Interview with with author and publisher Maren Smith
In this episode we discuss:
Do you write under one Pen Name or severs?
I write under several pen names mostly BDSM, adult romance with plot, and Daddy Dom
What your sub genre of romance? Reading Contemporary Western, Paranormal Writing – contemporary -discusses villains and her book “Dark Vows”
Regardless of the genre you’re writing, you prefer down to earth male POV?
Yes, discusses hero characters.
Focus of your publishing house? Kink
How did you choose high heat? Write what you know. Discusses 50 shades popularity
Favorite Tropes? Contemporary, alpha male, trapped, fake relationship
Least Favorite? Enemies to lovers, Mafia
Characters or story, what comes first? It’s different every time. An action comes first, and the character defines themselves as I’m writing it.
From a fan or a review that was positive? Stopped reading most reviews, but the ones I like most where the comments from a book I wrote with Delta James.
Worst thing about your book that you’ve read? The worst review, the one that made me angry in a laughy way “The Suffragettes” written in early 2000’s. Discusses feminism.
As a writer if you could write anything what would if be? Horror
What is one thing about you that people probably don’t know? Hard to offend, easy to approach.
WIP? Anthology 2021, Daddy’s little convict, contemporary kinda paranormalish anthology in the new year.
As a publisher? Eden Bradley – San Fran Dom Series – rebranding
I also write under the names of Denise Hall, Darla Phelps, and Penny Alley.
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Hi, I'm Ann Jensen coming to you from the east coast of New Jersey. Hi, I'm Skyler West coming to you from the west coast of Canada. We are two romance writers using our life experiences to break down and share with you all things romance, how you find your next book boyfriend, discovering genres and troops and looking at what works and why and what doesn't work and why. Welcome back to coast to coast romance. This week, we have the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Marian Smith, author and publisher extraordinare. Nice to be here. Thank you very much for asking me. So glad to have you. Yeah, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule, and we have some scripted questions, but please feel free to drift off on a tangent. Tangent ships present itself. First things first, for those people who don't know you and your wonderful books. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I'm Martin Smith, I write under several pen names. Mostly what I write now seems to be daddy Dom BDSM adult romances with plot I'm not the erotica side. I do have erotic scenes in my books. But for the most part, what I love to write is the fetish in the kink with with a plot like any other book, and inside of that inside of all of because I know you've written many, many books at about 160 titles last time I counted. Wow. gratulations stories, short stories, and I think I've got about 60 of those. Wow. Well, I'm bowing now, people can't see me but I'm bowing down to the book goddess. That's amazing. I've been doing it a long time though. I've been doing it. My first few books were published when I was 17. In a magazine dagger of the mind. I mean, I first started publishing with Blue Moon books masquerade back in 95. So I've been doing this for for a little bit. Wow. Right? Yeah. You have a lot of experience in the book industry in the romance genre. Yeah, specifically, well, yeah, up until about a couple months ago, I would have said no, I don't have very much experience and sort of muddling along. And it kind of hit me. Yeah. Okay. 95. That's quite a few years from now, I found a little bit of you do, I can navigate a little bit. It's like, Wait, hold on. That's crap. I'm all like, you know, like, your life. Happened? No, it was like, I remember, uh, you know, just something else was talking from, you know, my best friend. And I was like, yeah, that was back in what was that? 9998. And he's like, yeah, is 98. And then I'm like, Oh, crap. We've known each other for over 20 years. Yeah, I'm just flying way, especially when you're enjoying the journey. And I know from the few times I've gotten to talk to with you live Marin, and ask you questions. It's the way you tap into a topic and answer your questions that blows me away every single time I talk to you. And so I remember how to do that. And well, yeah, I think it's organic with you. So I'm really excited that you're with us and able to share who you are and your work and what you're working on. And now you're a publisher, I have a question for you. And you can answer this as a reader or a writer, your choice. But what is your favorite sub genre within the romance genre? I really love contemporary Western, I don't get to ride in it as often as I do. But I absorb everything that I read of it. I like paranormal a lot more than I like writing it. To read the standard web series. I mean, well, most of what I write seems to be contemporary and I tend to go all over the map. I've been called a unicorn, somebody said I was a unicorn because I could write whatever it is that's out there, which we found out was not quite true. In the dark mafia, the the dark vows book that I'm reading that right now. Yeah, I loved writing the story. It was hard. It was hard for me to pull the story out of the dark aspect was hard for me to get into is I've got a little bit of you know, and you know, depressive issues. I am medicated for depression. But that made that having to get into that headspace with a man who is very dark in his lungs what he wants to do. And you have to remind Remember, you