, and novels. In a image long romance, I do like the relationship to get spicy – there’s nothing like sex and intimacy to bring the heroine’s and hero’s emotions and issues to the fore. I love romance! To me, it’s about meeting that special person who challenges you to confront your issues and fears and have the guts to be a better, stronger person (we writers call it “character arc”) and to deserve and win love.

2.  Currently you have series and individual books in your repertoire , Can you give us a 101 on them.....

Susan Lyons/Fox 101. LOL. Let’s work from short to long.

I have twelve sweet short romances (one for each month) with The Wild Rose Press. They’re available as individual downloads and are also collected in CALENDAR OF LOVE.

I have three short erotic romances with Harlequin Spice Briefs, which form the EROTIQUE series. They’re three stand-alone stories but all take place in a private sex club called Erotique where three different heroines realize their fantasies.

In novellas, I have completely standalone stories in two firefighter anthologies, THE FIREFIGHTER and MEN ON FIRE for Kensington Aphrodisia, a Christmas novella in UNWRAP ME and a novella coming up in March’s SOME LIKE IT ROUGH (these are Aphrodisia too), and then in fall 2010 I’ll have another holiday novella in THE NAUGHTY LIST (Brava) under the pen name Susan Fox.

For novels, I’m writing series. I started with the Awesome Foursome series for Kensington Aphrodisia, about four 20-something best friends who each find their own sexy romance. I loved writing about four friends who each appeared in all the books – so the books are standalone, but for readers who are following the series, they really get to know each girl and they get to follow the first romance through four books, the second romance through three books, and so on.

So, next, I pitched another four-book series to Kensington, this one about four sisters, the older three single sisters traveling home to their baby sister’s wedding. This is the sexy “planes, trains, automobiles, and a cruise ship” Wild Ride to Love series. The first book, SEX DRIVE came out in December. Then Kensington decided to move the series to the Brava line. The second book, LOVE, UNEXPECTEDLY, will be out in April. It and the other two books will be under the pen name Susan Fox (my publisher’s idea, not mine, in case you were wondering).

Also, while all that was happening, I sold a book to Berkley Heat. SEX ON THE BEACH came out in January. I wrote it as a standalone (set in Belize, it’s three interlocked stories in one book, about three couples who fall for each other in the week before a destination wedding). I had an option book with Berkley, and in discussions with my editor, we decided on SEX ON THE SLOPES, a similar concept but set at a destination wedding in Whistler in winter (it’ll be out this December). We’re also discussing making the next Berkley Heat SEX ON THE SEA, set on a pre-wedding cruise in the Greek Islands, but that hasn’t been decided yet. One heroine in each book is a wedding planner, all from the same firm. So, my Berkley books have turned into a series too!

So, that’s where things stand, in terms of books on the shelves plus books under contract.

3. The anthologies that you have taken part in - do they relate to any of your single titles and if not - have you consider expanding on any of them.

No, they don’t relate to the single titles, though the characters from the secondary romance in my novella in THE FIREFIGHTER (the heroine’s grandmother and her guy) do appear in my novel SEX DRIVE, giving a bit of relationship advice on the flight from Sydney to Honolulu.

I haven’t really thought of expanding them because when I work on a story idea, it has to be an idea that fits the targeted length. A novella can’t have as many complex issues, subplots, and secondary characters. Of course occasionally I do have a secondary character (in a novella or a novel) who I think might get a story of their own one day. We’ll see what happens with that. There are so many fascinating characters and great ideas. I just can’t write them all!

4. Tell us about your Heroes and your Heroines.... What are some of the basic traits that you bring to your main protags....

My heroes are, of course, the kind of men who most attract me. Their most important quality is having a strong character and integrity. They’re definitely not arrogant; they’re just quietly confident and competent. They’re the people that others turn to when there’s a problem to be solved, a person to be helped. They all have a sense of humor and they’re  very smart. They also love and respect women. Hmm – maybe that’s their most important attribute! Oh, and of course they’re physically strong, fit, and definitely attractive! But they can’t be perfect, because where’s the fun in that? Each one has some kind of issue he needs to work through, and it’s not going to happen until he meets that incredible woman who will challenge him to be the best he can. And of course, those women are my heroines.

