I asked Tara how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
“I write erotic romance, so I will start there. Erotic romance is romance first and foremost. It is distinguished by strong emotional content, generally has a well-developed plot line in which characters have goals (usually aside from having each other and definitely aside from having sex) and there are conflicts, obstacles, and difficulties in achieving those goals. Above all, there is conflict resolution and a happily ever after ending (or at least, happy for now). Sounds like regular romance doesn’t it? It is, except, unlike in ‘regular’ romance, nobody closes the bedroom (or bathroom, or kitchen, or boathouse or …) door. Not even a little. Erotic romance is not only ‘hot’ due to sexual tension, it has a lot of sex and no punches are pulled. But, if you’ve never read erotic romance, you may be surprised how ‘ungratuitous’ the sex is. Good EROM writers give their characters so much depth and dimension, the sex feels like a natural part of the flow of the story.
“To tell the truth, I haven’t read a lot of erotica except for short stories,” she admitted, “but I will try to characterize what I understand to be the differences. Erotica may also have well developed characters and a complex plot. Erotica does not need an HEA ending and the usual romantic devices – appealing protagonists who have an emotional attachment to each other –are not required. I’m tempted to say that while an erotic romance could almost stand alone without the sex, I feel less sure about an erotica novel standing alone (but erotica writers may disagree). Importantly, like erotic romance, good erotica is characterized by excellent writing, storytelling and sometimes (more frequently than in erotic romance) a literary style.
“There’s no doubt that some people would describe every erotic romance and erotica novel as pornography. They aren’t our readers!” She laughed. “But, in fact, an explicit description of sex is not, in my opinion, sufficient to declare anything pornographic (although lots of rating boards would disagree). I once read a segment of a book that was described as 18th century erotica. In fact, it was my idea of porn. Not particularly well written, although someone had gone to great effort to reproduce the language of the period, the book employed themes that are objectionable to most people – incest, child abuse, sexual slavery, etc. The stories had no reason for being except to titillate with these objectionable themes. There was no literary value, no real plot, no motivations or conflict, just one sex scene after another. This is the kind of thing we can all easily agree is porn. This is what erotic romance and erotica are NOT. “
Tara began writing because she admired and enjoyed the stories of Jet Mykles.
” Anyone who reads my books will see some of her influence in my slightly too-beautiful-to-be-true heroes and ‘not everyman’ characters,” Tara said. “My early influences also include Lynn Lorenz, Z A Maxfield, Sloan Parker and there are so many more I love, I hesitate to name them because I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. “
All of Tara’s books, so far, have been in contemporary settings, which makes research both easy and hard.
“You don’t have to dig deep to get details, but you have to get it right,” she explained. “I write a lot of male characters, so I listen to young men talk and try to pick up just enough to give the dialogue flavor without making it too colloquial or ‘date stamping’ it.”
She also tends to write about subject with which she’s familiar. She’s been a nonfiction writer for year, plust she’s been able to travel a great deal, so she has a lot of her own experiences to draw on. In the past, she’s worked in fashion and spent lots of time in photographers’ studios because she worked in advertising.
“The genetic research profession of my scientists is in the same field a client of mine a few years ago,” she added.
All of these elements have come into Tara’s books.
“I just completed a story with a ballet dancer hero – another passion of mine – and I seem to love to set stories on college campuses where I have worked as well as studied. I have a heroine who lives in Senegal, Africa where I’ve visited, and have some Aussie heroes in my release Volley Balls. Australia is a favorite place of mine. Lots of writing fodder from an eclectic life.”
She had never really wanted to write fiction. She explained to me that for someone who writes nonfiction all day for a living, writing at night didn’t really sound like a pleasure. However, once she read some EROM she started thinking that it sounded like fun.
She started writing her first novel in 2009, and it was published earlier this year as Genetic Attraction. The main character of both that book and The Scientist and the Supermodel is Roan Black. If Tara could entertain any of her characters for the evening, she would choose Roan.
“On a purely superficial level, I love beautiful men, and he’s the most beautiful, so I’d enjoy looking at him,” she explained. “Plus, he’s wise and gentle and business savvy, all things I appreciate. I’d like him to cook for me – he’s a gourmet cook!”
Some personal things you might not know about Tara:
~if she were going to pierce a body part, it would be her nose. “Even before piercing was fashionable, I wanted a stud in my nose like Indian women wear sometimes,” she told me. “I have a slim nose with deep notches at the side, so I thought a little diamond would look real pretty in there. Plus, nosed don’t sag too much as we get older!”
~she’s not into sticky, so she doesn’t have many food fetishes. She thinks she could get into whipped cream, though, because it would cling nicely to all kinds of body parts.
~her favorite food is beans.
~she couldn’t bring herself to eat brains, but her father loved them.
~she washes her feet every night before she gets into bed. “I practiced yoga as a serious lifestyle for many years and it was something I learned as a way to not bring dirt or ‘vibrations’ from the day into my sleep,” she explained. “I just never lost the habit.”
Finally, I asked Tara what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out.
“Wow, there are so many pieces of advice. I guess I’ll give the one I needed the most. Learn deep point-of-view. Don’t assume you know what it is. Go learn and practice, practice. DPOV, if it’s well done, can cover a host of other smaller faults until you learn more technique. Apply DPOV to your sex scenes and it will keep you from making the scenes rote and boring.”
You can keep up with Tara on her blog, http://taralain.blogspot.com