Today I am happy to welcome to Book Lovers Inc. romance author Karen Erickson, who besides being a prolific writer is also an adventurous one: she has experimented and written contemporary romances, historical romances, paranormal romances, fantasy romances, erotic romances, and any combination of these Karen is celebrating the release of Under His Protection, the 1st book in her new romantic suspense series featuring Secret Service agents (and let me tell you they are definitely delicious alpha males), so please give her a welcome and there is a wonderful giveaway for you if share with us your reading preferences.
Stella: Hi Karen, welcome to Book Lovers Inc! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Karen: Well, I’m a mom of three, a wife to one and the owner of too many cats. I’m a native Californian who lives about an hour below the gates of Yosemite and I’m a full time romance writer.
Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Karen: I’m really lucky that I’m able to write full time. It’s really a dream job in that I’m able to do what I love from home and be there for my family if they need me.
So I start my morning reading email, etc. and drinking my coffee (need it to function LOL). Then I write. Fiddle around. Write some more. Get on Twitter. Get on Facebook. Fool around on Pinterest. Write again after a burst of inspiration…
I really should have a more strict schedule but I think what I’m doing works for me—most of the time. *winks*
Oh, and I’m a pantster who needs to plot somewhat. If I plot too much, it takes all the fun out of it. There’s a fine line.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Karen: Great question. I’ve been both. I’ve always enjoyed reading. But sometimes life got in the way and I let my love of books go. I literally went through a period where I didn’t read AT ALL. From my mid to late twenties through my very early thirties, I only read magazines. Can you believe it?
So I was a reader but I wasn’t a real Book Lover. Finally, I started reading romances again and was hooked. Wondered why I didn’t read any for so long—I missed them! Reading is such an escape, so much fun. I love to get caught up in the story and not wanting it to end. It’s harder being a writer AND a reader—you can’t help but cast that analytical eye.
I must tell everyone the last book I read that was a pure, absolute joy – Tessa Dare’s A Week to be Wicked. I LOVED THAT BOOK. The hero is dreamy, the heroine is relatable and there were so many cute, funny moments. Love, love, love how it sucked me in.
Stella: You have penned a couple dozens of romance stories: some are erotic, some are contemporary, others historical or paranormal, but all romances. What attracted you to this genre, what is its appeal? What makes it special in your opinion?
Karen: I’m not sure why I gravitated to romance. I’ve read all sorts of books throughout my life. I went through a real mystery phase. The VC Andrews phase we all seem to go through in high school (passing those books around in class in 9th grade and being absolutely scandalized—ah, the memories). I went through the chick lit phase (and I’m really sorry it got such a bad rap after awhile. There are some GREAT books out there in that subgenre).
But romance was first in my heart. And I so hate it when the romance genre gets knocked for being trashy or labeled as bodice rippers and nothing else. They’re so much more than that. Romances are full of hope. They’re a true escape from the everyday, a chance to dive into a different world and learn new things.
I guess I’m a true romantic at heart though honestly, I’m not real sappy. I do love a sigh-worthy moment though (in a book, in a movie, anywhere!). There’s just something so sweet about it. I enjoy those sexy moments too, don’t get me wrong. I tend to write sexier anyway.
Stella: Your latest release Under His Protection was released this month, congratulations! Can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Karen: Under His Protection is the first in my Protect and Defend series. Three of the books will focus on heroes that are Secret Service Agents (good ones! Not naughty ones who don’t pay hookers and get fired). I’ll be releasing a special edition to the Protect and Defend series next month entitled Strip Tease. The hero is an undercover detective.
This is my first foray into the romantic suspense arena and I’ll confess my books are more romantic than suspense. I’m having fun with them, though. There is nothing sexier than a tough alpha male in a suit who will do whatever it takes to protect you. Am I right? *Sigh*
Stella: Could you introduce the hero and heroine to our readers?
Karen: Secret Service agent Mason Russell always plays by the rules. He’s strong, quiet, bossy as hell. Determined to work his way up the ranks quickly, he doesn’t have time for distractions.
Blake Hewitt is the vice president’s daughter, an only child who’s always been pushed aside by her overly ambitious parents. Lonely and discouraged, she yearns for love. And finds herself hopelessly attracted to the sexy Mason…
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret related to Under His Protection? (either to the writing process, or some tidbit about the characters that didn’t end up in the final version)
Karen: At one point, Blake was the daughter of the governor of California (she was originally the VP’s daughter and I switched it up for another version). This book has been rewritten a few times. Oh, and Blake was much more of a bad girl in the original version as well.
Mason has stayed the same throughout. Always steady, just like he is! I love Mason.
Stella: Can you summarize Under His Protection for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Karen: Sexy Secret Service agent Mason Russell must keep the VP’s daughter out of danger—but does he want to keep Blake Hewitt out of his bed?
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Under His Protection?
1. Hot alpha male hero
2. Sexy romancin’ on an isolated island
3. Hot alpha male hero (whoops I think I already said that—I do adore Mason)
Stella: Is Under His Protection your first self-published novel? Why did you decide to go this way? And how was the experience so far? Are you considering going this way in the future?
