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by Evelyn Q. Darling
Romance Reporter At Large

How well do you know your hero? Is he tall, dark and handsome? Okay, so you don’t want a cookie-cutter hero, but have you really thought about what questions to ask him?

(When you can take your eyes away from his sexy grin among other parts of his anatomy.)

This reporter recently interviewed heroines for a romance gig and got some very interesting answers.

Now, it’s your hero’s turn. Ready, ladies? Start your engines…

Here are my 5 Job Tips for a great romance novel hero interview:

1. Don’t ask him to take off his shirt. Tempting, yes, as you check out his muscular arms, but this is a sexist attitude that will get you nowhere. (But oh the fun you’ll have trying!)

2. Schedule the interview in a locale where you’ll both feel comfortable. Not in a sports bar where he can eyeball the basketball scores and the waitresses with the deep cleavage. Forget tea shops that serve lemon dainties, unless you’re writing a regency and you want to see if he exudes the proper Mr. Darcy-isms.

3. Ask him to show you his…wheels. Yes, I said, wheels. Is he a Harley guy? Jaguar? Or does he drive an old pickup? Does he keep half his “stuff” in his car? Or is he a neatnik? You can tell a lot about a man by his…wheels.

4. What’s his day job? Or if he’s into night work (and what hard-working vampire isn’t?), you’ll want to make sure he’s a good match for your heroine. If she’s a lawyer, a police detective can make her life hectic; if she runs a cake and bake shop, how about interviewing a land developer who wants to tear down her vintage cottage shop? And let’s not forget the city gal who’s just aching to meet up with a real cowboy. Just make sure he can ride…a horse.

5. And finally, don’t ask him if he’s a good kisser. Tell him to show you.

Evelyn is the alter-ego of Jina Bacarr, The Blonde Samurai: “She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

Jina is also the author of The Blonde Geisha ,Cleopatra’s Perfume, Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs

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By Evelyn Q. Darling
Romance Reporter At Large

February is National Snack Food Month. From greasy potato chips to chocolaty M&M’s, we all love snacks, which makes this reporter wonder: What does a romance heroine snack on between the sheets?

(I know what you’re thinking, but this reporter is not going there.)

You can’t ignore it. Snackin’ is a way of life in the 21st century with snack sales going over the $60 billion mark annually. Yes, that was B as in billion. (Who eats all those Doritos anyway?)

So this reporter was wondering (while she was snacking on peanut butter cookies), what heroines in various romance genres might be inclined to snack on. Think about it: what you give your heroine to snack on today would be different than in the Victorian era.

Crumpets (soft and spongy) dripping with honey were all the rage back in the late 19th century, served with afternoon tea and milk, while a hip modern heroine might snack on a vanilla yogurt parfait topped with granola. (Victorian heroines didn’t worry about calorie overload. They could always cinch in their corset an extra inch or two. A modern heroine doesn’t have that luxury.)

Or if your heroine is a vampire, blood oranges.

How ‘bout a zombie heroine? Zilch, nada. (What do zombies eat anyway?)

If you’re writing a romantic comedy, why not have your heroine throw caution to the wind and indulge in tortilla chips with spicy salsa or gourmet popcorn with real butter.

If your heroine’s a gun-packin’ mama, how ‘bout Snickers and black licorice sticks for fast, on-the-go snacks that she can sink her teeth into while she chasing after the bad guys.

Steampunk? You must have black tea for that British feel, then add red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for a touch of fantasy.

And finally, erotic. (You thought I forgot?) Bananas, baby. Big, long, juicy bananas.

Need I say more?

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Meet EVELYN Q. DARLING, Romance Reporter at Large, in her first blog today:

In the past, creating a job for a romantic heroine usually meant she was either a governess, a nurse, or in the early twentieth century, a “typewriter,” better known as a secretary.

Take a letter, Miss Jones…

To all writers of romance novels.

Dear Miss, Ms. or Madam:

It has come to this reporter’s attention that several of you have veered away from writing about governesses in dark, gloomy manor houses and pert, red-cheeked nurses and turned to writing about heroines who carry guns, sport black leather and can take a man down in fifty seconds flat.

Really.

What happened to the days when all a heroine had to do to get her man was flutter her black lace fan and bat her soot-caked eyelashes? (Ample cleavage didn’t hurt either.)

It was so much easier when all a writer had to worry about was how many flounces graced her heroine’s gown or the number of hooks on a corset. (A heroine’s age at marriage also determined the size of her waist: if she wed at 18, she aspired that her waist remained at 18 inches.)

And if all else failed, there was always the “smart” heroine who wrote novels, solved mysteries or planted her delicate boots on foreign soil and showed her moxie by becoming a globe-trotting adventuress.

Sigh. Ah, for the good ole days before our heroines decided they wanted equal rights between the sheets. And on the job.

Now to create the modern heroine, a romance writer has to know the difference between a Glock and a Sig Sauer (the latter sounds like a deli sandwich).

Be able to “street speak” in urban fantasies, suck blood without smudging her lipstick in vampire thrillers and shape-shift into an exotic creature with all her parts intact.

So I’m asking all you romance writers to drop me a line and tell me what “dangerous professions” for a heroine you’ve seen in recent novels or in a novel you’re writing.

