The Art of Writing Erotic Romance — Tara Sue Me

I’m excited to kick off this new series with author, Tara Sue Me. Along with Tara, I’ll be interviewing some of my favorite Erotic Romance authors about the genre, the craft of writing toe-curling sex scenes, and their latest/upcoming book releases.
Tara Sue Me has written ten novels and two novellas, and her widely popular The Submissive series has made the New York Times and USA TODAY’S bestseller lists. 
Author Tara Sue Me


As Tara’s Crit Partner for the past few years, it’s been such a treat to get a look at her writing style behind the curtain. Her first draft is what I can only dream my finished draft would look like. And unlike me (and Charles Dickens), she amazes me with how much emotion she can pack into but a few short words. Her dialogue exudes sex, especially every time one of her Doms open their mouths. For instance…

Tara Sue Me The Master

Those naughty words are spoken by the Badass Brit, Cole Johnson, Tara’s latest hero. Trust me when I say he’ll leave you panting in The Master, which comes out tomorrow. [Update! The Master is a 2017 RITA finalist for Erotic Romance!] While Tara was writing this book, I bugged her daily for the next scene to read. Fans will not be disappointed by this page-turner. Don’t be surprised if you find Cole has left you with a fetish for red pens and eyeglasses.
Unlike any other BDSM romance I’ve read before, this book focuses on the mental aspects of power play. Those who love unresolved sexual tension will eat up this book. As far as the payoff? Well. Worth. It. <sigh>
Tara, you’ve said to me and others that The Master has been your favorite book you’ve written so far. Why’s that?
I knew when I wrote Cole catching Sasha in Seduced By Fire that they were going to get together. They were so, seemingly, different, I couldn’t wait to see how it would play out. And when I sat down to write it, their story was nothing like I imagined.
It was difficult to see Sasha traumatized by a play scene gone terribly wrong in Seduced By Fire. Can you talk about what it was like to write that scene and then write about how she worked through that experience in The Master?
That scene was tough, but in Seduced By Fire, I was a bit removed because I saw everything through Julie’s eyes. In The Master, being in Sasha’s head, I felt her panic and fear. I kept thinking, “Man, Cole has his work cut out for him.”
That he did, but his patience and expertise got him through. You already know, I’m the President of the Cole Johnson Fanclub. He’s British, he’s hot, and he’s stern as hell. How was it to write the Badass Brit? Does he still whisper naughty things to you at night?
LOL, yes, Madame President! I said in the Acknowledgments of The Master, it’s humbling as an author to have so much interest in a character. It’s also scary as hell. You always fear the book won’t live up to everyone’s expectations. But so far (knock on wood), the reaction has been beyond anything I imagined. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.
And yes, Cole has whispered to me that he and Sasha have more story to tell!
Congrats on that spectacular review! And I’m so happy to hear we have more Sasha and Cole to look forward to. So what other delicious Doms do you have in the works? Do you see yourself ever writing Doms in a different setting or era?
I have Luke coming in October of this year. I also have something new up my sleeve, but I can’t talk about it just yet. Let’s just say I’m working on new BDSM stories that are a bit darker than The Submissive series.
Darker? Color me intrigued. You know, you’ve written so many deliciously naughty things. It makes me wonder how you started your (dare I say) erotic journey. What’s the first erotic thing you ever read? Did it turn you on?
Oh, goodness, I’m not sure I remember my first! Isn’t that awful?
Some firsts aren’t worth remembering, but I digress. Okay, let’s try this. Is there a book on your Kindle or hidden under your mattress that you’ve reread over and over because it’s so stinking hot? We want to know what makes Ms. Sue Me fan her face.
I very rarely reread anything. But the one book that comes to mind is Fever by Maya Banks. I’ve reread that book multiple times, but it’s more than the sex scenes that appeal to me. It’s the storyline and the emotional journey of the characters.
Funny you should mention that book. I’m starting to read it now. So what made you want to write erotic fiction? Was it a book, a movie, or a moment in your life that inspired you? 
I’ve never kept the origins of The Submissive a secret. At the time, I’d finished reading Meyer’s Eclipse and was also trying to find a home for my clean romance. I’d never written a sex scene, and I thought it might be fun to try my hand at it.
Well, I’m sure your fans are happy you decided to give writing dirty romance a try. Tell us about the first sex scene you ever wrote. What do you think now when you go back and reread it?
It was Twilight fanfic. I typically don’t go back and reread anything of mine once it’s published or posted. I’m afraid I’ll find two thousand typos!
Are you private or open about your erotic fiction writing with friends, family, and in your local community? If you’re open about it, what’s their reaction to your choice of genre?
