Message From The Author
One Page at a Time
AUTHOR SHARON PAGE BRANCHES OUT FROM E-BOOKS TO EROTICA TO HISTORICALS
By Lauren Spielberg
Erotica turned historical romance author Sharon Page has come out of the closet. After selling A Gentleman Seduced to independent publisher Ellora's Cave in late 2003, Page kept her identity as an erotic auteur secret from her family for almost two years. While winning accolades for richly plotted tales and fully fleshed-out characters, she toiled away full-time at an engineering firm and cared for her family while meeting writing deadlines. As Page smartly remarks, "Like any small business, writing requires
With the sale of a three-book historical series to editor Hilary Sares at Kensington, based impressively on a single chapter and synopsis, then the additional sale of two vampire erotic romances and a novella one month later to the same publisher, Page knew the time had come to tell her family. "Having sold six books so quickly, I just couldn't keep the news inside any longer. My parents were surprised, but I pointed out they were never to read the stories. Oddly, it's much easier to imagine strangers reading the stories than family."
Now well ensconced in her career, Page admits feeling more at ease sharing her chosen profession with the world. Perhaps it's because her octogenarian mother-in-law wrote glowingly of Page's erotic romance career in the family Christmas card. Winning the National Readers' Choice Award from the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America consecutively for Sin in '06 and Blood Red in '07 most likely didn't hurt her confidence either.
Before submitting her manuscript to Ellora's Cave, Page satisfied a "lifelong compulsion to write" by penning sensual historical romances she then submitted to various contests. "I'd received some requests for submissions, but like any author, I wanted things to happen faster," she says. "I heard about Ellora's Cave and knew I wanted to try blending erotica and romance. I loved
to explore how sex built emotional conflict as it built intimacy."
The result was her first published novel, A Gentleman Seduced. Page developed the story after seeing an image in Romantique: Erotic Art of the Early 19th Century, a book that belongs to friend and fellow romance author Kathryn Smith. The visual is of a man, naked, playing blind man's bluff within a circle of women. "I just knew I wanted to explore writing inventive, sensual scenes like that, but to be able to
add all the emotional impact of the romance," Page says.
As evidenced by reader reaction, publisher interest and overwhelmingly favorable reviews, Page's stories are about so much more than just sex. "The interesting thing about the genre that we call 'erotica' or 'erotic romance' is that it is so encompassing," she explains. "There is obviously a large variation in the level of sexuality from one book to another. Some stories are very much a sexual journey, and others can have strong paranormal stories with hot love scenes.
"For me, I've looked at erotic romance as a book with richly developed characters, a detailed plot and sensual sex. I have heard definitions that say if you can take out the sex and the story still stands, it's not erotic romance. But personally I feel the genre is broader than that."
Page's most recent book, last month's Hot Silk (Aphrodisia) is the finale of her erotic trilogy featuring the talented daughters of scandalous artist Rodesson. (Read the review in the October issue of RT or online at RomanticTimes.com.) The first book in the series, Sin, released in 2006, was Venetia's story, and Black Silk, released earlier this year, was Maryanne's story. (Black Silk received an RT Top Pick.) Hot Silk, which is Grace's story, travels back in time, before Sin begins, enabling the author to bring back familiar characters such as Grace's beloved sisters and their men,
Marcus and Dash.
"I took a risk at the beginning of Hot Silk," she says. "The situation is one I think women can relate to, but not one I would have tried if I were not writing erotic romance." At the start, Grace is cautioned against becoming overly familiar with a devil-may-care lord before the start of the London season. "Hot Silk has an adventure plot, and I was happy with how emotional the story became," she continues. "Because falling in love with [hero] Devlin is so dangerous to Grace's goals, and Devlin's identity is so wrapped up in being an infamous outlaw, I think I've built an intense relationship."
The series, published by Kensington's Aphrodisia line, marked Page's move from the e-publishing world to the thrill of seeing her novels in print and in bookstores. Not that she won't write any more e-books.
And she'll soon add more titles to the bookstore shelves as she prepares to launch The Club, her first non-erotica historical romance in February
of next year. The sought-after novel touched off
a bidding war more than a year ago between two publishers and eventually sold to Dell as part of a two-book deal. "It was the end of last summer, and my daughter was wondering why I was carrying the phone everywhere around the house with me -- because, of course, I was waiting for each phone call from my agent," Page laughs.
Initially, Page conceived of The Club as -- you guessed it -- an erotic romance. With its sale to Dell, however, she remolded the idea to fit within the more traditional historical romance genre. Looking back, she finds that she didn't change as much as one might expect.
"The level of eroticism actually didn't change
a lot for The Club, because my main focus was always going to be the romance and the sexual relationship between hero and heroine," says the author. "I think the main difference is what happens in the love scenes. In an erotic romance, I would be more risque."
In perhaps an homage to her erotic roots, Page sets her story within the walls of a swingers-type club, circa 1880s. But club members indulge in much more than swapping partners, as widowed Jane St. Giles, Lady Sherringham, discovers while searching for her missing friend.
"The Club began from the very basic idea: I wanted to show a woman's sexual journey healing her emotionally," Page explains. "In my Sin trilogy, my heroines started as virgins. For The Club, I wanted to explore a heroine who had been through an abusive marriage. This story is a twist on the classic 'rake and innocent' story. My heroine is a widow, not a virgin, but she knows nothing of a healthy and loving sexual relationship. My rakish hero is determined to give the heroine the pleasure she deserves, until he discovers he doesn't know exactly how to heal an abused woman. And he has his own
past that he must heal from. They
must learn together."
Right now there's no telling which direction Page's career will take, although romance always remains a constant. She's currently at work on a proposal for her next book for Dell and is looking forward to the release
of Blood Red, a paranormal historical novel for Aphrodisia next summer. With all that going on, it seems there's no stopping the incredible force that is Sharon Page -- making the world a more sensual place one page at a time.
Special Sneak Peek of the eagerly anticipated February release The Club
Footsteps pounded down the hallway. Whoever approached was running fast. The doorknob rattled just as Christian retreated into the deepest shadows of the room, bumping against velvet drapery. The door swung open and he vanished behind the curtain -- there was not even a ripple to give him away.
The person who entered wore a black cloak. Subtle feminine perfume wafted past him -- rose and lavender. So did the scent of damp wool. Christian bit back a groan.
He stepped out. "Lady Sherringham."
Spinning toward him, she clapped a gloved hand over her mouth. At least she didn't scream. Her deep hood tipped back, snagging on her golden-red curls.
"Lord Wickham." Her eyes were bitter-chocolate brown, almost black, and
impossible to read in the dim light, but her voice slid over him, soft and frantic.
"Why in blazes did you come back?" He paced toward her. "I sent you home.
Why did you disobey me?"
She had always been the type of woman to rush in where she wasn't wanted and did not belong. His temper snapped. "Bloody hell, woman, can you not see how dangerous it is to be blundering around in this place? Do you want to cause my sister harm? Or did you damn well come back to sleep with me?"
She backed away from him, taking quick steps until she smacked against the low wall and she put out her hand to grasp it. "I -- I would never invite you into my bed!"
The door opened. Christian blinked in the light that spilled in. Lady Sherringham's voice halted but her indignation still rang throughout the room.
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