know, he's not really an ANA villain, he's a villain. And a hero. Yeah. Even villains love kittens. love their mamas love their wives and their kids and things like that. I mean, if you're going there's very, very few people out there that are actually 100% hardcore evil. So when you're writing a hero or an antihero, or even a straight up villain, I like when they're mixed with human traits that make them sympathetic. That can be terrible, but so that was the saving grace on it, but I don't do I just don't do the dark very well. So would you say then that is as far as as a writer goes, you're regardless of the genre, the male POV is more of a light hearted kind of you like cowboys more of a Down to Earth. Yep. Okay. caretaker. Yes. Yeah. protector, the provider. My current one is a cop. Yeah. Got that. I mean, the cops that we want to know and love. That's what they are. They are the protectors, they are the ultimate protectors so nice. And Skyler and I have talked about this a lot. You know, one of the things that we try to remind people, whenever we talk about romances, everything that we do we understand that the real world is different. Yes, you know, we're looking for the, the fantasy, the dream of whatever it is that we're reading about. So if it's a cowboy, I want it to be a dream cowboy, or, you know, rice, or, you know, whatever. It's like, you don't want the reality because nobody wants to read about punchy, middle aged guys who you know, like, you know, asleep. That's that's not to drink too much beer. Yeah. Yeah. That's funny. Now reality adjacent is sans term. You know, we're writing reality adjacent stories here. So with your publishing I, you're mostly focused on Daddy, Dom, correct? No, with our publishing house to go all over the spectrum and kinky, so long as there's an element of kink into the books we will take, we'll be more than happy to look at your story. Oh, okay. That's great with an eye towards publishing it, it doesn't all need to be daddy DOM. That's just what I seem to be writing the most of these days. Is the daddy Don stuff. And what made you I mean, I know as a publishing house, you have to focus like you can't, unless you have all the money in the world and all the stuff in the world, which, of course, would be a dream, you have to decide I don't quite have all that. Yeah, you have to you have to have some sort of focus. So what made you choose high heat kinky was just what we write. It's what I've been writing. It's where my friends are my author friends, it's where my readers are. And that just makes, you know, they say write what, you know, I've been writing since I was 17. Like I said, live the lifestyle. This is what I know, this is where my interests are. My romances have never in the history of ever not had an element of some kind of kink in it. They're with you, kind of they're with you. Even though it was very younger, very much younger. Yeah, they always did. So. I just can't imagine doing it without having some level in there. Right? Which makes sense. So you are marketing what you know, as a writer, and as an author friend in the industry. It just makes perfect sense. And it's a hot topic right now like it's, it's selling very, very well yet. It came bursting out of onto the scene with 50 Shades of Grey. I mean, this stuff has been published before then. But 50 Shades of Grey normalized it whether you love the books or don't and had amazing marketing. That's right. And again, it got to the everyday reader and it made it mainstream. It made it normal to have a little bit of kink in your romance. Open the door. Yeah, so that's awesome. Very much. Yeah. It's actually the gray or ale James Yeah. Yell, James. Okay, so favorite tropes when you're talking about sub genres. So any particular trope your favorite like obviously you like the alpha, man, I like Alpha Man, I'm not as fond of enemies to lovers lovers, because I don't like bickering. Right. I mean, some if the bickering can be fun if I'm writing humor, then I can write the bickering when it's just really there's an actual argument me to write if I can throw humor into it I'll do it in a heartbeat because those can be fun when it's funny but for the most part historical I am not good at historical right? I enjoyed it used to read it all the time. Me too but for my it's my readers don't look for it so they never do very well I just really enjoy mostly what I do is the contemporary these days sci fi a little bit when I want something that's different because I am a variety girl could you like anything like trapped alone in a by the weather or like you know the kinda I've been trapped in by the weather? I have done fake romance fake fake relationship Yeah. Which to me is a lot of fun those those are a lot of fun. Just have anyone that you've got the trappings you got to throw them together stuck with one another. Now they got to just make it work and you can have a whole lot of fun with that. So yeah, I really do have any that you don't like though, and it like ones that you well you said enemies to lovers not you're not your favorite thing. But is there anyone that knew just not mafia for myself? I have to steer clear from the mafia because I have a very hard time. I understand the trope I love to read the trope. But when I'm writing and I have to put myself emotionally in the place of the main character, whoever is the one it's very hard for me to get past The fact that these are people that hurt other people, right, right. It's hard for me to get into this is fiction. Mm hmm. Wouldn't it be awesome i love john wick could not write the john wick cares. Yeah, no, I understand. This is an actual This is actually