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Today my guest is Julie Shelton, whose debut novel, Loving Sarah, was recently published by Siren Publishing. Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room, Julie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
What is Loving Sarah about?
Eight years ago Jesse Colter fled his small town, leaving behind eighteen-year-old Sarah Marshall, broken-hearted and devastated. Now a retired Navy SEAL, he’s back and he wants only one thing—Sarah Marshall—preferably bound, naked, and on her knees before him.
She has never forgotten Jesse. He’s been the object of all her sexual fantasies since she was fifteen, as well as the star of nightly dreams that have become increasingly erotic over the years. So when he suddenly reappears in her life, she is torn. Can she trust him not to hurt her, or will he once again break her heart? Warily, she agrees to let him introduce her to his world—the world of bondage, domination, and erotic slavery. When he also introduces her to his best friend, Adam Sinclair, Sarah faces a daunting future of sexual submission to two powerful alpha males.
But Sarah faces an even bigger challenge. Someone is stalking her. Is it the old enemy who’s just been released from prison? Or is it someone else from her past who is determined to destroy any chance she has at happiness? Can Adam’s and Jesse’s love protect her? Or will her world explode in a cataclysm of betrayal and violence that will destroy them all?
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Well, in the case of Loving Sarah, the character of Jesse Colter came first. Before I even wrote a single word, I spent months thinking about what he looked like, what kind of a person he was, and falling completely, irrevocably in love with him.
What/Who inspired you to start writing?
Mad Magazine and Nancy Drew.
Who is your favorite author?
Mayabankscherisesinclairloraleighlisamariericelaurendanesophieoakleahbrookesierracartwright-kristinashleyedenbradleyshaylablacklexiblaketymberdaltondelilahdevlin. And that’s just her FIRST name!
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I plot minimally, just enough to know what things are going to happen. But if something comes up I didn’t plan for, I’m willing to explore it to see where it goes and keep it if it turns out to be great.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written seven romance and historical romance novels, but only one has been published. I wrote all the original stories, songs, fingerplays, poems and puppet plays for Kidstuff, a monthly language arts newsletter for early childhood educators that won the 1982 EDPRESS Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism. I also wrote Puppets, Poems, and Songs, a 288-page resource for making and using puppets in the classroom or library.
Do you do research for your books or does it all come from your head?
I do tons of research. Two of my unpublished novels are medieval romances, so I have literally spent years researching every aspect of the daily lives of nobles, servants, soldiers (along with their weapon, tactics and armor), townsfolk, knights, clergy, and peasants, the clothing they wore, the food they ate, their entertainments, how they traveled, the things they saw, heard and smelled, and hundreds of other tiny details that help make the past as vivid and real as the present.
What are you working on right now?
I’m nearly finished with the sequel to Loving Sarah, which I’ve titled Owning Sarah. The villain threatening Sarah in the sequel, is extremely dangerous and determined to make her pay for having sent him to prison. She and her two Doms continue to deepen their connection and commitment not just to each other, but to the D/s way of life as well.
What would we find under your bed?
What are your favorite pastimes?
Reading, writing, going to movies, concerts, plays, the ballet, shopping, making jewelry
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
A four-month, twelve-country shoestring-budget tour of Europe with a girlfriend forty years ago.
If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you most likely want to go? Why?
England. That four-month trip to Europe forty years ago? Well, two of those months were spent in England. I absolutely adore England. That trip was the beginning of my life-long love for anything Medieval. It was also the inspiration for the two medieval romances I subsequently wrote but have not yet been published. Now that the ice has been broken by the publication of Loving Sarah, I will definitely be taking another look at them.
Name three things that inspire you?
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, the Smoky mountains, England’s Royal Ballet’s version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Wayne Eagling and Alessandra Ferri, with choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and medieval illuminated manuscripts. Okay, that’s four things. Math was never my strong suit.
Have your ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?
I go back and rewrite/edit the last scene I wrote, or I go through my notes, looking for scenes, dialogue, or fragments of ideas that might inspire me. Or I read. I try to avoid writer’s block altogether by stopping at a point where I know what’s coming next and can pick right up on it the next session.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
Filet mignon, medium rare, and baked potato. No, lasagna. Or fried chicken and potato salad. Wait, make that strawberry shortcake. Actually, baby back ribs from Tony Roma’s. No…what was the question?
What is your least favorite food?
You mean other than the disgusting taste, weird texture, revolting smell and unappealing appearance?
Coke or Pepsi?
Coffee or tea?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Uh-oh. She was in trouble now. A quick glance in her rear view mirror confirmed the strobing red and blue lights of the unmarked police cruiser behind her, a black, Humvee H3 Alpha, powerful and forbidding, with a slight air of menace. Just like its occupant.
Sarah’s throat thickened and she suddenly couldn’t breathe. She shut her eyes, trying to calm herself, but her nerves felt like stinging nettles burning her skin. Why hadn’t anyone told her that the newly-hired Chief of Police she was scheduled to meet with today was Jesse Colter? She’d left work the moment she heard his name, desperate to avoid this very encounter. I’m not ready, she thought, pushing against the panic that threatened to overwhelm her. I’ll never be ready!
