The Ducks are chatting once again. Welcome!
Today erotic author Lorelei James joins us to talk about her hot and sexy cowboys that her fans adore. If you love reading about cowboys, you should be reading this series. You’ll never look at those Levi-wearin’, bronc-bustin’ men the same way again. Lorelei lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, so all things western are in her blood. She portrays a very authentic cowboys in speech as well as deed, and she writes them steamin’ hot like nobody’s business.
The sixth book in the series was just released and already those adoring fans are looking ahead to the next book. Long Hard Ride started it all just a little more than a year ago and the Rough Riders series, featuring the McKay family, was born. Just seven months later, Rode Hard, Put Up Wet followed and Lorelei’s books here a hit. A year later, to the day, Cowgirl Up and Ride hit the shelves, followed by Tied Up, Tied Down, Rough, Raw and Ready, and just last week Branded as Trouble. In between all this, her Wild West Boys, sexy cousins to the McKays, saw the beginning of their series in Mistress Christmas. On top of all this, Lorelei also writes contemporary romances which she talks about in the interview. She’s one busy lady, but she’s taken a few minutes to chew the fat with us today. Lorelei will drop in to say hello throughout the day, so drop her a hi or a question or any comment you’d like, because she’s giving away a download for any book from her backlist and a Rough Riders T-shirt.
Be sure to check out my review of Branded as Trouble!
So let’s chat!
Duck Chat: I discovered your books late 2007 and have enjoyed every one released since then. What I didn’t know if all this time and just found out is you write mysteries under your real name of Lori G. Armstrong. Yes, I’m behind the times. Tell our readers about the mystery books you’ve written.
Lorelei James: Since 2005 I’ve written four books in mass market paperback for Medallion Press in the Julie Collins series, Blood Ties, Hallowed Ground, Shallow Grave, and Snow Blind. These “medium-boiled” contemporary mysteries are set in western South Dakota. My female lead is a private investigator, a real tough chick who smokes too much, drinks too much, and has lousy taste in men. She’s still grieving over the unsolved death of her Lakota half-brother, and righting that wrong is part of what drives her to right other wrongs, personally and professionally. Despite her tough outer shell, Julie is way more vulnerable than she wants to admit. These books are pretty much “pure” mystery, not romantic suspense, although a shady male love interest is introduced in book two. The series has been well received (Shamus nominations for Blood Ties and Hallowed Ground, a Willa Cather Literary Award for Hallowed Ground and a nomination for Shallow Grave, a High Plains Literary Award nomination for Shallow Grave, and Daphne du Maurier Award nominations for Hallowed Ground and Shallow Grave). Julie was a great character to write, but Snow Blind is the last book in the series. I have the first book in a new mystery series coming out in hardcover from Touchstone/Fireside (Simon & Schuster) in January 2010, entitled No Mercy.
DC: What made you decide to become an erotic author?
LJ: I love to read erotic romance. There’s just something about taking the sexual relationship to the edge that appeals to me.
DC: And why use a different name for your erotic romances?
LJ: Honestly? Because of shelving issues in bookstores and libraries. Since I’ve always written both romance and mystery, I decided whichever genre published me first would get my “real” name. There might be a misconception I took a different name because I’m hiding something or embarrassed about penning naughty tales. Not true. I’m very open and proud about what I write in both genres, but I’m also aware of the dividing line in genre readership: the steamy sex scenes in the Lorelei James books aren’t appealing to most mystery readers, and there isn’t enough romance/sex in the mysteries for erotic romance readers…although, I do get more crossover readership than I ever believed possible!
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
LJ: Where do I get my ideas from? Easy. I buy them at Wal-Mart.
DC: Your cowboys in your McKay/West family series are some hot and smokin’ men, but they’re also sensitive and loving. How did the idea for the series come about?
LJ: I’ve always loved western romances, but I grew frustrated at the lack of erotic contemporary single title western romances. And if I did find a contemporary western, it never had enough sex in it to satisfy the erotic reader in me. So I decided to write my own story, an old-fashioned saga with a new twist, featuring a family of hot cowboys and the women who love them. Instead of the wink wink, nudge nudge closing the bedroom door at the pivotal moment, I kicked that sucker wide open…and it seems to have struck a chord with those readers like me who were looking for a little more kink to their modern day westerns. Although, John Wayne probably would have run my guys out of town on a rail for their wild behavior!