My heroines are each spunky in her own fashion, and competent out there in the world. But they often have a bit of insecurity about their attractiveness and sexuality and/or they have problems with intimacy. They need the right man to help them realize their true female strength and power. And those men . . . well, you know who they are. My heroes!

5.  Which genre are you most comfortable writing in, and which genre would you be willing to experiment with.

I love romance and relationships of all sorts. As well as love stories, I enjoy writing about female relationships (friends, sisters, mothers and daughters). So, right now I’m very happy writing sexy and erotic contemporary romance. I’d love to experiment with Gold Rush historical (I have – you guessed it – a series in mind) and I’d love to write books that tend toward women’s fiction and also have romances in them (I have a series in mind there too, that I’m working on now, in hopes of one day selling it).

6.  What are some of the no-no's for you in writing and why.

Writing something I don’t believe in or can’t identify with personally. That doesn’t mean I can only write about things I personally know or have done, but the things I write have to resonate with me. I can write about exotic dancers and P.I.s (my novella in SOME LIKE IT ROUGH), though I’ve never done either job. But I’m not in general a big fan of English historicals, vampires, or BDSM (yes, I’ve read some great books, but those subgenres aren’t my favorites), so I’m not going to write them just because they happen to be hot.

7.  A cheeky question for you - what are some of the positive and negatives about being an author...

Lots of positives! Doing what I love to do (even though it’s hard work). Setting my own schedule (yes, meeting deadlines and working my butt off, but choosing the hours that I work). Working at home. Being in the world of writers, readers, booksellers, and editors – my favorite people! Being able to call reading “research” and justify doing it. LOL. And I guess, mostly, bringing characters I’ve created into the world and hearing from readers who tell me my characters have touched them, resonated, made them laugh, made them cry, made them think.

As for negatives, to be honest the worst thing is the low income. I could be an attorney (I have a law degree) making pretty good money, but my passion is writing and it, like most of the arts, is a seriously underpaid occupation. It’s really hard to scrape out a living – and most of us writers aren’t exactly independently wealthy! The other big negative is the uncertainty. A writer gets a contract, then has no idea of whether she’ll ever sell another book again. The publisher has to buy it, which means that sales on previous books have to be good, which depends on so many factors. And beyond that, the publisher has to believe that subgenre is still going to be alive by the time the book is actually published, which could well be two years down the road. Then, let’s add in the fact that the future of the industry is so uncertain at the moment… It’s definitely not a career for the faint-hearted – or anyone who wants to strike it rich!  

8. What’s on the cards for Susan Lyons in 2010 and beyond....

In March I have the third Erotique story, EROTIQUE: ALEX and my novella “Private Eyes” in SOME LIKE IT ROUGH. In April I have my first Susan Fox Brava, LOVE, UNEXPECTEDLY. In April I’ll be attending the RT Booklovers Convention in Columbus, OH. I’ll be giving a writing workshop and be on a panel discussing “Sin-sational Scenes,” and of course I’ll be at the book fair and other events. In May, I’m thrilled that SEX DRIVE will be Cosmo magazine’s “red hot read”! (How cool is that?) In October, THE NAUGHTY LIST comes out, and in December it’s SEX ON THE SLOPES. After that, there will be the third and fourth Wild Ride to Love books and, hopefully, SEX ON THE SEA. After that… we’ll just have to see!

9. Enough about the books - now to the good stuff... give us a sneak peek of one of your favourite Heroes from your books in action....

This is from SEX DRIVE, the book Cosmo chose as a “red hot read.”

Damien and Theresa, total strangers, are seated side by side on the flight from Sydney, Australia, to Honolulu. Damien, a thriller writer, has been voted one of Australia’s ten sexiest bachelors; Theresa is a shy, inhibited professor. By the time the flight arrives, they are no longer strangers, if you get my drift. And he’s persuaded her to stop over in Honolulu with him. In this scene, he’s fresh out of the shower.



