AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: FRANCESCA HAWLEY
What do you have out new to entertain folks?
Alpha vs. Alpha from Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
Blurb:Alpha female Serena Goldwolf has spent a lifetime vowing never to be a submissive mate to any Alpha male. But all it takes is one surprisingly sexual meeting with Damien Blackwolf, a dissatisfied client of her shapeshifter dating site Predator-Match.com, and she’s down on all fours, wanting to be mounted by the hottest male on two legs—or four—whom she’s ever met.
Damien Blackwolf doesn’t understand why the voluptuous Serena won’t admit they’re True Mates. To convince her, he decides to bring out her baser desires by dragging her off to someplace private to get to know her…intimately. But how can he convince her of their destiny when she runs away from him? Guess he’ll just have to hunt her down and persuade her.
In a passionate battle of wills, there most definitely can be two winners.
Tell us a little about Alpha vs. Alpha and what inspired you to write it?
I first wrote Alpha vs. Alpha back in 2005. I belonged to a yahoo writers group and we decided to work on novellas featuring plus sized heroines. The idea for a shapeshifter dating site just popped into my head and Predator-match.com was born. I was thrilled when Draumr Publishing offered me a contract on the book. When the rights reverted to me in 2010, I knew I wanted to do a rewrite to clean it up a bit and add a bit more depth to the romance. It was a lot of fun to explore the story again.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Generally, I know the beginning and ending as well as a few plot points along the way. I’m kind of a hybrid – part plotter but mostly a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants). I find my characters will often hijack my story. Sometimes, that’s a really great thing. Other times, I’d like to kill them when they send me off on a tangent with their story. Grin.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I love erotic romance. I started to read it back in 2002 when I first found Ellora’s Cave on the web. Being published by EC was my dream and it was wonderful when they accepted Protect and Defend back in 2007. When I first began to write as a teen, I wrote more mainstream romance, but much later I started reading erotic romance I wanted to write hotter romances with no closed doors and two sweaty bodies entwined. Under the erotic romance umbrella, I’ve written paranormal, medieval, and contemporary stories.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I know I shouldn’t have a favorite. They’re like children and you’re supposed to love all your “children” equally, right? But I have to admit that Lord Eaduin Kempe, the hero of Seeking Truth, is probably my favorite character. He’s sexy, kinky, complicated, heroic and even a bit tortured. All of my heroes are cool, but Eaduin rings my bell the most.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Quinn Goldwolf and that’s why his story isn’t done yet, even though I planned to write it when he first appeared in Alpha vs. Alpha back in 2005. Over the years, I’ve been able to write a first chapter, but I cannot for the life of me find him the right mate and after what he’s been through, he really deserves the best True Mate I can give him. So I’m still struggling with him.
Other than Quinn, Eaduin Kempe went through a couple of incarnations too. He started out as a villain but he refused to allow me to write him that way which is why he got his own book and became one of my heroes.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Sometimes I do draw inspiration from people I know. I try to make sure it’s not too obvious – after all, I don’t want someone to sue me because they think I wrote about them. Some of my villains have names of people who’ve “done me wrong” or been mean to me. However, I make sure I create a lot of changes so that person isn’t really recognizable.
