Interview with Jennifer Leeland

Adult excerpt included.

Recently, the busy and oh-so-talented, Jennifer McKenzie agreed to let my hone my interviewing skills on her. -- I now owe her a bottle of Crown Royal-- ; ) Just kidding. Jennifer is one of those people always willing to lend a helping hand or give the gift of encouragment. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down and get to know her and her writing better.

LR: How and why did you start writing?

JM: I’ve always written in one way or another. When I was in college and whenever I had strong feelings, I wrote poetry. Really bad poetry. But I also longed to write a mystery like my favorite authors Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.
In 2002, my Dad passed away. All his life he’d wanted to be an author, publish a work of fiction. He’d even written a novel. But no one saw it. He never thought it was good enough. When he died, I realized time whizzes by and if I wanted to be published, I’d have to get to work. In 2006, I released my first two books. Christmas releases.

LR: What is your favorite part of being a romance writer?

JM:I love to evoke emotion. I know I’ve done my job when someone “reacts” to my stories. Emotion is a big part of who I am so I try to include it in my stories. I don’t always succeed, but I make a huge effort.
Also, I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Being in love is one of the most precious things I’ve been given, even when that love seemed wasted. I believe love is NEVER wasted and that’s what I write about.

LR: Least favorite?

JM: Mmmmm. I think the moral judgments out there. I write erotic romance and I have a very good reason for that. Very personal. (Not everybody wants to know gory details so I’ll save that story for when I’m on Larry King) But too many folks think erotic romance is somehow “wrong”. I love to write about the power exchange in BDSM and the way human beings will stretch their sexual exploration to keep a relationship from going cold. I’ve explored the difference between “sex” and “love” in all my erotic books. It’s a fundamental question no matter what your moral standing might be. I hate having to defend what I write.

LR: So do I and look out Larry King. : ) That's an interview I wouldn't miss. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

JM: The plotting. I don’t know how many times I’ve stalled on things I’m working on. Every book has been a struggle of one sort or another. Sometimes, they come out easily, but then revisions are a pain. Or sometimes, the whole process is pulling teeth. It’s always worth it in the end.

LR: Plotting is difficult for me too. Your love scenes are some of the hottest I’ve ever read. How do you approach writing a sex scene?

JM: Well, if I’ve done it right, the tension up to that point makes the sex scene flow naturally. The hardest sex scenes to write are the ones where two people DON’T have tension, like in “The Christmas She Rules”. In that story, it’s The Cage that provides the sexual stimulation, but it’s raw, almost calculating in how it arouses the patrons. Pamela wanted that. The lack of intimacy gave her release without complications. I don’t believe in that. Sexual conduct always leads to emotional complications no matter what. And that’s what sex is all about. It complicates, pulls two people together when they want to pull apart. Sex can be the way two people communicate when they can’t say what they feel. I don’t really think about that part of it when I write the scenes, but usually the characters are attempting to gain something. For Pamela, it’s emotional escapism. She wants release without her feelings being involved. And that is a trap.
Sexual tension makes the scenes hot. Whether that tension comes from without or within can change the way the scene is written, but tension is the key.

LR: I can attest you've done it right. Pamela sounds like a complex character. If you had to chose, who would be your favorite character?

JM: Oh man. I don’t know. I think I’m a little bit in love with David Peters, the hero in “The Trust She Yields”. He’s just so…confident and dominant. I do like that in a man.
My favorite heroine would have to be Magda Karlson in “Eye of the Storm” (a Jennifer McKenzie title). She just kicked ass and took no nonsense. I really liked that about her.

LR: I've 'met' David Peters and I think you're right. Yummy. Which character was the most difficult to write?

JM: Catherine in “The Mask She Wears”. For most of the book, she wouldn’t tell me her name. I called her “Mask Girl” while I wrote it and put Catherine in mostly because she didn’t object to it. I’m still not sure Catherine is really her name. LOL. First of all, she didn’t reveal ANYTHING about her motives or her feelings. It was all about sensation, the need to “feel” but not “connect”. Her damage was deep down and scary. Weird characters talk to me but they don’t always tell me everything. Catherine was the first time a character just gave me little bits of information but she was so real to me that I felt like she was a person in my head talking to me. (I know. Get the men in white coats, right?). Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t know anything about sensory deprivation (which was Mask Girl’s kink) but everything this character told me to write checked out. When I told an active member in the Lifestyle the things Mask Girl did/needed, it all had my friend nodding and agreeing. It was kind of spooky but very, very cool. It taught me to always stay true to my characters. Like Pamela. Wisdom said to make her more likable, make her warm and cuddly. But Pamela is not warm and cuddly. From the start, I knew Pamela had issues, but she didn’t give me details until later in the story. I could have made her more appealing, changed her kink to being a “switch”, make her submissive to a dominant male. But it wouldn’t have worked for her. She was all female domme.

