Sarah Morgan wrote a scene about a ripped bridesmaid dress and wasn’t sure what to do with it, until she was invited to participate in Cosmo‘s Red Hot Reads.
Zola: Your new novel Ripped has been named a Cosmo Red Hot Read! In your opinion, why did Ripped make the list? Was is more for the sizzling sex scenes or the genuine love story between hero and heroine? Or is it simply the dazzling combination of the two?
Sarah Morgan: The Cosmo Red Hot Reads are fun, super sexy contemporary stories featuring strong, independent heroines, and it just so happens that’s my favourite type! I think what makes Ripped right for Cosmo is that, like many of their readers, the heroine is living a fulfilled, independent life. Hayley has her own career, a circle of good friends, and she’s doing her best to negotiate the modern dating scene. She doesn’t need a man, but of course he’s the icing on the cake! The sex scenes do sizzle a little hotter than usual, but that’s partly because the story is told in first person. There is genuine feeling between these two people and they make a great couple. They’re different, but equal. I loved writing this story so much.
Zola: The plot in Ripped is set in motion with a bridesmaid’s terrible wardrobe malfunction at her ex’s wedding. What inspired this embarrassing scene? Has anything similar ever happened to you?
SM: Fortunately not! I would have died of shame on the spot. Hayley would also have died of shame had it not been for the intervention of the best man! I have no idea what inspired that scene, but about two years ago I was working on a different book and it wasn’t going too well. Instead of struggling on, I gave myself a day off and wrote something completely different. I had a really clear image in my head of the ripped dress scene so I just wrote it down the way I saw it happening. I enjoyed writing it so much, but at the time it didn’t fit with any of the projects I was working on, so I filed it away, hoping to come back to it later. When my editor invited me to be part of the Cosmo Red Hot Reads programme, I knew straight away I’d found a home for my ripped dress scene! I sent it through to her, she replied ten minutes later telling me she loved it, so I finished the story and then wrote a second one about Hayley’s sister Rosie. That book is called Burned and will be out in May 2014.
Zola: Protagonists Hayley and Nico are seemingly opposites at first, but it turns out an initial spark reveals their perfect chemistry. Do you prefer to write about couples who sometimes clash or those who don’t tend to challenge one another as much?
SM: An element of conflict is always good because it raises the tension, but the most important thing to me is that the hero and heroine are equals. They might have different strengths and weaknesses, but each will bring something important to the relationship. Hayley and Nico are different in personality, but they have great chemistry and they both genuinely like each other. That’s important!
Zola: For those readers who may not have read Harlequin Presents titles before, what exactly are characteristics of the category?
SM: Presents is known for its international settings, glamour, sophistication, and the alpha hero. For me, it’s important to match just the right heroine with the hero for the story to work. The alpha hero is strong, but not a bully, and his actions should always be well motivated.
Zola: Which of your Harlequin Presents titles would you recommend as a first read for anyone looking to try it out?
SM: For readers who haven’t tried my Harlequin Presents before, I’d suggest Doukakis’s Apprentice or A Night of No Return, both of which won RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America for best short contemporary romance. Recently I wrote my first full length novel for HQN, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, which is the first in a series of three books about the O’Neil Brothers and is set in snowy Vermont. After writing Harlequin Presents and the Cosmo Red Hot Read novellas, I’m really enjoying writing longer-length stories.
Zola: Do you have a favorite indie bookstore?
SM: This past weekend I was fortunate enough to sign my first full length novel, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, MD, alongside Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, and other fabulous authors. Turn the Page is a book lover’s paradise, with different rooms stacked high with books, a cute children’s area, and great coffee! It’s the sort of place that invites the reader in and encourages them to spend time browsing with like minded people. I loved it!