Horny horses and other research notes
What does having a pet squirrel have to do with writing steamy scenes? Nothing! But Squeaky stole the show in this interview with Contemporary Romance writer Claire Marti. We laugh about ex-fiancés, she teaches me about Phantom Mares, and we discuss how a string of personal tragedies brought her to write Happily Ever Afters. Plus hear super-steamy excerpts from her novel The Wonder of You.
Connect with Claire online:
Romance Chicks Partypalooza: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1605836599714577
Check out The Wonder of You on Amazon.
Claire Marti is an award winning and USA Today best selling author of swoonworthy contemporary romance novel sets on California, including the Pacific VISTA ranch series and the finding forever in Laguna Ceres. She lives in San Diego with her husband, silly dog and two clever cats. Claire started writing stories as soon as she up to pick up pencil and paper after graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English literature. Claire was sidetracked by other careers including practicing law selling software for legal publishers, and managing a nonprofit Animal Rescue for a Hollywood actress. Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions writing romance and teaching yoga. Welcome, Claire to steam scenes.
Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
I'm so excited to have you. So I guess we'll just start with the big burning question. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Um, you know what I've always written I started writing stories. I recently found some old things from my childhood and I have one that I wrote at the ripe old age of seven, called the cruel swan. And I also illustrated it so I started young didn't figure out that it would really become a career until later. Much later. I'm not going to tell you how much later you know, a few decades. Let's just put it that way.
I love So do you have the story like you actually physically have the story? Your swans? Yes,
I last year, I got found my baby book. And there were some stories in there that I had written. There was another one about a hamburger. Little girl eating the hamburger. So I must have been hungry. Then there was the small one. I had one about a squirrel because we we had a pet squirrel when I was a kid, little baby fell out of the nest and we nursed it. And when it opened its eyes I was the first person that it saw. And so squeaky lived with us so I got to have a little squirrel sleep with me and it was pretty cool.
Oh my god, I'm totally jealous. Right now. You had a pet squirrel?
I did. Squeaky was pretty amazing.
That is so cool. And when he just ran around the house like a dog what or did you have, like an a tank?
No, he, he ran around the house. And then what my parents didn't know at the time. And then he slept with me like literally in the crook of my arm. But what he was doing behind the drapes in my bedroom was nine to the paint off to the drywall. Oh, I just kept it. So he basically destroyed everything in there. And then we started when he was a little bigger. We started letting them out during the day. And then I come home from school. I grew up in Virginia. And he'd run down from the tree and climb up and sit on my shoulder and go into the house with me. So it was pretty amazing.
That's really wild. So he you could let him go during the day. He wasn't he wouldn't get hurt because that you know, I know that once they're like, once they're not wild anymore, they can run into trouble.
Well, he did, unfortunately. But I yeah, he would he would just hang out kind of in the front yard. But I think you know, he was always a little bit of a runt so that was very sad, but I didn't you know that's kind of funny story. So I wrote a story about a girl with a pet squirrel.
I want a squirrel so bad.
He is the cutest thing and they don't have them here in California.
Wow. Because you know cuz I lived in New York City for 20 years and those squirrels you can hand feed they're just so used to people and you can just hold something out the squirrel takeout um, but like to have one as a pet pet so cool.
Yeah, it was. It was pretty cool. So that's that's the I think that's the most exotic pet I've had besides cats.
So did you ever write in these? These new these early books did you write a romance?
Not not as a kid. No. But I did I fell into romance. At a probably way too young age. My. My mom was reading Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, which were quite racy historicals back in the day, and around the same time that I had Squeaky I don't know if this was, I can't remember if this was happening at the same time, but I think I pilfered one of my mom's books, and I was reading it, like under the covers with like a flashlight. And I didn't understand half of it, because it kept saying, you know, and Steve took Ginni and I was like, where he taking her? And then I realized that those books, you know, because the hero was the alpha hole, or whatever you want to call them, and he was dark, and, but she was the one woman and through her love, he was redeemed. So that I think explains my ex husband, and two ex fiance's. I was always attracted to that. Very handsome, very, you know, kind of brooding hero, right? And I prided myself on being the one who, you know, would bring out his good side and touch his heart, which I would, but it still didn't make the bad part of him go away. Took me in my 20s to figure that out.
Yeah, I have a long history of bad boys.
Yes, I blame that on my nine year old self reading those books. So folks, wait till you're a little older. And you understand what him taking you somewhere actually means?
Because he's not taking you to dinner.
Or if he is you're not wearing your bodice.
So I have to ask your your current husband is he...
He is completely different than anyone I've ever dated. And when I met him, I was like, I don't know if I can date him. He's too nice. And I'd be bored. I don't you know, I was I was worried. And you know, but I had done lots of therapy at that time. And my girlfriend's like, longtime friends were like, Claire, no, you just, you know, it doesn't have to, you know, and I was like, Okay. And then he kept surprising me, like, I kept expecting, I was a little cynical that plans like, it's just not gonna work. It's just not gonna work. And he just kept surprising me in a positive way. And even like a year into it, I was saying something to my best friend who's known me since I was 14. And she's, like, you know, some about like, I had the upper hand. She has no, Claire. Todd just knows how to handle you. And he's like, excuse me. I'm being handled, what do you mean? He just is just like, super steady. Super cool. But he's very strong and steady, that you sometimes I didn't realize that that was strength, if that makes sense. So here's just a perfect balance for me. We have so much fun. We laugh and he's just, he's got my back, which is a really beautiful feeling. You know?
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So, how long have you been married? Sorry, for all the personal. You can tell I'm such a close book. Like, you know, shut up.
We got married in 2012. So this year, it'll be nine years and then we were together. We met in 2008.
cool. Well, congratulations. You know, after a couple of false starts, you finally get it right. That's kind of how I felt, too
Serial monogamy success story Number 22. I will make it work. I will make it work as like, well, I made it work, but I don't want it now.
So while you're sort of like hiding under the covers with Squeaky and your flashlight reading, what drew you to it? Were you like, Oh, are you just kind of like, at first or were you just like it? I found my I found my my genre?