LR: I've had that happen to me. It's awesome, in a spooky, not-looking-too-closely-at-it, kind of way. No men in white coats coming this way. They'd have to take me too. ; ) You’ve been productive this year. Tell us about your newest release.

JM: I have two.
“MARKED FOR PLEASURE” came out in November at Loose-Id. I’ve focused on writing erotic science fiction. It’s my favorite genre to write and this story is close to my heart. I contemplated what the universe would be like if there was a planet out there that based its entire cultural identity on the D/s lifestyle. Of course, I had to add a mysterious terrorist group with the motto “Disgrace and destroy” that attacks high ranking planetary politicians. There’s action, adventure and some very hot sex scenes.

My second release is “THE CHRISTMAS SHE RULES” from Samhain Publishing. This book almost didn’t get published. I was very lucky Heidi Moore at Samhain was willing to take a chance on this story. Pamela is a character from another series of books and I wanted to do her justice. Throughout the other three books, her character evolved. By the time TCSR opens, she’s moved from a comfortable place to the holiday insanity. And for her, it’s much worse than just the average family drama. I didn’t want to write Pamela. I knew it would be a gut wrenching experience and it truly was. The fa├žade that she presents the world is the perfect, cold, emotionless Domme. But beneath the surface lies a depth of hurt I didn’t want to explore. Of course, she didn’t let me off the hook and boy, am I grateful she didn’t.

LR: You excel in creating tortured characters that find healing in love. Pamela is not exception. What attracts her to Chris?

JM: Pamela is a female Dominant. For her, submission is beautiful, sexy. When a strong man is willing to hand her complete control, it’s an aphrodisiac she can’t resist. But total surrender terrifies her. Christian is exactly what she wants and yet, everything she’s afraid of. He is a strong, independent person with both physical and mental toughness. He’s also completely willing to give himself over to her. He’s both nurturing and accepting, something Pamela is not.
Of course, when she first saw him, it was his tawny golden brown eyes, but things change pretty quickly after that.

LR: Christmas is coming. Will you share one of your favorite Christmas traditions with us?

JM: OH! I have two I love to talk about.
One is Christmas Cookie Weekend. In the beginning of December, I start Friday night and make dozens upon dozens of cookies, tons of fudge, friggin’ Marshmallow thingies, almond roca and chocolate peanut butter balls. Then, I pack them up and give them to my friends. My best friend and I used to do it together and include a bottle of Crown Royal Whiskey but she’s moved so it’s just me this year.
The second tradition is the Santa table. We put out the boy’s favorite stuffed animals around a small table. After the boy’s go to sleep, we smear a little honey on their mouths along with cookie crumbs so it looks like they all had cookies with Santa. It’s adorable. I know they’re getting too old for it, but I think we’ll still do it. LOL.

LR: I love the idea of the Santa table. I bet the boys would be disappointed if you didn't keep doing it... and Cookie weekend? Who would't love that? What book are you reading now?

JM: I just finished “TAKING LIBERTY” by Jodi Redmond. It was AWESOME.

LR: Will you share a snippet of the hottest love scene you’ve ever written?

JM: Mmmm. The hottest to me? Okay.

“You have never been fucked in the ass.”

“No, Mistress,” he choked out and his hips jerked slightly.

She released his balls and knelt again. At his feet were two small openings in the floor. She flipped open the lids and removed two more shackles. He licked his lips and his face lost color as she splayed his legs and manacled his feet to the floor. Immobile, he was completely at her mercy.
In front of him, with his eyes riveted on her, she stripped off the leather skirt and studded blouse she’d chosen to wear. The boots stayed on. Naked, she allowed him to look, but when her gaze met his, he immediately lowered his eyes. She smiled. The hot, needy expression in his face was erotic and stimulating. The fact that he both resisted and accepted her provided a tug of war within her own mind. He attracted and repelled her. His submission drew her like an addict to a drug, but repelled her by its very potency.

Part of her was terrified.

She pushed the thought away and focused on this moment, the sexual tension, the swirling energy that surrounded them. Deliberately, she encircled her waist with the belted strap-on. The dildo was long but not too thick. She dribbled lube over the tip of it and used her hand to stroke the dildo like it was a real cock. The action rubbed two prongs against her clit, part of the equipment that gave the user pleasure as well as the used. She reveled in the way Christian’s eyes turned a tawny gold, bright, feverish and focused on her hand. His cock strained and the muscles of his legs tightened.

