Please welcome my guest today, my good friend and critique partner, bestselling, award-winning author Helen Hardt! She's here to talk a little about her latest release Thai'd Up, a bestseller at The Wild Rose Press's WilderRoses, and a few other fun subjects - heroes, highlights in the year of a debut author, and BDSM. ;) Sound good? Read on! And if you comment, you're in the running to win a PDF copy of Helen's April release, Passion in Paris! Winner will be announced this Sunday, May 31st.
Your release schedule this year is incredible, but just last year, you were a debut author. What is the most surprising thing you've learned this year? And what was the biggest highlight?
I’ve learned that I need to put my writing first. Okay, I know that doesn’t sound all that surprising. I’m a writer. Of course I should put my writing first. But it’s amazing how easy it is to get bogged down in promotion. I found my days slipping away with email, blogs, loops, and my freelance editing. Somehow my own writing got pushed to the back burner. This month, I’ve given myself a challenge to get two hours of writing in before I look at email or anything else. I don’t always get the whole two hours in, but I have been producing 1K+ new words per day pretty consistently. It feels good to be able to get to the rest of my responsibilities knowing my writing for the day is done. I’m a writer first. Without new stories to sell, the rest of what I do won’t last long!
As for the biggest highlight? Probably getting a contract from Ellora’s Cave. The editor gave me some wonderful compliments about my story and my writing. I’m really excited to be on board with EC!
Tell us what your inspiration was for Thai'd Up. Did the exotic setting of Thailand come first or the premise?
Neither, LOL. The title came to me first. Come on, with that title, I had to write the book, didn’t I? I love the Destination Pleasure series over at The Wild Rose Press, Wilder Roses. I had already written two (Seduced in Seoul and Passion in Paris) and wanted to write another. I’ve been to both Seoul and Paris, but not to Bangkok, where TU takes place. But when that title popped into my head, I knew there was a story there. I began to research Thailand, found the red light district of Patpong, and the plot blossomed from there.
Speaking of inspiration, tell us a little about your hero and why he's so irresistible to Heidi.
Ah, the Phantom… Who can resist the man behind the mask? He’s a Dominant, which means he enjoys the dominant relationship in BDSM. Like any good Dominant, he’s concerned with the pleasure and the safety of his submissive. He knows Heidi is a BDSM virgin, and he takes this into consideration and initiates her gently.
As to why Heidi finds him irresistible – besides the fact that he’s gorgeous, LOL – first, the mystery. He’s masked, and he owns a BDSM club, which is also a mystery to Heidi, one she’s wondered about for a while, though has never had the nerve to explore. A foreign city and a masked man help ease her inhibitions. Then there’s the instant connection – you know the one, when you meet the eyes of someone you’re attracted to from across the room and energy seems to sizzle between you? That happens for Heidi with Phantom.
Thai'd Up dabbles in light BDSM. Why do you think some women - and men ;) - find elements of that lifestyle intriguing?
Probably for the same reason Heidi does – the mystery. There’s also the trust factor. BDSM takes a lot of trust, not only for the submissive, but also for the Dominant. In this way, it can bring a couple closer. Then of course, there’s the spice it can add to a relationship ;). Trying something new is always exciting.
Since I already mentioned your dizzying '09 release schedule, what can we look forward to from you next?
I have a novella coming out on June 5. The Outlaw’s Angel is part of a western historical anthology called Lawmen and Outlaws in The Wild Rose Press’s Cactus line. Next up will be Blood Wolf, a dark paranormal novel that won the Got Wolf? Contest sponsored by The Wild Rose Press. It will release in October in an anthology with one of the other winners. In November, my first Ellora’s Cave story will release. Slow and Wet will be part of EC’s “Wet” theme. I have one more Destination Pleasure coming, though I don’t know when. Montego Lay is set in – you guessed it ;) – Montego Bay, Jamaica.
After that, who knows? I’m still looking for the perfect home for my cowboys – three Colorado brothers who star in my contemporary western series. I also have two more historical novellas, a cougar story, and an erotic novella in the works.
Last but not least...they say every author falls a little in love with their heroes. You've already amassed quite a stable of them. ;) Does one of your men stand head and shoulders above the rest? Why?
I fall in love with each hero I create. If I don’t, I know something’s not working. That has actually happened, believe it or not. Sometimes I can fix it, sometimes not, in which case I move on to another project. Out of all my contracted heroes, I’d have to say my favorite is Bobby Morgan in The Outlaw’s Angel, with Blaise Dartagnan from Passion in Paris a close second. And okay, I’ll add a third ;). Damian MacGowan in Blood Wolf. These men are all strong and passionate and a little haunted. Very sexy.
Is your appetite whetted for Thai'd Up? I thought so! Here's the blurb:
Visiting Bangkok to do an interview for her employer, Heidi Clarke is intrigued by the wild and raucous nightlife. When a handsome and engaging stranger, dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, offers to escort her into a BDSM club, she's too curious to refuse. As the man behind the mask introduces Heidi to new and exciting pleasures of the flesh, she can't help but wonder who he is. Or if she really wants to know.
Now go forth and comment!
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 www.helenhardt.com and www.helensheroes.blogspot.com