Cheryl Holt

Cheryl Holt

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
February 28, 2008

Q.    Cheryl, how did you come about the idea to write DOUBLE FANTASY?

A.   I had signed a 3-book contract with my publisher that I refer to as my “Fantasy” series. From the very beginning, I knew I would write three books that had the word “fantasy” in the title. DOUBLE FANTASY was the 3rd book, so I knew for a long time that it would have the word “double” in the title. It just seemed natural that it should be about twins, although at the start, I wasn’t sure if it would be about twin heroes or twin heroines. Ultimately, I settled on twin heroes.

Q.    Will you give the readers a brief synopsis of DOUBLE FANTASY?

A.   DOUBLE FANTASY is the story of twin’s, Jamie and Jack Merrick. Their father was the powerful Earl of Gladstone, and as a young man, he impregnated and married a lowly housemaid. Later, after she died giving birth to the twins, the earl panicked and realized he shouldn’t have made such an unsuitable marriage. He hid evidence of the union and had the twins sent away, kidnapped into a brutal life at sea, and he went on with his life as if the marriage and birth of his sons had never happened.

He married an appropriate aristocrat’s daughter, and he sired another son—who eventually became Earl of Gladstone at his death.

As the story starts, it’s thirty years later, and someone has come forward and told the truth about what happened to Jamie and Jack. A tattered marriage license and birth certificate has been produced, and Jamie—the eldest twin—has been installed as the new earl—with his half-brother who thought he was the earl having to step aside As you might expect, this creates some severe plot conflicts and a desperate villain.

Jamie and Jack are hardened pirates, and they come back to Gladstone , eager to wreak havoc and extract revenge against those who were complicit in stealing their heritage.

Q.    How did you come about Jamie’s character?

A.    I’m renowned for creating some of the most macho, sexy, and dynamic heroes in all of women’s fiction. I love pirates, too, and I wanted to create a man who oozed charisma and power. Jamie was the natural result.

Q.    Why did you choose to make Jamie and Jack twins?

A.    As I mentioned, I picked twins because of the book’s title, but the choice to use double heroes made it an extremely difficult book to write. Women’s love stories always have one defined hero, and it was tricky business deciding to go against the grain and write two of them. It was difficult to make them both powerful and interesting so that either one could have carried the story by himself.

But I succeeded in a big way!

The trade magazine, Romantic Times BOOKreviews, gives a monthly award—called the K.I.S.S. Award—to the author who writes the best, most macho, most yummy hero in any given month. I received a double K.I.S.S. award for Jamie and Jack. I don’t think any author has ever one a “double” K.I.S.S. Award before, so I’m delighted and honored.

Q.    How did you come about Anne’s character?

A.    I like to use a heroine who is in dire straits. I want her to be poor, to be alone, to be at the mercy of others, with no means of escape or rescue from her plight. It creates the most wonderful tension and plot situations. Also, I need her to be the exact opposite of the hero, so it seems impossible for them to ever find common ground and get together.

Anne is the dreaded “poor relative” who lives at the mercy of her awful cousins. She doesn’t have a penny to her name, and she doesn’t have anyone to take her side or speak up for her. She is sweet, kind, pragmatic, loyal, and trustworthy—which are traits completely opposite those of the hero. Jamie is wicked, ruthless, cunning and shrewd, and he will do anything to get his way.

He and Anne are the best couple I’ve ever created—which is really saying something for me, because my heroes and heroines have previously been some of the best ever written.

Q.    You have another book coming out in April under the name Vanessa Marlow titled SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL.

A.   Why are you using another name with the same publishing company while still writing the same genres as your Cheryl Holt novels?

SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL is a dark, creepy and scary contemporary sexual thriller, when I’ve had a career as “Cheryl Holt” writing historical love stories. SLEEPING WITH is completely different from anything I’ve written before. We didn’t want to confuse people into thinking it is a romance. It’s definitely not! And we didn’t want people who hate “romances” to avoid it because it was written by a romance author. It was important to completely separate my Cheryl Holt name from the new genre, so we chose Vanessa Marlow—my young and glamorous alter ego!

Q.    I’ve heard there are some changes coming for you. What’s happening?

A.   I have some big changes coming in my writing career. For many years, I was one of the women's fiction stars at St. Martins Press. As one of their authors, I saw my career soar into the stratosphere, and I'm so proud that I was privileged to be one of their writers. I reached many pinnacles: I have been renowned as "The Queen" of erotic romance, as "The Queen" of villains, and I was named as one of the "25 Greatest Erotic Writers of All Time."

I began writing erotics for them when the trend toward sexier books was just beginning, and I wrote 15 terrific books at a very fast pace. But after I completed DOUBLE FANTASY, I felt that it was the very best book of its kind that I could possibly write. I didn't think I could ever write a better one, and it just seemed like a good time to move on to other projects.

Q.    What will you be doing instead?

A.   In 2009, I will be moving to Grand Central Publishing, which was formerly known as Warner Books. I will be the lead author in their Forever line. I will still be writing historical romances, but I won't be writing "erotic" historical romances.

Q.    Why did you decide to make this change?

A.   For a long time now, I've wanted to be able to write books that were longer, that were more emotional and poignant, which I couldn't do in the erotic genre, and I will finally have the chance. I am returning to the sort of classic romances we used to read years ago, such as FLAME AND THE FLOWER and WHITNEY, MY LOVE. My books will still be very sensual, but I plan to use emotion and drama — rather than sex — to drive the plot. My stories will more closely resemble my early novel, MY ONLY LOVE, which is still my most critically acclaimed book.

Q.    When can we expect to see your new novels from Grand Central Publishing?

A.   My first three novels for Grand Central will be released back-to-back in '09. I'm not sure of the months yet, but it will be late summer or autumn, so I will be off store shelves for over a year—which is scary for me. I don't have the cover art or titles yet, either, but I plan to upgrade my web page so I can better add new info as I receive it. I will also be adding a blog this year, so that I can more easily give fans the latest updates. I’m also going to be doing extra promotion in the coming year, such as sending out “prequel” chapters in a lead up to the first book.

I have the first book finished, and it's ready to deliver to my new editor. It turned out so good! I'm so delighted that Grand Central took a chance on me, and that I will be able to take my books in this new, longer and more emotional direction.

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