Monday, August 16, 2010

Author Interview ~ Lisabet Sarai

Yay, I’m back and we have an interview! This day couldn’t get much better, at least in our opinion. Today on our couch we are pleased to have author, Lisabet Sarai here with us.

Welcome to the Menagerie, Lisabet. I hope our Cabana Boys have taken good care of you this morning; bringing refreshments, fanning palm fronds, yanno, those sorts of things. Make sure they take even better care of you later.

We also have, Megan here on the couch with us.

:::Megan waves:::

We are so happy to have you here at the Menagerie. I have to add, I am a major fan girl and have read many of your books. So let’s get down to you. When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing creatively ever since I learned how to form the letters. I think I wrote my first story at six and my first poem at seven. In elementary school I wrote a romantic fantasy play about the Beatles and a satirical drama about the 1964 presidential election. All through high school and college I wrote intense, angst-filled poetry, mostly about unrequited love. I also dabbled in short stories. However, other than work which appeared in my school paper, and a feminist treatise that I wrote with my aunt, I didn't try publishing anything until quite late.

I've done a lot of writing for professional reasons as well, including user manuals, marketing brochures, research papers, and a 500 page doctoral dissertation.

Holy moly. I’ll bet your hard drive is full of stuff.

I would have to agree. At least you know your muse is in there and working away. What inspired you to write your first book?

I started several novels—what I now recognize was a “sweet” romance and a romantic ghost story—earlier in my life, but I never got past the third chapter. In the late nineties, however, I was in Istanbul with my husband and picked up a copy of Portia da Costa's erotic classic Gemini Heat from the book swap shelf in our hotel. This book, published by the ground-breaking Black Lace imprint, knocked my socks off. It was incredibly sexy, diverse, intelligent and provocative. I absolutely loved it. Then I began to think, "I'll bet that I could write something like that."

When I got home from our vacation, I started writing Raw Silk, BDSM-flavored erotica set in Bangkok, Thailand, and based very loosely on my own experiences working there in the eighties. When I had three chapters, I sent them off with a synopsis to the editor of the Black Lace series. Within two weeks I received a form letter acknowledging my submission and warning me that due to the large number of manuscripts they received, I shouldn't expect to hear from them for several months.

I shrugged and filed the letter. Two days later I got an enthusiastic email from the Black Lace editor, offering me a contract and asking when I could get the book finished! Only then did I realize what I'd gotten myself into!

How cool. Things really went fast, but I’ll bet you were excited.

That really is pretty darned cool! Color me jealous! So, how much of the book is realistic?

From an emotional perspective, quite a lot. Like most beginning authors, I used my own erotic fantasies extensively in my first novel. And as I mentioned above, the setting borrowed greatly from my earlier experiences as an expat. However, the characters and the plot don't have much connection with reality, although little details here and there are borrowed from personal experience. I've never, for instance, had three men competing for my sexual favors!

As I've become more experienced, I've worked hard to broaden my writing beyond my own personal kinks. After all, nobody wants to read the same scenes again and again, no matter how hot they are! I've experimented with a variety of genres including paranormal, historical and thriller, and written pretty much every combination of genders: M/F, M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F/M, and so on.

Experimentation is the spice of life...right after BDSM. **Snicker**

ROTFL, yeah, that’s our philosophy here in The Menagerie. What is your favorite character you’ve written (published or not)? Why?

Most authors are rather in love with their characters, aren't they? My favorite heroine, I think, is Stella Xanathakeos from my erotic thriller Exposure. She's a stripper who loves her work, a working class gal who's tough and street smart. When she gets involved, through no fault of her own, in a double murder, she doesn't give up until she has unmasked the truth. I'd love to be as strong and sexy as she is. (There is a bit of me in her, though. I've always loved to dance, and I did work semi-professionally as a belly dancer for about a year.)

My favorite hero might be Mark in Incognito. He's not an alpha male, but he's the type of guy I personally find attractive: intelligent, perceptive, and sexually adventurous. I like his looks, too, casually studious, with thick dark hair, deep brown eyes, a compact body and glasses. I have a thing for nerds! Mark isn't exactly in that category, but his intellect and his quiet self-confidence are a huge turn-on for me.

Ah, another dark and handsome.... they are the best.

Absolutely, and tall and stocky, and broad and funny… but dark and handsome are usually the best. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My next scheduled release is a vampire menage set in Jamaica, called Fire in the Blood. It's due out from Total-E-Bound in mid-August. I originally wrote the story (it's a 20K word novella) for a Halloween collection but the publisher asked if I would mind adding some additional scenes and releasing it later as a stand-alone title. The hero in this tale (the vampire) is a 150 year old ex-slave who lives on a ruined plantation in the mountains above Montego Bay. The story has a bit of a gothic aura despite its contemporary setting.