Well, you know, I was always a bookworm. Like, I mean, I was reading at a really young age and reading even in school like in third grade they sent me to be with the eighth graders for their reading class like I was I just it was just one of my you know, I've just always been a bookworm. And I love romance. I love the excitement and the thrill and I love you know, my favorite stories. There's always an element of a very strong banter, right. And connection with that little bit of humor and you know, I love the passionate attraction and I love the happy ending you know, that is that that does By all the difficulties that they might encounter, or just like in our real lives, that there's, you know, there's a happy ending there. And that I think it's super hopeful for all of us, right that even if it isn't easy, when there aren't obstacles, the obstacles are what actually help you figure out where you're going to be happy? I don't know.
No, I completely agree. You know, it's so funny, because it's, I mean, it's so clear, but every author I asked this, why do you love romance? And the answer is always Oh, the happily ever after. Like, there's no doubt it's always about that happily ever after. And I think that that is so interesting, because I like that, it's always the same, you know, because everybody has different reasons for reading or different book styles, or different tropes, or, you know, whatever it might be. But for everybody to come and say, the reason I read romance is for the happily ever after, across the board, I think that really says something.
Well, I think that, you know, life's difficult. I mean, we, everybody's lives in different ways, even people whose lives look completely charmed from the outside, you know, we life's a series of of challenges and highs and lows. And that's great, right? That's what, you know, the lows are, where we grow and where we learn. And the failures are, where we grow and where we learn. And for me in romance, with that happily ever after, with the way I write, I always start with the characters first. And I usually, like one of them will come to me first, like, oh, I've got this idea for this guy, like, who I'm writing right now. And then I start to think about him like, okay, what's his wound? Why is he the way he is? What's it gonna take for him to, to figure his stuff out and be happy and live his best life? So then I come up with heroine, and it's, I can, it goes in either order just depends on the story for me.
I have four older brothers, and a lot of guy friends growing up, and I didn't really have a mom, so I grew up with my father. So I'm, I can be kind of a dude,
You had very masculine energy surrounding you.
Yes, very much. So I did not come into my more feminine side till probably later in my 20s. I was very kind of, yeah, um, but whether it was the hero or the heroine, who I came up with first, I believe, like, in relationships is how we figure out our stuff and our issues and, and find ways to heal our wounds, or, you know, like that, man, like, I've talked about my husband and I, you know, I can be a lot, and he can be super mellow, and it doesn't bother him that I can be a lot of energy or loud, or here or there. He's just happy with it. Whereas maybe somebody else would be like, God, Would you shut up? Or it would make them competitive? Or, you know, that type? Right. So, so I think we work out our issues and, and help figure our own stuff out through relationships, right, their lessons, whether they're good ones, or bad ones. So that's what I find interesting to play with in my books.
I actually really love that. I'm kind of curious sort of, you know, where do you find your inspiration for these characters? What? Is there something that jumps out at you and you just are all of a sudden, like, what's that spark?
Well, the first you know, my debut was Second Chance in Laguna and it was a second second chance romance if you couldn't tell by the title. I have a lot better have like the the theme of Carpe Diem, like live for today. And just in my personal life, I've reinvented myself several times, you know, and, and it's possible and there's often people who are like, nope, you made that choice. You're stuck with that just live your life and be miserable type of thing, like, maybe some different generations or what have you. And for me, I felt like there's always a second chance like no matter how spectacularly crashed and burned in one area, you know, you can have a fresh start. So for Sophie Barnes, who was my heroine and my debut, she gets jilted at the altar, and then finds out that her fiance was cheating on her and had been having an affair for eight months. So she questions her judgment like how did I not see this for eight months and there's no nothing autobiographical about their fiance, number one and ex fiance number one, and so perhaps had borrowed that from life.
Wait wait wait you were left at the altar literally, like literally the day?
No, I didn't get at the altar, I found out about the eight month affair double life that my ex was conducting. And so I used that pain and that emotion, which still 20 years later, I could draw because it was so visceral right that someone could lie to you that way. And and so, you know, she gets don't jilted at the altar, but, but then on top of that, it's bad enough, but then she finds out the eight month affair, so it makes her really question her judgment, like, what am I doing, as opposed to he's just a jerk, he jokes with me at the altar to find out that this double life was going on. And she didn't know.
You really kicked her while she was down.
Yes, I did. And so she's like, forget, and she's a magazine editor. And she's like, forget it, I'm gonna go, you know, I've always wanted to write a novel. This is like a sign, you know, it's the sign from the universe that I just, everything's wrong. And I am just going to, I'm getting the universal boot from everything I'm doing. So she's like, screw it. I'm going to go up to Laguna. I'm running this cottage for a year, and I'm going to try and write the novel, and I'm not going to date for this whole year, because men are horrible. You know? And that's sort of the premise, which is not an uncommon one in many romances, right. Right. That's start fresh. So you know, of course, are landlords really hot. And of course, of course, he's never really been interested in anyone seriously, because he has his own wounds from losing his parents at a young age. So he's, you know, a player, but of course, he wants to, you know, Sophie's different. So it was, you know, my first one, and that story holds a really, you know, sweet part of my heart. So it was probably, I borrowed from some autobiographical stuff, not, not tons, but you know, using emotional stuff from that. And then I created, you know, there was, the stories are all connected, the next one is his best friend, and his little sister. And then the next one is Sophie's best friend and Kristen, this military guy came back, so they're all tied together in Laguna and you meet them all, you know, kind of the series, so you meet them in the world. And I like to play with, I like to have strong women friendships and all my stories to, you know, pulled in and, you know, they've got their, their besties, or that support person or that mirror, who can tell them, like, you're being an idiot, you know, like, wake up and stop lying to yourself, like, we all know, this isn't good, you know, that kind of thing. So. So what made you decide to write the first one, um, I have always wanted to so I, I wrote a fair amount of nonfiction. So with yoga, I wrote a lot of articles for wellness and fitness, and yoga, and Pilates and that kind of stuff. And always wanted to write a novel, and actually started, like, I wrote the first three chapters of this book with no clue what I was doing, like 10 years ago, or something, you know, but then it just would sit there and I didn't, I just didn't know what I was doing for a novel. So I would just keep editing those first few chapters, and then never move on. And then we, my husband, for his work needed to move to Denver from San Diego, which I really didn't want to do. And but I was like, Okay, I'll make a deal with you. I will go, if I go out, you know, I'll teach yoga and pilates. And we're there I go. But I want like the time and the space to try to write this first book. Because when in San Diego, I was enlisted in my careers, but I was an associate professor at a community college here. So that took a lot of energy. And I just didn't have the emotional energy to write afterwards, because I just would leave it all with the students. So when I got to Denver, I was like, okay, it's cold, I'm not gonna go outside. And I don't have any friends, I guess I'll write it was sort of a forced, you know, I had a lot more space, because I was really overextended here and didn't know what to do. So I consciously took that space and, and and that was it. So I finally, you know, I got really serious about it a lot of studying at a craft and would do, you know, like these online workshops and get these books and try to figure it out. And so I wrote it and that first book, I ended up to get telling the series to a small press who did that series, which was good because I needed that support, you know, right, right. But yeah,
That's really that's really amazing. Now, I know that you are a cancer survivor. I hope this is okay. I can share this a little bit. At what point did you did you become sick?
