Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Emma Holly: The Art of Knowing Jack

There comes a moment in the writing process when a character crystallizes. You can plot and plan, you can research and wring your hands, but until "it" happens, you're just putting words on paper. The characters have to come alive before you're really telling a story. It doesn't necessarily take much for them to spring into three dimensions, either. A behavioral tick. A bit of backstory. Sometimes that's all I need.

Here's how the hero of ALL U CAN EAT introduced himself to me.

"Chief of Police Jack West was nobody’s pretty boy. His nose had been broken (twice), his left knee (which had been shot) had more scars than the San Andreas fault, and the best that could be said about his face was that it was rugged.

"I love rugged heroes, so this was a good start. Pretty doesn't always add up to sexy for me. Plus, Jack's obviously the alpha dog. After the way my diner-owner heroine's heart had been stepped on, she deserved no less. And there was also the matter of her being a little bossy. Her perfect match needed a spine. Still, I knew there was more Jack had to tell me.

"The scars he kept inside him weren’t any better. He’d been a cop with the LAPD for sixteen years--a good cop, with plenty of important collars, but he’d seen things that had left him less than a fit companion for civilians. Coupled with the seriously dysfunctional upbringing he’d had, it was no wonder he was divorced, more or less inept at flirting, and hadn’t been laid in so many years he’d probably forgotten how.

"Now, this was interesting. Every hero should have have some psychic scars, or what is Frankie going to help him soothe? And that bit about him not having been laid in so many years he'd probably forgotten how--well, that was both titillating and neurotic. Tell me more, Jack, I thought. You've almost won me over.

"On the plus side, knee or no knee, he could run a mile in less than eight minutes, didn’t smoke, barely drank, and believed in opening women’s doors. He’d been told his shaved head was sexy, though he mostly kept it that way because his hairline was creeping back. He was tall enough to date a supermodel (not that he wanted to), willing to dance with the right partner, and rarely lied unless it helped catch bad guys. He also spoke fluent Spanish and could type with all ten fingers.

"Unfortunately, he didn’t think any of these assets was going to convince the woman who’d been playing leading lady in his recent dreams that she ought to be dating him."

And there he convinced me he deserved Frankie. This strong, sexy, chivalrous, besotted, and slightly insecure alpha dog didn't know it yet, but I did: He was going to get the girl.

So tell me, what makes a hero a hero for you -- in real life or in books?
Encore! ALL U CAN EAT: Can sassy diner owner, Frankie Smith, survive her sexy smorgasbord of men? http://www.emmaholly.com for excerpts and news.

Encore due! Check out what Emma had to say about Nathan Kamp at CosmoChix, "Why I Dig Romance Novel Cover Guys" comments...


Stacy~ said...

Definitely the tortured, imperfect hero does it for me. Zarek from SK's Dark Hunter books. He may be a snarling, mean, badass but deep down he's still the little boy who craved love and can't believe it when an amazing woman like Astrid falls in love with him. Even knowing that others hated him, he antagonized them rather than try to reach out. Heartbreaking. How could you not fall in love with Zarek?

Valeen said...

Oh boy, this seems to be the question of the day. My favourite topic. :)

I'm a sucker for all kinds of heroes. The funny, charming, light hero who loves life and is just waiting to settle down. He's flirty, well off, has lots of fun friends.

But the dark, brooding, tortured hero is who I'll fall for every time. Dry humour, maybe one close friend who really doesn't know him that well even though he's been around forever. He owns the world, stomps around without a care, exudes danger.

Emma! I am so excited to read that book. You have me hooked with that hero already.

Stacy~ said...

I agree Valeen. He sounds yummy. Emma, would you say this is as sexy as Beyond Innocence or Personal Assets? How would you compare it to those books?

Mary Stella said...

Wow. I must read this book!

Anonymous said...

My husband is my favorite hero ;-) --he's tall (6'3"), dark, has piercing blue-grey eyes, and a tragic past...really! He is a total marshmallow with our kids, and has a truly bizarre sense of humor. He can also be a real pain in the....lol, anyway....I love him in spite of it! Because of it?

I loved Lucien, Emma--can hardly wait to get All U Can Eat. And Stacy? I agree about Zarek--although, didn't Valerius just break your heart, too? I enjoy lots of different kinds of heroes( o.k., so men are just yummy...), but I suppose the "bad boys" will always grab my attention.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

All right. Let me say this: I love erotic romance. It's just my favorite. But it has to be written perfectly with a plot and everything. I know. I'm so exacting.

Emma's AUCE has it all. And, may I say -- as many of you know my predilection for descriptions of a certain male appendage, and men who are Big in All Ways -- this book was a veritable feast.

It is not for the faint of heart. But it is funny and wild, and brave in that Emma Holly way.

That said. Escondita, gosh I love your name, your husband sounds like a great romance novel hero. Yeah, yeah, TDH (tall, dark, handsome), mush inside. But it's "the pain in the...lol" that makes the romance hero every time.

Hi, Mary Stella! Good to see you here. :)

Now, It's usually my rule never to talk about another author when we're featuring a different one. But since you bring up the DH, Stace and Valeen,: I know Zarek is popular, and I dig the same things you do. But Valerius gets me. It's, of course, the Italian thing. But that image of the brilliant general on his knees in supplication before the herione that gets me.

Stace, I think I have a NK cover. The Marriage Trap by Tracy Ann Warren. It's part of a series, he may be on others.

Julie in Ohio said...

TDH has my vote. But even more than that is his attitude. My hero needs to be witty, charming, but at the same time mysterious. I like it when he has a side that only his heroine gets to see.

Manda Collins said...