Very few people know what I write. It’s really just my husband and my immediate family.
How about when you’re at conferences or when you tell people about what you write? Do you ever feel that you’re treated differently as an author? Is there a sense that you need to defend your work in any way?
No, not yet. I’ve found most romance authors to be friendly and open-minded. 
Fortunately, that’s been my experience so far as well. Let’s chat genre for a bit. How do you feel the erotic genre has changed in recent years? Is it more accepted? Are there any misconceptions out there that you want to set straight?
I think it is more accepted now, or maybe, it’s just out in the open more. And (thank goodness) I haven’t heard the phrase “mommy  porn” in a long time.
Yep, that’s an offensive term that I hope has met its death. Do you see a difference between erotica and erotic romance? If so, do you think there needs to be more of a differentiation between the genres?
I’ve always been told that erotica doesn’t have to have a happily ever after while erotic romance does. I have a tendency, though to use the two words interchangeably. As a reader, I want to know if something’s not going to end well. 
I know that so far in your erotic romances you’ve primarily written about characters involved in the BDSM scene. In other interviews, you’ve stated that you aren’t personally involved in the scene/lifestyle, so how do you go about researching for your writing and what drew you to writing about kink and power play in the first place?
Kink and power play have always been concepts that have intrigued me, so it only made sense that when I decided to write erotic, I would write about those themes. I research topics the way I would anything else. I read some online resources, but I also talk to people who are in the lifestyle. That piece is necessary if you want your story to ring true.
Romance and happily ever afters are an important part of your novels, but do you have any themes that you seek to weave into your storytelling?
You know, it’s funny, I don’t start out planning any particular theme, I simply listen to my characters and write what they tell me. I think that allows any theme that comes through seem more organic and natural.
Moving on to the craft itself, what’s your biggest piece of advice for someone who might be writing their first sex scene ever?
Just do it, and don’t worry about it being bad. We all suck at times, and with practice, you’ll get better. There’s one thing for certain, you won’t get better if you don’t write!
True, but how do you keep things fresh and not just <insert sex position> taking place in a <insert different location > and end it with <insert words for mind blowing orgasm>?
You have to be intentional, or at least, I do. I think to myself, “What can I do to make this scene different?” Even if it’s only one thing, that can often be enough.
Similarly, where do you come up with your sexy words? I know I’m not alone in the struggle to find words to describe a moan or a grunt or a particular body part.
Oh, that’s a tough one! I have to look back at the surrounding scenes and see what I’ve used and either rewrite or do something else.
In recent years, we’ve seen more diverse books in this genre especially in terms of sexuality. But I feel that I’ve read few novels that feature sexy scenes with people with disabilities or characters who are older (40s and up). Have you written characters that we do not see represented often? If not, do you want to at one point?
I’d like to write a character with disabilities. I don’t think there are nearly enough books with disabled characters. As an aside, I’d really like to write an awkward sex scene. I think that would be fun.
And I’d have fun reading that! So this brings me to my last question. Where do you see the erotic romance genre in five to ten years?
I hope it’s growing stronger than ever. There are so many awesome authors out there. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next!
Me too! Thanks so much for chatting with me, Tara, and being my guinea pig for this new feature. 
Tara Sue Me’s The Master comes out tomorrow. While it’s the ninth book in The Submissive series, it can be read as a standalone (though I’d suggest reading the whole series). If you have any questions/comments for Tara, feel free to comment below.
The Master by Tara Sue Me
She’s ready to try again. . . .
Sasha Blake is scarred from a BDSM session gone wrong, but she can’t deny how much a strong Master turns her on. Determined to overcome her fears and rejoin the Partners in Play community, she asks Abby and Nathaniel West to set her up with a Dom who can help her feel safe again as a sub. They know the very experienced Cole is exactly the kind of man who can push all of Sasha’s buttons—and she soon wants to go much faster than she had planned. . . .
Cole knows that Sasha is not the kind of submissive he needs. He wants someone who will serve him 24-7, not a part-time partner. Still, the further they go into their play, the more Cole begins to wish he could make Sasha his all the time. . . .
When forbidden desires turn into scorching action, Sasha and Cole come face-to-face with their demons—and realize their scorching relationship might be too dangerous to last. . . .
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