We’re talkin’ up a storm again. Welcome back to Duck Chat.
Today Beth Kery, writer of some of the steamiest erotic romance out there, joins us to talk about her books and have some fun with us. I’ve read a number of Beth’s book over the last couple of years, I have to say I’m hooked. I have been since I read Exorcising Sean’s Ghost. That remains my favorite Beth Kery book to date, and she’s had some terrific stories released since then. If you’re not familiar with her books, do stop by her website and look around. I think you’ll find something that will call to you and you’ll just have to try it! Of course, Beth is going to give you a chance to win a couple of her books. Give us a meaningful comment and we’ll toss you into the running for an ARC of her upcoming release Daring Time, a print copy of Wicked Burn, and a download of her current release, Flirting in Traffic.
If you have any questions for Beth today, leave a comment, she’s going to stop in now and again to see what you’re all up to. So now let’s chat!
DUCK CHAT: Beth, your writing has brought about a very quick rise for you in the industry. Wicked Burn was your debut with Berkley Sensation. What’s it been like for you in your dealings with Berkley compared to the epublishing process?
BETH KERY: Hi, Sandy. It hasn’t been all that different, really, as far as the mechanics. You usually need an agent to sell to the New York market, but not always. Otherwise–you make a sale, you do edits and you release your book.
A few differences: For my first three Berkley books, I did paper edits, which was quite an experience—one master copy being shipped across the country. However, Berkley is now going to electronic edits, so there goes that difference. I had to learn different promotional and sales markets for my print book. In general (depending on who you are, of course) you reach a wider market with your print book, so you hear from more people about the book.
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
BK: Um…probably when did you decide to become a writer? My answer is always a little false, because it was sort of a jump and start, gradual thing for me, not a sudden “Ah ha!” I’m not so sure that I even considered myself a ‘writer’ in my head until a couple months ago, so yeah—kind of an innocent sounding question that’s pretty complicated for me to answer.
I seriously just realized the other day that I didn’t feel bad, slumming around when I went to the grocery store wearing sweatpants and glasses—because I’m a writer. That’s our uniform!
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
BK: Yes, most definitely. I typically ride the hump of the pantster/plotter bell curve. So I have a loose plot in mind, but the characters definitely improvise and grow on the stage I’ve set for them.
DC: Wicked Burn is one hot, sexy read. Tell our readers about Vic and Niall, please.
BK: Thanks, Sandy. Niall and Vic are two people who sort of come together in a sexual cataclysm one night. When things like that happen, it seems like impulse or chance, but in reality, because of their pasts and personal characteristics, there were good reasons that things were so explosive for them. I like to observe human nature and behavior, and it’s always fascinating to me the events and circumstances that lead up to something that seems like it ‘just happened.’ So, while someone might look at Niall and Vic and say they were using sex to get past their wounds or personal traumas, I wonder what it is about that point in time and those two particular people that made it possible for them to begin to heal through at first a physical relationship and then a much more profound one.
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
BK: Hmmm…that’s a good question. I’d love to say I have these down and dirty drag-outs with them, but I usually don’t. That’s not to say that all my characters are always likeable, because they’re not. I’ve just come to terms with where they are at that point in the development of the story.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
BK: My other job, first and foremost. Beyond that, a sunny day, a certain look from my husband…. a growling stomach.
DC: Some authors eventually phase out of the epublishing world once their “bigger break” comes along. Any plans of doing that yourself?
BK: I don’t have any plans for that, but I’m admittedly a very freshman writer, so what do I know? I’d like to balance both venues. I was extremely busy last year writing books for Berkley, so I’m not sure at this point in time how things will work out. However, I would eventually like to find a comfortable balance.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved in your writing? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
BK: Hmmm, another good question. I’ve started to experiment more with my heroines. My typical heroine is often a contained intellectual whose emotional maturity helps the hero to grow. There are some recent exceptions. Hope Stillwater, the heroine for my erotic time travel Daring Time, which comes out this May, is a spirited, feisty, impulsive suffragette who might be called progressive in any time period. And Esa, my heroine in Flirting in Traffic, is also a departure for me. She’s devoted to her work, sharp-tongued, shaky in the romance and body-image arena, and possesses a loyal, devoted heart.
My heroes are all pretty much bigger than life. One thing I’m always trying to do is find new, exciting arenas for the alpha to show his stuff. I just finished a book called Release for Berkley Heat, and the hero is a private intelligence operative—a.k.a. a spy for hire. I’m so lucky, because I have a friend who is a military intelligence operative, so I got to have a lot of fun researching it. Ryan Daire, my hero in Daring Time, is a cop who is also a boxing champion, so I had a ball researching boxing terms, famous fights, and talking to my ‘fighter’ lady friends (Belinda and Fi). I just started a book where the hero is a neurologist. I realized I’d never done a hero in the medical field, which is weird because I work in the medical field. Fantasy alpha doctors are so yummy. Don’t know where they actually are, though…
DC: Your latest ebook is Flirting in Traffic with Cerridwin Press. I really enjoyed Finn and Esa’s story. Would you tell everyone about them?
