Amber Lin Guest Post and GIVEAWAY

How much of my characters are me?

Sometimes I’ll see that an author has the same job or live in the same city as their characters. That makes a lot of sense, since she’ll already know a lot of the details and she can also bring a certain insider perspective.

But I guess I like doing things the hard way, because I didn’t write that way for my debut novel. My heroine Allie is a baker; I barely have time to make brownies on special occasions. Allie lives in Chicago; I visited there once. Or was it twice?

But that’s only where the differences start. Because we meet Allie when she’s at a club, trolling for a night of rough, anonymous sex in a desperate bid to cope with the pain of her past. I’ll give you one guess if that’s me as well… yeah, that’s right. Nope.

And I have even less in common with the side characters… the taciturn hero who sidelines a criminal conglomerate or Allie’s best friend who’s also a prostitute. So what’s the deal? Why so different?

Well, I always want the emotions to be real. Painfully real, even. But even though I write contemporary, I’ve always felt like it was paranormal… except the rules of the world-building happen to be the same as our own. Paranormal authors don’t have to be demons or angels to write about angst or love.

One reviewer said Giving It Up was “strangely atmospheric” and “otherworldly” and I think this is what she meant. You’ll recognize things from the real world, but I want to transport you to a different one.

If I had included things from my own life, like working in an office or driving around the city where I live, I’m not sure I could have achieved that. Everything here is mundane, by virtue of the fact that I live it every day. Fiction is about the extraordinary.

Coming back to the titular question: how much of my characters are me?

Above all, probably the fears. Fear comes in a lot of different forms and we all react differently, but at its core it’s a shared experience between people. We all know what it’s like to be afraid or insecure. To think we don’t belong or worry that we’ll let people down.

Of course when it comes to writing it needs to be more specific than that. Allie is afraid of men. No, scratch that. She’s afraid of trusting men, because she was let down by the one she trusted the most. I know what it’s like to be let down and then keep my guard up in the future. I’m guessing we all do.

There’s another shared part of the human experience—sex. People joke about sex appeal or the popularity of erotica like it’s a sordid thing. Maybe sometimes it is, but other times it’s about recognizing something you experienced once, or want to.

And lastly, this is romance, and we connect through love. I’m not sure this genre would make any sense if we hadn’t all experienced love (and the loss of it). We know the value of it, we root for our characters as they work toward it, we rejoice with them when they find it. And I think we also feel it, in that moment of HEA.

These are the things I have in common with my characters—with everyone. Did you recognize any part of that in you?

GIVING IT UP

Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it’s not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.

He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren’t enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.

But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: dubious consent.

“A ballsy departure from romantic conventions. At once gritty and tender, stark and hopeful.”

—Cara McKenna, author of Willing Victim

“Giving It Up is an erotic, compelling story that takes us to the shadowy, lonely places but doesn’t leave us there. Amber Lin shows us that romance isn’t just for the rich and shiny. Love can find its way even into the dark corners of the most damaged hearts.”

—Tiffany Reisz, author of The Siren

“… this is a book you MUST read if you like gritty, edgier romance that makes you think as well as turns you on.” —Cari Quinn, USA Today Bestselling Author of No Dress Required

“Every page is chock full of sexy, angsty must-read-moreness.” —Karla Doyle, author of Game Plan

“Giving It Up is a gritty, real romance that deals in an honest way with what happens to sexuality in the aftermath of rape…. Read it. You won’t be sorry.” —Ruthie Knox, author of About Last Night http://givingitupbook.com/

EXCERPT- *NOTE – 18+ PLEASE*

We stripped at the same time, both eager. I wanted to see his body, to witness what he offered me, but it was dark in the room. Then he kissed me back onto the bed, and there was no more

time to wonder. The cheap bedspread was rough and cool against my skin. His hands stroked over my breasts and then played gently with my nipples.

My body responded, turning liquid, but something was wrong.

I’d had this problem before. Not everyone wanted to play rough, but I was surprised that I’d misread him. His muscles were hard, the pads of his fingers were calloused. I didn’t know how he could touch me so softly. Everything about him screamed that he could hurt me, so why didn’t he?

I wanted him to have his nasty way with me, but every sweet caress destroyed the illusion. My fantasy was to let him do whatever he wanted with me, but not this.

“Harder,” I said. “I need it harder.”

Instead his hands gentled. The one that had been holding my breast traced the curve around and under.

I groaned in frustration. “What’s wrong?”

He reached down, still breathing heavily, and pressed a finger lightly to my cunt, then stroked upward through the moisture. I gasped, rocking my hips to follow his finger.

“You like this,” he said.

Yes, I liked it. I was undeniably aroused but too aware. I needed the emptiness of being taken. “I like it better rough.”

Colin frowned. My eyes widened at the ferocity of his expression.

In one smooth motion he flipped me onto my stomach. I lost my breath from the surprise and impact. His left hand slid under my body between my legs and cupped me. His right hand fisted in my hair, pulling my head back. His erection throbbed beside my ass in promise. I wanted to beg him to fuck me, but all I could do was gasp. He didn’t need to be told, though, and ground against me, using my hair as a handle.

That small pain on my scalp was perfection, sharp and sweet. Numbness spread through me, as did relief.

The pain dimmed. My arousal did too, but that was okay. I was only vaguely aware of him continuing to work my body from behind.

I went somewhere else in my mind. I’d stay that way all night.

At least that’s what usually happened.

.

