Today's intimate interview is with Rhonda Leigh Jones, the author of Maestro's Butterfly, which was reviewed the other day. I'm excited to share her with you today as we're going to be discussing audio books, epublishing, her books, writing and more!
Q: I have just finished listening to Maestro's Butterfly on audio and it was wonderful. What was your inspiration for the book?
A: First of all, thank you for listening, and for having such kind things to say. For me, characters usually come before story, and so I was aware of Claudio for some time before I began to write MB. I didn't know his name at first; I just had a face and the hint of personality. That actually came from a minor character in a movie I'd watched.
Q: Have you had the chance to hear your audio book? How did you feel hearing your writing the first time?
A: It was both thrilling and painful! Thrilling because Rebecca did such a wonderful job. I really wasn't expecting French accents and the whole nine yards, and so it was a great pleasure to hear someone "act" my story. But hearing her say some of the things I'd written made me blush terribly. I kept putting my hands over my ears and saying, "No, turn it off; turn it off!" And then, "Turn it back on!" I can't believe I write these things, lol.
Q: What do you think of your narrator and the voices? Did she give you chills? My favorite voice was that of Claudio. Shiver. Grin.
A: Yes, it's pretty amazing that, on one level, you hear this woman reading the part, and on another level, you hear his voice, at the same time. I think she did a great job with Claudio. He was so much fun to write. If I have a character that could be considered my "Lestat," meaning that I love him as much as Anne Rice obviously loved Lestat, then that would be Claudio. He's such a beast, lol. There is an interview with him on my blog by the way, and another with Chloe.
Q: Do you think readers get more out of the audio version than they do in the print?
A: I think it depends on the reader. And I think it's hard for the writer to say, because I'm so close to the material. I personally get a lot out of the audio version because I've been looking at this book in print for years, and I'm fairly sick of seeing the words. But when it comes to me in a different format, it's like experiencing the story for the first time. For the first time, I can really step back and see - or hear, rather - what I did. I'm very glad there is an audio version because I know that there are plenty of people who would rather experience books that way. And who knows? Maybe some readers will like the story so much they have to experience it both ways.
Q: Do you prefer listening to or reading erotica?
A: I would rather read it because, honestly, I tend to skip a lot. I'm a very tough customer, and easily bored. Especially when it comes to sex, because my buttons are hard to reach. And I'm a very visual person. And if I'm terribly interested in a story, I'll devour it quickly, which you can't do with audio.
Q: Can you share a bit about Maestro's Apprentice and Maestro's Maker? What order should your books be read or does it matter?
A: Maker is the second in the series, but it's actually the prequel. It's the story of how Claudio became a vampire, and it's set at the beginning of the French Revolution. "Claudio" is actually an Italian name, so we see how he got that. If you look beyond Claudio's arrogance and his frightening qualities, you'll see that he really is a very loyal man who is very concerned with family. Maker goes into that, and also reveals some of the reasons why that is true. And there is another person in the book that Butterfly readers will know. Apprentice takes place right after Butterfly, and focuses more on Adam, although it's really more about one of the feeders. All of these books are really about how Claudio affected other people. So, though he's the series main character, the books have their own main characters-the women he has affected.
Q: Of the three works, which is your personal favorite and why?
A: Easy! Maestro's Butterfly, because it was the first. It was the work that really taught me how to write a novel. I suffered terribly while writing it because I wasn't sure at first what the story was, but Claudio's presence was so strong I couldn't stop tinkering with it. It was a very romantic time of my life. I spent many late nights working for my vampire muse. And it led to my meeting one of my best friends, who is also a writer with a sexy vampire. We would both be up working late, and so ended up emailing and supporting each other quite a lot.
Q: I sort of have this mental picture of Claudio in my head and you mentioned earlier that he was inspired by a minor character... so dish if he were played in a movie by an actor, who would it be?
A: LOL! Stephen Rea, because he looks like Rea's Santiago in Interview With the Vampire. Except that was 20 years ago, so Rea is a bit older now, so we'd have to get someone younger. But Victoire would definitely have to be played by Adrien Brody, lol.
Q: Tell us a little about your experience with Ravenous Romance and epublishing. How are you finding the whole affair?
A: That would be so much easier to answer if I had something to compare it to! They've been very good about keeping in touch and troubleshooting things and listening to me. I know that friends who are published by traditional publishers have communication issues that I don't have. And if a mistake is made, it's very easy for Ravenous to fix it. They seem very enthusiastic about what they're doing. In addition, I think they're on the cutting edge, because the industry is changing, thanks to the alternatives that technology gives us and the shifting economy. I really like the idea of epublishing for various reasons. It's greener. It's convenient. You can have so many more books this way. So I've been happy with the experience. And I think the name is perfect, since my first series happens to be about vampires!
Q: What do you think makes a great [written] bedroom scene?
A: I'm glad you asked me this, because almost everybody does it wrong. A great sex scene is all about the conversation. It isn't enough to tell readers who is doing what to whom. Let's face it: Sex is basically "insert Tab A into Slot B." The rest is foreplay and there are only so many variations. Once you see where a scene is going, physically, you don't need to read the rest. However, if the scene is about how and why this or that is done, then you have a conversation. If you stress the conversation, then you have as many unique scenes as you want to write. The conversation of sex is going to be different at different times, even with the same couple. The actions should show mood, power structure, and whatever else is going on in the person's mind.
For instance, think about blow jobs and power. If the dominant male demands that his submissive female give him a blow job and she complies happily, that is one story. But what if she is angry with him? That should come out in the scene. What if it is a dominant female giving her submissive male a blow job? What if she is angry with him? See how many different scenes you have? And all with the same act. Nuance is everything.
Q: Got any pet peeves when it comes to romance or writing?
A: I hate HEAs. I do. I like a certain realism in writing and I don't want things tied up neatly at the end. It seems silly to me. So I write Happy For Nows. I like to have the suggestion of motion present, even at the very end. I prefer grit and darkness, which is why I write about things like punishment. Real corporal punishment is something you will see in every erotica story I ever write. As far as writing in general goes, I don't like it when authors get so happy about what they can do with words that they forget to tell a good story. If you must sacrifice prose or story, sacrifice prose.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
A: I can't think of anything at the moment, but something may come later.
It was a pleasure to talk with you Rhonda! Be sure to check out Rhonda's blog at http://rhondaleigherotica.blogspot.com.