Hello again and welcome back to Turn Me On. As always, I’m your host, Morgan Cole… Today, I’m especially thrilled to have as my guest someone who has truly changed my life. In fact, if it weren’t for her, I would have never met my husband and be the person I am today.
She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 40 contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances. RT Book Club has nominated her for a career achievement award in erotic romance and twice nominated her for Best Erotic Romance of the year, as well as awarding her several Top Picks, and a KISS Hero Award. She’s received or been nominated for The Passionate Plume, The Holt Medallion, Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, and the National Reader’s Choice Awards. Her books have been translated into at least a dozen languages. Her series include Doomsday Brethren, Wicked Lovers, Masters of Ménage with Lexi Blake, and Doms of Her Life with Jenna Jacob and Isabella LaPearl.
Her latest novella, “Forever Wicked”, part of “1,001 Dark Nights,” a collection of novellas featuring 12 best-selling authors, is the long-awaited story of fan-favorites Jason and Greta. I owe her so much and I am so honored to have her with me today. Please help me welcome Shayla Black!
SHAYLA BLACK: Hi, Morgan. Thanks for having me on your show!
Morgan Wicked-Lovers Welcome Shayla! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with me today. Before we get started, I need to thank you again for introducing me to Jack and changing my life. By the way, Brice really loved the birthday gift you sent. Jack and I can’t wait to have you over to see him when you have two minutes to rub together.
SHAYLA: It was my pleasure to introduce you and Jack. He may not be the easiest man to deal with all the time, but you have to admit that he’s not boring. LOL! Brice is getting really big. It seems like you two are enjoying him. Maybe you’ll have more surprises on the way in the near future…
Morgan: Well, I can honestly say that the word boring would be the last one I would use to describe our lives, especially since Brice went mobile… and can you just imagine Jack with a little red-haired daughter? *they both laugh* Shayla, our viewers may not know this, but we have a lot in common. We both grew up in L.A. and we both avoid cooking whenever possible.
SHAYLA: That’s absolutely true. While I’ve moved away from L.A., I still think of it fondly. And cooking… I can do it if put on the spot, but it isn’t one of those things I enjoy. At all.
Morgan: I can certainly relate to that. Well, before we begin, I’d like to start with a little background for our viewers. I know you were not a reader growing up, until college. When you first began writing, it was historical romance under the name Shelley Bradley. You wrote nine books, then took a year and a half off, and, when you returned, you moved on to erotic romance, beginning with “Bound and Determined.” When you wrote “Wicked Ties,” you took on the pseudonym Shayla Black, to differentiate yourself from your former audience, who’d come to associate you with the historical genre. Can you tell us a little about that?
SHAYLA: That’s true. The shift from steamy historical to sexy contemporary romance wasn’t something my readers at the time were prepared for. This happened before social media, so my ability to let people know about the change was limited. It was easier at the time to simply change names, especially because I wasn’t sure at the time if I was ready to set historicals aside long-term. After I wrote a few contemporaries, however, I was hooked and wanted to write bunches
Morgan: And I know I speak for our viewers when I say that we’re so happy that you’ve done, and continue to do that. You’ve described yourself as “offbeat” and “in your head.” So, tell us, what was it that attracted you to the erotic romance genre; specifically, BDSM and military men, which seem to be a favorite
SHAYLA: Erotic and BDSM because I wanted a vehicle I could use to both help reveal characters and their psyches, as well as offer the reader sex that went beyond the body and delved into the mind. The gamut of emotions to write about in this genre is almost endless, and if I step outside myself and put on my “character hat,” I can think of a thousand ways to interpret and tell new stories in this genre.The military men are a nod to my grandfather and my great-uncles. I grew up listening to them tell war stories. Their offspring, while not military, were all very alpha. And they’re a riot when they’re all together. I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from my big family in many capacities over the years.
Morgan: That’s so interesting. You know, until Jack, and our failed “vanilla experiment,” I had never realized what a huge part the mind plays in the sexual experience. Your books have played such an important role in that journey of self-discovery for so many. What do YOU think it is about your books—especially the Wicked Lovers series—that appeals to readers?
SHAYLA: I hope it’s the emotion. That’s actually why I write them. As I plot, I’m not thinking about how to make the book as hot as possible. I’m always looking for the ways to wring maximum emotion out of these characters and their story. Each is deeply personal to me for one reason or another.
Morgan: I’ve noticed that you seem to revel in your characters’ imperfections, which are often the qualities which most endear them to the reader and to the object of their affection. Your characters are so multi-dimensional and full of issues that need resolving. What’s your inspiration when creating a character? Are any of them based on people you know?
SHAYLA: I see characters the way I see people. I’m fascinated by folks, so I’m always trying to figure them out. When I interpret their motivations or hear news stories about interesting people or pretty much come into any human contact, I get ideas. Most won’t ever actually become a story. And I don’t ever use whole people I know, but I use bits and parts of friends, family, and acquaintances. Sometimes, even strangers who think I’m not paying attention to them.
Morgan: You’ve said that you like to write to give the characters what they need to be happy, whatever that may look like. Do you ever think about your characters after their books are finished and you’ve moved on? Do you wonder what they’re up to; what they’re doing on Saturday night?
