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Sasha Summers writes the gamut of heat levels: from inspirational to super steamy. We dig deep into the alpha male psyche and discuss the fine line between alpha and a*#hole. Plus, shifters! And cowboys! And Greek gods! The heat’s rising.

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Episode Transcript

Elle
Today’s guest is Sasha Summers. Sasha grew up, surrounded by books her passions have always been storytelling, romance and travel, passion…passions she uses when writing…I can’t speak today. Now bestselling and award winning author Sasha continues to fall a little in love with each hero she writes from easy on the eyes, cowboys – oh, here’s a good one – sexy alpha males. I couldn’t do that before. I was practicing. And I kept tripping over alpha male! Werewolves to heroes of truly mythic proportions. She believes that everyone should have their happy ending in fiction and real life. Sasha lives in the suburbs of the Texas Hill Country with her amazing and supportive family. Welcome to Steam Scenes, Sasha! Thank you for being here.

Sasha
Thank you so much for having me. I am super excited to be here.

Elle
And I promise I won’t trip over anything else. No, it’s a lie. I probably will

Sasha
Don’t worry about it. I am always tripping over my words.

Elle
So okay, when did you realize that you wanted to come a writer?

Sasha
Well, I was one of those Girl Scout kids. And we had to do a creative writing project. And it was a play. And it was about Greek mythology, because I’ve always been obsessed. And that was kind of it. So I guess I was around 11 and 12. And just loved. I mean, I guess I could say it was a compulsive liar, and it translated into writing. But we’ll just say I’ve always loved to tell stories, because that sounds way better.

Elle
I love it. So what stuff were you do you lie about? Let’s get into that. What do you lie about?

Sasha
I am one of those people that is like Pollyanna, to the nth degree. If you follow me on social media, I’m like, woohoo, life is great. Happy, perky, perky. Because, you know, I think people have certain expectations. And but I’m a Gemini and I have a dark side. So we’ll leave it there.

Elle
I love it. Well, obviously, I don’t think that your Greek mythology play sort of had, you know, heaving bosoms or did it?

Sasha
It did not. It did not. It had a cardboard cutout flying Pegasus. That was the extent of the kind of, I don’t know, experience show part of it. And it didn’t have heating bosoms.

Elle
So when did when did you sort of discover the romance genre?

Sasha
Oh, gosh. And I think I’m pretty typical, and that my grandmother had the stash, you know, you find it. And then kind of segued into like the Barbara Cartland, which I’m just saying made my first kiss a true disappointment. Just saying, oh, there were no angels and like trumpets and bells and all this stuff. No, none of that happened. And…

Elle
Wait, wait, wait, I want to unpack this. This is great. So you have your first kiss. And like rainbows did not appear unicorns did not come galloping. What like, what was your kind of like, immediate reaction to that? Were you just like, thank you. And good night.

Sasha
Okay, I was super young. I’m just gonna throw that out there because I actually married him.

Elle
This gets better and better.

Sasha
Yeah. We were high school sweethearts. And so it was freshman year of high school. We were 14. And I just had totally been crushing on him. But he was kind of, I don’t know, a little egotistical. Um, and so he kind of hyped himself up. And I was like, you know, just saying, some of my books are way more exciting than this. So then he got much better. Clearly, he’s gonna hate me if he ever hears this.

Elle
I’m glad you got better for your sake.

Sasha
Yes, me too. Me too. But you know, now that was like, almost Oh my God. 30 years ago. So yeah. Wow. He got better, obviously.

Elle
Wow. You married your high school. Sweet. I did. That’s really wild. So you’ve been together for 30 years?

Sasha
Yeah. So like I said, it’s 14. That should say a lot.

Elle
Yeah. That really does. There’s some longevity there. Yeah.

Sasha
Yeah. Yeah. And I always joke because it’s like, you know, obviously, my personal experience has been fairly limited. And so writing romance has given me this whole alternative life. Because, you know, I mean, same guy since I was 14. So, there’s that.

Elle
But you know, it’s really sort of interesting. I had just I’ve finished reading, like, just last week, this sort of surprisingly good book called The Course of Love. And it is basically about a marriage or relationship from like, first kiss or first meet through like marriage and kids, and, you know, and sort of like, and I was reading through it, and I was like, Oh, my God, like, nobody writes romance novels about the middle.

Sasha
Yeah. Yeah.

Elle
You know, when which can be, you know, kind of like, I mean, actually, as writers, we do this, we go through this all the time with our book, that icky pain in the ass middle. And it’s not romantic.

Sasha
Yeah.

Elle
And so and I was like, reading this, and I was like, oh, man, you know, to have that perspective of but you know, but then you kind of miss out on the first blush of romance, which I think is what everybody kind of wants to read, you know?

Sasha
Yeah, definitely, definitely.

Elle
But it was pretty fascinating to kind of read this book and be like, oh, wow, to actually trace it, trace it through and see the ups and downs that

Sasha
I am now very curious. I’ve written that down. I’m going to check it out.

Elle
It’s a good book, it is not at all like, um, like, if you’re a huge fan of genre fiction, like, this is like way more kind of, I guess, literary. So it’s not my normal, typical read. So so if you’re, like, totally into genre fiction, you’re probably not going to dig it. I had to read it for a class. But I ended up being completely enthralled and being like, Oh, I wonder if but then I was like, probably not. Because

Sasha
That’s so great that you enjoyed it. Because I hate assigned reading when you’re like, Oh my god, I’m literally having to plod through it, you know?