So I, it was in 2010. Okay. And I had in 2009. I was a lawyer, which I hated, which we discussed before, and don't need to go into that here. And then I went into outside sales like corporate sales to attorneys. That was a flexible position in the sense I worked out of the house. So I started teaching yoga on the side because I taught aerobics in college, I was a trainer, I've always had that physical aspect that I need, you know, some like half bookworm half, you know, that. And so I was teaching yoga on the side, and I decided I was like, I'm going to transition into teaching and writing. And at that point, I was more focused on a nonfiction writing and getting bigger articles and national publications. And the the novel was always in the back of my mind. So everything was going great I, I was set to film for exercise, TV, some classes, I had set up my first yoga retreat to Nicaragua, like yoga and surfing to Nicaragua, I've led a lot of international yoga retreats, and so everything was rolling along really well. And then I found a lump. And that sort of put a screeching halt. I couldn't do a yoga retreat. I couldn't film for exercise TV because I had to have surgery and all that kind of stuff. So it's sort of it just put a big roadblock for a bit and I had to, I had to slow down even though I kept teaching all through, and I ended up start, the City of Hope, which is a big Cancer Research Hospital in the country, based in Pasadena approached me to start an event called yoga for hope in San Diego. So I started working on that. And that turned into the biggest yoga fundraiser in Southern California. Like at the sixth year, we had 1000, people practicing yoga at Petco Park on centerfield. And I was the emcee. And like the, you know, the co chair and I would also teach and we'd have other you know, people would come kind of to raise awareness that yoga, you know, a raise money for research, but be that yoga and meditation are really powerful tools for people going through cancer and illness has, it helped me so much. So that's also why I was so busy. When we moved to Denver, I would fly back for the event, but I wasn't in the middle of being a professor or being a chair for this. You know, if you've ever done big events, you know, how time consuming they can, especially when you're volunteer? And yeah, so that's when the Yeah, that's, that was when that all happened?
Oh, wow. So you were so you were kind of you came into writing sort of after your recovery, or was in sort of in the middle of it.
Um, I actually, what ended up happening is when I was going through treatment, I started blogging, and sharing my experiences, and I was very, you know, some days were really funny. And some days were really raw. Yeah. And that started picking up some steam and people were like, approaching me and telling me the blog, it helps them understand what their sister was going through, or help them feel like they weren't alone and what they were experiencing that type of thing. And so, I ended up. What I did when we first got to Denver was I took the blog, and I adapted it to a memoir, so I actually have a memoir, called Come Ride with Me Along the Big Sea to help people along, so I kind of had joked, like, well, you know, being sick really helped me sort of sit still long enough to write longer, if that makes sense.
Yeah, it does. Because I one of the things that sort of struck me about your story and sort of that's why I was trying to piece together where the where the, your sort of focus into your, your next career, your romance writing career was, is that I found that oftentimes some sort of hugely impactful moment in somebody's life will because that's what happened to me will jar them into saying, Hey, wait a minute, this is what I really want to do. You know, and I think that that is so fascinating and compelling and, and, and strong. And, you know, and sometimes unfortunate that it has to take that sort of like big life altering thing. And it's usually surrounding health, to make us sort of, like, get off that get off the grind and get down to what really the thing that really makes our heart sing. No, that's
very true. And it's, um, that was you know, that that open that space up again, of slowing me down because I'm one of those, you know, I like to get things done. I've done a lot of different things in my life and, and that's good because I feel like you know, I love doing this, I love working on this event. And then then it's time to kind of move on because I want to do something else because I'm interested in and I can, like we all can write. I've always had the Carpe Diem mode, though. I feel very personal. But I was just talking about this. But unfortunately, I lost three of my brothers of the four. And then when I was in my 20s.
Well, thank you. Yeah, you know, it was, you know, over 20 years ago, but it was, you know, I lost three of them a few years apart, and they were all young, like, 27, 33 doesn't really, you know, I won't go into all those details. But from the time I was 20, and younger, I knew that life was short. So it wasn't necessarily cancer that woke me up to that. And I think that's why I always like when I quit being a lawyer, after three and a half years, people are like, what you did all time in law school, I'm like, but it's all still in my head. You can't suck Well, what I want you please take the property cases, I will get them back to you. But you know, it's either the education is still there. And the lessons I learned and how, you know, I can write lawyers pretty well. And books I've done that, you know, it's like, every every experience has led to, to the writing. And it.
