Tina was a wonderful volunteer to become part of my Making Love 101 interviews. Her romance Deep, Dark, Delicious was our jumping off point and Rafe and Eden gave us a very hot and steamy basis to talk about how Tina goes about creating love in her own books. I am excited about not only what we got to talk about in this Making Love 101, but also that she and I got to make some loose plans for another interview about her book In His Arms. I can’t wait! Thanks so much for your time, Tina!
Tina Donahue’s Making Love 101:
After Rafe votes Eden off of the cooking program she needs to win to stay afloat and keep her house AND be able to eat, he offers to become her first tenant in her bed and breakfast plan. Eden’s idea is to cook and clean for her guest while they stay. Rafe spends the entire time there going on and on about how great her dishes are. Does Eden need that validation from him because he voted her off the show or because she values his opinion and respects him for being the chef he is?
Eden values Rafe for being a master chef. She KNOWS she’s a great chef, but he’s a God in the kitchen. Although she’s confident of her expertise, she still appreciates his validation of her talents.
Deep, Dark, Delicious is a very decadent read. The two main characters Eden and Rafe have this combustible chemistry fed by months worth of being unable to act on their incredible hunger for one another. When you were first developing this love story was Rafe as dominating and forceful as he is in the final book? How was the evolution of Eden’s character affected as you re-drafted the book?
I’d always planned for Rafe to be an Alpha hero. Is there any other kind? 🙂 I love a man who knows what he wants and goes after it.
Eden’s personality remained true also. I plot out all my stories before I write one word of the first draft. So the characters are pretty much set from the get-go.
This is awfully fine erotica between the pages of Deep, Dark, Delicious but while I was reading even the first few encounters it always felt to me that they were both heavily emotionally invested. Was it your intention to craft in a romantic element from the very start?
Absolutely. My tag line is “Heat with Heart”. To me, sex without romance or a heavy emotional investment between the characters isn’t as rewarding as two people who are genuinely interested in each other as people. Sex is enhanced by emotions. A great orgasm begins in the brain, not between your legs.
Eden has a very pliable personality in reference to Rafe. I still wouldn’t label her submissive although she will submit to his passions. In one part of the novel she has a moment of pause where she wonders if Rafe has a history of playing the games he plays with her with the women previous to her. Is Rafe’s aggressive and explorative nature specific to Eden just as her own desire to please him is specific to him alone?
While Rafe’s no choirboy, he’s not simply playing games with Eden. He wants her badly and for all time. So yeah, his nature in the book is specific to Eden. Her desire to please him is basically against her nature. She saw what wanting a guy did to her mom and she’s tried to fight it. But with Rafe, Eden can’t help but want him.
Food and sex have a long history of being connected with a hedonistic lifestyle. At one time it was seen to be quite sinful and shameful. Eden and Rafe probably committed a lot questionable acts of self-indulgence and pleasure seeking but if you were to have to apply one of the seven sins to each of them what would you say they would be and did you write your character with that flaw or did your character tell you that that was their flaw?
In terms of sin, I’d have to say lust for both of them. They want each other. No doubt about that. And nothing wrong with it. Hey, I wish I had that kind of passion in my life! 🙂
Eden’s best friend Trish quickly became one of my favorite parts of the book. I loved the part where she was giving her the third degree in the guest house about what Eden had done with Rafe and just how it had been done. She sounded like a cross between an interrogator and a tabloid reporter getting a scoop. What was Trish supposed to be to the story?
I love Trish too. She made me laugh. She was there so Eden could express her feelings, her doubt about what’s happening with her and Rafe. Remember, Eden is afraid to get close to men, because of how they’d affected her mother’s life and hers. So, Eden needed to talk about her feelings with someone, and I created Trish so she could do that.
If you were to review your own books what would you have to say about them? Tell me what you feel are the strong part and the weak parts about your novellas and in hindsight is there anything that you might have changed.
I’d like to say that they’re not simply about sex, there’s also a satisfying romance between the characters. A bond that’s soul-deep.
Strong points: Humor. I find that very easy to write. Dialogue too.
Weak parts: Transitions. They’re murder for me. Trying to move smoothly from one point of the story to the other without the plot seeming to jerk. As if something’s missing.
