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Susan Lyons

Susan Lyons writes contemporary erotic romance for Kensington Aphrodisia. Her books are known for "combining sizzling hot sex and real emotional depth" (Joyfully Reviewed). Her "sex scenes are graphic, sexy, and inspiring [and her] multilayered characters have a vibrant emotional impact" (Romance Reviews Today). She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, grad school dropout, job creation project administrator, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite. Visit her website at www.susanlyons.ca.

HOT IN HERE

Journalist Jenny Yuen lands a very steamy assignment: cover a firefighter calendar competition with some of the hunkiest half-naked heroes ever. Her personal favorite? Mr. February. Also known as Scott. Also known as hot ...

Read all about it: the muscular, sexy rookie is the man of Jenny’s dreams -- her wildest dreams. She’s up for a wickedly sensual game if they play by their very own set of rules: No taboos. No holding back. No commitment. But the desire they feel is impossible to control -- and even harder to resist...

Warning! This Is A Really Hot Book (Sexually Explicit)

Beyond The Book - Susan Lyons on HOT IN HERE

Lee : Please tell us more about yourself as the woman behind the author.

Susan: I'm a child of the Pacific Northwest, though I think in another life I must have been Greek because I love it there too. I'm by turns lazy and almost obsessively disciplined and productive. I'm endlessly fascinated by people and relationships, and the power we have inside ourselves to grow. I love books, photography, nature, wine, dark chocolate, cinnamon buns and long dinners with good friends.

Lee : What was the inspiration behind your current release, HOT IN HERE?

Susan : It's the second of a four-book series, featuring three girlfriends who call themselves the Awesome Foursome. Think, "Sex And The City," set in Vancouver, BC, with 20-something girlfriends. The first book, "CHAMPAGNE RULES," was Suzanne's. So, which girl to do next? Jenny Yuen was such an outspoken, conflicted, sassy girl, she just demanded that I tell her story.

Now, writers know that heroines have to be tortured until they find their inner strength . I knew what challenge I needed to send Jenny. In "CHAMPAGNE RULES," it was clear she had identity issues: was she the good Chinese daughter or the thoroughly modern Western woman? Her traditional Chinese-Canadian family wouldn't hear of her dating a white guy, so of course I had to give her a Caucasian hero. Other than that, I had no idea who he'd be, but a set of coincidences (like, my book club loving firefighters and deciding to attend a firehall open house), made me realize a firefighter would be perfect. Especially the firefighter who wins the calendar competition. What woman could resist? Not Jenny. He's her fantasy guy, so of course she'd come up with the Fantasy Rules to govern their relationship.

Lee : What message did you want to get across to your readers with this book, besides just providing them with a terrific and very sensual romance?

Susan : All sorts of messages . The power of friendship, for one.

And the fact that, much as you might want to, you can't control your feelings, or a relationship. That's a common theme in all four Awesome Foursome books. The girls are young enough they think they can set rules -- albeit very sexy rules -- to govern their sexual relationships. In Jenny's case, it's the Fantasy Rules: she and Scott will act out each other's wildest sexual fantasies, but they can never just be themselves because that's too intimate and scary. After all, this isn't a guy she could take home to her parents.

But relationships can't be slotted into neat little boxes; they have a way of becoming unpredictable. Love isn't easy, and sometimes you can be torn between strong values that conflict; like, whether to honor your family or to follow your heart.

Lee : Tell us more about Jenny Yuen's character. Is her personality anything like your own?

Susan : Of all the heroines I've written, she's probably the least like me, which made her a challenge to write, but also an awful lot of fun.

Jenny's pretty quiet and obedient at home with her family, but when she's out in her other world -- a world her family knows very little about -- she busts loose. She'll say and do anything. I'm way more restrained . But her issues -- personal values versus respect for family, keeping secrets, avoiding confrontation, sex versus commitment, how to deal with a boyfriend who's asking for more than she's ready to give -- those are things I've certainly experienced and I think almost all of us have. So, though in some ways she's different from me, she's also really easy to identify with. And sympathize with, when life throws her a curve ball she didn't expect and can't control.

Lee : What made you decide to write sensual/erotic romance? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Susan : Reading -- fiction exclusively -- has been my favorite hobby since forever. I loved books and hugely respected writers but never thought of being one myself. I was too practical. I did all the stuff you were supposed to, to become an adult in society: university, various jobs, I even got a law degree. It wasn't until 10 or 15 years ago that the idea of creative writing entered my mind. I wrote personal essays, got into short stories, tried my hand at a book. I never studied English or creative writing in university but I did take a night school course and my teacher, after reading a section of my first book -- a very sexy mystery -- told me I should look into writing erotica because I wrote very hot love scenes. Well, I thought I was writing mysteries, so I ignored her advice. After a few years of failure writing mysteries, I realized that what I loved to write was relationships, especially romantic ones. So then I turned to writing romance, and -- no surprise -- wrote very sexy ones. As a reader, I love really getting to know a character, what they're thinking and feeling -- and I don't think that deep connection should stop when they have sex. Sex is a significant act; whether it's casual or intensely loving, it's meaningful. I want to know what it's like -- quick and intense, slow and loving, full of laughter? -- and what the characters are feeling. So, as a writer, I don't close that bedroom door.

