Friday, October 26, 2007

JERR - Interview with Morgan Hawke




Just Erotic Romance Reviews
Interview with Morgan Hawke

by Claudia Orpik


I still remember the first time I read a short story from Morgan Hawke … I didn’t know what to make of it.  Then I tried another and I thought “um, not bad … not bad at all”.  I know I sound horribly arrogant, but truth be told, Morgan Hawke is among my top five favorite erotic romance authors.  My initial mixed reaction to her stories didn’t last long and for good reason.  She truly masters the erotic romance genre and brings to the reader everything that a well written erotic romance story should be, including well developed characters and enthralling plot lines, with amazing sex scenes thrown in for good measure.  As part of our Halloween issue of the JERR newsletter, we present you Morgan Hawke.

How long have you been writing erotic romance?  I see from your website that you most certainly had an early start.

I started writing erotic stories in 1998, shortly after reading my very first Angela Knight short story, “Blood and Kisses” published in Secrets anthology 4 by Red Sage. I thought I was writing mere erotica. Only later did I discover that I was in fact writing Erotic Romance. I had far too much plot in my stories for them to be mere Erotica, and far too much Romance.

Is it much different to write erotica than it is to write erotic romance?

Erotica is very different from Erotic Romance. Erotica focuses on the smut, the whole smut, and nothing but the smut. Erotic Romance focuses on the adventure, i.e. the plot, and the relationship dynamics of the main characters, which is normally expressed through sex.

When writing erotica, you merely need to get the couple together and in bed; feelings don’t necessarily matter. In Erotic Romance, you not only have to get the couple together and in bed, you also have to consider the feelings of the participants, AND the story going on around them.

Many people ask me if the story is actually all that important in an Erotic Romance. Believe me, it is very important. Erotic Romance readers will forgive so-so love scenes if the feelings are strong and the story is engaging. Erotica readers on the other hand, tend to skip everything to get to the smut.

It helps to think of Erotic Romance as: Women’s Adult Pulp Fiction -- because that’s what Erotic Romance actually is.

What attracted you to erotic romance?

I liked writing adventure stories that had a strong sexual romance happening in the middle of it. Later on I discovered that I was writing Erotic Romance.

You have several paranormal, contemporary, and futuristic stories, do you prefer one genre over the other or do you just prefer to write in a variety of categories?

I get bored very, very easily, so I jump around from genre to genre to keep my imagination fresh. However, I prefer writing anything and everything that isn’t purely realistic. I only do contemporaries as a last resort. Believe it or not, it is much easier to get something wrong in a contemporary than it is to get something wrong in any other genre. No matter what you write about in a contemporary, someone always knows what you’re writing about far better than you.

What attracts you to the futuristic/sci-fi and paranormal genres?

They were my favorite genres to read as a kid, so naturally they became my favorite genres to write. What attracts me? The fact that it’s far from the real world I live in. I write for the same reasons I read -- escapism.

You also have several homoerotic stories. Do you find it much different to write a same sex erotic romance than to write one in which the main couple is “traditional” i.e. male hero(es)/female heroine(s)

Writing a guy-guy romance is very different from a guy-girl romance. Two guys in love don’t act, or react the same way as a guy and a girl. Men are traditionally taught to suppress all emotions but pride and anger. This cultural demand that they not show tender emotions, or even admit that they have them, makes it hard for any guy to admit that he’s in love with a female, never mind admitting it to someone he’s supposed to treat as a rival -- another male.

At the same time, this back and forth struggle to acknowledge such feelings, accept them, and then express them makes writing a guy-guy romance very interesting. The stories can come out incredibly funny, or incredibly painful, but never, ever dull.

What do you like best about being a writer?

The total immersion into my own imagination. As  writer, I get to indulge in just about any fantasy I can come up with -- and they pay me for it! LOL!

Did it take long for you to have your first book submission contracted?

I’m afraid not. They contacted me, I didn’t contact them. This happened with both my very first ebook publisher and my agent. I was approached and asked point blank. I told them what I had, they grabbed it and ran.

