Friday, April 18, 2008

Interview with Susan Lyons

I’d like to welcome our guest today,
Susan Lyons
. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy. Please grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called She’s on Top. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Thanks for inviting me. It’s great fun to be here. OK, I’ll jump right in. She’s on Top is the fourth and final book in my Awesome Foursome series, starring four twenty-something girls who laugh, cry, bond – and find their own very sexy romances.

She’s on Top explores what happens when a woman with body image issues contacts her first love, remembering a gawky boy – and discovers he’s turned into a total hottie.

Musician Rina Goldberg has never forgotten Giancarlo Mancini, and before she can move ahead with her future she needs to resolve her past. When she gets in touch with Giancarlo after almost a decade, she’s hoping they’ll no longer be attracted to each other. Unfortunately, she’s still hot for him. Well, what woman wouldn’t be? He’s a gorgeous, charming, successful video music producer. More surprising to her is the fact that he seems genuinely attracted to her too, despite her plus-sized bod. The sex is amazing, but she can’t believe this could be anything more than a short-term affair. She and Giancarlo have very different values and lifestyles.

That may be true, but there’s one thing Giancarlo is sure of. Rina is his one special woman, and he’s determined to make her his own. Permanently. He’s also determined to make her understand how truly beautiful she is, curves and all.

Rina and Giancarlo challenge each other to do some serious self-examination – and to grow in ways neither of them had ever believed possible.

That makes it sound like a pretty serious book, doesn’t it? Actually, the tone is fairly light, and it’s sexy, sensual and fun. The series is published by Kensington Aphrodisia, which is an erotic romance line. So, there’s some pretty hot sex, as well as a developing romance with a happy ending, character growth for both Rina and Giancarlo, and lots of girlfriend bonding.

She’s on Top is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
I didn’t. Credit for that goes to my editor. My title was Lights Off. You see, each of the Awesome Foursome girls comes up with a set of “rules to have sex by” – i.e., rules to govern her relationship with her guy. Rina is so self-conscious and unhappy about her body that she only feels uninhibited and sexy if her lover can’t actually see her – so she’ll only make love if the lights are off.

She’s on Top is a good title too, because the book is about her overcoming her body image issues and learning that her full-figured body is actually beautiful. It’s also about her finding an incredibly gorgeous, sexy, romantic man who thinks she’s the absolutely perfect woman. So, in a number of ways, she comes out on top.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Most of the research was about music. Rina is a clarinetist and she’s auditioning for a symphony orchestra, so I talked to some musician friends. Giancarlo is a music video director, and that’s something I researched mainly from books and on the internet. I also did some research into Jewish traditions because Rina was raised by Jewish parents and her neighbor and good friend is Jewish.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

It was great fun to write Rina. She’d already played a significant role in the first three books in the series, so I already knew her quite well. I was just itching to tell her story, and enjoyed being able to explore her personality and life in more depth. She embodies so many women’s doubts about their own physical attractiveness, and I loved writing her character arc.

Giancarlo was fun too. Some reviewers have called him the perfect romantic hero, and I loved having him go a little crazy with all those wonderful romantic gestures that we women so love, and so often receive. And yet, he’s all male, and sometimes oblivious to just how complex issues may be – or at least how complex a woman may perceive them to be.
I also loved writing Rina’s elderly neighbor, Levi Fischman. Rina is an orphan and he’s kind of a surrogate dad and a total sweetie.

Also, one of my favorite things to write in all of the books has been the girlfriend scenes, where they get together over lunch or dinner and – well – kind of play therapist for each other. To play off the name of your blog, getting together with three girlfriends and a bottle of wine to dissect each other’s love lives is definitely cheaper than therapy! (Gotta agree with that) KW. Not to mention way more fun – for the characters and for the author as well!

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

I think America Ferrara would do a great job of playing Rina. She has the same dark curly hair and lush curves, and I think she’d totally get the nuances of Rina’s personality. The shyness and lack of self-confidence, the sensual and sexual being who at first is only willing to come out in the dark, then the development of a very grownup female confidence.

For Giancarlo, I think of Josh Groban. I don’t think he’s Italian but he has that lovely dark Mediterranean kind of masculinity. Shiny, wavy hair, sensual features. And he has the same musical sensibility as Giancarlo.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Lots and lots. For this particular series, I was particularly inspired by the writers of the TV series, Sex And The City, and author Ann Brashares, who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. Those authors captured the essence of a close four-female friendship – the mutual support and love, the advice-giving, the humor. Age-wise, my foursome comes between the “City” women and the “Pants” girls. I chose the 20s because that’s the time when girls really become women – and figure out what kind of women they’re going to be (with a little help from their friends!).

What do we have to look forward next?

