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Monday, March 15, 2010


You’ve waited for it. You’ve yearned for it. You’ve been tempted to skip ahead and get right to it.

The love scene. It’s all about how it feels.

As a writer, I want you satisfied and coming back for more. But, how do I get there? And get there without embarrassing both of us!

At the top of the list of questions readers ask romance novelists, along with “are you the heroine in your book” is “how do you write love scenes”?

Whether your reading taste is for sweet romance or hot and spicy, at some point you look forward to physical contact between the hero and heroine. It’s as natural as …well, as natural as sex.

I write contemporary romantic fiction. My books are aimed at adult readers, mainly women, but many men have read and liked my stories. I make no apologies for the sexual content, explicit descriptions or high sexual tension in my writing.

But, I do have rules.

The level of the relationship must be part of a strong story line. No, they do not have to have pledged everlasting love to get to the point of intimacy, but something in that first physical encounter will change them both, forever. This isn’t just romantic hogwash that just happens in novels. Every time people bond sexually, there are changes, commitments spoken or unspoken, hurts, joys and revelations. There are often disappointments. It is because we are human. Often men and women have very different responses to a pair bond and the character of those bonds are never the same. Some are brief, some everlasting, many fraught with confusion and heartbreak. But no one walks away from even the most casual sexual encounter without a reaction. It’s how we are made.

When I write a love scene, I want my reader to feel something and that something isn’t all physical. Sure, if you feel a tingle…that’s a good thing. But, I also want to evoke an emotional response. This isn’t going to be a “how to” manual. Most of us have done the deed; we don’t need to be told how to put “this” into “that”. (Although I think we have all read the scene where we close the book and wonder if the writer has ever done this herself!). What we haven’t experienced is the different emotional and physical responses other people have. My characters are those other people.

They react within their character parameters.

I like to explore the way intimacy feels, in our hearts and minds as well as in our bodies.

The language I use to express those feelings is crucial. People, characters, think in their own voices and with their own vocabulary. It’s important to keep the characterization throughout the book and be wary of making a love scene that feels tacked on as though it is not part of the story but an expected interlude to sell a book. The scene must advance the story. It needs to be a natural progression of a relationship.

Writing convincing intimacy is not easy. For many authors, it is the most challenging part of a book.

I want to create a scene that fits the story, characters, language and genre. Most of all, I want to express feelings: good, bad, elated, awkward and possibly earth shattering.

In my new release, Angel’s Share, the main characters had been lovers in the past. Years, distance, pain and sorrow have come between them. They knew one another before, but now they have both changed and the path to intimacy is a rough one. They need to learn afresh what loving one another is like.

Here’s a taste of Angel’s Share:

Time was meaningless. It might have been hours or only minutes before his lips found hers.

Kerry’s body responded with a shudder reaching deep into her core. Could she lose herself in Aidan? Could he take away the hollow darkness and fill her with light and joy? Was it worth the risk to let her mind and body slip past reality and fly into timeless space in this man’s arms?

Kerry wound her fingers into the hair at the base of his neck and leaned back to look in his eyes. She wanted him to know it was her decision, fully her choice.

“Aidan, make love to me.”

His eyes searched her face. “Are you sure, Kerry?”

“Yes.” She could feel his heart crash against his ribs.

Kerry watched his hands as he worked her out of her blouse and then her skirt. Aidan’s perfect hands—they reminded her of a DaVinci sketch. She had watched him once as he stitched up a wound on a small boy, the way he tied the sutures, agile and sure. It amazed her how those hands could soothe or ignite a fire in her.

He moved with deliberation as though unwrapping a long-awaited gift. Aidan laid feather light kisses on each inch of flesh he exposed until she lay naked in the aureate stream of afternoon light that shone through the window.

“I didn’t think it possible, but you’re more beautiful than I remember.” His fingers traced a burning path from the curve of her jaw to the tip of one breast. Kerry’s nipples tightened. Aidan kindled a flame only he could quench.

She found the buttons of his shirt and loosed them one by one. Against the heated honey-hued skin of his breast, tethered by a cord, lay a golden circlet. It caught the light and seemed to be alive with possibility. Kerry touched it, sought the magic of its connection with their past and allowed herself to hope.

“You still have this?” she asked, not so much in surprise as wonder.

“I was never able to leave you behind. I tried. I ran half way around the world to forget you.” He stood, stripped and tossed his clothes on a chair beside the bed. She reached for him and ran her hand along the muscle of his thigh and beckoned him back to her.

Aidan’s body had always had a classic elegance. Now, he appeared stronger, more mature, lean and catlike. The subtle transformation frightened and excited her beyond all caution.

He smiled as though he had read her face. “I thought about you, dreamed of you, longed to touch you again,” he whispered and then kissed her mouth.

Aidan was a great kisser. Was it instinct? He could be light as the touch of a dragonfly wing or demanding as a warrior battling for the heart’s prize. His lips were an indulgent combination of firm plea and gentle urging. The taste of him—clean, warm, and spicy—was ambrosia to her starving spirit. With his tongue he explored the flesh of her neck and trailed kisses down between her breasts where her heart beat a rhythm that surged through her to places she’d forgotten she owned.

Angel’s Share is the second book in The Fadό Trilogy and is available in paperback and e formats, along with the first in the trilogy, Butterfly, from, most online book sellers and your local bookstores.

Please go to my web site to learn more about my upcoming releases.

Clare Austin has been courting a love of literature since reading The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins in primary school. Now, inspired by a belief in a happy ending and a passion for lyrical prose, Clare spins her own tales of romance with a touch of humor and pathos.

Clare makes her home at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband, their three horses and Maggie the Cairn terrier.

Butterfly, the first book in the Fadό Trilogy, available

Angel’s Share, the second book of the trilogy is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press for release March 2010.

Hot Flash, release from The Wild Rose Press, July 2010


Kathleen said...

After reading and loving Butterfly, I went to three different bookstores looking for Angel's Share, and finally ordered it online. You just can't drive too far or try too hard to find a Clare Austin book. I wish I were discovering someone with twenty novels under her belt, so I could go out and buy them all.

kristiegrimes said...

The way you explain your writing of intimate scenes is clear and succinct. I especially liked; 'People, characters, think in their own voices and with their own vocabulary'. When reading the love scene, I was struck by the complete believability of it.
Thank you for sharing,