Monday, August 14, 2006

Suzanne Simmons GuestBlog: Suzanne Sounds Off On S-E-X


In the second of our "RunningWithQuills.com Week (and Two Days)" of GuestBlogs, please welcome our girl, Suzanne, as she dishes about a subject near and dear to our hearts.

Spill, Quillfriend...

I’ve had Sex with a capital S on the brain this summer. I’ll explain why in a minute.

Early in my career I considered myself cutting edge when it came to the love scenes in my romance novels. At the time I was writing for Dell Ecstasy and Silhouette Desire (the latter as Suzanne Simms.)

In the years since then I’ve written and had published more than forty books: category romances, a few historical romps with plenty of sex and humor, even some serious books with neither, including THE GOLDEN RAINTREE, set during the era of World War One. (TGR is still many readers’ favorite).

But in most of my romance novels I viewed sex as a necessary component, along with a strong sense of place, a wonderful hero and heroine, and what I call my “Iowa corn-ball sense of humor.” (Yep, I’m originally from Iowa.)

In the late 1990's, St. Martin’s Press published my “Man” series: single title contemporary romances with dashes of humor, a few poignant moments, and lots of sex. (The funniest of the bunch, imho, is LADY’S MAN.)

In 2004, I moved over to Berkley, my current publishing house, with another funny and sexy contemporary romance, SWEETHEART, INDIANA. But it was while reading a review for the second book set in my fictional town that I had an epiphany: I was no longer writing cutting-edge sensuality. In fact, my book had actually been described as a “sweet romance.”

I’ll tell you I was stunned. Even speechless. (A rare occurrence in itself.) I called up my friend and fellow Quill, Jayne Ann Krentz, and said: “Tell me the truth, Jayne, have I gone soft on sex?”


I already knew the answer, of course. I had! Times change. The paradigm shifts. Writers reinvent themselves out of necessity or to stay fresh. And I’m going in an entirely new direction with my writing, so new that I’ll be using a pen name to be officially announced this fall.

My hero — the most fascinating man I’ve ever created, a man I’ve been wanting to write about forever — will tell his story in a vampire paranormal romance, NIGHT LIFE, to be published by Berkley in April 2007.

I’ve come full circle in ways I never dreamt I would or even could. I’m back writing truly sensual books, books with plenty of Sex with a capital S.


A question for the Bellas: If it’s well-written and appropriate to the story, do you like your romance spiced with plenty of sensuality?

Cheers!

Suzanne

Visit Suzanne at SuzanneSimmons.com!

***

Encore! Thank you, Susan Andersen, for visiting with us Friday! We hope your tour will be ab fab!

55 comments:

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

S-E-X? Y-E-S!!!!!

Welcome, Suzanne, and thanks for visiting with us today. You couldn't have chosen a better topic for us, cause we Bellas love us some romance with steamy sensuality. Long as it's contextual, and makes sense for the characters, and possibly involves an alpha male and a scene of unbridled passion in which he an the heroine don't make it past the front hallway.

Most important, as least to me, is that a writer gets to write sex in a way she's comfortable with. Nothing worse than reading an author who's uncomfy with writing sex, or feeling pressured to "spice it up" for a new line.

Thank goodness you a)write what you like, as it were :), and 2. have plenty of it to share with us! Can't wait for "Night Life!"

Michele said...

Oh Wow! More juicy vampire romance with steamy sex? Night LIfe is my cup of tea!
I have a thing for that paranormal fling.

As for the question, "Do I like my stories spiced"?
Wouldn't have it any other way.

It adds an extra level of tension that can be more than satisfying when done right. Not to mention inspiring antics in the romper room later. LOL

My only pet peeve, and I'm probably a minority in this, is the dislike of the indepth sex scene that only happens in the mind of the character. Mentioning it briefly is OK, absolutely. It gives the reader a sense of how truly she/he is hot for the other. However, dedicating three pages of well written but pointless sex just turns me off.
For me, it's like shooting blanks - sure it makes a lot of noise, but it produces no results.