I’ll have a novella in a Christmas anthology from Kensington Aphrodisia. My title is “Unwrap Me” – and I believe they’re keeping the title and that the anthology will also be called Unwrap Me. My story is about a woman who hates Christmas – until her girlfriend gives her a very special Secret Santa gift: a hot firefighter!

Thanks, Susan.

To celebrate her book release, She’s on Top, she'd love to give away a copy. So pop over to her website at and enter her monthly contest – and say you came from Much Cheaper Than Therapy. She’ll draw a winner on Saturday. She will be checking in today and I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

With degrees in psychology and law, what could I possibly do with my life but turn to writing romance? It’s way more fun. I write sexy contemporaries for Kensington Aphrodisia and I’m delighted to say that the first two of my Awesome Foursome books have won 5 first places in contests. Reviewers have said kind things such as: “…a heartwarming romance topped with steaming hot erotica”; “hot steamy sex, best girlfriend bonding, and a strong romantic conflict in a compelling story”; “wickedly hot sex and a story line that grabs you and doesn't let go until the last word”; “pure, steamy seduction from start to finish!” I also write sweet short romance for The Wild Rose Press, and have stories in the “Dreams & Desires” anthologies from Freya’s Bower (charity anthologies benefiting women’s shelters). I live in Vancouver, BC, where the Foursome books are set.

Check out author’s website at for excerpts, trailers, behind-the-scenes writing process notes, discussion questions, monthly contest, newsletter, give-aways and lots of other good stuff.

Buy She’s on Top at Amazon ( and other online bookstores as well as your friendly neighborhood bricks-and-mortar store.


Alexis Morgan said...


Congratulations on the release of another great book! I'm so excited for you that RT recognized your genius with a Top Pick! Here's to your continued success--


Shannon McKelden said...

Nice interview, Susan! It was great to meet you at the Eastside meeting this month.

Shannon McKelden

Susan Lyons said...

Hi Alexis. You are so sweet! I look forward to doing more signings with you this year.


Bonnie Edwards said...

Susan....another fab read! And a top pick is quite a "feather"


Susan Lyons said...

Hi Shannon -

Thanks, and yes, it was great meeting you too. I had a wonderful time doing that workshop with the Eastside folks.


Susan Lyons said...

Thanks, Bonnie. Yes, this is my first RT Top Pick, so I'm thrilled to bits!

Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Susan!
I was already familiar with your book because I received your 'chapter excerpt book' (does it have another name?) from our Desert Dreams conference. What a great promo tool and a great way to hook the reader! Loved that idea, and your excerpt.:}
Best Wishes!

Susan Lyons said...

Kathrynne, it's so nice to hear from someone who got one of my excerpt booklets. I do think they're useful - it's nice to be able to read a bit of the book, plus some reviews etc., before you decide whether to buy a book.

I'm so glad you liked the excerpt!


Caitlin Hoy said...

Congrats on the new release, Susan! I can't wait to try it. It looks like a great read. Thanks for taking the time out of your day for the great interview and blogging with us.

Lil said...

Congrats on those firsts places in contests with your first two books of the series.

Enjoyed the interview and am a fan of the books of yours that I read. Short stories aren't easy things to write in a way that a reader feels like she got a complete story but I loved the one you did for the Dreams and Desires anthology.

Kim Watters said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for blogging with us today. I also got one of your sample book at Desert Dreams and was excited because I feel I already know you. Great marketing tool. Hope you have a great weekend.

Cara Marsi said...

Great interview, Susan. SHE'S ON TOP sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it. Congratulations on your success.

Carolyn Matkowsky
w/a Cara Marsi

Anonymous said...

Susan, I love that your characters deal with such realistic life issues – body image, in Rina's case.

And I love that the friends have such different lives!

Isn't it wonderful that that's often true in real life, too? Thank goodness our friends have such different views and can help us adjust our perspective from time to time, like the Fab Four do for each other.

Congrats on another successful book!


Susan Lyons said...

Thanks, Caitlin and Carolyn/Cara. I hope you enjoy the book.

lil, thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad you've read one of the Dreams & Desires anthologies. You know there are 2, right? For those who don't know, these charity anthologies benefit shelters for battered women.

Kim, another Desert Dreams attendee. You know, I sign those booklets and ship them off, and always wonder whose hands they end up in - and whether they actually get read or just tossed in the garbage. Thanks for the positive feedback.

Susan Lyons said...

Thanks, Rachel. Yes, friends are so important. I don't know how people get through their lives without consulting friends! (And, in the case of writers, consulting critique partners.) God forbid I should ever act on one of my own opinions without getting sensible and caring input!

Jacquie Rogers said...

Congrats on the Top Pick. You're a wonderfully talented author and a genuinely nice person. :)