Wow! Jack West definitely made a case for himself...Definitely love that gruff exterior surrounding a core of vulnerability. It's a tough combination to beat.

I do like TDH types, but I also like the lighthearted types too. Sometimes I need to switch things up for variety's sake. Otherwise I start to feeling like TDH is just a stereotype and it loses power.

Definitely love some witty banter--and EH is very good at that.

Looking forward to AUCE...

Emma Holly said...

Hey, everybody, thanks for coming! Oh, I'm a Sherilyn Kenyon fan, too, but I don't remember all the names. Which one was the dishboy who always had his hair in his eyes? I think he's my favorite so far. Sherilyn really has a way with those tortured heroes!

Stacy, it's hard for me to predict which book you'll find sexiest, but AUCE is certainly one of my favorite of my contemporaries. I love Jack and Frankie and--this has nothing to do with sexiness--but I'm really pleased with myself for fitting a whole mystery plot in there.

Escondita, it's lovely to have a hero for a husband, even if he does occasionally drive you nuts *g*

Thanks for appreciating my witty banter, Mandacoll. Jack's not a totally tortured hero--not like, say, Lucius from COURTING MIDNIGHT. He has too much of a sense of humor to let himself be completely dark.

Emma Holly said...

Michelle, I'm so glad you liked AUCE! It's always a pleasure to please the picky *g*

Valeen said...

I was so sucked in by Zarek that I could never move over to the Valerius camp. Even after Zarek seemed to forgive him.

I love that you, Michelle, pointed out that its the 'pain in the ass' factor that helps makes a hero as well. It just adds something to them. So frustrating but mine makes me laugh and thats what really counts somedays.

amy kennedy said...

Oooh, I love the tortured and or damaged hero--Jack sounds perfict in an imperfect way, you know?

But I too like the lighthearted jokester as well--perhaps they're all my favorites as I read about them or meet them.

I can't wait to read AUCE--seriously--the first book of yours, Emma, that I read was Strange Attractions--and I do go on about it all the time--but I'm on the treadmill reading it and, well, sheesh--talk about a work-out.

I know--I know TMI.

Valeen said...

I lent Strange Attractions to a friend of mine a little while ago and she came by today asking for more. LOL

Emma Holly said...

Amy, I don't usually recommend that people read my books in public, but it it got your heart pumping, I guess that's alright!

Valeen, now that your friend is hooked you could, of course, gently point out that she could buy her own *g*

Rach said...

Emma, I reccommended the "Beyond" duo to a girlfriend. She picked them up, came to work the other day and said, "OH MY GAWD!!" Yup, she loved 'em too *grin*, but was a wee smidge disturbed her husband was outta town that evening...

I've got AUCE in my Amazon shopping cart ready to go =). I can't wait. Jack seems like my kind of hero--the not quite perfect type.

Michele said...

Emma, the tortured hero with the hair in the eyes was Wren - a Tigard. That time travel bit really helped tie up the HEA. Loved that book. Loved him!
(Vane is special too tho)

I did a spot on my blog about Hot Spell. Raved about it actually, combined with a blurb on Nathan Kamp and I was in blogging nirvana. LOL

Your new one sounds like a must buy for me. Haven't seen it for sale around me yet. But I'll be on the look out, rest assured!

Strange attraction was my first exposure to certain relationship topics. I must say, you write with style! What could have put me off, left me begging for more!
How do you write those scenes anyway? I mean,.. *blush* usually the adage is "write what you know".. *ahem* how did you write it so convincingly?????

No matter the answer, I am SO glad you do what you do cuz you do it so well.
Love ya!!!!

Emma Holly said...

Thanks, rachd. I hope you enjoy it!

You know, michele, if I constrained myself to "what I know," I wouldn't have written a single book! My feeling is, if you make the human beings seem like human beings, the rest falls into place. Also, a good imagination doesn't hurt *g*. Thanks for raving about Hot Spell on your blog!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thanks for stopping in, Emma. I love that you bring up the notion of humanity of characters. For me, it's the one factor that makes an erotic romance great, and is sorely missing from much ER and erotica, especially the faux stuff springing up everywhere these days.

You know, Michele, what you say about discovering "certain relationship topics" is important in a discussion of Emma's work. I find that her erotic scenes which deal with sex are woven smoothly within the plot and story. One doesn't read it and feel: Oh, now Emma's describing a menage! Now she's shocking us with a new toy used in a naughty manner. How precious!

One simply reads well-crafted writing that shows humans experiencing erotic pleasure for varying reasons, always having to do with their motivations and needs. Never with the writer's need to stroke her ego, as it were.

Very few writers understand how to write erotic and sexual tension the way Emma Holly does. I've never met a reader who's a fan of hers who doesn't report feeling lovely sensations while reading Emma Holly. And that's what it's all about.

Wren. One of best D-H to date, IMO.

Stacy~ said...

Hey Emma, I picked up AUCE tonight and can't wait to start it! Sounds wickedly yummy.

What I liked about Beyond Innocence was how Florence's naivete' made the story that much hotter. That might not sound very politically correct, but I thought it really worked for the story. It was erotic and sexy and romantic.

Michelle, thanx for the heads-up on another NK cover. I, um, have been working a lot lately on that project & went from about 45 to over 100! LOL. Maybe it's wishful thinking that I'm seeing him everywhere???

amy kennedy said...

Michelle, that is why I love Emma's erotica--my disbelief is suspended, yes? Because it all works within the relationship(s).

Oh, and PERFICT? Maybe I made up a new word--maybe not.

My husband shaves his head, which works for me as well.

Emma Holly said...

Thanks, everyone. I hope you enjoy All U Can Eat!

ann said...

Just testing