You know what I love about writing for digital publishers and small press? The ability to not only write what I love but to truly “write what I know” in regards to setting. For years the common advice bandied about Romance Writers of America was to set our books in the United States. That readers did not want to read about Canadian or Australian characters or any non-American characters unless you were writing, say, an England-set historical. I was never very good at taking this advice. I’m Canadian, so I feel more comfortable writing Canadian characters. I especially like to set my books and stories in British Columbia, because that I really know. I don’t have to worry that an American might say “soda” instead of “pop” or “sneakers” instead of “runners.” I try to remain true to my Canadian characters without sacrificing meaning or causing my largely American readership to scratch their heads. This does not mean that I never write about Americans, because I do. Usually from Washington or California, because that’s the closest to what I know. However, I decide on setting based on the needs of the story (characters’ occupations, etc.), not on whether Canadian settings sell.
I know, I’m bad.
Once I was reminded of just how bad I am. I pitched a single title to an agent at an RWA conference. As soon as I said the book was set in Vancouver, the agent told me I would have to change the setting. “Can’t you just move it south a little?” Well, no. If I start with Canadian characters, I keep Canadian characters. Because, well, they’re Canadian! They like to say “eh?” and sprinkle white vinegar on their French fries and indulge in poutines (Google it. Yum.)
Despite what this agent said, I’ve never received a rejection letter from an editor saying my settings worked against me. So I continued to write Canadian characters with the odd American sprinkled in, and I’m glad I did. I’ve now sold five erotic novels, novellas or short stories, and only one is set in the United States (Kiss Me at Midnight in Secrets 28: SENSUAL CRAVINGS). The characters, co-hosts for an ailing late-night talk show, and the TV setting, demanded it.
Both of my 2011 releases take place in Vancouver, British Columbia. And these Canucks are hot, hot, hot! Tea for Three, my first erotica short as well as being my first ménage, came out October 14th from Ellora’s Cave Exotika Quickies. My heroine, Layla Aziz, is an Egyptian-Canadian tea shop owner. Her two guys, Gil and Hunter, were both born and raised in British Columbia.
Here’s a blurb:
Uninhibited tea shop manager Layla Aziz struggles with her relationship with blond and buff construction worker, Gil Cuthbert. After years of sleeping with any dude who tickles her libido, can she remain faithful to one guy?
Then Gil surprises Layla by arranging a ménage with his best friend, dark and serious Hunter Cole. Gil, it seems, will do anything to keep Layla satisfied. That includes sharing her with ultra-sexy Hunter again and again. Not just for one orgasm-filled night, but for many more to come—as long as Gil’s in charge of her erotic needs.
Sign her up!
My first single title erotic romance coming from Samhain Publishing November 8th, A Little Wild, just happens to be the book I pitched to the agent who suggested I switch the setting. Like Red Sage Secrets and Ellora’s Cave with my previous releases, Samhain didn’t have an issue with the setting. At all. In fact, my editor is Australian. Digital publishing has expanded publishing into the international arena, for which I’m thrilled. My hero and heroine in A Little Wild, Zach Halliday and Tess Sheridan, are intrinsically Canadian to me. They grew up with parents versed in miles and feet and Fahrenheit while they deal largely in Celsius, litres (the Canadian spelling, which, admittedly, I changed to liters for Samhain), and kilometres (there, I did it again). (Bad, bad, bad). Tess is a lawyer who is never called an attorney (I’ve only ever heard that word on American television) and Zach is the son of Vancouver’s wealthiest entrepreneur (which is to say he’s not as rich as if he were the son of New York’s wealthiest entrepreneur, but he’s still pretty damn rich.)
About their story:
She wants a piece of his rock. He needs her, rock steady, in his heart.
Tess Sheridan won’t let anything stop her from making partner at a prestigious law firm, especially her notoriously soft heart. The result? She’s a handful of clients away from getting her name on that brass plate. And she hasn’t had sex in over a year.
When her best friend dares her to test-drive her erotic fantasies with a gorgeous stranger, she figures, why not? Loosening the reins will give her inner nympho some well-deserved pampering without jeopardizing her career goals.
Zach Halliday has enjoyed his bad-boy reputation to the fullest, but now it’s time to leave the relative safety of the family corporation and prove he can stand on his own in the business world. That doesn’t mean he’ll pass up an opportunity for some incredible phone sex with the beautiful strawberry blonde he met in a bar.
When business overlaps with the bedroom, Zach sees something special in Tess and is determined to convince her he’s the man she needs, anytime, anyplace. She can backpedal, but come hell or high-climbing-wall, he wants the fascinating, complicated sex bomb in his bed. Over and over again…
How do you feel about Canadian characters and Canadian settings? As a reader, do you like expanding your reading beyond American settings? Or do you prefer your romance a little closer to home? Does it just not matter anymore?
Kate St. James lives in Canada with her adoring family. She keeps trying to kick them out, but they're sticking like glue...for reasons she can't figure. It's not like she's a model wife and mother. Or is she? Therein lies one of the great mysteries of Kate's generation.
An avid reader since childhood, Kate loves spending her days writing about the hot men and adventurous women populating her head. When she's not engrossed in her fictional worlds, you can find her chasing her hound in the hills above an azure lake, ignoring the smoke alarms blaring from the kitchen, or endlessly renovating her house.
Kate’s Website: http://www.katestjames.com
Kate’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com.katestjamesbooks