a bad guy. Ya know? So it's it's hard for me to get past that is completely valid I mean, at a time where we romance bad guys, right? Yeah john wick isn't considered a bad guy I don't think really like watching it but we know that he is awesome. He is a bad guy. He was the bobby yuck he was the he was the boogeyman. He was the one that you call to get rid of the boogeyman. He yelled people, and that was his thing. Yeah. But I think as writers, we all have something that like we say that we can suspend our disbelief and you have written in many, many sub genre. So obviously, they're not all exactly your thing. But I think more there's just for as an author, there's always something that we just can't write like, I can't write cheating. That's my I can read it. I very rarely enjoy it. But that's just one thing for me that but there's other people who are like, they'll eat that up. They're like, Oh, redemption arc, you know, he cheated. And then they had to work through it. And I'm like, No, by. Yeah. But yeah, that's interesting. I find this a Schuyler West author, I have taken these hard line genres, sub genres of romance and redefine them for myself, because they're, at the end of the day, it all has to be, I don't want to say pretty, and says, I'm the ultimate fantasy writer. Nothing I write could really be real. But even my mafia stories are, he's not really in the mafia. He's trying to appease the mafia side of the family so he can run his legitimate Empire. Right, right. So he's not the guy that does the bad stuff. But he has to, unfortunately, deal with those people that do the bad stuff. And how does he navigate that? So that's in my series, the sons of Sicily, that's exactly what happens. And so that's what allowed me to dip into that sub genre without feeling like I had to compromise or dig into something that was dark, I redefined it. So unfortunately, being that type of writer, people are going to overlook a lot of my work, because they're going to have an assumption as to what it is. It's not evident. And that's hard. When you when you write into a dark sub genre when you want to, it's easier to pull dark readers into a light romance than it is to pull light readers into a dark romance. Right? Yeah, very true. Now, question for you. When you write your stories, what comes first, the characters or the story? It's different per story. Really. I'm all over the map. The one that I'm currently writing now is for the dirty daddy's 2021 anthology. I was watching a movie an old movie called double jeopardy. I don't remember if you guys remember that movie, Ashley Judd. And, yep, that dude, I really liked that I can never remember his name. Anyway, it got as far as she was released from prison. And she was moved to her halfway house if he is the parole officer at a halfway house. And all of a sudden, that gave me the entire story idea from for the dirty daddy's just a girl with the parole officer who has to watch her. And then I was like, Well, what if the parole officer is crooked? And what if the job that she is required to get puts her out on an illegal marijuana farm? And what if a person that she is being rescued by is the sheriff in this very small town who knows that things are quiet right there and who is sort of starting to investigate things, but what would happen if she got close to him and she's this poor innocent girl just wants to not go back to prison. And so I had her being pretty innocent from the start. It's called Daddy's little convict. And it all came about from watching that movie that just that one conceptual idea of a girl who is stuck with a crooked parole officer and who's going to believe her, no matter what happens, who's gonna believe her? Awesome, that's awesome. Yeah. But sometimes you just get ideas from anywhere. And sometimes it's it's usually an action and not a character that comes to me first. Me too. Yeah, usually, I come across the character will define themselves as I'm writing it, and usually an action or a specific thing that needs to happen for me to get my stories. That's awesome. So what have you read from a fan or a review? Perhaps that made you happy about a book or a series? Maybe you heard something or read something that kind of went it was all you needed to hear to just make them into a series or from something that I wrote from something? Yeah. Let anything stand out or type of thing you love when people say Or notice about your books, I have stopped reading a lot of my reviews, because it doesn't matter how many good ones you get, the ones that stick out in your head are the ones that were like, well, this sucks. Like, that's like, Why? Why did it suck? The ones that I think I like the most was the comments that actually mentioned me in the book that I wrote with Delta, James Reed, because there were very, very, very few comments that acknowledged that I was one of the authors on that book, which is odd, because that was in delta, James's series, right. And that was her baby right from the start. And it was awesome. But that that kind of made me feel better about having been in there. Because you know, when you you throw months into putting together a book, and I was so proud of that book, I thought it was fantastic. Some of the best writing I've done some of the best writing the Delta has done, but it didn't really do that great. And I was always been a little confused as to why I don't know what we missed the mark on. But we missed interesting something. But it was one of the best that I think that we had each of us ever done. And to have a few people that went on there and acknowledged that this was different from what I normally did, and that it