Elle
Yeah, me too. I was like, Oh, boy, this. I have to tell you, when I read this description, I was like, Oh, God, this sounds awful. And then I was like, and then I was like, Oh, it’s actually quite good. So anyway. So it’s good. So what so as a writer, like when, okay, how old were you when you wrote your first serious? I mean, serious, I’m gonna use quotes around that.

Sasha
And yeah, right. So we married super young, and we were 18. And I remember not, not because we had to, that’s the other thing.

Elle
You were babies!

Sasha
Yeah. But I remember we we were super poor college kids. And our honeymoon was in Port Davis, Texas, which was the middle of nowhere. And as we were driving back, you know, the 12 million hours, I got this idea in my head. And my husband is a cowboy. I mean, like Wrangler, but starched jeans, you know, he always looks really good and put together and even now he’s like, the sexiest man I’ve ever seen or met my life.

Elle
I love that!

Sasha
Yeah, so um, so I’m sitting, you know, kind of ogling him for those hours thinking. Hmm, hero material, and it was this really atrocious, historical Western that no one will ever read. Um, but I finished it.

Elle
And so you’re you basically were inspired by your husband?

Sasha
Yes.

Elle
Wow. So when did you sort of end up doing it professionally?

Sasha
Oh gosh, it was much later. So I guess a officially was published in 2012. And I was writing for about two years before that, like, totally focused, you know, really intensely, and setting the story structure per se and the industry and going to the conferences, you know, kind of feeling out what’s what and how to really succeed because I knew I loved writing. But I also knew that I needed it to be a job. You know?

Elle
Right, right. And did you always know you’re gonna write romance? Or were you like, looking into other genres? Are you thinking about you know, like, was it always romance?

Sasha
Always romance? Definitely. Just happy at the end, I think life is just too hard. So I think that there’s that huge comfort, you know, no matter what genre how dark your PNR is, or your erotica, whatever, there’s that sense of hope that I think especially right now, just throw that out there. We all really appreciate.

Elle
Yeah, absolutely. So I know that you write…Well, first of all, your catalog is enormous. How many books do you have out?

Unknown Speaker
My 26th just came out.

Elle
Holy shit That’s so crazy. And you’re and you’re totally prolific like you have like you’ve got your shifter, you’ve got your cowboys, you’ve got you know, mythic heroes and your heat levels…

Sasha
Yes.

Elle
…are like, you know, you have like super high heat levels you have sweet. Like okay. Phew.

Sasha
Yeah and that’s a problem. If I could go back, I probably would have other pen names because, you know, I would hate for someone who picks up one of my super sweet ones to pick up a not super sweet one. Uh, but the great thing is about my publishers is that there’s not a huge confusion level with the titles. I mean like, Producing the Best Man, Christmas in His Bed. I mean, you kind of get the vibe.

Elle
Right, right. But still, I mean, I would assume like fans of you, like your writing would sort of like dig into any book that you write and might be a little Oh, surprise.

Sasha
Yeah, it is. It is. And I have some amazing loyal fans. And I have posted out there Hey, guys, how would you feel if I started writing this under this name? And all of them are like, you know, you’ve built this brand, and we know who you are, we know that you write across. But for new readers, I do worry, I do worry a lot. So I’ve been thinking maybe on my webpage, I should do like G, PG, R by the title, you know.

Elle
Oh like kind of break down or like, like, you know, for G rated go here. That’s not a bad idea.

Sasha
I’m thinking about it. I just don’t want to lose a reader because of that, you know.

Elle
Right. So So why do you sort of jump around with the different heat levels in particular?

Sasha
Well, I have learned over the years that to be traditionally published, oftentimes you have to write what they’re looking for. And so that’s translated it some of my initial books were stuff that I really felt passionately about. My Greek mythology series, I adore but nobody would touch it. So that’s why it’s indie. And for me, that just translated naturally into a high heat level, because I just consider them super passionate. Whereas now sweet is just on the rise. It’s incredible. The the numbers again, I think people are just looking for that little warm, safe fuzzies of sweetness. And I am too. So it’s not a huge stretch, but it is different. Because sometimes, my characters will definitely be like, Oh, just throw her against the wall. She really wants it. And I can’t do that. So…

Elle
No, we’re sweet!

Sasha
Right! It’s like, no, you can just look at each other and maybe brush pinkies but that’s it.

Elle
Well, yeah. Is it really that extreme? On sweet? Because I know like, I always feel like even within sweet there’s, there are also levels. I don’t read a whole lot of it, though. I’m coming to this kind of, you know, kind of stupid.

Sasha
I would agree. I would agree there the sweet where there’s actually sex, but it’s not on the page, right? Then there’s this sweet where it’s literally kind of Barbara Cartland-esque, and it’s like the kiss at the end. Yeah, or the Hallmark sweet, I guess, would be more current term. And I’ve been writing I guess the last two books, that Sweetheart series. Super sweet. I think maybe two kisses in the whole book. And yeah, it’s different for me, because two other books that I released this year, they both had sex on the page. And so yeah.

Elle
I mean, is there… I mean, this is probably gonna be like, choose your favorite kid. But let’s ask anyway! Is there one that you prefer? Like, do you prefer it? Is there one you prefer one method of writing, whether it’s sweet or steamier?

Sasha
I do prefer a little bit of sensuality. And I just feel like, that’s an instinct, you know, and so I have an instinctual writer. And frequently, my characters just go there, which I know sounds really airy fairy, but it’s true. And so this suite isn’t natural for me. And there will be scenes where I’m like, Okay, you got to rein it in a little bit. But people have really responded and enjoyed them. And so that’s incentive for me to keep going.

