Friday, January 21, 2011

Did You Know That Erotica Has It's Own Morals? My Interview With Sarah Ballance

Saulti Dear Reader today we will hear the fairy tale like story of Sarah Ballance and her road to publication. And during this interview I have learned so much about romantic suspense as a genre as well as sub genre's within it. On with the interview....

Sarah lives a charmed life as the mother of six incredible homeschooled children, all of whom are completely adorable when they're asleep. Her husband of many years (long, long years, he calls them) is the kind of guy who could teach those heroes from the books a thing or two about romance, not that he'd readily admit it. Completely supportive of her new found passion for writing, he's generously offered to help with any necessary research for "the good parts." She's never had to ask twice.

Sarah wrote her first novel because she told someone she couldn't.  It was accept by the first publisher she queried, and the rest, as they say, is history.  While the idea of writing novels initially intimidated her, it has morphed into a favorite pastime since her characters, unlike her kids, actually listen to her. Most of the time.

1.       Have you ever googled yourself? If so what did you see?
Not until a couple of months after my first book release.  What I found was about three pages of ME.  I was shocked.  Fortunately, there wasn't a horrifying entry in the bunch.  I mostly found news of my release and blog entries or interviews, and also discovered my book for sale at several third party vendors which was a nice surprise.
2.       Do you have a mentor/s? If so who and what have you gained from their relationship?
My crit partner wins this prize.  She read the first draft of the first chapter of my first novel and she's still speaking to me, if you can believe it.  ;c)  She's my hero, though.  I shudder to think what a crit group would have done to my "had" and "that" riddled manuscript, but she offered gentle guidance in those early days which, in turn, gave me the confidence to grow and improve (a LOT) as an author.  There's no way I'd be here, two releases down, without her.
3.       Have you considered self publishing? If so elaborate on whatever your decision was.
No, I haven't.  My first manuscript was accepted by the first and only publisher I queried, so it's hard to say what might have changed had I faced a rejection or ten.  But would I move forward without professional editing?  Absolutely not.
4.       Do you follow writing blogs? If so which ones and why?
I try.  Oh, how I try.  LOL.  There just aren't enough hours in the day, and I exist in a perpetual state of "frazzled."  So rather than frequent any one spot, I tend to make the rounds when I see a tweet or a message board entry with the news of a new blog or interview posted. 
5.       How/where do you gather inspiration?
I love music when I write.  My hubby is a total romantic (don't tell him I said that) and he keeps me inspired on a greater scale.  We've been together 15 years, but he still turns my insides to mush, which is handy when you're writing about those fluttery first moments of attraction and heart-pounding lust.
6.       How do you gather information/research for a book? What’s the most significant experience you had with research?
My first two novels, DOWN IN FLAMES and RUN TO YOU, did not require research.  The one I'm working on now required quite a bit and, in fact, I recently told the tale in a guest blog I dubbed The Riot of Research.  I spent hours asking my hubby about a gun, only to realize I really need to know about ammo.  It took a solid day just to gather enough info for a short two-page prologue, and now if I so much as mention "having a question" to him, that little vein on his head starts to throb.  It was hilarious.  (We won't ask him what he'd call it, LOL).
7.       What’s the best/worst writing advice you have ever received?
The best?  Be yourself.  You don't have to write 3,000 words a day – or even 300 – to be a "real" author.  No need to wait for the end - you can edit as you go along if you'd like.  You don't have to fit a mold and neither do your characters.  The worst?  Anyone insisting otherwise.
8.       What’s the best/worst marketing advice? Best advice, hands down, was "one reader at a time."  That said, the worst is a nonstop barrage of "buy my book" tweets and FB status updates.  As a reader, I tend to avoid the latter.  But as for an author who takes the time to connect with me?  Forget buying one book – I'll buy them all.
9.       What’s the best/worst publishing advice?
Do your research!  Period.  I didn't know enough to research before I had my first contract, but I couldn't have chosen a better publisher.  Noble ROCKS.

10.   What defines a great romance novel?
There's an X-factor. It needs to be well-written, obviously, but readers need to be able to connect to the characters in a way that touches them.  Any story that has readers emotionally invested in a believable, heart-wrenching, breathtaking plot scores big in my book.
11.   Do you feel that a romance has to have sex in order for it to be great?
Absolutely not!  In fact, the tension without sex can be incredibly erotic in itself. 

Thank you so much for having me here today.  It's been a pleasure having the opportunity to chat with you!  I'm going to hang out to answer any questions your readers may have, so, dear readers, feel free to bring 'em on. Anything goes – nothing's too crazy or too personal!  ;c)

Fabulous honest answers Sarah. Grazi...Grazi...And in order to get her to quit stalking my page people please ask some questions. (Kidding Sarah) Now lets learn about genre's and sub genres.

