Mar 6, 2014

In the Spotlight with Karen Mercury!

Karen’s first three novels were historical fiction involving pre-colonial African explorers. Since she was always either accused or praised—depending on how you look at it—for writing overly steamy sex scenes, erotic romance was the natural next step. She lives near Napa, California where she shoots archery, collects minerals, plays with her not-so-little Newfoundland pup, and does other “guy” things.

The Substantial Gift
The Sunset Palomino Ranch
He walked in and her life began again.
Two worlds collide when adventurous ranching heiress Violet Stinson clashes with dark and complicated rodeo champion Harper Davies.  Both on the run from tragic pasts, Violet numbs her pain with food, Harper with anonymous, rough sex with other men at The Racquet Club.
They share in common their lust for playboy jet-setter Sinclair Nieman.  The unlikely trio bonds over a stolen menu from an old bordello.  When Violet has a particular nostalgia for re-enacting the Doctor’s Orders item, Harper knows it’s time to surrender to a woman again.
After a long, destructive marriage, Violet has been ignorant about love.  It is a difficult, soul-searching, substantial gift for her to express love to her two younger men.  When her past catches up with her in the form of a greaseball stalker, Harper and Sinclair are there to prove themselves worthy of her ultimate gift.

“Sinclair. But look. That board says that Mr. Davies is on deck and will be riding next.”
Sinclair was excited beyond all reason. He shouldn’t be excited over that stupid prick who did seem to be a domineering asshole. “Look. We can sit on this fence. It’s not blocking anyone.”
Sinclair held Violet’s gigantic hot dog as she clambered on the five-foot-tall fence. She awkwardly spun around and had to use both hands to clutch the top rail as she perched precariously, her brand new boots wobbling on the lower rung, so Sinclair climbed up and kept a hold on the dog. He pointed. “You can see his pink shirt. He’s standing on a rail, see?” He tried to feed Violet a hot dog bite, but she wouldn’t take her eyes off the gate. She wound up biting sideways like one of the Lil’ Rascals, wide-eyed.
The bite of meat nearly fell from her mouth as she lifted a finger to point. “Oh! Oh! There he goes!”
Harper’s gelding burst forth like a dervish from the chute. He kept his spurs on the mount’s shoulders, the white fringes of his chaps whipping wildly this way and that. The crowd got to its feet and roared—Harper was obviously a favorite of the people, fans who seemed to be suspiciously made up of young women and maybe a few leather chaps-clad guys, maybe some outsiders who had followed the circuit. Then it hit Sinclair that maybe the leather guys were denizens of The Racquet Club. Dear God.
“He’s gonna make it! He’s gonna make it!” Violet bounced up and down, yelling with her mouth full.
Sinclair chucked the dog into a nearby trash bin because he, too, wanted to bounce up and down and yell. “Stay with ’em! Ride ’em!” Sinclair yelled, echoing the calls of other spectators.
“He made eight seconds!” shrieked Violet. In her excitement, she clung to Sinclair’s thigh, her fingers digging in painfully.
It was thrilling beyond measure to see Harper whipped around on the horse’s bare back like that. People were flinging popcorn from their buckets, spraying beers, and yee-hawing to beat the band. Harper’s hat was the first thing to go but he clung on with one hand, his entire spine being whiplashed like a furious snake. The horse bucked violently yet gracefully past banners extoling Wrangler, ESPN, and Coors. Rodeo clowns even had to bodily restrain a few fans from jumping into the ring.
“Oh my God!” shrieked Violet, clapping a hand over her mouth. “He just goes and goes!”
“Harper Davies!” clanged the announcer. “The horse’s name is First Time, but it sure doesn’t seem like the first time these two have ridden together! Come on, Harper!”
First Time was all over the place, bucking frantically in a style that would earn him high points. Harper synchronized his spurring with the horse’s bucking. It seemed like way more than eight seconds before the buzzer sounded and Harper’s ride was over. Harper leaped free of the animal and even executed a couple of show-offy, dramatic somersaults.
Violet jumped off the fence so she could hop around in excitement, so Sinclair jumped down, too. Violet caught him by the upper arms and allowed him to twirl her around. When they crashed together, Violet giggling uncontrollably, it seemed natural to kiss her. She was looking right up at him, her breasts under the bedazzled yoke of the cowgirl shirt pressed to his chest. They were carried away with the excitement of the moment.
As crowds churned around them, Sinclair kissed Violet. It was as though he held a delicate bird in his arms, and he didn’t want to crush her. She was sturdy yet breakable at the same time, and he wasn’t sure how to hold her. So he gripped her upper arms, and at first she stood stiffly like a doll.
But the excitement swirling around them, the announcement of what must have been a high score in the nineties, everything contributed to the moment. When Sinclair tickled Violet’s lips with the tip of his tongue, they parted and she surrendered to him.
Once her initial shock was over, Violet embraced him like a lover. It felt incredibly natural, as though they’d been intimate for years. Sinclair held her jaw in his hand and even broke the kiss to pepper her chin and the corners of her mouth with loving, tender kisses. She repaid him by ardently pecking at his close-shaven chin while uttering little moans that about broke his heart. When Sinclair plastered his mouth over hers again, she accepted his tongue even eagerly, and they twined their tongues together, snorting against the sides of each other’s faces.
Sinclair broke away groggily. He suddenly felt as though he’d drank a whole six-pack, yet they hadn’t purchased their first beer yet. He gazed at Violet’s blurry face in a haze. She was so radiant she almost glowed. Some idiot was interrupting them, yanking at Sinclair’s arm.
“Dude! You’re wanted by the catch pens.”

