Tag Archives: Sarah Mayberry

Guest: Sarah Mayberry Tames the Bad Boy

Hi friends! We’ve got awesome author Sarah Mayberry visiting with us today! Whee! (You’ll have to forgive me on the timing – I ended up being the Thanksgiving cleaning bitch, so it took quite some time.) If you’ve never read Ms. Mayberry’s books before let me tell you that you are in for a treat!
So you definitely don’t want to read my babbles – so without further ado… Sarah!

Taming the bad boy

It’s not much of a secret that most of us love a bad boy. There’s something about bringing a powerful, decadent man to his knees that is pretty damn appealing! I’ve written a few bad boys in my time – troubled, taciturn men struggling with alcohol and bad memories, or unrepentant playboys who hide their fears beneath a round of partying. The hero of my latest book, Suddenly You, is a different kind of bad boy. Harry is that delightful, playful, sexy-as-all-get-out guy you see at the bar playing pool with his buddies. He’s got a great body, makes people laugh, and has no trouble at all charming women out of their underwear. Harry loves women – but he doesn’t do commitment. Why would he, when he has a smorgasbord on offer? And why would he take anything about life seriously when it’s really just one big party?

As you can probably tell by all of the above, Harry has a lot of growing up to do. He’s fortunate enough to come from a solid working class family. He’s been loved all his life and never had to face real adversity. He hasn’t had to think about what he values or why. He’s been content to simply cruise along, enjoying himself. It takes Pippa to make him question his devil-may-care lifestyle. As a single mum, her plate is more than full and she doesn’t have time for a good-time guy like Harry. She’s paddling very hard to keep her head above water so she can care for her baby daughter, Alice.

So when sparks begin to fly between these two, there are lots of reasons why they shouldn’t fall into bed. Harry and Pippa don’t let that stop them, though. And every step of the way, they tell themselves and each other that it’s not serious…even when it is.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Harry steps up to the plate in more ways the one. He understands that the party is over, and that there are more important things that beers with the boys and late nights playing pool. Things like comforting Alice when she’s cranky and helping Pippa cope with the many challenges in her life. The problem is, Pippa has bought into Harry’s party-boy routine. She believed him when he said he wasn’t good long-term material. So he’s got a real battle on his hands to try to convince her that this is real for him and that she and Alice are what he wants.

I had an absolute ball writing this book. Harry was so much fun to write, and Pippa was so down to earth and good intentioned – if a little prideful sometimes. I loved pitting them against each other and watching things unfold. I really loved bringing big, bad, strong Harry to his knees!

I’d love to hear what you think the appeal of the bad boy hero is. Do you think, like me, that it’s seeing him brought to his knees by the love of a good woman? Or is it something else?

I’ll be giving away 3 copies of Suddenly You today, so comment to be in the running. Looking forward to chatting with you!

Did you see that?! Three commenters will win Suddenly You! Sarah Mayberry is one of my favorites authors! And I recommend her to anyone who is first trying out category romances. <3

Guest: Sarah Mayberry talks Keeper Shelves

Look who we have visiting with us, you guys! It’s Sarah Mayberry!!! Hold on a sec – *squeeee*  – okay. Just had to get that out. 😉 If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Mayberry before, you simply must. I read her Blaze books and was hooked. Whenever someone looked at me and said “Well I don’t read categories because they’re a horrible.” I’d respond, “Go read a Sarah Mayberry and come back and say that to my face.” (There are a few*coughs* many other authors on that list too, of course.)

My Keeper Shelf

Before I start, a big thanks to Limecello for having me here today – I love talking to romance readers and readers in general. In fact, the love of reading is pretty much what I wanted to talk about today.

People who love to read have a lot of stuff in common. We all know what it’s like to be so entranced with a story that when life calls us away before it’s finished we spend the intervening time with one ear/eye on the conversation/event/job at hand while the rest of our brain is back in the story, wondering what’s going to happen next. We all have massive TBR piles (and we know that TBR means To Be Read without asking!) and Keeper Shelves. And we all have our own personal metric for what makes a book good, bad or awesome.