Thank you, Sandy. Finn and Esa sort of both have the older sibling syndrome and have been identified as the dependable ones–the ‘rocks’ in the family. Esa is a smart, plucky physician (yeah, I do heroine docs!) who is constantly being told by her sexy, publisher sister and best friend that’s she’s lame and boring. Finn is a dead-sexy architect who’s been burned by a perfidious fiancé and wants some no-strings-attached-rebound sex to get him back in the swing of things. Of course, he mistakenly thinks stuffy Esa is that fun sex kitten, which makes for a bumpy, but very steamy, road to true love.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
BK: I’d really like to try young adult. Some day.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
BK: “You have so much going for you, why don’t you savor it…celebrate it?” It must be the curse of your thirties. I look at my nieces, who are stunning, smart, well-educated, and I’m blown away by all their gifts. I had many of those gifts, but, like them, I was saddled by the insecurities of youth. Why can’t we have the wisdom of age and the future (and the body) of a twenty-one year old all at once? Sigh.
DC: Next up for you is the release of Through Her Eyes in April. Can you give us a sneak peek?
BK: Through Her Eyes is actually a re-write of the very first book I ever had published at a small e-press called Aphrodite Unlaced. It may not be my most polished book, but it has characteristics in it that I value on reflection. Daring Time, Sweet Restraint, and Release all have crime and suspense elements, so I think of Through Her Eyes as my first dip into those genres. Or into anything, really.
I was thrilled that Ellora’s Cave said they’d like to publish it. It’s an erotic contemporary with suspense and paranormal elements. Let’s see, a quick (rather sloppy) highlight of the book—an old Hyde Park mansion, a ghost, a psychiatrist heroine who is also a very reluctant psychic, a serial killer, and an extremely sexy special agent hero who is bound and determined to both save the heroine and catch the killer—for very personal reasons.
Oh…and lots of really hot sex. Can’t forget that.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
BK: My other job that I still do. I’m very lucky to have two such rewarding careers.
DC: We’ve mentioned your time travel that’s coming out in May, Daring Time. Is this your first time travel? Did you find that paranormal element any more difficult than others you’ve written to date? Or was it maybe easier to write?
BK: I do! I’m probably more excited about Daring Time coming out in May than I ever have been for a book. It is my first time travel, and I cann’t say I’ve ever had so much fun writing a book. I’ve lived in downtown Chicago for the past seventeen years of my life, and Daring Time became kind of a personal tribute to a city that I’ve grown to love to so much. This city has really entered the fabric of my life.
Daring Time is what my editor calls a ‘paranormal light.’ So, the Subtle Lovers series, for instance, has a much heavier paranormal element than Daring Time. Daring Time combines many genres, though, as I suppose many time travels do—contemporary, paranormal, historical, and even a suspense/crime drama.
DC: Would you tell us a little about Daring Time too?
BK: It’s the story of a young vice detective who unexpectedly—and strangely—inherits a Prairie Avenue mansion from an elderly friend. He begins to see an elusive, beautiful woman in the house. His research tells him it’s a woman who was murdered in the year 1906. Desire creates a conduit between them and through it, he travels back to the early nineteen hundreds to save her. There are many parallels between the two time periods—for instance, the man the hero and his partner are trying to bring in for a white slavery operation in the year 2008 is the very same soul responsible for the heroine’s abduction in the year 1906.
I had the opportunity to tour several Prairie Avenue mansions to prepare for this book. The historic district came vibrantly alive for me. I’d love to do a series of time travels associated with the Prairie Avenue district, which to me was as much as a beautiful ‘true’ fantasy as the Chicago World’s Fair and the White City.
Excerpt of Daring Time:
“This professor guy must have liked you a hell of a lot to leave you a mansion,” Ramiro muttered, a hint of envy flavoring his tone.
“I was knocked flat on my ass when Alistair told me what he planned, but there was nothing I could say to change his mind. He insisted I was doing him a favor by taking it. The value of the house is appreciating hugely because of the real estate development in this area. Alistair’s lawyers advised him to reduce his taxable estate with a gift.”
“Some gift. Better he’d left you some cash, though.”
Ryan stepped into a room and flipped on a light. He studied the large spacious bedroom suite, the plaster ceilings and intricately carved mantel. Alistair knew Ryan loved Chicago history. He must have guessed how much Ryan would appreciate the mansion.
