Jennifer Leeland is the author of some of the most titillating Erotic Romance ever to grace the memory storage of my e-reader. She is a cross genre writer who has dabbled in Paranormal, Sci-fi, Contemporary, BDSM-Fetish and Steamy as all Hell–Suspense. Her novels feature alpha males with control issues and kick ass heroines who know what they want and how to get it. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about how you make love happen in your writing, Jennifer!
Jennifer Leeland’s Making Love 101:
When you start developing a love story what are the elements that you feel are essential for that romance to work? What are some elements or concepts that you might use in your stories that might not be as common to other authors?
Oh, great question!
We have a joke in my family. I have to have a happy ending. For any romance I write, a satisfying happy ending is a must. My husband likes what we call in our house “a Russian ending” meaning that there’s lots of angst, but no assurance of happiness. I’m all about emotional connections and trust. I think we all need that. There was a time where fiction was the only place I could find it, living vicariously through characters who were able to connect. I haven’t forgotten that. Trust is a HUGE theme in my stories and though a lot of authors use that concept, I have pretty unique ways of getting there. Nothing is ever easy for characters in my books. They have to really work at finding that passion, that amazing connection with each other.
Dark Past is a naughty bit of yummy space smut that let me tick off all the boxes in what I love about Erotic Sci-fi. You created a fantastically unique world and I loved the characters but I was very confused because I thought that there were all these love stories that had been in previous books but Dark Past wasn’t part of a series. How was it that this book was a stand alone but felt as if it were in the middle of a larger story arc?
Oh yes, “Dark Past” is the second in a series and “Dark Revenge” is the first book. Though the story itself is meant to stand alone, I think there are hints of a larger story. It was tough to keep some of the secondary characters from taking over. There is SUCH a fine balance between showing a character’s past and showing too much about other characters. My crit partner is ALWAYS correcting my bad habit of writing “As you know…” in a variety of ways. LOL!
Oh! This is great! It’s not connected to a series in Goodreads or Amazon. Is this a series that you have an interest to pursue?
I have at least two more in the series, but it could end up being more.
The hero of Dark Past is Bud Masterson; a man who has been hardened by betrayal, imprisonment and exile. He is lured back to Teran Four by an unknown source and falls into a game that is already in play. Bud never seems to me to be such an easily manipulated person. Why was it so simple to get him to think he could sneak on to Teran Four into Davida’s Party with the promise that he could steal away a heavily guarded and valuable prize? Why would he behave so rashly or foolishly?
I don’t think Bud was very rational about his home planet. There is an inherent lack of belief in his own mortality that makes Bud a bit of a crazy man. He’s not in touch with his own weaknesses at all. And his biggest weakness was his sister. ANY evidence that she might be alive was enough to short out Bud’s wisdom. I swear if you looked in the dictionary under “going off half-cocked” his picture would be there.
One of my biggest struggles with Bud was his constant refusal to face his fallibility. I mean, he made up his mind about Julianna and spent ten years believing it. He never questioned that he could be wrong. Not a very likable trait. It took all the pain that he goes through with Julianna to bring out his doubts and make him finally see that he wasn’t always right.
Julianna is in possession of many secrets. She has survived unspeakable abuse under Stavos Davida’s control but she serves him for a greater cause fueled by her own hatred. Her character is so very strong and powerful–when you were originally developing her character how did you first envision her to be. Did you know from the beginning that Julianna would bear so much? How has her love for Bud help mold her into the woman that suffers through her relationship with Davida so willingly?
Oh. My. God. I had NO idea when I began this story that Julianna would be the character she is. The hardest thing to write about her is that I don’t understand the kind of commitment her actions require. She is willing to take all of it for the good of her people.
When I started to write this, I read accounts of women who worked in the French Resistance. It was from their words that I saw how blurred the lines could get, how acting a part can eat away at a person. The core of Julianna is that she wants it all to mean something. If she quits, if she slips up, it would all be for nothing and she couldn’t allow that. For that, she endures so much. Women have often risked their lives to fight undercover. Something always motivates them. For Julianna, it was the loss of her child. It had to mean something.
It is said that love, hate and jealousy will persist through most anything. When Bud first sees Julianna in the dungeon after he is caught by Davida’s men, she intercedes the search of his mind, is it the betrayal that is feeding his anger or is it the love, hate and jealousy that is foremost in his heart?