In the case of my ebook publisher, I’d been writing short erotic stories for five full years, so I had quite a bit of practice on the technical end and had already learned how to cater to my reading audience. By the time my agent came along, I had over twenty ebooks out of varying lengths and had gained quite a bit of polish.

How long would you say that it takes for you to complete a book? 

Normally six months. If my muse acts up, or life interferes, it can take longer, much longer.

How have things changed for you since becoming published? 

Life didn’t change until 2004 when I offered Victorious Star to Loose Id. That was the book that allowed me to quit my day job.

Describe a day in the life of Morgan Hawke

Are you sure you want to know? My life is booooring. Seriously.

I get up, turn on the coffee maker, turn on the CD player, choose a soundtrack to act as background music for whatever story I’m writing, charge up the computer, then sit down and write, or do research. No family, no kids, no distractions, so it’s not unusual for me stay at my desk for a full 12 to 14 hours then to go to bed in the same pajamas I woke up in. I even eat at my computer.

Once a month, when the royalty checks arrive, I actually get dressed, go to the bank, go food shopping, pay the monthly bills, then go to my computer.

Every once in a while I’ll actually sit down in front of my TV and put in a movie, but that’s actually quite rare. Maybe once a month? I don’t watch ordinary TV at all. I don’t even have cable. If I hear about a really cool TV series, I’ll wait for the season’s end and buy the boxed set.

Do you find it’s challenging trying to balance your personal life with your writing  career? 

(Laughing hysterically!) What personal life? I live alone. My closest living relative is half a country away -- and we’re all much happier that way.

I live almost entirely in my own imagination. It not a life many people can lead. Most would come down with cabin fever in a big hurry, but I like it. It suits me.

Has your family supported you in your career choice? 

My mom and my brothers buy my books and show them to their friends, or some of their friends. Every now and again Mom will ask me, “So, when are you gonna write something I can show to the neighbors?”

My reply: “Sorry Mom, I don’t think that will ever happen.”

My writing career came as a total surprise to my entire family. They knew I had a good imagination, but they’d had no idea it was something I could actually use to live on. I was sort of the family black sheep, not good in school, and not really all that good with people in general, (too temperamental to hold onto a relationship.) They never expected to be anything more than a half-decent waitress.

However, once I proved that I could actually live off my books, my mom and my brothers were quick to express extreme relief that I’d finally found my niche in life where I could be happy.

What has been, so far, the highlight of your career as a writer.  

Truthfully? Not having to go to a job in the morning.

You have a very popular series, The Imperial Stars, how did the series come to be? 

It started out as a personal challenge. I just wanted to see if I could write a hardcore SM Sci-fi that wasn’t simply futuristic. Apparently, I could.

Is there a particular reading order to follow, though each story is a stand-alone.  I’ve noticed that the world building keeps being developed in each story.

There is an order, time-wise, but the books don’t have to be read that way.

  1. Lost Star
  2. Victorious Star
  3. Fortune’s Star - in the Hard Candy anthology
  4. Fallen Star


Did it take long for this series to be contracted?  Was it accepted on your first try?

I offered Victorious Star to Loose Id books. They notified me that they wanted it in less than an hour. (grin) I had also offered it to Ellora’s Cave, but they took four whole months to ask for more than the partial. By then Victorious Star was only days away from release at Loose Id.

Do you have a set number of stories for this series or are you keeping your options open? 

I will always keep my options open. I have no intention of ever leaving the Imperial Stars universe behind. I’m having way too much fun playing in it.

You also have a novelized Manga series which includes Yaoi/Shounen-ai and Hentai, do you plan to add more stories to this collection? I particularly enjoyed the Hentai one, which is extremely HOT.

I do indeed intend to write more in the Manga style. As soon as I finish what’s on my currently on plate

What attracts you to writing stories that are part of a series? 

I don’t actually see them as ‘series’ stories as each book stands alone. Stories may occupy the same universe, but I don’t like using the same characters as anything more than cameo appearances.