“Cash’s got nothing on this place.”
Ramiro snorted. “They broke the mold when it comes to you, Daire. Six foot and four inches of pure pushover. At least to little kids and stray animals. Can’t say the same about you when it comes to assholes like Jim Donovan.”
“You wouldn’t want me any other way.”
“Who wants you? I’m shackled to you,” Ramiro grumbled.
They stepped into the bedroom. Ryan ran his hand admiringly over the carved mahogany mantel. Unlike the majority of the house, this room retained some furniture—stuff that looked to be the same vintage as the house, Ryan realized with a sense of amazement. The green and white floral wallpaper beneath the wainscoting had faded but still retained a fresh, feminine charm. Obviously the bedroom had once belonged to a woman.
The foot and headboard of a brass bedstead leaned against the wall between two antique mahogany tables. Ryan fingered the cool metal thoughtfully. The brass needed to be cleaned but the bed was perfectly intact. An image of himself polishing the brass and putting together the bed for his own mattress flashed vividly into his mind’s eye.
He’d be nuts to even consider moving into this place.
“Look at this. Looks like something you’d have your nose buried in.” Ramiro held up an old leather bound book that he’d found in one of the table drawers. The color of the once crimson leather had faded to a dull dark red.
“Shakespeare’s sonnets,” Ryan murmured. He owned a copy of his own, nearly as well read as this old tome. Ryan had cultivated a love of Shakespeare from his father that had been nourished by Alistair. The book parted to a well-worn gold-leafed page when he opened it. He immediately recognized the one hundred and sixteenth sonnet.
He raised the book toward his face and inhaled. His brow furrowed at the scent of gardenias mixing with the odor of leather and mildew.
“I’ll bet you can get a couple grand for this old chest, Daire. People pay out their asses for antiques. Holy shit, check it out.”
Ramiro moved aside from the opened door of the massive mahogany wardrobe so that Ryan could see the full-length mirror attached on the inner side of the door. The frame had been carved into a meticulous iris design beneath the gilt. Time had taken its toll on the mirror itself. Six or so inches all along the exterior had gone foggy with age. Only the center portion reflected true. Still, the mirror was so huge that Ryan didn’t have to stoop his tall frame to see his face in the reflection.
Only it wasn’t his face that he saw. He started in surprise.
He whipped around so fast that Ramiro jerked back in alarm.
“What?” Ramiro asked. The whites of his brown eyes showed as his gaze shifted warily around the room and then back to Ryan. “What’s wrong, man?”
Ryan turned back to the mirror, this time seeing his own bloodless face and greenish-blue eyes staring back at him.
“You didn’t see her?”
“That woman. She was just right here, standing in front of me. I saw her in the mirror.” He quickly inspected the empty wardrobe, scanned the bedroom and rushed to the door.
The hallway stood empty and silent, the dozens of closed doors along both walls reminding him of watchful eyes.
“There’s no one here but us, Daire,” Ramiro said from just behind him.
Ryan shook his head. He knew what he’d seen with his own two eyes: a stunning, lithesome-limbed beauty with pale, flawless skin and a long mane of soft, curling dark hair hanging loose down her shoulders and back.
The same woman he’d imagined briefly in the ballroom, he realized. But this had been different. In the ballroom it had just been like a super-vivid flash of his imagination. This had been real.
Realer than real.
Laughter had curved her lush, dark pink lips. She’d worn a sheer negligee, the bottom of which barely covered the dark nest of hair between her slender thighs. She might as well have been standing there naked for as much good as the nightgown did. The only other thing that adorned her flawless skin was a locket hanging around her neck. Ryan could still see perfectly with his mind’s eye the detail of the filigree carved into the silver and the throb of the woman’s pulse at her throat.
“No. I definitely saw her,” Ryan insisted firmly, but even as he said it, he began to question himself.
He’d seen the front of her in the mirror…as though she’d stood directly before him with her back to him.
His breath froze on an inhale.
There hadn’t been anyone standing in front of him. She’d just been in the mirror, staring out at him as if the space between the gilded frame had been a doorway not a pane of glass. He crossed the room and touched the surface of the mirror. Despite the bizarreness of what had just happened, he didn’t really believe he’d feel anything but the cool, smooth surface of the glass.
Shock jolted through him for the second time that evening when the molecules of his fingers seemed to meld with those of the mirror. He wondered if it hadn’t been his imagination when a second later he pressed his fingertips against a solid pane of glass.
“You really didn’t see anyone?” he asked Ramiro as he turned around.
Ramiro shook his head.
