Saturday, July 21, 2012

Interview with Sarah Madison, Erotic Romance Author

Tonya and Brenda are excited to visit with Sarah Madison this week in the romantic city of San Francisco; location for her book Unspeakable Words. Sarah mostly writes Male/Male Erotic Romance but now and then a female voice will tap inside her brain demanding a story. We're standing on a hill overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Such a gorgeous site!

Before we get to the interview, we'd like to introduce Sarah.

About Sarah in her own words:
I'm a writer, veterinarian, event horse rider. I like hiking with the dog in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA, reading a good book curled on the couch with someone I love, and hanging out in the barn on a rainy day. Writing is an addiction--some days I wish there was a 12 step process to cure it, but most days it's what makes me tick.

I write mostly m/m romance with lots of plot, adventure, angst, humor, and a firm belief in happy endings whenever possible.

Naughty Reader’s: Sarah, thanks for inviting us for a chat. Snow Hawkeye is such a beautiful dog. Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Sarah: Yes, he is. Thank you! I do a really wicked Yoda impersonation. And I can mimic dueling cats so accurately that I’ve been known to trigger cat fights. It’s a rather impressive party trick.

Naughty Reader’s: (Brenda) LOL I just love Yoda. What made you want to become a writer?

Sarah: I had no choice. Seriously, it’s a compulsion. I resisted it for years, told myself that I should put away childish things and give up my foolish dreams, but one day I began writing down the stories that were playing in my head. People seemed to like them, which was when I realized that the only thing preventing me from being a writer was me.

Naughty Reader’s: (Tonya)Well, fans are glad you listened to the voices! Please share a bit about your new release Practice Makes Perfect without giving away any spoilers.

Sarah:  Practice Makes Perfect is meant to be just a little light-hearted fun. My main characters are co-workers who just happen to work in outer space. There is no serious world-building or sci-fi battle action—just two guys trying to figure out if they should take things to the next step or not…while not getting killed at work.

Naughty Reader’s: Do you write under a pen name?

Sarah: Yes. I live and work in a small town in a conservative region of the country. I still get the ‘you shouldn’t give away the milk for free’ speech from my mother regarding the relationship between me and my boyfriend. I have lost some friends over the writing. I doubt some of my employers would be too keen on it either. If I made enough money to quit work and write full time, I’d be one happy camper. Until then, the horse needs a new pair of shoes every six weeks…

Naughty Reader’s: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Sarah: Oooooh. Damaged. I like a hero who has lost faith in himself or his path and he needs to find his way again—preferably with the help of people who believe in him.

Naughty Reader’s: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Sarah:  Hah. On a good day, I go to the barn to ride my horse. Afterward, I take the dog for a quick run in the woods. These activities aren’t just good for me physically; I do my best brainstorming and plot-devising while performing mindless barn chores or watching my dog run ahead of me on the trail. Then I come home excited over the scenes that are laid out in full-Technicolor glory in my head, and I madly try to capture them on paper. Two or three hours later, I come up for air, look around, and realize I’ve written two to three thousand words.

On a bad day, I get interrupted or distracted so many times that I can’t get back into the rhythm of the story. I have to extract the words out of me one at a time, like pulling teeth with nothing but a pair of pliers. Or worse, I’m excited about a story idea all day long, but when I finally get the chance to sit down and work on it, I’ve run out of steam for the day.  I hate those days.

Naughty Reader’s: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Sarah: They are all different but there are some common threads that run through many of them. My characters often create families out of their friends and loved ones as opposed to blood relatives. Many times my main characters are managing, but not really living. “Life is more than mere survival” is a recurring theme in my stories. I also adore stories with an unusual twist, so you will rarely get a straightforward, simple love story.

Naughty Reader’s: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Sarah: It depends. Mostly on my work schedule. The average day at work is 10-12 hours long, so there are times when I’m hard pressed to get much writing done. I do work better to deadlines (even though I find them stressful) because a deadline will often push me to work through a problem when I’d rather let it marinate for a while. I can write a 20 K novella in 2 weeks or 2 months—it just depends. When I catch myself churning out stories faster and faster, I force myself to slow down and set a story aside for a while, to come back to it six weeks later with a fresh perspective and see if it was as good or bad as I remembered.

My production has slowed down tremendously in the last year, but I hope the quality has improved. That’s because I’ve accepted that I will never be a big name author who can retire to a villa by the sea. I write because I enjoy it. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake, it is the thing I look forward to the most when I have a free moment to spare. That means I’m going to write about the things that interest me and include all my favorite tropes. Hopefully, some of you out there will find the stories as entertaining as I do!

Naughty Reader’s: Let's hop on a trolley and find a coffee shop where we can finish the interview. Do you have to be alone to write?

Sarah: Good idea, Ladies! To write the original draft, yes. To edit and polish, no. I know that sounds a little backward, but I re-read my work obsessively when I am in editing mode. Having minor distractions during that time is not nearly as disruptive to my thought process as when I am getting the first draft down on paper.

Naughty Reader’s: How do you go about naming characters?