Rafe is very much an Alpha male. What sort of males appeal to you when you are writing a romance book? What sort of heroines do you like to write?
I’m definitely into Alpha males. However, they also have to be tender and cherishing. I don’t like arrogant jerks. A sense of humor is also a plus.
I like my heroines to be assertive, but still willing to love, to give their all to a man who deserves them.
The best characters, IMO, are simply good people who sound like good people when you’re reading about them.
You have so many novels. What is the difference between how you structured love stories when you first began writing Romance Novels and how you do it today?
The longer I write, the more I realize I have a lot to learn and improve on. A lot of my author friends feel the same. When you start to write, everything sounds wonderful. The more you write, the more you realize that you can improve this word or phrase, this plot point needs to be clearer, etc. etc. It’s a never-ending process to get better.
When you are crafting a story do you have any special key elements you find yourself using over and over again that you feel have become an unconscious signature plot device or symbol of love or favored love making act?
Possibly the backgrounds I create for my characters, which adds to the story’s conflict.
I like to explore issues in my books. For example, “In His Arms” involved sexual slavery. “Sensual Stranger” involved homelessness and parental abuse. Many of my heroines feel they’re too curvy, given our skinny-at-any-cost culture.
To me, these issues add depth to the characters and the plot.
Along the same lines–do you ever feel like you developing similar character traits through your many books? Or do you feel that there are any similarities in how those many characters in your various books begin to fall in love?
There’s always similarities – it can’t be helped. People are people and act predictably.
It’s like recording a song. There are only so many ways you can say something in lyrics and so many ways you can message a tune to make it seem different. Basically, they’re all the same with variances. If they were truly different, unlike anything anyone has heard, could be no one would like them.
The same goes for romances. You have the basic ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl’. The way the author expands on that is what’s unique, not the general concept.
If someone who had never read any of your stories was to ask you to recommend them a book from each genre you have written what would be the list you would give them and why would you choose those books?
That’s a difficult question.
If someone were looking for a gripping story in my romances, I’d suggest
IN HIS ARMS – it deals with sexual slavery. Also SENSUAL STRANGER – which deals with parental abuse. And my newest SEVEN SENSUOUS DAYS – which explores how obsession with a loved one can lead to tragedy.
For paranormal (with a dash of sci-fi), I’d have to say ILLICIT DESIRE – it deals with freedom, identity, and what one will risk for love.
For menage, I’d say SINFULLY WICKED, which touches upon how bullying
changes a person’s life.
What is the ultimate love story ever told as far as you are concerned?
Wow, that’s hard to say, I’ve loved so many.
For a classic, I’d have to say “Jane Eyre”
For contemporary, I’d have to say “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Technically, it wasn’t a love story or a romance, but the relationship between Lisbeth and Mikael really moved me. Lisbeth had such an awful childhood, she’d been abused so much, she found it hard to trust. The fact that she opened up at all to Mikael was a miracle.
Thanks for being part of Making Love 101!
Tina Donahue Bio:
Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic romance, and an admitted chocoholic known to down semi-sweet candy bars in grocery checkout lines. She lives with her family in Palm Springs, California, where tires melt in the 120-degree summer heat and an occasional earthquake puts everyone on notice to bolt things down. When she’s not writing her steamy stories, trying to stay cool, or crawling beneath her desk during a trembler, she loves shopping, eating at her favorite Mexican restaurant and meeting other authors. Before she wrote romance, Tina was the editor of an award-winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.
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Deep, Dark, Delicious Synopsis:
A wickedly sensual feast…Eden DeCarlo may have narrowly lost Miami’s best chef competition and the prize money she desperately needs, but she has caught the eye of dangerously virile Rafael Zayas, one of the judges and a wealthy restaurateur. Despite her vow not to let any man derail her life, Eden’s captivated by Rafe’s imposing masculinity, then challenged by the business deal he offers. He’ll invest in her new venture if, for one month, she can satisfy his culinary expectations and the sexual attraction they both feel.Dominant and unashamed, Rafe knows what he wants when it comes to carnal pleasure and will spare no seduction to have Eden in all the ways he demands-naked, wanting, submissive.Within thirty days, he will teach her the delights of yielding to passion, relinquishing all control to him and fulfilling her deepest, darkest and most delicious desires.
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