I’m so excited to welcome Maya Cross to Jessy’s Book Club! You all know how much I love new authors… more so if I loved their debuts… and I absolutely loved Locked! Highly recommend to anyone who loves a good story with an alpha male, a strong heroine and some seriously steamy scenes in between! Read my review HERE. Maya will be answering some questions and giving out two copies of Locked! xx
Jessy: Welcome to Jessy’s Book Club! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Maya: Thanks so much for having me Jessy. I’m not sure what there is to tell really. The most exciting parts about us writers are usually in our heads =) But I’ll try! I’m twenty eight, and I live in the beautiful Sydney, Australia, which is where this series is set. I’m a former journalist, and like most journalists, I’ve always felt like I had a few good books in me. Eventually I decided to take a shot and see if I could make it writing fiction full time, and so here we are. I have to say, I’m enjoying it a lot so far.
I’m a coffee and TV junkie, an avid reader (my mum has worked in book stores my entire life), and a bit of a geek at heart.
Jessy: I read somewhere that you’ve written different genres under a different pen name, what made you decide to venture into Erotic Romance?
Maya: I’ve never actually published in other genres, but there are quite a few half-finished novels and shorts gathering virtual dust on my hard drive. I read pretty widely, and most of my earlier efforts were dedicated to speculative fiction or young adult, but none of them were good enough or well-realized enough to publish.
To answer the question, I tend to write something when I have a cool idea to build upon. I really place a lot of importance on the concept behind a story, since that makes or breaks it in my opinion. You can tell a familiar story and make it feel fresh if the setting or drive behind the narrative is unique. I’d been toying with the idea of writing something much spicier than my norm for a while, but it wasn’t until I stumbled over a specific little piece of inspiration that I realized I’d found the perfect starting point.
Jessy: How and when did you come up with the idea of the Locked Trilogy?
Maya: It’s hard for me to give a full answer to that without giving some stuff away about the remaining two books =) In a nutshell, I was trying to write a similar story, but in a different genre. I really loved the general idea behind it, but it wasn’t quite coming off the way I wanted. Then one day when I was out, I had a Sophia moment (the lead character in my book, for readers who aren’t familiar) when I spotted this slightly out of place room with a sign that read ‘Members Only’. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite ballsy or liquored up enough to actually sneak in, but it set my mind wandering. There were so many possibilities as to what lay back there, and eventually I knew I had to write something about it. And then soon after it clicked that I could roll the two stories together, and so The Alpha Group was born.
Jessy: What made you decide to release it as a trilogy?
Maya: I know how frustrated this makes some readers, so it’s great to get a chance to explain my reasoning.
To put it simply, as an unknown author with no name recognition, it’s really hard to get noticed amongst the torrent of ebooks that get released every week now. Many authors much better than myself never find their audience. Low pricing is one of the best ways to help overcome this, since people are happier to gamble on cheap books, but I’m firmly in the camp that believes authors deserve more than $0.35 per book sold, which is what they make when they price their work at $0.99. I pour hundreds of hours into writing, editing etc, and I want to do this for a living eventually, which you just can’t do on that sort of money.
By splitting the book, I can start off charging $0.99 for the first part, at least in the beginning, to give as many people as possible a chance to check out my writing style and my story, and then I can charge $2.99 for the remaining parts and still make a fair return.
The Alpha Group is a longish story. If it was one novel, it would be about 120,000 words, which is roughly 1.5 full length romance novels. If I felt like people would have actually bought the full story at $4.99, I would totally have priced it that way, but the fact is, nobody is going to buy a self-published story from a no name author at that price.
I know trilogies with cliffhangers really annoy some readers, and I’m really sorry about that. My intention isn’t to exploit people for more money; this is just the best way I can think of to get the most eyes on some part of my work. I’m doing everything I can to make sure readers aren’t misled about the way the story is structured. And I’m writing the other parts as fast as I can, to leave people hanging for as little time as possible.
The good news is, if this series continues to do well, I will hopefully have the name recognition and credentials to write mostly full length works in the future, because that’s what I’d really like to do.
Jessy: As a reader I never thought about it that way, but you’re completely right. And Locked is doing so well I’ll definitely be expecting some full lengths in the future!