Giveaway includes everything listed above! US winners will get everything but international winners will only receive giftcard. I will leave this open until July 9th 2012 @ 11:59pm EST with the winner announced soon after. 

34 Comments

  1. “Fiction is about the extraordinary.” You should practically sky write that. I love it. I already have GIVING IT UP on my wish list.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  2. Did Amber do any research to find out if some rape victim’s respond like Allie afterwards or is her handling post-rape just fiction?

    acm05atjuno.com

  3. Very good excerpt! Chilly for sure.
    I’m international (from the far-off land of Canada lol…) so just the giftcard for me; thanks for the giveaway
    karen.wapinski at gmail dot com

  4. @JenM Ah, me too! Don’t know if you read M/M but I just finished By His Rules by J.A. Rock and it was amazing! Wait, I’m supposed to be pushing my own book here 🙂

    @Stephanie C Thanks, hon!

    @Bek Tell me about it! At least now I have goodreads otherwise I’d never remember

    @JeanP Exactly right. Thanks!

    @LaTanya Thank you!

    @Mary Preston Aww, thanks!

    @Jennifer Hey you! Thanks sweetie 😉

    @Anne What a great question! It was very important that the motivations “made sense”, at least in Allie’s mind. That is, if I believed a rape victim would never react that way, I wouldn’t have written it.

    At first I just wrote from the heart. After a few people questioned Allie’s reactions, I did consult a psychologist about the ritualized way she approaches rough sex to confirm its validity. And since Giving It Up I’ve actually been contacted by someone who reacted exactly like Allie, both in her response to her rape AND in finding a guy who got her out of all that. So thrilled to see that Giving It Up was accurate and also that happy endings happen in real life!

    @Karen Thank you!

  5. I usually identify with the fears most characters have. Everyone is afraid of rejection or taking a leap of faith. That is how readers are able to connect with PNR, Steampunk or SciFi stories. If you connect with the characters then you can believe any story.

  6. What a great post, Amber–I’m always curious to hear more about how authors create their characters and stories, and it makes a lot of sense that you might not be able to focus on the characters to the extent that they are too familiar 😉 As a reader, I also love that “taking me somewhere new” aspect of the read, so I love new-to-me settings and kinds of characters. Thanks for sharing!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  7. I was concerned for Allie: “I went somewhere else in my mind. I’d stay that way all night.”. I hope this is only a fleeting moment.

  8. This sounds like a very good book to read. What was the hardest part of writing Allie’s story?
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

  9. @StacieD So true! Fears are an important part of the human experience! Well, that and love, but since this is a romance, I think we have that one covered 😉

    @Joanne Thank you!

    @Chelsea Thanks, hon!

    @flchen1 Haha, yeah. Definitely loses some of the magic. Even though my setting is a “realistic” urban city, there is still worldbuilding to make it *their* world. A regular old city would not be that interesting 😉

    @Diane It is worrying! Luckily she has Colin…

    @Sherry The hardest part was worrying I wouldn’t do her story justice. Her pain is real, her experiences do happen, and so the thing that would worry me most is that I either wouldn’t get them right or that I would frame them in such a way that the average reader couldn’t understand them. Luckily, response to her character has been great. That said, there are still a lot of romance readers who don’t like such a dark read, and that’s fine too!

    @Vanessa Thank you!

    @elaing Thanks!

  10. I have this book on my must read list, it sounds great. I can’t wait to learn more about Allie and Colin. I love that Colin seems like he is really intent on giving Allie what she needs, more than what she wants. Congrats on the release.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  11. Hi Amber,
    thank you for the chance at such a great giveaway and also for writing a book that brings rape awareness and it’s after effects to the public’s attention. although not everyone reacts the same as your character a lot of them do, especially if they are incest survivors. they do anything they have to to get out of their own head. of course it hasn’t been that long that we have been able to openly talk about these things either. i hope that your book will help and encourage at least one person to seek the help they need.
    So says a survivor. i know in my case it was years before i got help so i hope they don’t wait and suffer in silence that long. may love and peace reach them all.

    tammy ramey
    trvlagnt1t at yahoo dot com

  12. This book sounds like it will be a great read! I haven’t read anything by Amber Lyn but I will adding this book(and any others by her) to my TBR list. Thanks for introducing me to her!

    melissalamb(at)musfiber(dot)com

  13. The excerpt was great, and I enjoyed your post as I’m always curious about how much of an authors stories are based, even if a tiny bit, on personal experience. Even if it’s just that you’ve visited a place that you set a story in and whatnot. It’s fascinating to me. 🙂
    Thank you for the giveaway as well.

    Pam
    vanillaorchids69(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. @wyndwhisper Thank you for your brave and thoughtful comment. You’re so right, everyone reacts in different ways. I really can’t judge whether one way is right or wrong because I haven’t walked their path, but my hope with Giving It Up is that it allows the reader to walk Allie’s path with her. Sometimes just seeing through another person’s eyes is enough, you know? I wish you all the best, I really do.

    @Melissa Thank you!

    @VanillaOrchids Thanks! Yes, I can’t help but make certain assumptions or guesses about an author. Usually not based on one book, but if I’ve read everything by an author and there’s a recurring theme, you can make inferences. But that’s what makes reading interesting, right? If authors were all the same, our books would all be the same, aka boring 🙂

    @Nikkie Thanks 🙂

  15. Awesome insight from an author about whether they include aspect from their personal lives in their novels, I’ve always wondered 🙂

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