Talk about your treats! I was given the opportunity to talk to Sarah and Shannen Brady, the writers of Healer and the recently released Sweet Fire. These gals are making waves not just with their writing, but also because they are mother and daughter who right erotica together. I wanted my readers to get to know these great gals and their work.
So right off the top: tell me about writing steamy stories as a mother/daughter team. Most erotic writers can’t imagine letting their moms read their books, much less writing one with them!
Sarah: For a lot of families, this kind of collaboration would be hard, but working with Shannen feels like the most natural thing in the world. We’ve worked together on one thing or another all her life. As authors we have a similar style and voice. Writing steamy stories is not much different from any other kind of writing. (I know she has sex and she knows I do. What’s to be weird about?) The important thing is to look at each other’s words only as they contribute to the greater work.
Shannen: Eh. We wanted to write what we liked to read, and we happened to read romance novels. Steamy scenes are a part of that. And I think the fact that I exist is proof enough that my mother didn’t shut herself in a convent to avoid sexy-time.
Has there ever been an awkward moment writing as a mother/daughter team?
Sarah: I think the first sex scenes we wrote were a little traumatic for both of us but we got over it in a hurry. When it comes to writing sex scenes, I do have a lot more years of experience with sexual situations so I tend to micromanage a little but we both do what we think is best for the story and it works out.
Shannen: Seconded. Some of the first sex scenes we wrote were awkward, because my first response when she talked was to say, “Ew,” and avoid talking about kinky shit. But we weren’t about to let sex scenes get in the way of writing a book, so we sucked it up and got over it.
Do you feel writing together has brought you closer?
Sarah: Absolutely. That’s really the whole reason we started this two years ago. I was one of those over-involved moms, and when Shannen went away to college I had a hard time. When she said “Mom, we should write a book”, I jumped at the chance to do something together, even long distance. Now as she launches into her new grown up life with job and boyfriend and apartment and dog, she has to talk to me at least once a week over book stuff. Even if we don’t get rich writing books, I win.
Talk for a moment about writing with another person. How do you handle that? Do you each write separate parts and edit together, or is there another way you handle duties? Can you share some of your process with me?
Sarah: When we want to start a new book, we really just sit down together and tell each other a story. We argue about characters and back story and work out the action and the romance arcs. In a couple of hours we can have the bones of the story from beginning to end. It can get a little loud and we’ve learned to do it in private because it drives the rest of the family bugnuts, but that’s the fun part. We should be good at it. We’ve been arguing about one thing or another all her life.
Once we have the rough plot, I start a scene by scene outline and we trade that back and forth, layering in details until we have about a 10-page document and each scene has a thick paragraph spelling out exactly what it needs to accomplish. After that, whichever of us is most attached to the characters writes a first draft and the other edits. If this looks familiar, Tracy, it’s because we got this off your old ‘Tutorial Tuesday’ blog a few years ago. When I said you were my inspiration, I wasn’t kidding. (It was also my addiction to all things Kalquorian that introduced me to m/m - or m/m/m - romance back then with To Clan and Conquer.)
I love it when I’m told I helped someone with their writing! You returned the favor when you and your son helped me with some martial arts research for Alien Refuge. I’ve never forgotten that.
But back to you ladies. What is the best thing about writing together?
Sarah: No writer’s block and an endless well of creative stuff to draw on. More than half the ideas for the stories have come out of Shannen’s head. If I ever get stuck mid-scene, I just send it to her and she gives me a push start.
Shannen: Left to my own devices, I tend to be a little unorganized – okay, a lot unorganized. Mom is so freaking meticulous it keeps us on track: she has lists of her lists; lists for me, lists for lists I should be making…you get the idea. This is so helpful, especially when it comes to writing multiple books at once like we do. She’s able to separate the books into manageable projects that would probably overwhelm me otherwise. I tend to be the wild idea person, and she keeps it all together.
Confession time: what is the worst thing about writing together?
Sarah: The hardest part for me is remembering that she has other things to do than just write books. I work full time too but sometimes the book stuff just eats my brain and I want us to just write more books and let the rest of the world go to hell. As a college student and now a recent grad with a new job, she has more demands on her time than I do and I don’t want to stress her out (but I want that next book.)
Shannen: I do feel guilty when I’m not able to write as consistently as she can. While my hectic college schedule has finally come to an end – just today, actually – I want to be able to devote every moment of every single day to writing, but it still doesn’t feed my shoe habit.
Sarah: Shannen graduated from college today! Woot! And already has a job. Woot! Woot!
Congratulations and good luck with everything. It’s a wonder you find time to write with so much going on, so you certainly deserve applause for that.
Okay, so you’ve written two books and gotten them out there. What surprised you about writing in general?
Sarah: I think I never really expected to get anywhere so when we went from “Hey, let’s write a book,” to two publishing contracts within 18 months, I was really surprised. I was also surprised at how much work is involved in publishing and promoting after the books are written.
