This month, Coffee Time Romance and More welcomes Mahogany SilverRain to sit down with us and chat about her work, her passions and why her background is integral to her writing style.
Welcome Mahogany! It’s so nice to meet you. You seem to be a relative newcomer to the romance publishing world. Please tell us how this came to pass and have you done a lot of writing in the past?
I've always liked writing, mostly short stories and poetry. I won an award in high school for a poem about my identity crisis. I was a shy girl who appears to be simply African American, but I'm actually of mixed heritage. Going to a private school from elementary to middle school made for a tough transition to a public high school. I was ridiculed for my speech and mannerisms as being "too white", in fact, I was called "Snow White" by my black peers. It was a painful time and that's when I starting writing my most memorable poetry. But being shy, I was afraid of showing my poetry to others until my high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. Cinda McCabe, encouraged me to write. She also introduced me to the writings of Katherine Woodiwiss and I fell in love with historical romance novels. I had never attempted to write romance before, but I kept a journal and it included some actual "encounters" I've had and my closest friend told me I should write a book. I started by posting a short adult blog on yahoo and got such wonderful feedback that I decided to write my erotic stories for publishing.
Kathleen Woodiwiss sure influenced a lot of romance writers! So, tell us a bit about yourself, Mahogany.
I'm originally from New Orleans, LA. Being a military brat, I've also lived in parts of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Georgia. I'm Haitian/Choctaw/Creole French. I'm married, half of an interracial couple, my husband is Dutch/French/Italian. We just celebrated our first anniversary in January. He is my biggest fan and supporter. I write full time as of last year. I have also written and published one of my children's stories, "My Rainbow Family" and was voted best new author by Barnes and Noble in October 2007, under another pen name. We have five children between the two of us, four are currently living at home.
I've been a flight attendant, a substitute teacher, an office manager and formerly a vice-president of a transportation company. But none of those could compare to the joy and satisfaction I get from writing. I know the more I write, the better I will become.
That’s a diverse resume! You write some steamy erotica with a paranormal and ethnic flair. Tell me who your favorite men to envision as your heroes are for your writing.
My favorite male characters are Azazel, the fire throwing wizard, and Jason, the panther shapeshifting bartender in LOVE BYTES: A VAMPIRE TALE. I put the qualities of my husband into both of them. I also used my husband as a model for Jacques Bocuse in CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE. My husband used to be an executive chef and it was for him that I wrote CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE.
What made Erotica appealing to you as a genre?
I really like romance, but found erotica more appealing because of the sensuality of it. It's a form of art. The looks, the emotion, the attraction, the anticipation of that first kiss and/or touch…all the things that make our hearts flutter, warm our blood, our most primal instincts taking over. Being in that moment, the loss of inhibition, just passion. Our passion is what drives us; or it does me, anyway. ;)
Do you have any writing rituals?
I love to have my hot tea, usually chamomile or green tea. But there is nothing like a cherry coke to get things rolling! I write mostly at night, listening to music sometimes, mostly India Arie or jazz as I'm writing the erotic scenes and Korn or Disturbed as I write a fight scene. My black computer chair has a shiatsu massage pad for when I've been sitting too long.
That sounds delightful! What is your writing space like? Are you a 'creative organizer' or a neat-freak?
I'm definitely a 'creative organizer', but I know what's in each and every pile! I do have a file cabinet, but I place things on my desk marked to go into certain files. I can always tell when someone has been using my computer because they move my piles around!
I know what that’s like! What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being in the writing industry?
My favorite part in the writing industry is the actual writing, creating something out of my imagination, getting lost in my own little world I've created. My least favorite, of course, is self-promotion. There is still a part of me that is shy at times. That young girl sweating bullets because she's not sure she will be accepted. I've never been afraid to speak my mind, at least after I became an adult, that is. I've learned to take the good with the bad and totally understand that not everything I write will be liked by everyone. But the worst for me is self-editing, going back to make sure all the i's have been dotted and my grammar and spelling are correct. Well, not the grammar of my character's dialogue. lol!
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
I really like Ann Rice's novels, her Vampire Chronicles and her Sleeping Beauty series. I love how she tells the story from the vampire's point of view. I like the Sleeping Beauty series because I'm into BDSM myself as a switch (can be Dominant or submissive, currently happy being submissive to my hubby) and I can appreciate the stories. I also love the style of Laurell K. Hamilton, both authors use the first person and you really feel all of the emotions and struggles that the characters convey. Both of the series, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter and the Merry Gentry series, are incredible! I love the strong female characters in Hamilton's books.