SHAYLA: I don’t wonder, actually. I kind of know—not minute by minute. But I get snapshots. For instance, during “Theirs To Cherish,” I had a very clear picture of Logan and Tara’s evening a couple of years after their “I do,” which I share in the book. When I finished “Theirs To Cherish,” I had a vivid image of Sean, Callie, and Thorpe’s lives over the next few months, and some of it dovetails into book 9, “His To Take,” which releases in February 2015. So everyone will get to read that. In fact, I see a little bit of all the characters at the end of any given book. I love getting a peek into their futures, and it’s the reason I include updates as I can. Readers have said they enjoy them, too.
Morgan: Oh, I know we do! Are there any characters you’ve created who you truly dislike?
SHAYLA: Totally. The first one who springs to mind is Mathias from the Doomsday Brethren. Nothing about him was redeemable. But he was totally fascinating to write. The time I spent in his head was scary.
Morgan: You’ve said you often get your inspiration while driving or in the shower, and I know you are most definitely inspired by music. How is it that you can write while music with lyrics is playing while the rest of us can barely walk and chew gum at the same time?
SHAYLA: After a while, the lyrics simply become the background for me. I might start out singing along in my head, but once I start writing, that all just floats away. I’m really left with the mood and tone of the song, which is what I love. In the right circumstances, it will help me really focus on the intensity of a scene.
Morgan: This is book 7.75 in the Wicked Lovers Series, figuring in novellas. What do you envision for the future of the series?
SHAYLA: I can’t say too, too much, but when readers finish “Theirs To Cherish,” which comes out March 4, you’ll see I’ve got a new path to pursue, should I choose to. I’m able to bring some new characters surrounding that. You’ll also see stories about Joaquin (Kata’s brother), Axel (Dominion security), and some of the other folks I’ve just been waiting to get to. I even have a plan for Sweet Pea (Dominion’s receptionist/helper).
Morgan: I’m so excited to read them! So Shayla, what do you wish people knew about you or your writing that no one’s ever asked?
SHAYLA: I’m not asked about the themes of the books very often, but for me they’re the reason I chose to write a story the way I did. Whether I’m saying something about self-acceptance (“Wicked Ties”), not judging a book by its cover (“Delicious”), overcoming your fears (“Decadent”, “Surrender To Me”, “Ours To Love”), second chances (“Belong To Me”, “Mine To Hold”, “Forever Wicked”), or overcoming your past to embrace a new path (“Theirs To Cherish”), I’m trying to convey something deeper than sex.
Morgan: I love that answer, and I think we, as readers, can see that and relate to those themes, each in our own way. What do you feel is most misunderstood about you?
SHAYLA: At the end of the day, I come across as a pretty normal wife and mother. Most people who live around me and come into contact with me on a non-writing basis have no idea who I am or what I do. I work hard. I play hard. I’m always dreaming up something to put in a book, but if you saw me around the grocery store, you’d never guess.
Morgan: What would you like to tell us about “Forever Wicked”? I’m sure everyone’s Kindle is primed for the download, but feel free to tease us.
SHAYLA: I’ve been giving lots of teasers on my page (https://www.facebook.com/ShaylaBlackAuthor), but I’ll also be posting a juicy excerpt on my website the night before the release. When I finished, I had a dear friend kind enough to read it aloud to me. Two others were in the room. There might have been a few tears at the end. For me, that feels like mission accomplished.
Morgan: Well, since I’ve been known to cry at Hallmark commercials, I’ll be sure to have my box of tissues ready. Okay Shayla, it’s time for THREE QUESTIONS. The rules are, I ask you three questions and you have to answer each in no more than one sentence. You can use as few as one word, but no more than one sentence. Question 1: The name of this show is Turn Me On. What turns YOU on?
SHAYLA: I love balmy weather, days with friends and family, good music, cupcakes, brain teasers, having a great idea for a book, and time away from the chaos with my hubby.
Morgan: Question 2: WHO turns you on?
SHAYLA: My answer is not so much a WHO, but a WHAT. I’m deeply attracted to very smart people who love life. If we’re talking strictly physical…well, a wide set of muscled shoulders and green eyes helps.
Morgan: Question 3: What’s the one thing you’ve never done, but would like to try?
SHAYLA: I don’t hesitate often to do something I’ve been wanting to. I gave up a corporate job to dive head first into writing, I’ve traveled, and I’ve even tackled a whole lot of home remodeling lately. I have a crazier side, but we won’t go there. I have, however, always been a little hesitant to get in a helicopter. I have a book signing in New York City in March, and my husband is determined that we should take a chopper tour of the city. So…I guess I’m going. Now in all fairness, he’s introduced me to some of my favorite cuisines, even if I tasted them kicking and screaming, so this will probably be awesome.
Morgan: Shayla Black, it has been such a pleasure to visit with you today, and I have a feeling the internet is going to be a quieter place tomorrow, as we’ll all be busy reading Jason and Greta’s story in “Forever Wicked,” and waiting with bated breath for Sean, Callie, and Thorpe’s in “Theirs to Cherish,” on March 4. Thank you again Shayla, and thank you to my loyal viewers.Until next time, I’m Morgan Cole, reminding you all to be true to yourselves in your search for what turns YOU on!