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Thursday, March 18, 2010:
Talking ghosts, favorite cities, and sexy romances with Beth Kery
As any of you that visit my blog regularly know, I got a chance to catch up with Beth Kery again at a recent signing she did in Chicago to celebrate the release of her latest book, Release. She also took some time to answer my numerous (and oftentimes confusing) questions. Here's what she had to say about writing, music, and her love for research.

[Beth, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and for posing for this picture.]

S~ Beth, your stories tend to be very deep, emotional journeys for your characters, which I really love, btw. Is it a laboring and exhausting process for you to tell such intense stories, or do you find the final outcome to be more rewarding to you as a writer because of the level of intensity and complexity?

Beth: Well, if it is labor intensive, it's a labor of love. I really wouldn't want to write anything but emotionally complex characters. And yes, I do find the layering of character, the richness of it, to be very rewarding, both for when I finish a book and when I read other authors who have done it.

S~ How do you prevent yourself from getting too caught up in the darker pyschological aspects of your characters' lives? Is there something specific you do to wind down from writing a particularly heavy scene? One example that comes to mind is how Max, Genny's husband, was so manipulative and pretty much all his actions had a purpose, usually to benefit him in some way yet put someone else in a weaker position.

Beth: Not really, in the case of Max. I actually can write anti-social personalities relatively easy. I hate to say it, but it's kind of fun to come up with a really nasty hero, and I respected Max--even if he was evil as all get out--because he was so observant and manipulative, so Svengali-ish, the ultimate spy, really.

I get more emotionally involved in writing something like Niall, in Wicked Burn, who had post traumatic stress syndrome, or Thomas, my hero from Explosive whose trauma is even more far-reaching. I cry a lot when I'm writing, but it's not in a 'bad' way. I'm just feeling with the characters. Afterwards, I often do make an effort to go talk to my husband or take a long hot bath, and sort of shake things off a bit.

S ~ I like how, In reading your bio, you mention something that really struck a cord with me. It was about how womens' sexuality is more complex than what we traditionally see in a lot of romance novels out there. We certainly see that in your books, and it's definitely a fascinating topic that should be explored more thoroughly. Why do you think it's so hard to find more intricate situations in books written for women?

Beth: Writing sexuality is always a bit of a mine field, because you are bound to touch off issues within some (many?) readers. Since historically, females have been cast as the subservient, weaker, 'less than' sex etc., modern women may find it offensive to read about a woman who enjoys being submissive in the bedroom, as one example. The thing that I find important to point out is that sexual fantasy is a lot like a dream. It follows different rules than your everyday, rational life. (I think this is true of romance in general, as well, but to a lesser degree than stories with erotic content).

What I meant in the bio is that traditionally men were considered to be the libidinous ones between the two sexes. There's all these studies done about how men are thinking about sex sixty percent of the time. (I don't know if that's the exact statistic, I'm free associating, but something along those lines). But there are a lot of factors that aren't taken into account in studies like that. First of all, there has been a cultural taboo placed on women for speaking openly about how they feel about sex, how much they think about it, what turns them on, what their fantasies are. How comfortable are women, really, when it comes time to reveal these things? Secondly, perhaps women haven't had the language to really express their sexual urges. It may be glaringly obvious to a man that he's irritable because he needs to get laid, but for a woman? Maybe it's the weather; maybe it's the kids; maybe it's PMS. (Simplified example, granted). Lastly, once a woman acknowledges what turns her on, she might have to deal with cultural judgements about the 'right' or the 'wrong' of it. Perhaps it's easier just to keep it inside.

So by my saying women are complex in their sexuality, I'm not implying men aren't as well. I just think women are more enigmatic and guarded in understanding and expressing their desires, and with very good reason.

S~ Can I just say that as a reader, I'm very happy to find an author who writes stories that send a positive message about a woman's sexuality.

Beth: Thanks, Stacy! I'm glad you feel that way.

S~ I'm sure as a writer you don't get as much time to read as you'd like. When you do find time to read, do you still read mostly romance or do you find yourself steering away books that are similar to yours?