Lee : In all seriousness, how do you manage to keep your sensual / erotic scenes sounding fresh? Do you find it easy to sustain the sexual and emotional tension throughout the story?

Susan : It can be a challenge. Okay, for one thing, because I'm writing a kind of "chick lit" or "women's fiction" brand of erotic romance, I have lots of focus on other relationships in my heroine's and hero's lives. There are Awesome Foursome scenes where the girls discuss each other's sex lives, laugh, cry and offer advice. Then there are scenes with family, colleagues, and so on, because my heroine and hero aren't stranded on a desert island. They have lives, and the people in those lives affect them and influence how they're going to be with each other. The heroine and hero aren't together in every scene, and when they next see each other they bring new stuff to their relationship -- things friends and family have said, positive or negative, that bring a new energy and tension.

As for the sex scenes, I find the key is to really know the characters and the special dynamic of their relationship. For example, with Jenny and Scott in "HOT IN HERE ," Jenny sets down her rules. If she's going to see Scott, he'll play by the Fantasy Rules. Each time they get together, they'll act out a sexual fantasy. So, there's firefighter rescue sex, pole dance sex, geisha sex, and so on. Well, obviously each of those scenes is going to be really different in terms of setting, props, mood, and so on.

And they'll all be fun, and fun to write. Hopefully also fun to read!

Lee : You've had a number of very interesting careers and they must have helped give you a good idea of the world out there. Do you rely on your experiences a lot when it comes to climbing into your characters' heads?

Susan : I've studied psychology, sociology and anthropology, and I did that because I'm fascinated by human behavior. How did we get to be the way we are? What do we value? How do we respond to challenges? So, I bring that fascination and knowledge into my books. I've also studied law, and I admit there are often lawyer characters in my books. The profession can be very demanding and I haven't met many lawyers who say they love their jobs, so there's great potential there for conflicted characters . As for relying on my own experience, yes, often. At least in general terms, as a starting point. For example, I'm neither a Chinese-Canadian (like Jenny) nor a firefighter (like Scott). But I had a little bit of familiarity, based on people I'd met, books and movies, and so on. From there, I did research and interviewed people, to make sure I got the details right, or at least right enough to be credible (bearing in mind that I am writing fiction ).

Lee : Do you still have a full-time job outside of writing?

Susan : No, and in fact I haven't had a full-time job for a long time. I've been doing consulting work on a contract basis. There are times it's been more than a 40-hour week and times it's been much less. This year I have, through a combination of circumstance and decision, really scaled back on that outside work so I can focus on my writing. But I also did a lot of "planning to be a writer" -- for example, I paid off my mortgage and saved every penny I could. I'm definitely not making a living as a writer yet, but my expenses are low and I have savings to draw on. I look at it this way: I'm starting up a small business and investing in its, and my, future.

Lee : What's your favorite aspect of writing - plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.? What comes most easily and what do you struggle with more?

Susan : Characterization is definitely my favorite. I'm not a plotter (no wonder I failed at writing mysteries). I don't plot out my books, I start with two characters and get to know them as I write the book.

This part comes pretty easily (at least on a good day), and so does dialogue because to me that's all about character. The hitch is, I have to do a lot of revising as the characters reveal new things to me. When I write, sometimes I'm in control of what's going on, but often the characters take over and lead me in directions I hadn't thought of -- and that's when it's the most fun.

Lee : What can readers look forward to in the next few months from you?

Susan : I have a novella called "HOT DOWN UNDER" in a Kensington Aphrodisia anthology, "THE FIREFIGHTER," coming out in February. It's not an Awesome Foursome story. It's about a Vancouver lawyer who goes to Australia, essentially to "babysit" her eccentric grandmother. Well, lawyer Tash is in for a bunch of surprises, starting with the house burning down the first night they're there. Guess what, she hooks up with a very sexy Aussie firefighter and learns just how hot it can be, "down under." The anthology also has fun, sexy contemporary stories by P.J. Mellor and Alyssa Brooks.

It's a great package, and has been garnering very nice reviews.

As for the Awesome Foursome series, I've written book 3, "TOUCH ME " (Ann's book) and book 4, "LIGHTS OFF " (Rina's book). "TOUCH ME " is scheduled for release in September 2007 and I don't have a date yet for "LIGHTS OFF ."

Lee : I noticed on your website you've shared some scenic photographs. Do you enjoy photography as a hobby?

Susan : I love photography. When I have a camera in my hands, for some reason it's like I open my eyes wider and see more of the world. It's totally a hobby, and one that I'm sad to say I haven't had much time for lately.

Lee : How may fans contact you?

Susan : They can visit my website and email me. I love it when I hear from someone who has enjoyed my books. And it's very cool when women write me and tell me that their guy sends along his thanks because he reaped benefits from my books too *G*. My favorite recent email said (referring to "CHAMPAGNE RULES " and "HOT IN HERE "): "Both of these stories feature such unforgettable characters, delightful settings, outstanding plots, fiery passions and emotional moments, plus they are books which I have highly recommended to other readers." I can't begin to tell you how wonderful I feel when I get email like that!

Lee : Susan, thanks so much for your time. Looking forward to your next book!

Susan : Thanks, Lee. You asked excellent questions!