Jen: Today we welcome Sierra Cartwright to Romancing the Book. Sierra, will you share a short bio with us?
Sierra: Sierra Cartwright is the author of nearly fifty books and novellas and is recipient of the 2013 Best BDSM Book of the Year award, the 2014 LASR Book of the Year, and she was a semi-finalist in the 2015 NLA Awards of Writing Excellence. She has reached number one on the Amazon BDSM Best Seller list, and she is hard at work on crafting another book that she hopes will help you experience the dizzying ride of falling in love.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Sierra: I’ve rarely enjoyed writing as much as I am right now. A couple of years ago, I took a writing retreat to Galveston, Texas. I’ll be honest, the time of the year was a factor! I was living in Colorado, and I’d grown weary of winter. So I headed for the south and some sand. A margarita, I figured, would definitely help creative juices!
While I was in Galveston, I went on a number of tours organized by the historical society, including the ones of famous homes. At the time, I thought I’d still be setting my stories in the West. After all, writers are told to “write what you know.” And I knew Denver and the mountains. I’d spent most of my childhood there, worked there, lived there, vacationed in the mountains, skied, and hiked on the plains. I knew the weather, the places with the fun vibes. It was no challenge for me to figure out where to set a BDSM club or how to describe the scenery. And Colorado, with its vibrancy, offered dozens of story ideas.
But I found myself enchanted by the south and by the stories of the people who lived in Galveston, from business moguls to the infamous pirate Jean Laffite.
A history of a family who would become my Donovans began to form in my head. I kept telling myself it would be set in Denver and not Houston because I knew so little about Houston. But life has a way of imitating art. Not long after the retreat, I moved to Galveston, just south of Houston. All of a sudden, Houston/Galveston was my home and a whole new world opened for me. (And it didn’t take me long to find out where to have a BDSM club or where we might open a new one!)
The Donovans have their roots in Houston, and the vibrancy of the city is an amazing backdrop for them.
One thing came clear to me as the storyline unfolded. The Donovan Dynasty would be made up of three brothers, all rich, all powerful, all Dominants. What can be sexier than three tall, dark, sinfully dangerous Doms? Writing is easier when I fall in love with the heroes.
This series is also fun because I’ve developed an entire family, complete with a family tree on my office wall. The relationships are complex and dynamic, and that makes my characters so very vivid. And, to complicate things, Connor Donovan, the powerful head of the family, was shocked to find himself called home from business school to take over the empire after his father’s unexpected death.
Connor is technically the second son, but his older brother was illegitimate. It creates situations in the stories that I’ve never dealt with before. And the older brother, Cade, is aware that his role as an outsider is his own fault, but he has a set of demons that haunt him. The youngest Donovan, Nathan, is perhaps the most bold. More than any of them, he knows what he wants and is single-minded in its pursuit.
Connor’s story is the first in the trilogy. One day, he gets an interesting proposal from the lovely daughter of one of his fiercest competitors. Lara Bertrand suggests they marry, in name only. While he’s interested in her proposition, he has no interest in a marriage that won’t be real. Even if it’s only a temporary arrangement, he fully intends to claim this woman, and her total submissive surrender.
His response wasn’t one Lara was prepared for. She expected he’d go along, not that he’d name his own price, or that he’d demand more from her than any other man ever has. And what’s most frightening to her is the fact his touch ignites her desire and makes her willing to give him what he wants. As his Dominant demands sweep away her resistance and fulfil something deep inside, Lara realizes that keeping her heart from shattering will be the biggest challenge of her life.
Here’s a short excerpt from Bind:
Marry Connor Donovan?
The idea was absurd.
But for a moment, the idea of being with him tantalized Lara. She wondered what it would be like to be with him, to surrender to his kiss. Would he be as bold in the bedroom as he was outside it? For a moment, she pictured him with his fingertips poised to open the top button on her favorite blouse. Would he skim her skin as he bared it, or would he move aggressively to the next button?
How restrained was he?
Would he tear the material in his haste? That thought was followed by another, and she imagined him undressing, taking off his belt then looping it around his hand as he approached her.
