Hi and welcome to my blog, Laura. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
First off, thanks for having me here. I love the atmosphere and the drink is delicious, though not quite as much as your hunky cabana boys. <bending to whisper in Raine’s ear> Where did you find them? <straightening up> All right, I know you can’t tell me, but can I borrow them for let’s say an hour or so? Nah, let’s make it two! <giggles> Just kidding. So where were we?
The bit about yourself, Laura.
Right, Raine, my bio. I was born in Rome Italy, back in 1965, and have led a busy life since. Traveled a lot since I was five years old, been all around from Nigeria to the US to India, then back in Rome for my university degree in Political Science. For a job, I’m lucky enough to have one in the field of international trade, so I keep traveling all over the world to organize fairs and exhibitions to help Italian companies export. As for my writing, I started very young, in high school, then in college, but it wasn’t a steady thing. For reasons of time, jobs and health, I did it sporadically and only wrote a few stories in the period that goes from the ‘90s to the 21st Century. Then everything changed with my wedding in 2005. My life took a new turn, and I decided I wanted to be an AUTHOR. Yes sir, it was a decision I took when I began writing the first words of my Virtus Saga, and it’s one I’ve stuck to ever since. Today I’m published in both Italian and English, print and e-books with various publishers–among which eXtasy Books, WCPT and Romance Divine–and have no intention of quitting. So here I am!
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Practically nothing of my personality and life experiences. Everything of my ideas and beliefs. Let me explain. The fact I mostly write MM says how little I can use myself as a player in my books. My heroines are few and very different from one another, which again says how little I like to put myself at the center stage. Out of all my production, I recognize only three leading female characters: Brighit from Trespassing All Hallows Eve, Ylianor Meyer in Caldwell from the Virtus Saga, and Janet Ramsey from the ReScue series. If I had to make a formal admission, I’d say Janet is the one most resembling me in traits and personal history. She’s self conscious about her weight. She’s no great beauty but attractive in her way. She’s very intelligent (yeah, that’s definitely me lol) and perceptive. She has a complicated life history, also an affair with a woman, which is very similar to my experiences. Like me, she doesn’t enjoy the spotlight, so at times she can come out as less assertive than she truly feels. But in the end, she’ll get what she wants.
So much for heroines, my books are all about ME when it comes to their underlying themes. From the religious angle of Divinitas to the multiple reincarnations of Re-Scue, to the Soulmate experience of To Seduce A Soul Mate and The Pirate’s Surrender, to my issue with labeling sexual orientations in Tasting Leon’s Mark and The Pirate’s Surrender, to my crusade against violence inside the Virtus Saga, all this and more is me suggesting different points of views on controversial topics. And I hope my message comes through.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Not too long, I’d say one to two months, depending on length. What really takes up my time is the editing: adjusting the style to make it flow and to make sense of the entire plot lol. This is particularly tasking when the book relates to one of my series, so I have to make sure the storyline is coherent, the details check out and there are no holes in the continuum. So everything considered it takes me four moths top to have a good book ready for release.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Hem…I don’t have a routine, Raine. I go with the flow and let it take me where it likes. The only common thread in the way I set about writing a book is that I don’t know where the characters are taking me. They simply tell the scenes in a logical sequence, so most times, the story writes itself in my head while I’m about to fall asleep or while lying under the sun at my local beach. In Rome, we have one that’s just perfect for this use, and the weather’s usually nice all year round, so from March to November my characters can plot away lol. Then I return home, I sit at my desk, turn on the music and start writing what’s been playing in my head.
Tell us about your latest release or upcoming release. What inspired it?
My latest release is The Leader, the fourth chapter of the Virtus Saga, my ongoing fantasy series. If I had to define it, I’d say Virtus #4 is the most romantic book of the four because everything revolves around the three main characters and their feelings. It hasn’t been easy for any of them to admit their connection is something more than mere sex. Sure, Duncan thought of it only when he decided to bring Ylianor into his bed, the same he shared with Chris from the phase onward. But in The Sex, Virtus #1, it was soon clear Eros would never solve their conflicts, which were many and varied, further complicated by their powerful Virts that made each of them an explosive mix of his own. In The Game, Virtus #2 and the most erotic book of the saga, they had no time to work anything out ‘cause a greater evil decided to take his revenge on the world. So dealing with Virtus became their priority. Only during The Festival, Virtus #3, did they start to look for a way to be together beyond the sex. Their destiny is to be as one whist still three, which will take all their Virt, all their power, all their love to achieve while keeping the world safe from the darkness threatening to drown it.
