May 16, 2011

Spotlight On... Mary Hughes

Today please help me welcome Mary Hughes, author of super-sexy, super-funny vampire romances. Mary, I'm thrilled to be a host of your Biting Me Softly blog tour. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sarah, thanks so much for having me here today! Basics: wife and mother, earn my living with my passions writing, computer programming, and playing flute. I think and read way too much but compensate for it by listening a lot more than I talk.

At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.

My first experience with writing was transcribing my favorite story, Bambi, at age seven via an old Underwood manual typewriter. I started typing my own stories on a new PC when pregnant with my first child. I made my first sale twenty years later (I tended to write two novels for every rejection I got :)

The Call (or The Email actually) came after an unlikely sequence of events. I like combining weird things so tend to be ahead of the market (like mashing mystery and paranormal, which twenty years ago just didn't sell). I'd gotten totally fed up with rejections and let loose, writing a story incorporating all the things I knew I did well. It combined vampires, action, comedy, and explicit sex and I had a total ball writing it. But when it came to selling it, well, nobody was buying all that in one package. Until an anthology call from the amazing Samhain Publishing asked for exactly that. I wrote a shortie in the series and submitted it. It didn't make the anthology but was passed on to another editor who requested revisions. Since I had a full-length novel in the series ready, I asked to submit that in the meantime. She read it, loved it, and bought it.

Tell us about BITING ME SOFTLY and where we can find it

He’s a candy box of sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. She’s on a diet.

Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert and lip-smacking gorgeous Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. And threatening her job.

Visions of pink slips dancing in her head, Liese tries to push Logan away without touching his jutting pecs& or ridged abs. Or petting the Vesuvius in his jeans. He’s hiding something, but it doesn’t seem to matter when his smiles stun her, his kisses crank her to broiling and his bites rocket her to heaven. Fangy bites which, if she weren’t grounded in science, would make her think ampire-Vay.

Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan’s mission is to fortify the Blood Center’s electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He’s ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places and tastes like his true love.

No matter how often Logan declares his love, Liese can’t bring herself to trust him. But when his archenemy comes after her, not trusting him may cost her life.

Warning: contains explicit vampire sex involving absurdly large male equipment (hey, they’re monsters), unbelievable stamina (just how long can he stay underwater in a hot tub?), hide-your-eyes violence and horrendously bad puns. And, just when you think it can’t get any worse, a computer geekette trying to play Mata Hari.

What is the hardest scene you had to write in this book?

I write stories that are explicit in both sex and language, packed with action and definitely mature. But I also think they're emotionally safe stories. I'm not going to kill off any good guys or seriously compromise their morality. So I always work hardest on the scenes that poke at a soreness in an important relationship. In this book my heroine Liese deals with her mom going rebellious because the mom's dealing with cancer. Heavy topics and potentially dangerous so I work very hard on painting the topics honestly but with a light enough brush that they're dramatic but not maudlin. It's a delicate balance.

What was your first reaction when you got a glimpse of your cover art?

I drooled. Honestly, I'd buy this one for the cover alone :D

So would I! Which of your novels most reflects who you are as a writer? Why?

Probably Bite My Fire. It was the first I wrote in the series, but I learned so much after publishing Biting Nixie that I went back and rewrote Fire. Then my editor had more changes and I did another rewrite on the beginning three chapters. Of all my books, I think Fire was the one that I most had to use technique rather than muse.

As an author, what makes a book great in your eyes?

Half is clean vivid prose. Dorothy Dunnett can do more with a single character gesture than most authors can in a whole chapter. The other half is compelling story, but compelling is mostly dictated by a reader's personal taste.

What advice would you give to the new/unpublished author?

Write the story inside you that demands to be told. Then put it away and write another. Take out the first after you've forgotten what you wrote. Read it like a reader, not the author. Mark the places you're uncomfortable. You may not know how to fix them right away, but it's the first step in learning the vital art of self-editing.

Never give up is great advice too, but I think superfluous. If you're an author, you can't give up. You're always writing, if only telling yourself stories in your head. Oh, and make a card that says * SUCCESS* and post it where you can see it. That's you, baby.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you began your writing career?

