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Jennifer Platt Q&A with Tessa Bailey

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Pictured: Tessa Bailey

‘The Michaelangelo of dirty talk’, author Tessa Bailey, is interviewed by Times Live reviewer Jennifer Platt:

Fifty Shades is so 10 years ago. Now it’s spicy romances with BookTok driving the sales. These novels have their own hashtag on the social app called #Spicytok and users mark them with chilli emojis to indicate the level of heat/erotica one can expect.

Tessa Bailey’s novels need quite a few dozen chilli emojis to convey how steamy they are. Entertainment Weekly dubbed her the “Michelangelo of dirty talk”. And there’s a lot of it in her books. Especially her latest, called Unfortunately Yours. The elevator pitch describes it perfectly: “A down-on-her-luck Napa heiress suggests a mutually beneficial marriage of convenience to a man she can’t stand … only to discover there’s a fine line between love and hate.” There’s wine and oh so much sex. The author knows what she is doing.

Jennifer Platt asked her a few questions:

Unfortunately Yours employs the enemy to lover romance trope. Is this one of your favourite romance genres to write, and if so why?

Enemies to lovers is definitely a favourite trope to write, but I need to write the story in a specific way to make it fulfilling for me. Part of the fantasy of a romance novel is that there is nothing that can stop the hero from falling in love with the heroine — it’s an instant inevitability in my books. Because of that, I like to make it clear that, despite their arguing or differences, he has loved her all along.

Tell us more about the origins of the story? How did these two characters emerge?

We meet Natalie in book one of the series, Secretly Yours, and she is the heroine I adore — strong and independent with a vulnerable streak a mile wide. I needed to give her a partner who would keep her on her toes, while making her feel valued and worth fighting for. August was perfect. He is stubborn, but also honest with his feelings, so he gives Natalie the verbal affirmations she needs to hear — and in the past has not been given by her family.

Being in South Africa, we are proud of our renowned winelands. Why did you choose the setting of the vineyards in Napa Valley, California?

Winemaking is romantic in itself because it’s a tradition where the result makes people happy, brings them together. It involves the earth and dedication and sunshine and soil. It’s so eternal and enduring, a lot like love. To me, the romance almost came built-in.

What made you start writing and how do you feel now that you are a celebrated romance author?

I started writing romance after having my child because I wanted to accomplish something that would make her proud of me and also give her opportunities one day. I never thought I would succeed in the way I have. Having people buy my books and recognize my name seems like a dream sometimes — like it’s happening to someone else. There is a lot of worry and fear of disappointing people involved, so maybe I don’t let myself enjoy it so much to protect my own feelings.

What romance genre would you not tackle?

Historical romance because it makes me sad to read about people and places that no longer exist (in the same manner they are written). It leaves me with a melancholic feeling at the end. But I respect the love and research that many authors put into writing it and there are many great historical novels out there.

Would you try writing something besides romance novels?

No. Never. I write about romance because it’s the only part of movies, TV shows and books that has ever made me feel buoyant, hopeful and safe. It’s a privilege that I get to make readers feel that way while reading my books and I never want to stop being that refuge for them.

You can read the rest of the interview here

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