Follow Melissa Graves and learn more about her work at http://msmelissagraves.com/
On a scale of “the kids are home and I can read this” to “oh dear, I may have to schedule some alone time before I crack the spine on that one”, I'm going to go ahead and say that you should probably plan ahead! The sex scenes in Bleeding Heart are the result of two characters who are very much in love, but who also want each other more than they've wanted anyone else in their lives—they are full on, no holds barred romps. I've always been a firm believer in explicit erotica combined with romance and story telling that makes you care about every moment those characters spend in bed, and Bleeding Heart is that and then some. These men talk and fuck and fall in love like its their job.
How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
My cats are very dedicated (someone has to keep refilling that kibble bowl). No, but really—I spend a ridiculous amount of time on the computer, and it's really important to me to manage my mental time. I make sure to have other things to do, whether it's chores or time with my husband or taking my eyes away from text and putting them on movie or a television show or a friend or a new restaurant. Often, the only way that I can be productive as a writer is to stop writing and come back to it later. I'm a night owl, but there's a certain point where your brain says “please, no more”, and you know you'll be useless if you don't learn to take a break.
What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
They're such a wonderful blend of different traits that it's a pleasure to write them. I don't like writing in a vacuum where a story becomes an obvious expression of “This Is What I Believe In”—basically just an author using characters to express their take on the world and nothing else. Kyle is broken and lost and looking for love and purpose. Brian thinks that he has already found his purpose, that he knows who he is and what he contributes to the world, but then he meets Kyle and realizes he's been seeing things through rose-tinted glasses. Elisa is a hardened, hard-working realist, but if not for Clara, who is a tough business woman with a sweet center, she may never have made it to where she is today. They are a wonderful sampling of the human spectrum, despite most of them not being human at all!
What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
I often feel as if I'm an erotica writer with an action writer inside of her just dying to get out, which is funny because I always whine when I write action scenes and insist that I'm no good at them. Sex is absolutely my primary joy to write, but when I hit my stride, ooh boy, action scenes! Sensuality and sweet romance are like spices to me, adding layers to the erotic flavor profile of my stories. But without a doubt, I am first and foremost an erotica author. Nothing pleases me more than writing people enjoying sex, especially when they are experiencing something or someone new.
Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
In a lot of ways, no, because despite being in my thirties I sort of fell off of the social media bandwagon for a few years in my late twenties and missed a lot of the fun stuff. But getting back into writing and fandom and jumping back onto several social media platforms has begun to change that for me. Websites like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Instagram are absolutely 100% vital to getting yourself and your work out there nowadays. For others struggling with it, I say take it one website at a time. Use the social media in ways that you are comfortable with, but most importantly—ask people for tips on how to use them! Social media has become the vehicle by which most artists are getting themselves noticed and hopefully, eventually appreciated these days, and I think that trend is here to stay.
What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
The “blood drinking as foreplay” thing, from start to finish, is something that I honed over years of role-playing on the Internet when I was a teenager. Of course, blood drinking + sex is nothing new in literature/films/television—I'm not claiming credit for that!—but the specific kind of blood drinking that you read about in Bleeding Heart, with the localized anesthetic, the associated sexual euphoria, and the coagulant after the bleeding stops, as well as the way that the feeding creates a hunger for both the vampire and the human to do it again is the result of many nights spent in a chat room with the boy who would, twelve years later, become my husband, role-playing sex and blood drinking and all sorts of fantasy character madness.
If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
Bleeding Heart is set in Chicago, Illinois, so I'd love to spend some significant time there. Urban settings are so much fun for vampire stories, but I'd also love to go overseas—London, Paris, Venice. I've never been outside of the continental United States, so that would be a treat!
Any fun facts about the research for your book?
Well, I'm sure I'm on some sort of list somewhere, with all of the hours I spent Googling stuff about human anatomy and blood loss. I'm not a murderer, I'm just doing research for a book! (That's a bumper sticker, isn't it? I really need to get one of those.)
Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
Bleeding Heart is definitely an erotically-charged romance, but it's also the story of two very different young men meeting each other at interesting points in their lives. Neither of them are really looking for love. Kyle is a young, new vampire, and pretty lost—he'd be happy just to have a place to live, and isn't thinking about romance at all. Brian is a medical student who is very close to finishing school, has a fairly settled life, and even though he hasn't had much luck with long-term boyfriends, he isn't hunting for one. One day they look up and there they are, seeing each other through a glass window for the first time, and suddenly the whole course of their lives shift. The question is: can they make it work?
Where to Buy: Interlude Press
"I know," Kyle says apologetically. "I can't help it." He swallows. "I mean, it only happens when I—when—I get excited. Sorry. Just, missed you."
"You—you can." Heat pounds in Brian's cheeks.
Kyle goes still, panting against his skin. "W-what?"
"You can, if you want," Brian repeats. His body is aching all of the sudden, for something new, for something more, for something that they haven't done yet. He can feel it, simply at the idea—it has been since they started kissing, of course, but now it's fully awake and invested in the proceedings—against the front of his jeans. "You can."
"Have you ever—"
"No," Brian answers. It's impossible to think clearly with Kyle holding him against the door, with Kyle's head bent over his neck like that. He's so hard that his jeans are starting to hurt; the angle at which he's risen against them is uncomfortable, but he can't move. "Please." The anticipation is like ants beneath his skin, crawling and crawling and crawling. "Please."
Kyle kisses the half-numbed skin just inches off of Brian's neck. His fangs are fully distended now and Brian can feel them, smooth and hard as they brush his skin.
The need to feel the pain that he knows he'll feel, to feel opened, to feel his blood run past Kyle's eager lips is sudden and new. Kyle can and will drink from his body; Brian can let him do that, this is a thing that they can do together, and it is as exciting as it is frightening.
"You can," he repeats. He feels dizzy. "I want you to. Want to take care of you, please. Do it." His hands are shaking so hard that he can't even maintain a grip on Kyle's waist, but it doesn't matter; Kyle is supporting him.
"God," Kyle breathes, shaking, his lips damp as they pass over Brian's shoulder again and again. "Ever since you—that night with the wine glass, I—god, I've dreamed of your blood so many times."
"Please," Brian hisses, arousal pounding through his body. "Do it. Do it."
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