1. Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
My love of romance began at age of eleven when my Nanns slipped me a couple True Romance comic books, along with my first romance (a Harlequin, I believe) and it was love at first sight. Before long, I was writing my own stories and have been doing so for over two decades. Along with erotic romance, I enjoy writing fantasy/paranormal and contemporary.
A New Jersey native, I currently reside in an 1890 Folk Victorian that my husband and I are slowly (very slowly) returning to its former beauty. We share this century-old home with our adopted dog, Maggie Moo, and a bevy of delightfully comical cats. Oh, and let’s not forget the ‘ghost mice’ … unseen to the human eye, our cats dutifully chase these invisible intruders throughout the house at three o’clock in the morning.
I've have several erotic shorts published in an online magazine, Every Night Erotica, as well as had one of a short story, Dark Desire, included in XOXO Publishing’s Halloween Anthology, Vol. 1, released October, 2010.
I was very excited to join the Secret Cravings Publishing family and my first novella, Skin Deep, was released February 9, 2011!
I'm a member of RWA, FF&P RWA, Elements RWA, Erotic Readers & Writers Association, Savvy Authors, Romance Divas and GoodReads.com.
Romance and a deep emotional connection between my characters are integral to my writing, as is giving readers a chance to escape into my characters' world for a little while. I love hearing from readers, fellow writers, and am happy to answer all e-mails.
You can find me at www.laylahunter.com or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Writing. *laughs* Seriously? Let’s see … I love to read, but after sitting at the computer for so long, I’m more likely to want to get up and move, but reading (and research) are on the top of my list (I LOVE Google!). I love walking and hiking (great for plotting!). Photography is a long-time passion of mine and I’m considering picking up the camera a little more often so I can use some of my own photos for upcoming book trailers. Belly dancing! Amazing exercise and so much fun! Shooting sports … my husband loves to shoot and owns several handguns so we’ll go to the range together and blow off some steam! Spending time with my family, watching movies or playing the Wii together is something we love to do too!
Snuggling and playing with our cats is one of my absolute favorite ways to relax, just as relaxing in front of a nice fire, a glass of Merlot, a movie and … just breathing. Oh, I KNOW what you were thinking! *waggles wickedly* Me too …
3. What is your daily routine as far as when you have an idea for your story?
I work full-time, so Monday through Fridays are usually spoken for, unless it’s a holiday. Often, though, I’ll write during my lunch hour and of course, in the evenings, but the weekends are when I immerse myself in my alternate worlds and accomplish most of my writing. I am a Night Owl so staying up late is nothing new for me and I do some of my best writing while everyone else sleeps.
4. Where do you get your ideas from?
Let's just say I should buy stock in 3M! I LOVE sticky notes and I have them everywhere just in case an idea pops into my head, a line of dialogue, a title, or character name. Sometimes something I see on television or while looking through a magazine can spark an idea, so I have them everywhere.
I've used napkins, little slips of paper, the back of a menu and envelope. Nothing is safe when my Muse strikes! *laughs* I have some of my best ideas after I wake up from a dream or first thing in the morning, so there is a book light, pad and pen on my nightstand.
I’m sure this will sound strange, but I have amazingly vivid and emotional dreams (likely tied to my very overactive imagination), so many of the seeds for my stories have come from there. I love playing the “What if …” game when I see a striking picture or drive past an unusual building. Television (especially the History Channel, Discovery channel or documentaries) can be a wonderful source to spark an idea.
Music! Whether it’s the title or lyrics to a song or even the ‘mood’ of a song, an idea for a story can spring from there.
5. Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, what would be your favorite and why?
Each and every story holds a special place in my heart because I put so much into them. If I had to pick one, I'd say it's Skin Deep. My own experience with Morphea is what inspired me to write this book. I have wanted to write this story for a long time but finding the courage to face some of my own demons, so to speak, took some time. The process was cathartic to say the least.
Although the theme of the book is beauty is only skin deep, I didn’t want to get on a soap box. What I wanted to accomplish was to share the story of a little known condition with others and perhaps in some way reach out to those who suffer from the same disorder or any other disorder that affects one’s outward appearance. No matter what anyone tries to convince us of otherwise (and the social medias do try the damnedest!) it really is what’s on the inside that matters most, and we truly need to let ourselves believe so!
Here is the link for the trailer if anyone wants to take a peek … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9Dr9IM1csQ
6. Tell us something funny about yourself that not a lot of people know about?
*laughs* Oh my … well, I will confess I can only watch scary movies when I'm home alone! I know that sounds weird, but it's true. For some reason, if my husband and/or daughter are here, I can't watch one, nor can I go to a theater. Butt when I'm alone, it's game on. Granted I usually end up scared out of my mind and wind up calling my husband, but that's part of the fun.
Oh, and I love Miracle Whip.
7. Does any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination?
I would have to answer a little bit of both. I believe that we all put a bit of ourselves in our writing even if we try not to; I know that I certainly do. In my opinion, the unique voice of an author comes from a part of her/himself, real life or imagined.