Elle
So when you’re writing the sweet, it sounds like you find yourself like writing in the scene, and then you’re like, Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, totally. Totally. This last one. Pumpkin Patch Sweethearts. I mean, it’s that sweet. The title. He is a coach, right? And he’s, there’s like, two different times in the book where he totally would have, you know, gone for it. Um, so in my head, I’m like, Oh, yeah, this is totally what would happen and she would be like, And it would be awesome. But no.

Elle
You’re like This is hot. And then you’re like, yeah, but I can’t do it.

Sasha
He’s gonna stare at her really intensely, and she’s gonna get tingly and leave. And it’s,

Elle
Oh, here’s a marketing idea. You should write those scenes and then, like have a mailing list incentive. You want to read the dirty bits…I’ll send them to you!

Sasha
That is amazing! Yeah, that’s true. That’s

Elle
If you want to open the door, join my mailing list, and I’ll send you the naughty bits.

Sasha
I might have to use that.

Elle
Oh my god, you can totally use that! Free marketing advice right here. So fun. So I’m guessing when you wrote your first romance… well, actually, like I want to go far, far back. To the western cowboy romance. Did you have steamy scenes?

Sasha
I did. I had so many. I mean, I, the book was almost the size of a ream of paper. I wrote it on a Brother word processor, you know, one of those ancient dinosaurs with the floppy disk?

Elle
Yes! Was it that little tiny screen. Like you could only see like one sentence at a time?

Sasha
Yes, basically.

Elle
I can not even believe we wrote a book on that.

Sasha
Well, and that’s probably why it was like 9 million pages. Because I didn’t see it until it was printed. I was like, Oh my god, there’s like 12 sex scenes. So yeah. Yeah.

Elle
Well done. So do you remember like for you like what was that like to write that first one, the very first one.

Sasha
Oh, it was so amazing. We were at college. And so I remember doing it at night really late. And I was playing the Enya Watermark tape and the soundtrack to Last the Mohicans.

Elle
Oh my God.

Sasha
The guy on the other side of the wall was a professor. So when it hit about 2am he would knock on the wall, so I would turn off the music. Um, yeah. So yeah, it was but I got so caught up in it that I just didn’t realize how late it was or any of that stuff. Her name was Elizabeth. And his name was Shane. Guess what my husband’s name is?

Elle
Shane?

Sasha
Yeah.

Elle
Oh my god, this is fantastic. This is so how long in between your very first 18 year old you writing? And then your next book?

Sasha
Oh, gosh, I had four children. My baby was I guess probably about three. And when I and he just turned 18. So a long time. Um, and but once that started, that was it. I couldn’t stop. And I was in Dallas. And I had read this article in a local magazine for Diana Cosby who wrote Scottish historicals. Anyway, she turned out to be local. And me being this kind of naive, Pollyanna again, I emailed her and I was like, Hey, I just read your article. I’m just starting out. What would you recommend? And she was this rock star. And she was like, I’m going to go to the Dallas area romance authors meeting. Want to come with me. I will take you.

Elle
Oh my god.

Sasha
Yeah.

Elle
Oh, that’s lovely.

Sasha
She was amazing. And I walked into that room. And people like Elizabeth Essex, and Jaye Wells, and all these people that I had been reading, were like, there and I was freaking out. But they were amazing. And that was kind of this segue into this other world.

Elle
So there was a very long time between like the first book and next book and didi it feel any differently when you sat down to write the first intimate seen after all of this time?

Sasha
Yes.

Elle
It was a different feeling?

Sasha
Yeah. So you know, I was a mom. Not to get too personal, but you know, when you’re with somebody for a long time, things change. It’s just all of it is very different. And you’re not 18 anymore, you know, and when you’re 18, there’s still that kind of idealistic kind of thing. So I think that it was much more honest. And I think when I write a sex scene, and this might be TMI, I do want to feel, you know, titillated. If it’s not making me kind of go, Hmm, then I’m not doing a good job. So that was something else it was very aware of when I wrote that book as a woman with four children, that was tired. I wanted to make sure I still got a little buzz, you know?

Elle
Absolutely. And I think that I mean, honestly, I think that that’s the best time to be writing them as you’re a mom of four and you’re exhausted, and you’re just like, I really just want to go to bed. But oh, my God, I can’t because this has got me very excited. I think that’s a really good test. So apart from your husband, right, where do you find your inspiration? Because you have been married for so long? Or is it just all him?

Sasha
It’s pretty much all him. I mean, I’m surrounded by a lot of really great people. You know, my parents were married for 43 years, then divorce late in life. My mom found somebody, my dad found somebody. So, I mean, love is just always been a part of the way I grew up, which I’m very lucky for that. So, I like to watch people. I like to listen to people. And that’s huge inspiration in of itself, right? Um, and I have lived a very lucky blessed life as far as challenges so I’m listening to other people has definitely helped keep my worldview open. And not so Pollyanna, but um, but yeah, a lot of it is just him.

Elle
I absolutely love that he can after 30 years like he’s still can inspire you.

Sasha
Also makes me want to run over him with a truck. I’m just gonna throw that out there because I love him but we’re keeping it real, okay.

Elle
They wouldn’t be our spouses if you don’t want to run them over. I say that with love.