I love writing contemporary erotic westerns, but I also love writing just contemporary romances, as I’ve done with my non-series books, Dirty Deeds, Wicked Garden, and Babe in the Woods. That’s where the idea for the Wild West Boys series, the West family—the McKay cousins—came about. Not everyone stays in their hometown, especially out here. In fact, most people can’t wait to move away
DC: The sixth book in the series, Branded as Trouble, was just released this last week. Would you introduce us those characters and tell us a little about them?
LJ: This is my first friends-to-lovers story.
Colt McKay has had some issues in previous books. Drinking. Drugging. Sleeping around. Pissing off his family. Shirking his duties at the family ranch. Colt sobered up (with help) at the tail end of Cowgirl Up and Ride, and he’s stayed sober for three years. He’s the black sheep of his family, and, even though it appears he’s got a handle on his substance abuse issues, his family seems to be waiting for the other boot to drop and for him to revert to his bad boy ways. India Ellison, Colt’s best friend, has been clean for eight years, and they met through A.A. Not only is India pierced, heavily tattooed, and the type to openly speak her mind, she owns a tattoo shop, which makes her a bit of an anomaly in Sundance, WY. The theme of the story is two black sheep falling in love, because, really, who to better understand you and accept who you are now? Instead of who you used to be? And it was great fun finding redeemable qualities in characters who at first glance may seem beyond redemption.
Excerpt from BaT:
Early the next morning, Colt stumbled out of his room. Despite his intent to crawl in his truck and head home, a shower was a necessity.
As he crossed the living area, he noticed India’s bedroom door was ajar. He peered through the crack and saw India sprawled in the middle of the bed. Alone. Alone and apparently buck-assed nekkid. Red satin sheets were twisted around her long legs and long arms, covering her torso, but hinting at the curves beneath.
Colt didn’t gawk at her body to see if she was, in fact, pierced everywhere she’d hinted at being pierced. A man could only stand so much temptation. He backtracked to the bathroom.
The hot water lasted all of five minutes. And did the woman own every blasted lotion and potion known to mankind? He counted fourteen different health and beauty product bottles—after he’d knocked them all into the tub. Twice.
Still, he felt a million times better after an ice shower. His injury itched, so he took that as a sign of recovery.
He needed his caffeine fix and didn’t want to stop at the Conoco and chance running into a member of his family. He plugged in India’s fancy coffeemaker and dumped a capful of coffee beans into the grinder. While that machine whirred, he washed the glass coffee pot and the plastic filter basket. It took four cupboards before he found where India had moved the box of paper coffee filters. He filled the water reservoir, reassembled the various parts and hit start.
Colt picked up the trash in his prison room while he waited for the coffee to brew. When he returned to the kitchen, India stormed out of her bedroom.
Pity she’d put on a robe.
“The one day I get to sleep in and you’re up at the butt crack of dawn making enough noise to wake the dead?”
“Oh, I see. It’s different when you’re disturbed out of your beauty sleep. Sucks, huh?”
“Besides, all I did was make coffee.”
“Then explain what you were doing in the shower? ’Cause it sure as hell sounded like you were throwing rocks.”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d think your poor head was hurtin’ and it was a hangover talkin’.” Colt clucked his tongue. “Maybe you oughta get to bed earlier if you’re so cranky in the mornin’.”
“How do you know what time I went to bed?”
“I dunno, maybe it was the slamming door at midnight that tipped me off. Or maybe it was your headboard banging against my wall until the wee hours. I got tired of it around one a.m. and listened to my iPod.”
“But Blake finished—”
“Huh-uh. I don’t wanna know about Blake’s big finish because I had enough of the pre-game.” Colt sidestepped her.
“You think I slept with him.”
He shrugged, determined not to let it show how much her horizontal mattress mambo with his cousin bothered him.
“Hey.” Her hand circled his wrist and India yanked him around to face her.
Colt looked into her angry eyes. “What?”
“You are a judgmental jerk, Colt McKay.”
“Me? I didn’t pass judgment. I just pointed out the obvious.”
“Hell, I didn’t even mention the candles and soft music and the laughter that preceded all the bedroom noises.”
“Magnanimous of you.”
“I thought so.”
“Hah! You thought wrong.” India’s finger drilled him in the chest. “And it pisses me off that you think so…lowly of me.”
“What else am I supposed to think?”
“That there’s a logical explanation.”
He laughed. “For havin’ a man in your bedroom? After midnight? With the bed slamming against the wall? Sugar, sex isn’t the logical answer, it’s the only answer.”
“Not all men have sex on the brain twenty-four hours a day.”
Tired of her baiting him, Colt crowded her. “Any man with half a fucking brain, who is lucky enough to be in your bedroom at any time, ain’t thinkin’ about nothin’ but how perfect it’d feel to have your hot little body under his. Or on top of his. Or in front of his. Over and over. And if it’d been me? Twenty-four hours would be the minimum amount of time I’d keep you in my bed.”
