Friday, September 16, 2005

Q&A with Toni Blake

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1) Can you give us a blurb about your current book?

Actually, I had a release in both July and August, so I hope you'll indulge me if I share a bit about both : )

My July book was IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS, a super sexy single title from Warner, and here's the back blurb:

Stephanie Grant's first step onto the secret third floor of Chez Sophia frightens her and strengthens her resolve. Here in New Orleans, in this luxurious world of beautiful women, wealthy men, and heady champagne, she's about to begin a perilous charade to find her missing sister. But her most reckless-and thrilling-journey will be surrendering to the spell of one man's desire.

Her guide will be Jake Broussard, the bartender and ex-cop who immediately sees through her act and becomes her ally. As his eyes and soft Cajun accent send her senses reeling, she'll find herself experiencing pleasure for the very first time in her life and losing control. Her defenses are about to slip away with her satin gown and her lacy lingerie, baring her body and soul.

Next is the anthology, TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS, from Signet Eclipse, which I share with LuAnn McLane and Patricia Ryan. My story is called BRUSHSTROKES and it's, perhaps not surprisingly, super sexy : ) Here's the blurb:

Mia Drake is a down-on-her-luck artist in need of employment. So when her aunt suggests she take a job painting a local tavern, she jumps at the chance to make some money - and maybe get cozy with the bar's hunky owner, Rick Rose. But the last thing Rick wants is any more temptations. Only when Mia begins painting an ultra-sensual mural across the ceiling of the tavern does Rick realize that he may not know art - but he knows what he likes ...

2) The path to publication and writing success can be so long and so frustrating. What was your lowest point in your writing career, and how did you find the energy to keep going?

A few years ago, I parted ways with Harlequin before having another publisher to go to, and I thought my career was probably over. What I did, on the advice of friend Lori Foster, was write something totally just for me, something I just wanted to write, without thinking about the market, editors, whether it would sell, etc. Turned out that story is BRUSHSTROKES, which ended up in TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS : ) The thing about this business is - it's TOUGH. The competition is stiff and never-ending, there's zero job security, and you never know what will happen next. The thing that keeps me going through bad times is simply that I love to write, and I don't think I'll ever NOT write, no matter what happens. And as long as you're writing and submitting, you're still in the game : )

3) ***Harry Potter Spoiler Alert!!!*** Do you think Dumbledore is really dead? And if so, do you think JK Rowling should have killed him off?

With a name like that, would it not be a blessing? ; )

I'm sorry - don't smack me but ... I don't read Harry Potter. I know, I'm unAmerican or something ; ) So many books, so little time - such is my quandary. Heck, I'm only on the sixth Stephanie Plum - but at least I'm making headway there. I've heard she finally sleeps with Ranger in seven so that has me reading fast ; )

4) Your books are very sexy and compelling, but so many authors struggle with loves scenes. Do you have any hints for people on how to write sexy books? How do you keep the love scenes fresh?

People actually ask me this a lot, and I still don't have a good answer ; ) Writing sexy books is just kinda ... what I do - the love scenes are the parts that come easy to me. That said, my best shot at an answer would be to remember it's all about emotion. Make sure the emotion is on the page - on EVERY page. Readers will only care about the sex if they care about the characters and what they're experiencing inside while the sex is happening. I actually think that writing about sex is easy for me because I never think of a sex scene as a "romp" or just two people having fun or expressing their attraction - I personally feel that sex is (or at least should be) the most important thing two people can experience together, and I hope that comes across in my books.

5) What is the toughest thing about being an author?

The uncertainty, which I alluded to above. You honestly never know what each new day will hold. It's a roller coaster ride.

Bad reviews are a close second. Certainly every reader has the right to review a book as they choose, but when a review strives to be particularly nasty and hateful, it really hurts.

6) The hero in In Your Wildest Dreams is a total hunk. What's your secret for writing such studs?