Mistress Judith Sagar, from Seeking Truth, was based a bit on my mom. She and I had a really close relationship just like Judith and Eaduin do. I drew on my own emotions when writing some of the sad scenes at the end of that book.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The solitariness of it. You sit down in front a blank computer screen and have to spin up a story from nothing more than your imagination. Having another person around is distracting, yet there are times when I want nothing more than to have someone to talk with about what I’m working on. Sometimes I call up my crit partner, Paris Brandon and that helps a lot. She’s a good listener and even better brainstormer.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’ve been active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) since the mid-1990s. It’s so much fun to research the Middle Ages and dress in character. A side benefit is the number of nice (and hot) guys who wear chain mail. I was also heavy into Pern fanfiction for a number of years back then too. I still love reading Pern fiction by the late GREAT Anne McCaffrey and her son, Todd McCaffrey.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love shopping at upscale adult stores like the one I wrote about in Whirlwind Affair. In fact, my favorite store is in Des Moines, IA and it’s called Christal’s http://christals.com/. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly and they love my books. LOL. In fact…sssshhhh…I kind of used Christal’s as a model for Erotically Bound – except I know that at Christal’s NO wild stuff could happen in the dressing rooms. They’re very careful about that kind of stuff – I’ve asked.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Chocolate and good music help me relax enough to get in the “write” frame of mind. It also helps if I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a hot shower.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Music is very influential while I’m writing. I enjoy instrumental and vocals. I don’t find the words distracting when I’m trying to write though I know some authors do. I think all my stories have had one or more songs that I’ve used as theme music. Sometimes I create a play list and immerse myself in those songs while I’m writing…especially when I write love scenes. When I was working on edits of Alpha vs. Alpha, I was listening to Nickelback’s “I’d Come for you.” It really fit Damien’s state of mind.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Kirsten Vangness who plays Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds would be an excellent Serena Goldwolf. Sassy, sexy, curvy and blonde (most of the time). For Damien, I think Reynaldo Gianecchini would work well. Gorgeous from top to bottom. Dark hair and eyes and looks great in Italian suits. Yeah, that works. Grin.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I’d came home from work for lunch and found the offer in my email. I did a major happy dance. I told my co-workers when I went back to work because I had to tell someone or bust!
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I think I was in my mid to late teens. I read sweet Regency romances first and then read a lot of category romances. It didn’t take me long to realize I liked the sexier books more than the sweet ones.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I’m obsessed with Robin D. Owen’s Celta series. As soon as I know a new one of those is out it’s an auto-buy for me but I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her as yet. As for squealing at a meeting and feeling like an idiot, that goes hands down to meeting Joey W. Hill at Romanticon a couple of years back. I adore her books and I even got to sit next to her at the book signing. I was over the moon (hope I didn’t scare her to death). She was sweet and really friendly.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I’m a librarian at a public library. I enjoy helping people answer reference questions and learn to use their e-readers to check out e-books.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I currently have a number of irons in the fire, so to speak. I’m working on a book featuring Erika’s brother Andy Larson and he’s quite the hottie! I’ve started Master Drago’s story for the 1-800-DOM-help series. I also have a couple of shapeshifter and medieval books plotted out. I just need to find the time and energy to get all my work done. Whew!
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I have done some collaboration with other authors. Paris Brandon, Ashlyn Chase, Delilah Devlin and I wrote stories tied together by a pair of traveling red stiletto shoes. I’ve also worked with some incredible and talented EC authors as part of the 1-800-DOM-help series. Again, we built the world and the hook and each wrote our own stories based on the shared series “bible”. I’d love to collaborate with my crit partner Paris Brandon, but our writing processes are so different we’d probably kill each other…and that would be bad. I value her way too much as a crit partner to suggest we co-write something. Laughing…
If I could co-write with ANYONE, I’d love to convince my friend Lin to start writing again. Back in my Pern fanfic days, Lin and I would collaborate on stories about our dragonriders, holders and crafters. We had a lot of fun and I’d love to work with her again.
How do you pick your characters names?
I read through baby name books looking for the right sound, feel and meaning. Although I have been inspired by songs. The name for one of my shapeshifters hit me when I was listening to Joe Fabulous by Bad Company. I just knew my guitar playing rocker had to be named Joe. Grin…
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I usually find myself going with the love at first site reaction but then I try to make sure the relationship grows and builds as the two lovers get to know one another better. In some cases (with my shapeshifters) it’s the “fated Mates” scenario, but in others they just take one look at one another and want to pursue the relationship to a committed conclusion.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
I smile, though I’m sure the smile looks a bit like a snarl. I refrain from kneecapping or hamstringing them…which I think shows admirable restraint, don’t you? Other than that, I try to ignore people like that because you really can’t change the mind of the ignorant who don’t want to be enlightened. If I think the person really isn’t a jerk but just doesn’t understand, I try to explain. Otherwise, I roll my eyes and walk away. Life is too short for mean people.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Milk is my favorite, but I like dark and white too. It’s chocolate – what could be bad about that? Wink…