Please join me in welcoming Mary from Mary's Menage Whispers. Mary is a reader, reviewer and blogger and was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions about her love of menage romance that I fired over to her.
Thank you so much for welcoming me, Lily!
How did you first stumble across erotic ménage romance? I was tired to read soft romances. I wanted to read something more spicy. I could not find anything in french so I turned in english. I went to my local library and Laurel K. Hamilton was on the shelf. I started to read the first chapters... read the book in 2 days, was totally stunned to discover that an author detailed a complete sex scene but yet remained classy and mixed it with a strong plot. I went back for the whole series. My local library did not offer much choice in erotic genre, so I went on Amazon. I knew that it was impossible to find only one author writing like her and oh dear how I was right!
Was it love at first book or did this passion take a while to grow? It was definitely love at first read. After Laurel K. Hamilton and Anita's multiple men, I read her Merry Gentry's series, then J.R. Ward's series, although this series is not really erotic. You know what happens on Amazon? you click and you are directed to another place and another place and another place. All of a sudden, it was a huge list of erotic romances books and from MF I jump to another dimension: ménages! Since I consider myself as a non taboo woman with a very open mind, I was intrigued. I read a couple of blurbs and I was totally fascinated that authors could write about multiple partners in a permanent relationships. Threesomes, I knew. On a romance level, it was totally new.
Can you remember the title of the first ménage book you ever read? I will never forget: I was surfing on Amazon and came across Maya Banks and her Colter's woman. I loved the cover book (which changed since then), read it and that was it. I can even tell you my second which was The Devil's Pact by Samantha Cruise and... well, let's just say that I have a good memory! lol I feel in love head over heels with erotic ménage romance and never stopped reading them since then, in 2005. At that time, I did not have any ereader or android, I bought the books in prints.
When did you decide to become a reviewer as well as a reader and what was your motivation for this? I always loved to write but I was not born with the knowledge, passion and talent to be an author. I played here and there but that was not my calling. But I always loved to write and was always on my top class in Literature and Philosophy. I love to learn and exchange opinions. In 2011, I came across a publisher's site that had a forum where authors could meet their readers. I met a couple, I read them and left some comments. They asked me my opinion and we exchanged ideas. I loved it. At the same time, I needed a challenge and decided to create my first blog. I had no idea if my blog would become popular, I had no wish to become an official reviewer, I just wanted to have fun and share my thoughts. It is still my motivation today.
How do you enjoy your relationship with authors? Along the way, I made friends with numerous ménage authors that encouraged me to review telling me that my reviews were different and they appreciated my views. Since I also decided to read ménage romances exclusively, I started to have a name on twitter and facebook (Goodreads came later) and I am still very surprised about it to be honest. I never thought that a french middle-aged woman would be read or even authors asking me to review their work. Now, I am also an official reviewer for a couple of publishers. I am very humble to know that people read my ramblings and even subscribe or follow my blog. :)
How do you enjoy your relationship with other readers? Unfortunately, my circle is limited. I know I have many followers on twitter, facebook and goodreads. Unfortunately since I blogged I had issues with my comments. People could not log in and leave comments. I just recently discovered it and was totally upset about it. I just moved today my new blog to WORDPRESS (http://marymenage.wordpress.com) and hopefully I will be able to enjoy more the other readers and share opinions with them. To be able to discuss with another passionate reader about the same book we both read, is just fantastic.
Have you ever had a go at penning your own erotic romance novel? mmm.... yes. Don't laugh! I wrote two chapters so far that you can find on my blog! lol It is in french and a paranormal menage. I just wanted to know if I could write more than 5 paragraphs you know? Who knows? maybe I will kick my own bottom and finish it one day? Thing is you do not find erotic menage translated in french. I am not sure why but that is a fact. But I do not write it to publish it but more for a challenge.
