NOTE: The comments to this post are taking a really long time to post (some problem with Blogger), but don't worry--they're all coming to my inbox, and I will gather them there to draw from. So if you've left a comment, you'll still be entered in the drawing, even if it doesn't show up on the page.
The lucky winner of the signed copy of Jackie Kessler
's Hotter Than Hell
is...Lina! Yay! Lina, send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Jackie.
Everyone else, go buy the book
(you won't be sorry), and be sure to stop by at the beginning of next month for a chance to win Jackie's debut novel Hell's Belles
, the first in the Hell on Earth series. EDITED TO ADD: Check out Jezebel's amusing interview with her former squeeze Daunaun
on the Cat and Muse blog.
And now for something a wee bit different.
Backstory: I first met author Victoria Dahl
on a comment thread on the Smart Bitches
, um, literary discourse blog. She said something fascinating and witty, I replied in a comment, and she e-mailed me for further
discussion on the topic. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, it was Like Minds from the beginning. We finally met in person at last year's RWA Nationals--again, thanks to Smart Bitch Candy. Vicki and her awesome critique partner Jennifer Echols
(who writes amazing and funny young adult novels) and I proceeded to close the bar. It was definitely one of the highlights of the conference for me.
So a week or so later, Victoria's debut historical romance, To Tempt a Scotsman
, was released. Being a friend, I bought it the first week (yes, that is a writer's definition of "friend"). Though I love stories with strong romantic elements, I don't read a lot of straight romances, and when I do they tend to be paranormals or funny contemporaries, so it took me a few months to get around to opening it. I mean, look at the cover over there. >>>
When I did, I was blown away. The heroine, Alexandra, is no shrinking Victorian violet. When she wants something (or someone), she goes for it. And when what she wants is a smokin' hot Scotsman...hhhhohmigod. But seriously, she's one of my favorite heroines ever, because I get very frustrated with characters who dork around denying their own desires without a good reason, and I find that many romance novels place false obstacles (whether internal or external) between the characters to keep them from their Ultimate Reward (
Besides the fact that Alex and I were sympatico, the novel was beautifully written, with a smartness and subtlety that made me reconsider my preconceptions of the genre.
But Dahl's new novel, A Rake's Guide to Pleasure
is even better. I read it in one sitting (except for dinner, and if I were alone that night I would've just nuked a hot dog or something so I wouldn't have to stop reading). I NEVER read a book in one sitting. What's more, this wasn't even a book--it was a PDF file. I hate
reading onscreen. But this completely captivated me.Rake's Guide
was incredibly hot, of course, but also poetic. The characters, Emma and Hart, were genuinely conflicted, especially about sex, which made their mutual seduction that much darker and emotionally risky. I wish I were better at summing up my responses to books, but luckily Janet at Dear Author wrote this thoughtful review
which I 100% agree with, so pretend I wrote it.
So I urge you in this case NOT to judge a book by its cover, and to check out Dahl's superb writing. Not just because she's my friend and we are spookily alike (unless that affects your decision in a positive way). Not just because Vicki is going to be huge one day and you'll want to brag that you "read her when." Do it simply because She. Will. Rock You.
But first check out this interview with the charmingly, in-your-facey, irrepressibly
naughty Victoria Dahl.
EDITED (AGAIN, BECAUSE I AM BRAIN DEAD AND DON'T EVEN HAVE LACK OF SLEEP TO EXCUSE IT) TO ADD: Victoria will be giving away a signed copy of Rake's Guide
to one lucky commenter.
Q: Looking back on the year since the release of TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN, what was the most surprising/thrilling experience of being a debut author?
Victoria: I’d say the most thrilling experience was seeing the book in Wal-Mart. I don’t know why. It’s logical to see it in a bookstore, but NOT next to the refrigerated Coke, somehow. I felt like a conglomerate, and that gets me hot.
The most surprising thing was the price tag at Wal-Mart: $2.57 baby! I am the Mr. Pibb to your Dr. Pepper. Or maybe I’m the Safeway brand “Dr. Skipper.” The bottom line is that I’m a cheap date, which also gets me hot.
And the first letter I got from a reader was absolutely shocking. Mostly because it was my first piece of fan mail, but also because it came about two WEEKS before my book was supposed to be available!Both of your historicals feature heroines with shady pasts who for one reason or another are beyond the reach of their society's restrictive rules. What attracts you to these "scandalous" women?