Oh, thank you so much - I will admit I love Jake a lot and that he's my favorite hero : ) I guess this is another question I don't have a great answer for, as part of putting together a hero is just instinctive, but here are some elements I've used in both Jake and my previous hero, from THE RED DIARY, Nick:

Both were wounded - suffering from a great loss in the past
Both were purely masculine and very sexual when it came to their build and looks
Both had tattoos ; ) (not sure that's a necessary stud ingredient, but for what it's worth ... ; ) )
Both were "dark" - in both physical appearance and personality
Both had secrets
Neither talked a lot or volunteered information without having it pried out of them
Both knew how to melt the heroine with just a look
Both knew how to please their women in bed and considered it a top priority ; )
Both had a hidden soft side

Now, the hero in my next book is not quite so dark or angst-filled as Jake and Nick - but he's still pure alpha - so I'm hoping readers will embrace him even if he's not quite so brooding at the last two ; )

7) What was the worst date you ever had?

Yeesh. I guess I would have to say it was the one where the guy turned out to be a stalker ; ) Well, actually, I have two stalkers in my dating past (yeah, lucky me), but with the one I'm thinking of, it went like this: DREAMY guy, gorgeous, handsome, debonair, well-dressed and well-groomed, drove a cute little sports car, and had the most handsome charcoal gray wool coat. I'd considered him total perfection from afar, so nearly swooned when he asked me out. He took me to a wonderful restaurant and we had a delightful dinner, and I was on cloud nine.

Until he started taking me home, but didn't quite manage to take me home ; ) When we headed in the wrong direction on the expressway, I said, "Uh, where are we going?" and he said to his place. I was like, "Uh, why?" And he said he had something there he wanted to give me. This was sounding worrisome, and I was trying not to freak out, but told him I'd really rather go home. However, he was the one driving, which left me little choice. When we got to his place, he made this bizarre claim that his friend was supposed to have brought a dozen roses there for him to give me because he hadn't had time to get them himself. There were no roses. He then made what I'm 100% sure was a FAKE phone call to yell at the FAKE friend. It was all VERY weird, and I was, by that time, wanting to sneak out a window and WALK the twenty miles home. Eventually, he took me home - fortunately I was getting over a nasty cold and I started coughing a lot and saying I didn't feel well. The next day, I was out all day (suddenly cured, don't ya know ; ) ) and when I came home, there were no less than FIVE messages on my machine - him beseeching me to come to dinner with his family that night. I'd already decided I wanted nothing more to do with Mr. Fake Rose Man, but from the messages, you'd have thought I'd accepted his class ring or something ; ) As the messages went on, he got angrier and angrier that I wasn't there.

So, we went through a few weeks of stalking, (LOTS of phone message and cards and lots of me spotting him driving up and down my street repeatedly) but it actually died out a lot quicker than my *other* stalker ; ) And oddly, all's well that ends well - I actually ended up working with him for a number of years in the same department. We got along fine and I would even have called him a friend for a while. I, did, however, discover through working with him that he was a total pathological liar and was well glad I got out quickly ; )

(And I should mention that I do use the word stalker a bit tongue-and-cheek. He was much more of a weird annoyance than any real danger to me, which I just feel I should mention so as not to ... WEAKEN the word stalker in any way, since God knows there are some bad guys out there.)

8) How about a sneak peek at your next release?

Ah, if only I had a sneak peek to give. Here's what I know: it's coming out from Avon - late 2006 or early 2007. Working title is SEIZE THE NIGHT, but just today I was told that will probably change. In a nutshell, it's about two people who accidentally get stuck on an island together - ten years after she tried desperately to seduce him and failed. I'm describing it as Survivor meets Sex and the City ; ) The tagline I'm using is: Of all the islands in all the world, he had to wash up onto hers ...

As you might be able to tell by these tiny snippets, this book isn't quite as dark (just like the hero isn't as dark) as my last two novels, so it's a bit of a departure from my most recent work. I didn't plan it this way, but these characters just happen to have better senses of humor than my previous ones ; ) Fear not, though, there is still plenty of angst and heartbreak and emotional obstacles to overcome. And yes, he has a tattoo - perhaps the best tattoo I've put on a hero yet ; )

Visit me on the web at
Still Available: THE RED DIARY, Warner Books


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