That's just MHO. Other than that - I'm game.
Bring it on!

Oh! Addendum: If the "dream" was shared, which is a tool that can be utilized with paranormal romances, then it has focus, results, consequences and pertinence. At that point I'm more than happy to read said sex scene in their dreams or fantasy. I find it satisfies the requirements of "Well-written and appropriate" to the story.

OK, I'll crawl back under my rock with a good book now.
;-)

rachd said...

Hi, Suzanne!

Do I like a spiced up romance? Do I like plenty of sensuality?? YES!! Bring it on, baby!! ;o)

Of cours, I'm with Michelle, it must be well written and within the context of the relationship. I too believe it is best when the author is writing in a style with which she is comfortable. Otherwise you start getting sex-help manual style stuff and really, where's the romance in that??



You Bellas have fun today--we're off to the zoo. =)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I like your thoughts, Michele, sort of like "the Sound and the Fury, signifying nothing" school of bad sex writing. I think that's why I'm not so thrilled with the 1st person in romance. It becomes either the memoir/confessional erotica style, or it seems like it was written in 3rd person, then "translated" into 1st to suite the chick-lit/women's fiction or, even more heinous, the pseudo-erotica lines that are popping up everywhere.

RAch, you've got it on the manual thing, too. Really, if an editor ain't getting hot the first time s/he reads a sexy manuscript, they need to communicate it to the writer, I think. Even reading clinically, anyone surveying a piece of "spicy" literature can intrinsically understand what makes the piece work for the reader.

MaryKate said...

Hi Suzanne! You certainly have come to the right place if you were looking for the answer, "He** yes we love the steamy stuff!"

I have no problem whatsoever with steamy love scenes. I really enjoy an alpha hero who takes control of love scenes, but then later, I love, love, love to see the heroine roll him! It does my heart good! I also don't have any problem with a little raunch in my love scenes (as in raspberries (LOL)) or inventive locations (outside, fear of discovery, etc.) or let's say...electonic devices.

*BLUSH* (whispers)but maybe that's just me...

PS - Rach, have fun at the zoo. Are you guys going to the National?

Julie in Ohio said...

Good morning, Bellas. Welcome, Suzanne!!

I'm throwing my lot in with all the other Bellas who said YES,YES,YES.

I really like the way you phrased your question: "If it's well-written and appropriate to the story". That is the key right there. We have all read stories where the author just throws in a little lovin' in the afternoon that just didn't make sense. I'm not saying it wasn't written well but it wasn't appropriate to the story. So it loses some of its oo-la-la factor.

MK, I'm shocked. Absolutely shocked. I thought you were more conservative than that. :P

Rach, have a good time. Enjoy the lovely weather. :o)

Suzanne Simmons said...

You've hit the proverbial nail on the head, Bellas!

First, the author must be comfortable with the level of sensuality she's writing. Otherwise, we feel awkward as readers and that takes us out of the story. A real no-no.

Second, I think the tone of the story must also fit the level of sensuality. i.e. vampire paranormal lends itself to the dramatic and sensual. (One reason for their popularity, imho.)

I've written romance novels at every level of sensuality. But I must confess I'm having the time of my life with NIGHT LIFE and soon DEAD OF NIGHT.

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome to RBTB Suzanne!

We Bellas love our sex. I agree that's there's nothign worse than reading a misplaced or irrelevant sex scene in a book, and I have read plenty. It actually turns me off...(if you can believe it!)

All scenes should move the story forward or evolve your characters, whether its an action scene, an emotional scene or a sex scene...

That said...I do love me some HAWT vampire sex!!! ;-)

MaryKate said...

Vivi! LOL! You turned off?!?! No!