There was no way in hell Ryan wouldn’t have noticed the back of that woman if she stood in front of him. That flimsy excuse for a nightgown wouldn’t have completely covered her bare ass.
Uh uh—not a possibility. As a healthy, red-blooded male, Ryan knew for a fact he would have noticed that.
“Dios, Daire. I think you saw a ghost.”
Ryan shot Ramiro an annoyed look. “I didn’t see a ghost. She was perfectly solid.”
He recalled the startled expression in her velvety black eyes. “She looked as surprised to see me as I did her,” Ryan said.
“What’d she look like?”
A pair of full, shapely breasts and succulent, fat nipples pressing against transparent cloth that did nothing to hide their rosy hue flashed into Ryan’s mind’s eye. The potent eroticism of the recalled image made his cock jerk in his boxer briefs.
What’d she look like? Edible. Delicious. Like an angel on a mission of sin.
“Dark hair. Dark eyes,” he muttered. For some reason he felt hesitant about sharing even a basic description of the woman with Ramiro.
“You saw a ghost all right. This house is haunted,” Ramiro declared as he glanced around, his feet shifting nervously.
Ryan couldn’t help but grin. “I thought you were a big, bad vice detective. Since when are you scared of a little tiny female?”
Ramiro gave him an insulted look. “Ever since the ‘little tiny female’ is dead.”
“She’s not dead.”
Ramiro looked a little taken aback by Ryan’s hard tone. “Whatever, man.” Ramiro shivered and started toward the door. The image of his brawny partner shuddering reflexively struck Ryan as markedly odd, not to mention alarming for some reason.
“The only time I saw you get so pale was when you got shot,” Ramiro said. “Take my advice and sell this place quick as you can. I’ll take the likes of a slimy rat like Anton Chirnovsky any day versus a haunted house. Come on. Crenshaw will be waiting for us at Bureau Headquarters. We’re making sure Chirnovsky has his story straight and is in good voice before we strap the wires on him for Donahue’s downfall this weekend.”
Ryan closed the heavy wardrobe door with a brisk bang, perhaps hoping to shatter the fey spell wrought by the vision of the stunning woman. He didn’t believe in ghosts and he was every bit as eager to nail Jim Donahue for human trafficking as Ramiro was.
Still, he lingered in the doorway, casting his gaze around the empty bedroom warily before he shut out the light.
DC: You’ve quite a number of books published in the last couple of years. Have you found it difficult to come up with storylines, have a problem with writer’s block, or something equally scary? Or has the excitement of it all kept the creative juices flowing with no problem at all?
BK: You know, Sandy, I thank my lucky stars at this point in my life it’s the latter. I realize it likely won’t always be that way, but I’ll have to take my earlier advice and celebrate the moment while it’s here.
DC: What’s next on the horizon for Beth Kery?
BK: My next book is Through Her Eyes from Ellora’s Cave on April 29. I have several books coming out this year from Berkley: Daring Time on May 5; Sweet Restraint on July 7; Paradise Rules on October 6, followed by Release in February 2010. Beyond that, I’d be happy to have the opportunities to keep on writing, if anyone wants to give them to me.
Favorite paranormal author?
Margaret Atwood (also a favorite for futuristic)
Any old Loveswept or Bantam book by Sandra Brown, like Temperature’s Rising or A Whole New Light. I feel as if I learned romance and steam from Sandra. I like her new stuff, too, but her old stuff creates such a sense of nostalgia and longing in me. I told someone once in an interview, if you want to get most of my stuff in a nutshell, it’s Sandra Brown gone erotic. From my opinion of course, not anyone else’s–like her fans or Sandra herself.
Oh, reverting from romance again, sorry. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.
– dark or milk chocolate?
– smooth or chunky peanut butter?
– heels or flats?
Heels (although my nieces roll their eyes at me as they look darling in their flats.)
– coffee or tea?
Coffee with cream only.
– summer or winter?
– mountains or beach?
– mustard or mayonnaise?
– flowers or candy?
– pockets or purse?
– Pepsi or Coke?
– ebook or print?
Doh! Print probably, until I get used to be my lovely Kindle anyway.
And because we like these:
1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
Was (Yes, I still use it too much.)
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
People who are scared, but do it anyway…even if it’s not pretty.
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
People who act like they know everything.
5. What sound or noise do you love?
I live in the city. My white noise machine signals relaxation.
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
Pounding nails, garbage trucks….anything cacophonous.
7. What is your favorite curse word?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Teacher—not because I don’t appreciate them enormously. I just come from a family of teachers and professors and wanted to do something different.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you
arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“I’m so proud of you—you took a real chance to get here!”
DC: Beth, thank you for chatting with us today. It’s been a pleasure!