Blowing out her breath, she wiped her sweating hands on her skirt. Her belly clenched as hot juice gathered in her feminine folds. How could he still affect her like this? She hadn’t seen him for eight years. Not since he’d abruptly disappeared the day of her seventeenth birthday.
At least, she hadn’t seen him in person.
But she had seen him nearly every night of those eight years. In her dreams. She’d seen him and tasted him and felt him as if he’d been real. As if he’d been there. She’d seen him rising over her, preparing to enter her. Tasted his full, moist lips and thrusting tongue. Felt him stretching her, filling her until she was sobbing and screaming out his name—only to wake up on the edge of an explosive orgasm that melted away even as he melted away, like a chalk painting in the rain. Her dreams of Jesse were just that. Dreams.
Eyes riveted to the side mirror, she watched, dry-mouthed as he unfolded himself from the interior of the Hummer and rose to his full height of six feet three inches. He stood without moving, just staring in her direction, his eyes hidden behind the mirrored lenses of his aviator sunglasses.
God, he was even more gorgeous than she remembered. Gypsy-dark, panther-lean, his magnificent body was taut with the unyielding ripple of tempered steel. Her eyes roamed over his beloved face, with its strong, square jaw, hawk’s beak of a nose and full, sensuous lips. And those killer cheekbones—Lord have mercy. To Sarah’s eyes, there had always been something raw and untamed about him.
There still was.
She stared into the mirror, unable to tear her gaze away from the powerful muscles bunching and rippling beneath the snug material of his black cargo pants. The soft cotton of his black t-shirt stretched tautly across the sculpted ridges of his chest and abs, accentuating rather than concealing the power beneath. His forearms were deeply tanned and corded with heavy veins. His thick black hair, shorter than she’d ever seen it, feathered neatly across his forehead. His biceps flexed and bulged as he reached back inside the car, lifted a black Stetson to his head and closed the door.
Her chest constricted as she watched him stride toward her, purpose in every step. He looked so good, so good….exactly the way she remembered. Except he was completely different. So much bigger than he had been; broader, harder, just…more. He had been sexy. Now he was positively lethal.
With supreme effort, she kept herself from moaning aloud. No longer dry, her mouth was watering like Niagara Falls. God, she’d missed him so much. She hadn’t realized just how much until this minute. Heart thundering in her ears, she waited until he drew even with her before lowering her window. She turned her head to look up at him, ready with what she hoped was an impersonal, self-confident smile.
Except he wasn’t smiling. His expression was blank, almost scowling. Her own smile slid away as the breezy greeting she’d prepared died on her lips.
“License, registration and proof of insurance, please.” The rough grit of his deep baritone voice was still there, but his tone was flat and impersonal. The soft southern drawl she’d loved so much was gone.
She stared up at him, trying to jump-start her brain. That’s it? After eight long years, that was it? No ‘Hello, Sarah, how’ve you been’? No, ‘Nice to see you.’? Just ‘license, registration and proof of insurance’? Her lungs froze; she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. She felt hot and cold all at once, goose bumps racing like fire across her skin. Here she was, creaming her panties at the very sight of him, the very thought of him, and he was acting as if he didn’t even recognize her.
“I—I beg your pardon?” She pulled her lower lip between her teeth, biting down hard. God, Jesse, why did you have to come back here? Why couldn’t you have left me with my dreams and fantasies?
“You heard me, Ms. Marshall. License, registration and proof of insurance.”
She recoiled as if he’d struck her. Ms. Marshall. Not ‘Princess’, or ‘darlin’ girl’, or ‘sugar’ or any of the other pet names he’d called her over the years. Not even Sarah. She might have been any stranger he’d pulled over on the highway for speeding. Her throat closed up. Wrenching her gaze away from him, she snatched her purse up off the passenger seat and pulled it into her lap, reaching blindly inside to grab her wallet. “I—just—just a minute, I have them right here….”
Pride stiffened her spine, but nothing could stop her hands from shaking as she tried to pull the requested items from their slots with fingers that suddenly felt as thick as sausages. She struggled to make sense of his attitude. Was he angry because she’d skipped out on their appointment? If anything, she was the one who should be angry. After all, he was the one who’d walked away eight years ago. He was the one who’d taken her father’s pay-off money and disappeared with no word of explanation or goodbye.
About the Author
Julie has always loved stories, both reading and writing them, ever since she was old enough to hold a book in her hands. One of her favorite childhood activities was smuggling books under the covers to read by flashlight after she was supposed to be asleep.
A career as a children’s librarian eventually led to her dream career as a freelance storyteller and puppeteer, a business she operated successfully for twenty-five years. During that time she created and wrote all the original material for a monthly language arts newsletter full of poems, songs, puppet and flannel-board stories, fingerplays, and other resource material for early childhood educators. For that endeavor she won the prestigious EDPRESS Award for the best educational newsletter of 1982. She has also written other resource materials for preschool and early elementary teachers.
After moving more than two dozen times in her life, Julie lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Now widowed and retired, she once again has time to devote to her two favorite things—reading and writing—especially her new love, erotic romances.