Beth: I do admit that I'm so stretched for time lately, I haven't had my daily requirement of reading time. I'm probably going to shrivel up and die if I don't get some quality time with a good book.:)

I typically don't read a lot in my genre, but I do enjoy Sarah McCarty, Shiloh Walker and Emma Holly, to name just a very few. I always look forward to Julie James and Larissa Ione books. I do tend--in general--to steer away from genres I write in. Now that I write, it feels a little bit like work, in that my mind is always analyzing vs. just escaping into the story.

And then a lot of times, I'll be like...oh, crap! Why couldn't I have come up with that brilliant idea?

S ~ When you're driving in your car with the radio cranked up, what kind of music do you usually listen to when you come up with your ideas?

Beth: I'm a huge Chris Cornell fan, so Soundgarden and Audioslave, and some of his solo stuff. He's so angsty, and his songs always make my mind go to these tragic romances. Of course, I always make mine end happily though. :) I think I was listening to Soundgarden when I dreamed up Wicked Burn, and definitely Sade when I thought of Paradise Rules, because Lana's career was very loosely based on Sade's. Sean from Release--or at least his accent--was inspired by Harry Connick Jr. I listen to all genres of music--pop, hard rock, jazz, classical. I don't have music going when I write, but I listen avidly when I'm stuck in traffic...which is too much.

S~ I see from your website that you have a more releases out later this year. Can you share a little about these stories? : VELVET CATACLYSM, Princes of the Underground: Spring, 2010, Samhain:

Velvet Cataclysm is my first foray into the vampire genre, although I should say, Saint and the other Princes of the Underground are technically something more than vampire or werewolf. Velvet Cataclysm is an erotic romance paranormal with hints of urban fantasy, and it comes out from Samhain on May 18. [Yay!]

EXPLOSIVE: December 2010, Berkley Heat:

Explosive is a novel of the heart. It's another erotic contemporary from Berkley Heat. I would compare it to Release, in that it also has some suspense elements, although Explosive has more psychological elements. The hero is a major alpha--major--but he's also vulnerable. Thomas' character was probably my biggest challenge to write to date. I'm curious--and extremely nervous--to know whether or not readers will find him as appealing as I do.

S~ At Cecile's blog you mentioned that a guilty pleasure of your is watching ghost hunter shows? Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever gone on a ghost tour in Chicago, or anywhere else?

Hmmm, do I believe in ghosts? The short answer to that is 'no', or at least not in the way they are conveyed on many of those shows. I actually do believe in the power of the human mind, though, and that people can cause all sorts of physical manifestations given the right circumstances. I believe in telepathy, telekinesis, etc. Actually, my theory on what's happening on a lot of those shows is that the circumstances are ideal for some major telekinesis to occur. I mean, we know for a fact from research that poltergeists exist--sort of this unconscious burst of telekinetic energy from adolescents. Why does it have to be a disembodied spirit on these shows? Why can't it just be those people freaking themselves out and creating the manifestations with their own energy? I read this really cool article once where a Paranormal Research Society literally created their own 'ghost' by making up this rich history and talking about him all the time. Pretty soon, the 'made up ghost' was there, knocking on tables and creating ectoplasm or whatever. lol. Now that's the power of imagination.

S~ What were some of your favorite books as kid growing up?

Beth Kery: All the Nancy Drew books, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Lord of the Rings, The Mary Stewart Merlin Trilogy, The Narnia Chronicles.

S~ Who was the first author you'd ever met? What was it like to meet them?

Beth: Hmmm...I'm trying to recall. It might have been Julie James--I didn't really know anyone in person until early 2009. I had made online contacts, but not yet been to any conferences, etc. It was wonderful to meet Julie and talk on and on about publishers and promo and writing ideas. Very liberating and fun, for someone who sort of writes in the closet. lol.

S~ You mention how you love to travel and have incorporate those experiences into your stories, such as we've seen several of your books set in Chicago and also casting Paradise Rules in Hawaii. Which locations might we find highlighted in any of your upcoming stories?

Beth: London is probably one of my favorite cities in the world. and I'll be incorporating it into the second Princes of the Underground books at Samhain. I'd also like to include Paris, Amsterdam and Rome in that series, and likely New York, as well. I have a strange fascination with large cities' undergrounds, the stories they tell, the history, and that was actually part of the impetus for the Princes of the Underground series.

S~ You do a lot of research for your books. What are some of the most interesting things you've learned in your research?

