Interview with Robin Schone

Robin Schone is the bestselling Author of erotic Romances. She has successfully published two novels and one novella. Like no other author of erotic romances she combines highly sensual female erotic fiction and pure love. The Literary Times said about Robin Schone: "Combining the erotic with the romantic, Robin Schone tests the boundaries of romance fiction in the 90's!"

Unfortunately none of her books have been published in Germany but we do hope that this will change in the near future!!! We feel very honoured that she took the time to make that wonderful interview with us!

Her published books are:
- Awaken, My Love (out of print)
- The Lady’s Tutor
- The Lover (released in April 2000)
- and the novella “A Lady’s Pleasure” from the anthology “Captivated

Angela: Could you introduce yourself to the German readers? Your likes and dislikes, where you come from?  A little background on Robin Schone.

Robin Schone: Hmm . . .  My likes and dislikes. . . .  Well, I love the night, and I hate mornings.  I absolutely believe that some people are biologically nocturnal, and I am one of those.  And of course, being a night creature, I hate to get up mornings.  One of my earliest childhood memories (think three years old  here) is of my relatives rolling me off the sheets on laundry day.  I grumped, curled up, and promptly went back to sleep on the bare mattress.  I understand this was a weekly ritual.  You can imagine how traumatic it was when I entered school and had to get up when everybody else did.  I don't think I've ever fully recovered from the shock!

As for my background: I attended Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, where I majored in art, classics and world religion.  It was there that I met my husband.  We live in a Chicago suburb in Illinois now, where I have the  luxury of going to bed and getting up pretty much when I like.

Angela: Where did you get the idea from to write erotic romances?  Was it hard to find a publisher for your stories?  Have you written other books before?

Robin Schone: I read my first romance when I was twelve years old:  "These Old Shades," by Georgette Heyer.  I read my first all-out erotic book when I was fifteen: "The Way of a Maid," by Mario Clement.  I can't imagine writing a romance book that isn't erotic, because in my mind it is the sexual chemistry that makes the relationship between a man and a woman so very special.  Likewise, I can't imagine writing erotica without romance, because to me, the sexual love between a man and a woman is the most powerful force in the universe.

I have been very fortunate in my publishing history.  While I did have a difficult time finding an agent--28 agents rejected my first work, "Awaken, My Love"--the 29th agent read it, loved it, and sold it to Avon Books five days later.  Now, of course, I write for Kensington Publishing Corporation.

Yes, I have written other books--a sci-fi which will never see the light of publication because it is soooooooooo bad; a historical horror and a political satire, both of which I someday hope to get published. Interestingly enough, even when writing different genres, my emphasis was on a man-woman relationship.

Angela: I saw that all your books are situated in Victorian England.  What fascinates you about Victorian England?  Is the reason that erotic underground magazines have been published at this time and that there was a kind of erotic Renaissance in England?

Robin Schone: Victorian England fascinates me because if ever a time in history perfectly correlates to our lives here in America today, it is the Victorian era.  The more strides that were made in labor-saving technology, the higher the unemployment rate got.  Cholera was attributed to immorality, just as Aids is now.  Family and God were the balms that eased our Victorian ancestors' troubled souls; sex and individuality were the ultimate sins.

Out of that seething cauldron of conflict sprang the best erotica that has ever been written.  And yes, it was very obliging of the Victorians to leave behind them so much erotic literature, certainly far more than any other society has left us.

Angela: Do your heroes and heroines have existing models?  How much from yourself is in the heroines?  Is it fiction and fantasy you are writing about? Where do your ideas come from?

Robin Schone: No, alack, my heroes do not have existing models.  (I wish!)  When I create a heroine, I try to portray a whole woman rather than a historical stereotype. I have met romance authors who claim that women one hundred years ago were not like women are today. I disagree. Human nature does not change; merely the manner in which people express themselves changes. I wholeheartedly believe that my great-great-great grandmother experienced sexual frustration, and that she quite probably masturbated to relieve said frustration.  I believe she fantasized, just as we fantasize today.  I even believe, if she had the courage, that she may have stepped outside the accepted boundaries--with one man, if only for one night.  Not every woman did, of course, just as not every woman does now.  I write about the women we wish we had the courage to be.  How much of me is in my heroines?  There is a little bit of us in all of our books, that's what makes each author unique.