What is it about Hawt! Vampire! Sex! that turns us on?! I'm telling you, I don't care what the context if some guy bit me hard enough to draw blood before, during, or after the act, I'd probably cold cock him! But, give me a BDB love scene and I'm ALL in!!

Julie in Ohio said...

Suzanne, I agree that there is something dramatic and sensual about vampires.
I think that their popularity stems from the off limits vibe they give off.
Anything that is off limits makes you want it even more. :o)

Suzanne Simmons said...

Plus, the night time feels different than the day time, and that also lends itself to a feeling of mystery and sensuality and intimacy.

Perhaps this is another reason that the paranormal and sensuality seem a perfect fit.

I hope I'm not the only one who feels a distinct difference between night and day. Do you feel the difference, Bellas?

Jennifer Y. said...

To answer the blog question, yes...if it is well-written and appropriate to the story I do not mind plenty of sensuality in the romances that I read. I also like how the question was worded to include "well-written and appropriate to the story."

Julie in Ohio said...

Sure, Suzanne. At night there is also the dark/blind feeling so that anything can happen.
In the day time, you are more exposed. You can't get away with anything because all can see.
In the day you have to be on your best behavior, but at night you are more free.

MaryKate said...

Suzanne (my boss is off this week, so I'm playing WAY more than I should be) -

I love both. Night time scenes lend themselves to the darker, less inhibited sex, and that's fantastic.

But I also love daytime scenes. The one that's jumping out at me is there's a love scene from KEY OF VALOR by Nora Roberts where the hero comes over while the heroine is cleaning house. She's a disaster, and he's completely enchanted by how she looks and smells...and by her belly button ring. I don't know why but I love that scene. That being said, I also love Bradley Vane (the hero) he's a favorite of mine.

My BF always tells her husband that him vacuuming is like foreplay for her. LOL! Maybe there's something to the cleaning smells?!

Janice Maynard said...

Sex? Yes! As a reader I have always been drawn to books, either historical or contempprary, where the author didn't shut the bedroom door. That said, there is a lot of stuff out there written as titillating sex that simply isn't sexy! Yawn... clinical body parts meshing... ick...

But give me emotion, hot arousal, and a desperate urge to mate, and you've got compelling, passionate scenes. I'll be reading far past my bedtime!

Now that I'm one of the ones writing the sexy stuff, the challenge is to keep the sex scenes inventive and fresh. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it! (grin)

Janice Maynard

Monica Burns said...

Welcome to Michelle's home and all her fangirls, the Bellas, Suzanne!

Sex and Alpha males, what's NOT to love! LOL

As for vampires and their mystique, I liken it to the "Spock" factor. Women love the challenge of falling for a guy they see as totally beyond reach.

Alpha males are like this to some degree, but they're not seen as totally unattainable in a book. A vampire is. The author has to come up with some twist, some realistic reason as to how and why these two can be together for their rest of their days or hers or his. THAT's not an easy thing to do IMHO.

The night does have a more sensual feel to it, it can be mysterious, sultry, it sets one's senses totally on edge because there's this sense of danger in terms of what's around the next corner that you can't see. It's that thrill, that frisson one gets when the unexpected happens. It charges the blood. ooooohhhhh I like that line!!! I get to use that in a new book!!! LOL

Vampires also give that quality of illusion. Are they real, are they not. And what can be more sexually intense than a guy who can move you to an orgasm with just his eyes and a gentle bite. Ok, I'm getting WAY to hot here. Oh to not have to work 9-5 so I could be home writing. *sigh*

Later Bellas, and again, a warm Bella welcome Suzanne.

PS - I'm the verbose poster in the group. LOL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Bellas! Today's a prime example of why I'm so proud of youz! Great comments.

Oooh, Suzanne. I never thought about the day/night thing! I'm going back over all my favorite steamy scenes, why they worked, and what time of day.