I recently submitted a M/F BDSM tale and a M/M/F Christmas menage, but I haven't heard yet about any acceptances.

At the moment, I'm a few chapters into a M/M science fiction tale called Quarantine, which is likely to grow into a novella or maybe even a novel. It's set in the near-future, where, because of a terrible Plague blamed on gay men, everyone with a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality has been forced into internment camps--rather like the Japanese-Americans in World War II. The story focuses on the relationship between a camp guard and one of the inmates. I'm finding the writing process particularly involving because I believe that such a scenario isn't particularly far-fetched.

Wow. That’s some deep stuff. But I’m really interested in reading it. You have me hooked.

You and me both, can’t wait to see it. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

It's difficult to know how to count. I've published six novels and two collections of short stories, but since I began writing romance I also have quite a few shorter books available. I've also contributed short stories, mostly erotica, to more than two dozen print collections. Interested readers can find my full publishing history at The website also has information on all my books that are currently available, as well as my back list.

As for my favorite--well, that's like asking a mother to choose her favorite child, isn't it? From the perspective of writing quality, I'm probably most proud of Ruby's Rules and Exposure. Both are quite different from the typical erotic romance. For one thing, both are written in the first person. I really enjoy writing first person POV, even though some publishers won't look at it. I feel that it increases the emotional intensity of the work.

I know it’s hard to pick one, but you look like you picked a great one! And now it’s time for our “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

As anyone who checks my website will soon realize, I'm a huge cat lover. This dates from the time I met my husband; he had two cats when we moved in together and I was soon their willing slave. I've had a number of furry masters and mistresses since, and I've been honored to serve them all!

Cats have complex, distinctive personalities that continue to change throughout their lives, just like people. If well-cared for and kept inside, they can live as long as twenty years, long enough to develop a deep relationship. Of course, even the most avid dog-lover would have to admit that cats are aesthetically superior. Their elegance and grace, their cleanliness, the fact that they do not need to be taken out and walked--well, I don't want to antagonize any dog-worshipping readers, so I'll just stop there!

See? That’s why I like cats. They come with few issues other than that you are the slave and they rule. But hey, sounds like some men and women I know.

Megan knows why I have a dog, lol. So, we won’t go into that conversation. What is your strangest habit?

Strange habits? I couldn't think of any. I had to ask my husband! He had lots of suggestions, for example, the fact that I always wash the dishes in the same order (I tell him there's a logical system behind this, but he doesn't believe me!) and the fact that I get out my clothing for work the night before. The latter habit dates back to when I was a little girl. My mother always made me pick my clothesfor the next day before I went to bed, so I wouldn't be late to school because I couldn't decide.

Now I don't think this is strange at all. Do you?

Hey, I’m OCD girl. I have to have everything figured out (and since I’m a complete calendar mess....if it isn’t on the calendar, it’s forgotten), I think you are fine.

Hey, I’m OCD too, so yeah, you’re just fine. LOL Have you ever eaten a crayon?

Not that I remember. However, when I was a child I used to eat soap. My mom would tell a story about wheeling her cart around the grocery store, with me in the seat in front. She left me for a moment to get something off the shelves. As she returned, another shopper pointed out that I had unwrapped a bar of Ivory Soap and was happily munching away at it.

That’s a new one. I ate soap but it wasn’t out of choice. Hey, I’ve been a hellraiser for a long time. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Assuming that you're talking about food...? Well, I've done quite a bit of international traveling, and I'm always interested in sampling the local cuisine. One dish I remember, in Thailand, was baked turtle eggs. They had little taste but a most unpleasant gluey texture. Then there was that time in Korea last year. In general, ordering food there was a challenge since we didn't speak Korean. They had sometimes pictures but the images weren't always very illuminating. So we picked out this dish in a seafood place, from its picture, not knowing what it contained--it looked tasty. It turned out to be a heap of baby octopus, each one about an inch in diameter, complete with little nests of tentacles. Very anatomical! Actually they were pretty tasty, but tough as shoe leather.

Sounds...different. I’m not much into octopus so I think that’s something I just won’t order.

I wouldn’t try octopus on a dare… and ask Megan and Mysti, I’ll try just about anything on a dare. What is one thing scientists should invent?

A self-cleaning cat litter box that really works! Actually I have some ideas for this myself. Not only would it be a boon to humanity, I think it would make me rich!

Hee hee. Rich is good and since I have the cat litter issue—there is no nice smelling clean litter and once it’s used... well, you know. Hey, you figure out how to make it so I don’t have to clean it and I’ll be thrilled. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

World peace. I know that it's a cliche but I'm serious. So much human potential is wasted in violence. So many lives are torn apart by war. I actually believe that peace begins with each one of us. If we treat our fellow human beings with consideration and compassion, recognizing that even people who are different are in some sense members of our family, we build a peaceful world, one life at a time.

