This week I was honored to sit down with best-selling author Mandi Beck, who definitely adds spice to her story lines! She had me blushing from the first page of her first novel, Love Hurts, which is an erotic love story come thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat in more ways than one. Here’s what she had to say about her writing process:
How long ago did you get serious about writing your first novel? Had you been writing for fun before that?
I’ve always written for me. Not so much for fun but for myself. It’s always been an outlet for me. I realized that I could actually share my stories with people and that they might actually enjoy them about five years ago. So, while I was taking classes for a nursing degree, I started to write something to share in my down time.
What prompted you to get into the erotic fiction genre? Were you a romance novel fan when you were younger?
Well, I consider myself more contemporary romance than erotic fiction! I’ve been reading romance books forever. I would read everything from Sweet Valley High to Harlequins at a pretty young age, although you can’t tell my mom!
Love Hurts was your first novel. Was the plot line in your head before you put pen to paper? Or did the characters come first?
I’m a total ‘pantser.’ I don’t plot much at all. I have an idea of how the story MIGHT go, but I don’t have an outline I follow or anything like that. I just sit and write. I also write out of order most of the time, which goes hand-in-hand with my ‘pantser’ personality!
I know I felt more connected to Deacon than Frankie in Love Hurts; he seemed the more vulnerable of your two protagonists. Have you had this feedback from other readers? Why do you think this is?
I have! I think that it’s because the story was told almost entirely from his point of view. I also think that readers gravitate more to the hero, and always find more forgiveness, sympathy, empathy, whatever the story might call for, for the hero. Always! So many readers HATED Frankie. I set out to redeem her in the sequel though, and I think that I managed to change a lot of people’s opinions of her. At least I hope I did!
Although there's a lot of sex, there's also a really compelling plot line. It's not just an erotic novel, it's a pretty kick ass thriller! Did you ever consider writing the story without the naughty bits?
Probably not, although in my third book Stoned there is only one ACTUAL sex scene. There’s one flashback and some dirty talk here and there, (which is kind of my thing - the dirty alpha! Who knew?) but only one real-time sex scene. I don’t put them in just for the sake of it, or for shock value. I’ve actually removed some during editing before now, if I didn’t feel like it contributed to the progression of the characters and their relationship.
How did you make your publishing decision? What are the benefits of self-publishing over using a traditional publishing house?
I weighed the pros and the cons, and even had an offer from a publishing house, but with the market the way it is I thought it was more beneficial for me to self-publish. That, and I’m a terrible employee! Being my own boss and writing my stories the way I see them play out in my mind is more important to me.
Your cover art is amazing! Did you use a professional designer, or did you have that look in mind when you were writing?
Thank you! I have ZERO talent/vision when it comes to that stuff. I’m awful at it. I have an amazing photographer - Perrywinkle Photography - who helps me to pick out my cover models, and then I give her the artistic freedom to do her thing. She reads my books and it comes through in the cover art. She actually designed my first two covers as well, then I had mercy on her and hired a graphic artist.
With young kids in the house, how do you carve out time to write? Do you set up "Do Not Disturb" time, or do you have to be flexible?
Goodness! There’s no such thing as “Do Not Disturb” in my house! I’m a mom first, so I typically wait until the boys are in bed. When writing my first two books, I was in school too, and every quiet moment I had was spent studying and doing homework. I had to get creative about finding time to write, so I would sneak five minutes and use my phone’s notes app - sitting on the bathroom floor while the boys were in the tub, while I was waiting on a train during the morning commute, in the grocery store parking lot; Just anywhere I could! I wrote the first 25,000 words of Love Hurts on my phone as one loooonnnggg ass paragraph, much to my writing friends’ chagrin! I still write in the app all the time, and they still shudder when I tell them!
What's the one thing you'd change about making your first book happen, if you could do it over?
I don’t think I would change anything really. It was such a learning experience. People don’t realize what goes on AFTER you’ve written the story. I would do things differently with a couple of the releases that followed though!
What's the one piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring author about getting published these days?
HIRE AN EDITOR!!!!! A qualified editor! So many people now are writing and that’s fantastic, but they need to do it the right way. Set aside a budget and make sure at least 50% of that budget goes towards the editing process. It won’t matter how pretty your book is on the outside; if readers open it and see that it’s poorly edited you’re dead in the water. With so many fantastic authors out there in a saturated market, you can’t take a chance like that.
And I have to ask, because I know your mom! Who was more embarrassed when she read your first erotic novel, you or her?
HA! I didn’t even tell her that I wrote it until right before it was going to be released. My husband is the only one who knew, other than my book community friends. I told her she was under no circumstances allowed to read it. We call her Pollyanna for a reason! I send her signed copies to give to friends, and she’s in the acknowledgements of all of them, but she’s under strict instructions not to read anything but her name!
I highly recommend Mandi’s books. Although I never saw myself reading this genre before I discovered them, (yes, I’m that one woman who didn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey). I’m already on the Caged Love series sequel Love Burns, as I couldn’t stand being left in limbo as to whether Deacon finally gets his girl! Check them out here.