Honestly, at that point in the story, it’s hard to say. I don’t know that Bud ever truly hated Julianna. He had been deeply hurt by what he believed was her betrayal. And of course, he believed he was infallible. For Bud, black and white thinking was both an asset and a defect. It made him brave and gave him endurance, but it also made him judgmental and suspicious. On the surface, at the moment, probably contempt is the best word to describe his feelings. But beneath the surface was his longing for her, his desperate pain at the loss of her. He quashes it when it rises to the surface but he’s definitely conflicted.
As Julianna and Bud are moved around the playing field of this much larger plot Julianna appeals to him for the child Davida has been demanding of her for years. She would not bear Davida’s offspring and she and Bud were genetically designed to be mated to one another. In the world you created is genetic design nothing more than a biological compatibility or does it also create a more emotional connection? Are designed mates at all like soulmates?
On Teran Four, no. I’d say that breeding became everything. The emotional connections were considered another factor to consider. Yet, until Davida took power, the breeding was not forced. It was Davida’s dictatorial demands that created the concept of “genetic perfection”. Choice was removed from consideration. Teran Four was very rigid in its social construct, but love was valued. They definitely took the concept of “it’s not what you know but who your father is” to the extreme.
In both Dark Past and one of your other books, Wolf of Arundale Hall your heroes are Alpha males with a taste for darker passions who demand submission of their women. What is it about dominant male heroes that have a darker side that seem to appeal to readers of Erotic Romance?
I think there’s an element of trust that’s required for the heroines of my books to surrender to the heroes. I think readers of erotic romance long to feel that kind of trust with another person. Can I surrender and trust my partner not to hurt me or leave me? Can I let him bind me, make me helpless, and not be hurt by him? Ultimately, can I reveal my true self, who I am beneath the mask, and he’ll still be there? I know that’s a longing I understand. To be able to let go, to believe in another person, to have struggles together and not abandon each other-those are things that make life worth living. And the process of getting to that place can be satisfying to read.
Joshua, from Wolf of Arundale Hall, flees from his home to spare his wife, Elizabeth, the mating he is urged to seek with her to bind her to him. He is torn in two by what he wants and what his animal demands. When you are writing a Paranormal Romance as opposed to a Sci-fi or any other type do you feel that there is a different formula prescribed to the hero from one genre to another?
Yes and no. Joshua is definitely motivated by the confines of his curse. He is moved by his blood. Yet, like my characters in my other books, he struggles to accept what he is. Though his needs are dictated by his werewolf self, he is still most assuredly human in his doubts and his struggles. If he was only motivated by the wolf beneath his skin, he wouldn’t have been put off by a gunshot from Elizabeth. But there was much more that drove him and accepting responsibility for the burden he’d left on his wife was part of that. I think the paranormal aspect was like any other character trait or conflict between people.
Elizabeth and Julianna both have similar characteristics in that they both have a sense of self awareness and security to be sure of their wants and desires and not shy away of what they might need to do to have them fulfilled. Because these two novels both dealt with BDSM relationships did you characterize the women as more independent so as to sweeten their submission? Or is it that you just prefer to create strong female figures in your writing?
Mmm. Good question. I usually write strong women whether they’re submissives or Dominants. Almost all the women I know are strong, independent women. I hadn’t really seen the parallels between Elizabeth and Julianna before, but I think you’re right. Both women endure. I think Elizabeth was much more straightforward where Julianna was forced to be deceptive, but they are definitely women who understand that the job they have to do has a larger purpose.
The dynamic between Elizabeth and Joshua is very tense and it creates a good deal of anticipation. How do you feel about using the aspects of temptation, anticipation and surrender in storytelling? What do you feel is the reward when it is done well? What do you think is the result of it when poorly executed?
I love to use anticipation. I’m a conflict junkie. LOL! Whether it’s external conflict or external conflict that keeps people apart, it’s the overcoming of obstacles that make the ultimate prize worth having. Not to say that love has to have struggle, but conflict is definitely part of life. The stories that come to me are filled with conflict and struggle. But I believe that love that “goes through the fire” is stronger and better after being tested. Poorly done? It might frustrate a reader. “Jeez! Just get over yourself. You LOVE each other!”. I am more disappointed when all problems are swept away too easily.
In both books you have a fairly large cast of secondary characters. It feels as if both should have accompanying books. Will there be more Arundale books?
Yes. I have VERY insistent secondary characters. LOL! Perry’s book (Joshua’s brother) is finished and I’ve been working on a short story featuring Jaimison.
As great as the hero of Dark Past is I would desperately like to read Jezar’s story. Will there be a love story for him?
Everybody wants Jezar’s story! LOL! He is one of my favorite characters (sorry Bud) and I think it shows. Yes, there will definitely be a love story for him. Of course, he has a lot to overcome but I think his struggle is worth writing.
