Interview and giveaway: Scarlett Sanderson

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Scarlett Sanderson, whose next book in in the sizzling Mission Pleasure series, Enslaving Dana, is being released next month. The other books in the series are Claiming Ruby and Taming Nora. Leave a comment on the post for a chance to win 1 of 3 digital copies of Taming Nora.

When I asked Scarlett how long she had been writing, she had to look it up. She’s been writing for 12 years now!

“I cannot believe it’s been that long,” she told me. “I still remember sending in my first submission to The Wild Rose Press back in 2005 and the excessive anxiety that went with it. Looking back, I’ve always been a writer – I used to write short stories and fan fiction in my childhood/teenage years. But 2005 was when I first decided to get ‘serious’ about writing and start publishing.”

She’s written nine books that have been published/republished. Enslaving Dana is due out soon. Shadows, a futuristic urban fantasy romance, has not yet been published.

Shadows is unlike anything she’s written before. It took her five years and is the first book she’s written over 50,000 words.

“It’s dark, and it challenged me every single time I sat down to write,” she explained. Left me emotionally exhausted. The chemistry that built between my heroine (a female Detective) and my hero (convicted serial killer/assassin) is off the charts. It’s so different to every else I’ve ever put on paper.”

Scarlett is also working on a motorcycle club erotic romance trilogy. All the books in the series center around Zeke and Grace.

“I don’t really want to say more at this stage, but the first one is almost done and whew! Zeke is hot, hot, hot. Bad, dark and dangerous,” she shared.

“If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?” I wondered.

“I’d make sure I read the contracts and considered the implications. It might sound like a cliché, but because I was new I got blindsided by one of the bigger publishers and signed without considering the future. It was a bad move. When that publisher started to go under I was completely tied to them. I’d also make sure I’d had a good back catalogue of things already written before I started to publish. Having a lot of quality things written takes the pressure off when you first start publishing – especially if you are planning to self-publish.”

Scarlett has a lot of favorite writers: Nora Roberts. J.R. Ward, Karen Marie Moning, Laurell K. Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

“All these authors are auto-buys for me and have been for years. I also love Joe Hill and John Connolly, and Karin Slaughter. I’ll pretty much read anything but the reason I love these so much is characters. They create amazing, memorable characters,” she said. “I also have what my husband would call an unhealthy obsession with The Great Gatsby (I own five copies of it!), so I’m going to have to include Scott Fitzgerald in there. Just for sheer gut-wrenching storyline. Favorite author of the moment – Callie Hart. Have you read some of her books? Her male characters are dark, dominating and completely to die for!”

The hardest part of writing for Scarlett is carving out the time to write. With a day job (as a librarian), family, and chronic health issues, some days it’s a real struggle for her to just sit down and write.

“Especially if it’s a sex scene and my chronic fatigue means I’m stuck in my pjs, not showered or combed my hair,” she said. “That is definitely a struggle. I’m getting better at carving out time – even if it’s just 15 minutes a day while I’m waiting for the bus.”

She’s a morning person and a planner. At the beginning of the week, on Sunday, she plans out what needs to be done every day in an organizer – for home, work and writing. She works more productively in the mornings, so on her days off from work (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), she tries to get in a good, solid two hours of writing. The other days, she tries to squeeze in 500 words wherever she can.

She has a lot of hobbies for when she’s not writing.

“I like to craft,” she told me. “I’m really big into knitting and cross-stitching. Knitting is my big one at the moment. I love getting different colors and types of yarn. I like to bake – not as often as I would like. Plus there is only me and my husband, so I end up eating all the cake! I’m pretty much obsessed with history and tend to always be doing some kind of additional college course or learning. I’m a complete geek.”

The history geek came out in her again when I asked her who she would most like to meet and her answer was Elizabeth I.

“She’s been a heroine of mine for a long time. A strong women who guided England into stability after years of turbulence. A woman who resist marriage and ruled in her own right. Got to be her. We’d spend the day talking, dancing and riding at Hampton Court (one of my favorite palaces). I’d love to know how she really felt about her mother’s beheading by her father – that has got to do some damage to your worldview, yet she never let it show. Also if she actual remained a virgin or did she have a physical affair with Robert Dudley. Gossip galore.”

“What did you want to be when you grew up?” I asked.

She laughed. “I wanted to be soooo many things. First it was an archaeologist. Then I spent years wanting to be a virologist (until I got a terrible phobia of germs). Then I wanted to be a journalist. And back to an archaeologist. Although I studied history at college and have a Masters in counter terrorism studies, and had a variety of jobs, I ended up as a librarian. I got my Master in library studies and have been working at it for 15 years now. And now I write part-time too. I still dream of being an archaeologist though…someday.”

“Tell us about your favorite character from a book.”

“I have a lot book boyfriends! They have numerous things in common – dark, a little edgy and dangerous. Vishous from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Zeith Mayfair from the Blood and Roses series. But hands down Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series is my favorite character. I mean, seriously, have you those read sex scenes? And who can resist a man who will move heaven and earth to keep his woman alive? I’m actually swooning a little over here. He is the perfect blend of mysterious, possessive and dominating. Got to love a complex and damaged hero.”

