Thursday, May 13, 2010

Interview with Inara LaVey

I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to interview author Inara LaVey, author of the well-received novels Ripping the Bodice and Champagne. Click here to read the New Sensuality review for Ripping the Bodice. Welcome, Inara!

1. You have a very distinct and seasoned voice to your work. How long have you been writing?

Oh jeez, I've been writing since I was old enough to string one syllable words together. I wrote my first epic, The End of the Sun, when I was five. Ahem. (clears throat). "One day the sun came out. The next day the sun did not come out. It was the end of the sun. " Hemingway should be so succinct.

2. I love it! I remember in your interview on Phoebe Jordan’s author guest show, Talk About My Favorite Authors, that you, like charming lead character, Cassandra, in Ripping the Bodice, grew up reading your mother’s vintage bodice rippers. After reading the novel, I couldn’t help but wonder if what other similarities there might be between you and Cassandra. Any you might be willing to share?

Well, first of all my mom would not forgive me if I didn't rectify the misconception that the bodice rippers were hers. They were all mine. I'd leave them in the bathroom (I come from a LONG line of bathroom readers) where she or my sister would pick them up and read 'em. I'd hear lots of giggling and "how the hell do bosoms actually heave?" As far as other similarities between me and Cassandra ... I like chocolate and wine a lot! I used to be a lot more attracted to dramatic qualities in a guy than things like common sense, which is sort of Cassandra-esque. But honestly, she is pretty much a figment of my own active imagination. Okay, I DO like to daydream a lot... but OTHER than that. :)

3. You have an amazing sense of humor in both your dialogue and your prose. I’ve also noticed that you write a variety of genres. Do you apply a similar sense of humor to all of your genres, or are some of your works more playful than others?

I suspect I’m genetically incapable of writing without humor. When I was younger (I’m not saying how much younger) I’d try and write these romantic vignettes, all serious and angsty, not a spec of humor. No fun and none of the vignettes ever made it past a few pages. Okay, my one attempt at Y/A (written when I was a Y/A myself) was fairly lacking in humor, but I was a teenager and took things very seriously. I do think some works are a bit more playful than others since some genres lend themselves to humor more readily, but even my horror tends to fall into the black humor category.

4. What genres do you most enjoy reading these days? What makes a particular work stand out for you?

I am an equal opportunity genre type of gal. I love mysteries, horror, urban fantasy, paranormal, historicals, romances, action/adventure, chicklit (waiting for someone to bitchslap me for using that term), literary fiction (as long as it doesn’t break the basic rules of English and grammar in an attempt to be hip), Y/A…

What makes a book or story stand out for me are several things: humor (not necessary, but it does immediately draw me in and keep me even if other things about the work might be a little weak); believable, sympathetic characters (nothing turns me off more quickly in either a book or movie than having no one to root for); and internal consistency within the story, especially if there are any fantasy or sci-fi elements involved. You can make me believe just about everything if you stay true to the internal logic and rules you’ve established.

5. Who do you consider to be your most notable writing influences?

For mysteries and romantic suspense, definitely Elizabeth Peters. For general ‘oh, how I wish I could write like this’ authors I currently have ‘crushes’ on: Jim Butcher, Barbara Hambly, Charles de Lint, Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff… there are more, but my brain always fails me when asked questions like this!

6. If your writing were to take off, you were the next longstanding bestseller, and overnight you found yourself filthy rich, what charity would you consider most befitting of your donations, and why? Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/ Feline Conservation Center for one. Preservation and continuation of endangered species is a huge one for me. Also I’d love to donate to existing animal rescue organizations, as well as start a rescue center of my own.

7. I love the idea of opening a rescue center. I one thing you and I share is a passion for animals (with a massive soft spot for cats). I’m guessing another is reading and writing erotic romance, which might be considered guilty pleasures by some. Would you say you have any other guilty pleasure?

I’d say watching really bad movies with friends whilst drinking lots of good wine … except I actually feel no guilt about it at all.