Sasha
Exactly. Now, I if anything should happen to him, this is gonna sound like a murder confession, so…

Elle
Okay, do you have a process for writing the steamies? Okay, you know what, let me back up. Do you ever struggle with writing them? Because this podcast started because nine times out of ten when I sit down to write my steamy scene, it takes me like all day to get 200 words out. I am just like, slow as molasses. And it is kind of ridiculous. And so I’m curious, like, do you find that that happens to you? Or are you just like, it’s go time, and you can sit down and just get it out?

Sasha
I do think that it takes me longer to write it. But I’m one of those people that I have a television camera in my head. Does that make sense? So I’m like seeing and so there will be times when I’m in the middle of a scene, and a kid will walk in. And you know, apparently, my eyes are shut. And I’ve got my hands like, you know, on the back of my head, and I’m visualizing and they’re like, what are you doing? And I can’t tell them what I’m doing. Right? Yeah, you go through all of that, right? Because you want to make sure that it’s going to work and that it would suit that character. And then it’s going to give the kind of that you need for your character. So no, it’s not easy by any means. And I think the more you write, right, the more challenging it is to keep it original.

Elle
I completely agree with that. Yes, I was gonna because I was like sitting here going, Oh, my God, if she tells me the more you write, the easier it becomes to just shrivel up and die.

Sasha
No, no it’s the exact opposite.

Elle
Because if that’s not happening, it’s not getting easier.

Sasha
Anyone who says that is totally lying. Okay. Maybe for some people, not this one.

Elle
So it sounds like you’re very like tactile, I think is the word I’m looking for. Definitely when you’re when you’re writing it. So do you have a process?

Sasha
I tried to do Alexandra Sokoloff has this kind of the breakdown of the three act structure. So I will try to go through and at least pull the main points, right, because otherwise, my characters will take me off on a little journey, which I can’t do right when you have that many deadlines. So I try to make sure I have kind of guideposts to lead me along the way. And then I try to visualize from the get go, how I see them sexually, you know, if they’re going to be a slow burn, or if it’s going to be just off the charts and make sure that from the get go, I’ve built it that way. So when I get there, it’s kind of a natural thing. Um, it doesn’t always work that way. But yeah.

Elle
So it sounds like you’re kind of like in between plotting and pantsing

Sasha
definitely.

Elle
All right. You’re what do they call that the plantser?

Sasha
Yeah, something. If I plot it so detailed, like I’ve heard Susan Mallory goes through each bit and actually puts dialogue and I feel like I’ve already read it written the book, so I can’t get excited, then I have to leave some open space.

Elle
Gotcha. I do. I’m sort of similar. It sounds like I probably plot an outline more than you do. But I leave a lot of room and even if and if I don’t leave a lot of room…It’s really funny because I will just go off on a tangent and then all of a sudden I’m like, Oh, shit…

Sasha
I gotta turn back around.

Elle
I was like, oh man, now, it doesn’t work anymore.

Sasha
That can be so much fun. When I was writing that werewolf series, I will never forget it. I was at a writing retreat, and I had left that big kind of open space. And I’m typing along, and I stopped and I looked up at the women that I was writing with, and I was like, Oh, my God, the body’s gone. And she started laughing because I was legitimately surprised. I was like, Wow, this is amazing. So it’s fun. It can be fun.

Elle
Like a dead body?

Sasha
Yeah, cuz he’s not dead. Spoiler alert.

Elle
Oh, my, oh my god, that is kind of an exciting revelation.

Sasha
It was super exciting.

Elle
And I do love those moments. And you’re right. If we plot out I do feel like we leave those like we lose that sort of like, wow, feeling that I hope that our readers get when they read the books.

Sasha
Oh, yeah. But the best reviews I get, even if it’s like a one star review, and they’re angry. Hey, I made them feel that way. You know what I mean? I got a visceral response. I prefer it wasn’t a one star review. But I try to find that positive side of it, right.

That’s really great. I like the way you think. It makes it hurt a lot less.

Yeah, no, definitely my book For the Love of Hades, which if you look at the cover, it’s a naked clinch against a wall. And it got a one star review because a woman said this is the dirtiest book I’ve ever read. And I’m like, hmmm, shocking.

Elle
Oh, my God, I

Sasha
I know. I’m okay with that. But yeah,

Elle
Actually, it’s a one star review that might sell a few more books. Like it really like if you’re looking for something extra hot. You read thatand you’re like, yeah, this is mine. Um, yeah, one clicking that sucker. I am. Okay, um, I want to talk about Protecting the Wolf Man. Yes. Which is your shifter, which is from your shifter series. Um, what inspired the story?

Sasha
Well, it was supposed to be a millionaire romance series. And then my editor was like, Oh, you know, it would be really fun as if we change this up. And I said, You mean like a billionaire werewolf series? And she was like, Yes. write it. I was like, Oh, my God.

Elle
You just crossed?

Sasha
Yeah.

Elle
Oh, crossed tropes like crazy. I love that.

Sasha
They were so primal and awesome. And I love writing paranormal, right? Because all of the real life asshole traits that you can’t do in contemporary anymore, right? You can. Yeah, it’s all about consent, which I applaud 100% but sometimes it can make really intense passionate sex scenes not happen. Um, which again, I’m all about consent. Don’t get me wrong here. But with paranormal, um, it’s, it’s more of a kind of an unspoken thing, versus it being a frank conversation, which, gosh, I feel like I now need to keep saying, you need to do that. But in romance, there’s just that freedom with paranormal, I think that makes anything go.