But the authors who truly inspire my particular style of writing are Mercedes Keyes and Rae Lori. Both are terrific women, great writers and incredible graphic artists. Mercedes' Websterfield Trilogy, a historical interracial romance, is awesome! Mercedes encouraged me and critiqued my writing, and Rae was a godsend on helping me navigate the romance/erotica genre and community, showing me how to write query letters and such. Their advice and time spent with me is greatly appreciated and I will do the same with other new writers as well.
What kind of men and women are your favorite to write about? What about favorite to read about?
My favorite men and women to write about are multi-ethnic characters. Our society is so blended, I don't think anyone can say they are pure 'anything'! (Not to mention that our brand new President is bi-racial himself, which I think is awesome!) Personally, I love the contrasts of the skin tones, and because race mixing was so taboo only forty or so years ago in this country, (the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in 1957 in the Lovings vs. Virginia case), and still is in some places here in the deep south, I like writing about couples who love regardless of race, color, creed, etc. My husband and I get lots of stares as do other couples like us. In some ways I think interracial relationships are harder and it takes a lot of commitment to each other and to the fact that others, like family members or friends, may not agree with your decision of whom to love. It's the ultimate love story, love against the odds!
I guess that's why I really love the Merry Gentry series of Laurell K. Hamilton. The fae folk are of many different races and beautiful colors, and I think it makes the love scenes so much more erotic.
Please tell us a little about your book and your coming projects.
My book, EBONY ENCOUNTERS, is about three women who find unexpected passion, romance and love. I chose these three short stories because I like contemporary romance/erotica as well as paranormal romance/erotica, my favorite being the paranormal story. I like to mix things up and since I like fantasy, magic and vampires, LOVE BYTES was born from that. I've also never read where the lead female character/heroine was a vampire, much less an ethnic one, so I thought why not? Dominique LeRoy is a strong character who is not afraid to do other than what is expected of her. She is half vampire and half human and a day walker with blood that can heal. She has powers of telepathy and telekinesis, which I think makes her interesting and dangerous to her enemies. Yet she is not invincible. The fact that she even considers a human for a mate, after being with a vampire for more than a century, shows her willingness to step outside everything she knows to explore the unknown.
In THE UNEXPECTED MENTOR, I shed some light on the world of BDSM, (Bondage/Domination/Sado-Masochism for the vanilla world). I like strong female characters that have a soft sensual side to them as well. Toni Henderson has worked hard to get where she is, being tough so people could take her seriously. Meeting Kyle, she stays tough but he also brings out an inner desire that she had not expressed before and she brings out in him something he never expected, either.
In CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE, we see another tough female, Gabrielle St. John, who doesn't back down to the egotistical chef and restaurant owner, Jacques Bocuse. The beautiful background of the Beaujolais vineyards of Lyon, France is the perfect setting for this tale. In this story, I get to have a little fun with food including a food fight! (but on the erotic side, think about the movie, 9 1/2 wks.) ;)
My next project in the works is my first novel, THE BLOOD ROSE. It features the characters from LOVE BYTES in EBONY ENCOUNTERS. The continuing story of Dominique LeRoy. I explore what makes Dominique tick, giving more on her background and origins, plus the background of the other main characters, the wizard Azazel/Richard Montague, the French vampire Asmodeus, the Cajun were-leopard/panther shifter, Jason LeBlanc, and Aanar, the Asian Vampire Queen of NYC, her lovers and closest friends. Plus, an interesting cast of characters, witches, wizards, and vampires who are her friends and a friend who may just be an enemy. I introduce the vampire council and the origins of each member, my own version of how vampires and shifters came to be. Also the wizard council and how they are apart of this world of vampires and shifters. I've done a lot of research and it really shows in this book. There will be fight scenes, chases, magic and of course, lots of erotica revolved around Dominique's club, The Blood Rose. Here's a blurb from this novel:
In New Orleans, a city filled with Voodoo, witchcraft, and creatures of the night, lives the only telepathic, day walking vampire in existence…born to a Voodoo priestess slave and a plantation owner under a blood moon. With the death of her century-long vampire mate, she becomes the most sought after prize by every power hungry vampire in the country. With the combined powers of Dominique and her alliances with the were-leopards and magical community, she poses a threat to the vampire council and, unless she turns the wizard into a vampire to prove her loyalty, they both will be marked for death. Will Azazel allow Dominique to sire him or watch the woman he loves choose a vampire in order to protect them both?
Sounds delightful. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Mahogany, and good luck with your books!