Seriously? I think we both know the answer to that, Jeri. I’m a naughty girl with authority problems and a dirty sense of humor.
On one hand, I think there are ways of making the “average” girl fascinating. In fact, I’ve recently written a novella about an average Victorian woman who knows nothing about her own body, much less her husband’s, and I like to think that it’s interesting. But in general, I’m attracted to the woman who knows who she is and knows exactly what she can get away with.
People tend to have such a small vision of what Victorian England was like. But the truth is that life was as complicated then as it is now. An upper middle class woman trying desperately to make a good marriage could not risk even talking to the wrong man. But the rich sister of a powerful duke? Please. She could do pretty much anything and still have a decent life and she would be fully aware of that.Along those lines, do you feel that female characters are held to a higher standard of behavior than their male counterparts in similar situations, i.e., are their transgressions less often forgiven by readers/reviewers/publishers/contest judges? If so, why do you suppose this is the case?
Absolutely! The reaction to To Tempt a Scotsman
was funny in this way. Granted, my heroine was scandalous. And I got the typical letters calling her a whore and a slut, because she wanted to get it on with a man she wasn’t in love with. (Everyone gasp.) But what surprised me was the reaction to the hero, Collin. Once they are involved in the relationship, HE was the one with the problems. He was jealous. He jumped to conclusions. He said horrid things to her (though his temper was fleeting and he always, ALWAYS apologized soon after.) Alexandra might have been a bit young and impetuous, but she was really the steadier hand in their marriage, and very few people seemed to see that. Reviews called Collin “adorable” and “sweet” and “dreamy.” Now, I like Collin a lot, but he had some issues, people!
I can’t begin to analyze the reactions, but it’s clearly based on gender roles. Jealousy is acceptable in a hero, but like nails on a chalkboard with a heroine. I understand that, but I can’t explain it.Like me, you're a huge music fan. Which contemporary song(s) would be on a RAKE'S GUIDE playlist? If Emma and Hart were suddenly transported to 2008 and were somehow not freaked out to the point of needing institutionalization, what would be on their iPods?
Jesus, are you trying to break my brain??? Actually, I have an answer for the first question, so poo on you.
The first time I heard Madeleine Peyroux’s “Blue Alert,” it fit RAKE’S GUIDE so perfectly I nearly cried. “It’s just another night I guess. All tangled up in nakedness. You even touch yourself… you’re such a flirt.” Ha. So fucking perfect. And the line, “Your lip is cut on the edge of her pleated skirt.” Gorgeous. I was going to post it on my blog, but now you’ve ruined the surprise. Thanks, Jeri.
As far as what they’d listen to… Wow. That’s a toughie. Huh. For Emma, I guess I’d say PJ Harvey. A little hard and dark, but still pretty. And definitely a bit enigmatic. No, maybe that’s not right. Maybe something that sounds pretty and simple, but the words reveal serious complication. Patty Griffin. YES!
As far as Hart goes…I don’t want to be stereotypical, but I’d have to go with classical because he wouldn’t be into lyrics. Although he has very deep feelings, he would not want to examine them in any way. He could live with feeling them but couldn’t live with hearing them put into words, if that makes sense. So I think very intense, dark classical compositions would be his thing.If you could inhabit the life of any of your characters, enter their world and deal with it as that person, which one would you choose?
I won’t choose Emma, because she has had a very hard life and she’s still filled with that sorrow. I think I’d like to be Alexandra (from SCOTSMAN) for a few days. Not only is she rich, but she’s also completely self-assured. And married to a big hunk of Scottish manflesh.Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (as a friend or a little bit more ;-) ?
Well… I’m madly in love with Hart right now, but he’s a bit too intense and intimidating for my real tastes. But did I mention that big hunk of Scottish manflesh?Same two questions, but use examples from another author's work (including television/movies/theatre)?
I might like to be Sookie Stackhouse for a day (from Charlaine Harris’s series.) I understand that it wouldn’t be fun to live with telepathy every day, but it would be totally awesome for a short period of time. And her friends are awfully interesting.
The second question is hard. I’m beginning to think I don’t have a good imagination. I’ve always liked Wolverine. Oh, and I had a serious thing for the men of the GI Joe cartoon series when I was a girl. Wait. I think this has devolved into a very different question from the one you asked.
How about Lucifer from your Requiem for the Devil
??? YEAH! But from after the book’s ending. I want to see how he’s doing now. He was so dreamy. *g*Which author, living or dead, would you most love to collaborate with?