He was a stunning figure, taut, hard, beautiful. Even as she tormented him, she devoured him in her mind. A feral part of her brain wanted to brand him, make him hers, mark him so he would never forget her. Foolish thoughts for a Domme who only intended to play with a submissive for a short time. Very foolish. But those foolish thoughts raced through her mind when a drop of precome leaked from the tip of his cock.

Finally, she stepped around him, adjusted the step stool and stood behind him. The tip of the strap-on pressed against his anus. He tensed. She squirted lube on her fingers and explored his ass. He was so tight, so hot. The way his ass muscles clenched around her hand and his head dropped back was magnificent. Two fingers, three, then his hips rotated and he groaned.
She sank her teeth into his shoulder just under the spiked collar. Her mouth by his ear, she whispered, “I’m going to fuck you hard. I’m going to shove this dildo up your ass until it makes you crazy.”

He shuddered and turned his head to stare at her. His eyes were a bit wild, uncertain. But he didn’t say the safeword. She removed her fingers and slid the dildo in his ass. He started to tense, but she used her fingers to pinch his nipples and he relaxed slightly. Her lips brushed his earlobe and his breath whooshed out as one of her hands dipped lower.
The dildo was halfway in when her hand gripped his cock. The lubricant on her fingers let her slide up and down over his flesh easily and he moaned. The dildo slipped in further. Finally, she pushed inside him hard. The tip of the strap-on slammed into his prostate and he cried out, “Mistress!”
The two prongs rubbed on her clit rhythmically as she slid inside his ass and her orgasm coiled, ready to spring free. She grazed her hand faster over his cock and his breath came out in pants. Her pussy ached and drenched the insides of her thighs. His cock pulsed in her hand and he thrust his hips as much as they could despite the restraints.
Tormenting them both, she slowed the pace and held the dildo in his ass, the tip pressed against his prostate. His body quivered as her hand eased the pace over his hard dick. He growled in his throat, words spilled from his mouth. He wanted to fuck her, he wanted to slam his cock inside her sweet, wet pussy. He wanted her to whip him, brand him, scratch him. Every syllable that tumbled from his lips ripped through her heart. She shivered as she struggled against his will and her own. Control. This was about control. She was supposed to play him. Not… Whatever this was, it wasn’t playing.
The prongs against her clit held her on the edge. One stroke, one touch and she’d explode. But she wanted his cock in her pussy. While he fucked her, she wanted to see his face when he came. She wanted to control that moment.

She eased the dildo out of his ass and his groan echoed in the room. With a jerk, she dropped the strap-on to the floor and kicked the step stool directly in front of Christian. His eyelids drooped over his eyes, making them narrow slits of fire. She obtained a condom from the box on one of the tables in the room and ripped it open. Her gaze held his as she slid the rubber over his dick. The sound that came from him was guttural and animalistic. She licked her lips in anticipation.
Sheathed and hard, his cock stood at attention as she stepped up on the stool. Good thing she was agile. She smiled as his face changed when she slammed his cock inside her, her thighs resting on his hips, her booted feet crossed at his ass. He growled low and menacingly as her hands reached up to grasp the ropes just above his wrists.
She rotated her hips and moaned as his cock slid in and out of her pussy. God, the feel of him was so sexy, so fucking amazing. She closed her eyes and just experienced the slap of his penis, the slide of her nipples over his chest, the sounds of his grunts as he tried to hang onto his release. There was something incredible about a man who wanted to come but didn’t. He did it without a cock ring, without a demand he wait. He was perfect, special.
Somehow he got his fingers around her wrists and squeezed. She opened her eyes and his were tightly shut, his teeth clenched and his neck corded. “Mistress,” the word hissed from his lips and his fingers tightened.

A hot fire swept through her when he spoke the one name she wanted to hear from him. When he said it she forgot they were playing, fucking. When he called her “Mistress” she believed it. The power surged through her, rocked her, made her skin heat and her mind blank.

Her teeth nipped his earlobe, his neck and lips. His breath was hot on her skin and his face was fucking hot as he strained to hold back. Even through the condom sheathed over his hard penis, she could feel the throb of his veins. Finally, she whispered in his ear, “Come inside me. Now.”

The last word hadn’t died before he shouted his release and made her ears ring. His expression as he came was a mixture of joy and pain that made her insane with need. She thrust her hips faster and faster. Her own orgasm washed over her and she arched her back. It swamped her, swept her away into an ocean of sensation that overloaded her senses and sent her spinning right off the planet. They swung back and forth as the ropes stretched taut from the force of their fucking. Her pussy convulsed and throbbed as his thrusts became uncoordinated and out of control.