8. A guilt-free guilty pleasure; I like it. How about a harder question: What is your all-time favorite book?

Aieee! I hate this question ‘cause I can never think of one book that stands out above all the rest. There are so many wonderful books that I’ve read and loved over the years for various reasons, I don’t think I can pick just one. It’s like asking me to pick my favorite cat.

9. I can never give a straight answer to that question, either. There are far too many talented writers out there, and choosing a favorite work out of all of them is a difficult one. How about a slightly easier question, then: Every other week, you host a “Ravenous Romancers” chat through UK review site, Un:Bound. For those who might not know about Un:Bound and its Ravenous Romancers, do you want to share a little about it?

Un:Bound is a VERY cool UK review site run by my friend Adele (otherwise known as Hagelrat) and her team of crack website techs and reviewers. She reviewed my murder mystery MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon, and we hit it off right away. When my erotic romance RIPPING THE BODICE came out, she decided to give it a go even though she was not into romances at all because she liked my writing. Once I’d paved the way with RtB, she was ripe for romance novel invasion! Bwahahahah!!!!

Ahem. Anyway, she reviewed C. Margery Kempe’s book CHASTITY FLAME (another Ravenous Romance release) and loved it. Then she came up with idea of having a Ravenous Romance day twice a month on Un:Bound and asked me to host it. So I became part of the Un:Bound team, along with some of our more brilliant and personable RR authors, yourself included.  I love my RR gang... The quality and variety of posts have been excellent and the comment threads quite lively. It’s a lot of fun and I hope to get more RR authors to write posts for Ravenous Wednesday!

10. That’s one thing I have enjoyed about the Ravenous Romance group over at Un:Bound. There are a lot of really talented contributors, and we all seem to have similar thoughts on literary style and “prose art.” Those values are so important to me that the motto here at The New Sensuality is “Erotica for the discerning reader.” What, in your opinion as both a reader and a writer of erotic fiction, makes a work not only good, but great? What turns you off?

In order for erotic fiction to work for me, there has to be a believable build of tension between the two main characters. The buildup is often more erotic and more of a turn-on to me than the actual sex scenes (although I have read some smoking hot sex scenes!); the character interaction more interesting than who’s putting what where, and how hard, and how many times. Give me that sexual tension along with sensuality in the foreplay and sex scenes themselves and you’ve got what I consider a great erotic work.

What turns me off is when the sex comes across like a medical exam sans speculum, when too many bodily fluids are shooting, spraying and trickling hither and yon, and when words like ‘cream’ are used to describe female arousal. Like, aren’t there medications for that? Also, if the characters are wooden and I don’t believe the relationship between them, I’m not gonna get turned on by them having sex.

11. Great answer! Now for the bonus question: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

If Lewis Carroll didn’t have an answer for it, neither do I. :)


  1. Lisa, thank you so much for having me as your guest here! I love what you did with the interview!

  2. Nice interview. And I agree with your views on erotic romance.

  3. Thanks, Ryan! And that would explain why I enjoy your books. :-)

  4. Great interview, Inara! Ripping the Bodice was fabulous. I've been meaning to get my hands/eyeballs on Champagne,too.

    I, too, love humor in erotic romance. Prolly why I write it. ;-)

  5. Olivia! thank you for stopping by! and thank you for your kind words on RtB. I can't wait to read your first release, which is coming out when now? Promo, please!

  6. Inara, you already know you're a favorite of mine for a lot of reasons, not just because I enjoy your books.

    I hear you on the mechanical sex thing. Make it real, make it fit with your characters.

    Hey, I made it big, lolol! I'll join you the the Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/ Feline Conservation Center donations and I'd plop down quite a bit to create your own, so long as I could work with the cats too. :-)

  7. Nice, Sia! I'll remember that when we both make it big! Over Coffee (and with Cats) can be the name of it! Thanks for stopping by - it's always a joy to see your smiling face! And btw, Lisa Lane is a great interview if you're looking for authors for Over Coffee... :-)

  8. Thanks for the shout out :-) Wednesdays at Un:Bound ROCK and everyone should be sure to stop by every day to see all the fabulous reviews and fun features like the hilarious "Un:Covered" series examining what we can't see in cover pictures.