What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Absolutely not! They’re the most challenging part of my books because they are never used just to lengthen an otherwise absent plot. No, my sex scenes are an essential part of the story. I use them to show what a character feels about another, the innuendoes of a relationship that cannot be put into words. The bed is the perfect setting to reveal one’s feelings, particularly if he or she has no intention of speaking them out. And it works so well for characters with conflicting emotions like Leon and Sean of my ReScue series, Re-Scue #1 and Tasting Leon’s Mark #2, or for the devil Martin and Pirate Drake in my Soulmate series, To Seduce A Soul Mate #1 and The Pirate’s Surrender #2. A further challenge is to provide my readers with fresh descriptions of the same old thing. Yeah, let’s face it. Sex can be pretty repetitive if we focus only on the positions or on who puts what where. Me? I invent something new each time and spice it up with the mix of feelings the character is trying to hide from his partner.+ Makes for more exciting, sensually hot scenes both for me, the writer, and hopefully for you, the reader.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
Depends on the genre. Some don’t need any research like the fantasy series, the Virtus Saga, or many of my paranormal horror like Visionquest. If it’s an historical novel, like Divinitas or Roman Seduction, I rely on my studies and on the Internet to supply the missing pieces. Internet is also a good source for settings in the contemporary world, knowing what restaurant in what city my characters are going to eat at, so I use it extensively on my contemporary fiction, too.
What are some of your favorite things or hobbies to do?
Listening to music is one of my favorite things in the world. I just can’t live without it. Whether I’m working, writing, reading, taking a walk, getting to and from work, doing house chores, cooking, I always listen to it. Helps me concentrate and lightens my chores. And the genres are infinite, practically everything except heavy metal, hard punk, bluegrass and folk.
As for my favorite thing to do, when the weather allows and I have the time, it’s going to the beach. I just love lying under a hot sun, almost naked, hearing the tide and plotting new stories with my characters. Oh, boy, just about my favorite time in the world, after sex, of course.
Who are some of your other favorite authors and genres to read?
My favorite genres are mostly fiction, history, fantasy, sci-fi and paranormal. No, no horror ‘cause I’ve always been too impressionable (funny for me to say it, uh?) and can’t sleep easy after watching or reading something horror. Favorite authors: I’ve got a ton of them ‘cause I read so much in my time, I’ve had to give books away for lack of space. Here’s a brief list anyway: Philip K. Dick, JRR Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Mitchell, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Jane Austin, Robert J. Sawyer, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Lindsey Davis, Ellis Peters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham, Ellery Queen, Katherine Kerr, Emilio Salgari, Umberto Eco, Elsa Morante, Alexandre Dumas, Fiedor Dostoievski, Lev Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Thomas Mann, Eric Maria Remarque, PD James, Marguerite Yourcenair, Simone De Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Miguel De Unamuno, Albert Camus, and many more.
Among your own books, have you a favorite? A favorite hero or heroine?
Oh, I have several favorites both in books and characters. Starting with the books, at the first place I’d list Divinitas and Re-Scue, because of their common thread. I consider them my best works yet, where the theme of reincarnation is used for a very specific purpose–a religious one in Divinitas, a more prosaic but equally challenging one in Re-Scue. Then there’s Spying the Alcove, a book apart in my production because of its innovative use of different POVs and of different historical times all in the same storyline.
As for characters, I have several favorites, particularly in their relation to one another. Leon and Sean from Re-Scue and the sequel Tasting Leon’s Mark fascinate me for their unusual relationship. The devil Martin and Pirate Drake from To Seduce A Soul Mate and its sequel, The Pirate’s Surrender, are equally intriguing in their romantic, seductive approaches. But probably my favorite character of all is Christopher Templeton from the Virtus Saga. As to why, it must be because he’s got such a complicated personality, and unlike any of my other characters, he talks though his sexual life. It may sound horny, but I just realized while I was finishing the edits to The Leader, just released Feb. 1st, Chris expresses not just his feelings, but his opinions about a person from the way he has sex with them. If he doesn’t give a damn about them, he’ll be open and available, almost submissive in his apparent lack of interest in what they’ll do to him, which won’t diminish his full enjoyment of it ‘cause he deeply revels in sex. If he cares about someone, instead, it’ll be a totally different sex scene, like all the ones he has with Duncan when they’re alone. And then there’s Ylianor. You already know he hates her at the beginning and treats her like he’s out for revenge, being cruel and hurtful on purpose yet when things start to change, there’s a definite shift in their sex, too. And his moods, rapidly shifting from up to down, reflect this roller coaster behavior he keeps in bed. Really, I didn’t think I had it in me to create such a complex character, but in the end, he’s surprising even me, his author LOL
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
For me, it’s the characters. Without them, I have no story. They tell me everything, the setting, the plot, the succession of events. Funny it always starts with them spinning a tale in my head like I was reading it from a book. The Virtus Saga started with Duncan being lost in a familiar land and stumbling on Ylianor’s doorsteps before a storm broke. The devil Martin spun his tale of seduction after a friend of mine had talked endlessly about her boss, of whom she was in love, until he became alive in my head. And these are just a few examples.
