Message From The Author
EROTICA AUTHOR LORA LEIGH
LEAVES THE BEDROOM DOOR OPEN
By Elissa Petruzzi
If Lora Leigh's seventh-grade English teacher, Mr. Mueller, ever noticed her
daydreaming in class, he needn't have worried. Leigh was dreaming up the characters that would one day become part of her popular Legacies series, which she's still working on today, nearly 30 years later.
"It's been a long time," laughs the author of more than 30 novels and
several other popular series, including the Tempting SEALS and Bound Hearts series. "Joshua [a pivotal Legacies player] was the first character that I ever wrote about."
Leigh may have begun creating those Legacies characters in adolescence, but they've grown more mature, along with their creator. She reports that their relationships and stories have gotten significantly more elaborate in the past 30 or so years that she's been living with them -- and at age 42, she's not done yet.
"There's a whole emotional complexity," says the prolific erotic romance author. "I didn't start out with a romance book. But I started out within this world, and the way that it's grown in my mind, it's taken awhile for me to get a foundation started for the series."
Having written just four of the eight planned books thus far, Leigh still has quite a bit of work ahead of her, and rabid fans
of the Ellora's Cave-published series are eager for her to get started. Readers on the RomanticTimes.com message board were clamoring to know when Leigh would continue the saga, but living with a plot for nearly three decades can make storylines difficult to untangle.
"The Legacies are harder to write. It takes longer to write those books," says
the author, who feels she must hone her writing skills more to do right by her beloved story.
"The complications that I see within them are harder for me, at this point in my career, to get across the way I need to get them across. You still have all the little layers, where you have to redeem this hero that everyone loves to hate, and as a writer stepping into this sort of thing, I don't think in a lot of ways that I'm at the point in my writing when I can bring that together," she confesses.
So fans will have to wait for the conclusion to the series, even though Leigh has the ending planned out.
"I know where every book is going and how the characters are going to evolve," she says, and Leigh promises she'll do her very best to do her characters justice.
In the meantime, she has several other releases lined up, including "In
a Wolf's Embrace" in this month's Beyond the Dark anthology (Berkley Sensation), and the novel Nauti Nights (Nov., Berkley Heat). She's also been contracted by St. Martin's for six more books in her Tempting SEALS series.
The jump from smaller publishing houses like Ellora's Cave to larger, New York-based publishers like Berkley and St. Martin's has been a dream come true for that seventh-grade student who always held fast to her goal of becoming a writer.
"It's been incredible," she says of her transition to mainstream publication. "I'm learning so much more; it makes every book a different sort of adventure."
But there have been lows as well as highs with entering
the big time.
On the plus side, "there's being able to reach a larger audience," she says, "but it's more stressful. It's a challenge."
For one of her first single-title forays into mainstream publishing, Leigh tackled a book in her Bound Hearts series -- a sexy set of books centered around a menage club in Washington, D.C. -- Forbidden Pleasure. She began by tamping down the sex scenes between her characters. But the editors at St. Martin's would have none of it -- they wanted that patented Lora Leigh spice.
"My first Bound Hearts book with them was sent back,
and the editor said, 'This isn't a Bound Hearts book, you're stressing out too much.' But I didn't know if readers wanted me to spell it out. So I had unconsciously pulled back myself."
But she's back on track now, with spicier-than-ever
A writer from an early age, Leigh found her way to the
erotica genre when she came upon a story she couldn't tone
down. Marley's Choice (Ellora's Cave, 2003) forced Leigh
to pen the prose she had always longed to.
"I couldn't finish that book until I let it do what it wanted to do. And it was like a love affair. I finished that book and I realized, 'This is what I want to write.'"
The author says, "I always felt like what went on behind that closed bedroom door had a lot to do with the emotions involved," and after Marley, she continued weaving sex into her intricate, emotional -- and romantic -- plots.
In fact, if you ask Leigh's husband or her 14-year-old
son, they'd tell you that she writes romance, albeit those
of a spicy variety.
"I don't look at it as erotica," she says. "To me, it is romance. It's just a little more explicit than the books
that I read growing up."
It's true that erotica is much more available than when Leigh was in school.
"I have waited my entire romance-reading life for the books that are coming out in print now. I remember reading in my 20s and thinking, 'I have to find a hotter book,'" Leigh says.
And she wasn't alone.
"Readers started demanding the books that they wanted," Leigh says. She believes the Internet gave them a voice.
"Over the Internet, people could get together in larger groups, and as they became larger groups, they became a more powerful force," she believes, a force that the publishing industry eventually had to reckon with.
Wanting what the readers want has helped Leigh's writing career in several ways. It turned her on to erotica as it was becoming hot, and it allowed her to create characters that fans cared about as much as she did. Like many romance readers, Leigh doesn't like letting characters go. So it's no surprise that she pens series romances herself, allowing her creations to live on from novel to novel.
"I love when I can go from one book to the next with the same recurring characters. There's something comforting about them, when you get to go back into a world that you really enjoy. Those are the books that I really love. And I tend to write the types of books that I enjoy reading."
A reader, a writer and a daydreamer, Leigh knew from seventh grade on what she wanted to do with her life, thanks to Mr. Mueller.
"One day he said, 'We're going to do something different, we're going to write a story,'" the author remembers.
"And I haven't stopped writing since."
LEIGH'S TOP FIVE FAVORITE LOVE STORIES
1. TELL ME NO LIES by Elizabeth Lowell
Leigh was entranced by "the complexity of the suspense, the emotions and how incredibly interesting Lowell made Chinese artifacts and the Chinese culture."
2. DARK GUARDIAN by Christine Feehan
"The emotions, the sense of a balance and the confidence and strength of both Feehan's hero and her heroine" pulled Leigh in.
3. SON OF THE MORNING by Linda Howard
"This book had an emotional intensity that spanned so many different feelings and heartaches. It showed a heroine who had loved deeply before the hero, and who fought for what she believed in. When I read that last page
I was left with a feeling of complete fulfillment."
4. LA FEMME NIKITA (USA Network TV series)
"The emotions were subtle. It was a television show you had to use your imagination with. The action, the complexities of the characters and the
really cool toys they used for weapons" made this a pick for Leigh.
5. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
"This one was just one of those movies I can't explain as to why I liked it. Normally, I don't watch movies such as this one. I'm a Stargate girl. Miami Vice the movie. Movies like that. This was just one of those odd movies that caught and held my attention."
Breed All About It
THE BREED SERIES FOREWORD
EXPLAINS HOW IT ALL BEGAN ...
They were created, they weren't born.
They were trained, they weren't raised.
They were taught to kill, and now they'll use their training to ensure their freedom.
They are Breeds. Genetically altered with the DNA of
the predators of the earth. The wolf, the lion, the cougar, the Bengal; the killers of the world. They were to be the army of a fanatical society intent on building their own
Until the world learned of their existence. Until the council lost control of their creations, and their creations began to change the world.
Now, they're loose. Banding together, creating their
own communities, their own society and their own safety, and fighting to hide the one secret that could see them destroyed.
The secret of mating heat. The chemical, biological,
the emotional reaction of one breed to the man or woman meant to be his or hers forever. A reaction that binds physically. A reaction that alters more than just the physical responses or heightens the sensuality. Nature has turned mating heat into the Breeds' Achilles heel. It's their strength, and yet their weakness. And Mother Nature isn't finished playing yet.
Man has attempted to mess with her creations. Now, she's going to show man exactly how she can refine them.
Killers will become lovers, lawyers, statesmen and heroes. And through it all they will cleave to one mate,
one heart, and create a dynasty.
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