Angela: What I most like in your books is that your combine your graphic sex scenes with a wonderful literary style of language.  Is it difficult to write in such a sensual style and always find the right words in a sex scene?  Not like other authors who use hard core porn terms?

Robin Schone: Research is the key.  For example, in "The Lady's Tutor," I combine clinical words for anatomy (which have been in use for a long, long time) with Arabic and Victorian terminology.  A penis may be a penis, but it's also a "kamera" (from "The Perfumed Garden," translated by Richard Burton) or a "member" (from "The Pearl," a Victorian underground magazine).

Angela: In "Awaken My Love", you started the book with a scene I bet that has never appeared before in a romance book... the heroine masturbates.  Why did you let her masturbate and what were the reactions from the publishers, readers, etc.?

Robin Schone: Female masturbation does occasionally occur in romance (I won't lie and say that I'm either the first or the only author to include it). Although, I will claim the honor of having written the only romance novel that starts out with a masturbation scene, and whose heroine is catapulted through time and space because of the resulting orgasm!  (smiles)

Strangely enough, I had far more trouble getting an agent than I did a publisher, as stated above.  Reader reactions differ.  Some women claim they do not masturbate nor ever have; they are obviously uncomfortable with that opening.  Others read that scene and sigh, "Oh, if only they, too, could be transported into another man's bed by touching themselves!"

I thought masturbation as likely a means for my heroine to time-travel as any other.  Actually, sex has always been considered magical by those who practice the Tantrics, so perhaps it is a better vehicle than, say, touching a magic stone.  Definitely better, now that I think about it, because the source of magic is our own body, and as such that magic is available to each and every one of us.  I think "that's" pretty magical.

Angela: Your heroines are all free spirited women, not afraid of exploring their sexuality and they are all no young debutants.  Do you have problems with publishers as your heroines are not mainstream characters?  Did any publisher try to convince you to write about younger women?

Robin Schone: Luckily, that has never been a point of contention. In fact, my editor at Kensington thinks that my older heroines "are" mainstream.  I have received hundreds and hundreds of fan letters thanking me for writing about an older heroine whom they can identify with.  Surprisingly enough, I have also received quite a lot of fan letters from college students, ranging in age anywhere from 18 to 22.  I was very glad to find that younger readers are not put off by my older heroines.  And really, why should they be?  I remember reading Gothic romances (modern Gothic romances often featured a heroine in her early to late twenties)--and thinking--wow, there's time to go to school, have fun, and still find love when I'm older!  I like to think now that when I'm 50, 60, 70 or even 80, that sexual love will play an important role in my life.  Reading about older heroines reaffirms that ideal.  How depressing, to think that the best years of our lives take place in our teens or our early twenties.  I want to look forward, not back.

Angela: What attracts me most in your stories is that you combine a highly erotic story with a deep love the hero and heroine feel for each other.  I think that makes your books unique.  I would say many people don't feel comfortable with e.g. anal sex but when you write about it, it becomes highly sensual and it fits perfectly to the plot.  Not that they say "let's have anal sex", they show the partner their trust and love by doing it and the story NEEDS this scene at precisely this moment.  How do you build up the tension and make the reader comfortable in everything the heroes are doing?  Do you have any trick or do you achieve this by accident?

Robin Schone: Well, I don't know if it's so much a trick--I think it's called "plotting" (smiles)--but perhaps one reason that my "anal" sex scenes, etc., work so well, is that I do not include them just for the sake of having e.g. "anal" sex.  All of my characters have individual needs and fantasies--their relationship grows through their particular personalities.  There are some sex scenes that are absolutely character driven, and I will never include them in another book.  Now that doesn't mean I won't have, e.g. "anal" sex, per se, in another book, but the whole motivation, build up, technique, and consummation will be different.  I try to make my sex scenes an extension of my characters, because their sexuality is as much a part of them as any other trait.

Angela: All your books contain famous erotic literature.  In "Awaken My Love", there was the Tantra.  In  "A Lady's Pleasure" you used "The Pearl, in "The Lady's Tutor" it was "The Perfumed Garden". Why did you decide to work with this famous erotic literature and use them for your stories?

