Welcome author Laura, here with us today.
Hi, Mary, it’s great to be here with you and your readers!
For starters, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Yes, Mary, here is a brief bio.
With original borderline stories at the edge of accepted conventions, Laura Tolomei guarantees an erotic earthquake with each new novel.
Born 1965 in Rome, Italy, I grew up in Nigeria, US and India, returning to Rome to complete my studies and start a working career. In 2008 I released my first short story in eXtasy’s Anthology Atlantis Allure and have been writing and publishing since then in both Italian and English. I have released several full-length novels and short stories at eXtasy Books, WCP and Romance Divine.
Visit my website for more info www.lallagatta.com.
1. Why did you choose to write ménage? What intrigues you about this particular genre?
I choose this genre because I believe love has no gender or numbers, so ménage is the perfect vehicle to convey my message. The play between two men and a woman is what intrigues me most, and not just in bed. I love to watch or describe their coming together mentally and spiritually, not just physically, which is difficult to achieve under any circumstance. In order to make a ménage work, the people involved have to wrestle with their own prejudices and possibly overcome them. Can they handle having a same gender on board that takes the same liberties with them as he or she would with the opposite gender? Then there are jealousies, sense of possession, exclusivity, which plagues any man or woman in any given intimate relationship. You can just imagine how powerful and uncontrollable these feelings can get when they’re increased two, three, four, n-folds! But the challenge to succeed is priceless LOL
2. Tell us about your latest ménage release: what’s it all about? Where did you find the inspiration?
If lately I’ve focused more on the MM genre, I’m also developing my ménage twists in my Virtus Saga, or how three people can reach true bonding. The Saga apparently is a fantasy series that takes place in an invented world, Sendar, where a mechanical device turns violent impulses into sexual ones. This ensures a peaceful existence to all its inhabitants. But nothing is ever absolutely good or bad, so the device, called Virtus, isn’t only beneficial, rather has some disturbing side effects our heroes will discover and battle against in the course of the nine books of the Saga. So far, three have been released: The Sex Book 1, The Game Book 2, and The Festival Book 3. The further I go, the more I realize this Saga is just an excuse to write about ménage and how difficult it is for three people to come together. The protagonists remain three throughout the entire series: Prince Duncan Caldwell, his lover Christopher Templeton and what will become their woman Ylianor Caldwell. For a series of circumstances, she’s the last one to join a passionate love affair started when Chris and Duncan were only teenagers. Over and beyond Chris’s fierce objections, she manages to slip under their skins, both of them. So what if he doesn’t like women in general, Ylianor in particular jealous of what she means to Duncan? The Saga is their personal struggle to reach a union they seem to find only in bed, where their mutual attraction works against their jealousies and prejudices. Of course, being a fantasy, they each have special powers that will work only if their minds and souls accept the other two as true mates, which complicates the mix and makes it all more exciting and interesting to follow.
What inspired me to start this ambitious work of mine are the characters themselves. They wanted to tell their stories and began narrating it to me back in 2006. Then it became like an obsession. I couldn’t get my mind free of them and had to write their whole story. But the work’s only half way through and they’re still in my head, playing with my feelings and emotions, which probably explains why I haven’t been able to write other ménages in the meantime.
3. Who is your favorite ménage character(s) and why?
It’s, and this is a recent discovery for me, to win Christopher Templeton from the Virtus Saga. As to why, it must be because he’s got such a complicated personality, and unlike any of my other characters, he talks though his sexual life. It may sound horny, but I just realized while I was finishing the edits to The Game Book 2, due out May 15, Chris expresses not just his feelings, but his opinions about a person from the way he has sex with them. If he doesn’t give a damn about them, he’ll be open and available, almost submissive in his apparent lack of interest in what they’ll do to him while deeply enjoying it. If he cares about someone though, it’ll be a totally different sex scene, like all the ones he has with Duncan when they’re alone. And then there’s Ylianor. You already know he hates her at the beginning and treats her like he’s out for revenge, being cruel and hurtful on purpose yet when things start to change, there’s a definite shift in their sex, too. And his moods, rapidly shifting from up to down, reflect this roller coaster behavior he keeps in bed. Really, I didn’t think I had it in me to create such a complex character, but in the end, he’s surprising even me, his author LOL
4. In your opinion, what makes a good ménage novel?
To me, good ménage is when authors can describe the feelings and emotions of all the characters. I know today there is a tendency to increase the numbers of characters in a ménage, but I think they’re meaningless if there isn’t a true coming together. Yes, because to me ménage means more than multiple partners in a horizontal positions, preferably on a bed. To me, it’s a way to be more than the sum of the parts and to build something together, no matter the mathematics of it. That’s very difficult to describe accurately, also because it’s a slow process, which takes time and a conscious effort on everyone’s part, and often not all characters are willing to go the extra mile.