Yeah, I you know, but yeah, I was actually talking about that with somebody a couple weeks ago, I wish I could remember who now. And I was kind of lamenting, like, I was like, Yeah, I've like done all this weird stuff. And I've gone to very like I've done, I've taken all these weird classes, and I've got all these weird certificates. Like, I'm a wish, that's decision like what, you know, like, all of these things that you're just kind of like, wait, what are you? Who are you? And then somebody was like, Yeah, you're a writer. And I was like,
There's a lot of get a lot of writers You see that? Like, it's funny. Like, it amazes me how many lawyers write romance? Um, yeah, well, actually, it doesn't because, you know, laws about breaking things down or fighting against things. And it's kind of almost the opposite of like, let's build something together. Right. And everybody has, so it's like, it's fun, because you can I think we're sponges, right? If you're a writer, you're absorbing things as you go. And you don't know necessarily, when it's going to come in handy. But you're you're interested in you're curious. Yes. So you want that certificate? And like, you know, just kill me if I lose that curiosity of like learning something new or wanting to try something new. Right. That's what's so exciting about life and stories. And you know, I did you asked me that, like, specific Mr. Ranch, if I may have his okay. I don't know if it's something we were saying. But like in terms of inspiration for the stories. I teach yoga to some private yoga clients, and they live in Rancho Santa Fe, which is this small, exclusive community in North San Diego County, and a lot of people don't even know it's there. It's like five miles from the ocean, you know, and so it's really close to me. But you drive in there, and it's all kind of hedges and gated homes, and, and everybody has horses. So the whole place was kind of built, the Enclave was created back in the 20s. The last one is, and everyone has like their own little mini ranch. So you kind of have like the Southern California, really wealthy cowboys. And you're like, it's kind of so it's not like a ranch somewhere else. But it kind of is except you've got this. It's just it's just different than anywhere else. Like I call it like the Bel Air of seller with horses or the Hamptons with horses. You know, it's that kind of community. And so one of my clients, her daughter in law as a horse breeding manager at this horse breeding Ranch, like out bonza, which is kind of close by. That's so interesting that she does that. And I love horses. So I was like, This is so cool. So I ended up that sort of sparked me and I was like there's there's hardly any women, breeding managers. I mean, imagine the jokes with the title. You think about it. Yeah. This is really interesting. And so I went out to see Casey, she's like, Oh, sure. I'll give you a tour. So I go out to this beautiful ranch and they have like 100 mares and they had had babies so there's all these cute little foals and baby horses and you know, they have one stallion and what's the same square Eddie and their horse farms all over the country. So like the ones who you know the thoroughbreds and they pay a lot of money to get a piece of big Eddie or petty a I just thought it was I was like, this is just really cool. So she's showing me everything and the barns and where they fall and where they rehab the animals and it's cute. It's, you know, 100 acres. It's just absolutely breathtaking. So she's telling me how the breeding operation works. I'm like, Okay, yeah, that's cool. I'm like, Well, you know, Guinea hog guys ever come to the ranch, like I was trying to. He keeps bringing me back to like, the scientific stuff. I'm like, well, who actually comes here? She's like, well, we have a resident vet. But sometimes we'll have another vet come she goes, or you know, ranch hands or she has assistance, but I was you know, I'm trying to figure out like, figure out a story right? Yeah. Because the whole place in what she I love that she was this strong woman who is succeeding and kicking butt in a woman in a man's world. Yeah, a man's right. So I like to write about women who defy expectations are, you know, kind of, they don't matter. So she she takes me into the breeding barn, and there's this big thing that looks like telling you about this stuff. I'm not really Western. This big thing is cowboy bars. You can ride the bull Yeah, mechanical bull and kind of look like a mechanical bull. And I'm like, what's that? She goes, Oh, that's the Phantom mare. And I'm like, What? And she said, Well, yeah, she goes, you know, we square it. She goes, we come and we bring him and he, you know, has relations with the Phantom Mare.
Oh my god it's like a sex doll for a horse.
Wait it gets better. But then they take that and then she has this whole lab in there. And they cryo freeze it and it's overnighted this fedexing and these, these horse farms pay like 25 $35,000 for two doses, and then they artificially inseminate the mares because they want that bloodline. So it was this whole world. This is fascinating. But then this is what clinched it for me. She I go, Bull, is Eddie just ready for the Phantom bear. And she said, Well, that's why we use the tea is bad. And I'm like, excuse me. She's like, Well, yeah, we have a tease mare who we, you know who's in heat or whatever. And so he gets like a little sniff and a gander and he gets excited and then we leave unless you do a bait and switch basically the opening scene of nobody else but you which would have been probably funnier to give that to you to read if you haven't read it. The opening chapter is you know, Samantha or Sam, who's my heroine, they're doing the the breeding thing and so I had the tes mer and what I ended up doing there an old Hollywood family than McNeil's, which is to the Pacific sister Ranch, who've moved and taking over and doing this down in San Diego now, but that's Hollywood stunt man guy comes because they want to film a movie on the ranch. And he comes in and as they're doing it, and she's like, Where's the cheese mare? And he's like, oh, where I come from. They call that a fluffer. So she thinks it's a jerk. So this is an enemies to lovers. So right away, she's like, Oh my god, really? Do I have to hear this joke? You know what I mean? And, but I had so much fun writing this chapter. And then I named the tease mer after somebody. Okay, I'm not gonna be careful. People in my past who've crossed me or done me wrong. You might have a fluffer horse named after you. And I have to say, every time I'd read over that, I giggle I'd be like, he Christina, the T's mare. Oh,
it's me. We've got right.
So he said, yeah. So I got you know, motivated with that. And, and the thing that's fun is that this series, you know, Amanda, the older sister is the equine vet. And then Sam has a twin sister Dylan, which is in the third book. And she loves the horses, but she's an artist. So she's a painter, and we have Paris and so it's, you know, their contemporary steamy romance. There's an element you know, if you love horses, you're gonna love them and that Ranch, but they're not true westerns. Like, it's not a cowboy restaurant. It's not a if that makes sense. So it's, it's, it's, it's a little bit different. But yeah, that was my inspiration was Casey doing that and then I ended up building this whole world out of, you know, the breeding ranch and, you know, cuz I just still I still giggle when I'm like, he sees me.
That's a fantastic story. And I just really learned something. I hope you wrote that down. I absolutely did especially square Eddie with this to smear I just love anyway.
I said you never knew were inspirations I'm gonna hit and. Yeah.