How about the three things I wish I hadn't known? :) When you're published you have to deal with negative reviews, marketing yourself, and challenging yourself to get better at your craft every day. I knew all that and wondered if I would be up to it, which scared me, which really ended up making me doubt myself and my writing. Which I think delayed my getting published at least a decade. The fact is, you'll learn what you need and do what you need to in order to reach your readers. In the context of reaching readers, it all becomes much less frightening. It's a lot of hard work (and negative reviews still blow), but understandable, good work.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what should the title be?

The Introverted Performer

Is there anything you would like to ask your readers?

Dear Reader: What makes a story memorable to you?

Thanks for visiting with me today, Mary!

Biting Me Softly
by Mary Hughes

When I first clapped eyes on Logan, I thought, Hot damn. Look what the Sex Fairy brung me!

It was eight p.m. Sunday night, and I was at work. I do computers for the Meiers Corners Blood Center. The staff is me, the executive director and a part-time nurse named Battle. I was the only one who worked insane hours, but I was new and still trying to prove myself.

I don’t know what made me look up. The cool March air, perhaps. Maybe the aroma wafting in, mystery and magic with overtones of raw sex.

Whatever it was, my eyes lifted and there he was, the most stunning male I’d ever seen. Smack-me-between-the-eyes gorgeous. Bright blond hair rippled to broad, muscular shoulders. Lean strength roped a long, lithe body. Laughter and intelligence sparked gold-flecked hazel eyes. Perfect lips curved in a smile so sensuous it made my innards go bang.

Then he opened his mouth and spoke. Talk about ruining perfection.

“Hello, gorgeous.” His tone was deep and lazy. “I want to speak to the computer man in charge.”

Right. Well that just spoiled everything, didn’t it?

I crossed my arms under my breasts. “You’re looking at him. I’m the head apple. Minus the stem, but those are overrated anyway.”

My sarcasm didn’t even faze the man. He tucked one spectacular ass cheek on my desk and leaned in, so close I could feel his warmth on my face. “You’re L. Schmetterling? How…fruitful. And what, my Red Delicious, does the L stand for? Laurie? Lucy? Lovely?”

All that male beauty and a tight ass on top of it. I’d been burned once by a man with a flabby butt and no hair. This man would incinerate me.

I clutched the reminder of male perfidy on my ring finger and screwed up my most forbidding expression. “It stands for Leave. As in Me Alone.”

“I live to do your bidding, princess,” the man crooned, his lips inches from mine. He had perfect, chiseled lips-the kind designed by Michelangelo for kissing. “But if you’re L. Schmetterling, I can’t leave. I have business with you.”

“Look, buddy.” It came out all husky-voiced. I let go of the ring and tried to work back to reasonable. “Look, I don’t know you, and it’s late. Business hours are nine to five Monday through Friday. Come back tomorrow.” I turned to my laptop and pretended I wasn’t quivering to taste those chiseled lips. “You’re just lucky I was here.”

“Oh, I knew you’d be in.” The man stood with lazy grace, the kind latent with power. I watched him from the corner of my eye. He was really quite big and though his body was lean, his shoulders were stunningly broad. He would be immensely strong. He leaned knuckles on my desk. “You work late every night. Most nights you’re here until ten or eleven. Alone.” His tone held a touch of censure.

Strangely enough, I hadn’t been afraid of him until then. My eyes jerked to his. Hard steel underlay his friendly expression.

I swallowed rising panic—though I was a black belt in Taekwondo, short and kicky was shit against strong and prowly. “What did you say your name was?”

“I didn’t.” He pulled a small leather case from his jeans pocket and tossed a business card on my desk with a careless snap of the wrist. The card should have skipped like a stone and sailed into my wastepaper basket. It landed right under my nose.

Gorgeous and talented. This guy would bear watching. Aw, shucks, my libido said. I ignored it. Eyes locked on him, I picked up the card. Dared a glance. Logan Steel, CEO Steel Security.

Smack me in the face with a Toshiba. Steel Security was the firm that installed a multimillion-dollar security system at Andersly-Dogget Distribution, my first job—one week before I was fired.

“Water under the bridge, Liese,” my mother would say. “Put it behind you.” Moms are always right, especially mine. But right doesn’t equal easy.