What surprised you about writing with each other?
Shannen: Honestly, I figured we’d fight more. We’re both relatively strong-willed people so I foresaw a lot of arguments that never really materialized.
Do you ever have differing opinions on which way the story/a scene should go? How do you resolve those differences?
Sarah: We’ve really had very few real disagreements. We get kind of loud when we’re doing our initial plotting but that’s nothing new for us – we’re a loud family anyway. We’ve had three difficult moments. Two were because we both wanted the same gesture/words for two different books. (I let her have them.) The other was when we realized that we had both added an element of destiny or fated mates to our m/m stories. We panicked a little over that until we found a way to lemons into lemonade. We added a similar precognitive element to the third book and called the series Gifts of Fate. My philosophy for life applies as much to book plots as to the width of my ass: If you can’t hide it, decorate it.
(Tracy snorts coffee out through her nose and makes a side note to decorate her own generous rump.) How do people react when they discover you are mother and daughter writing together? Do you have a funny story to share about that?
Sarah: We’ve become somewhat notorious at the mainstream RWA conferences we go to and feel a little like a zoo exhibit. (Poke. Why does it do that? Poke, Poke.) Total strangers recognize us and want to figure out what makes us tick as a partnership. Writing together, weird. Writing steamy stuff together, super weird. Writing steamy m/m romance together – multiply the weirdness factor exponentially. One woman said to me, “My mother would wash my mouth out with soap if I did that.” We just laugh. Being just a little weird is nothing new to either of us.
This is us at the book fair at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference in October. The picture here is a little too close so you can’t see our Sweet Fire cover with its two mostly naked men, in full poster-sized glory, presiding over our pile of cream puff recipe cards at the other end. (The color in the picture here is true, Shannen really does have purple hair.)
The purple hair is awesome. I wish I could get away with it. Do you think either of you will ever write solo? Why or why not?
Sarah: Oh, absolutely. We’ve made a commitment to finish this series together (five more books, three het and two m/m) and we have a couple other ideas we’ve been batting around but after that we’ll just have to see where it goes. We’re at very different places in our lives – Shannen’s just getting started on career and family life and I’m looking at an empty nest. I don’t see myself ever stopping but if Shannen needs to take a break from it some day because she’s neck deep in career and/or kids, I’ll understand and keep going on my own. I’m sure if we ever do end up writing solo, we’ll still be available to help each other out as needed. Shannen is a journalist by trade, so she writes on her own every day.
What writers inspire you most?
Shannen: I’m attracted to different aspects in different writers. The character connection of Nora Roberts, the humor of Terry Prachett , the humanity of J.K. Rowling. I think the biggest love for both of us is J.R.R Tolkien. We’ve both read the pages off of multiple copies. I think most of all we want people to love our stories, and if anyone ever, ever loves our stories the way we love Tolkien’s, we can go home happy. (Obviously, a lack of ambition isn’t one of our problems.)
Sarah: Shannen, for humor I thought you’d say TJ Klune. His “Tell Me It’s Real” is a m/m romance that’s so funny I stayed up all night reading it and laughed so hard I about peed my pants. When I gave it to Shannen, she did the same. (Well, I don’t know about the peeing part, but she did stay up all night cackling like a hyena.) If I could master that combination of deep point of view and humor I’d consider myself a pro.
Outside of writing, who inspires your life?
Shannen: Oh, god, everything. Everyone. Family, other writers, activists, my dog. I think the biggest epiphany moment was realizing that every person you ignore on the street has a complex, heartbreaking, heart-pounding story. Every. Single. One. I like people-watching and I think some of the greatest moments are created out of writing the pretend-story of someone you’ve seen but never met.
Sarah: My kids. My kids are amazing people.
What are you working on now?
Sarah: I’m working on the sequel to Sweet Fire, a m/m paranormal romantic suspense tentatively titled Heated Glory. It’s another Gifts of Fate story with a young protagonist who sees Auras and the sexy single father who turns to him for help with his troubled child.
Shannen: I’m working on the sequel to Healer, a m/f paranormal romantic suspense tentatively titled Reader. It’s the second book in the Gifted series with a touch-clairvoyant protagonist and damsel in distress who ends up doing some rescuing for herself.
What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? Tell us a little about this book.
Sarah: Sweet Fire was born out of our first novel, a m/f romantic suspense called Healer, (released from Soul Mate Publishing October 2014 and currently available on Amazon as an ebook.) Aaron Flores is our heroine’s cousin, a powerful pyro-kinetic who helped our hero save the day. He is sexy and adorable and he wanted his own Happily-Ever-After so badly that before Healer was even finished, we were looking for ways to give it to him. He’s also out and proud so we went looking for a hot guy. Lucky for him, Ramón Del Rio, our Healer’s sexy EMT partner, was available, though after his experience in that first book and all the crap he caught from Homeland Security, he made Aaron work for it.
