I asked Melisse to tell us about herself.
Take a shy, chubby, Catholic school girl bookworm from Montana. Hand her a stack of her much older brother’s sci fi and fantasy novels, James Bond books and horror comics. Later, introduce Barbara Cartland and the world of romance fiction.
Get her a teaching job or two in authentic, one room Montana schools, ala Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Marry her off to a great guy, move her to a big city in Tornado Alley, then pop three daughters out of her in twenty two months (one set of identical twins).
Then, make her a jinx–every great genre TV show she loves gets the ax– Beauty and the Beast, Dark Angel–and Buffy and Spike NEVER have a happy ending! She gets upset about no romance in the world, and fires up to write her own stories with happy endings.
Throw this all together into a small house in Wyoming, along with a small bouncy dog named Baxter and too many cats, shake constantly and pour it out onto a computer keyboard.
There! You have me, Melisse Aires.
I asked Melisse how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
“I’ve always liked sexier romance fiction,” she told me, “but my reading is usually confined to romance of one sort or another. I’m not that well read in erotica or pornography. Other than romance, I read sci-fi, fantasy, and mysteries and some urban fantasy and paranormal series that are not quite romance.”
She does have some erotic romance authors that she autobuys, however: Mima, Crystal Jordan and Portia DaCosta, Celia Kyle, L.B. Gregg, and Daisy Dexter Dobbs. She also frequently buys Jan Springer.
When she’s writing her own fiction, she tries to view the scene she’s writing through the character’s eyes.
“I try to portray what is important to them,” she explained. “Their emotion, their fears, their enjoyment, their desire. I think a sexy scene has to be much more than ‘this goes there.'”
Melisse began her writing with a children’s fantasy with cute little creatures years ago.
“It was rejected–no one was buying fantasy(years before Harry Potter). I tried mysteries and contemporary romances but nothing stuck. Then I became totally obsessed with the TV show Buffy and got involved in the fanfic community, but I soon realized I wanted to do all ‘alt verse’ stuff–my own world building,” she said. “By then Ellora’s Cave and a few other e-publishers were around. I had a writer pal (online) and we had the same birthday. I took the fantasy world from the old children’s story and wrote a short sexy fantasy romance, which my friend read for her birthday. She titled it ‘Faunication’. A few weeks later I saw Whiskey Creek Press Torrid was compiling a winter antho, so I emailed it off. Got a contract immediately and it was published under my old pen name. Now you can free read it or buy it on Smashwords. After that it was write and submit, and roll with the industry punches. I’ve had more than one epublisher fold under me! But I think I’ve grown over time and am still looking forward to what the next project will be.”
Melisse is comfortable with the heat level she writes, but she can tone it down while telling the story if she has to.
“The Accidental Angel is longer and sexier than some I’ve written, but then this couple kept getting into situations where they were all alone with nothing to do…they were just lucky to have the down time.”
When it comes to researching, she admitted that it’s not really very organized. She finds an interesting subject and follows it around the Internet. It can involve mythical creatures, the Middle Ages, fairy tales, ancient gods and myths, paranormal and strange mystery online websites, doomsday websites, survivalist websites, U.S. western history, Civil War history, and steampunk/Victorian information.
“I’m an expert on type O negative blood alien descendant theories! So message me if you need to know about that! My bookmark list on my writing computer is huge. I’m also a huge bookworm myself, so go off on imaginary tangents from things I read. ‘What if?’ starts many ideas rolling,” she said. “I was an awful daydreamer as a child, but it helps with story ideas!”
In addition to her erotic romance, she has also written a mainstream heat level SFR novella with two hot scenes in thirty thousand words.
“The story was full of other actions,” she explained. “Really, the H/h were too busy for more! I’ve written a couple of very short stories that were sweet romances, and that suited the story I was telling. I’m interested in writing more mainstream romances, so the heat level would change accordingly. I’m not the hottest writer on the block, but I do think the sexy scenes are important to the overall romance journey in my story telling.”
“What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotica?” I asked.
“That the authors live similar wild lives and are really writing thinly disguised personal experiences!”
Her family is very supportive of her writing and view it with what Melisse calls “affectionate tolerance.”
Her teen daughters were thrilled when Melisse won steampunk jewelry in a writing contest, because they each got a cool ring. They don’t read her work, however because they are still in high school and too young. Other relatives do, though—especially the techy ones with Kindles.
“My husband likes Charles Dickens and I can’t imagine him reading a romance! Though he does like my Kindle. Which is now full of Dickens.”
On a more personal note, if Melisse could be anyone she wanted, she would be a stay home writer.
Some things you might not know about Melisse:
If she had to pierce a body part, she’d do her belly button if she were thinner. She thinks they look cute and don’t raise eyebrows at the day job.
Her favorite food is Mexican.
She can’t bring herself to eat okra that’s not deep fried. She thinks it’s slimy.
She can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, because she’s a Pepper. However, she really likes coffee best
Her favorite letter is S because it looks like a river.
Her strangest habit is buying mass quantities of squash.
When she’s not writing, she loves to crochet.
Finally, I asked her. “What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?”
“Read, read, read in the genre. Especially read popular authors.”
You can keep up with Melisse on her blog, http://melisseaires.blogspot.com