She shook her head.
What was wrong with her? She wasn’t sure where the unbidden fantasy had come from. And, as she’d found out, men thought she was too kinky as it was. She’d do better to banish the thoughts.
Adding Connor Donovan to her evening fantasies was a prescription for disaster.
Resolved, she went to shut down the tablet, but was once again riveted by a picture of Connor, this time adjusting one of his starched cuffs.
Damn, everything he did radiated appeal.
She headed inside and deposited her iPad and unfinished drink on the counter, telling herself she wasn’t going to use her shower massager while she thought of Connor.
But as she turned on the water in the bathroom, Lara admitted she was lying to herself. She was aroused—consumed by naughty thoughts of him—and she needed relief.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Sierra: OMG, is this the best question ever! Ever! Love it. Okay, here goes: Passionate. Consuming. Cathartic.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Sierra: My routine varies, depending on where I am in the story’s development. I’ve been writing since I was eight or nine, and I’ve followed the same routine through all of my projects. I promise myself, my family, my editors, and my proofers that I’ll change, but so far, I’ve had no success.
Early on, I spend most of my time working on the concept, figuring out the people, places, themes, big events. At this point, I fill page after page in a notebook.
As ideas are firmed up, they get transferred to a whiteboard and a storyboard.
Then the writing starts, very, very, very slowly since I throw away more than I keep.
Finally, when I only have two weeks or so left to finish, the book consumes my life. I sleep less. I make up new words when I speak. I dream about the book. I can’t speak in complete sentences. I can write twenty hours a day in a daze. I’ve been known to wear mismatched shoes, stay in the house for days, even forget to eat. While I was finishing my last book, I set the toaster oven on fire because I forgot that I was cooking. The zombie apocalypse could occur and I wouldn’t know it.
People suggest that I start earlier and pace myself, but I’ve had no luck with that. It’s as if I live and breathe the stories as the characters become real, their situations vivid, and nothing exists but them, well, because for me, nothing else does.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Sierra: I’m not sure I’ve ever had an idea at a convenient time, so I’ve had to learn to cope. Honestly, most of my most creative ideas come when I’m somewhere out of the ordinary, and especially at restaurants. I will drift off mentally from the conversation into my own little world. It can be aggravating to my companions, especially if I have to excuse myself to write down an idea.
I have the Evernote app on my phone, and I’ve found it invaluable. I can type in my ideas, and by the time I’m home, my app is synched with my computer. I can even use my finger to “write” notes on the screen if I don’t want to use the keyboard.
And then there are notebooks, of varying sizes, shapes, colours. And they all have their assigned place. I have one spiral bound notebook that’s waterlogged from sitting next to the bathtub. I have a plastic covered notebook in my car. I carry two Moleskin notebooks in my purse. I have a small notebook stashed in the glove box of my husband’s car. And I keep pen and paper at my bedside.
In a pinch, anything is fair game for ideas, napkins at the restaurant, the back of an envelope rescued from the recycle pile, even my page a day calendar. One thing that is guaranteed about an idea, you never know where or when it’s going to show up. So it helps to be prepared.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Sierra: My first book sale was the stuff out of a fairy tale. I was in New York City, and I was at a conference when I received the news that I had sold a book to Harlequin. I was among friends, but away from family. People from home sent flowers. I got to meet with my new editors. My agent and I had a coffee to talk strategy. And when I arrived home, I was met with balloons and flowers, and a cake.
I think I should always receive flowers and cakes and a party, but no one else seems to agree! So I celebrate the completion of a book with a restaurant meal and a good night’s sleep. I’ll take a couple of days to decompress, reading books that I’ve missed and catching up with friends and family. It’s easy to forget there’s a world out there, so the sense of connecting again is doubly wonderful.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Sierra: I’m midway through the Donovans at this moment. I’m enjoying Cade’s story. After that, I’m eager to start on Nathan’s story. I rarely have ideas for an opening scene before I start a book, but I already have one written for Nathan. And he’s going to be badass.