Today Reader’s Entertainment welcomes bestselling author Monica Burns. Welcome Monica, we are thrilled to have you today.
So, tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?
My life is a series of adventures so telling you about myself would make your ear fall off. Suffice it to say that I’m originally from Illinois (St. Louis area, GO CARDNIALS!) and I now live in Richmond, VA with my husband of 28 years, one angsty teenage daughter, while our oldest daughter lives in Columbus, OH where she just graduated college and landed her first teaching job. Can I just say I’m a proud mama? As for the day-job, I’m very lucky. A year and a half ago, my boss at the time was becoming difficult to work for, and I asked my husband if I could just quit and write full-time. He sighed and agreed, and I’ve never looked back.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first romance at nine years old. I started a sci-fi book and a fantasy in college, but never finished either one. Romance has always been my true love.
Tell us about your latest release?
HIS MISTRESS is my first BDSM book, okay for all of you who just cringed and went, oh lord, not another Fifty Shades book. It’s not that kind of a book. HIS MISTRESS is a) a historical romance, b) a female dominate and an alpha male submissive. Yes an alpha male, don’t you just want to read to see how I pull that one off?? *grin* c) there is no real kink in this book, and d) the sex is strictly between the hero and heroine. Joey W. Hill loved it, and it has a 4+ ranking at Goodreads, Amazon and B&N
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
In HIS MISTRESS, the characters are entire fictitious, I’ve used real life characters in my books before, but not in this story.
Where did you get the idea from?
Up until two years ago, I’d never read a BDSM book. I just didn’t feel comfortable testing one out. Joey W. Hill and I met a couple of years ago, and she’d sent me her book Natural Law. I had even bought another of Joey’s books that a friend had recommended, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to read it. Then Joey got me invited on a trip to visit a dungeon (BDSM club) in Chicago while at the RT conference. It was before the club was open, so I was eager to go. While there, I came across a piece of equipment that even for me I thought was incredibly sexy, and I knew at that moment that I would write a BDSM historical. Although I didn’t use that particular piece of equipment in HIS MISTRESS, it’s part of a scene in the next book of the series.
Your website says you have bipolar disorder, and that it is commonly misdiagnosed. Many readers are not familiar with bipolar disorder, can address some of the nuances of it and how it affects your daily writing life?
Bipolar disorder is a really hard condition to deal with on a daily basis. Prior to getting on medication, I was prone to dramatic mood swings. In truth, I made my husband’s life a living hell because he never knew how I was going to react to something. My real epiphany came when everything in my personal and professional life was wonderful, and while traveling on the interstate on a simply gorgeous fall day, all I could think about was driving my car across the median and plowing head on into an oncoming tractor trailer. My husband immediately ordered me to see someone, and I found a good doctor who knew how to treat me.
Writing is either my cross to bear or my ultimate high depending on the moment with my bipolar disorder. When I’m struggling with a book, I wind up going so low and deep into depression that it’s hard to write until my hormones and medicine bring me back up to a level keel. When it comes to my writing, my disorder has had a significant impact. From a negative standpoint, I still have to deal with extreme highs and lows emotionally even though I take medication every day. When I’m low, which is more often than my highs, my ability to write is dramatically impacted. The plus side is that I can use my spiraling emotions in my books, and it also makes me more emphatic to others who have disabilities of any kind.
My youngest daughter is also bipolar, and the struggle with trying to find the right mix of pills for her has been extremely stressful. She’s attempted suicide, had several hospital stays, and finds school a major struggle due to her conditions. Her swings are even more dramatic than mine, and it’s difficult to get people, particularly family, to understand that discipline isn’t the answer to dealing with her emotional disorder. Being bipolar is a debilitating disorder that can impact not just the afflicted person, but their family as well.
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
I think Tobias and Jane from HIS MISTRESS have been the hardest characters I’ve ever written. I think that was partly because I was writing in a new genre and I had to learn what was right and what wasn’t while writing the book. It took me almost two years to write HIS MISTRESS, simply because I struggled with the characters and their interaction with each other. I truly was afraid of the book, but I can honestly say that it’s the best book I’ve ever written.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Oh that’s easy!! Cleo from my third book of the Order of the Sicari series. These are paranormals, and there’s a good deal of me in Cleo. The only difference is that she’s Elizabeth Taylor gorgeous, has a lithe figure like Sandra Bullock and she’s an expert swordswoman. Other than that, her attitude, love of live, loyalty, fiery temper, determination and everything else is either me or what I want to be. I love Cleo, she’s hands down my favorite heroine.
What are you working on now?
I’m actually working on a short story for a Christmas anthology I’ll be in with Kate Pearce, Samantha Kane, Jess Michaels and several other erotic historical romance authors. The story is about how John, the patriarch of my Self-Made Men series, finds his own true happiness after twenty-five years. I’m surprised as to how well it’s going. I’m about halfway done with the story. It’s going to be hot, and I’m still not sure whether John is going to submit to Charlotte or not. The men in this series are all alphas, and some go to their knees faster than others. *grin*
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
My first romance novel was a gothic Victoria Holt that my grandmother loaned me while I was visiting her on summer vacation. I sat under a tree reading while her opera music floated out of her windows. Great memory that. From there I picked up my first Harlequin and scoured my school library for romances of any kind.
I don’t know where I got my ideas as a nine-year old as I’d not read my first romance yet. As for influencers, I’d have to say that the Scarlett Pimpernel and Jane Eyre were the two books that made me realize that I would one day write similar works. I love intrigue, danger, hero in peril saved by the heroine type of books, and that’s what a lot of my stories are.
If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Hands down, it would be Charlotte Bronte. I loved Jane Eyre and I’d ask her to introduce me to her family. I’d want to know what inspired her to write Jane Eyre and if she modeled Edward Rochester on anyone she knew. I think there are mysteries there that people don’t know, and I’d love to have a heart to heart with her about them.
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
No, I’m pretty average in everything I do. I’m a good cook and baker, and I sing fairly well, but other than that, I’m pretty ordinary.
Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
Oh that’s such a hard question, because it depends on my mood swing. Example, for the past three days I’ve been craving Brach’s chocolate stars. No other kind of chocolate can do. I don’t really have any one specific must-have food when I’m sinking into the doldrums, it’s dependent on the chemicals that control my taste buds and my disorder. I’m positive there’s a connection there.
What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did?
It’s the rare interview that mentions my sexual assault and how it’s impacted my world. I think that’s because people are uncomfortable with the topic or they’re afraid it’s too difficult a topic for me to discuss. While it’s never pleasant talking about the past, it is something that so many women out there have dealt with as well. I like pointing out that erotic romance offers women the opportunity to have a choice in the amount of sex or type of sex one reads. Writing erotic romance has also aided me in my life-long healing process. I think reading a really sexy book is as valuable to another woman as writing is to me. Romance can empower women to take back their sexuality if they’re the survivor of a sexual assault, any assault, or abuse for that matter. In fact, romance can empower women simply by virtue of the story itself. It’s a proven fact that women who read romance are more apt to be in loving relationships and their bedroom is quite active. I think that’s an awesome testimonial about romance and how it impacts the lives of so many.
Wow, Monica what a great interview. Thank you so much for your candor, and willingness to share some very personal moments.
Please check out Monica’s latest release: HIS MISTRESS.
Drop by tomorrow for a sneak peek……you won’t be disappointed.