Sarah:  Names are tough. They come with inherent baggage, impressions, and influences. I try to select names that suit my characters.  I also have to like the name if I am going to be typing it over and over again!  I often scour the baby names lists by nationality when I am stuck for a name. I tap my friends too.

“Quick! I need a name for the American pilot of Scots-Irish decent and his love interest, the geeky math guy from England!”

 I like clean, simple names. The last time I went with a name that ended in a ‘s’, I had kittens every time I had to write the name in the possessive form.

Naughty Reader’s: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Sarah: I never used to use pictures at all! Then, last summer, I signed up to write a story for the free Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Hot Summer Days Anthology. Group members provided pictures and invited authors to claim them and write a short story about them. I ended up writing a novella called Surf’s Up, as well as falling deeply in love with characters (in fact, I’m trying to figure out how I can continue their story in novel form). It was my first real experience writing to a picture prompt, and now I can really see the appeal. Since then, when I find myself struggling for the words to describe one of my characters, I’ve been known to scour the internet looking for pictures of people who fit my mental image. Having an actual image (either in front of you or in your mind) really helps you nail some of the specific features when describing a character. It makes them real to me, so therefore, I can make them real to you.

Naughty Reader’s: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Sarah: The locations really depend on the story itself. If the location is a big part of the story, I try to avoid setting stories in places that I’ve never seen. I don’t travel much, so maybe this is an excuse to get out more!  I’m not fond of big cities, and I’ve been known to spend a lot of time on Google Maps scoping out streets and landmarks of cities my characters are supposed to know like the back of their hand. I’m much more comfortable writing about what I’ve loved and walked my entire life: mountain streams and open fields, farmland and small towns, universities and medical environments. Hey, if life was an old sixties sitcom, mine would be Green Acres, and I’d be singing Eddie Albert’s lyrics, not Eva Gabor’s.

Naughty Reader’s: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Sarah: I’m currently working on a novel entitled Can’t Take the Heat. The main character is an ER doctor who is teetering on the edge of burnout. Scott thought he had his whole life mapped out and that he knew what he wanted—until he meets the sous chef, Daniel DuBois. Now he doesn’t know what he wants or how to ask for it. I’ve also got several works in process going at the moment—a time travel piece and one about the often crazy and very intense world of sport horses and eventing. I have sequels planned for Unspeakable Words and Crying for the Moon as well.  I just need Hermione’s Time Spinner device from The Prisoner of Azakaban, and I would have all these titles to you by next week.

Naughty Reader’s: Sarah, thank you again for taking the time to interview with us. Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

Sarah: Everything you need to know about my books and upcoming events can be found on my Web site

On the books page, you will find all my available titles, including links to free stories.

All my contact links are there too, for emails, and following me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as my longer blogs on Live Journal. But for the ease of one stop shopping here's my links:

Author Page on Facebook 
Blog on Live Journal 

You can contact me by email:

My books on Dreamspinner Press

Sarah: Just one more thing…Thank you for visiting with me this week!  I’d like to ask one question of the readers!  What’s the one question you were hoping I’d get asked to today that I didn’t get asked? Go on, ask away! I will do a giveaway to one lucky commenter, winner's choice from my backlist.

Practice Makes Perfect
The now-extinct Brill gifted humankind with the technology of space travel, but the implacable Swarm is determined to wipe all humans from the face of the universe. However, the human race won’t give in so easily. On board the spaceship Fearless, a team led by Dr. Rhys Aubrey and Major Jim Tanner is tasked with developing technology for the fight and making new allies to trade for whatever edge they can get.

Every day the
Fearless ventures forth to new worlds and faces challenges that forge strong bonds of friendship among the crew—and perhaps something more between Rhys and Jim. In a life filled with danger and trouble around every corner, are Rhys and Jim ready to risk their hearts too?

An excerpt from the book:

He gradually became aware that he’d slowed his breathing to match Tanner’s. His left side was still freezing, but his right shoulder and thigh were pressed up against Tanner, and the warm contact was making him sleepy.

“Better?” Tanner asked, long after Rhys has thought he’d gone back to sleep.

“Better,” Rhys agreed with a sigh.  He relaxed slightly closer to Tanner.  “Now I know the secret of your freakish metabolism,” he said, smiling into the darkness.

There was a long pause.  “Oh, really?” Tanner said at last.

“Yes.” Rhys grinned at the ceiling.  “You put out heat like a nuclear reactor. You probably burn something like three hundred calories an hour just sitting still.  No wonder everyone wants to sleep with you.”  No sooner had he said the words, he realized how they sounded, and he briefly bit his lip in horror.  “I mean, that is to say, off the ship, you know, when it’s really cold.”

“Go to sleep, Aubrey.” Tanner rolled over onto his shoulder again, presenting his back to Rhys.

Impossibly, he did go to sleep. He must have, because sometime during the night, he gravitated toward Tanner’s warmth and spooned up against him, sliding one arm along the fleece, and worming his hand under the blanket to place it against warm skin.  He wouldn’t even have been aware that he’d done this, except that he muzzily recognized the stirring of someone beneath his hand before Jim stretched into his touch and rolled toward him.

