We've been discussing Sylvia Day's steaming-hot novel, Reflected in You, in BlogHer Book Club this month. Karen and I caught up with Sylvia to ask her a few questions about her book, her characters and her real life.
BlogHer: You were a Russian linguist for U.S. Army Military Intelligence. That sounds fascinating, but also very different from writing erotic fiction. How did you switch from that career to one in writing?
Sylvia Day: I’ve wanted to be a romance author since I was twelve years old, so I really view my time as a Russian linguist as a detour that adds flavor to my books.
BlogHer: You’ve found an extraordinary amount of success with your Crossfire series, but you’ve been publishing books since 2005. Why do you think erotic fiction has experienced a sudden surge in popularity?
Sylvia Day: Erotic fiction has been popular for a long time, but recent media attention has put it in the spotlight. Journalists have covered the topic so much over the last several months that it’s spurred the question: “What’s everyone talking about?” We’ve seen surges like this in the past with erotic fiction, as recently as 2006-07.
BlogHer: What advice would you offer to writers who are considering writing erotic fiction?
Sylvia Day: Don’t ever forget that the most important aspect of erotic fiction is the reader’s emotional connection to the characters. If a reader wants one-handed reading, they’ll read porn, which is very different from erotic fiction. Tab A into Slot B sex scenes are repetitive and leave the reader disengaged. We need to care about the characters in order to care about them having sex.
BlogHer: You’ve published books using pseudonyms in the past. I know it not an uncommon practice when people write in different genres. Given the amount of success you’ve received with the Crossfire series, would you publish with a pseudonym in the future?
Sylvia Day: I use pseudonyms to let my longtime readers know that a book is different in some way from my signature style, that way they go into the read without the usual expectations. For example, I use “S. J. Day” on novels that don’t fall neatly into the romance genre, so readers know that the book may have less romance than my usual books or end without a Happily Ever After. So, yes, if I write future books that fit the above examples, I’ll use a pseudonym to convey that difference.
BlogHer: On your website you discuss the difference between porn, erotica, erotic romance and sexy romance. We’ve been discussing these various labels as it seems in publishing there are very definite rules about what is what. Can you elaborate on why these labels are important for our readers who are just discovering they enjoy romance novels?
Sylvia Day: It’s important for the same reason I use pseudonyms -— so readers aren’t disappointed with a read because they were expecting something else. Still, it’s important for readers to do their homework first and to understand that erotic romance is a very particular type of romance novel unlike erotic literature or even sexy romance.
BlogHer: You’ve won an impressive amount of awards for your writing. Which one meant the most?
Sylvia Day: Fellow authors decide some awards, readers decide others, and booksellers and librarians judge award panels as well. They’re all wonderful recognition and I’m grateful for each one.
BlogHer: You’ve written so much in such a relatively short amount of time. Do you find it difficult to keep so many storylines straight? Do you use any tools to do so?
Sylvia Day: If there’s a large gap between books in a series, I may have to go back and reread the first installments. I have a series bible for some of my more complicated paranormal worlds, but I don’t have one for all my series. I really just view myself as a narrator rather than a creator. The characters tell me what to write and I try to type fast enough!
BlogHer: Do you like Eva or Gideon better, in your heart of hearts?
Sylvia Day: Probably Eva. She’s someone I’d love to have as a friend (although I’d totally envy her for having Gideon!). Gideon shines because of her and her effect on him. He wouldn’t be the man we all love if he didn’t have her.
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