She dropped her hands to his shoulders and her nails scored his skin. He shuddered and growled, a sound of pleasure and sensuality that made a purr escape her own lips. She noted that she’d dug her heels deep into his ass and marked him there too. His lids drooped over his eyes and his body jerked and twitched.

(I have to say I LOVE this scene from “The Christmas She Rules”)

LR: Wow! You melted the ice on my windows. Thank you. Where can we find your books? You?

JM: I’m easy to find at Redneck Romance Writer.

To celebrate my releases, I think we should celebrate the holidays with early gifts. Leave a comment and let me know what you love about the holidays. I’ll choose one commenter to win “THE CHRISTMAS SHE RULES” and a second commenter to win “MARKED FOR PLEASURE”.

Thank you, Jennifer! You heard the woman, comment away.


Lynne Roberts said...

Thank you so much for the interview, Jen. It was fun!

Jennifer Leeland said...

It was fun. Thank YOU Lynne.

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the excellent interview with Jennifer McKenzie and thank you to Jennifer for sharing. I really enjoyed learning about Jennifer and her writing. Plus there was a lot of writing wisdom contained in this interview. I took notes. Thanks again,
Happy Holidays,
PS - I love the big family get-together for Christmas dinner when I get to see cousins for the only time all year.

Witchy Woman said...

Hi Jennifer,
My husband & I have a tradition. Every year he dresses as Santa, drinks the milk, eats the cookies (making a mess mind you.)Then I videotape him setting the presents under the tree, while the kids sleep. My maternal grandma passed away one year-a few days before Christmas, I remember videotaping my husband I was crying for my grandma, yet laughing at my husband. It was very therapeutic. We do this yearly without fail, for when my kids are grown--I want them to have the videos.

I read erotica, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. It's just a romance novel kicked up a notch. :)

Happy holidays,

Jennifer Leeland said...

Oh, RK, me too! We go to a Christmas Eve get together with my husband's family. It's the only time we see each other sometimes cause we're all so busy.
And what a great tradition WW!!!

Lynne Roberts said...

Hi WW and RK,

I'm all about the family traditions. My grandma made us eat breakfast before we could even look in our stocking. As a child, I enjoyed the anticipation of opening our gifts almost as much as opening them.

LOL I think my kids enjoy it too. : )

Jennifer, I'm leaving it to you. I'm off to the couch with a cold.


Emma Lai said...

Thanks for the great interview, ladies! I'd honestly forgotten what I found attractive about erotica. It's not the sex...though that's's the characters. It seems it's more acceptable to make them grittier, more flawed than in mainstream romance.

L-O-V-E-D the excerpt!

Cari Quinn said...

Wonderful interview, Lynne and Jennifer. And the excerpt...I read it at work and it was quite a nice coffee break for me! ;)

Jennifer, you're such a prolific author...wishing you much success with your many releases! :)

And Lynne, hon, feel better!

Cari Quinn said...

Oh, and just saw Emma's're so right and I never thought of it that way. Very good point. It seems like character flaws are almost celebrated in erotic romance...not in an exploitative way, but in such a manner that the whole person is taken into account. Very thought provoking!

Jennifer Leeland said...

Emma, I think you're dead on. Why should you care about a sex scene when the characters don't make an impression?
That's the tough part about excerpts--you're getting sex without much character. I'm so glad you liked mine!
And Cari, thanks so much for coming by! Glad I could give you a "nice" coffee break. LOL.

Helen Hardt said...

Jennifer, both books sound great!

Lynne, I know I've been MIA around blogtown lately, but I want to offer you a belated congratulations on your release. Can't wait to read it!

Jennifer Leeland said...

Thanks Helen.
"After Hours" ROCKS!!!!

jodi said...

lol--DON'T feel you need to enter me in the drawing. :) I'm still coughing and someone needs to pound me on the back. Great interview, Jen.

Jennifer Leeland said...

*pounds Jodi on the back*
*hands Jodi a shot of whiskey*
Did I melt your screen? LOL.
Thanks for coming by!

Lex Valentine said...

I LOVE that scene. Rawr. Love the book. It's my favorite of the whole series. I do love David... but that Christian. *swoons* I'm afraid to say that Christian has replaced David in my heart. Hmmmn. Must be my domme tendencies coming out...

And I can see I was completely correct about the level of emotion in Rules being so much like what I went through with Ride the Lightning.

Great interview, Jen and Lynne!

Jennifer Leeland said...

Thanks Lex. And I know you loved that book since you totally pimped me on your blog. LOL.
Yes, I think your domme tendencies are showing.