Because of Scarlett’s chronic illness, she spend a lot of time watching TV and laughed when I asked for her favorite shows.

“Do you have all day? Supernatural and The X-Files are my top two. As with books, I’ll tend to watch anything. Love Outlander, Z Nation, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, all the Marvel and DV tv shows. I have eclectic taste. One of my biggest guilty pleasures is Total Divas and Total Bellas. Since being with my husband I’ve become a huge WWE geek!”

Speaking of her husband, he is one of her biggest supporters and advocates, and he is the number one thing that makes her happy.

“He is behind me 100% no matter what I want to do. When I wanted to go back to library school, he supported me. When I’m struggling with publishing, he gives me a pep talk. We’ve been together a while and he still makes my heart flutter every time he walks into a room. Even when I’m having a bad day because I’m in so much pain, he makes me smile with a silly joke.”

Other things that make her happy: her family is one of her biggest joys. A good cup of coffee. A sweet, decadent cake. Her friend’s children. Getting a new book through the post.

“Sometimes the simple things can make you the happiest,” she told me.

“What would we find under your bed?”

“I’m sure people who know I write erotic romance would like to think there are whips, chains and bondage equipment. Under my bed at the moment are packed away bed linen, Christmas wrap, a step ladder, lots of dust…Oh, I think the most exciting thing is a pair of black and white stiletto heels. I purchased them for my first ever book reading here in the UK. It was an erotica festival and I was invited to take part in some of the literature workshops. The night before there was a burlesque evening so I purchased these stilettos. I’ve worn them a handful of times and they cripple my feet, but I can’t bring myself to part with them. They are so pretty. So they are stuffed under the bed.”

“Speaking of writing erotic romance, what do you find is the biggest misconception about the genre?”

“I think there are three big misconceptions. Two about erotic romance and one about erotic romance writers.

The first is erotic romance is porn. It’s not. Porn is devoid of emotion. Its insert slot A into slot B. There is no back story, no emotional connection. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a porn hater. I’ve watched my share of it. I used to review websites back in the day. But erotic romance is not just porn for women. It’s much deeper. It’s story, and emotion, and the fantasy element of being swept away.

Another big misconception I hate is that all erotic romance heroes have been abused or are abusers if they are into BDSM. That makes me so mad. BDSM is not about abuse. It drives me nuts.

Lastly, and I get this a lot, erotic romance authors must be having tons of sex and sexual experiences. We are constantly sat there in leather and high heels, seductively composing our erotic tales. The amount of people in real life who find out I write erotic romance, and then feel perturbed when they find out my writing outfit involves pjs or comfy pants, is huge.” She laughs. “That’s not to say we aren’t having lots of sex, but there is this misconception that were are 24/7 sex kittens. Sooo not true.”

Now that it’s a new year, I wondered about what she would like to accomplish in her career this year.

“I’d really like to publish more books and grow my back catalogue. Because of my chronic illness, I have periods where I can’t write. It always puts me behind. I have so many stories I want to share with everyone, so getting a regular release schedule would be my goal for this year.”

Finally, I asked her, “What advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?”

“This might sound extremely clichéd, but write, write, write. You can’t submit or publish anything unless you have written it. Keep writing. Even when you think it’s a load of drivel. Even when it’s like pulling teeth. Keep going. It hones your skills. Again, another major cliché, but writing is like a muscle. Use it. The more it’s exercised the leaner it becomes.

Another piece of advice from personal experience with publishers – do your research, enter into contracts with caution. Just because you are a new writer, don’t immediately sign one from a publisher just because you feel you are lucky to receive a contract from them (they are lucky to have such a talented writer!). Look at the small print. Consider the consequences. With so many publishers going under recently, beware of the small print in contracts.”

Nora, a CIA ballistics expert, has recently begun visiting Decadence—a club where people can indulge their fantasies. But with limited experience, she’s afraid to embrace her submissive side—until she sees co-worker Alexander St. Clare performing a public display of punishment. Equal parts shocked and inflamed, she flees when Alex notices her, praying it won’t mean an end to her career.

Dominant and spy, Alex is surprised to see the pretty agent from his office at Decadence. Even more surprising is Nora’s obvious desire as she watches him perform. Her reaction ignites something deep inside him, but the dangers of the job mean he can never act on it.

When an assignment allows them a taste of the forbidden, the intensity between them is off the charts. Amidst the backdrop of a dangerous mission, Alex and Nora discover each might just have what the other has always craved.

Inside Scoop: Nora enjoys being taken by three Dominant marines and a female sub.

About the Author: Multi-published author Scarlett Sanderson is a librarian by day and an erotic romance novelist by night. She lives in suburban England with her husband and dreams of having Lara Croft-type adventures. As a reader, she loves to immerse herself in sweeping tales of romance, fantasy and, most of all, tantalizing erotica. Those are the elements she tries to weave into the stories she creates.

When not writing, Scarlett has a burning passion for history, good chocolate, great coffee and anything supernatural (especially if it includes the hunters Dean and Sam Winchester from the TV show Supernatural!).

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