I want to thank you both for taking the time to give us a sneak peek into your writing process. I believe it’s time we took a closer look into Sweet Fire, which is now available at Dreamspinner Press (http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5901) and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Fire-Sarah-Brady-ebook/dp/B00RIC23NU/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_2).
Between Homeland Security's Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace, having paranormal Gifts is a dangerous thing. Pyrokinetic Aaron Flores knows firsthand how difficult it can be to control his power. Still, he runs his bakery and never gives up on finding his Happily Ever After. When Aaron's cousin asks him to check on her former EMT partner, Aaron’s chance has finally arrived. He's determined not to let anything stop him from catching (and keeping) his man.
Ramón Del Rio spent three days at the tender mercies of HOMSEC agents when his former partner was taken. He wants nothing to do with a Gifted guy, but Aaron is nothing if not persistent. He's a pastry chef after all, and the way to a man's heart really is through his stomach. The physical passion they share is the icing on the cake. Just when Ramón decides that having Gifts might not be a deal breaker, someone close to Aaron decides his fire needs to be put out—permanently. Ramón will have to face his fears to save them both.
Okay, confession time from Tracy. I had my choice between two excerpts: one insanely sexy and the other was this one. Trust me, the action between Ramón and Aaron was off the charts in the first option, but this one made me laugh out loud. Plus, it was before lunchtime and I was admittedly thinking more with my stomach than other stuff. So you get the PG-rated excerpt:
Aaron knows that the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach, and he woos Ramón with gourmet treats. He brings goodies to the ER staff room, where Ramón’s crews get ready for their EMT shift:
“Ohgodohgodohgod!” The sighs and low curses coming from around the table already sounded more like an orgy than breakfast, but Terrell Sato’s sultry groan rose above the general noise. They both turned to watch in amazement as Terrell finished sucking the cream filling out of the end of one of the little éclairs with an orgasmic shudder. Ramón shot Aaron an embarrassed look and caught him staring at Sato’s performance with wide eyes. A faint pink flush highlighted his chiseled cheekbones. For some reason that was really annoying.
“Oh, come on. It wasn’t that hot.”
Aaron responded with a slight shrug but didn’t stop watching Terrell chase the last of the cream on his lips with his tongue.
“Yeah, it kind of was.”
The rest of the crew was watching the show now too, some with grins, a couple with grimaces of distaste, and a few of both sexes with eyes as wide as Aaron’s. Oh, enough already.
“Sato, you’re not even an EMT. What the hell are you doing here?” Terrell was a nurse in the ER and really shouldn’t be in this room anyway.
“I’m on escort duty. You don’t think your friend here got past security with all this just ’cause he’s cute, now do you?” Terrell prowled toward them, stripping their visitor naked with his eyes the whole way. “Though I would have let him in even without the goodies.”
Apparently the food supply was running low, because more of the greedy piglets had stopped scarfing long enough to play along.
“I would have let him come in too.”
“For food like this, I would have let him do anything he wanted.”
“For this, I would have let him marry me.” This from a woman who knew damn well she’d never have to deliver.
“For this, I would have let him do me in the broom closet.” That, surprisingly, was from a man who wasn’t Terrell.
Aaron was eating it up, blushing bright red and laughing hysterically as the offers got more and more outrageous. It seemed the whole EMT staff was made up of food whores who’d do anything for a cream puff. Ramón found himself chewing hard on the inside of his lip to keep from joining in. These clowns weren’t nearly as funny as they thought they were, but this man was positively stunning when he smiled like that. Still, he was more trouble than he was worth, and that hadn’t changed. It wouldn’t do to encourage him.
PS - Terrell’s story is book three in the series.
Last words, Sarah and Shannen?
We love to hear from readers so for more on our methods, our madness or out and upcoming books, feel free to visit us on our web site www.sbradybooks.com, like us on Facebook at SBradyBooks, or follow us on Twitter @SBradyBooks.
Also available from Sarah and Shannen on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Healer-Gifted-Sarah-Shannen-Brady-ebook/dp/B00NX8X8IM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1418751148&sr=8-3&keywords=healer):
Alexandra Grayson is an empathic healer, flying under the radar as a Spokane Valley EMT. Protecting her family’s secret from Homeland Security’s Gifted Agenda and the bigotry of a fearful populace is the most important thing to her. Getting close to men, especially super sexy cops, isn’t an option. Tyler Kincaid is a man who knows what he wants, and what he wants is Alex. When she outs herself as Gifted by healing a child, Tyler helps her escape, but even his love is not enough to protect her. When Alex is taken by HOMSEC agents, Tyler has to lead a motley collection of Alex’s Gifted relatives in a daring rescue.