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Interview with Kathryn Jordan


Kathryn Jordan learned early to blend her passions for writing, teaching and adventure. She taught at Cairo American College in Egypt, as well as in Spain and the Philippines, thus fulfilling her dream to see the world not as a tourist but a resident.


 You write in the new genre of erotic romance. What made you decide to write erotic romance fiction?

Well, I had been writing mainstream fiction for years (early mornings before going to my job teaching high school English). Finished three novels, had an agent and everything, but they kept getting close but not quite. Finally I just got angry and decided to write something so sexy and fun and short that no one would turn it down.

Also Hot Water started as a short story for an anthology called Agua Erotica in which all the stories have to do with water. I'd been spending summer weekends now and then at Two Bunch Palms, a lush hot springs spa near my home in the California desert. As a teacher, summer was prime writing time and I rarely allowed myself long vacations. A romantic spa with silky, magic water - perfect for an erotic short story.

Six pages in I knew it was a novel and just kept writing. Hot Water sold in three weeks!

 Your book, Hot Water, has gotten fabulous reviews. Is this your first novel? If so, were you surprised at the response you've gotten?

As I mentioned, Hot Water is my fourth novel, but first to sell. Hopefully others will get picked up now. Surprised at the response? Yes and no. I think I knew I was onto something with the concept, a woman who escapes her stifling life for a weekend, rents a red Lamborghini and hires a gorgeous male escort. Even before the book came out, when I told women the premise their eyes immediately lit up. Like, whoa! Sometimes I didn't get past the word "escape."

But I'm surprised and delighted that so many women tell me they read it in one sitting, couldn't put it down and how they're telling their friends. Also that many reviews have commended both the style and what I call the "deeper levels" of Hot Water. And that men really like it too! One man read his wife's copy and went out and bought 12 copies to send to friends. Helped put me on a best seller list in Central California! Hot Water was #2 and Da Vinci Code was #4. That, I'll definitely frame.

One more thing, I'm surprised how my marketing ideas worked. Touring spa resorts with the "ultimate spa novel" (Hey, tough job but somebody's gotta do it), holding Hot Water House Parties in private homes (like Tupperware or lingerie parties, but steamy readings and fun door prizes like the turquoise thong that says "Get Into Hot Water.") And I was completely blown away when a lady set up an event at the Hot Licks Barbecue and Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona, complete with belly dancers and a sexy lingerie fashion show. I kept pinching myself. OMG, I'm signing books in a bar!

Hmm, February 3rd I'm doing an event at a hot lingerie store in Santa Barbara called Purrmission.

 In your opinion, what separates mainstream romance from erotic romance? Is it simply a case of more explicit sexual scenes, or are there other differences?
I think stories qualify as erotica when we sense that a main purpose is to turn the reader on, and yes that usually means more explicit sex scenes. But for women it also goes deeper (excuse the pun). In Hot Water, the male escort, William, has a philosophy degree and Julia is an avid, almost compulsive reader, so they meet on an intellectual level as well. The biggest sex organ is after all the brain. (Okay, it helps that he's a gorgeous combination of Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp). So a full connection between realistic characters can be more of a turn on than mere explicitness. And if it gets crass, I think that sometimes pulls the reader out. At least for women. I tried to make the sex scenes steamy hot and real, but not coarse. My rule is no anatomical terms, unless something humorous happens. Which it often does with sex. Sex is so complex and there are always a myriad of emotions and thoughts going on, which makes it real. And if we feel and believe what's happening, now THAT'S a turn on.

 Our readers love to know about the backgrounds of successful authors. Could you tell us a little about how you got started in writing?

I started a novel when I was sixteen, but set aside my writing dream when I married a few years later and was concentrating on getting my teaching degree and some years later, a baby. I left the marriage when I was in my late twenties (yes, there is a character in the book that resembles my first husband). Then I taught overseas for some years, taking my son with me. Egypt, Spain, the Philippines, then back in California. But as much as I loved teaching, I always wanted to be a writer, and, well, see answer # 1.

We all love reading about various writing habits. What's your typical writing day like? 

I write early in the morning, first thing, unless I have too much email to answer. When I was teaching I'd get up at 4:00 A.M. or even earlier, and get 3-4 hours in before work. Now I start a bit later and sometimes don't stop until 2:00 or 3:00 P.M. I almost never write in the evening. Also I write fairly slowly. I can work half the day and get out a page. But the good part is, my work doesn't need much editing once I finish. I wrote Hot Water in eight months, fastest book I've ever written.

I don't do a detailed outline of the whole book. Notes, at first until I know where to start. Then when I stop writing for the day, I make a few notes about what will come next. I mainly follow the characters and things happen that I don't always foresee.

Do you have a goal of a certain number of pages or words written in each session?

Not really. There have been rare times when I've churned out 5 or 6 pages in a day. And I really love it if I can do a chapter or two or even three in a week, but I just let the process happen.

Also I do a ton of writing while I'm doing other stuff, like house work, gardening, driving, dancing or riding the bike at the gym. (Which I haven't done enough of lately). That's when I get ideas of what to add to a scene I've been working on or where to go next.

Was it difficult to get Hot Water accepted by a mainstream publisher?  What was your process?

Well, Leona Nevler, the editor who bought Hot Water for Berkley / Penguin, had tried hard to get my previous novel but couldn't quite get it past whoever else had to decide. So she was waiting for my next book and grabbed it up. Hot Water is kind of a cross genre book. It is a romance, yet always shelved with mainstream fiction. My agent sent it to other houses, all mainstream, but Leona Nevler got it first.

Kathryn, what advice do you have for new romance writers? Or writers who haven't managed to break into mainstream publishing?

Try to write every day even if it's only an hour or two. Really work to learn the craft. Read books on writing and the genre you're aiming for. Go to conferences. Get in a critique group. Remember you're writing to entertain the reader so keep the pages turning. A fresh or quirky concept helps. Most of all, believe, and never, ever give up.

I took an early retirement from teaching five months before Hot Water sold and have been on the ride of my life. The sequel, Steam, is in the works. And I'm about a third of the way through a new novel based on the true story of silent screen star, Gladys Walton who was also Al Capone's girlfriend. It's worth waiting for.

Oh, and if you have something sexy to write, don't worry what anyone thinks. Just write it. My 88 year old mother loves Hot Water. A 93 year old lady in the home where Mom lives says it should be in large print! "Women our age need books like this," she says. If I'd known that I might've written it sooner!


HOT WATER is a woman’s fantasy come true. For years Julia dreamed of this: a weekend escape as far as she can get from her dull mid-western life and a husband who cares more for his trucks than for her. The kids are raised; if not now, when? And Hidden Springs is perfect, a secluded spa resort in the California desert. Adults only with “clothing optional” tanning decks for her Minnesota white skin. She rents a red Lamborghini and hires a male escort from the internet. Hot, a delicious blend of Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp. She doesn’t even know his name. She’ll call him “William.”

For “William,” meeting the Minnesota lady at Hidden Springs is just another job. Hardly the life he once imagined while studying philosophy in college, but lucrative. Besides, women are a study in themselves. Although he could’ve done without the morning’s disaster with Mrs. Carlton. At first glance he knows Julia is nothing like his other clients.

What neither of them imagine is that the famous Hidden Springs water isn’t the only magic, and this one weekend will change their lives forever.