Today in the Author Spotlight I have a very special lady as a guest. I’m thrilled to introduce to you Ms. Shelby Kent-Stewart, political speech writer, sex-positive feminist, animals right advocate and so much more. Shelby also writes smart and sexy erotic romance with a dynamic plot, crisp dialogue, and fabulous characters.
Lilah: Welcome to our spotlight, Shelby. You warn the Internet passer-by on your Twitter page not to ask about your transition from political speech writing to erotic romance. Still, it is a way too fascinating question to be passed by. What attracted you to that genre that many think of as “cheap housewife porn”? When and how did you start writing erotic romance?
Shelby: First of all, thanks so much for the invitation, Lilah. As you know, I’m a great admirer of yours and honored you thought of me for your spotlight. Now to these delicious questions…
Notwithstanding that I have ‘don’t ask’ on my Twitter bio, I’m happy to respond to anyone with the balls to ask me — and many do. While my passion for progressive politics is a life-long obsession, as with most things, it had an expiration date. The long explanation would bore everyone to tears so here’s the short one. It was 2009 and I wanted out. Everything was too easy, too slick, too rote. I craved a challenge, one so far outside my comfort zone I’d need a rescue team to bring me back.
Ironically, I landed on the one genre that held no interest for me whatsoever. Sure, I’d read a few erotic romance novels but most of them revolved around the sexual encounters, which enthralled me even less. I wanted to explore the dynamics, the obstacles and flaws that bring two, or even three, characters together. That I could also address a few societal ills, child molestation, domestic abuse and bigotry to name a few, and make them palatable for the reader was the icing on the cake.
‘Cheap housewife porn’? I haven’t heard that one, but here’s my take. If I can bring some fun and fantasy into the lives of women (and men) who work hard at keeping their families together, then I can live with any label a person wants to assign me.
Will I continue writing in this genre? Maybe, maybe not. The day love, romance and the ‘human condition’ cease to interest me is the day I go back to writing that mainstream fiction thriller I’ve been fooling with for years. Stay tuned.
Lilah: You identify yourself as a feminist and most of your novels incorporate a different kink factor, BDSM Light, Domestic Discipline and spanking. What would you answer to the statement that you can’t be a feminist if you write about male domination and female submission?
Shelby: Great question! The term feminist means different things to different people. In my case, I identify with the feminism of my mother, grandmother and a personal hero of mine, Gloria Steinem, who stated unequivocally, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Steinem never excluded women with a predilection for butt plugs or a good old-fashioned bare-ass spanking.
Perhaps an even better answer to your question is a scene in Runaway Brat where Hadley sheepishly poses a similar query to Sky, activist, avowed feminist and sister of our uber-dominant hero, Scott Barlow.
“So where do I turn in my ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ button?”
“You are so silly. In my world, feminism is about a woman’s freedom to do whatever she feels in her heart is the right thing for her. Only a strong woman would have the guts to kick convention in the nuts and live the life she wants.”
Lilah: All your characters are very vivid and well-drawn. Are any of them and your plots based on real people/situations? Or is everything entirely out of your imagination?
Shelby: That’s a lovely compliment, Lilah, and I thank you for that.
I suppose the closest thing I’ve come to writing about a real-life situation is, again, Runaway Brat which, to a lesser extent, recounts the maddening chase I put my husband through. By the age of ten, I had my entire life mapped out and nowhere did it include a husband. Lovers yes, lots of them…and I think I’ll leave it at that.
Depending on your viewpoint, I was blessed or cursed with a fertile imagination and currently have at least a dozen books in various stages of completion.
Lilah: Which character and book of yours are your favorites?
Shelby: I’m tempted to say Sky Barlow is my favorite character as we’re both activists and outspoken critics of the system, but in reality it’s Sophie in Once Upon a Faerie. I adored her from the moment I introduced her and she never let me down. Smart, brave, sassy, she personifies everything I admire in a person.
Coincidentally, Once Upon a Faerie is also my favorite book to date but not my best-seller by any means. Like horror, paranormal is one of those genres you either love or hate, which is a shame because there are great books in both categories that people dismiss as not their thing.
In fact, a reader said that in a review, that she almost didn’t read it because she wasn’t a fan of the genre. Now here’s the kicker. The book has very little to do with the paranormal. Had I found a way to list the book another way, I might have jumped on it. It’s a book about bigotry and hate, the extremes some will go to eradicate those different from them. As the teacher from Wisconsin stated, ‘If you’re looking for pointy hats and dripping fangs, look elsewhere. This book is an allegory of our times.’ This review is priceless to me. Not only did she like it but she ‘got’ it.
Lilah: You have tried both the traditional and indie publishing. What is the most difficult about being a contemporary writer? Any advice you’d give to the new authors?
Shelby: For me, the most difficult thing is self-promotion. I loathe it but also realize it’s a necessary evil, the only way to compete in a market already flooded. Second to that are the peripheral things like blogging, maintaining a website and the obligatory Newsletter which I am ALWAYS late in delivering.