So I'm curious now with writing your steamy scenes. Yes. Do you remember writing the very first one like when you Okay, so maybe back it up a minute but when you started writing romance Did you know that you were going to you it was all going to be on the page. Are you thinking oh, maybe I'll close the door. Maybe I'll race we are we're always like, nope, full steam ahead. Literally.
Full steam ahead. Yeah. I I like steam. Like I like steam. You know, I kind of write what I like to read. And, you know, I like open door. I like it steamy, but I don't like it. Um, there's some that goes too far. And I think it's a language thing of to me, I feel like, I don't want to read like a penthouse letter. Whatever those things are. You know what I mean? I don't want it to feel. What's the word? You want to mean? Like, I want it to be steamy and, and passionate. And there but I don't want it to sound crude. That maybe that's the word. Does that make sense? Yeah,
that makes sense. Yeah.
You know, um, so? Yeah, but yeah, sweet. No, I, I've been I'm sure I could write it. But I, by that time, I'm excited. I want to write the scheme You see, there?
Do you remember writing your very first one? Like, what was that for you? Was it just like, just another scene? Or was there a little bit of hesitation or,
um, you know, there wasn't really hesitation, it was just, um, it was. It wasn't like I had to, kind of like everything else. Like, I had to write it all down. And then I looked at it was awful. And then I had to go through and kind of remember, I was like, Okay, I need the sensations, like, what's the smell of this skin, or, you know, the taste, or how smooth or silky or not, you know what I mean? The texture like kind of getting, going through and making sure that I was really weaving in all the senses into it. And then also realizing that it didn't have to be like full sentences, you know, that you can play with the rhythm of the words, to play with the rhythm of the scene. So if it's like a tender, slow, like maybe, like, usually in those books, there's, let's say, there's three open door scenes, right? And three different sex scenes, like each one for me, or they're showing some different stage in their relationship, not just a different position, like, okay, we have shower, we have, you know, like, I mean, in The Wonder of You, which I gave you, right, okay, we have the shower, we have the hot tub, we have the bearskin rug, we have the couch, they were snowed in, I mean, it was a while, but you know, that they're learning about each other, or their relationships gone to a new level where maybe it's not just this hot, passionate attraction, that's chemistry, that they're like, Oh, we've got way deeper emotions here and trying to show that through them making love. That makes sense.
So do you? Well, I guess the first question would be, are you a plotter or a pantser?
I think I'm kind of I saw the word like, is it plaster? Yeah, I can't, I can't plot in too much detail in the sense of, I have author friends who have outlines where they've caught, like, every scene and they know what it is, and get kind of written out what each scene is before they even start writing the book. I can't do that. I use beats more often. So kind of like Romancing the beat by going staying or that type of thing, or even, you know, kind of knowing each characters are and where they need to go. I usually start with, I have the framework, like I know how I'm going, Oh, I know how it's going to open. And then I know a couple big turning points, you know, that are going to happen in the middle of the book. So you know, so keeps getting interesting and it keeps escalating. And then I generally know what the dark moments going to be in kind of how I'm going to pull everything back together. But I find that if I get like i said if I get too detailed and exactly how I'm going to get from point A to point B I get frozen. Okay? So if I find no, I want to get them to point B, I might just start writing, you know, this might work. And then I'm like, that doesn't work. Because sometimes they just want to do like you think of the characters figure it out, and you think this all makes sense. And then they want to do something else than what you thought they wanted to do. If that makes sense. When
they do, it does, it does, because I know when I'm writing my characters, I, you know, no matter how deep, I think I'm going into some sort of like, you know, character building character descriptions, and backgrounds and all of that, when I end up actually writing them, it's something comes out that I hadn't even thought about, yes. And I'm like, oh, oh, and it kind of can't, you know, sometimes it changes the whole trajectory.
Well, that's why I think it's like, loosely, like, if I, you know, I understand the characters well, so it's like, when I'm writing, and I right dual point of view. And, you know, I try to be in the each one of their head as I'm writing their scene, you know, and, um, I know, I need to get them to, you know, in the wonder of you, they kiss on New Year's Eve, I know, I need to get them to this kiss. And I might not know, every single way that's going to happen, but I know, that's where they're gonna end up. So I try to kind of write if that makes sense. So, yeah, but I don't just like start writing a story without having any clue what's going to happen, like, I know what I want to happen. So maybe like, you know, on the, on the big picture, and I might have a couple scenes in my head, if that makes sense. You know, where, okay, I know, this is going to happen three quarters of the way through, or I know these two characters really need to get in the shower together, or something like that. And I don't know, it's just, I feel like if I know the characters enough, and I know kind of what I'm doing, where I want the story to go, it'll come to me and sometimes I end up having to rewrite it. And it doesn't necessarily work. But I don't know if it's gonna work or not until I write it. Right. Make sense? It does. It does.
So do you have a process when you're writing your steamy scenes? Or is it just like any other day at the computer?
No, I definitely have to. It's not cliche, I just have to be in the mood. I
and not gonna lie, my husband has benefited from that. Sometimes I'll be like, I'll come in from writing. I'm like, go to our room now.
Unknown Speaker 42:38
He's like, Okay, let's go.
Unknown Speaker 42:43
But, um, sometimes
we have to talk to you after about something but okay.
chronologically, if it's chronologically and it comes up, and I'm just not in the headspace to write it, because again, it's like a different the patterns of the words, I have to be really in that emotional flowy kind of thing to write it properly. So sometimes I'll be writing and then I'll be like, sexy, sexy, kissy kissy here in like, all caps, and I'll highlight it and I'll go on and keep writing, but I'm writing and then I have to go back and fill it in. I've done that probably with every book, at least one of the sex scenes because, you know, it just, that's just that's what ends up happening.
Again, sometimes sometimes, like, for a while, I was doing a lot of writing on commutes engineer city, which could get very long and you know, I'm sorry, but you're on the train. You got your laptop open, and there's like some random dude sitting next to you. And you're just like, looking at what I'm reading. Exactly. Exactly. Hard to write something intimate. You know? Yes.