Robin Schone: To add spice and authenticity.  Charles from "Awaken, My Love" had spent ten years in India, it would have been strange indeed if he had not picked up on some of the culture.  Abigail in "A Lady's Pleasure" collects erotic literature; in 1882 "The Pearl" was the most popular underground erotic Victorian magazine.  There is no doubt in my mind that she would have possessed copies of it.  Ramiel was sent to Arabia when he was twelve years old, where he stayed until he was twenty-nine.  He would have been aware of "The Perfumed Garden."  The first English translation came out in 1886, the time of my story.  What better method to teach his lady about sex, than through a 400 year old Arabic treatise on physical love?

I don't see my heroes and heroines as people who live in a box until taken out to be written about.  They have lives independent of me as a writer. History dictates what they eat, read, etc., not me.

Angela: Why have you decided to publish the anthology: "Captivated" together with Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson and Thea Devine?  What was the story behind the curtain?  I have heard that one of your reasons to write the story was that you have been very sick.  Have you been surprised about the big success of "Captivated"?  Has one of the other three ladies shunned the comparison as you all write in a different style?

Robin Schone: I had uterine fibroid tumors that caused chronic pain and infection.  Every doctor I saw (and believe me, I saw a lot of them) said the same thing: hysterectomy.  But I knew that there was an alternative to hysterectomy: it's called myomectomy.  HERS (Hysterectomy Educational Resources & Services) is an international women's health organization dedicated to informing women about the alternatives to and consequences of hysterectomy, as well as keeping a list of doctors who have successfully performed myomectomies and/or other gynecological surgeries.  Nora Coffey, founder, was wonderful.  After a three year long battle with doctors, a managed health care insurance provider, and indescribable physical agony, I finally found a doctor who successfully performed a myomectomy.  The results were immediate.  Just days after surgery, my husband said he could see the "old" Robin.

I was so grateful that an organization like HERS existed, that I decided to get together the hottest romance authors in celebration of Ms. Coffey's endeavors and women's sexuality everywhere.  Susan Johnson was the first of the three authors whom I approached.  She was so nice.  She could so easily  have snubbed me--like, "Who is this author?"--but instead she readily agreed, saying, "Why not?  We all write erotic romance, but we all do it differently."  And we do.

It is very gratifying that Captivated has been so successful.

Angela: What do you think about female erotic fiction where the heroines have many changing partners or group sex?  As your colleagues Bertrice Small or Susan Johnson often write about group sex or changing partners, do you feel comfortable with this and would you write about it in one of your books, too? Or will you continue writing the kind of stories your fans love: faithful heroes and heroines that explore all fields of sexuality together and not with changing partners?

Robin Schone: I will continue writing "faithful heroes and heroines who explore all fields  of sexuality together."  Because that is my style.  And because, as I stated earlier, I believe that the sexual love between A MAN and A WOMAN is the most powerful force in the universe.  That doesn't mean, however, that I do not occasionally enjoy reading about sexual romps.  Variety is indeed the spice of life.

Angela: Would you like to change genre one day?  Your first book, "Awaken My Love", was a time travel.  Would like to write more paranormal stories one day?  Maybe an erotic vampire story????!!!! ...wink, wink,...nudge, nudge!   Or maybe a sequel to "Awaken My Love" about Charles' friends?

Robin Schone: (laughs)  I would indeed love to write an erotic vampire story . . . "someday."  I most definitely plan on trying my hand at a contemporary in the not too far off future.  My only complaint is that I have so many stories waiting to be written!  Historical, contemporary, and yes, paranormal.

I had planned on doing two sequels to "Awaken, My Love:"  one book on Damon,  and one on the third friend, Bainbridge.  But Avon Books and I were not right for each other.  My editor there wanted me to write "lighter," less controversial historicals.  Whereas I . . .   Well, I can't ignore history. And I am not a "light" person.  Perhaps someday I will complete my trilogy.

Angela: What do you think about the change in romance books within the last years?  About the political correctness and that heroes are no longer the mean Alpha-heroes?

Robin Schone: I don't know about "mean" alpha-heroes, but I like alpha heroes, can't stand a beta hero.  I don't want a man to feel like he needs to apologize because he can stand up and urinate, and we women can't (well, we can, but I wouldn't recommend it).  I deplore political correctness--in life, art, literature, and everything else.  We are not what people/society want us to be--we can only be ourselves.