I threw the card back. It hit the desk and rebounded into the trash, making my cheeks heat. “You can’t be serious! Steel Security is the Ferrari of security firms. They do the biggest names in the world. Why would they be in little Meiers Corners?”

“We are here to install a system.” Steel perched gracefully on my desk again. In his tight black T-shirt and open leather jacket he looked more like a well-muscled fashion model than a CEO.

“No way. Our Blood Center isn’t Red Cross. Most people have never heard of the Hemoglobin Society. On the galactic scale of Steel Security, we’re not even a comet.”

Steel grinned at that, a smile so sharp and white that I was momentarily blinded. “Nice pun.”

Wow. Mr. Fortune 500 (and Body 300) thought I was amusing?

Then reality kicked me in the teeth. I was a geek. When I talked, eyes glazed over. Amusing? Sure, and the Sex Fairy was real. “Why are you actually here?”

“Here’s the work order, if you don’t believe me.” Mr. Logan Great-Ass pulled a paper out of his back pocket. Since his jeans were so tight they must have been painted on his incredible tush, I wondered how there could possibly have been room. He unfolded the paper and tossed it onto my desk with as much flair as the card. “You’re wrong, Ms. Schmetterling. Gorgeous, but wrong.”

Gorgeous? I shot to my feet. “Now I know you’re lying. Fun time’s over. There’s the door.”

Sleek eyebrows arched. “I assure you, everything’s in order.”

“You’ve forged those papers. Or…or maybe they’re real, but the company’s been typed over. I don’t know what your game is, Mr. Steel, but this woman’s not playing.”

“No games, Ms. Schmetterling.” Leaning across the desk, he hooked my chin with one long finger. “Though if you want games, I could be persuaded.”

And he pressed his sculpted mouth to mine.

Steel’s lips were smooth and warm and he knew how to use them. His kiss was the magical brush of angel wings. Heavenly golden heat spread through me, stunned me. My eyelids fluttered closed. Excitement hit me low in the belly, hot, shocking excitement that bubbled up as a soft moan of pleasure.

At the sound, Logan licked my lips open. Angel wings became angel fire. “You taste wonderful. All hot and wet. Mmm, can’t get enough.” His kiss deepened, his tongue started to plunge.

Heat flamed through me, spiraling quickly past my temperate zone. I was kissing a virtual stranger but it was so good, better than seven-layer chocolate sin cake. Logan nibbled at my lips, his teeth extraordinarily sharp. Instinctively I knew I was about two seconds from clamping my ankles around his superb ass, and damn the consequences.

Hugs from Hughes! Bestselling author Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and writer. At various points in her life she has taught Taekwondo, worked in the insurance industry, and studied religion. She is intensely interested in the origins of the universe. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. But she thinks that with all the advances in modern medicine, childbirth should be a lot less messy. To learn more about Mary, please visit



Sarah Grimm said...


It's great to have you as my guest today. LOVE your excerpt! And, yes, I've already ordered my copy of Biting Me Softly. I can't wait to read it!


Debra St. John said...

Hi Mary and Sarah,

I am a vampire girl, so your series seems like just the thing for me. Love the titles. Love the covers. Love the concept!

Great blurb...this one is a must-read!

Vivi Andrews said...

Hi Mary & Sarah! Great interview! What makes a story memorable? For me, I think it's the author's voice and when the characters feel real enough to me to walk right off the page. Love that.

I totally loved Biting Me Softly. Such a fabulous read.

Mary Hughes said...

Hey Sarah! And I got your Not Without Risk--LASR Best Book nominee, congrats! Looking forward to reading it!

Hi Debra! vampires combine such delicious opposites, don't they? Love your This Can't Be Love cover too!

Hey Vivi! Voice is tops, definitely. Congrats on your best-seller new release Serengeti Sunrise!

Mary Ricksen said...

I almost want to yell, "bite my neck!"
I love the quote about the box of candy wrapped with a golden bow!
Really great tag line!!!
Good luck with this must read!!!

Mary Hughes said...

Hi Mary! Thanks for your awesome comments (loved the "bite my neck")! And congratulations on your recent paperback release of Tripping Through Time!

susan said...

This was fun to read and enjoyed the article, thanks for sharing it with us. I have not read any of your books YET but I will be looking for them and they sure sound good. Biting Me Softly has mine interest very much. susan Leech