I'm very excited to welcome author Helen Hardt as my guest today. Helen and I met last summer due to our freelance editing for an e-publisher, and we've become great friends and critique partners. I'm thrilled to be celebrating her latest release with her, Passion in Paris, which is already a bestseller! You can buy it at the Wilder Roses of The Wild Rose Press for only 99 cents through the month of April. Talk about a smokin' bargain! And if that's not enough, check out her amazing contest at the end of this blog.
Here's the blurb for Passion in Paris:
Attempting to overcome her fear of heights by visiting the top of the Eiffel Tower, Raine never expects to end up in the arms of a gorgeous Frenchman. But after fainting in the tower’s elevator, that’s where she awakens. Blaise is young, charming, and hot, so why, Raine wonders, is he attracted to her? And why does she have the strange feeling she’s seen him somewhere before?
Your new story for the Wilder Roses at The Wild Rose Press, Passion in Paris, is short, hot and set in France. Not only was your first novella, Seduced in Seoul, a Destination Pleasure story, so is Thai'd Up, your upcoming novella set in Thailand. How do you do your research? And how does an international setting add additional flavor to an already spicy story?
I love writing about exotic locations—they just seem to scream romance, don’t they? And the setting almost becomes another character. In Passion, the Eiffel Tower plays a significant role in the story. I’ve been to Seoul and to Paris, so I didn’t have to do a whole lot of research. I did research apartments in Paris to get a feel for Blaise’s home. As for Thai’d Up, I’ve never been to Thailand. I came up with the title first, and after that, I had to write the story, LOL. When I started to research Bangkok and discovered the red light district of Patpong, I knew I had a winning setting for an erotic story.
One of the things I enjoy most about your work is how much story you pack into so few words. Why do you like writing short? Any tips for those of us who are hoping to try a short, erotic or otherwise?
I actually never thought I’d write short. My first short story, Seduced in Seoul, was the product of writer’s block. I was struggling with a longer project and decided to try writing an erotic short for fun. It came out well, so I submitted it. The best part is, the fog cleared, and my longer project was back on track. Since then, I’ve completed numerous short stories and have found I really enjoy writing them. It’s a good way for some instant gratification. Writing a 100,000 word novel can seem pretty daunting.
It’s not easy cramming a beginning, middle, and end into 5000 words. In fact, I usually go closer to 10,000, though I did write a 500 word mini-tale for a contest once. Now that was a challenge! For me, the key is character. I have very few words to get my reader to relate to and sympathize with my characters. Deep point of view is essential, as are sensory detail and emotion. As for plot, there’s a lot of truth in this old piece of advice for writing shorts:
Put a man up a tree
Throw stones at him
Get him down
That’s actually pretty good advice for any story, but particularly a short. You only need one conflict, so make it a great one. If you’re writing erotic romance, get them in the sack, introduce the conflict, then get them back in the sack. And do this with heart-pounding emotion and vivid use of all five senses.
You write in many different genres: erotic, historical, paranormal and contemporary. Any other genres you'd love to try? Of them all, do you have a particular favorite and why?
Basically, I write in the genres I like to read, and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite. My favorite is the story I’m writing at the time, LOL. You won’t ever find me writing Inspirational or Romantic Suspense. I don’t have it in me. As for Urban Fantasy? I’ll never say never. I find the genre fascinating, but I need my happily ever after. There’s always a possibility I might venture out of romance. I have a young adult fantasy fiction manuscript sitting around collecting dust.
In Passion In Paris, why is sexy Blaise the perfect hero for Raine?
Because he’s young, gorgeous, and hot? Ah, too easy. This is an erotic short, so instead of a happily ever after, we have a happy for now. Anything else would be unrealistic. But I envision Blaise and Raine staying together. They have an instant sexual chemistry, of course, but that’s not what will keep them together. Raine suffers from a fear of heights and a lack of self-esteem. Blaise’s compassionate nature helps her deal with both of these issues. And Raine helps Blaise fight his own demons…but you’ll have to read the story to find out what they are ;).
What are you working on now, and what can we expect next from you?
I have lots of releases scheduled for 2009 – it’s gearing up to be a busy year! On June 5, I have a western historical novella, The Outlaw’s Angel, coming in a Wild Rose Press anthology called Lawmen and Outlaws. Thai’d Up, my third Destination Pleasure short, doesn’t have a release date yet, but will probably be out sometime this summer. In October, my paranormal novel, Blood Wolf, which won The Wild Rose Press’s Got Wolf? Contest last year, will release. And in November, Slow and Wet, a contemporary western erotic short, will be released by Ellora’s Cave as part of their wet theme.
I’m currently working on a cougar story that a friend of mine asked me to write for her publisher. I also have a Native American historical novella in the works. But my babies are my cowboys. I have a series of award-winning contemporary western novels that center around three Colorado brothers, and I’m searching for a good home for them.
Fantasy time! If you had to pick an exotic locale from your own stories where you could hook up with a hot, mysterious stranger, would you pick Seoul, France or Thailand? (And I won't tell your dh! LOL) Why?
Since I speak French, I should probably say France, LOL. But then again, we learned the importance of body language in Seduced in Seoul. I’d have to go with Paris anyway. It’s such a romantic city. Strolling through the Louvre hand in hand while breathing in the work of the great masters is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Or a whole day – there’s that much in the Louvre! Then dinner at a sidewalk café where the food is delicious and the wine is unparalleled. In the evening as the sun sets, a Bateau Mouche ride along the Seine with a gorgeous stranger like Blaise… But I have my own handsome hero at home, and he is who I’d take with me ;).
Thank you for having me Cari!
I’m running a contest to celebrate the release of Passion in Paris. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me Raine’s real name. You can find it hidden on my blog, www.helensheroes.blogspot.com. Don’t post it in a comment and give it away, LOL. The contest will close at midnight EST next Friday, April 17. I’ll draw a name, and the winner will receive a Barnes and Noble gift card. And I’ll throw in something extra special if you can tell me why she doesn’t use her real name. For that one, you’ll have to read the story ;).
Helen Hardt is an attorney and stay-at-home mom turned award-winning romance author and freelance editor. She met her real-life hero in law school, and they live in Colorado with their two teenage sons. Helen writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance. Her non-writing interests include Harley rides with Her husband, attending her sons’ sports and music performances, traveling, and Taekwondo (she’s a blackbelt.)
Visit Helen at http://www.helenhardt.com/ and http://www.helensheroes.blogspot.com/