My inability to write a story without having someone telling it to me was proved without doubts last year with my Halloween release, The Demon Waiter. Now my husband suggested the plot. It was intriguing, dark enough for a Halloween book, full of potentials, only I couldn’t write a word of it ‘cause I didn’t have the slightest idea of who was the protagonist. Sure, my husband had said it was a man, but since he hadn’t popped up in my head, I set the story aside. And I probably would have never written it had I not met Laurent during my summer vacation in France. Never seen the man before. We hooked up at a cocktail bar and he started telling my husband and I his life story. And while he was talking, I could just see him as the Laurent of my Demon Waiter. He was just perfect for it. And once I identified him, he began the tale in my head that eventually led to the finished novel The Demon Waiter. So for me, writing a book is all about the characters!
What are the elements of a great romance for you?
Life-like characters first of all, then a credible plot turn a book a great romance. And when I say credible, I mean it sounds realistic. Whatever the setting, from outer space to a remote fantasy world, events must make sense inside the invented world and characters act coherently with the premises. It’s credible when a reader thinks: “Hey, it could’ve happened to me, too!” And the better the characters, the deeper they’ll draw readers inside their invented world and get them to lose their bearings in real life. Now that’s great romance!
Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
Oh, no, they control everything, not just themselves. They’re in charge of the plot and often leave me in the dark about what’s going on. I know it sounds absurd since I’m the one writing it. But I assure you–half the time I don’t know what’s going on. I just let their words flow and don’t stop them. When I read the whole thing over, it makes sense in a way it hadn’t while I was writing it, though often it takes more than one book to understand the greater picture they’re trying to draw. It probably has to do with the way I work out my stories. Characters enact the scenes of the book as though I was reading them on paper. They use the same sequence of events I’ll use eventually, going from start to finish without any sneak previews on the ending or any insider information. It’s how the Virtus Saga started and why it still doesn’t have an ending. It’s also the reason why there are seemingly unexplainable things, like why Duncan doesn’t remember Ylianor if he spent half his childhood with her. Well, you’ll find the explanation in Book 4, The Leader, which is the same time I found out about it. No, it’s not an author’s trick or a way to impress my readers. I really didn’t know until Chris blurted out the truth to my face. In Re-Scue and Tasting Leon’s Mark, instead, characters weren’t straightforward either. Little did I know the story was not a twosome, rather a threesome. When I found out, I was deep in the Re-Scue edits with Tasting Leon’s Mark already released. Well, did it blow my mind! And it made the need for closure all the more compelling, so stay tuned for Book #3 of the ReScue Series, Traveling Through Souls, to be out by 2013.
What are some of your current projects?
I’ve got lots cooking in my pots and pans. First priority is to release The Pledge, Virtus #5, which should happen by mid-2012. Then I’ll start work on one last chapter of the devil Martin and Pirate Drake, still untitled at the moment, and on Traveling Through Souls, ReScue Series #3.
Boxers, briefs, boxerbriefs…. Or commando on a man? Why?
Actually, I prefer my men naked. Saves time and effort LOL
What is your strangest habit?
To wake up five or six times at night to pee. Not that I actually WAKE UP. I manage to get to and from the toilet with my eyes still closed and my brain deep in the dream world. Once I’m done, I stumble back like a blind gopher, curl up and return to deep sleep in less than a minute. My dad used to joke that if they replaced the WC with a chair, I wouldn’t even notice ‘cause I keep sleeping during the entire process LOL
When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Wow! Am I glad to be alive! I had overslept and felt great about it. Then my immediate next thought: OMG, gotta feed the cats. Maybe the facts I had four very hungry felines crowding me on ever y side and meowing desperately had something to do with it…who knows?
What is your favorite pizza?
Margherita with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil. And this is real Italian pizza!
What is one thing scientists should invent?
A magnetic engine, one that works without polluting substances like oil or gasoline, one that would not consume the Earth’s resources.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’d go to 1st Century A.D. Egypt to meet my famous ancestor Cleopatra, said to be one of the most beautiful women ever. And I can believe that ‘cause she had the most powerful men of the known world, Romans like Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, spinning on her little finger.