Elle
You know, it’s really funny, because I actually, when we dig into your scene, we’re gonna be talking a little bit more about that, because it’s really a conversation that I wanted to have with you about writing an alpha. And, you know, and the directness and how, you know, um, you know, when I submit my books to my editors, you know, sometimes they come back with Yeah, no, yeah. He sounds like an asshole. Yes, yeah. No. And I’m like, No, he’s supposed to be alpha. So I kind of feel like I end up not writing alpha. Okay we’re talking about this now, but I feel like we’re not writing. Like, I’m not writing the real alpha hero, because there and it’s like, in the beginning, and then it doesn’t give him a chance to actually evolve through the book.

Sasha
And I would agree, because we’re all about this really great character arc. So they just start out at a place where they need to be redeemed, I totally get what you’re saying.

Elle
Right? Right. You know, it’s so funny because like, okay, so I’m in this I’m in this course. I’m, like, I wasn’t gonna talk about it, but like, so I’m taking this course. That is like, it’s actually if you want to be an intimacy coach, which I don’t want to be, but I figured it might be really good to like help my romance like to be you know, and it was really kind of cool because we did this exercise, all around consent. And, and so and sort of, like, you know, well, consent and boundaries, right. And so it was about you know, now they were talking about how Now we’re at this place where everything has to be a very clear, very verbal consent. But some people don’t like to get intimate like that. And they want to, they want to go off of, like, feel and, and that’s okay too. Yeah, the cues. As long as you are able to sort of be very clear when a boundary is hit.

Sasha
I would agree.

Elle
And so that kind of made me a little bit more, I guess, comfortable in, in being able to walk that fine line, because I mean, I don’t know, I feel like if I had a book where it was, and I actually kind of made a joke about this in one of my books with like, a consent thing. But, but if I wrote, you know, like this whole, are you okay if I touch you here, right? Yes. Okay. Are you okay, then that spontaneity and really the flow, I feel like as a reader would be interrupted.

Sasha
Yeah. Yeah. I’m trying to remember who I read who did something similar to that. But they made it so hot, because it was like, Is this okay? Is this okay? And he was doing all that stuff. And she could barely speak. So it was like, clearly it was okay. But I wish I could remember who it was.

Elle
I mean, there are definitely ways and I think that I learned that after this class, like, or at least to think about how to make that consent hot. Yeah, yeah. And I but yeah, if you think of it, please email me. I’m kind of very curious to read this. But I thought that that was sort of a really interesting way to kind of approach you know, the idea of consent and knowing that, you know, yeah, now it can be very sticky. Yes, you know, sticky moment in writing. And it’s a balance,

Sasha
And don’t you think recently I think that romance has become more of a guidepost in a lot of ways. So we have to be aware of the way we present things. Because it gives off a certain approval rating for people to do certain things that maybe they shouldn’t. So we have to be aware of consent because of that. I think, maybe I’m taking it too far.

Elle
I don’t know. I mean, I’m honestly, I think it’s a really great perspective. And, and I would, and it’s not something that I’ve really considered, although it would be stupid not to consider it, really, you know? Because I mean, when you think about like, movies, and TV, and all of that, like representation matters. Of course, representation matters, and that means representation, not only with, you know, race and sexuality and, and gender and all of that, but I would imagine also around consent. And boundaries and these conversations.

Sasha
Definitely both. I know, I have two girls and two boys. And for me, my girls reading romance and my boys reading romance, that they would probably not appreciate me saying that they have been read them. But for me, it’s all about owning your own sexuality, knowing what you are comfortable with, and knowing how important it is to be in a relationship with the person you trust to take risks, if that is what you are inclined to do. And but it needs to be empowering to me. And so I really hope that when if they read books that include these kind of things, it gives them that sense of Okay, I’m in control of my body. I’m with this person that’s going to give me that security, but also make me feel good, right.

Elle
Yeah, right. Well, um, okay, so so this came about because the shifter romance about because you were writing a millionaire story and your publisher was like, Let’s shake it up. So, Were you the one that wanted to write the werewolves, or was she or did the publisher say, Yyu know, hey, write the Why don’t we do shifters or you know, pick pick whatever animal you want.

Sasha
It was literally just a so instead of just falling for the millionaire and his baby, it’s literally falling for the billionaire wolf and his baby. And she’s like, yes, write that.

Elle
I love that.

Sasha
And I had so much fun.

Elle
Had you wanted to write a shift romance? Was that something that you were kind of like, oh, that might be kind of fun.

Sasha
Never occurred to me?

Elle
It just came out?

Yeah, it did.

That’s great.

Sasha
And I loved it. Oh my gosh. And now that I’ve because that’s been a few years, that series has been a few years old and I thought that being close to Halloween, you know, kind of a fun thing. And but I miss writing paranormal because I’ve been writing straight contemporary now for several years. And there’s just again, that kind of freedom and fun, and other worldliness that I miss. I miss writing in.

Elle
Is this your only paranormal?

Sasha
No, the Greek mythology series, it’s fantasy. And then I have a novella that sci fi and I have a whole series planned out For that love, love, love, love that novella. But it’s again about time, you probably know, when you start having books and deadlines, then the things that you would write as an indie person that has to wait until you have an opening. And I don’t have any right now, which is a great problem to have, right?

Elle
Okay, so I’m curious, apart from you know, we’re close to Halloween, although, I’m don’t know when I’m gonna get this podcast out. We might be past it. Listeners, we’re near Halloween. I’m curious. Why did you pick this particular scene? What is it about this scene?

Sasha
I love that Ellen, who is the heroine of this one? Right? This is Hollis and Ellen.