    When he walked out, Theresa was at the desk, sun gilding her auburn hair, plugging in her own computer next to his. Flushed, she said, in a rush, “I really should call Vancouver. And get email going. Let everyone know about my change of plans.”

    “The flight hasn’t even left Honolulu yet. You have lots of time.” He walked over and rested a hand on the collar of the robe, then eased the fabric down so the sun could touch her skin and he could caress her nape. “We have a date, remember?”

    She ducked her head, giving him better access. “I’m not very experienced at this.”

    How did she manage to make him feel tender and horny, all at the same time? He slid his hand along her neck to her jaw, then cupped her cheek and tilted her face toward him. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is, do you want this, Tezzie? You and me, doing all the things we couldn’t do on the plane?”

    Her lashes lowered, then she blinked and gazed straight at him, those billabong eyes dancing with green and blue sparkles in the morning sunlight. “Yes, I want it. Sorry to be so . . . waffly.” Her jaw firmed. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want this. If I didn’t want you, Damien.”

    Those were words that heated him even more than the sun that burned through his robe. The sun’s touch warmed him from the outside, but Theresa’s desire kindled a spark that made his blood fizz and his cock surge with need.

    He caressed her cheek, stroked damp hair back from her face. “Then let everything else go for an hour or two. Right now, all that exists is the two of us.” He bent to kiss her and her lips met his, warm, giving, seductive.

    When he straightened again, her gaze drifted down to the neckline of his robe, the V where one side wrapped over the other. Where his tanned skin and curls of dark hair were a stark contrast to the white terry. “You want me to take this off?” He touched the robe’s belt, which he’d looped at his waist.

    Slowly, her gaze following his hand rather than returning to his face, she shook her head and edged the desk chair around so she sat facing him squarely. “No. I want to take it off you.”

    “Be my guest.”

    Hand trembling slightly, she took hold of one end of the belt. The way he’d looped it, one pull would undo it.

    She tugged. When the belt fell, the bulky robe loosened, but not enough to reveal his body. He stood in front of her and waited.

    She raised both hands to grip the sides of the robe at mid-chest. And paused. Her shoulders rose and fell as she took a deep breath. Then she spread the sides wide.

    Her breath sucked in with a gasp as she saw he was naked and aroused.

    As if mesmerized, she rose slowly to her feet and eased the robe off his shoulders. It fell to the floor. The sun caressed his back and her eyes blazed a heat trail across his front.

    “You really are beautifully made,” she murmured.

    “Glad you approve. See anything you’d like to touch?”

    A quick grin, a glance upward under eyelashes. “All of it.”

    “Then it’s all yours.”

    Hesitantly she touched his shoulders, running her hands over them and down his upper arms, then squeezing, feeling the muscle and bone below. “How did you get to be in such good shape? And so tanned? Writing’s a sedentary, indoors job.”

    “I run, swim, work out. I need to because yeah, it is sedentary, and I’ve always been a physical person.”

    She began to explore his pecs and when her fingers circled his nipples, he caught his breath. Then managed to finish his thought. “Exercise helps me work out story problems too.”

    “Really?” She glanced up, then went back to teasing his nipples. “I do the same thing. When I’ve been working so long my thoughts are muddy, I change into shorts and go for a run.”

    How about that? The idea of Theresa in shorts was almost as arousing as the touch of those soft, persistent fingers, whose every tweak made his cock throb and twitch.

    Her hands traced his ribs and down over his abs, which tensed under her touch. A quick circle of his navel, and then one hand gripped his shaft. Lightly, tentatively.

    He let out a moan of pleasure.

    Still holding him, she sat in the desk chair again, then subjected his cock to a brush-of-fingers exploration that covered every inch of skin. From the base, where his hard-on jutted out of a nest of dark curls. Up the raised, throbbing vein that was so responsive to each stroke. Lightly ringing the top of his shaft, just under the crown. Then, finally, brushing and circling the head, finding a drop or two of pre-cum and smoothing it into his achingly sensitive skin.