Absolutely nothing wrong with want world peace. I think we should all want it.

Now, it’s time to say good-bye to all our company….. Thank you so vey much for hanging out with us here at the Menagerie with us today. Get relaxed and hopefully we’ll more people pop in to say, “Hi, how ya doin?” Thanks to everyone who’s dropped in and read the interview. Let us know what you think, ask Lisabet any questions, or just hang out with her.

When asked, Lisabet supplied us with this author bio:

I was born more than half a century ago in Wisconsin, but grew up mostly in New England, in a series of suburban towns. I was always the egghead, the girl with the thick glasses at the top of her class. As I went on to university and graduate school, I acquired more degrees than anyone sensible would ever need. It wasn't until I was working on my second masters degree that I realized intelligence was sexy.

I became addicted to words at an early age. I began reading when I was four. I wrote my first story at five years old and my first poem at seven. Since then, I've written plays, tutorials, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and of course, erotica and erotic romance

My lifelong interests in sex and the written word became serenditipitously entwined a decade ago when I read my first Black Lace book by Portia da Costa. Her work inspired me to take my fantasies out of the closet (and the private email files) and expose them to the world. The rest, as they say, is history (although granted, no more than a minor footnote!)

I've been married for more than twenty eight years, much to my surprise; I never expected to find a lifelong partner. Still, I've had my share of erotic adventures, some of which my husband and I have shared.

I've always loved traveling; my husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant by telling me tales of his foreign adventures. Since then I have visited every continent except Australia, although I still have a long travel wish list. Currently I live with him and our two exceptional felines in Southeast Asia, where I pursue an alternative career that is completely unrelated to my creative writing.

Fire In The Blood by Lisabet Sarai

Maddy and Troy hope that a carefree vacation in tropical Jamaica will re-ignite the passion in their five year relationship. On a scenic mountain trail ride, Maddy's horse bolts and carries her deep into the jungle. Injured and lost, she is saved by a seductive giant of a man whose mere presence kindles unbearable lust. By the time she understands his dark nature, it is far too late for her to escape.

Bitter and alone, Etienne de Rémorcy haunts the forest around the ruined plantation of Fin d'Espoir. He has sworn to never again taste taste human blood, but when slender, raven-haired Madeleine begs him to take her, he cannot resist.

Troy is hugely relieved when Maddy makes her way back to their hotel after her ordeal in the mountains. But he finds her greatly changedõfiercely passionate in bed, restless and disturbed at other times. The tall, elegant stranger he meets on the beach holds the key to her transformationõand soon has seduced Troy as well. Even Etienne's most potent magic can't extinguish the fire in Troy's and Madeleine's blood.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Megan and Mysti!

Comfortable couch! And I love the boys...can I take one home as a souvenir? Only kidding. I wouldn't want to deprive you!

Thanks for having me and asking such great questions. I'll try to pop in and field comments, but I have to apologize ahead of time. Since I'm in Asia, I'm 12 hours ahead of you, so when you're up and about, I'll be sleeping.


Sloane Taylor said...

Hi Ladies,

This is a terrific interview, Lisabet. I admire your talent and love your books. Congrats on your new release!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Gee, thank you, Sloane! I can't claim any credit for the interview. The Menagerie ladies came up with a super set of questions.


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Lisabet. Great interview. I love learning how authors got started and about their road to publication, which was pretty fast for you!

Congrats on the new release. Happy sales.

Kealie Shay said...

So glad you could hang out on our couch today, Lisabet. It was great getting to know you better.

And we can let you borrow one of the boys... as long as it's not one of our personal CBs, lol. But we can't let you keep them... we'd miss them too much, lol.

Thanks for stopping by, Sloane and Anna. Glad you could drop in and say Hi. :-D

Cate Masters said...

Wonderful interview, ladies! Lisabet, your writing always intrigues me because you're fearless in the topics you select. Great that you found a niche you're passionate about, and can enlighten others. And of course, give us a great read!

katsrus said...

Hi Lisabet. Happy release day! this book sounds so good. I love the cover. Really enjoyed your interview.
Sue B

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Cate, Sue and Anna!

Thanks for dropping by! Maybe Kealie will let you play with the Cabana Boys too...!


Elaine Cantrell said...

Wow, I didn't know you lived in Asia. I've never been there, but my daughter in law is from Korea. Congratulations on your new release.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Elaine,


Korea was an adventure! But a civilized one. They have an amazing rail system, fast and frequent, going everywhere in the country.