Elle
Yes,

Sasha
Yes. And well, he has been resistant, okay, like he is trying to fight who he is. And she just won’t listen. So it’s kind of a role reversal. Really, to me, Ellen was kind of a alpha in this story. And she won’t put up with any of his crap. So this scene was after he has really ticked her off and basically been kind of like, I’m not going to give in no matter what you do. I’m not going to give in. I’m going to stay this person who, because he has a heart murmur, he can’t shift. So he has this internal wolf. But he’s ignoring it. Because Yeah. So she, because when in my series, they talk to each other their internal war, in the person. So her wolf is like, dude, we could totally get him to shift. He’s fighting him kind of thing. So there’s been this back and forth, and back and forth. And this high stakes kind of refusal. And he finally can’t take it. And he comes home from the lab where he’s actually trying to find a cure, and sees her dancing with this guy and goes off. And so he gives up, and that’s the scene.

Elle
Oh, my God, I love Do you know, um, I think I think it’s Faith Hunter. Do you know her work?

I don’t. Okay, um, I hope I hope it’s Jane Yellowrock. I think Jane Yellowrock is like a vampire hunter but I think she’s also a panther, like a were-panther. It might be confusing series, but she’s got her panther? Well, it’s not a shifter. It’s not aware. But it’s her pain. I don’t remember what it’s called now. But that has that internal conversation, you kind of have that you see that conversation between her and her and her beast, which is actually really cool to read. So that just kind of like reminded me of it. I was like, Oh, I love that.

Sasha
It’s like there’s four people versus just two. Yeah.

Elle
So now with Hollis, you said he he is denying his attraction to Ellen? Is that what we have going on here?

Sasha
Yeah. Because basically, when you mate, that’s your mate. And so he his thing is, he’s going to cure them. This isn’t going to apply. He doesn’t want to do this. He can’t shift. So he’s never really connected. He’s just been driven to try to cure his pack. Because the way it happened in my series is a little bit different. Their their alpha was actually on a dig site and fell on a bone. And that’s how he was infected. So they have only been werewolves for I think, about 10 years. So they’re new. And this long standing pack is trying to annihilate them, because they’re kind of like, What are you? Where did you come from all that good stuff. So Hollis is like, well, if I cure us, then this is not an issue. And we can all pretend this never happened. And it doesn’t quite go that way. But yeah.

Elle
I mean, I’m guessing too, then he must have some pushback from the pack. Because I would imagine there are some or perhaps all that absolutely love being…

Sasha
Yeah, yeah. And now they all are resistant. I mean, there’s the two. This is the third book. So the first two books, you have the alpha and then you have now Mal is honestly my favorite. Oh my God, he’s just amazing. And the first word in that book and the last word in that book are fuck. So there you go. He’s such a great character. So they’ve all lost something pretty substantial because of this, because they couldn’t control themselves in the beginning. So one lost a fiance, one lost a brother. I mean really negative connotations. But at the same time, now that these people have or that the others the bad wolves have been after them. They have this purpose to basically get even for all the hell that they have done to them. So they have slowly acclimated towards their way of life. But I don’t think any of them would have resisted if Hollis had come up with something. He doesn’t, spoiler. But, but yeah, there’s still straddling that line of is this good? Are we bad kind of thing?

Oh, okay, cool. Okay, so let’s, um, let’s dig in. Let’s dig into your, your excerpt. I just want someone to say you are my very first shifter romance interview. So I’m wondering is there and because you do write in so many different, you know, tropes, I guess, is there anything you take into consideration when writing the intimate scenes for a shifter romance versus like just regular old humans?

Right? Well, I think that and this one, I wanted to be very aware … because to me the wolves are almost like you’re in right here, that primal side of you. So I tried to make sure to keep them kind of present, as far as that whole meeting that fulfillment, that connection, that bond to be forged. And there was in one of the books, there’s a scene where they’re both, like wolves, and now it says, We’re not doing this because wolves don’t use condoms, and I’m not getting you pregnant. So we address these things. Um, but yeah, I think it was kind of the combination of these are animals. And when they’re animals, they need to act like animals. And when they’re humans, they have that animal on the inside, but they’re keeping them in check, even though they can hear them and they’re yelling at them to do things. And, you know, there’s that balance.

Elle
So it’s sort of interesting, because this this scene that you sent me, is in, in the male point of view, it’s, it’s, um, do you also have Ellen’s point of view as well?

Sasha
Yes.

Elle
So you’re essentially writing four points of view?

Sasha
Yes.

Elle
If you if you separate the animal and the human. Which I would?

Sasha
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the way I have it, I don’t have them completely separated as much as the thought. So when you’re in Ellen’s point of view, whenever it’s the italicized, it’s the wolf talking to her, but it’s very apparent, you know, the differences.

Elle
Right.

Sasha
Ellen is pretty raw. She’s a pretty upfront kind of ferocious woman. I think she’s just awesome. I loved writing her. She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever written. So yeah.

Elle
Cool. All right. I’m

just gonna, I’m just gonna dig right in here. All right. There we go. Okay. One tug tore her panties free. His hand slid the fabric of her dress up revealing her abdomen and the prize between her legs. Scars criss crossed every inch of her banked flat white, so many. Where have you been when this had happened to her? Why hadn’t he been there to protect her? he’d kill Cyrus for this, no matter what. Ownership rose up. She was his now. No one would ever lay a hand on her again, ever. His hands stroked across her stomach and upperside. Sensation was all that mattered and pleasure, her pleasure. Whatever her past, her future was his. He’d make damn sure he’d put her first starting now. I thought this was beautiful. I was like, Oh my god, this is so beautiful. And, and it’s sort of like, you know, you know, he’s this alpha. And I think though, like, again, like, this could be sort of No, it couldn’t be perceived as like, unhealthy possessiveness, like, I don’t think so. But I do think again, you’ve got this very fine line, right?