India stared at him. “Is that what you were thinking about, Colt? Us having sex?”
Yes. Goddammit, that was all he could think about. Why in the hell couldn’t she see it?
DC: How many more books are planned in the series?
LJ: ONE BILLION. Seriously…I don’t know. There’s a whole branch of the McKays I’ve scarcely mentioned, yet some characters’ storylines aren’t conducive to a full-length novel. I’m working through ideas for both the West and McKay cousins. I’ll probably keep writing them as long as my editor and readers are buying!
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions or that dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
LJ: I think it’d get boring if everything I envisioned for a character/storyline came to pass exactly the way I’d planned it. Sometimes I veer completely off the synopsis. It’s what makes writing exciting for me; my best laid plans oftentimes are shot all to hell—and usually for the better.
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
LJ: Yes. The characters almost always win. If I’m trying to force a character to do or be something and it isn’t working, most times it stops my writing flow. So I’ve learned to listen and let them take me where they want to go–sounds crazy to non-writers I’m sure, as we’re not talking about real people but figments of my imagination.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
LJ: Usually if I have a really great book I’m dying to read.
DC: Does your husband read your hot and steamy books? How’s he feel about them? Has he been some inspiration for writing your heroes?
JL: Yes, he reads them, but not until they’re available for sale. He is NOT my critique partner. He’s proud of me, and the books, and always says he’s the luckiest man in the world. He’s an inspiration in my real life, rather than in my fictional world.
DC: Do you think you write differently now than you did when you started?
LJ: God, I hope so. I hope I’m getting better with every book. It’s scary to contemplate that readers will always compare your most recent book to the one that got them reading you in the first place—and somehow find it lacking.
DC: When you have the time, what genre do you normally read?
LJ: Paranormal romance because it seems like the only genre I’m not writing in, so it’s purely fun. I keep up with mystery and erotic romance too.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled in your writing but would like to try?
LJ: Young adult. I’ve been kicking around an idea for a couple of years, every once in a while I’ll bring it up with my daughters…it’s the only time I ask their advice on what they’d like to read in a book.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
LJ: Study harder. Knowing how to tap a keg really won’t get you very far in life.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
LJ: Probably still working in my husband’s family’s firearms business, where I toiled for a decade as the bookkeeper before I got back into writing.
DC: Favorite author:
DC: Favorite book:
LJ: Of all time? Gone With the Wind
– dark or milk chocolate?
– smooth or chunky peanut butter?
– heels or flats?
– coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, iced tea in the afternoon
– summer or winter?
– mountains or beach?
I love the beach, but I live in the mountains
– mustard or mayonnaise?
– flowers or candy?
Is this a trick question? Flowers…unless the candy is chocolate
– pockets or purse?
Purse, a huge purse that carries everything
– Pepsi or Coke?
ebook or print?
Both – the Sprint “whispernet” feature for amazon kindle isn’t available out here in the Wild West, hence, I returned my Kindle…but I know if I had one, my cyber TBR piles would be catching up with the piles of books in my library. I have an ebookwise that I use, but getting the titles in their preferred format is a pain…and limited without converting the files…which is a pain.
And just for some extra fun:
1. What is your favorite word?
*see answer #7
2. What is your least favorite word?
Grimace or padded
3. What turns you on creatively?
Depends on the day. What I have for deadlines and/or family commitments is usually the deciding factor of what I work on–for me there is no waiting for the muse. I put my butt in the chair and get to work even if I don’t feel like it
4. What turns you off creatively?
Sometimes what turns you off personally is great for inspiring creativity
5. What sound or noise do you love?
The bell ringing on the front door when my kids and my husband come home
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
The new neighbors’ stupid barking dogs and the wild turkeys constant gobbling, clucking and screeching during mating season—which is right now
7. What is your favorite curse word?
*Fuck. It can be a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb when used properly (or improperly?) I get in trouble for using it too much in real life…and sometimes in fiction
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
As long as we’re pretending…I’d love to be an international spy like Sydney Bristow on “Alias”—cool disguises, hot men, and that air of mystery
9. What profession would you not like to do?
I wouldn’t like to be the person from the state highway department who has to pick up dead animal carcasses from the roads and ditches. Lots of dead critters on the roads here in South Dakota, and in the summertime, I can’t imagine the smell
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you
arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“Wow. We must’ve really lowered our standards.”
Thanks so much, Lorelei, for being with us today!