    He pulsed under her hand, trying not to thrust, but arousal was hot and thick in him. Burying his hands in her hair, he said, “Hey, Prof, you’re killing me. Have you almost finished your research?”

    “I believe in being thorough.” Her voice was throaty and, when she raised her face to his, he saw how flushed she was.

    Thank God he wasn’t the only one who was so turned on. “Could you be thorough wearing fewer clothes?”

And of course your Heroine from your books in action...

That same scene carries on in her point of view.

    imageStaring up at Damien, I had a sense of unreality. This couldn’t be me, in a luxury hotel on Waikiki Beach, with a man who’d been ranked one of the ten sexiest bachelors in Australia.

    A man who deserved that ranking. His body was amazing, hard and masculine, gilded by the sunlight. On him, the dragon and sea eagle tattoos didn’t look overdone or tacky, they gave him an intriguing edge.

    His coloring was beautiful, his features strong. An illustration of how mixed-race heritage could produce gorgeous offspring. Oh yes, he was a treat to behold. But the most incredible thing was the ardent blaze in his gray eyes, the huge engorged penis filling my hands. The indisputable evidence of how aroused he was. By me. An academic, not a sex goddess.

    And yet, the heat that pulsed through me – that tightened my nipples, turned my skin pink, made me tingle and ache between my legs – was all about sex. And the size of his erection, the desire in his eyes, did make me feel like a goddess.

    But . . . he’d been with so many women. Women who were prettier, sexier, far more experienced than I. How could I possibly measure up?

    Not that he’d complained so far. Which meant, I must be doing all right.

    I was intelligent. I could take my cues from him. Learn as we went along. The way my fingers had learned how his penis liked to be caressed.

    My instinct – my craving – right now was to lean forward and take him between my lips. But he’d said he wanted my clothes off, so instead I let go of him and rose. My legs were shaky and my fingers trembled as I reached for the belt of my robe. On the plane, he’d sort of seen my body, but only in the cramped, poorly lit lavatory.

    “Uh-uh.” His hands stopped me. “I’ll do that.”

    I stood, breath fast and shallow, quivering from head to toe as he undid the knot I’d tied. Then he shoved the robe off my shoulders. I fought the instinct to grab it, and instead held my arms away from my sides so the terry fabric slid down freely. My gaze followed the robe and saw it fall in haphazard white folds on the sun-kissed terracotta tile.

    Leaving me utterly naked, exposed in bright sunlight to Damien’s scrutiny.

    “You are so beautiful.”

    His words, spoken in a tone that sounded reverent, made me raise my eyes to his face. He didn’t notice, because he was staring at me with a smug “oh man, look what I’ve got” smile tugging at his lips and lighting his eyes.

    I knew my body was okay. Not fat, not skinny. Breasts either a B or a C cup, depending on the bra. An average body, functional and healthy but nothing to write home about. Then I remembered what Damien had said about Goldilocks, and how average really meant perfect.

    All these years, I’d thought the only special thing about me was my intellect. And no one had told me anything different. But Damien’s expression was giving me a whole new, flattering and exciting, message. It gave me the courage to raise my hands and cup them under my breasts, plumping them up and offering them to him. “See something you like?” I echoed the words he’d spoken earlier.


    A thrill that was arousal, but more than that – a brand new female power – rippled through me. “Just going to stand there and look?”

    “Trying to figure out where to start.”

    No longer nervous, I drifted my right hand down from my breast, across my abdomen, out to the flare of my hip then back in across the top of my thigh. Ending with my thumb a couple inches away from the V between my slightly spread legs. “There are no bad places.”

    I’d meant no bad places to start, but he interpreted differently. “God no. All your places are very definitely hot.”

    My guess was, he’d go straight for my breasts, but he surprised me. He lifted both hands and ran his fingers through my hair, which was almost dry. He stroked back from my temples then forward, fingers gently caressing my ears, my cheeks, down to my lips, my chin. My neck, out to my shoulders, down my arms. As if he was learning, memorizing, the outline of my body.

    His touch was more sensual than overtly sexual, but it brought every cell to alertness.