    Inara, you are a joy and your writing as much fun as can be had between the pages. I look forward to every release and am FINALLY getting to MURDER because I'm packing it in my bag for the UK trip and it will not come back unread. I sneaked a chapter already and my appetite is whetted. Can't wait.

  9. Woot! Margery!! I can't wait to see what you think of MFH! Or are you thinking of committing an actual murder?... Hmmm... :-)

    I am off to yoga and then will be back online!

  10. At the moment, murder sounds appealing. Am I in purgatory? Is there any other explanation for NY State Ed forms?!

  11. Very cool interview! And yes, I think the humor is what makes it work.

  12. Stopping by to say hello to everyone - Champagne's a cool read, for sure. And Un:Bound is awesome.

  13. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Inara was a joy to interview. ;-) Champagne and Murder for Hire have definitely joined my ever-growing to-read list. I loved the dark humor.

    Also, I can't say enough good things about Un:Bound. For those who haven't checked out the site, it really is worth stopping by. The team there has phenomenal taste in fiction. ;-)

  14. Fabulous interview! I LOVE your stories for RR!!

  15. Oh, what a wonderful interview! And I just LOVE Inara's books! And in answer to the riddle, this is from Wikipedia:

    "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Although Carroll intended the riddle to have no solution, in a new preface to the 1896 edition of Alice, he proposes several answers: "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!" (Note the spelling of "never" as "nevar"—turning it into "raven" when inverted. This spelling, however, was "corrected" in later editions to "never" and Carroll's pun was lost.) Puzzle expert Sam Loyd offered the following solutions:

    Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes
    Poe wrote on both
    They both have inky quills
    Bills and tales ("tails") are among their characteristics
    Because they both stand on their legs, conceal their steels ("steals"), and ought to be made to shut up.

  16. Kat! I saw the same Wiki entry (having no idea what the answer was) and went with Carroll's original plan. :-)

    Kate, you need a martini. Stat!

    O. Lisa, Lana, and Rebecca, thank you for stopping by and for your nice words about my books! More, please! :-) My fragile writer's ego loves it so...

    Lisa, I so agree with you re: Un:Bound. Love that site!

  17. I had no idea there were that many popular answers to the riddle (I had heard the Poe answer, and that both have black quills). Very cool!

    LOL, Dana. I have to say, I loved the fantasy scenes in RIPPING THE BODICE, and I laughed aloud at some of the lines of internal dialog. Very witty!

  18. Great interview, Inara! keep putting out the books, you should come to PGH and do a book signing!!

  19. Gotta love Wiki, Lisa... and the 'net in general for research. I know I was grateful for it when you asked me that question! Heh.

    Hi, Tamara! Thank you so much for stopping by and I would love to do book signings in your neck of the woods...

  20. Lisa L. I love your interviews - great questions and a great subject, too...
    = )

  21. Lisa, great interview. Inara, I love the energy that comes across with your answers. I noticed on your radio interview a while back, too. And a rescue center for cats and other animals is a goal I can also warm up to.

  22. Inara- Backstage Pass hits the shelves October 1st, 2010.

    Since you so kindly asked...

  23. Kilt, honey! Nice to see you here. :-)

    James! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I've always wanted to open a rescue center for animals... I guess in a way I have, what with the kitties here, but you know what I mean...

    Thank you, Olivia! I'll be buying a copy...

  24. I love my Ravenous team too!!

  25. This is a great interview and introduction to Inara's work. What an excellent way for authors to get their work out there for people to see. Fantastic stuff, Lisa!

  26. Kate, thanks for stopping by and reading the interview!

    And Lisa, once again, thank you so much for having me as your guest!