Tori St. Claire, the author of Stripped is visiting today. Tori grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.
While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds — love.
Tori can be found at:
1. Give us an elevator pitch for your book, Stripped.
Eeegads! That’s what I have an agent for. (Laughing). So now that I’ve fallen over in shock over condensing my book into a handful of words… let’s give this a whirl: (Be careful what you ask for, you have no idea how truly bad I am at this.)
A dark, edgy, romantic thriller with a splash of 007 action, a healthy helping of twisting intrigue, and a hotbed of erotic encounters. STRIPPED takes risks, breeches accepted boundaries, and blends sin, danger, and pleasure.
Thirty-five words – short enough? Did I pass?
2. Where did the idea for your book come from, and did you originally envisage more than one book in a loosely connected series? Do you intend to write more Black Opal stories?
At the core of what it is, Stripped came from my deep love of on-the-edge characters, men and women you aren’t sure whether or not you should root for. I find it fascinating when I can fall in love with a character whose moral compass is so drastically different than mine, and yet, I want them to succeed. The other fascination I have is with characters who are portrayed as operatives. People like Diva on NCIS. Or Sayid from LOST. They are fulfilling a “good” role, but their backgrounds are dark. They’ve done things that would make us normal folks have nightmares. Blend those loves together and Natalya, my heroine in STRIPPED, took form. The rest of the story fell to simple plotting.
Did I envision more than one book? Yes and no. I always write with an option for “what could I do with this.” But where it began, and where it ended – with the Black Opals – are two different things. Natalya was just a covert agent, in the initial design. It wasn’t until I signed the contract with Berkley that the Black Opals popped up and her specialization took shape. And that just was one of those things that hit me out of the blue, I put into an editing pass, and it stuck with my editor as well.
More Black Opal stories – you betcha! In fact, the second in the series, LIE TO ME, is slated to come out in July of 2012.
3. Some of the action in Stripped takes place in the famed club Fantasia. Describe the club and tell us some of the sights, sounds and scents we might experience if we were to step into the club.
Mm. Fantasia. You’d find opulence – crystal chandeliers, red velvet, dark supple leather, and polished brass. Your nose is teased with the scent of cigars, expensive colognes, and money. It’s a show house, a little more burlesque than come in, take off your clothes, and prance around the stage. The dancers are the elite of the elite, their acts even more so. And it is truly an act, not a dance, though dance is obviously part of the routine. Each act tells a story of seduction. Each seduction plays to the fantasies of the wealthy clientele.
4. How do you go about developing your characters? Do you normally start with a character or the plot?
I plot heavily, but where I begin varies book to book. Sometimes a character jumps out at me and the plot has to be crafted around him/her. Sometimes the plot is there and I just need the players. But whichever the case, nine times out of ten the character presents intact. Personality, appearance, what he/she’s hiding, his/her goal – it comes as a package deal in my head. Which also means sometimes I have to set the character aside and wait for his or her story to strike.
5. Is there any part of the writing process that you find particularly challenging and why?
I despise synopsis writing. I think that’s somewhat of a given with a lot of authors, but I truly detest the process. I hate condensing, I hate picking out “the important stuff”, and sticking it all into a boring, monotonous read. And I can’t stand revealing plot secrets when I’m crafting intricacies like are what involved with STRIPPED and the Black Opal series. I simply don’t want to spoil the reaction, not even for my editor.
6. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is Steve Berry. I love the level of complicity that he puts into his writing. Just when you think you understand – eh, not so much. There’s always a surprise, always a twist, and the way he merges historical fact with fiction makes me weak at the knees.
Now Tori has a question for you – What do you expect from an erotic romantic suspense?
CONTEST: Everyone who comments on this post will go into a draw to win a $25 Amazon GC. To increase your chances of winning follow Tori St. Claire’s blog tour!
Body of secrets…
As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.
Body of lies…
The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to. As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.