was good help to keep me going at that part. Rather than slide into that little funk about, oh, I never ever want to Yeah, where are you? Are you just like, Oh, no, I never ever want to do this again. Or, you know, it's, it's hard when you're with when you're working on somebody else's baby, because you want to make so sure that you don't write outside of the parameters that that other person set for their so for themselves? Yeah, it's it's didn't want to compromise the vision. Yeah, yeah, don't end up. You want to make sure that your voices mesh really well. You want to have done a lot of CO writing or no, not very often, I've had a lot of people co write into my world, but I very rarely get to go out and co write into somebody else's. And so it's I know that I'm going to be doing another co author with pepper North this coming year, right. But I really kind of like getting invited when I'm doing to something else, because it's happened so rarely. It's awesome. When it does happen, though, it helps you just expand your your range. Yes, 100%. And I think also like I'm going through a growth spurt right now as a writer, because I'm writing under a second pen name for the first time. And there are definitely different aspects to that personality and who I am becoming friends with and who identify with as other writers than I would as Skylar West. So I find it in a very intriguing process for sure. Yeah. What was the worst thing somebody said about your book that just made you angry? Where you're just like, Really? Yeah. And then I talk about this from time to time because she hates it when people that only read 11 pages have an opinion. I don't even I don't mind them having an opinion. You know, you can put DNF page 15 you can put DNF page, whatever. But when you write a three page review, on those first 11 pages, I'm like, really? Okay. You have way too much free time on your hands. Right? Yeah, here's your laptop. Go ahead. If you want to do this write a story. Positive? Yes. The worst review the one review that I think I've received that that made me the angriest in a very laughing kind of way, because I don't typically get angry like this. It doesn't. It doesn't make sense to get angry. But this one was for the suffragettes. That was a story that I wrote a long time ago, early 2000s. And she was angry that I would take people in the feminist movement and involve them in a kink related story that was more domestic discipline than anything else, so that she was getting spanked by her hero. That's funny. And she said, you just set all of us back however many years because you would write this story that was meant for women everywhere. And I'm like, okay, just stop right there. My ancestors are the same as your ancestors. They both burned their bras. They both March they both went to jail. They were forced fed in prison, so that I could sit here and write this story in which a female character got spanked by her boyfriend. That's my right. Yeah, exactly. I don't want to hear me roar. And I'm gonna run a very kinky way. Yeah, it just it always amazes me when that it's like, you must be feminist in this way. Yeah, if you're a feminist, you must. This this, this, this, this, this and this. And I'm like, really, cuz I'm pretty sure what feminine means feminism means is I can do what I want. That's right. The freedom to be able to do it the way that I choose to do it that way that feels right for me without having to take into account your preference. Have you feel that this should be done for me? Yeah, and I did not tie you to the bed, put your eyes open with toothpicks and make you read my book. So just just don't. That's awesome. All right. Well, that that was actually good. That was quite spirited. Okay. So as a reader, you've already talked a little bit about this Marin, you like to read stuff that you don't like to write, or you'd like to. If you have written a lot up yet, like if you were going to write if you could write anything, not necessarily romance, but just like, you could have the ability to write and the desire to write anything genre any for Whoo. Nice. Yeah, I would go Total War just because it is completely opposite. The rules are completely different. Can you imagine how freeing it would be just to kill everybody on the page? So we're not just going horror, we're going like blue her. We're going There Will Be Blood there. Everyone dies? Yes. You know, what's funny is I don't know if you guys have ever seen American Horror Story, but it is got I love it. And they came up with a spin off series called American horror stories that is brand new 2021. And I love both of them. And as I'm sitting there watching these, I'm like, you are a romance writer. And you're, you're like, you have nightmares. What's wrong with you? Why are you watching this? But I really love tapping into these dark elements. Because most of it is crazy stuff. Like it's not you know, it's supernatural. Hmm. Right. So it's, it's easier to swallow. We talk a lot about wrappings. That's an easy wrapping for me to swallow. But it's so well done. And when I watch it, I feel the same way as like, I wish I could write this stuff, because it's so cool. For me. It's funny, I think that horror and horror stories and everything like that prove to me that I was a writer like I, because what would happen was like my friends would put on a horror movie, or they would or you know, they would talk about a horror book, or I would read, you know, one of Stephen King's book, I wasn't scared of the movie, or the book, or the whatever that like, I didn't get that throw when I read it. But what would happen is I would close my eyes at night. And I