Angela: I love the cover of "The Lady's Tutor", because it captured the plot perfectly.  But, I am sorry to say that, the cover of "Awaken My Love" is horrible.  It has nothing to do with the story.  Have you been very disappointed how the publisher spoiled your book?  Do you have any influence about the artwork of your covers?  It has been noticed at the web-site "RBL" that there was much discussion about the covers of your books and the choosing of a male for the lead hero, Ramiel.  Having the exposure that you seem to have at this sight, do you feel that it has been of influence to publishers and others who might frequent that site and the success of your book?

Robin Schone: Picture this: my editor's assistant calls to say she is sending me the covers to "Awaken, My Love," my first born, and that yes, she thought the cover was gorgeous.  So here I am . . . literally counting the days.  I have my checklist:  wonderful dinner planned; a special bottle of wine.  OK, everything is ready.  Then I get the package, eagerly rip it open, and stare in horrified disbelief.

My first born had a mutant cover!  It bore no resemblance whatsoever to my erotic time-travel novel!

I cried for three hours.  When my husband got home from work, I got drunk (what a waste of good wine) and proceeded to cry another three hours.

In retrospect, it's sort of funny now--sort of--but I was heartbroken at the time.  And yes, the cover did hurt my sales.  Women who wanted a red-hot read wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole; women who expected a "gentle" romance got the shock of their lives.  Three of those "gentle" readers wrote to Avon demanding their money back.

I had no control over that first cover; I had no specific control over the cover to "The Lady's Tutor."  Although . . . my editor at Kensington was kind enough to ask my input.  I described what I envisioned, a man standing behind a woman (no head shots) with his hands peeling back her robe and baring the valley between her breasts.  Fortunately, the art department had much the same vision as I; they created a much sexier version of what I had described.  I didn't waste another bottle of wine by crying into it when I received that cover.

As far as the "'RBL' board and the discussion there about the choosing of a male for the lead hero, Ramiel ..."  First, let me explain that I love the "RBL" board, and I visit there often; you will never find a more wonderful group of women.  But when we were discussing the merits of one male model to represent Ramiel over another, it was not with an eye to the publishing world or even book covers necessarily.  We love bodacious bods, and that site is dedicated to the most bodacious.  When Vickie McCloud and Linda Westburg, RBLs extraordinaire, found a picture of a beautiful blond model with wheat colored hair and tanned skin (just like Ramiel in TUTOR), we dubbed him Ramiel, because he truly is my fantasy hero in the flesh.  I am very proud to say that he won the very first "RBL BOD OF THE YEAR" award.

I don't know if that award is going to further my career, but "Ramiel" certainly has brought a sigh and a smile to many faces--including that of my agent and my editor.

The "RBL" board members have been very, very supportive.  And yes, I value that support.  And yes, aside from providing me with lots of good cheer and laughter and solace when my "writer" child gets a kick in the behind, my "RBL" sisters have been wonderfully helpful through their endorsement.

Angela: What are your favorite books from other authors?

Robin Schone: I love almost everything by Linda Howard and Marion Chesney.  "Adora," by Bertrice Small.  "The Handmaid's Tale," by Margaret Atwood.  "Sun Dancers," by Barbara Faith.  "The Time Before This," by Nicholas Monsarrat.  "Blood Games," by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.  "Aztec," by Gary Jennings.  The Anita Blake vampire series by Laurell K. Hamilton (I can't wait to finish my novella so I can read "Obsidian Butterfly").  "The Hot Zone" and "The Cobra Event," by Richard Preston.  The list could go on and on.  I have very diverse reading tastes.

Angela: Have you been surprised about the big success of your books in America?

Robin Schone: Yes.  Absolutely.  Normally when people think in terms of the "evolution" of a book, they think that it involves writing it, submitting it, doing editorial changes as instructed by an editor, resubmitting said manuscript, getting it published, and having the bound item delivered to stores everywhere.

"The Lady's Tutor" explodes that myth--at least for me.  The first edition (ISBN #0-8217-6288-5) was published under the Zebra Splendor line, which means that it had a holographic heart on the front cover/spine.  Well, copies sold so fast that Kensington couldn't keep it in print; it went into a second print run in August 1999.  Then those sold out.  That's when things really get interesting.  TUTOR went into a 2nd, limited collector's edition (ISBN #0-8217-6982-0) at the end of December 1999.  That edition differs from the first insofar that it is under the Zebra logo instead of the Zebra Splendor logo, so the cover has no heart on it.  In September TUTOR will go into a 3rd, and hopefully, final edition; this time it will be released in trade paperback under the Kensington line, with a brand new cover.  I have been told that it is gorgeous, more like the beautiful, beautiful cover that my upcoming trade paperback release, "The Lover," has.