Yeah. No, I definitely. You know, I can't write with music. I like to listen to music before music gets me in different moods, but when I'm writing I have to have quiet. Okay, yeah. So, um, you know, sometimes I'm just like, in with you in a nice, quiet little spot, and I can focus on it. But yeah, I can't do it just on command or if it just happens to be that I get to the chapter where I know I'm doing that I have to kind of mentally gird my loins. So I wanted I really wanted to use that phrase in a sentence. Had your opportunity Look,
I just wanted to take a minute talking about tropes, because you got I mean, I kind of love how when I was looking at your, your different series, and I was like, okay, she embraces the tropes. Like it's They're in your titles. It's there like you embrace the tropes and I love it. Because Crips are awesome. Do you have a favorite?
I do. Um, I love enemies to lovers. That so nobody else but you and then wrapped up with you, which is the Christmas novella and was like an office rivals enemies to lovers. Because I love I love dialogue and banter. And I love snark. Yeah, I don't want them to be jerks. I don't want them to argue with each other and just be you know, it's not bickering. But it's more of that playful banter, where there's a little bit of that sexual undertone, we've all had that you know, that person where you're like, you worked with or knew them from some class or whatever, where you were always kind of like, there's that kind of joking. And there's that attraction, but you're like, that is kind of a jerk, but I can't help myself. You know what I mean? bantering with them. And so I like that. And I like the because that kind of banter and that intense, you know, like stantonbury so pompous or, oh, she's such a little brat or real, or whatever it is. There's always a passion underneath that. Right. Right. Fun to uncover that. So that that's fun. And I really like second chances as well. Okay.
Probably, I'm guessing for a similar reason, then. Because that sort of, there's a similar thread that runs through the enemies to lovers and the second chance because usually, you know, there's a breakup proceeding the firt you know, from the free, yes. Which is kind of interesting, right? Yeah. I just really loved how, like, you just seem so playful with the tropes. And I was like, yeah, that's really cool. Because I kind of struggle with conflict in my own romance. Sometimes. I come from a background, my, my first books that I wrote, were urban fantasy. So it's kind of hard for me to sort of leave the leave that behind when I'm writing conflict, like conflict to me is like, let's blow something up.
That's kind of sexy, right? shooting something, the bad guys, yeah, go good against the wall.
Really, you know, but, but I've really been kind of forcing myself not to lean on that and to sort of look at the, you know, the interpersonal struggles between the characters and all of that. And you know, somebody It was like this epiphany like, Well, you know, tropes are your friend. And I was like,
Oh, well, that, you know, I didn't really understand them. Like, when I first started, I mean, you, you kind of do them, because that's just part of a romance. And I didn't realize what that all meant. And, and, um, you know, the wonder of you is a friends to lovers. And that was the first time I've written that. And that was a little bit more difficult for me, because there is inherently less conflict. Right? Because they're already friends like, yeah, and they, you know, they've been lifelong friends, childhood friends, they had each other's back. So the conflict more is like, you know, if you watch, you know, Seinfeld, sex always messes up the friendship, like, we can handle it, but you can't, right. And so, it's like, this person has always had my back. Like, I've got a few people in my corner that I know, I've been able to count on my whole life. Like, what if we succumb to this attraction? Like, where did that come from? You know, this attraction that popped up? What if things get weird? And then I don't have my lifelong confidence, you know, so that plays into it. But it's, that's not enough, either, you know, so it was interesting to kind of play with it. Whereas like, and I don't like to rely too much on external conflict, like, I'm not going to be like, Okay, he's going to save the ranch, because they're going to go into bankruptcy, and she's going to come and build the condos because she needs the money for her dying sister, you guys. Sorry. I don't mean to denigrate that, but you know, what I mean, where it's such a almost contrived external conflict. You know, there's a, I think, a fine line between like, okay, you know, who's going to win that and then they have to play it. Now. You need some external conflict, obviously, to, to work, but I think where it gets interesting and juicy and stories, and where you start relating to things is where, where it is more personal, you know what I mean? So, so, yeah, that was, that's interesting. Even though we do you know, adding some kind of time crunch, like this has to be figured out. That's why I think stories were really fun. Or like when people have a secret fling, or you know, okay, we're just going to do this for two weeks because I'm moving away. Then you've got that burning, you know, ticking clock right and what's going to happen like that's a fun way I think to add conflict that doesn't feel To contrived but it definitely gives, you know gives urgency to it.
Yeah. Oh, that's really cool. So since we're talking about the wonder of you, let's dive into that steamy scene. Can you set this up for us before we start reading the scene or the story? The See, sir? Yeah, like where are we in the story and I'm having a brain fart, which is it's their first it's the first time that we have. We have grant and my God, I just lost her name. Olivia, Olivia. And then how are they? Are they? Are they on the? They're on the rug? And yes, the rug. It's like the first time that they're going to do? Yeah. Okay. Yeah,
sorry. I apologize. I've just gotten so excited. We've been chatting and so um, basically, you know, they've been childhood best friends. They get snowed in together up in Mammoth mountains, and it's New Year's Eve and sparks fly. So um, basically, they both been fighting this attraction to each other because they're like, no, this is my you know, they were like The Three Musketeers in high school with their other friend who is not in the seat is not in business. No, no, he's off elsewhere with a person but no, it is definitely not. But they finally like their New Year's Eve. They're snowed in and they're just like, oh, what the hell? Why are we fighting this, you know, and Libby's got an opportunity to move abroad for a year. So they're like, she's leaving in a couple months, even if it's awkward. Let's just do it because it's just too good. Let's go for it. And that's pretty much where they are.
All right, so we're just gonna go for it. Here we go. So, this is from Olivia's point of view by the way. She returned to the main room and grant stood at the kitchen island shoveling in a piece of pizza. He wore his grey sweats low on his hips, emphasizing the perfect Viz of muscle leading down there. His hair was slicked back from his square jaw fit jawed face and a sculpted chest was bare. Damn, she'd seen without without a shirt hundreds of times. But now it was an entire through an entirely different lens. hot guy, I want to jump your bones lens, she sucked in a deep breath, because of because that body of his tempted her to swamp swoop. That's one swoop. I loved how I've actually loved this setup. But I thought that it was sort of like really great. It was like a really fantastic setup, because we're seeing her seeing him for the first time in this way. Which I thought was really cool. And I liked I liked that moment. I liked having that moment and sort of like being in that right in that moment with her.