As for real life experiences, Skin Deep was quite personal to me as I was diagnosed with Morphea so I understand what Emily is going through. In this case, I probably placed a bit more of myself in this book than I care to admit, but it was a journey worth taking. Not many people know what Morphea is so it was important for me to write about it.
8. Does your ‘muse’ have a name and if so what is his/her name?
Ah, let’s see … my Muse! *grins* I’m blessed to have a very generous and creative Muse who keeps my head filled with wonderful characters clamoring to have their stories told. I'd share his name but I feel that doing so would take some of the magic away. He's mine and I'm keeping him. *winks*
9. What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing?
I’ve been strongly drawn to erotic romance, whether it's contemporary of paranormal/fantasy. I tried my hand at erotica, but I found that I need romance to be central to my story and have the ‘intimacy’ between my characters a sensual enhancement to their relationship. And the hopeless romantic in me needs a HEA, or at the very least, a HFN ending.
I’ve always loved the paranormal/fantasy genre as well, and I’m drawn as powerfully to this genre as I am to erotic contemporary. In fact, I have an ongoing weekly free read – My Soul to Keep – at Secret Cravings Publishing which happens to be a paranormal!
I'm currently trying my hand with an urban/post apocalyptic fantasy. I love the freedom the 'fantasy' element adds.
10. Who are your favorite authors that are out now?
There are so many authors I enjoy reading, and I’m always on the hunt for new authors too! Some of my favorites, though, would have to be Freda Warrington, Jean Auel (I have a letter from her from a long time ago that I treasure), Isobel Carmody, Charles DeLint, Neil Gaiman, Thea Devine, Lori Foster, Stephen King, Leanna Renee Hieber, Susan Carroll, Philippa Gregory and ANYTHING by Josh Whedon! That’s just naming a few.
11. Who is your favorite female and male characters from your books and why?
To date, I'd have to say my favorite female character would be Emily from Skin Deep, for the reasons already stated above.
As for my favorite male character … that's a tough decision. I'd be hard pressed to choose between Rick (from Skin Deep) or Sam (from Whisper Sweet Nothings). Both are strong men, inside and out, but they are also vulnerable and imperfect (as most of us are) and there is something about those traits that draws me to them.
12. What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer?
I’ve always loved writing … everything from the first spark of a story, to choosing my character’s names, picking a location and the research … LOVE the research! Transferring the mini-movies in my head to paper is an adventure and I love getting lost in their world while I’m doing so. Sometimes my characters take me to places I hadn’t expected but I don’t fight it … I follow where they lead.
What I didn’t realize was just how much work is still needed after you write ‘The End.’ Edits, edits and more edits, which I didn’t really mind because after all those edits, my story shines! The promotional end of the process truly took me by surprise. The time and energy needed to put yourself and your work out there is enormous and I have a newfound respect for those who have gone before me. The social networking aspect of the business is an exhaustive endeavor BUT on the bright side, I’ve met some amazing people in the process.
13. What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer?
“Finish the damned book!” *laughs* I’m sure we’ve all heard that or read it somewhere before but it’s the truth. Write, write and write a little more. I’m a new author myself so short of telling others not to give up, ever, I’d have to saw write what you know and write the book you love!
In the same regard, writing is sometimes a lonely endeavor, so join a Yahoo group with like-minded writers, or writers/readers in similar genres and connect!
I would love to share some of my favorite sites with other writers! The Bookshelf Muse is one of my favorite sites … trust me! This site contains some of the most unusual and creative 'thesauruses' a writer could want. Want an Emotion Thesaurus? A Weather Thesaurus? A Character Thesaurus? Check this blog out and follow!
Another amazing Yahoo Group we can all use … published or not. Invaluable resources and amazing members!
If you write Erotic romance, visit these sites:
I’ve also found workshops to be extremely helpful! Working full-time and having a family to take care of, my time is at a premium. Luckily for me, there are many online workshops available that make taking one (or more) quite convenient! Most are very affordable and there are quite a few free ones as well.
Here are some of my favorite websites:
I will extend one word of caution - you have to be careful when it comes to becoming the perpetual student and putting what you’ve learned to use and actually writing a story you plan to and follow through on submitting. For me, it was quite easy to become ‘addicted’ to the workshops and stay safe from putting myself out there.
14. If you hadn’t become a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think about writing. I swear I must have been a writer of some sort in another life! *laughs* Truth is, I really don’t have a choice … I find I HAVE to write or the characters in my head will keep me up at night. They are relentless about wanting their stories told.
About 15 years ago, I was actually ready to submit my first ms when our daughter came along and *fast forward 15 years.* Amazing how those years fly by! But here I am … better late than never I always say, and with another decade of life experiences under my belt to enrich my writing.
15. What would be the perfect Romantic getaway?
Hmmm … I tend to enjoy more offbeat activities. For me, the perfect romantic getaway might be a weekend ghost hunt in an unusual location, let's say New Orleans. Afterwards, we'd retreat to a cozy bed and breakfast or hotel; enjoy some music at a small jazz club; savor to local cuisine; take in the ambience of the locale by walking about, taking pictures, etc.
Well now that we got the question and answer out of the way…..why don’t you tell us about your latest story you have out now?