Karen: UHP is my fourth self-published work. I’ve released two short stories (A Very Sexy Christmas and Melt With You) and one full-length erotic romance novel (Indulgent Pleasures). I’ve really enjoyed the experience though I admit it’s a lot of work and might not be for everyone.
I decided to go the self-publishing route for a handful of reasons. First, it’s tough to get those release slots at my publishers. I’m thankful I average three releases per year at Samhain and one or two at Carina Press. But I want MORE because I’m greedy. LOL
Self-publishing allows you to experiment. For instance, the first thing I self-published (A Very Sexy Christmas) was a short story I’d published with a now-defunct e-publisher. Indulgent Pleasures I released because I really thought it deserved a chance (I’d shopped to a variety of agents and NY publishers – they all passed). Melt With You I specifically wrote as a bonus story to accompany my Fated series which is published with Samhain.
I enjoy self-publishing and will continue to do so but I also enjoy publishing with Samhain, Carina, etc. As a writer, I think it’s smart to have a variety of options.
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule? (Please tell us when we can get more of the delicious protective alpha males of the Protect and Defend series?)
Karen: As I mentioned above, Strip Tease will come out sometime in May (hopefully!). On Borrowed Service will come out either June or August. In July, I have two releases—Worth the Risk (book two from the Worth It series) will come out July 10th and A Scandalous Affair (book three in the Merry Widows series) will release July 30th. This year is busy for me. I’m exhausted just looking at my coming soon page!
Stella: You are a very prolific author, how do you do it? Does inspiration come to you all the time or do you have a rigourous writing schedule? What is your secret?
Karen: I’m not sure how I do it—I just do. Terrible answer but it’s the truth. I’m lucky in that I’m a fast writer. Once I get into the groove, the words flow. I feel blessed, especially since sometimes, they don’t always flow and that can be a painful process.
Again, that I’m able to do this full time makes a huge difference. A supportive family also helps tremendously. They understand (most of the time) when mama is working!
Stella: You pen historical erotic romances (The Merry Widows series) as well as contemporaries. How is it different to write a historical romance? Do you do any research (for either)? Is either one more difficult/challenging to write? Or do you prefer one to the other?
Karen: Historical is my first love—the first romance books I read. Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught and Lavyrle Spencer will always have a special place in my heart for being the inspiration for me wanting to be a romance writer. I’d always wanted to write historicals and tried way back in the day. Horrible, awful stuff that should never see the light of day.
A few years ago, I decided to be brave and attempt to write one. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. There is a definite different mindset when it comes to writing historicals versus writing contemporaries. I feel like my voice more naturally fits contemporaries so I have to work harder at the historicals.
I definitely research for both (more for the historicals, naturally) but I don’t prefer writing one over the other. I really enjoy the shift in gears when writing different subgenres of romance. It keeps things interesting, keeps my mind fresh.
Stella: Can you tell readers about your Merry Widows series? How did the idea for this series come to you? Did you intend to write it as a series or did the original idea for a standalone story evolve into a series later?
Karen: Hmm, I’d just finished working on something big (I can’t remember what!) and this idea came to me, I can’t remember what triggered it. A widow attracted to a younger man, how unseemly it would be for her to become involved with him, considering he was titled and one of the most eligible bachelors in all of London.
I’ll confess, I wrote Lessons In Indiscretion in three days. It literally poured out of me (this doesn’t happen very often but when it does, oh, how exciting it is!). I submitted it to Carina Press expecting a very long wait to hear back and within a month, Angela James called me and let me know they wanted to contract it. She even said she’d known they wanted to offer for a few weeks but hadn’t had a chance to call.
It was serendipitous, that little novella. It was also intended to be a stand-alone title but then I realized there are a lot of lovely, lonely widows who deserve their second chance at love.
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Karen: Well, I’m pretty boring. Let’s see…I accidentally named my two sons after cheese (and sound sorta foolish when I’m calling their names in public). The most important men in my life (my husband and sons) are all born on the 26th day of the month—weird right? My youngest was even born on 9/26 at 9:26 a.m. Spooky…
Thanks for having me here on Book Lovers Inc. Stella!!!
He’ll protect her at any cost…
Protect and Defend, Book 1
Protecting the vice president’s daughter is Secret Service agent Mason Russell’s top priority. With the election looming and the party’s hold shaky, Mason’s been given an important assignment – rein the controversial party girl Blake Hewitt in.
He’d like to rein Blake in all right. Keep her under his control and naked beneath him at all times. Blake is the sexiest thing he’s ever seen but she’s strictly off limits. Though she tempts him like no other.
Banished from the capital and sent far away to the family’s vacation home, Blake seizes her chance. She’ll make Mason hers no matter what it takes. But the noble Mason doesn’t make it easy, and danger lurks where they least expect it…
Bestselling romance author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read — sexy contemporary romance and sensual historical romance. Digitally published since 2006, she currently writes for Samhain Publishing and Carina Press. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children.
Karen has generously offered a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N (winner’s choice) to a lucky commenter!
All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment about the interview and answer Karen’s question: Do you have a favorite romance subgenre? One you read exclusively or do you read them all?
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)
Please be sure to include a valid email address in the comment form (need not be in the actual body of the comment).
This giveaway is open to all!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, May 12th, 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.