Yeah, there. The lenses have definitely changed. Yeah,
yeah. And it was sort of like I was just kind of I don't know, I think I was like really in awe of being able to see him through her eyes. Because I don't know that I've really experienced that completely. When I've, when I've read books. I just, you know, I'm and I'm not sure what you did there to make it that way. But I was like, that's really kind of cool. Cool. Thank you, you know, and looking looking at him through these new new eyes at the same time, which was really kind of amazing. I was like, Oh, I like that. And I've liked how it's set up. Whatever. You know what, what is going to come next, which we're going to read. Right. Alright, so we jump in down a little bit. They have they I think at this point, yeah, at this point, they've just kissed the dude kiss to crazy kiss. He lays her down by the fire on the rug. Okay. He sat back on his knees tugged her sweatshirt off, tossing it across the room. He leaned down and his gaze swept along her bare torso. She shivered under his perusal her nipples tightening her center melting. You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. His eyes hooded and he descended. His lips brushed along her collarbone, traveling to one shoulder and across to the other, leaving a trail of goose bumps her back arched up to meet him. His mouth traveled across her skin and captured one breast teasing and biting her aching nipples desire surge through her quick and intense every interview is perfect. He continued down her body licking and scraping his teeth lately a longer hipbones Setting her to trembling and moaning again. her hips bucked and he reached down with one hand and slowly dragged her sweats down following the path with his son's sensual kisses. Olivia dug her hands into his hair and rocked her hips against him. His mouth was wicked, talented, hot. She couldn't get enough. His powerful hands clasped her hips, lifting her and sliding her pants off. He knelt between her legs, pressed featherlight kisses upper thigh, nuzzling the tender skin, and switched his attention to her other leg, teasing her. Grant. He didn't kiss her where she needed him right now.
Unknown Speaker 55:37
I felt like that too.
I was like, he's gonna I'm gonna die too, if he doesn't kiss her where she needs him to. Like before, like, I really felt like I was right. In this moment. It was so evocative.
So funny. Like, it's like writing it and then reading it, and then hearing you read it out loud. Like I my, I am blushing, if you can believe that's possible, but I am just like, Oh my God. What is kind of like, what I'm kind of curious, like, are you like, Oh, that's no, I like I was like, Oh, I feel is I'm just very visual. So I don't know, hearing it for some reason. I'm like, Kiki. She was like, that's kind of naughty.
Unknown Speaker 56:34
So when we're writing them, like, we know, like, obviously, we know it's naughty, but I don't think that it sort of I don't think it hits how naughty it is until you actually hear it.
No, it does. It's like, you know, there's certain words that you know, like, you know them because you're a reader. And then you try to say out loud and you can't pronounce them. Like there was I don't know, there was something it was like, d a r th How do you pronounce that?
d d, a dearth?
Yeah, dearth. But like, every time I'd always read it, I was like, Darth, and I was like, Darth, like you, it just is different. It's a different experience.
Right? And this is the said, this is very similar.
out loud. I'm like, oh, because like I get, like I said, visually, like, I see it, and I'm writing it. And I'm like, ooh, ah, this is, you know, building up for them. And yeah, Grant, Grant. Grant. It's a good hero. Like, Grant. Yeah,
I would agree with that. I would agree with that. Yeah, I did. Like I did like that there was a real economy of language here, um, that this is like, it felt like super focused, you know, um, there was no tangent. There was no, you know, like, we are, we are in this, we're in the sex scene. And we are going there we are going, we are going, we're going. And you know, but at the same time, we're, we're still having the same we're still reading or feeling the sensations that you know, that she's experiencing? Yes, that was really, really, really cool. I don't know, I just it really struck me like that. Because I know, sometimes being a sex scene and some and then you kind of go into like, I don't know, I'll kind of weave into something else and take the sex scene. And so to be able to I don't know, I guess it's trusting yourself.
And to kind of stay in camp. No distraction. Yeah, try to right deep point of view. So much. So I'm like, if, if, if it was me, and I'm writing it from your point of view, and I'm thinking about something else. I'm not in it, and why he's doing what he's doing. I'm in.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so I get, you know, like, it was just and there was no, there was no self doubt here. There was on her part there was, you know, particularly because they were friends. And she was kind of worried about that. And then once they got there, though, there was absolutely no self doubt. And she was just like, Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm gonna die if he doesn't Kiss me. Right. Yeah. You know, and I thought that was really kind of an amazing kind of turn for her. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so one more little bit. Okay. He groaned and slid home and one stroke, he filled her to bursting her body welcoming his thick, solid length, she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled him closer, deeper. They found their rhythm smooth and unhurried, as if they'd done this countless times before. He gripped her ass and tilted her up to meet him and the intensity of their connection rippled through her when he caught a tender spot, her neck, tender spot on her neck and a love but she gripped him tighter urging, urged him on the move faster, harder, deeper until the climax built and she burst in a myriad of starlight and he cried her name and fell over the edge with her. Oh my god. That last line she person to marry out of starlight and he cried her name and fell over the edge with her. Well, that's what I was like, Oh, that's pretty good. I wrote that. Yeah, I like it. I think, you know, and sort of just juxtapose to like, all the dirty that was going on. Like, we're like, you know, and like, sort of have that, you know, that sort of like building and climax and sex and sex and sex. And then boom, is sort of like that, that romantic, and to the scene was just absolutely stunning. Thank you. Like, I think that's what I'm trying to say before in terms of like, language of writing and like, making it passionate and romantic. And I mean, you're using like, ass or like, you know, whatever. Like, there's different words in there, but where it's definitely sexual, and that's definitely blatant, but not like, crude, like trying to keep the romance in there, if that makes sense. So, yeah, where it's where it's just, I don't know, like, trying to make it beautiful. Like, okay, that was a beautiful release, you know? That's all I was trying to do. Anyway, so that sounds pretty good. I forgot about that. Myself, I pat myself on the back. So and you know, and I also loved I mean, you know, the, like I said, there's an economy language here, like you weren't wasting any time. Like, there's no waste of time, there was no wasted moment. And there was really no wasted word, which I like, I thought it was really like just a really tight, well written scene. That was very, very sexy. Thank you. You're welcome. So let's go over. Oh, well, it worked. How's that for a midday break? Everybody go back to your regular scheduled programming. Right. So clear, what do you have coming up what is coming up for you?