Vampire scenes in the middle of the night, where our hero shows up at the bedside of the innocent (or not) he's found makes him believe in lifa again. Easier to give up inhibitions in the night. Added is the "how will they feel the morning after" dilemma, which can only make the scene more dangerous and infinitely headier.

I'm with Monica -- and it took ages for me to get there -- that the bite as mode of inducing orgasm is wildly sensual when done right. I can't remember who referred to it this way, but someone called it the "ultimate zipperless f***."

Base, true, but there's something to be said about the agressive imagery of men unzipping pants to get busy. Someone I know suggested that's why women like Highlander heroes; kilt is soft imagery, just pushed aside, etc, with no agressive mvmt.

OK. I'm talking psychodynamics now, but important, I think, when discussing what turns on readers of certain sub-genres.

Suzanne Simmons said...

This has been so much fun, Bellas. I hope you'll ask me back again next spring after NIGHT LIFE is out (April 2007, Berkley.)

Meanwhile, I plan to drop in now and then and comment on other people's blogs. :-)

Thanks for having me!
Suzanne
www.suzannesimmons.com

Stella said...

Marykate:

Your best friend tells her husband that watching him vacuum is like foreplay? That's a line that deserves to be immortalized. Next we could try, "Sweetheart, when you scrub the toilets I get so HOT!"

I'll behave myself now. Suzanne writes any love/sex scene in exactly the way guaranteed to please. I should know because I've read many of her scenes. I do have a feeling we'll all need our asbestos gloves to turn the pages of NIGHT LIFE!

Cheers, Stella

rachd said...

Hi guys! Home from the zoo--Norfolk Zoo, MK, National is MUCH better--and just in time for vampire talk.

I agree with the night/day feeling thing. Night is SO mysterioso and *anything* can happen. Daylight brings things you'd rather not remember or talk about ;o).

Vivi, I don't believe there is *anything* that could possibly turn you off :oP.

MK, love the vaccuum thing. Hubby unloaded, reloaded the dishwasher, swept and mopped the kitchen all while I was showering and dressing yesterday. I was so happy I came downstairs and planted a BIG one right on the kisser! See, it *is* foreplay!! =)

Suzanne, thanks for playing with us!

amy*skf said...

Hey, I could not get on earlier--but I'm on now.

Yes, Yes, Oh God Yes!

Okay, got that out of my system--for now. Appropriate sensuality, written well--thank you, more please.

Love the titles for the new books, Suzanne--can't wait for them. I loved the characters from Goodnight Sweetheart, and yes it was a sweet romance. But I bet Night Life won't be.

MaryKate said...

LOL! Foreplay for me these days is a man with a pulse and who can put a coherent sentence together. The delights of being a single girl. The last guy I dated literally leaned into the door frame as we said goodnight and informed me that he could, "take you places you've never been before." My response? "Actually, I have been there, and I have absolutely no interest in going back with you."

rachd said...

LOL MK! I can NOT *imagine* being a single girl again! There are some strange ones out there...

MaryKate said...

Yeah, all I could think was, "So, what? I'm supposed to pull you inside and dropmy drawers?!" What a goober!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

"take you places you've never been?" Honey, unless he meant Tiffany's, you did the right thing kickin him to the curb. And really, we can all get to Tiffy's online, anyway. So who really needed him?


So, this housework as foreplay thing...would I actually have to do the housework, or could I just meet David at the door in an apron, four-inch pumps, and a pair of latex gloves?

rachd said...

I don't think it works the same way with guys, Michelle. So sorry. However, the apron (sans anything else) and "do me" heels would definitely do it for ya. =)

MaryKate said...

That's kind of what I thought. I also once had a guy say to me that I had the best set of bl*w j*b lips he'd ever seen. My response, "Has that line ever worked for you?!!!!

Clearly I emit a high pitched frequency that only a**holes and f*ckwits can hear!

amy*skf said...

Michelle, I think for the guy you have to be wearing a toolbelt and have built a cabinate for his tv--that would be foreplay for a guy--well, my guy.