Sasha
Totally,

Elle
Like, I did not perceive that as unhealthy possessiveness. So how do you know and like I said, when I write a new something like that, my editors are like, Are you sure? I mean, so is it more leeway with with the alpha with the shifter romance?

Sasha
I think so. I do.

Elle
Like would you be this possessive? In a normal? Like a normal? A human?

Sasha
No. And even some, most of my contemporary my men are not alpha alpha, probably the most alpha guy….hmmm…he was pretty alpha. In Seducing the Best Man. Yeah, he gets pretty territorial. Come to think that? Yeah, so maybe.

Elle
So how do you how do you? How do you walk that line? Because it’s something I really struggle with. And I feel like my heroes are not as alpha as I would like them to be.

Sasha
Yeah. And I think it’s because I try to word it in such a way where they say it and they do have that line that they cross, but then they realize, Oh, my God, what are you doing? You can’t do that. So it’s like a self check. So it’s there. And you hear it and you’re like, Oh, my gosh, kind of become a puddle because it’s super hot. But then he was like, I can’t do that. So you know what I mean? It’s there. It’s said. But he also realizes he can’t but that crosses a line. So it’s a self realization.

Elle
So sort of like he’s able to keep himself in check.

Sasha
Yeah, but he doesn’t want to.

Elle
Yeah. All right. Okay. Okay, so here’s, here’s another little bit. He bent, pressing open mouth kisses to her bare back ss he slowly pulled her zipper down. I’m like fanning myself, I’d love this moment. His hands stroked the swell of her ass, the muscles of her thighs, lips, then tongue, trace the valley between her shoulders and nuzzled the nape of her neck, the taste of sweat, salt, and Ellen had his dick pulsing against the seam of his pants. Now, this is a way to write taking off your clothes. I absolutely loved this moment. And it’s like you could like and I could actually sort of visualize what was happening as it happened. It was truly truly amazing. I was like, This is so great.

Sasha
There are times, God love my sweet husband, cuz he is he is an engineer. His mind works in a completely different way. And I will come to him…he’s gonna be so mad at me that I said this. I’ll come to him like when he’s he’s been mowing the yard or he’ll come in and you know, just that whole sweaty kind of thing. And I’m like, just stand there for a minute. I just need to do this and see, but you know how I feel kind of thing. And he’s like [sigh]. But yeah, yeah, it’s true. Because if you think about it, you did the visceral responses are so important. And if they’re not natural, which I think you have to feel when you’re writing them, and so yeah, I like to close my eyes and really feel it and sense it and you know, what would Hollis be doing and feeling and what would Ellen be feeling and wanting? And hopefully it comes across on the page.

Elle
Oh, I got it absolutely does. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Going down a little bit more. Okay, here we go. His hand slid along her sides, cupping her breasts working her nipples before gripping her hips once more. He was driven, grinding her against him binding her close, them close. He wanted her to fall apart, to scream his name, he needed it now. He reached between them one finger stroking and working her over until she cried out. Rough and raw, her nails bit into his chest and sent his release crashing into him. He came hard powering into her arching swiftly until the spasms began to fade. She felt to his side gasping he pulled her against him the newness of their connection demanding no space between them. She didn’t argue her head rested on his chest, her fingers stroking along his collarbone as she lay soft and pliant against him. He lay still his heart thundering and his mind spinning. Okay, this was totally hot, totally, totally hot. What I loved about this too, and I wanted to talk about this a little bit is the is the balance here, between the graphic parts, and the non graphic parts. So it’s like describing the act and being pretty graphic about it, versus the feeling. And I think that there’s is sort of like a really, you have like, such a great balance here. So I’m wondering, like, how do you get to that? How do you get to that balance?

Sasha
A lot of it is because like what we were talking about, I think that you know, the Insert tab into, you know, slot, a kind of thing. That’s the kind of thing that gets stale. So inserting the personal tenderness between your actual characters is what makes that act unique to them.

Elle
Right. Okay, that totally makes sense. And but how do you like, I mean, I guess, is it more of like, intuition, I guess, would be the word for it when you’re actually writing. And you’re sort of saying, okay, is this too much of the graphic and not enough of the feeling, too much of the feeling? Like, is it just at that, at that point, intuition and sort of go by by your own feeling?

Sasha
Yes. Or definitely. Because I trust my editor to come back and say, Hello, this is way too much, or this isn’t enough. So I do think having an editor you trust is so important when you’re writing stuff like that. Right?

Elle
Right. Absolutely. Oh, so yeah, oh my god that was this was great. I’m, you know, I don’t read. I don’t think I’ve ever read a shifter romance. I’ve read shifter urban fantasies, but I’ve never read a shifter romance. And this is inspiring me to read your series.

Sasha
You just need to give me your mailing address. You can email it and I will send you the whole series because I have an author set I would happily send to you.

Elle
Oh my God, thank you so much. That would be awesome. Because I don’t know like I always felt like I don’t know if I’d like, you know, I’m not sure if I’m like into like, well and I always often said that about shifter books just with urban fantasy because that’s where I started was writing urban fantasy. And I was always kind of like with zombie and shifters. Those were the two. And then I started reading them. And I was like, Oh, wait a minute. I actually really liked it. Like I was like, I still say I hate zombie books. Oh, is a zombie book? Please? I will read it. But I’m like, I hate them.