So um, I have a couple things this year, the there are two more grants as one of the step brothers of the McNeil family with the Pacific VISTA ranch. And I'm going to step away from the ranch to do a spin off series starting with his two brothers. And it's going to be called California suits. And it's five guys, so the two brothers and then the three best friends. And they're a band of brothers type of thing. They're super tight. And they're going to open a string of luxury boutique hotels in different places in California. So Jolla, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, Monterey, and wine country. And you know, each story is set in that place, and each guy kind of gets you know, so there's hotel King is the name of the first one but then it's wine country King. So sort of stepping away from the ranch because Ryan and Grant's mom is married to the MacNeil stepdad that's part of the whole story there, but they it's not tied to the ranch anymore, but it's still that California. Little bit of little more glamour aspect to it. And then I am writing a story, another Pacific Rim VISTA Ranch, but this will be a novella. I did an anthology called the jingle balls anthology last year with Yeah, it was. There was 20 of us authors. We hit the USA Today list. Yeah. Wow. And raise money for testicular cancer this year. We're doing an anthology and we named it tinsel and Tatas. And it's for breast cancer, as you might imagine, and and we're actually the beneficiary is young survival coalition who I worked with quite a bit who they really focus on the needs of women under the age of 45, who were diagnosed with breast cancer, unfortunately, higher and higher. I've met so many women who are diagnosed in their late 20s and 30s. And it's just just awful, because, you know, imagine being single, and then having your boobs lopped off and going through all kinds of things and possibly fertility issues and then trying to date from there. You know, it's very different than being you know, in your older years, not that it's ever a good time to get cancer, but there's different set of issues, right.
Do you I mean, not to interrupt, but I'm curious, do they know Why suddenly there's a bigger influx of or is it just that screening has gotten better?
I think it's really um, I think it's really environmental. I think it's, you know, the chemicals that are in the suit around us the air, all of that kind of thing. Yeah. And maybe there's a tide of birth control. I'm not quite sure. But But anyway, young survival coalition is a great group. And they provide so many resources, especially where it's so shocking to go through this it Yeah, you know, I was 40 when I went through it, which was bad enough, but to be 28, you know? So, anyway, I'm doing a story with Holt is the hero, the smartass don't man who made the fluffer joke. But yes, he has a he has a younger sister, Jenny, who is from Colorado, and his mom had breast cancer. So that is part of the story. So Jenny's going to come to California and open horse rescue ranch type of thing. And I'm gonna have her story tied to the ranch for the anthology, and then later release it as a novella. So that's kind of what's up. Oh, that's
fantastic. So how many you are pretty prolific? How many books a year do you get out? It's,
you know, it's turning into about three. I did, I did write a standalone last year that's really close to my heart. It's actually the heroine gets diagnosed with breast cancer the day before 30th birthday. And it's a big story kind of, of hope. And she goes off to Paris, which is my favorite place, and then the rest of it's in San Francisco. And there's a romance but it's a lot of her journey. And her arc, she was up and coming chef who is about to get a cooking show, and, you know, all kinds of things there and that that had pitching to agents, you know, hoping to perhaps get a traditional deal for that, because that's a one and done story. Right. So I wrote that last year as well, but it didn't come out. Okay. So. But yeah, about I would say three books in the novella. Wow.
That's a good, that's, that's pretty good. Yeah, it
is. I see. These other people were like, they're having like a book a month. I'm like, I don't I don't know how they do it. Yeah. I
don't know how people do that, either. Yeah, I'm lucky to get through throughout a year, but yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's, yeah, that that sort of output is kind of mind blowing. To me. I think they're shorter books. I mean, my mind tend to be on the long side, you know, like, you know, 90,000 words or so. Okay. You know, that's true. I think, if you write you know, 50,000 words, you know, two books, you know, and in one, so, that makes it a little bit easier. But still,
no, my standalone was a 3000. And then these books like the Pacific, Mr. ranch are about between 65 and 70,000. Yeah, you know, there's
a real talent to writing short, I have to say, I can't do it.
I can't write as long as we are used to kind of with tight like, I I try to write as tight as I can. Yeah. So. But again, that's, you know, it's just style.
Yeah. Yeah, it is. I mean, I've tried to you know, and but I always feel like, I don't know, I always feel i think i tend toward the towards a bit more towards the epic. Like I always try and send sure stories, you know, no, I love my story. I could get it done in 60,000.
But no, but it's it. You have to write the length of what your story called.
Yeah, yeah. And you know, but I just kind of love layering. The prop layer layering in the problems. Yep. Yes. Favorite thing? Let me just back up all my characters. I love it. So clear, where can we find you on the internet?
And hopefully, just the places that I tell you, not some strange spot that I didn't know about. But my you know, my website is Claire marty.com. And that, you know, I've got all my books by series where you can read excerpts from the book, you can see the reviews and the awards that they've garnered. I'm on Instagram, as at Claire P. Marty. I'm on Facebook. You can just find me at Claire Marty author, and I've got that page there. I'm also part of a group called the romance chicks party Palooza that I believe Kate Bateman who you interviewed a few weeks ago. She's in there with me as well. And there's 1212 of us, or 13 of us romance authors, all genres. So contemporary, paranormal, historical. And it's a fun group where we do giveaways and interactions and stuff. So I'm, I'm over there as well. Excellent.
Excellent. Cool. And I will have links to all of this and more in the show. Notes for anybody who wants to look up more information. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me. This was fun. It was fun.
talk your ear off. I know. I kind of hope you'll be one of my new best friends cuz you're really fun. Oh, thank you. I would love that. Yes. Let's hang out. Yes, yeah.
Unknown Speaker 1:10:04
Great. Okay. Thanks so much. All right.
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