I grew up in an Eichler house.  They were horrible plywood shacks.  I guess your formative years are ingrained in you, and now I’m in love with Mid-century Modernism architecture.  This stimulated my research into the Palm Springs area of California, which is just chock full of that architecture.
The background research for The Substantial Gift was so fun it was effortless. I imagined myself hanging out in Elvis’s honeymoon hideaway cave or golfing with Sinatra.  One big surprise was to find out that the Sunnylands estate on which I based the Stinson’s Shining Lands Ranch was known as “Camp David West.”  Nixon was staying there when Ford pardoned him.

Has your perspective on the writing process changed since you became published? 
Oh, very much so!  I used to take it so damned seriously.  Everything was a hoity-toity life or death moment.  Now, I think with the advent of social media and the proliferation of blogs, everything is trivialized and unimportant.  Of course, more so than ever, each and every word we write is ingrained in “the cloud” until time immemorial!
How do you know you’ve written a good book?
Of course, I think they are all “good,” but I can tell you when I believe I’ve written an outstanding blurb.  I just wrote one, and I had to run it past a writer friend to make sure I hadn’t drank too much cough syrup and was just imagining things.  I wrote: “The only break Taos ever had was the shelter of his motorcycle club.  But that haven has turned to hell, and he’s on the run, scrambling to build a new life.”  Haven turned to hell.  I love it!  I’m still waiting on her response.  I’ll let you know how great it really is.
What is the one thing you must have to be able to write? 

Absolute, total solitude and quiet.  I don’t know how writers with kids do it!

What are you currently working on? How is it different from other books you’ve written? 

I’m writing my first MFM.  My first 20+ books were MMF.  It’s a world of difference.  The writer walks a very fine line keeping the heroine from seeming overly slutty—a hosebeast—while explaining how she wound up banging these two steaming hot men simultaneously.  In MMF, she’s usually just swept away by their own passion for each other, their desire for a third.  She’s cajoled into it by their mutual lust.  Also, in MFM you’re extremely limited to which positions you can select.  It’s an entirely different world, I tell you!
What types of scenes are your favorite to write? 
Oh, I adore writing humorous scenes where the two men, and sometimes the woman, are fighting!  Fight scene, fight scene!  Whether it’s physical or verbal, I absolutely adore banter and sparring back and forth.  It took me decades to realize why I love it.. I grew up with boys and men, and that’s what they did, fuss and fight.  I wish I could find the first scene I ever wrote where I finally found my “voice.”  It was the first time I wasn’t trying to sound like The Godfather or Manchild in the Promised Land.  It was a simple scene between two roommates eating ice cream in their kitchen.  They wound up rolling on the floor fighting, smashing the carton of ice cream, and I’ll never forget how one guy had ice cream on the ass of his jeans.  It was one of those primal “Eureka!” moments.
Do you feel there is anything the market is oversaturated with right now? 
Readers may be getting burned out on billionaire books.  And I think there is more interest in seeing “real” heroines, and not model-perfect ones.

CONTEST: Leave a comment, along with a valid email address, to be entered to win one ebook from Karen Mercury’s backlist. Contest ends March 8th at Midnight EST.


  1. "Haven turned to Hell." AH! I love the wit!!!

    Amber M.

  2. LOL Amber! I thought it was incredibly witty too, but who knows? I am biased.

  3. Good Luck to all. Whoever wins will get a real prize in one of Ms. Mercury's books.

  4. I may have to move this closer on my tbr list! Love the excerpt!

  5. Great excerpt and MMF (my favourite!) Oh & I think Haven turned to Hell Sounds like a great blurb! Alex xx

  6. Um...yeah...that sounds pretty freaking awesome!! Good thing yesterday was payday, eh?
    Pick me! Pick me!! <3


  7. LOL Skally, "Haven Turns to Hell" actually sounds like a great book title!

  8. I'm always looking for good MMF books, most seem to write MFM. And this one looks steamy too!