What’s new for a heroine in the 21st century in the world of “9 to 5” that you haven’t seen or written about before?

I’ll be eagerly awaiting your answers.

Who knows?

Maybe we can start a new trend: Dangerous heroines in tight corsets and red high heels who live in an abandoned subway tunnel and belong to a secret society of lusty Victorian vampires who feed on handsome firefighters.

Then again, maybe not.

 Best regards,

 Evelyn Q. Darling

Romance Reporter At Large

Artwork by Jina Bacarr

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In honor of her October Samhain release, THE SEEKING KISS, an erotic vampire urban fantasy ménage story, my fellow Spice author, Eden Bradley, has gathered a lot of fun, sexy quotes from authors (including me!) about the Sexy Undead over at the Smutketeers Blog

Eden’s first full-length novel for Harlequin Spice will be released in 2011.  Eden  also has a novel for Berkley Heat coming out under her new pen name, Eve Berlin! PLEASURE’S EDGE will be released in 2010.
Cleopatra's Perfume by Jina Bacarr

Cleopatra's Perfume by Jina Bacarr

 

Scroll down until you see my Cleopatra’s Perfume cover then check out what I wrote about vampires at Smutketeers.

Best,
Jina

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February 2010: meet The Blonde Samurai
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”

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I had holes in the bottoms of my brown and white pumps when I arrived at the theatre today.  The police had arranged for us–I speak of the dancers in the show that closed–to meet them here to give us more information about one of the girls from the revue who had been murdered.  

Else.    

She was bitten on the neck, they said, the main artery severed while she gasped for air, her arms flailing wildly around her, her nude breasts heaving, her nipples hard, her soft white flesh shivering while the murderer reveled in making the sex act sadistic, abstract.  

Horrifying.      

The police investigator said the murderer needed the blood from the innocent girl for him to achieve orgasm while he raped her. 

Listening to him speak, I imagined the pink wool unraveling from her stocking when the murderer ripped it off her as she lay dying, her skimpy, cheap yellow taffeta costume quickly turning the color of a blood-red sun.  

Lustmord, the Germans call it.  Lust murder. 

A phenomenon oft associated with Weimar Berlin because of its wild sexual diversions. 

Floggings, erotic asphyxiation, girls lured into becoming submissives then choking on their tight leather collars, beatings, burning the skin–acts of sexual frenzy that all contributed to death.  

Plied with liquor, the victim had no idea she was about to experience her last moments only to be cut or dismembered after she’d drawn her last breath. 

Lustmord lulled the perpetrator into a dimension riddled with insanity: the mutilation of the female body to satisfy the murderer’s insatiable taste for this vampire-like seduction. 

When I left the theatre, I saw the streetlights flicker on, their pale dirty haze no comfort to a girl walking back to her pension alone.  

“No doubt the murderer will strike again,” the police investigator had told us. 

I walked faster but the threat remained.

 
–signed

Lady Eve Marlowe
Berlin 1958

Cleopatra’s Perfume

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Life in 1920s Berlin wasn’t all erotic night games and wild sex.  In the early part of the decade, I heard frightening stories about inflation that seemed unbelievable to me when I arrived in the city. 

 They were not.

 When I came to Berlin as a dancer in 1928 with an all-girl revue, I lost my job when the show folded.  (You can read about my escapade in Episode 1 of my Berlin Sex Diary when I met a monocled gentleman with a secret fetish for all the juicy details)       

I was jobless.  And like so many other Weimar Berliners, hungry and cold.  I had no money.  No personal belongings but a cloth coat, mended several times, cotton stockings and two pairs of shoes–brown and white pumps and my black tap shoes. 

I discovered I wasn’t alone.  Hardly anyone had money to buy coal to keep warm or bread to fill our bellies.  What happened to the German monetary system in the 1920s?

I found many a Berliner who would shake their head then tell me the same story: After the end of World War I, the mark began its downward slide from 4.20 marks to a dollar to 60 then 75 marks by 1921.  

Then things got worse.  By 1922, the mark had dropped to 400 per dollar.  But it didn’t stop there: the German currency sank further to 7,000 marks per dollar by early 1923 and continued to plummet.  

I remember sitting in a moving picture show and watching the newsreels about how it took a wheelbarrow of ten- or twenty-mark notes to buy a loaf of bread in those days.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing until the woman sitting next to me in the darkened theater whispered that she remembered the day the mark fell to 160,000 per dollar in July 1923. 

The day her husband shot himself.

Inflation nearly destroyed the middle class, she told me, grabbing my arm and holding it tight as she fought back tears, wiping out entire savings accounts.

And still the band of decadence played on.

 

 –signed

 Lady Eve Marlowe

“Cleopatra’s Perfume”

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Cleopatras Perfume banner

Cleopatra's Perfume banner from Harlequin Spice

 

 

I just had to share this very cool animated Cleopatra’s Perfume banner!!

I hope you enjoy it.

Best,

Jina

PS — coming up later :

The Audio/Video podcast of Episode 1 of The Berlin Sex Diary of Lady Eve Marlowe:

Eve meets a monocled gentleman.

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