What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
That I get to invent my own stories and don’t have to suffer through ridiculous plots or incomprehensible twists and turns.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
I’d suggest Spying the Alcove. It’s probably my most complete work, the book where readers can get a taste of my themes, my style, the genres I like to explore. First of all, it’s paranormal, which is my leading genre. Secondly, it has two parallel stories–one set in modern day Italy, the other back in the Roman period around 1st Century A.D. Sexual orientations differ–if one is an MM relationship, the other is about a woman unsatisfied by the men visiting her bed. The two stories are written with different points of view–third person for Valerio and Andrea’s story, first person for Lidia and her sex life’s intriguing tales. The reason behind this literary choice is the need for perspective on the MM angle of the book, while Lidia’s tale is more erotically effective and more vibrantly alive in Valerio’s clouded mind if told as a personal experience in the first person. Most importantly, the MM story details how hard it can be for a man to consider another man as a possible partner or mate when he’s never thought about it. The other apparently is merely a series of sexual scenes told by Lidia through a magical medallion found in a Sicilian archeological site. But as the scenes progress, readers quickly find out it’s a message for Valerio, a way to make him see that love has no genres. And this, more than anything else, sums up my message and the underlying theme of all my works.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
I hope they acquire a broadening of their horizons, at least enough to considering alternatives to certain destructive mechanisms that seem to dominate relationships nowadays. Sometimes, we deliberately hurt ourselves by behaving according to a social custom we don’t really feel right, and those close to us suffer the consequences. What I’m trying to say is that we should always make a choice between our instincts and society’s imprinting in order to overcome dangerous prejudices that get in the way of our freedom and happiness. Yes, choice is the key to avoid trapping people into convenient categories, going beyond their gender, race or sexual preferences to value them as individuals, not the expression of a “group”. And when we discover the individual…well, things are a lot easier, wouldn’t you agree?
Anything else you want to mention?
How about my links?
Goodreads Friendship requests
Coffee Time Group
Gay Starta http://www.bebo.com/c/home/index.html
The Blood Bank (Bitten by Books)
Erotic Romance Writers & Readers
Amazon Author Page
Coffee Time Romance feature page
Goodreads Author Page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2903352.Laura_Tolomei
eXtasy Author Page
Romance Divine Author Page
Whiskey Torrid Publishing Author Page
Night Owl Sci-Fi
TRR – The Romance Review
Virtus Saga Book 4
GENRE: GLBT, Gay, Ménage, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, m/m, m/m/f, m/m/m/m/f
HEAT LEVEL: 5 flames
RELEASE DATE: February 2nd, 2012
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books
COVER: Angela Water
They thought they defeated Virtus once and for all. They thought they could live happily ever after. And it was no consolation to know it had to be done, like Ylianor suggested from the start, the separation necessary. Now with the Fitting and an unexpected pledge, their coming together the three of them, is at risk once more, with their compelling sexual attraction standing in the way of true union. But somehow they are the future of their world, so how to relate in and out of the council, mostly in and out of bed?
EROTIC EXCERPT rated R
Taking Ylianor’s hips, Chris slid them backward. When the tight hole nudged the hard tip, he had no trouble in screwing her on it in such a way Ylianor had no control over the drill.
She yelped, tightening the space all together. Naturally, Chris always liked it rougher, at least until Duncan’s stroking of the throbbing clit, convinced her to relax.
“You’re always too good to her.” Chris scoffed.
“Only because it makes her ass more enjoyable.” Slipping down on the chair, Prince Caldwell managed to ram harder, pumping in continuous thrusts. “But maybe it’s not right I have all the fun.” Stopping, he pulled out and got on his feet. “Not when there’s an idle mouth around.”
“Couldn’t agree more.” Immediately catching on to what the prince had in mind, the angel returned to his seat as Duncan steered Ylianor’s mouth to Chris’s aroused cock still inside his pants.
As Duncan made her bend over to have her ass easily available, she spread her legs wide for greater stability. At the same time, Chris pressed her head down to have her swallow his now naked cock to the balls, which she did, coughing until he eased the pressure, but only slightly.
“Choking the slave now, Angel, doesn’t seem such a great idea.” Adjusting his aim, Duncan poked the hole, pressuring it to open once more. “At least not until I’m through with it.”
“Just take her ass and be quick about it.” Again, Chris pushed her head down. “I want it, too.”
“That’s hardly news. It’s all you want of her.” Taking his time, Prince Caldwell shoved again until the tight walls wrapped around him snugly. Then he set the pace to his pounding, the same Chris made her follow in the blowjob, too, head bobbing at his command. The fact he wanted to dominate her completely was an understatement and soon the leader noticed Chris had grabbed both her hands, one of which she had neared to her cunt, wrapping them around his stem. “We don’t want her to come now, do we, lover?”
“You’re in a good mood today.”
“I think she deserves a little payback for all the show she put on at Harbor Town.”
His cock squeezed in the tight space, the prince was not sure he could handle a conversation, but on her first contraction, he could not help smirking. “I don’t think you can stop her.”
A fraction of a second later, Ylianor came, contracting all muscles spasmodically, skin creased by the intensity of the waves. There was no way to resist her tide, which swept through him, too. In rapid bursts of hot fluid, their connection pulled them together inevitably.