If you were to review Dark Past what would you have to say about it? Tell me what you feel are the strong part and the weak parts about your novel and in hindsight is there anything that you might have changed.
OH TORTURE! LOL!
The weakest part of “Dark Past” is there’s a LOT of plot in a small amount of words. And it moves at a breakneck speed. Its strength is the characters. Good characters make me keep reading and, in this case, made me keep writing.
What would I have changed? Perhaps spend a little more time on Teran Four’s history. It’s hinted at in the story, but very little is definitely stated.
What is the difference between how you structured love stories when you first began writing erotic novels and how you do it today?
When I began, my character’s point of view was distant, almost shallow. As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve gotten better at getting inside a character’s head. I get a little deeper into their motivations, their feelings. I think that’s changed the way I connect with my characters and the depth of my stories.
If someone who had never read any of your stories was to ask you to recommend them a book from each genre you have written what would be the list you would give them and why would you choose those books?
I still love “Dark Revenge” (though Dark Past is the most recent) of my erotic sci fi. It’s such a great story about forgiveness and trust. “Declaration To Submit” is my favorite contemporary. That book surprised me when I wrote it and I love Mark’s attention to detail. “Wolf of Arundale” is also one of my favorites because I love Elizabeth.
What is the ultimate love story ever told as far as you are concerned?
Wow. That’s tough one. Generally, I think “Pride and Prejudice” is the greatest ever told. But the greatest love story ever told TO ME was the story of Peter Whimsey and Harriet Vane who met, solved crimes and fell in love in four books written by Dorothy L. Sayers.
Thank you so much for being part of Making Love 101!
No, thank you. What a great bunch of questions! It was a pleasure.
Meet this Love Maker:
I never considered myself a writer…..
I loved Harlequin romances when I was little and used to sneak them from my mother’s bookshelf. But my father influenced me with Agatha Christie, Ngiao Marsh and Arthur Conan Doyle. I finally wrote my first completed novel in 2005 and never looked back.
It has been a fabulous journey. I have a special relationship with my characters, who both annoy me and inspire me. And yes, they talk to me. In the shower. In the car. When I’m trying to sleep. Many have asked me why I write erotic romance. Believe me, it would probably be easier to write something my mom could tell her friends about. But I love the emotion, the conflict, the possibilities contained in erotic romance. When I read, I want to indulge in fantasies. I hope I can do the same for others.
I live with a Redneck, who loves to brainstorm with me on occasion, and my two dirt faced Okie kids in the Northern California Boonies. I’ve published with Cobblestone Press, Liquid Silver Books, Loose-Id LLC., Samhain Publishing, and Whiskey Creek Press. I’m a moderator for the award winning writer’s forum Romance Divas where I’ve been a member since 2006.
Jennifer Leeland’s Web Tracks:
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Jennifer Leeland’s Books:
Dark Revenge Synopsis:
“I like my sex rough and my women restrained.”
So declares Alex’s captor, shortly after they’re mated in a ritual of vengeance. Though her body lustfully yields to her new mate’s dominant will, her mind is only too aware of the tumultuous past they share. She and Tory fought side by side in the military…until he was exiled for treason, an accusation leveled and proven by Alex’s own brother.
Tory is determined to take revenge on the family who falsely accused him…and to win back the woman he’s always loved. If he can’t win her heart, though, he’ll settle for her body—preferably tied up, flogged and begging for him. When they find themselves in the middle of a brewing civil war, they have to learn to trust each other with more than just their bodies. If they can’t, humanity itself may pay the price.
Purchase Dark Revenge:
Dark Past Synopsis:
Once Julianna had hoped for a wonderful life married to the man she loved. But betrayal, civil war and death intervened and she was forced to let her lover go to save the people of Teran Four. Ten years is a long time, and now she is the dictator’s lover and the Voice of Davida-a genetically enhanced tool of the reigning powers. Bud Masterson has escaped the brutal prison of Teran Four and he’s back to find the family he’d thought dead, murdered by the dictator who destroyed his life. It’s a trap, and Bud finds himself at the mercy of the woman he once loved and who betrayed him. But nothing on Teran Four is what it seems and Julianna and Bud will discover that everything they know about their past and their future is an illusion. As erotic heat flares between them, to save their people and possibly humanity itself, Julianna and Bud will have to find the truth that lies in their dark past. Inside Scoop: This book contains branding, collaring and everything else you’d expect from a sizzling D/s relationship.
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