“Aubrey.”  It wasn’t a tone Rhys had heard very often. Tanner was usually the epitome of Texas charm. Whenever Rhys had heard this particular note in the past, he’d always been reminded of the Don’t Mess With Texas motto. “Mind telling me what your hand is doing on my cock?”



  1. My question: How did you come up with the characters for Crying for the Moon?

    PS Still waiting (patiently) for Unspeakable Words sequel. *g*


  2. Hi Lasha, Thanks for stopping. Good question!
    Hey Sarah! We are so thrilled to be chatting with you this week.
    Who designs your covers? Crying Moon has an awesome cover. ~Brenda

  3. Lasha: My apologies for taking so long to respond--it's been one of *those* days. ;-)

    Hah! Your question has a funny answer! I misread a prompt for an open submission call about lesbian vampires--and wrote 90% more story than the prompt called for! Once I did that, I realized the market for lesbian vampire fic was pretty slim, so I decided to make the main characters male.

    What an eye-opening experience that was! It wasn't a simple matter of finding and replacing pronouns and name changes--oh no! Men speak differently, think differently, move differently. I had to re-write the thing from the ground up and when I did, I found that Alex and Tate had become two very different people from the original characters!

    And don't ask me what happened when I let in the werewolf pack. They came in as purely secondary characters and nearly stole the show! I have a sequel in mind for Alex and Tate (because, you know, the first book ended far too easily!) but I also have plans for a story featuring Nick and Peter--and how they met. :-)

    Oh, I have such mixed feelings when people tell me they are waiting on that sequel to Unspeakable Words--pleased surprise that anyone wants to read it and abject shame that I haven't written it yet. I will, I promise. I love those guys, and I have two more books planned for them. I just need to move to a planet with a 28 hour day...

  4. Brenda and Steve: Thank you so much for having me here!

    Oh, I have been so fortunate in my artists for my covers! Dreamspinner Press has been entirely responsible for my covers and each has been an utter delight--both Unspeakable Words and Raincheck were up for cover awards, and the cover for Crying for the Moon really captured my mental image of Tate.

    All of the artists that have created these wonderful covers for me are big names in the industry: Paul Richmond did Unspeakable Words, Reece Dante did Raincheck, and Catt Ford did the cover for Practice Makes Perfect. Ann Cain created the cover for Crying for the Moon, and I use it frequently to represent 'me' online. I have them all printed out and posted on my wall above my desk, but Crying for the Moon will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first story of mine I received in paperback form, with my name on the cover and everything. :-)

  5. Hi! Thanks for the interview!

    You can add me to the list of those excited for a sequel to Unspeakable Words. :o)

    Can you tell us if you participate in a writer's group, and if there are any particular books on writing that are your favorites?


  6. Anneruane:

    You know how to make me smile (and wince at the same time, when I realize how slow I'm being with that sequel)!

    I sort of belong to a brainstorming group--just a small group of people who will email each other when they are looking for someone to bounce ideas off of. I myself rarely let anyone read a work in progress unless I'm seriously stuck or I think it stinks and I'm looking for confirmation that it isn't as bad as I think! I think that fact alone tends to keep me out of writing groups. :-)

    I really liked Stephen King's book On Writing, which surprised me because SK's novels scared the crap out of me as a teenager and I can't read them now!

    A funny thing happened after I published a few stories, though. Everyone I loved began showering me with books on writing, by way of showing their support for the writing and their belief in me as an author.

    You know what happened? I read a few of these books and got the worse case of writer's block ever! Suddenly I was looking at everything I'd written and realizing that I was DOING IT ALL WRONG. It really shut me down for a while. Every time I tried to write a sentence, I was so hypercritical of it I couldn't complete it.

    I finally realized that if I was doing it wrong, there were still some people who must like it--otherwise, I wouldn't keep getting contracts! So I finally put a sock in my Personal Critic and began writing for fun again, writing the stories I wanted to tell.

    I'm told Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott is quite good (and I have a copy, I just haven't read it yet). The book I think I got the most out of, however, is called If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland. You aren't going to find anything in it about Twitter or Facebook, or Marketing with a Capital M.

    The book apparently was first published in 1938, before any of today's advice on writing and self-promotion. But the book is full of life lessons you can apply beyond the art of writing, and is a fun read as well.

    My advice? Read If You Want to Write... and then just do it. :-)

  7. Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the drawing!

    Sarah, I agree 100%,. Read, read and read. I'm also a book reviewer and reading a lot of different books has really helped with our writing. ~Brenda

  8. Brenda and Steve: Thank you for having me here!

    Your comment about reading reminds me of an incident that happened to me in a library many years ago. I went to check out and laid a copy of a Thorton Wilder book on the counter. The librarian had the strangest reaction!

    He snatched the book up and began to wave it in front of my face, smacking the book for emphasis as he spoke. "This! This!" he exclaimed. "This is what's wrong with today's writers--they're not readers themselves. You need to read books like bold.

    It really made an impression on me!

    Again, I've really enjoyed my time here--thanks for the wonderful conversations!

  9. Congratulations Anne! You've won the eBook giveaway. Sarah will be contacting you for your choice soon.