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Sex in Books and Other Questions for Three Popular Houston Authros

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We took a few minutes to visit with Rusty Rhoad, Melissa Ohnoutka, and Will Graham, several popular Houston authors, just in time for eReader loading for some fun summertime reading!

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What genre do you write?

William: Mystery/Thriller with Romantic Elements.

Rusty: I struggle to answer this question. When I went to the HWG in 2012, I used my paid 10 minutes with a publicist to get her to give me a description of what I write. “Contemporary humorous fiction in the style of Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore” was what I came away with. Cross genre, doesn’t fit on any shelf.

But I have recently answered that question for myself, even if there still isn’t a shelf to put it on: I write Beta Male Fiction. My heroes don’t save the world, beat people up or shoot them, or generally act in a manly fashion. But I like having them for my imaginary friends.

Melissa: Like Rusty, I struggle with this one. I’ve classified my books as Romantic Suspense, but there’s more suspense than romance in most of them, with a little thrill and mystery mixed in as well.

Give us 5 words that describe your protagonist(s). Why those traits? Are they the same person in most of your books?

Rusty: Never the same person book-to-book. When I finish a book, my hero has grown enough that I don’t feel compelled to help him along any more. Time to shove him out of the next and start with somebody new.

Intelligent, sarcastic, indecisive, geeky, and attractive to women despite their geekiness (geek chic?)

William: Honest, Honorable. Committed. Justice, not Law.

Melissa: I’ve always loved being on the edge of my seat. It’s such a great adrenaline rush not knowing what’s going to happen next. Strong, smart, secretive, determined, flawed.

Give us 5 words that describe the antagonist in your books. Why those traits?

Melissa: Cold-blooded, creepy, gruesome, heartless, selfish.

William: Evil. Bad. Nasty. Cruel. Cold.

Rusty: Generally, the antagonist is mostly the protagonist. But where they have been separate—selfish, ambitious, self-aggrandizing, bombastic, abusive.

Does your book have romance? If so, how much of it is romance? And why do you incorporate it, or not?

William: Absolutely, but perhaps not in the traditional sense. Romance is such a big part of Life; it’s not so much WHAT we do but HOW we do it that counts. All of my books do involve male/female relationships and I try as hard as I can to make them realistic, with both good and bad parts. That, my friends, if Life….

Rusty: What Will said. Although it’s becoming a bigger element as I write. The book I’m working on now is mostly about Sir Kay’s quest for his lady love—a woman who reads! Imagine. And the biggest obstacle? He swore an oath that he wouldn’t, and can’t figure out how to get around it.

Melissa: There is a strong physical attraction between the lead characters. But they may or may not kiss in the book. They do end up falling in love in the end.

Average number of sex partners per novel?

Rusty: Funny you should ask that; I was just thinking about it as I considered the question “how much romance in your books?” The answer is Two, and not just average, but every book. I’m sure that says something, but I haven’t figured out what.

William: Mainly one, although some of my heroes have had a few…. ‘escapades’ in the past… ;)

Melissa: If sex does occur in the book, it is behind closed doors between the two lead characters only.


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