Authors can never go wrong with Alpha Males in my book 😉 but it was Sophia who caught my attention. Was it a conscious decision to make her a strong character? And if so, why?
Maya: A lot of people seem to love Sophia, which makes me extremely happy =) It was a very conscious decision to write her this way. I love that contrast of a strong, self-assured female character who realizes her bedroom predilections are completely contrary to the rest of her life. That’s one of the most fascinating parts of BDSM for me, the psychology behind it and the way that is entwined with the rest of your personality, and I wanted to explore it.
I also think it’s much more fun to read a confident, slightly snarky heroine, than one who is a total pushover. And I feel like it makes the payoff that much more enjoyable when the heroine can keep up with the hero and actually makes him work for it.
Jessy: Did you put any of your characteristics in her character?
Maya: I’m not sure I’m quite as adventurous as she is, but I’m definitely as stubborn and strong-willed. And I have been known to indulge in a drink or five from time to time =)
Jessy: Sebastian is a Dom but the BDSM in the book is quite mild, do you intend on keeping it that way?
Maya: When I sat down to write this, I was pretty intent on making sure the sexy bits didn’t get boring, so I’m trying to give each one its own little creative spin. At the same time, I have my own comfort level with regards to what I will write, so it’s not going to progress to some of the more hardcore parts of BDSM, like needle play and those kinds of things. I think the best way to describe it is, expect the D/s side of the story to move sideways from where it’s at right now. It will get a little more creative, but stay at roughly the same level of hardcore-ness…if that makes sense. I’ve got a few parts in the next book I’m really excited about. For example, there’s a scene that I think is super hot, but Sebastian isn’t even in the same state as Sophia at the time =)
Jessy: Ohhh I’m looking forward to it!
My boyfriend fails to understand why women (read; me) are so attracted to possessive/controlling men, albeit in fiction. Why do you think this is?
Maya: I think it’s because reading these sorts of books is fundamentally about the fantasy of it, and in fantasy, you can ignore some of the negative aspects of whatever is going on. That possessive, nobody-else-can-fucking-have-you approach is hot because it makes you feel safe, protected, and incredibly desirable. In real life, it would probably get annoying. In a book? Yes please!
I love asking this question to erotica authors; how do you prepare yourself to write a steamy scene?
Maya: I honestly don’t do too much prep. I’m not sure what that says about the way my mind works =) I do like to read steamy scenes from some of my other favourite books as a kind of warm up occasionally. Other than that, I just let my imagination run wild!
Jessy: Locked hit the top 100 in erotica super fast! What was your reaction when you found out?
Maya: I was totally flipping out. The rise has been beyond anything I could have expected. I’ve basically been walking around with a stupid grin on my face for the last two weeks =)
Jessy: All very deserved! So what can we expect next from Maya Cross?
Maya: I’m not entirely sure. I’m toying with several ideas for future projects. I’ve read a few new adult books lately that have made my jaw drop, and they’ve left me inspired to try my hand at that. I love coming of age stories so much, and new adult lets you explore that incredibly complex time, while still letting the naughtier parts of your mind come out and play occasionally. All I’ve really got right now is my male character though, and like I said above, I always want a cool concept before I delve in, so it depends on what I can come up with.
Aside from that, I really love the way series like Olivia Cunning’s Sinners are written. A group of characters whose stories you are taken through one book at a time. Each book ends in a HEA, and they all build on each other. I have a vague concept for something similar, but it’s pretty rudimentary at this stage.
There’s also a chance for more Alpha Group when these three are released. Sophia and Sebastian are going to get their HEA at the end of book three, but I think the setting is really great so I may write something tangential to the main story.
Jessy: Sounds interesting! I’m looking forward to it all. Thank you so much for joining us!
Maya: Thanks for having me!
Follow the author:
Two kindle copies of Locked are up for grabs!
The giveaway is open internationally. All you have to do is leave a comment below. Since I think Sebastian and Sophia are so good together, comment letting me know your favorite fictional couples. While you’re at it, head over to Jessy’s Book Club on Facebook and like the page
Giveaway closes on Thursday 11 April 2013 at 17:00 EST.