Sasha
favorite covers ever was White Trash Zombie. Have you?

Elle
Yes, I’ve seen that cover.

Sasha
Oh my god. I love that cover.

Elle
I’m like, famous for that. I’m like, I hate zombie books. Oh, I’ll read that.

Sasha
I have a YA zombie fairy tale book that I want to write really badly someday. Oh.

Elle
I love it. You know, like, I hate zombies. Let me binge watch The Walking Dead.

Sasha
Exactly. Yes. One of my favorite movies ever. 28 days later.

Elle
Yeah, every time.

But I hate zombies. I hate them. And then it was sort of like the same with with shifters. I was like, oh, werewolves. Yeah, you know? And then I’m like, and then I’m like, Oh, yeah. Jane Yellowrock. Let me keep reading. It’s just so stupid. Because I’m always like, I hate this. Let me read this. You don’t hate this! Shut up. Yeah, so anyway, so it’s just sort of like me being stupid and not reading a shifter romance and then being like, you should, but I also think you know, it can get dicey because you know, shifters not, you know, done badly. Right? Can also, you know, turn things.

Sasha
I can I agree. Now, Patricia Briggs was one of my all time favorites. With with the werewolves, she just was really great about keeping things raw and visceral. And so she definitely kind of impacted the way I wanted this pack to interact with each other.

Elle
Okay. All right. That makes sense, though. Okay. Yat. Oh, thank you so much. Yes, I would absolutely love to read the series. I love the premise two that they were that it was like, being stabbed by a bone at an archeological dig, set the whole thing off, which I think is so great to have that backstory.

Sasha
Yeah, it was different. Because I knew when she said werewolves, I was like, I never thought I would write a werewolf. And how can I make this different, right? And I was like, if this happens, and then he attacks his best friends when he’s blood crazed. He’s gonna have all this awesome guilt. Right?

Elle
Right.

Sasha
And so yeah, that’s how it started.

Elle
And where did you get the idea for it being like, on the, on the dig, and like, being stabbed? Like that’s, like, really inspired to come up with that.

Sasha
Honestly, I don’t know. I just was looking at different ideas for origination. And my whole thing was, I love history. And so when I was reading, like my Greek mythology, and I have a couple other myth stories that I wanted to write, and one of them was based on a shaman and this bone fragment, and now it still contained the soul of this very powerful being. And I was like, why couldn’t that happen? Why couldn’t that bone actually be older than their rival pack, and that’s why they want to kill them is because if they ever realize the power that they have, is the true source, then they can decimate everybody. So that’s how it kind of came about.

Elle
Oh, my God, that’s amazing. That’s such an amazing backstory. That’s so cool.

Sasha
Well, I feel bad because there are two other wolves in the pack. And I you know, I was like, are we ever gonna write them? But it’s been a while. And you know, they didn’t ask for the other two. I thought about doing it on my own. But then again, you know, time.

Elle
Yeah, Time. Time. Yeah, I hear you.

Sasha
That’s always a thing.

Elle
So, um, I think I didn’t know where did it go. Oh, yeah. I didn’t ask this question before. And I’m very curious to ask this. To you, what do you what do you think makes a sex scene good? Like, what are the elements that you want to have in there?

Sasha
When I’m reading it, I want to have that rosie flesh, you know, that kind of actual visceral response. And I think that it doesn’t have to actually be the sex if the chemistry is there and that want that throb is making you want and throb, then you’ve got an off the charts scene, obviously, yes, that the interaction is going to take it home. But, um, I think that, hum, you know, what I’m talking about throb. You have to have that or you’re not going to make it work.

Elle
Right. And so and do you sort of feel that same way in terms of in terms of like writing, that’s what you’re always trying to emulate? I guess, while you’re writing?

Sasha
Definitely. Yeah. If I don’t cry, then I know that scene isn’t gonna be you know, it’s an emotional scene, then it’s not where it needs to be. I really want to go through the experience so that hopefully that translates onto the page.

Elle
I think it does. Completely.

Sasha
Yes. You made my day.

Elle
Sasha, where can people find you?

Sasha
And I’m online, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, I’m at Sasha Writes on Twitter, but I’m Sasha Summers on Facebook and Instagram. And my website is Sashasummers.com. Super easy. I will throw out there that there is a another Sasha Summers and she’s a porn star. But that’s not me.

Elle
So that’s kind of cool.

Sasha
I know. Right?

But yeah, she actually came along, after I had started writing. And I guess she just was like, I have to be like this amazing romance writer Sasha Summers. Just kidding.

Elle
That’s great. Well, I will have all links to your, to your various online presences in the show notes too, for anybody who wants to go check that out without using the old Google. Sasha, thank you so much for doing this. This was really amazing to have you.

Sasha
This is so much fun. Thank you. I would happily come back anytime.

Elle
I’ll happily have you back. You know, I think you know, actually, this is really cool. I was talking about this with Samantha Chase, and she wants to do this. And you would be fun perspective. She thinks that I should put together a panel of writers who write various heat levels. Oh, yeah. So like inspirational slash sweet Samantha closes the door. Okay. Um, she she writes and her stuff gets really steamy and then the door closes. And it’s like oh, yeah. And then and then like, straight up all the way to like erotica. So I so I want to do that sometime. I’m totally inspired to do that. And I would love to have you take part in that.

Sasha
Pease. Excellent. happily. Cool.

Elle
Thank you so much. Thank you.