Today I’m excited to talk to bestselling Opal Carew, one of my favorite erotica authors who this year celebrates her twentieth year of publication. HIS TO POSSESS, first published as a six-part e- serial, tells the intoxicating tale of a woman torn between a dominant billionaire and a tattooed, bad boy rock musician and is now available for the first time as a complete book.
LB: For readers who are new to your work, how long have you been publishing novels, and what was your first book?
OC: I started out writing short stories and novellas, and was published in 1994. My very first published novella was actually fantasy and not romance! I published a couple of short stories with small magazines after that.
In 2004, my first full book was published, Masquerade of Love (later to become The Cinderella Obsession with an ePublisher. I started with my current traditional publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in 2006.
LB: How has publishing changed since you first started writing? Do you think it’s become easier or more difficult for authors?
OC: This is a double edged sword! There are many ways in which publishing has become more difficult and many ways that it has become easier.
Self-publishing took off about 3 years ago and has made publishing easier, but also harder in some ways. Authors no longer have to wait to be vetted and reviewed by a publisher. They can go ahead and enjoy the freedom of writing what they want and publishing their own books! However, even if you are with a big traditional publisher nowadays, authors are accepting that they have to take responsibility for their own marketing and promotion. It used to be that a publisher would handle everything for you, but this is no longer a reality, and never was for some.
There used to be stigma against being self-published, and with the disappearance of that, we are seeing rapid market change and witnessing that there is much more fierce competition in visibility as well as price. As a self-published author, you are responsible for managing all the aspects of your career on your own. There isn’t the same partnership that some authors have previously enjoyed with a traditional publisher and agent.
LB: Do you approach writing a serialized novel differently than plotting a single novel?
My process for single novels was that I developed major plot points and then I worked toward them in my writing. Now, however, with e-serial novels, I am constantly working toward the next cliffhanger! In part one, I look at the situation and introduce the reader to the characters, including their challenges and the beginning of the journey they are about to experience. In subsequent parts, we continue to move forward to the next cliffhanger and underlying it all, there is always a path of personal growth and shared achievement through love.
I work “into the mist,” and fly by the seat of my pants in that I start writing and then let the ideas come to me as the characters develop. I have an original plan and plot points, yet the best cliffhangers just come to me as I write.
LB: In HIS TO POSSESS, the heroine, Jessica, has a romantic past when she meets Dane, and that colors their relationship. When you planned this book, what did you conceptualize first, Dane and Jessica’s present-day relationship, or how Jessica’s past set the dynamic between them?
OC: In conceptualizing the story, I was focused on the relationship between Jessica and Dane. However, I kept in mind the way that Jessica’s romantic past would affect the dynamic between them.
I actually wrote His to Possess and had started His To Claim when I decided to write the novella, Taken By Storm, to further explore the past romance that Jessica talks about in His To Possess. I was thrilled to be able to share Storm and Jessica’s previous relationship with readers. I fell in love with Storm’s character as I wrote him, and I think my readers did, too. Taken By Storm was actually released in the New York Times bestselling Unraveled Box Set that came out before Christmas.
LB: Domination/submission plays a big part of Dane and Jessica’s story. Have you explored this romance trope in other novels, or was this a first?
OC: Oh, I’ve definitely explored this in other novels. It is actually a theme in all of my romance writing of late, including my serial novels, as well as Hot Ride, and my upcoming story, “The Office Slave #3: On Her Knees.” The entire Office Slave series is about Domination/submission and really ramps up in “On Her Knees” which you can look forward to soon!
One of the things that I really enjoyed about playing with D/s in His to Possess was that Dane loves to dominate a woman in the bedroom and to explore that aspect of a relationship and the emotional development that comes with it. In Jessica’s case, Dane’s role as a dominant man actually helps Jessica become more comfortable around authority figures, which translates to Jessica feeling more empowered in her own life. On the other hand, Storm is actually disturbed by his desire to dominate women, and resists this urge. This dynamic plays a big part in the development of the story.
LB: Many romance readers and writers seem to be avid TV viewers. Do you have time for television? If so, what do you love?
A computer geek at heart, I love Big Bang Theory. I love sitcoms and old series like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I also enjoy paranormal stories, like Fringe and Medium, and things like Community, Suits, and Game of Thrones. And of course Star Trek, Babylon V, and any other geeky science fiction.
You’d be surprised how romantic the characters are in Big Bang Theory! Howard gives Bernadette a star necklace that he actually takes to space with him, and Leonard preserves a snowflake from the North Pole for Penny!
LB: What books are on your TBR?
OC: Oh my goodness, I love my fellow authors so much, my to-do list for my TBR pile is to find the time to read more of the works from my box set sisters in Riding Desire as well as other sets that I have been privileged to be a part of!
LB: What can readers look forward to next from you?
I am also currently working on Riding Steele, a hot biker story with St. Martin’s Press! It will be released in October. I also decided to self-pub two connected novellas, Hot Ride and Wild Ride. Hot Ride was featured in the New York Times bestselling box set, Riding Desire. Wild Ride is part of the Invitation to Eden book series involving 27 authors, sharing their works via three ebooks a month from April until December!
Hot Ride will be released individually on April 15th. Wild Ride is the second book and will be released September 16th. The third story in my Office Slave series, called On Her Knees, and a boxed set with 3 of my Red Hot Fantasies stories will be coming out this spring (whenever I can fit in two releases, lol!) and you can look forward to a multi-author box set featuring BDSM! You can anticipate and watch for these titles on my author website.
HIS TO POSSESS/March 18/St. Martin’s Griffin