Squawk Radio

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Hello Fellow Squawkers:

There are many myths, stories and legends about the life of a romance writer, but one thing I know is true: WRITING IS HARD WORK!

So I've been thinking about my fantasy job. I want a deal like Cindy Crawford has with Rooms To Go Furniture.
She doesn't design the furniture.
She doesn't make the furniture.
She doesn't arrange the furniture.
She doesn't stand in the store all day and sell the furniture.
And she certainly doesn't deliver the furniture.
All she has to do is sit on the furniture and then take her check to the bank.
So like Cindy, I want to sit on a large stack of books on a particularly bad hair day and say,
"At this point in my life I just want to do things I'm passionate about."
Then I'll take my check to the bank.

The one thing about my writing that elicits the most questions is the SEX. I learned that good erotica should build slowly and climax with a bang. The only editorial changes my first editor wanted, was that I make every encounter between my man and woman longer and more sensual. I got a spicy rating and the books started to sell.

When I got my first Publishers Weekly review it was for THE FALCON AND THE FLOWER.
The last sentence has been burned into my brain ever since.
"Only a hard core fan of soft core pornography could slog their way through this one!"
It gave me a hives all over my thighs, BUT the damn book jumped onto Walden's Bestseller List, so I guess it is true that there is no such thing as a bad review.

My books definitely contain a good deal of sexuality and sometimes violence. With my hero and heroine I use mostly sensuality until well along in their relationship and then I allow a few scenes of raw sexuality to occur. I create a hero who is dark, dominant and dangerous and then I create a heroine who is a match for him, or more than match.
I like to put my reader in bed between my couple and let her in on all their sexual secrets.

Over the years I've built up a readership who begs me not to change my style and to please never change the way I write about sex. I write from the heart and then my editor edits it and we arrive at a mutual compromise.
Sometimes I can get away with putting sex or violence in a dream, that way it didn't really happen! Or another way would be to show the thoughts of the male character. "He had an overwhelming desire to rub her face in the dirt, or he thought she needed a good f--king or a good beating and someday he was going to give her both!

Finally, the very best way to get away with sex or violence is to use humor as I did with the opening of THE PIRATE AND THE PAGAN, "What a beautiful cock!"
That opening line has defined my career. And that book has sold more copies than any other.
When you write the kind of stuff I write, you have to develop a quick come-back when you are being interviewed.
The question I always get is, "Do you and your husband practice your scenes?"
I reply, "Yes, that's why he's so short--it's from banging his head on the headboard!"

I don't want to give you the impression that books sell simply because of the sex. Nothing could be further from the truth. My books are extremely heavy on history and I think my stories are easier to digest if they are leavened with sensuality and a very strong romance to give the story balance. My work is searched down to the finest detail. Almost always I use the royal courts as a backdrop to give the story color and a larger-than-life flavor.

I'm a great believer in calling a cock a cock. I love explicit words for body parts and bodily functions. I am not a proponent of the notion that anything goes. My rule is that if I would enjoy it myself, I would put it in the story.

I usually begin with a map and then select the period in which I want to set the story. Some periods are fun-loving in a risque way, indulging themselves in a lavish court life and the characters laugh a lot.
When I write a medieval, the time is completely different. The characters are stronger, darker, where the warriors are larger than life. The villains can't be just a little wicked, they have to be evil and cruel.

In a lot of my books, my hero is my most important character because I believe a lot of female readers are buying the book because of the man. If you can make your reader fall in love with him, you've got it made. Sometimes I start out making my reader HATE my hero, then he does something so wonderful, the reader starts to love him in spite of herself.
For instance, in TEMPTED, Black Ram Douglas is terrible husband material, and on his wedding night, he and his men go on a pub crawl. But later, when the heroine is poisoned, he nurses her so tenderly that it touches the reader's heart, and the woman reading the book wants a man who would do that for her.

When I'm writing, I become my characters. I become the hero and feel his hot lust. I become the old maidservant and feel her aching back, I become the prostitute who must first entice the customer and then satisfy him, while at the same time making sure I get my hands on the money. If my heroine gives birth, I feel her labor. If she has to walk miles, I get blisters on my feet.

Secondary characters are what make the difference between a good book and a great book.
But all my characters, whether primary or secondary, show all their emotions. I never miss a chance to convey to the reader what they are thinking and feeling.
I also have what is known as a recurring character. Mr. Burke, my butler/majordomo isn't in all my books, but he's in a lot of them. Since he serves the same purpose, I simply call him Mr. Burke (When I wanted a French chef, I called him Mr. Burque.)

The formula I use of blending heavy history with hot sensuality has really worked for me. It is like a one-two punch! And I can tell you my readers don't want one without the other. If I just wrote about the history, the kings and queens and the battles, it would be boring. And conversely, if I just wrote erotic love scenes, the reader might throw it aside in disgust.

To make it in this business, guts has got to be your strong suit. Talent helps, but in the end it's balls that count!

See y'all tomorrow.
Connie Brockway, 9:58 AM