would be like, oh, but what if this had happened? And the end, like, I'd wake up in like a cold sweat. I like it. Like I took it in a whole worse direction. And I'm like, and people are like, Well, why don't you write that? I said, because I'll never sleep again. Like, I can't allow my brain to go down those What if I need my brain to go down the what if a hot ex Special Forces guy shows up and sweeps me off my feet? I can sleep beautifully with those slots. That's true. I read about that. I can I can. I can go down those paths. But yeah, no, it's I think those were the first hints to me that I had a writer trapped inside. So all right, one question that wasn't on the list. But I did want to ask you was what's one thing about you that people probably don't know, but is, you know, doesn't necessarily have to do with writing. But it's something interesting that one thing about me that people might not know, I'm very, very hard to offend. I am very, very hard to offend. I'm hard to get angry. I'm very easy to approach. I'm not scary at all. I promise. I get a lot of I'm so scared to go up and talk to her. Would you introduce me to Martin Smith? Just kind of come on. Wow. That's interesting. You're so warm and welcoming. I never would have thought that you were any apparently I scare a lot of people. Okay, but to be fair, the first time I met you, you were in a pool. So you know, with right, viewpoint here. That's awesome. So as an author, I know you've alluded to a few things, but are you working on anything specific? Well, always. Yeah. Yeah, I was gonna say we talked about the the anthology for 21 Yeah, I've got the I've got a Daddy's little convict which is going in the DD and D. I've got I can't even talk about a couple of them. But I've got one that's coming up the beginning of next year that I'm very, very excited about. It's it's also going to be an anthology. I think there's like 10 of us that are going to be in it and it'll be a contemporary kind of paranormal ish and I can't say anything about it but I'm really looking forward to it I got such Oh, so really what you need to tell us everybody is your T's I'm very sorry I'm trying but I can't really because the last thing you you know that you want to do is announced project beforehand, right and then a piston somebody else will come up with a said that's a really great idea. We should do that too. The next thing you know there's two of them at the same time coming up same Yeah. totally acceptable. Yeah. Okay, so how about um, as a publisher? Or is there anything specifically that you're looking at putting out in the next couple of weeks or want to put out? Oh, we are redoing some of em Bradley's books that are, I'm very excited about their beautiful stories, they didn't quite do very well at the time that they were released, which can be because of the marketing wasn't quite right. Title wasn't correct for the genre, or the blurb wasn't correct for the genre, or the cover wasn't correct. Yeah, yeah. I understand that Skylar West has a problem with all those things. You know, cuz you've got a very small chance to hook a reader. Yes. You can't hook it on the cover. They'll never read the blurb can't hook it on the blurb It's over. It's over. Yeah. So when you miss both those marks, you good story can languish and we're looking at some of the her San Francisco Dom series, Oh, nice. And looking at releasing those and rebranding them and getting her back up into the public eye now after her illness and and yeah, I'm really happy about those, I'm happy about just the fact that we were able to start a publishing house, and now have people that have an option. If they can't go to SNP which is a fantastic publishing house. It really is. But they've got a very small window that they're currently going for in a very small niche market. And if you don't write in that small niche market, I wanted to be able to provide an honest publishing house that people could turn to right now. I don't want to say that data Dom's, but I've got several of them up there. And it's hard not to preferential, I'm just, I enjoy them so much. And I love being able to read what other people do because it helps refresh me. Like the words that they use or the actions that they use. It's a constant, refreshing, and it's why readers or writers should read. I've got a brand new one from Morgana, Williams and jack Crosby, which is coming out, which is a very fun concept. And I wish I could say things about that one too. But it's a mafia Undertaker sort of story to it. And I can't wait for that one to hit the markets. That one I just love the reading the writing style between the two of them. fantastic job, they really did a fantastic job. I can't think of too much, mostly what we've got because we've we're so new. And we've just started. And although we've got projects over the next three months, it's hard to know what you can talk about. And what you can't just get. Alright, well, what we'll do is we will get all of your links, and we will put them up in the show notes so that people can look on your page to see what's coming out. And by the time this comes out, some of those things may already be some of your secrets may already be revealed. But I want to thank you very much for coming on on the show today. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Both of you. Oh, it was an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much. All right. Thank you. Thanks, Marin. Thank you for listening to coast to coast drove ads. I'm Ann Jensen, and I'm Skyler West. If you'd like to contact either of us. Our links are located in the show notes. Have a great week. Thanks so much for joining us.