MK--LMAO. What is with some guys?

This is going to be way too much information, so for the faint of heart don't read. My ex used to actually say when he wanted sex, "Do you want to play weenie in the bun?" And--AND I can't EVEN believe I married him after I had heard those words uttered from his lips.

MaryKate said...

Ames - I used to have a boyfriend who used to joke about playing "Escaped Convict and the Warden's Wife." Errr...at least, I'm pretty sure he was kidding.

amy*skf said...

MK-f*ckwits!hahahaha.

I have had guys ask me if I was a model--yeeeaah, and I'm in this dive waitin' for you to ask me out.

amy*skf said...

You keep crackin' me up--and I have to go back to work.

MaryKate said...

I've really committed a huge overshare today. Michelle, feel free to put me in TMI TimeOut.

Suzanne Simmons said...

amy*skf wrote: Love the titles for the new books, Suzanne--can't wait for them. I loved the characters from Goodnight Sweetheart, and yes it was a sweet romance. But I bet Night Life won't be.

You'd win that bet, Amy! (Thanks for the lovely comment about the Sweetheart books, too.)

Happy August all!
Suzanne

Manda said...

Man! I missed the party?

To answer Suzanne's question: Sex? Yes, please! I definitely appreciate a well written well placed sex scene! And vampire sex is just hot. Period.

MK: I think I too emit that siren call to losers and f*ckwits! How do we get that fixed?

Julie in Ohio said...

I'm sorry I missed the fun today. I had to go to the dentist. Guess what I'd rather be doing? :(

ROTFLMAO, MK! You are on fire today aren't you? :P
I am happy to say I've gone out with any f**kwits. However, dh has come up with some doozies when he's gotten snockered. I just hit him with a pillow and he goes down for the count. :o)

Suzanne, I love paranormals because anything goes. You may have some rules like vampires can't go out in sunlight, a werewolf gets killed by silver bullets but essentially the author has free reign to make up anything they wish. With historicals authors have to be more aware of speech patterns, clothing and the like, but you're not as resticted with paras. Unless you are doing a historical para I suppose. I think authors who write paras are very imaginitive.

rachd said...

ROTFLMAO MK and Amy!!!

My mom, a young 58 was asking me why in the world there were no good men left, why were all the single men out there idiots/jerks/(although she didn't say it, but I know she *must* have been thinking it)f*ckwits?

My theory is this (for her age group anyway): All the good ones are taken or gay (which we all already know) and the ones that are left are the ones that are thrown back--like Ame's "weenie/bun" guy--because the women got smart.

Julie in Ohio said...

Sorry, I guess the painkillers are kicking in. The note to MK should read that I've NEVER gone out with...

And I'm sure I made more than one spelling error. Sorry to any teachers out there reading the post and shaking their heads and shuddering.

rachd said...

P.S. Hope I didn't offend any Bellas with that last bit--it wasn't my intent.

rachd said...

Only me here, Jules. Not a problem. Nitrous is *GOOD* stuff ;oP!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

OK, Bellas. I'm hoping the rest of the Quill girls will still come visit after we've dragged this discussion down into the gutter.

But, I still say, never TMI, etc. And, even as a married woman, I'm still a bit shocked at the tired lines men still use to (try) to get women to sleep with them. Haven't they learned anything from TV and movies? All they have to do is make an effort to sound original, sweet, or, for God's sake, sentient, and they'd get a lot more play, I'm thinking.

Now, I'm all for hearing a little naughty talk from a sexy guy, but clearly, one man's naughty is another idiot's stoopid.

JulieO, you're right about the para authors. I'm constantly amazed by the neo-mythology being created.


BTW, how cool would it be to write books and have your girlfriend, Stella Cameron, pop by to tell everyone how wonderful you are?

MaryKate said...