5. What do you think of ménage romance in general? Do you think numbers are important? The more the better or maybe not?
Like I said, I don’t agree with the modern tendency of increasing randomly numbers in a ménage. I think this is due to a general misconception about ménage. To me, ménage is not having sex with multiple partners—in which case maybe the more the better—rather a bonding of minds and souls, and that’s the difficult part. The most challenging, though, because it if it’s easy to write orgies, it’s more tasking to build a relationship there were obstacles do their best to keep characters apart. And these obstacles are always within, never without–social conventions, prejudices, jealousies, working against them working against them and usually making a wreck of their lives.
6. What sparks your ménage imagination to the point of writing one? Is there a particular source of inspiration for your ménage stories?
Personally, I like having sex with two men, and this is the reason my imagination went off on its own to conceive a complicated series like the Virtus Saga. And every time I have sex with two guys, it just works on my mind, not just my body, sparking scenarios, combinations and stories on how the three can eventually live together LOL
7. What is your favorite gender combination in ménage? More men than women? No women all men? Why?
Like with my sex, my favorite gender combination is MMF. And I mean MMF, not MFM. Men have to play together otherwise I don’t see it as a ménage, rather as three characters playing solitary twosomes. I don’t particularly like combinations with women, even if I’ve written some hot FMF scenes in Divinitas and Re-Scue, my upcoming Nov. 4 2011 release. Not something I’ll be likely to repeat in the near future because it’s not my cup of tea. Probably the reason is purely egotistical: I like to be the only woman around LOL
8. Do you prefer to use straight, gay or bisexual male character? Why? What influences your choice?
I like to use open-minded characters, whether male or female, which means they’re able to overcome their prejudices toward the same gender. Nor an easy task, I know, but my characters must always evolve in order to make them interesting in my eyes. Take Leon Sterling of Re-Scue and its sequel, Tasting Leon’s Mark. He prefers women, yet has no qualms in claiming Sean as his own, once he discovers Sean is the soul Leon has been looking for all his life, the prey he–the hunter–has chased through several lives already. And the fact Sean is a man makes no difference to him. Take Sean also, a declared gay whom Leon forces to have sex with a woman in Tasting Leon’s Mark. A bad experience? Actually, better than he thought. Here’s what Leon tells Sean to open his mind to new possibilities.
Sean took a deep breath. “I’ve always believed women didn’t attract me. Seeing them half-naked at the beach or on magazines is no turn-on, physically I mean. With men, instead, every sense becomes alert. My mind starts picturing sex, even if I don’t like them that much. This has never happened with a woman.”
“If it makes you feel better, it didn’t this time either. You liked one woman, which doesn’t mean you have to like them all. Like me, I only feel something for you, not for men in general.”
The blond beauty was silent for a while. “Maybe you’re right, but I don’t know—”
Leon forced him to turn around and look straight into his eyes. “You’re just worried you’ll lose your gay identity if you admit you like a woman. But I know you’re much too intelligent to let generalizations blind you. Gay doesn’t define you. It simply limits your choices. You’re a person, first of all, who happens to have his own particular tastes, which should never, ever become a label.”
The dazzling blue eyes flashed in anger. “Funny of you to talk like this since you’re the first to deny our relationship, afraid to let people know you’re doing it with a man.”
Leon searched the beautiful face for a moment. “You’re right. It’s my problem, too. If I haven’t told anyone, except Janet—”
Leon grinned at the appellative. “Right. I guess in a way I think along the same exclusive lines as if fucking one gender automatically excludes the other, as if by admitting I like you, I denied my heterosexual nature.”
“That’s what defines us, lover.”
“Well, it shouldn’t because we miss out on life’s infinite possibilities. And we, above anyone else, should make it true for our current lives since we spurned it in our previous ones.”
9. Do you prefer to use straight, lesbian or bisexual female character? Why? What influences your choice?
Like with my male characters, the female ones have to be open-minded and accept any combination. It’s the secret of growing and evolving, to see the world in three dimensions rather than the standard two, to value the differences as much as the similarities in people, going beyond the limited scopes society sometimes forces on us. In fact, I’d go beyond the labels themselves and say my female characters, as much as the male ones, are pansexual.
10. In your opinion, do ménage stories work better with straight, gay or bisexual characters? Please elaborate.
In my opinion, ménage works better when all parties accept their differences as much as their similarities. I don’t go by the labels. I go for individual sensibilities and the willingness to make a ménage work. Again, I’m not talking in bed, rather out of it, the place where it’s most difficult three or more people will get along. So doesn’t really matter if they’re straight, gay or bi. If they don’t want to work at a ménage—yes, I mean work ‘cause that’s what relationships imply—they won’t.