Those that know my work know that I write what is considered "clean fiction" in the romantic genre's. However, I do believe in the art of sexual tension. I have my own personal moral code of what is too far, words that are taboo and what's ethical--as I'm sure all authors do. I'm pleased to see  that publishers have that as well and it ranges from the strictest clean fiction publisher to the most erotic publisher. Here's two examples that I saw within the erotica genre. The first being that any writing of an erotic nature with in the books be from consenting characters 18 years of age or older no matter the genre or time period. Second they have what's called levels of heat or flame. Most have a scale from 1-5. 1 meaning less description. 5 meaning....well you get it.

Now lets talk about sensual romance. When I asked Sarah this her answer was , in reference to her book Run to You. " There's sex, but little to no mention of body parts - not graphic." Kathryn Anne Dubois defined three subgenres of romance in her article on Defining the Market as....

Erotica – explicit sex without emotion and commitment.
Erotic Romance – explicit sex with emotion and commitment.

 Sensual Romance – lot of unexplicit sex with emotion and commitment.

Now while I won't be writing novels with heat ratings...I have respect for those women that do and their craft. Just like I know those women I've befriended that write in the genre don't call me a prude. (at least not on my wall.) LOL. Now time for Sarah's latest novel Run to You

GENRES:  romantic suspense, romance - I love a good romantic suspense.  It's my favorite genre to read, and being able to write them is a dream come true.

BLURB (Run to You, romantic suspense)
Mattie James can't pinpoint exactly when she lost control of her life, but the moment she decided to take it back made the front page of the local paper. Desperate to dodge the fallout— and the tabloids—she jumps at the chance to spend an off-season week in a tiny resort community by the sea. Making the trip with her ex-lover is a complication she can live with; coming face to face with a dead woman is not.

The last thing Sheriff Wyatt Reed expected to find on the storm-ravaged beach was a beautiful blonde with a jealous sidekick, but one look at Mattie left him wanting more. Their first date takes an ominous turn when he gets the call that a woman was found murdered. With a killer on the loose and a troubling lack of suspects or motive, Wyatt has to put his feelings aside to focus on the case. But his vow not to become personally involved is shattered when he discovers Mattie's life is on the line, and this time the truth leaves her with a deadly choice . . . and nowhere to run.  

Wow that's sounds like romantic suspense with a dash of adventure!! If you'd like to learn more about Sarah or her books please click on the links below. Thank you kindly Sarah for visiting. Keep up the good work...don't be a stranger now either.

Facebook Friend Page:


  1. Wow, what an awesome interview, you too! I'm constantly grilling my husband about research too and we argue. Cause I need one thing, and he's giving me something else entirely, LOL! Darn him and his need for realism, doesn't he realize I write FICTION! *grin*

    Also remember, erotic romance vs. non-erotic romance has to do with how graphically it's written, not just the emotional/physical side. That's something I've picked up along the way, LOL! :-D

  2. Hello, Sarah Ballance! For once, I'll 'come out' as your crit partner! LOL..Only because you're mine as well and I can say the same grateful things about you.

    And I know both books are worth every ounce of effort that you've put into them. They're wonderful! all: Ms. Ballance's life is just as she tells it. And my hat's off to her for managing to crank out two wonderful books with a brood of six children.

    Enjoyed your post!

  3. I have to admit I was a little surprised to have "erotic" on the cover of my book because I thought erotic meant explicit. One of my friends even responded with "Oh my gosh, Sarah, what did you WRITE?" I mentioned this to my CP who, always the voice of reason, said it WAS hot, just not in the flinging body parts sort of way. Then one reviewer commented it was tastefully done. Funny, the myriad of reactions stemming from that one little word!

    I like how you posted the interview, Bri. I found it interesting and I already knew most of the content, LOL!

  4. @ Elaina
    Also remember, erotic romance vs. non-erotic romance has to do with how graphically it's written, not just the emotional/physical side. That's something I've picked up along the way,

    I agree. Great point. Thanks

    @ C Zampa and she flipping homeschools. I have four and if I did that they would all be illiterate but would know how to clean like Martha Stewart.

    @ Sarah Thanks...I'm excited to read it and do a review to complement the interview. I'm getting a good TBR list going. I plan on tackling after the author tour we are doing.

  5. Elaina, good point! The emotional aspect for me is (or can be, when done well) way hotter than the actual graphic sex. It's not something I've often tried to quantify, LOL, but as a reader it's something I've seen loud and clear. But to each his own, and not once have I claimed to be normal! *Giggle*

    Our husbands might need to form a support group. ;c)

  6. C Zampa, you are the most rockin' CP on the planet. Can ya'll even fathom what this poor woman goes through listening to me on a daily basis? And - AHEM - her first finished ms was picked up by the FIRST pub she queried and she'll have an awesome, sensual romance of her own hitting the shelves in March. AwesomeNESS!

  7. @Bri, you are too kind! And is this tour craziness or what? LOVE IT!

  8. I found you via hanna moskowitz and I am so glad that I did. Thank you for your attention to detail. I enjoy every minute of it!