Monday, July 10, 2006

Make-Believe Mondays With Shelley Bradley

Today on Make-believe Mondays I would like to introduce Shelley Bradley. You may know Shelley as a historical romance author, but she also writes contemporary erotic romance for Berkley.

Shelley, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Shelley: DANGEROUS AND DELICIOUS is second of my erotic romances for Berkley Heat under my Shayla Black pseudonym. It’s a ménage book with two sexy heroes, both with deep emotional issues to overcome, and a heroine who, despite her inexperience, will teach them both about what’s important. It’s a lot of fun to sink down into this candied fantasy world and romp with these three characters!

Mark Twain said, “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” How do you fill your creative well to keep your imagination in focus?

Shelley: MUSIC!! I’m not a visual creature, so when I write, I feel my stories. Music, for me, helps me channel my feelings and put them down on the page. Different characters and stories have different songs. For instance, DANGEROUS AND DELICIOUS has a hero who is sure that this three-way relationship in the book is a HUGE mistake. His feelings are so perfectly reflected in Depeche Mode’s “Precious.”

Special and fragile things
Need special handling
My God, what have we done to you?
We always tried to share
The tenderest of care
Now look what we have put you through…

In all sorts of music, I find inspiration, help in describing emotion, understanding of characters and their growth. I’m always trying new music and when something hits me in the heart and in the gut, it goes on my iPod. I’ll find a future use for it.

We hear so much about the visual, but music can be just as solid a path into imagination.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Shelley: Almost from the word “go.” Characters wander into my head and start telling me their stories. Plot comes later, slower. That’s really a much more difficult process for me. But characters are there and alive. They also tell me their names, and sometimes I don’t even like them. But they’re not negotiable.

I have a theory about story, at least when it comes to me telling it: It’s all in my sub-conscious. I just have to get out of the way long enough for the story to come out. So, once I know the plot, I just start typing. The characters, whether I like their names or not, are driving the bus. I simply try to strap on a seatbelt and go for the ride.

Debra: Yes. It's about being open to the imagination. What trust it takes to strap on that seatbelt, but what a wonderful ride!

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Shelley: Occasionally. I don’t think it’s an exactly remembered dream, except in rare instances. It’s more like my sub-conscious using dreams to work through different scenarios and possibilities in my head so that when I wake up, I know what to do. That’s a great feeling, especially when I wasn’t sure what to do with the story the previous night. Also, I think dreams relax me enough to tune out daily stresses and tune in to what my characters are saying to me.

Debra: I think you're right. Our characters can speak to us in dreams and maybe we're more receptive during that dream state.

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Shelley: Honestly? Pretty much what I’m doing now. I love the blend of erotic and romance, of human issues and character growth, with a little suspense, a little comedy, and a lot of attitude thrown in. I LOVE what I’m doing!

Shelley, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Visit Shelley at

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