Take What You Want, and an Interview with Jeanette Grey

Take What You WantTake What You Want by Jeanette Grey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m just going to jump out and say it: I love Jeanette Grey’s books. Big time. I’ve read every single one. And Take What You Want was just another story for me to love as much as the others.

From the very beginning, I was rooting for Ellen. A college student left to her own devices while her friends are off on spring break, Ellen wants a chance to be someone else. To have a taste of the kind of life she never lives. I’ve been there—desperate to escape my life, even just for a few days. So when she finds the courage to approach a gorgeous stranger in a bar, I was with her, one hundred percent.

And when she had him in her bed a few short pages later, I wasn’t complaining.

Josh is Ellen’s classmate, although she doesn’t recognize him. He’s been in half of her classes since their freshman year, and knows who she is from the start. Even though Josh is baffled at the game Ellen is playing, he has every intention of playing along. I loved the way Josh saw through Ellen, trying to figure out the ruse. He’s constantly hoping she will tell him what she’s doing, what she really wants. And even while he’s trying to pretend to be the man he thinks she wants, he’s still hoping she’ll sees him underneath.

“Tell me.”

 

He was asking for more than he could say in words. He knew that.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Tell me you want me.”

 

She searched his face, shuddering, her fingers tight around his biceps. Her voice shook as she breathed out the words. “I want you.”

 

His throat was dry, his need too intense. “Me.”

 

No glint of recognition in her eyes. No sudden understanding of who he really was. But still, she gazed right at him as she slid her hands down to grip his, then to the button on his jeans.

 

“You.”

 

It was enough.

I loved the way Josh was trying to channel a better man when he was with Ellen: the man who could make her scream, and the man who could tell his father what he wanted. Because even while Josh is trying to be someone else for Ellen, he’s trying to find himself. And Ellen spends the entire book trying to be someone she isn’t, only to discover who she really is.

Jeanette’s characters have a way of gripping us as they strive to be better versions of themselves. They need to be seen, to be recognized for who they really are. And the delicious smutty scenes feel all the more real and beautiful because of it.

Take What You Want is one among a long list of books of hers I have loved, including: A Gift of Trust, a sweet homecoming story on Christmas; Unacceptable Risk, a fast-paced futuristic mystery that keeps the reader hooked on the love story as much as the suspense; and Bad Romance, a story of a relationship gone wrong, and being addicted to the irresistible lure of pleasure and pain. Her style is the kind of writing I strive for, and she’s a generally awesome person who is badass at all kinds of things, including painting a room. I’m lucky to call her a friend, and even luckier that she agreed to do a little interview for me!

 

1. Why do you write erotic romances? How did you get started with it?

I’ve always been drawn to the love stories in book and movies. Even when the focus of the story is something else – a political drama or a mystery or an action flick – I tend to zero in on the romantic elements. They’re the parts of stories that draw me in, and so romances are the most natural kinds of stories for me to write.

As for the erotic part…I feel like (with a few notable exceptions) any romance is eventually going to culminate in sex. Sex is a huge part of the human experience, something we think about constantly and spend so much of our energy pursuing. It’s also a transformative experience. It solidifies intimacy and allows us to reveal ourselves to our partners in a unique way. Exploring that connection is integral to the kinds of stories I want to tell.

Also, writing smut is fun 🙂

2. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

The biggest challenge for me was the very first one – just deciding to put myself out there. It’s one thing to write in isolation and squirrel away your work where no one will ever see it. Getting up the courage to polish up a manuscript and write a query letter and hit the send button was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

3. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Honestly, I’m still fumbling around in the dark when it comes to this stuff. I do a combination of social media networking (talking to other authors and readers online), soliciting reviews from book bloggers, and targeted guest blog posts on sites with large followings of die-hard readers.

The most effective marketing, though, is writing a great book. My sales have never been higher than right after my book got an A- review from Dear Author. It was a review my publisher managed to secure for me; I had nothing to do with it. But it definitely got a lot of attention from readers!

4. What books or authors influence your writing most? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I can’t pinpoint any one particular author or book. I try to read in my genre as much as possible, and I’d like to think I learn a little bit from everything I read. Whenever something makes my heart ache or revs my engine, I try to slow down and notice the things the author did to elicit that reaction from me as a reader and keep those things top of mind while I’m writing.

5. Many authors (including myself) find it’s hard to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. How do you describe the smutty stuff, and keep it from becoming repetitive?

This may sound strange, but writing love scenes almost never feels repetitive to me. Yes, it’s the same general motions every time (tab A, slot B), but by the time I get to writing a love scene in a story, I’ve already laid the foundations for it to be unique. I’ve gotten to know two characters and created dynamics between them, and the sex is the culmination of all the building I’ve already done.

To keep it fresh, I get as deep into the character’s head as possible and concentrate on the emotion and sensations and what makes the experience important to that character, and not necessarily just the mechanics of having sex.

6.  Who among your characters do you wish were real and why? Where would you go, or what would you do with him (or her)?

I’m one of those authors who falls a little in love with all of my characters. If I had to pick one to get to know in real life, though, I’d probably pick Edison from Unacceptable Risk. He’s a smart hero intent on doing the right thing and helping the people he loves. I’d just love for him to show me around his cybernetics lab and tell me about what he does and how he does it.

7. You say on your website that you “[take] the reader on journeys of self-discovery and redemption – and above all, love.” One of the things I love best about your books is how the characters seem to find themselves through love. Is that an important theme for you to incorporate into your stories? If so, why?

Absolutely. I went to a workshop last year where the speaker declared that every author has a “secret fire” theme – a message that drives him or her to write and to want to tell stories in the first place. That secret fire theme will be present in every book that author writes, although it will manifest in lots of different ways. You may not even intend for it to be part of your work, but it worms its way in there.

After that workshop, I spent a lot of time trying to identify what my secret fire theme was. The answer I eventually came up with was “misfit finds acceptance.” At the core of pretty much every book I write, you’ll find at least one character who feels out of step with the world, and through romantic love or family connection or just good old-fashioned introspection, that character will find a place where he or she fits.

That’s only one element of self-discovery, but it’s one that drives my writing and motivates me as I select the kinds of stories I want to tell.

8. What project are you working on now? Can you share a little news about your current work?

Pretty soon, I’ll be starting edits on my next Samhain release – it’s a novella called When It’s Right, and it’s a best friends to lovers story wrapped up in a road trip story, all centered on getting to Times Square for New Year’s Eve. It releases in December 2013.

I’m also wrapping up my first draft of a new novel about a reclusive man who suffers an injury that forces him to let someone in, and who then never wants to let her go.

9. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Besides read and think about things I’d like to write about? J I make pottery, I knit, and I cook/bake. My husband and I are also big fans of playing board games, long walks around suburban neighborhoods, and travelling to new and interesting places.

10. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write. Just write. Turn off Twitter, forget your blog for a few days, and ignore all the advice about how to write. Just write.

 

You can buy Jeanette’s books on Amazon, and find out more about her via her Blog and Twitter. She’s also one of the Bad Girlz on the Bad Girlz Write Blog.

 

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