It was exciting to have TUTOR chosen as a Double Day Book Club selection; and I was very, very proud that it ranked #13 on the Amazon Romance Bestsellers of 1999.  I recently found out that it was voted as "Favorite Romance of the Year" by readers at the All About Romance online magazine.  But I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to have Kensington's support and unflagging enthusiasm.  In the end, an author can write the best book in the world, but if they don't have the publisher's support, it's not going to go very far.

I was tremendously impressed (as in jumping up and down in my chair) when you e-mailed me.  While I was featured in "Globe and Mail," a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, this is my very first international interview!  I hope that I will soon be published in Germany.  The agent who represents Kensington there--and my books--is Tom Schlueck.

Angela: How do you combine writing and family?  Is it sometimes a problem for you?  Does your family support the time it takes you to write one of your books?  How many hours a day do you write?

Robin Schone: I do not have children, so that frees up my time considerably.  My husband is very understanding and supportive.  This is what we've both worked for, for me to have a lucrative writing career.  It took over ten years for me to reach this point where I can write full time without having to work outside the home to support my "hobby."  He's self-employed and works six days a week, so he fully understands the personal sacrifices, long hours, and hard work that goes into making a business successful.

On the average, when I'm actively working on a project as opposed to researching it, I write 40 or so hours a week.  Those hours increase as deadline approaches.  I've been known to consistently put in 16-18 work hour days then.

Angela: Do you know if your books have male readers as well?  Does your husband read you books and contribute in any way?

Robin Schone: I know I do have male readers, but I have actually only gotten four fan letters from men.  Several of my female fans have written that their husband's had to see what all the excitement was about, and when they read one of my books, were hooked.  Most vindicating of all my male readership is Bill Noble, who is an editor at "CleanSheets," an online erotic magazine. When I was showcased in a "Salon" article called "TOO DARN HOT" last October, he e-mailed me asking if I would consent to being interviewed for his site. Like I was going to refuse.  (smiles)  He had never read a romance book before, and he was so impressed by "The Lady's Tutor" and my novella "A Lady's Pleasure," that he has nominated me for inclusion in Susie Bright's "Best American Erotica 2001" anthology.

My husband does read my books, yes.  He is a big Stephen King fan, but he says that my writing is right up there with that of the King (when he says that, I like to think that he really loves my books as opposed to just really loving me).  Actually, he paid me the supreme compliment of saying that he has never identified so totally with a male character as he does with Robert in "A Lady's Pleasure."  And when he read my upcoming release, "The Lover," he said he has never read a book in which a character was so evil that it scared him--not even a character from a Stephen King book!

Angela: What are your future plans?  Could you tell us more about your new book that will be published in April? I heard that you work on a new anthology?

Robin Schone: "The Lover" is my third full-length novel, and my very first trade paperback release.  It includes the elements that I think my readers have come to expect--a passionate, sexual relationship between one man and one woman, and a mystery that I challenge you to solve!  I think it is my most erotic--yet my most heart-rending--book to date. It's somewhat darker than my previous works, yet it is also very--redeeming, I guess you would say.

Anne, my heroine, is a plain, wealthy, 36 year old spinster who yearns to experience love-making.  Michael, my 40 year old hero, is what we now call a gigolo (that term was not coined until circa 1920).  Once he had been a  beautiful, perfect man; now he is scarred by a past that he can't escape. But Anne still finds him attractive.  She hires him to give her a month of pleasure, never realizing that it will cost her far more than ten thousand pounds.  Unable to resist her desire after years of being rejected by women because of his scars, Michael "plunges Anne into a deadly web of deception and revenge where the price of carnal ecstasy is life itself" (from the back of the book).  An excerpt can be read at my web site:

I'm just now finishing up a novella for "Fascinated," Kensington's second anthology of erotic tales.  As in "Captivated," contributing authors are Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine and myself.  It will be out this October.  I'm going to be a tease now.  The main character in my story, "A Man and A Woman," is a secondary character from "The Lady's Tutor."  I dare you to guess who it is!

© Angela Weiss und Isolde Wehr, Februar 2000, Die romantische Bücherecke

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Dieses Interview entstand im Februar 2000 zwischen Angela W. und Robin Schone für:

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