11. In your opinion, inside a ménage with more than one man, is the woman character condemned to a passive role? Or can she be portrayed as dominant? Is she just a toy, a doll in the men’s hands, or can she assert herself as a woman and an individual?
Mmmmm, Mary, this is a complicated question, and one to which I don’t have an easy answer. But I’ll try to satisfy you as best as possible. I’d start by saying that in general there shouldn’t be dominants or passives in a relationship, any relationship whether ménage or couple makes no difference. All partners equal–no tops, no bottoms, no superiors, no inferiors to unbalance the relationship. They should complete each other, what one lacks the other provides without any implication of levels. Thus said, women to me have the central role of harmonizing two alpha males’ competing and dominant impulses. If the two alphas are in love with each other, the situation might be more complicated, but not impossible. In my Virtus Saga, Ylianor has a hard time of it. Chris doesn’t want her. Duncan is torn between his love for Chris and the recent discovery of his powers to focus much on her. Yet she manages, slowly but surely, first to monopolize their attention, then to conquer them outright. And all by being passive in bed. Women, for their nature, can only receive. They’ve got nothing to give except their whole body. This makes it easier for men to toy them around, so to speak. But the bed isn’t all there is to life or to a ménage. So okay for female characters to be passive in bed, then assertive in the relationship. And this means they can both dominate and be dominated, hence they are the true balance of the relationship.
12. In your opinion, can a true ménage work in real life? Why or why not?
Difficult, very difficult. Like I said, the obstacles against it are many and varied, mostly having to do with our prejudices and jealousies. Not impossible, though, so there’s hope for everyone!
13. Do you think there is a difference between ménage sex and ménage relationship? Are the two one and the same? Or can one be without the other?
Definitely! One thing is to get a bunch of people to have sex, quite another to have the same people living together or having feelings about each other. Too bad this distinction isn’t always clear in novels. Personally, I use more ménage sex than ménage relationship because it’s easier to put it in any context, including the MM genre. Ménage relationships take time and effort, and one book often isn’t enough for a satisfactory development of such complex situations.
14. What do you think of reviews on ménage books? Do you find they capture the essence of your work? If yes, why? If no, why not? (Please feel free to include my reviews in your considerations.)
I think reviewers can be limited by their own prejudices when reviewing ménage novels. They often expect the characters to behave as if it’s normal to be in a ménage relationship, while in fact it’s very hard to figure out what one wants when caught up in a triangle or any other multi-sided geometrical shape. Too often characters don’t know they’re getting into a ménage, discovering it only at the end of the book, if not later. One reviewer of The Sex, Book 1 of my Virtus Saga, complained because the two men never told Ylianor they loved her. Geez! Is love so automatic it’s enough to hop in bed with someone to have him or her say it? Takes time. Takes bonding. Takes coming together. Nothing you can achieve after a few sex sessions, however hot and passionate they prove to be. So I have to say that, unfortunately, reviewers haven’t been able to capture the essence of my work, but you, Mary, I’m sure you’ll make the difference LOL
15. Tell us about your future projects. Do you have a new ménage romance coming out soon?
My next ménage release will be The Leader, Virtus Saga Book 4, out first half 2012. Yes, Duncan, Chris and Ylianor’s story continues, picking up from where The Festival left off. I know readers’ most important question is whether the three get back together. Not in a revelation mood right now, but can you honestly believe that, given the way things are going between them, they can keep apart? And once acknowledged that need, who is to stop them from true union? Don’t miss The Pledge, Virtus Saga Book 5.
16. Where can the fans find you and find your books?
For sure on my web site and my blog. You can also check my publishers, eXtasy Books, WCPT and Romance Divine LLC. In addition, my books are sold on Amazon Kindle, on ARE, on Fictionwise, on Ebookwise, on Mobipocket and on eBook Eros, Goodreads.
17. Please tell us where readers and fans can find you on the net
WEB FEATURE PAGES
Amazon Author Page
Coffee Time Romance feature page
Goodreads Author Page
eXtasy Author Page
Romance Divine Author Page
Whiskey Torrid Publishing Author Page
18. Is there anything you wish to share with the readers?
Yes, Mary, actually there is. I want to thank you for this unique opportunity and for your questions. They made me stop and reflect on why and how I write ménage, and I’ve had some surprising revelations myself. Sometimes, I don’t think out things I do, just do them instinctively, but it’s nice to have had this opportunity to question myself. Thanks, Mary, really!
Thank you so much, Laura, for being here today and see you soon with your next release! i think your work is unique and I have a great admiration for your work!