Beth: I loved researching paranormal societies in late Victorian England for Fire Angel and then combining it with my knowledge of hypnosis. I learned that much of the science of hypnosis today was ground in these spiritual spectacles and early experiments into the world of mind control, hysteria and calling up the 'spirits of the dead.'

From my research for Daring Time, I learned that the affluent street Prairie Avenue had some of the first electricity installed in houses in the world, and that much of that knowledge resulted from the pioneering advancements of the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. I also learned what toilet paper was like in the early nineteen hundreds...for those who had it anyway. lol.

S ~ Can you tell us a little bit about the story you're writing now, or perhaps a story you'd like to write in the near future?

Beth: Sure, Stacy. I recently got a contract with Silhouette Special Edition for a series called Harbor Town, USA. It's about three families, all of different cultures and socioeconomic statuses, who are bound together by one night of tragedy. It takes place in one of the small vacation towns on the Michigan shore. Have you ever been to those for a summer vacation? Very idyllic. Anyway, the first story is rife with angst, being about a sort of Romeo and Juliet couple, who were in love as young adults in this sleepy, vacation town. When the hero's father gets behind the wheel of his car drunk one night and causes a three-way car crash, members from three different families are killed, changing the survivors' lives forever. The hero and heroine are ripped apart, because the hero's father was responsible for her parents' and brother's death. The story is not only about Marc and Mari coming together after fifteen years, it's about the three families and their eventual healing process through love.

I get a little verklempt every time I try to describe it. lol.

Thank you so much for the interview, Stacy.

S~ And thank you, Beth, for taking time out of your very busy schedule to answer my questions :)

For those of you new to Beth's books, or haven't read much of her backlist, take a look at her bookshelf.

***Stay tuned for your chance to win a copy of Release!***

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  1. Hi Stacy & Beth
    Awesome interview Stacy. You managed to ask fresh questions & I learned new stuff about Beth. Beth, I love your deeply emotional stories & complex characters. The stories stay with me after I've read them. Looking forward to this year's releases.

  2. I have to echo Mary's comments. That was an awesome interview with definitely fresh questions. You both put a lot of time and effort into making this a fantastic review.

    I loved Release and Wicked Burn...I think Wicked Burn is my fav so far. Looking forward to all the new release's!!!

  3. Great interview ladies! I lvoe reading about the process and what happens "behind the scenes" for the author!

    Amy M

  4. Beth,

    I'm reading Release right now and loving it.

  5. wow, thanks to both of you - that was one of the best interviews I've read :)
    I haven't had the time to read Beths books yet, but that will change soon...

  6. Great Q&A. I have read a few of beth's books are really enjoy them.Can't wait to get Release.

  7. Great interview! I've heard about Beth's books, but not read any yet. Sounds like I need to fix this soon. I love deeply emotional stories.

  8. Hi Stacy & Beth - wow, so great to 'hear' you talk about your work (great interview Stacy).

    Beth, I'm a big fan of your work and you've become an 'auto-buy' author for me. You're ability to bring each character to life and make them 3 dimensional pulls me into your books and keeps me there long after I've finished reading. Thank you!

    I just brought RELEASE and I'm looking forward to a few hours of alone time when I can dive into in uninterrupted.

  9. Stacy,

    You're amazing, you put up a photo Harry Connick, Jr. (Plus, you did a great interview. I must have been comfortable, because I sure did dither on, but oh well...)

    Thanks for taking the time and effort, Stacy.

    Hi Mary! Hopefully my free associates about sex and ghosts won't stay with you as long as a story. lol.

    Hello Kara! Thanks, it was all due to Stacy and her questions.

    Hey Amy, Liza and Ina! (Waving)

    Hi Elaine. Fingers crossed you'll keep enjoying. :) JCP, fingers crossed also that you enjoy the rest of RELEASE.

    Hello! I haven't heard from you in a while. I hope all is well! Fingers crossed for you, too, in regard to RELEASE.

  10. Hi, wonderful interview. Beth, it was great meeting you. Love your books Beth!

  11. Beth and Stacy - thank you for a fascinating interview!

    ...womens' sexuality is more complex than what we traditionally see in a lot of romance novels out there.

    I completely agree. The first thing that struck me when I read that sentence was how tied up our sexuality can be - in how we see ourselves, in how we think others see us, even in past experiences (sexual or otherwise). It's such a balancing act.

    All the best for the release Beth!

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