The love scenes in your books, even those classified as “vanilla sex only”, are extremely graphic, how comfortable are you about writing this sort of scenes?  Do you have to force yourself to write them or does the inspiration come naturally depending on the characters, setting, and story? 

Um, how to say this delicately? Sorry, there isn’t a delicate way to say this… I don’t have any problems writing hot love scenes because it’s all I think about. I spend hours every day working out new and different love scenes, then more hours thinking up characters to act out those love scenes, then even more hours building stories to make sure those scenes happen. In short, I have smut on the brain. Is that bad?

You have published a Cheater’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance, how did you come up with the idea? 

Pure self-preservation. 90% of the letters I received from fans were questions on how I write. Not even a whole blog dedicated to my writing techniques could cover all their questions. Out of sheer desperation, I began to compile article after article, going from stage one - character creation, all the way through plotting and the use of a premise, to the technical details on how to write a love scene. I took those articles and opened a class to beta test the whole lot and make sure I had covered everything. After three completed classes, I handed the whole thing to Mojo Castle to publish it.

You already have a couple of paranormal stories published as part of Kensington’s Aphrodisia imprint, including a full length novel, are there more in the works?  If so, will they also be paranormal?  Can you tell us a bit more about them?

I do have another Kensington Aphrodisia book currently in production by the name of ‘Insatiable’, but I’m afraid that I’m not quite ready to share the details just yet. Any and all my Kensington books will definitely be hot paranormal fantasies.

If you could give some advice to hopeful romance authors, what would that advice be? 

Be stubborn. The only way to finish a book is by sitting down and doing it no matter what distractions the world throws at you.

What do you have in store next for your readers?   

Once I have finished the Kensington book, next is Lost Star from the Imperial Stars series. It’s the story of how Captain Ravnos of the Hellsbreath, from Victorious Star, met his First Officer, Prince Seht. The story is technically already more than halfway finished. Unfortunately, contracts must come before pleasure.

How can your fans contact you? 

I can be reached through my websites:

 www.darkerotica.net 
www.darkerotica.blogspot.com

And now for the fun questions:

How would your friends describe you? 

Weird. Interesting, but weird. I’ve also been described as being a bit…intense. I guess that living in your own imagination for weeks on end can give one very odd personality quirks.

What is at the top of your list of pet peeves?

Eh… The last time I listed my top pet peeve I practically started a riot. I’m not all that sure if I really want to go through that again. Here’s something lower on the list…

People who tell me that smoking is bad for me. Please… At 42, one would assume I know that already.

I started smoking when I was 34, (yes it was a deliberate choice,) and believe it or not, I started writing only weeks after my first cigarette. Now that I have my entire career riding on my cigarettes, I am not about to stop any time soon. Hopefully, by the time I’m forced to stop, most likely when I’m in my 80’s or 90’s, I’ll have enough books out to support me, because I’ll probably stop writing too.

Am I worried about lung cancer? Nope. My whole family smokes - heavily - all the way back to my great-great grandparents, and no one has ever come down with it. (Good genes I guess.) We have had the occasional relation come down with emphysema, but that doesn’t kick in until they’re in their late 80’s. I figure, as late as I started, I’ll probably never have to quit.

If you were stranded on a desert island what are two things you wouldn’t be able to survive without? 

My laptop and my cigarettes. Everything else is optional.

Is there one thing about you that your fans would find surprising? 

Everyone is always surprised that I am so short. I tell people that I’m only four-foot, nine, but it doesn’t really sink in until they see this little fierce little goth person all in black, staring up at them from below their heart. Oh, and my hair really does reach the bottom of my butt. 

What do you find sexy in a man? 

His BRAIN. I’ll take an interesting conversation about human nature with a geeky professor over small talk with a hunk any day. If the professor wears glasses and a suit…? He’d better watch out because it’s entirely possible that I’ll jump him in the nearest dark alley and have my wicked way with him. Intelligence seriously flips my switch.

What sound do you love to hear?

The soothing sound of the wind in the trees.

What sound do you hate the most?

The telephone ringing. It makes me jump in my chair every time.

© Mireya Orsini – Just Erotic Romance Reviews, Issue #107.