Interview with Sherri Hayes

The combination of FBI agent and professional footballer is an unusual one. What made you come up with the idea?

Gage’s profession was decided in the first book of the series, Behind Closed Doors. After that, it was a matter of finding the right woman for him. I knew she needed to be strong, both physically and mentally, yet vulnerable, too. Rebecca took shape from there.

Which idea came first, the professional footballer being stalked, or the romance between an FBI agent and her project?

Gage and his stalker were first. There are hints in Behind Closed Doors about Gage having a stalker. Rebecca’s character didn’t begin to take shape until the very end of writing Behind Closed Doors.

You go into quite a lot of detail about the football games. Is this a personal passion of yours?

I grew up watching the Cleveland Browns with my dad. Back then it was not unusual to find me right there along with him shouting at the television. Of course, during playoff season, it’s not uncommon to find me doing that now, either.

As Rebecca relaxes and allows herself to be seduced by Gage she gradually becomes used to the more provocative outfits that he picked out for her. Was this an intentional statement about female sexuality and a woman’s right to dress as we please?

It was more a statement about Rebecca herself. I tend to write what is right for my characters, their personalities, and their growth. Everything else is secondary. In Rebecca’s case, she viewed her ultra conservative clothing as an outward sign of her poise and control over her life and situation. Gage gave her the freedom to release some of that, and realize her world wasn’t going to fall apart if she did.

Your main characters get engaged and have a child relatively quickly by today’s standards. Did you have any alternative endings in mind when you were writing?

Neither of those things were planned when I started writing their story. When I write a story, I generally only have a vague idea of where it’s headed. Outside of that, I let the story flow, and the characters guide where we end up. I knew they would end up together, but they surprised me with the ending.

How did you find writing the erotic scenes and are there any family members who will be forbidden from reading it? (Grandparents, etc.)
This is my sixth published work to date, and all of them have had love scenes of one shape or form. Writing them doesn’t bother me. I do what I feel is appropriate for the plot, scene, and characters. As for family…the only family that reads my books is my mom and she loves my romances. She once told me that my love scenes were what a woman wants but rarely gets.

Who were your literary influences for this book?

I love to read, but I wouldn’t say there were any specific literary influences for Red Zone.

The obvious question is, what was your take on 50 Shades of Grey and did it inspire you to write your own erotic romance?

My first book published six months before 50 Shades of Grey, so no, it didn’t inspire me. While I read part of the fan fiction when it was posted, I haven’t read the books since E.L. James published the trilogy.

Do you see yourself more as Rebecca or Megan and is any part of the story autobiographical?

I relate more to Rebecca than I do Megan. While I wouldn’t say any of the story is autobiographical, there are parts of Rebecca’s past and personality that are similar to mine.

Was there a man that you had in mind when creating Gage’s character?

I tend to visualize personalities more than physical traits when I write my characters, so no. All of my characters come purely from my imagination.

What made you choose the romance genre and not Sci-fi or fantasy, for example?

I’ve always loved reading romance novels, and I write what I like to read. There is something about reading about a couple falling in love that draws me into a story, and makes me want to see them get their happy ending.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

Writing was something I sort of fell into. It wasn’t anything I’d ever considered as a career path growing up. In fact, I didn’t start writing my first story until I was thirty. It wasn’t until three years later when my publisher approached me after reading some of my online writing that I ever considered being a writer.

Have you got any advice for budding erotic novelists?

The best advice I can give any writer, erotic or otherwise, is to write what you like. If you don’t like the story, then chances are, no one else will either. It also makes the work of writing much more enjoyable.

Do you believe that erotic fiction empowers women?
In a way, yes. I believe it gives women more freedom to learn what they might potentially enjoy sexually with their partners, and that’s always a good thing.