Hi all! Today we're sitting down with Lisabet Sarai to chat with her about her writing and her Eternal Press release, Ruby's Rules.
EP: Tell us about Ruby's Rules. With a heat level of five flames and a genre of erotica/bdsm, this story is for the grown ups. How sexy is it?
Lisabet: Ruby's Rules is quite graphic and intense. It includes dominance and submission, bondage and discipline, anal penetration, lesbian activity, even a brief male-male encounter. At the same time, the book
is primarily a romance, the story of a relationship between two individuals who are strongly attracted to each other even though they are rivals. Both Ruby and Rick are people who use their sexuality as a weapon to further their ambitions. In Ruby's Rules, that backfires as
their mutual desire unravels their schemes and strategems.
EP: This story is told in first person with the reader as Ruby Chen. How difficult was it to write it in this style?
Lisabet: Actually, the story is told by alternating characters: Ruby, Rick, and Ruby's trusted assistant Margaret. I'm very comfortable writing in first person; I find that this allows me to give the character a distinctive voice that makes him or her more realistic. First person also brings emotional immediacy to a story. However, rotating the narration among three characters was a bit difficult. I had to keep careful track of what each character knew, which was particularly tricky in this story where the characters are trying to hide things from each other.
EP: I know there are scenes in Hollywood Hills and London, have you ever visited these places or plan to someday? Do Ruby and her hunky adversary, Rick get to meet up in Malaysia too?
Lisabet: I lived in Los Angeles for several years, and know the region fairly well. Rick's house above Malibu is based on a place I glimpsed once while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway. As far as London is concerned, I've visited there, but many years ago. Fortunately, most of the London scenes are set in Ruby's office. Offices are pretty much
the same everywhere! The Proscenium club where Ruby first meets Rick is entirely imagined.
This book does not include any scenes set in Malaysia. If Ruby's Rules sells well, I might consider a sequel partially set there. I have done quite a lot of traveling in Asia, and I think I could do a convincing job portraying the country.
EP: Do you write your erotica under a pseudonym? Why or why not?
Lisabet: Yes, Lisabet Sarai is a pen name. My real name is so ordinary that nobody would ever remember it, or buy a book with that name on the cover! Raw Silk, my first erotic romance, is set in Thailand. I wanted a pseudonym that sounded exotic, but with ambiguous ethnicity. At this
point, I've published enough that "Lisabet Sarai" has become my "brand". I couldn't really change it even if I wanted to.
EP: Often there's heated discussion on what is erotica and when it becomes pornography. What's your take on it?
Lisabet: That's always a contentious question. I don't believe that there is a hard and fast line. In general, though, I think that pornography is characterized by its focus on the physical aspects of sex. Erotica, in
contrast, concerns itself with the emotional, psychological, even the spiritual aspects of sexuality. The goal of pornography is to arouse the reader. Erotica may also have that effect, but its goals are more complex: to explore how people react and interact in the realm of the senses and to capture the experience of desire. An erotic story may not include any orgasm. In fact, it might not even include sexual intercourse. Unfulfilled erotic yearning can be more
powerful and intense than than an actual coupling. On the other hand, a porn story in which the characters don't come would be considered highly unsatisfactory.
EP: What inspires you to write?
Lisabet: I think that it's an addiction! I've been writing all my life, although I've only been published within the last decade. I wrote my first novel on a lark; reading a Black Lace title by Portia da Costa got me thinking, I'll bet I could write something like that. Now I write for fun, and to please my readers.
I like to challenge myself to try new genres and approaches. Each of my novels is quite different from the others. Money is a nice validation - people will actually pay to read my work! - but I couldn't make a living writing. It's possible to do so, with a huge amount of effort, but I
think that the pressure would dry up the wells of creativity.
Lately I've been writing for the good of humanity, too. There is a series of philanthropic erotica anthologies (the Coming Together series), which donate all proceeds to various charities. I've had stories in three of them so far. The latest volume, Coming Together: With Pride, benefits AIDS research. Coming Together: For the Cure,
targeting breast cancer research, won an EPPIE award last year in the Best Erotica category.