Collaboration scares the shit out of me. I couldn’t do it. It exposes my fear of obligation and my aversion to responsibility, as well as my absolute terror of anyone depending on me for anything. Jennifer Echols (my critique partner) brought this up once and I wouldn’t speak to her for weeks.What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?
Uhhhh… My brain tends to throw away any random bits once I’ve used them. I’m good at tests though, you know? I do remember that my favorite historical euphemism for the clitoris is “little shame tongue.” You couldn’t make that better if you tried.What's your earliest memory?
I have a vague impression of a traumatic time in my family’s life, of large people moving around me as I lay on a couch or something (it’s just blurry shapes and colors), but I don’t know if that’s for real or not. I would have been an infant.
My earliest vivid memories start at around four or five. I remember the sensation of running barefoot over my driveway, because it was made of loose stone. And turning my trycicle upside down and making it into some sort of factory machine that turned mud and rock into something important.Do you have any phobias?
Literary collaborations. And machines that deal with water, like hydroelectric dams or wave machines. But come on. Everyone’s afraid of hydroelectric dams, right?My husband hates when people use the word 'barometer' to mean 'measure.' Which word usage faux pas drives you berserkest?
Well, berserkest, first of all. And liberry instead of library, but I guess that’s not word use so much as pure hilariousness. (This is actually a real problem for me, because I pronounce it “liberry” with my friends and I am going to slip up one day during an interview with RomanceNovelTV and I will be a notorious idiot.)
Oh, you know what drives me insane? Signs that try to put emphasis on things with quotation marks! Like PURE, COLD “WATER” ONLY $1.00! or PLEASE “DON’T” FEED THE ANIMALS. I mean, enough with the mixed signals already.Let's say there's a TV show, movie, or recording artist that has a cult of you. Which is it? (i.e., what do you like that no one else you know likes)?
I thought Waterworld
was a totally awesome movie, and the rest of you can kiss my ass.If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
Frankly, I try to find these free days as often as I can (See “fear of responsibility”), so this is easy for me to answer. I’d watch a movie on PPV that my husband wouldn’t want to see. Like 28 Days Later
. I’d eat something really naughty and comforting. Then I’d eat something truly decadent and indulgent. Then I’d take a bath and sip wine while reading a book. I’d stay up until two a.m. repeating these things over and over. I am not interesting. The end.If you could ask your favorite author one question and they had to answer honestly, what would it be?
I think you’ve just unearthed a new deep-seated fear: honest answers. Because this question made me nauseous.If you could write in a totally different genre than your current one, which would you choose?
Contemporary. *cheeky grin*What are you working on now, and what new releases can we expect to see from you down the road?
I’m working on way too many things. WAY too many things. I’ve got five releases next year, so let’s just barrel through those, shall we?
January 2009 – TALK ME DOWN, my first contemporary! Chock full of cold weather, hot sex and dirty jokes!
February 2009 – “Lessons in Pleasure” in the LORDS OF DESIRE anthology. It’s the story of the Victorian woman I mentioned earlier. One night she unexpectedly has her first orgasm. Interesting things ensue.
July 2009 – START ME UP, my second contemporary! Hot weather, hot sex and dirty jokes.
August 2009 – The unnamed historical romance that is excerpted at the back of A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure
. It’s mysterious because you dare not speak its name. Because it doesn’t have one yet.
September 2009 – A vampire Highlander romance in an unnamed vampire Highlander anthology! Even more mysterious.
I’m tired.If you could tell a stranger just one thing about A RAKE'S GUIDE TO PLEASURE (other than what it's about--no cheating by quoting synopses or back cover blurbs), what would it be?
It’s dirty. And sad. Is that two things? It’s porniliciously poignant. It’s porngnant.
Now, can I add a closing statement? I think you’re one of the most awesome people in the world, and I love your writing too. Thanks for having me. *nudge, nudge* And I’m so impossibly happy that you liked my book.
It was a pleasure to have you, Victoria. *nudge, nudge* You're making me blush in all the bad places.
Leave a comment or question for Vicki, or tell us one naughty thing you've done (or wish you'd done), down there in the comments to enter to win a signed copy of Rake's Guide
. One name will be drawn at random at 11:59pm eastern time on Thursday, August 7 and announced here on Friday. US/Canada entries only, please.
***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that brings on spam (not from me, from the Bad Guys). HOWEVER, if you don't leave a way for me to find you, you must stay subscribed to the comments or come back to the blog to see if you won.***
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