Any pet peeves when reading erotic romance? yeah, a couple. I guess the first one is a romance labeled ménage, yet ending MF. Either it is a MF with menage sex scenes or it is a menage HEA. When I get to the epilogue and find that the third was just a sex toy, it does not feel right. I do not like it. Another one is BDSM label when in fact the story is only soft domination. I do not call BDSM a little spanking or a man who is a little dominant in the bedroom. A lot of authors do use the label BDSM because it is very fashionable and attract more sells but in the end, they do not know what is fetishism or a real D/s relationship. I am not saying that you need to be a pro or living the lifestyle to write BDSM but it sure helps to know firsthand what you are writing. I do not like amateur or fake. I am very sensible with authenticity and this makes all the difference between a good story and an outstanding story. Equality and credibility are essential for me. If I do not find them in the story, I am frustrated. In the end, I think those are my big pet peeves of all.
Do you ever worry you might run out of books in your favourite, and now exclusive, genre? OMG no! And I am so thankful about it! I am buying tons per months and read only a third of them! I have a huge collection I started since 2005, in print and then in ebooks. This genre is very popular. It is still kinky enough for readers to become addicted.
How do you find technology ie Triberr, blog posting, navigating social media? Are you a natural or do you often sit and scratch your head in bemusement? I guess I think I am a natural. For many years, I created groups and forums in various areas. Once I do not find what I want, I try to find a way to get it. I believe that technology is a wonderful thing. I am not only curious but I love challenges and I get bored easily so this pushes me to find new technologies or ideas. So far the best way to find them is to share a space with people looking for the same thing: twitter, facebook etc are places that have strong community and if you find the right place, you learn and evolve in the direction of your choice. Triberr is definitely an important social media tool that helped me (and my author friends) to get exposure. I know them since 2011. But like many medias that turned successful, they want now $$ in return of their time and efforts. Triberr did its job for free members, I believe it is time to find another. And I am not worried; another tool will show up soon. I totally believe that social medias are necessary evils to gain exposure. The key is to be wise and do not become their slave :)
What advice would you give to an author trying her hand for the first time at a ménage story? Definitely read many ménage in different genres: contemporary, paranormal, BDSM, etc. List the authors that they feel the closest emotionally. From there, understand the difficulty to provide equality and credibility. At this point, I strongly suggest to write as close as their own personality as possible. If an author did not experience or does not believe what she is writing, the reader will know it and will disconnect immediately. Authenticity is important. Never try to copy a style or similar characters or plot and be original as much as possible. If an author does not know about a subject, avoid it. The real success in my opinion is to find an equal balance between characters, love, sex and plot. If each elements is equally shared, chances are this will be a great ménage story. My last advice is to find a trusted beta to read them and trust them enough to listen to their comments, maybe not follow them all but analyze them and try. The most important part is to remember that not each book is a Pulitzer and a bad review does not mean the author is bad and should give up. On contrary, if an author is smart and open, she will try to understand where she can be better and with time she will. Not everyone is a genius. People (and this includes authors, readers and reviewers) should remain humble and put their ego on the side. This will make them better person and better author/reviewer... but this is my own opinion.
You have a wonderful new blog, congratulations. What are the aims of this blog and who are you trying to reach out to? Thank you! I do not have any plan but to have fun to review ménages and share my thoughts. Sometimes I play with the idea to extend my blog and welcome more reviewers but I was a mod in many places as well as a member and in the end I am happy to be on my own and argue with my ole me only! But my ultimate goal I think is to keep continuing to promote this genre I love so much and hoping that I will convert some readers to jump the fence and become addicted too!
How can readers and authors get in touch with you?
Thank you so much Lily for this interview! I had so much fun with it!
Mary's Ménage Whispers
Thank you for visiting Mary, I loved hearing your thoughts on menage, reviewing and how you found yourself so immersed in the genre. I smiled when you mentioned Maya Banks' Colter's Woman, that was one of the first menage books I read, in print, and loved it, in fact it's still sitting on my shelf, one of those I haven't loaned out for fear of it not coming back.