For me, that measure is whether it made my chest ache. Now, I’m not talking cardiac pain here ( at least, I hope I’m not!). I’m talking about the physical sensation of tightness I get in my upper chest when I am reading a book that has engaged my emotions so deeply that I literally feel pain for them. Usually this is because the writer has done a great job of showing me the characters’ inner pain – the conflict within them that stops the world (and the hero or heroine) from seeing who they really are. Well motivated, deeply felt emotional misunderstandings absolutely kill me and almost guarantee a book a place on my keeper shelf.

Don’t get me wrong, I love light and fluffy, funny stuff, too. That’s another way to make it onto my Keeper shelf – make me laugh out loud. Even better, make me laugh out loud AND want to share the relevant passage with my husband so he can enjoy it, too. But generally speaking, it’s a deep emotional engagement with the story that really hooks me into a book.

Because it’s what I like to read, it’s also what I try to write. I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters before I start in on the first chapter. I don’t do checklists like some ‘how-to’ books advise – frankly, I’m not too fussed about what my heroine’s favourite color is! – but I do think about their relationships with their parents and siblings, what their school years were like and how they view the world. I think about events that have shaped that view, too. Pivotal things like childhood trauma or a messy divorce or a horrible romantic break up. I want my characters to feel as though they have a life before the book came along and that that life will continue once the last page is read. I want readers to feel for these people I am creating, because I certainly do. I don’t consider my work done as a writer unless I cry at least once while writing a book. Sometimes it’s more than once. Some books, I cried every time I went over certain scenes or passages as the book made its way through the production process.

But I also try to make readers laugh in amongst all that angst and emotion, because that’s what I like, too. The ups and downs and absurdities. Life is like that, don’t you think? And that’s what I try to convey.

The heroine of my current release, More Than One Night, wound up being one of those characters who really touched me as I wrote. Charlie is such a staunch, solid person, so determined to do the right thing by everyone, but she has such a warped view of her place in the world because of a withholding father who never showed her that she was loved. Charlie has spent her adult life trying to be worthy, looking for connection and, when she fails to find it, blaming herself. I found her incredibly moving to write, because who of us has never craved the love and approval of a parent, and who of us has never felt unloveable on some occasion? (If you’re reading this and thinking “me” in answer to that question, I want your childhood and your self esteem!)

If More Than One Night makes it onto some keeper shelves because of the emotion I have invested in this story, then I will be a very happy and humble writer, because I know that means the story will be re-read and will live long in a reader’s memory, in the same way that my keeper books live long in mine. Whenever I want a guaranteed good read, I peruse the shelf for something that suits my mood and settle in for some good times. Because I know I’d be curious if I was reading this blog by another author, I’m going to share a few of my favourite keeper books with you. I adore Lisa Kleypas’ Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger. Kristin Higgins Just One Of The Guys gets me every time. I adore Victoria Dahl’s Lead Me On and Mary Balogh’s The Secret Pearl  nearly killed me I wanted the hero and heroine to get together so much. There are more, but I won’t bore you.

I’d love to hear what makes a book a keeper for you. Is it heartfelt angst? Smokin’ hot sexy stuff? Laughs? Silliness and escapism and fun? And what books are on your keeper shelf?

I’m giving away two copies of More Than One Night today. All you have to do is comment to be in the running. Looking forward to reading your responses.

Guest: Sarah Mayberry (… *squee!*)

You! Guys!!! Look who’s here! It’s Sarah freaking Mayberry! She’s more than one of my favorite category authors, she’s one of my favorite authors. (Um, have you read her Blaze books? Because if you haven’t you’re missing out. That’s how I got totally hooked on her, and basically the Harlequin Blaze and Desire lines. She just cemented it.) If you’ve ever met me in person, you’ll know I’m not all that effusive and fangirly about authors. (I mean I’m nice and all, and excited, I just… don’t squee.) But I would totally be all “OMG IT’S YOU!” If I ever got to meet her. Either that or I’d hide behind someone. My mood varies. Enough about me- you don’t care what I have to say, just what Sarah Mayberry is here to say!