EP: What do you think of the cover for Ruby's Rules? Did you provide any input as to what it would look like?
Lisabet: I like the cover a lot. Game playing is a recurring theme throughout the novel, so the chess board is very apt. Eternal Press encourages all authors to offer suggestions regarding cover content. I enjoyed working with my cover artist to fine tune her initial concept.
EP: Tell us about your writing process. Some people outline heavily, others see a movie playing in their head. Let us in on yours.
Lisabet: I'm a very linear writer. I begin at Chapter 1 and write continuously until the last chapter. I will go back to reread in order to refresh my memory or to tweak earlier sections of a book, but rarely will I make major changes. I'm dumbfounded by writers who claim to skip around, writing first one scene and then another that is disconnected in time.
I'd say that my writing is primarily a character-driven exploration. I will start with the characters and a basic scenario, and begin to write. As I write, the characters reveal themselves, and the plot unfolds. I don't do formal character sketches, and I don't generally use anything more than a rough outline. When I get stuck, I ask my characters what happens next. And sometimes, my characters reveal
aspects of their character that I never expected. In Ruby's Rules, Margaret undergoes a really surprising transformation (which I won't reveal so as to not spoil things for my readers). This was completely unplanned, but when it happened, I couldn't fight it.
EP: You can decline to answer this one but we're dying to find out how much Lisabet is in Ruby. Is she like you in temperament and lifestyle or something you dream you could be? Something else entirely?
Lisabet: In fact, I have less in common with Ruby than with any other of my novel heroines. I'm not nearly so ambitious, so driven to win. I'm more oriented toward cooperation than competition. We do, however,
share some fantasies. Ruby sees herself as dominant, but in her fantasies she is the one surrendering control. Meanwhile, Rick is definitely the sort of man that I'm attracted to: highly intelligent, sexually aware, a challenge rather than a pushover. Also, there are one or two scenes in the book that are loosely based on personal experiences. I'll allow my readers to guess which ones!
EP: Is there anything you would like to talk about that we haven't brought up?
Lisabet: I suspect that some romance readers are wary of trying a book that is billed as BDSM. They're not interested in pain or humiliation; they're worried that they might find D/s scenarios uncomfortable. In my view, BDSM and romance are highly compatible. The essential characteristics of BDSM are trust and communication. I'd like to encourage readers to sample some of my BDSM work - not only Ruby's Rules but also my short story anthology Rough Caress. I think what they will find may be quite different, and a lot more appealing, than their preconceived notions.
EP: Thanks so much for letting us see into the mind of one of our very own erotica writers. Before you step out, please let us know where we can find you online. Website? Book trailer? Blogs? Myspace? Goodreads?
Lisabet: My website, Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory, can be found at http://www.lisabetsarai.com. I blog on MySpace at the moment, at http://www.myspace.com/lisabetsarai, and I have a monthly newsletter which I distribute to a variety of chat groups, including my own group, Lisabet's List (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lisabets_list).
Right now I'm posting a new novel, Calculated Risks, in serial form, exclusively for my list members. I hope that curious readers will join my list, and join the fun!
Welcome Lisabet.Ruby's Rules
Novel: 77,000 words $5.95 Heat Level: 5 flames
Ruby Maxwell Chen, the beautiful and ruthless CEO of a huge British business empire, is used to getting her way. When she encounters American entrepreneur Rick Martell, though, she wonders if she hasn’t finally met her match.
From the trendy clubs of London to the Hollywood Hills, Ruby and Rick compete for ownership of a strategic factory in Malaysia. Neither has any qualms about using sexual wiles to smooth the path to success.
Neither anticipates that their mutual attraction will turn into something more intense and difficult to control.
“Ruby’s Rules by Lisabet Sarai...is an erotic story in the true sense of the word; a bona fide plot with plausible, vibrant characters, and interwoven with lots of hot, graphic sex.” – J.T. Benjamin, Divine Pleasures reviews,