    When he reached my fingers, he squeezed lightly, then released them and started again, this time at my breasts. But rather than tease them the way he’d done on the plane, he used that same drifting caress. Over them, down my ribcage, abdomen. Thumbs skimming my pubic hair, making my sex tense in pleasant anticipation.

    But no, now he was stroking outward, to the curve of my hips, moving down the outside, following the same path my own hand had taken a few minutes ago. Coming to rest with his thumbs almost touching my sex. I held my breath, wanting him to travel those couple more inches, to brush against the damp, swollen flesh that hungered for his caress.

    Instead, he took his hands away and stood, arms at his sides, not touching me. Except with his gaze, which travelled back up, retracing every inch of the path his hands had taken. He finished by looking into my eyes, smiling almost bemusedly. “I’m one hell of a lucky bugger.”

    Then he stepped closer, put his arms around me, pulled me against him so every sensitized cell in the front of my body came into contact with his heated flesh. His hardness against my softness. My breasts flattening against his firm pectorals. His erection pressing insistently against my stomach.

    Arousal made me tremble and I wasn’t sure my legs would support me. I wrapped my arms around him and lifted my face for his kiss.

    Now he stopped being gentle. He slanted his mouth across mine, opened my lips with his tongue, and thrust inside. On the airplane, I’d thought how a kiss mirrored sex. Then, the kiss had been a leisurely, sensual exploration. Now, his kiss was urgent, demanding. Between us, his penis was rigid. Moisture dampened the inside of my thighs as my body wept in need.

    He broke the kiss, stepped out of the embrace, and I moaned in protest. But then he lifted me, carried me, dropped me on the bed with more haste than finesse. He kissed me again, hard, then left my lips and dropped a frenzy of hot, moist kisses over my face, my chest, then my breasts.

    I grabbed his head and held him there, pressing myself against him as he teased a taut, aching nipple into his mouth. The suction of his lips, the flick of his tongue, soothed my flesh and at the same time tormented it. Everything inside me focused, clenched, craved more of this delicious torture – yet craved release too. “Oh God, Damien. What are you doing to me?”

Our Guest Today is:

Susan Lyons / Susan Fox is the award-winning author of sexy contemporary romance that’s passionate, heartwarming and fun. She is published by Kensington Aphrodisia, Kensington Brava, Berkley Heat, Harlequin Spice Briefs, The Wild Rose Press, and Freya’s Bower. Reviewers say:  “Ms. Lyons’ gives readers characters you can relate to, genuine emotional context and undeniable passion wrapped up in a compelling storyline that leaves you eagerly anticipating her next release.” “Susan Lyons is a talented storyteller with a voice like no other author. Her characters will touch not only your heart but your soul too.”

Susan is a Pacific Northwester with homes in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor.



7 Speak To Me:

Lea on 24 February 2010 at 14:56 said...

Hi Susan:

Wonderful interview, well thought out answers to the questions. You certainly are a prolific author and your books sound excellent.

I enjoyed the excerpt and will add your novel "Sex Drive" to my list. :)

Thank you for sharing.

Chris on 24 February 2010 at 15:37 said...

Wait, didn't I read this yesterday?! I'm so confused.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lea. I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I think maybe what you read before was my blog on "The Kiss - ooh la la!" I'm here at Erotic Horizon twice this week.

Chris on 24 February 2010 at 18:48 said...

A-ha! I'm easily confused these days. :)

Marissa on 2 March 2010 at 21:33 said...

What a wonderful review, I now have read Sex Drive, Sex On The Beach and just finished reading Love Unexpectedly for an arc review, and I love all of these books! I love Susan's writing!

E.H. Have you read The Fortune Hunter yet, that is one of my favorite books!

Erotic Horizon on 2 March 2010 at 21:36 said...

Hey Marissa..

Goood evening hon - I have picked up a few of Susan's book since the interview...

I love the excerpts she provide - she has a fun style....

I have one book to finish and then I am reading the The Fortune Hunter..

I have heard so much good things about it - glad to know it's a Marissa approved book...