My advice to new authors is learn your craft, be smart enough to recognize the things you can’t do well and hire professionals. Produce the very best book you can but NEVER give into the realistic dream that you will be another E. L. James or land a movie deal. Unfulfilled expectations can kill an author’s spirit and career faster than lack of sales.
Lilah: What are your future writing plans? Do you have any current work in progress?
Shelby: For the foreseeable future, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing, freelance work and writing Erotic Romance.
My current works in progress include For Love of Honor, the third and final book in the Wicked Tails Series and Child’s Play, a dark journey into abduction and age-play, a drastic departure for me.
Lilah: Thank you for the time you spared, Shelby, have a wonderful summer. We look forward to your next releases. Before you go, can you share a non-writing ambition/goal you have?
Shelby: It’s been my pleasure, Lilah, and thank you again for thinking of me. As to ambition and goals, I’m taking it one day at a time. My family recently suffered some unexpected health issues which were wake-up calls for me. Never again do I want to get so caught up in the vagaries of life that I forget to live.
Now that you’ve met Shelby and have an idea of her writing I bet your fingers are itching to click the 1-click button to get some of her books.You can do that right now on her Amazon page – http://amzn.to/1MBkBG8 .
The Wicked Tails Series
Blurb: Sydney Forrest has secrets. A forensic scientist for a clandestine international firm by day, by night she assumes whatever identity is necessary to search for those who are lost, the ones time has forgotten.
Returning to the states from a two-month assignment in Bahrain, Jordan Dunham wants answers. A mysterious disc has shown up, one which could ultimately blow their cover and endanger Sydney’s life. As much as he wants answers, there’s something he wants even more, Sydney, the enigmatic beauty always just beyond his grasp.
When she narrowly escapes an attempt on her life, Dunham will use everything in his military and professional background to keep her safe and draw on everything in his emotional arsenal to make her his.
Blurb: A prolific writer of BDSM erotica, Abigail Blessing is beautiful, headstrong and about to get her comeuppance. Targeting a flesh and blood Dom for an alleged offense against a friend, Abby will learn the hard way that submission is more than just a word on a page. Lucas Baines, successful attorney and co-owner of The Trident, is smitten with his mysterious new client until he discovers she’s the one who tried to bring down his law firm. In league with Julian Martine, life-long friend and fellow Dom, they set out to teach her a lesson, one that includes a remote island getaway and a bag of toys Santa wouldn’t touch. Their best laid plans are put to the test when revenge turns to passion and their retreat becomes an emotional war zone. Book 2-Wicked Tails.
Once Upon a Faerie
Blurb: Classical violinist Ashling Michaels has her hands full. It’s one thing to discover she’s not who she thinks she is, but when she learns she’s mated to the men of her dreams, a wizard, a vampire and a wolf shifter, what’s a girl to do? Add to the mix an ancient prophecy which foretells her fate as humankind’s best hope for survival and things go from the sublime to the absurd. It is January 2014. In less than twelve months, the winter solstice will signal The Coming, the day foretold when The Others will rid the planet of those they see as interlopers, every human man, woman and child. As the clock ticks down, her mates will face their own moment of truth. Centuries-old enemies of The Others, they have sworn an oath to protect humans, but can they do it and risk losing the feisty, fearless woman whom they cherish above all things?
Blurb: Architect Hadley James is a woman on a mission. Leaving a string of shattered hearts and broken engagements across Europe, she returns to Chicago to put her playgirl image behind her and focus on her career. And she intends to do it alone — no men, no angst, no problem — but when she crosses paths with a client, one hell-bent on claiming the bad girl, all bets are off.
Scott Barlow knows what he wants. He wants Hadley James in his life, his bed and under his thumb. A strict disciplinarian and advocate of tough-love for women, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
There is another who watches and waits, someone from her past with a deadly agenda, someone who will prove that before a heart can be shattered, it must exist.
You can read my review of Runaway Brat here.
Blurb: Jace Malone likes his life just fine. A detective-turned-writer, he left the city life of Austin for the peace and quiet of the south Texas plains. With few available women and none who come close to tempting him, the sleepy town of Serenity fits him like a glove. He can run his ranch, write his books, and while away his days a happy man.
Enter trouble. Globe-trotting photographer Sabrina Shelton has returned to Serenity to dispose of her late granddaddy’s ranch. To the townspeople, she’s a different person from the fearless tomboy they remember, but they chalk it up to grief—everyone but Jace. Recognizing that she’s plagued with deeper issues, ones which may well keep her around, he takes on her recovery; and with methods more corporal than conventional, vows to get her back on her feet and out of his well-ordered life.
Blurb: For eight long years, Jericho Kelly has awaited justice in the death of her older brother, only to discover his murder has been relegated to the cold case files. Killed in the line of duty, he was a good cop who deserved better, and come hell or high water, she won’t rest until he gets it.
Only three obstacles stand in her way: a ruthless mob boss determined to shut her down, an undercover operation that could blow up in her face, and Rourke Simmons, the bane of her existence. Six feet plus of swagger and sin, Simmons is the only man who ever rejected her—the only man she ever loved.