My newest release from Secret Cravings Publishing is a short story (a Weekend Getaway) entitled Whisper Sweet Nothings. Here's the blurb …
Sarah Cole never expected to find herself divorced and nearly broke at the age of thirty-four, no less working part-time as a phone sex operator for Whisper Sweet Nothings.
Solely responsible for the care of her grandmother, she's willing to do whatever she needs to care for the woman who raised her, even if it means foregoing her dream to sing.
News of his impending deployment turns Lt. Samuel Meade's world upside down, and he finds himself alone to face the unknown when unexpectedly abandoned by his girlfriend.
Eager to help him shake the blues, friends set him up with Whisper Sweet Nothings for a little fun before deployment. Not wanting to seem ungrateful or endure the merciless ribbing of his buddies, he goes ahead with the call, expecting the worst.
Instead, he finds Sherry (aka Sarah Cole), a kindred soul as seemingly lost as he is.
Neither could have imagined the instant bond forged that night, the foundation for a friendship that would span nearly a year. Sharing heartfelt letters with a woman he's never met, Sam finds himself falling for her.
Scarred in more ways than one during his deployment, Sam returns stateside suffering from PTSD and a painful leg injury. Convincing himself that he is as broken as his dream of pursuing her, he gives himself over to despair.
Unbeknownst to them, with the help of a friend, they find themselves face to face, embarking on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance and a once in a lifetime love.
Here's an excerpt …
Sarah jumped when the phone finally rang, staring at the console like a deer caught in headlights, unable to move. What the hell was she doing? This was insane, an introverted, thirty-something, afraid-of-her-own-shadow architect-wannabe trying to pass herself off as a phone sex operator? She'd lost her mind.
"Are you going to get that or what?" Rachel chided. Sarah looked helplessly to her designated trainer.
"You can do this. Remember why you are doing this, sweetie. It makes it easier. I'll be nearby," the woman reassured her.
Sarah nodded, adjusting her headset and reaching over to press the flashing button—the button that would lead her down a path she'd never pictured herself traversing, especially not at this point in her life.
When she began training, she'd been asked to pick a name for herself and had chosen Sherry. It had a sweet, girl-next-door quality to it unlike her actual name. Her eccentric, literary-minded mother had thought it a wonderful idea to name her only daughter Scheherazade, although most of her friends called her Sarah. Tonight, though, she was Sherry, a sexy voiced seductress on the other end of a telephone entertaining horny men and perverts and…
Stop! You can do this Sarah. If you could live through one of the most brutal divorces in recorded history, you can do this.
"Hello, this is Sherry. Welcome to Whisper Sweet Nothings…have you called us before?" she asked sweetly even though her hands shook and her heart pounded painfully within her chest. Quickly, she glanced at the computer screen to scan a few details about her caller.
"Uh, no…this is…well, this is my first time calling."
Given she was new she'd been told she would get the undecided first-timers or the clients who wanted a more vanilla experience. Most of the women here had a specialty…BDSM, fetish, gay/lesbian, etc. As she trained, she could add to her repertoire if she chose which would increase her moneymaking potential.
"Not to worry. That's why they put you in my very capable hands. I will take care of you. What's your name?" she asked, pulling out the scripts she had studied ad nauseum.
"Sam. My name is Sam. Know what…this was a mistake. I…I should go. I'm sorry, ma'am…I didn't mean to waste your time and…"
She could hear his voice trembling and her heart went out to him. He was as nervous as she was. "Sam…listen to me. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but would it make you feel better to know that this is my first time too?"
She caught the look of disdain from Rachel who shook her head from side to side, obviously a mistake and likely not to be her first. Sorry, she mouthed, turning her attention back to Sam.
"I think you are just saying that to keep me on the line."
She smiled. "No, this really is my first time. I'll make you a deal. We take this one-step at a time…together. How does that sound?"
There was a moment of silence and she thought she'd lost him. Her heart sank.
"That sounds fine."
"So tell me…what is it you were looking for when you called me tonight?"
You can find Whisper Sweet Nothings at the following locations:
Secret Cravings Publishing:
Barnes and Noble:
My current weekly free read at Secret Cravings Publishing has me working on new installments of 'My Soul to Keep' every week. Here is the blurb:
Special Agent Analiese Valentine – aka "Val" – lived and died for her career. Possessing a sixth sense for as long as she could remember, Val always knew she was different – and so did everyone else. So different, in fact, her own mother – apparently unable to tolerate her daughter's unusual gifts – abandoned her, forging internal scars so deep most relationships, if any, were cultivated at a safe distance. A near-tragic accident opens unexpected doors – some otherworldly – changing her life in ways she'd never imagined possible.
Dr. Maxwell "Max" Thornton, a psychologist, ironically lives an almost reclusive life except for his practice. Although his empathic abilities allow him to help his patients in ways most practitioners never could, the effort is taxing, at times debilitating. Keeping a limited and selective clientele, he manages to pursue a career and maintain his sanity, convinced normal relationships are out of the realm of his reach.
When a guarded agent and a reluctant empath cross paths, unexpected revelations occur and a delicate thread binds them to one another as a predetermined Fate begins to unfold, sending them plummeting into a war between good and evil.