First up, a big thinks to Limecello for having me here today. I love writing and reading and talking about romance, so it’s always great to meet fellow romance lovers.

I wanted to talk about Happy Ever Afters today. I was talking about books with my mother recently when she said something that I found really interesting. She likes to read big sagas and a bit of women’s fiction, and when she found out that the book I was pimping to her was a romance, she pulled a face and said “no thanks.” Not because she’s a literary snob or anything like that, but because she knows how it’s going to end. Her words, not mine. “You know they’re going to end up together, so what’s the point?” she said.

It gave me pause. Because I love a book or movie where I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I love it when I’m not absolutely sure if what I would like to happen is going to actually happen. But in a romance, the HEA is part of the deal, isn’t it? When you start a romance, you know pretty quickly who the hero is and who the heroine is and, a lot of the time, what the grounds for conflict will be. You also know that whatever that conflict is, it’s all going to work out in the end and they’re going to be together and in love by the end of the book.

When its laid out like that – and when my mother said it so starkly – I had to wonder why romances didn’t bore me into a coma. I mean, talk about predictable! And yet I love romance stories. I gobble them up, am absolutely absorbed while I’m reading and even a little dazed and confused when I’m spat out the other end of a really good book.

How can all that happen when the ending is, as I said, a given? I’ve been giving it a bit of thought over the past few weeks, and I think, for me, that when it comes to romance, it’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey. The ups and downs, the emotions, the tension. For the duration of the read, I get to walk a mile or two in another woman’s shoes. Sometimes I get to be in a man’s head, too, and I get to re-experience all the excitement and anxiety and lust and despair and uncertainty of falling in love again, with the comfortable knowledge in the back of my mind that all will be well in the end because there’s a HEA just waiting for me at the end of the book. Kind of like going on a roller coaster ride – you get all the thrills of a near-death adrenalin rush, but your life is never actually at risk (hopefully!).

The greatest accolade I can pay a book is that it made my chest ache. If I get to a certain point in the book and my chest literally aches for the hero or heroine to understand the other or for their sadness or nobility to be soothed or rewarded, then I am a happy little camper. I re-read a Mary Balogh recently and there were certain passages that had so much poignancy for me on a second reading because I knew that the self-talk the heroine was using to protect herself was an illusion. And yes, I cried. Yesterday, I gobbled up Kristin Hannah’s On Mystic Lake and I think I cried every twenty minutes or so because it was so sad and moving and emotional.

But even in the midst of all that suffering and chest aching, I knew I was in good hands, because both those books were romance novels. I had my HEA safety net there to catch me. I knew all the trials and misfortunes would be worth it. I knew I’d feel as though we (me, the hero and the heroine) had earned our HEA by the time we got there.

I guess that’s why I enjoy writing romance stories, too. I like going on that journey. I like watching my hero and heroine learn things about themselves and accept or reject challenges. And I like knowing that in the end they will be together and happy.

My November Super Romance, All They Need, takes my hero and heroine, Flynn and Mel, on some big ups and downs before they find their HEA. Flynn’s struggling to cope with his father’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers, and Mel is trying to remember who she was before she married a man who spent 6 years trying to change her. Neither of them are looking for love, but it finds them anyway. I’d like to think that it’s a warm, funny, emotional journey that they go on together, but the final judges of that will be you, the readers.

So, over to you. How do you feel about the promise of HEA in a romance novel? Why do you read romances? Do you feel cheated when you read what you thought was a romance and the HEA is missing?

I would love to give away a copy of All They Need today. Just comment to be in the running.

Awesome, right? Answer any of Sarah’s questions, and you’re good! She’s giving away at least one copy – winner(s) announced next Tuesday, so start talking! ;-D