Julie Elizabeth Leto
would you define erotica?
Julie: I don't write
erotica, so I think I'm the wrong person to give a definition. However,
from what I've read, I'd define erotica as literature that focuses on the
sexual pleasure of the protagonist, with little to no attention on the
emotional aspects of intimacy or relationships. It can be sensually
written, but the connection between the lovers is physical, sexual and
in some cases, rather cold.
SR: How would you define
Julie: Erotic romance
employs some of the trademarks of erotica--the rawer, more explicit description
of sexuality--and melds it with the conventions of romance. The intimacy.
The emotions. The happily ever after. Again, it is usally written
with more sensual language than some erotica and all porn.
SR: How would you define
Julie: This is romance
where the sensuality of the characters is fully explored. And not just
in the act of making love, but in perhaps a scene where they dance, or
share an ice cream sundae, or take a swim together. The love scenes
don't have to be explicit, but they are usually very clearly drawn.
SR: What are the differences
in writing for Blaze and Temptation?
Julie: I think each
author who writes for both lines will answer this differently. For
me, I'm using Blaze as a way to stretch my wings in terms of storyline.
Yes, my Blazes will all have a premise that is closely tied to the sexuality
of the characters (as do my Temptations), but the Blazes will usually have
villains and characters with more depth.
This is a direct result of
the lengthened word count. Also, because the sexuality in my Blazes
usually includes a very edgy idea (voyeurism, exhibitionism), the characters
must have more depth to keep them sympathetic. Frankly, this is where
a lot of erotica fails for me. You have all this kinky sex and the
characters are just going through the actions with little emotion.
does the new Blaze line differ from Harlequin Blaze / Heat?
Julie: You mean Temptation
Blaze or Temptation Heat? For me, I'm keeping a lighter tone in my
Temptation Heats, much more similar to how I wrote for Temptation Blaze.
I really enjoy the light, quick-paced story you get in a short contemporary!
As for sensuality, I'd actually qualify some of my Temptation Blazes as
erotic romance and some as sensual romance, depending on the story.
However, my Blazes have, to date, all been erotic romance.
SR: Could you tell us
a little bit about your August Blaze, EXPOSED?
Julie: EXPOSED is the
first book in the Sexy City Nights series, which is based
on the premise of a woman
(or a man) exploring her or his sexuality with a city as their "prop."
The characters in the books are inspired by an unnamed magazine that has
done a spread featuring their city. EXPOSED is set in San Francisco
and my heroine, Ariana Karas, finds the magazine on a cable car on her
way back to work. She's about to start her first vacation in eight
years and the magazine gives her an idea of what she wants to do with her
time off! She wants to do all these sexy things with Max Forrester,
a customer at her restaurant that she's had the hots for. Unfortunately,
he's getting married in the morning. She doesn't know that, however.
She's been told he was the best man.
But when she meets up with
him, he's in no condition to tell her the truth. Someone has slipped something
into his drink that makes him focus only on his desires and his memory
is foggy, like the San Francisco night. They make love in the fog and the
next morning, not only does he learn he's been left at the altar, but their
outdoor lovemaking has been captured on film. This starts a story
where Ariana and Max explore their sexual attraction while they investigate
who drugged him and who is following them. And why.
SR: With EXPOSED you
push some of the lines of traditional romance. How far
can we expect the Blaze
line to go?
Julie: Again, this will
be up to the individual authors and editors. The lines will be pushed--and
in some cases, shoved! That's okay. I'd say the Blaze line
will go as far as the stories dictate. I, for one, have no intention
of pulling back and so far, no one has objected to anything I've written
since my first book, SEDUCING SULLIVAN.
SR: You've mentioned
that you've read a lot of the Blaze books. Could you tell us a little
bit about what we have to look forward to and what boundaries will be tested?
Julie: You'll have stories
about sex slaves, bondage, superclubs (hotels that cater to the sexual
needs of clients), exhibitionism, voyeurism, sex therapy and crimes based
on erotic literature. You'll have heroes who are hired as male prostitutes
and heroines with extensive sexual pasts. You'll see deeper explorations
of masturbation and sexual play, including role playing and the use of
toys and props. More than anything, the characters in these stories
are comfortable with their sexuality moreso than I've read in any other
category line. Makes for very interesting reading!
do you think makes a book erotic? Is it characters, situation, or
Julie:Mainly, the characters,
but the situation is almost equal. Even though the Blazes will have
more plot in them, nearly all are character driven. As I said above, the
characters are more comfortable and more curious about their sexuality.
Put them in a sexually charged situation and BAM, you've got something
erotic going on.
Would you consider the new Blaze line erotic romance or sensual romance?
Julie: Both, depending
on the author. However, most of the ones I've read would qualify
as erotic, definitely. There will always be a range, and frankly,
one woman's erotic is another woman's sensual. Both readers and writers
have different knowledge bases, different thresholds and comfort zones.
I think they're will be something for everyone, so long as everyone likes
their romance REALLY hot!
SR: How do you feel
being one of the launch authors of the new line?
Julie: Lucky as hell.
Thrilled. Humbled. Did I say lucky? I'm obviously the
new kid on the block, having only 5 books behind me and here I am with
romance powerhouses Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jo Leigh and Stephanie Bond!
Placing my book in the launch is a direct result of my starting the Sexy
City Nights series, but in a lot of ways, it makes sense that I'd be somewhere
in the first few months. Authors like me who started their careers
in Temptation Blaze--authors like Janelle Denison and Carly Phillips--will
all be in the first dozen releases. I'm really, really excited!
we've seen a lot of new lines devoted to sizzle and spice, like Red Sage,
Brava, and now Blaze, to name a few. What do you think about this
trend towards hotter romance?
Julie: I think it's
great...but we can't lose track that some authors have been writing the
hot stuff for a long time. I, personally, have been influenced by
authors like Virginia Henley! The new lines, however, have helped
readers find what they want. Branding, is what it's called, I think.
Red Sage did it first, a small press. Then the big publishers followed
suit. For Harlequin, I think seeing the phenomenal success of the
Temptation Blazes, which was not planned as a monthly series until it took
off, helped them make the decision to devote a whole line to the hot stuff.