All they have to do is make an effort to sound original, sweet, or, for God's sake, sentient, and they'd get a lot more play, I'm thinking.

From your mouth to God's ears Michelle!!

Sorry for going down that road...Suzanne, please come back. We'll try to act like ladies! I promise!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

No! Don't apologize! If you can't kvetch and moan with your girlfriends here, where can you? We don't want you out on the streets indiscriminately sharing your woes with other chicks who don't understand you like we do!

rachd said...

I'm with Michelle on this one, MK. Plenty of my girlfriends are still single, and not from lack of dating on their parts. More from lack of originality and honesty, and decency from the men they have dated.

Julie in Ohio said...

Oh, Rach, my butcher...er, I mean dentist doesn't believe in killing you with kindness; ie, using Nitrous.
I was referring to the ten Percocet I've taken since I've been home.

No need to call an intervention, I am exaggerating. I could only find two... :P

Suzanne Simmons said...

Michelle wrote: BTW, how cool would it be to write books and have your girlfriend, Stella Cameron, pop by to tell everyone how wonderful you are?

Which is only one of the many reasons why Stella and I have been such good friends for such a long time. :-) She's the best!

Julie in Ohio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rachd said...

Ain't it the truth, Julie?

Stacy~ said...

Okay I'm quitting my job so I can play and gossip with youz girls LOL.

First of all, I never found vamps very sexy until I read Kenyon's Dark Hunters, then I saw the yummy factor. It's all about heat. Hot gazes, hot bodies, hot blood. Very sexy. Suzanne, I look forward to your take on the vamp world.

I think there's a bunch of us who have a certain pitch to our voice that attracts the bottom-feeders. Most recently I had a guy tell me, after I did a financial transaction for him and asked if there was anything else I could do for him today (yep, pretty much opened up the can of worms myself)that he had just separated from his wife, that I have the "purtiest blue eyes" and gives me that pervo laugh as to "what I can do for him". Ugh. I shudder just to think about it. Plus, the twit is color-blind. I have swamp-water green eyes, thank you very much.

Michelle, in answer to your previous post, according to RT magazine, (ahem, page 19)that next month there will be a NK profile. Sigh.... Lori Foster told me RT asked her about him, and she referred them to me and to you & your interview. Isn't she a sweetheart? *g*

Julie in Ohio said...

Rach, that is also the truth when you feel self conscious and delete your post. :o)

amy*skf said...

MK don't take all the blame I was more responsible than you--and Suzanne came back.

Suzanne, hope you continue to check back in--I'm a lurker over at Quills--once in a great while I'll comment, but you see where that leads us--the guttah.

It's a dirty (yes) job, but someone's got to do it.

Michelle, remember when Vampires and their bites freaked you out?

So glad you've gone to the dark side. And I love the sentient comment. Geeze--how hard can it be to be a hooman bean.

rachd said...

Way to leave me hangin', Jules! :oP

Amy, nah, you were no worse than the rest of us!

Stacy, I'm going to have to quit too--I'm supposed to head back the 24th. *sob*

Did Jenn Y show up today? I don't think I saw her. Jenn, if you're out there, I hope you're feeling better!!

Jennifer Y. said...

Thanks Rach...I am feeling a bit better thanks!

Stella said...

I'm supposed to be working, but who can concentrate with all this fun going on. See what I mean about Suzanne--she appears and the topic naturally moves to sex.

Thanks for the great laughs, folks. "Take you somewhere you've never been?" "Weiner in a bun?" The last makes me wonder if the guy was trying to overcome a well-deserved inferiority complex.

I used to think comments like that came from people who thought women were desperate, now I know they just come from desperate people.

Stella--gottaworkgottaworkgottawork

Julie in Ohio said...

Suzanne, thanks for visiting today. Please come back again...and often. :o)

Suzanne Simmons said...

Thank you to julie in ohio and to all the Bellas, for making my visit so much fun. I will come back again and often!

Suzanne :-)