Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Wednesday Interview

And welcome to Wednesday. This week’s brilliant author is Finding Sarah’s Terry Odell. Come back next week for warrior woman Charlene Leatherman with her book Prophecy of Vithan.
Finding Sarah – The blurb
Being robbed at gunpoint wasn’t part of Sarah Tucker’s business plan. Neither was falling in love with the detective who arrived to solve the case.
For police detective Randy Detweiler, a routine robbery investigation turns into the biggest challenge of his career when he falls in love with the victim and ends up having to save more than her business.

The interview
1. What about sizzling sex scenes in your book. How hard is it to write sex and make it convincing?
I don't think it's any harder than making anything else convincing. Since I don't write erotica, and my characters are usually in the middle of some problem solving situation, they don't rush into a sexual encounter. I prefer it to develop naturally, and it might be halfway through the book, or further, before their relationship is consummated with sex. I also don't like books where they're constantly thinking about each other in erotic terms—not when they're supposed to be in danger, or dealing with some other crises. I think agent Kristen Nelson said something about how she can't accept someone breaking into a woman's bedroom at night, waking her up, and the woman immediately thinks, "Wow, he's hot!" Although I write fiction, I want the responses to any given situation to be realistic. If someone's shooting at them, they're not thinking about sex. Also, I studied a lot of biology, and there are things the body shuts down in times of stress and fear. I find it hard to go against what I know is 'right' just to add sexual tension to a scene. Of course, once the danger's gone, all bets are off!
As for the actual writing – well, I do have a very willing research partner who helps me make sure all the parts are in the right places. I think the hardest thing to get 'right' is how much each partner can actually see, both because of the light levels and the way their bodies are positioned! I've messed that up a few times. But we keep trying until we get it right.
And one thing I've learned – there's no 'generic' sex scene. What works for the characters in one book doesn't work in another. You can't just copy and paste. In Finding Sarah, I have a heroine who's been married for 5 years prior to being widowed. Sarah knows her way around a bedroom. Once she's made the mental break from her late husband, she's a very sensual partner. Randy, on the other hand, although he certainly knows what he's doing, has been totally job-oriented and sex is more of a release. So, when these two come together, Sarah takes the lead.
My daughters read my stuff. The only parts they have trouble with are the sex scenes. When I asked what I got wrong, they said, "Nothing. But you're not supposed to know that stuff. You're my mom!" Now, let me explain that they're not giggly adolescents. They're both married (one twice) and I'm pretty darn sure they've done anything my characters have.

2. Romance and the condom. How hard do you find to slip it in or on when the action is hot between characters?
I can't NOT slip it in (or on) unless there's a darn good reason. In What's in a Name? when Kelli is about to leave Blake, she spontaneously joins him in the shower. By then, they've addressed the health issues, and she's at a place in her cycle where she's confident she won't get pregnant. But they do think about it, and it's a conscious decision. Usually, the first encounter has the more explicit condom use scene, and after that, it's mentioned briefly in passing. I only 'stop' to show it if I'm doing a very detailed scene. When things are left between the lines, so are the condoms. But they're there!

3. Do you think romance just happens or do you make your characters work for it?
Lust happens. Romance has to be worked for. And, as I said above, I don't care for people who think about nothing but physical responses to each other. I've asked a lot of men what the reality of their reactions are (I have some very wonderful male friends!) and although I temper it with what a woman reader expects –let's face it; we want the heroes to respond the way we WISH men would respond—I try to avoid overdoing it. Any writer learns early on that "only trouble is interesting." If a character wants something and you give it to him, the scene is over. We all want the HEA, but it won't mean as much if the characters don't earn it. Heck, I LOVE throwing stuff at my characters. I want to test them, see what they're made of. Peel back the layers. And, as all that happens, the relationship and the romance develop.

4. What is it about your hero that makes him irresistible to women?
I write what I find irresistible! If it carries over to other women, so much the better, but I'm always writing heroes with the "I wish I had a man like that" in mind. Of course, I do have my own man, but he hasn't been put through the wringer the way my characters have. Bottom line – they would go to the ends of the earth for their women. They want them happy, and they'll put their lives on the line if it comes to that.

5. Do you think readers want to escape or do they want to identify with a character?
Both. Definitely both. We escape with a character we can identify with. A good hero and heroine will display courage, intelligence and honor. Readers want to believe that if they were in similar situations, they'd respond that way, too.

6. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when writing romance?
It's all about the characters.

7. What are you working on now?
My third Cerridwen Press novel, Starting Over, will be released in August. I've got a short story submitted to The Wild Rose Press, and a "Pollyanna Meets Delta Force" kind of novel submitted to a few agents and an editor. If that flies, I have a second one in the polishing stages. I also want to get back to Sarah's world. I've started what for me is my 'getting comfortable' chapters. Whether they stay in the manuscript or are just there for me remains to be seen. However, I'm trying something new for me—a true sequel, where my major POV characters are the same—Randy and Sarah. While this is common enough in mystery series, I'm not sure how it will go over as a romance. It might end up over the line into the mystery genre. Randy and Sarah have already had their book. Now, their relationship will continue to grow, and there will be rocky bits, but their characters are fairly well established. JD Robb does it—and very well. I don't begin to put myself in her league, but if I don't try something I haven't done before, I get bored.

Click on the cover and buy the book!

Last Week’s brilliant author – Cindy Spencer Pape and Dragon in System

Have you read today’s instalment of Emmeline, Rafe and the Zuccinhi dealers? If not there is still time. Catch up with the Tuesday edition on my blog and then jump on over to On Thursday go to
follow the adventures of Emmeline, the twin, the peelers and the Zucchini dealers.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! And yes...I may be married and had to explain how things...worked...between a tall male and short female as Finding Sarah was in its early stages...but I just can't really read sex scenes written by my mother! The rest of the books I can handle, and I really enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

Jessica you sound exactly like my daughter. She's married, has two babies and is a pediatrician. Yet she can't read my sex scenes, saying I shouldn't write "this".

Great interview. Terry I like your answers. I agree with you: characters are the most important part in the book.

Phoenix said...

Oh come now. Who doesn't say "Gee whiz, I know you're holding me at gun point, but your so hot how bout a kiss before you blow off my head? Quick roll in the hay? Hmm?"


And Jessica, dear, your having it, yes? Mommies can too. It's how come we're mommies. Shh. Don't tell.

Terry Odell said...

My mom doesn't have sex either. I know for a fact my brother and I were immaculately conceived.

Anny Cook said...

I went to visit my grandparents with my "new" husband when I was nineteen. Naturally, his focus was on dragging me off to the bedroom as often as possible. I was mortified.

Imagine my shock when my grandma patted my hand and urged me to enjoy. Then she matter of factly shared the fact that she and my grandpa really enjoyed sex.

Looking back on that I still laugh. Boy was I green--with envy I think.

Phoenix said...

Last Christmas my hubby and I were in TX visiting the grandparents. My folks opted to watch the kids so Scott and I could go on a date and then stay at our hotel alone. My Grandpa, not knowing the extent of the date asked when we were coming back to get the kids that night. I told him we weren't. We were coming back for breakfast the next morning. He said,"Ooooh. So you two are going all the way then."
Could. Have. Died. (and we've been married 12 yrs already.)

Unknown said...

Jessica - loved your comment! Classic.
I like doing these interviews - although the questions are the same everyone is so different in their nature of response

Sherry said...

Good thing Terry Odell became a romance novelist rather than a technical writer for science journals. She has the mental chops to have chosen either path, but readers prefer her well-crafted stories of sex and lust :-)