Thursday, August 16, 2012

How Emotions Made Me a Bestseller: Stacey Espino

Welcome to our Bestselling Authors'
Lecture Series here at Bestsellerology!

Kicking off our series is a post by author Stacey Espino who cranks out books left and right and consistently tops her publisher's bestseller lists.  Here's her secret...


I write romance for Siren and Evernight Publishing. Whether I write a traditional man and woman love story or a hardcore ménage-a-plenty, I always try to focus on character emotion. When I write from a particular POV (point of view), I am that person. I see the world through their eyes, whether it be sorrow or lust. Some of my books are more light-hearted than others. However, even in those reads, I try to pull at least one weakness out of my characters to make them more human, more relatable. Some say I really enjoy torturing my cowboys, well, maybe a little. I feel it makes the HEA (happily ever after) more rewarding in the end.

Readers may not have experienced the extremes that some of my characters have gone through, but they understand the basic emotions of love, hate, jealousy, insecurity, fear and loneliness. We all know what it feels like to want something that we can’t have, to yearn for it so badly our heart aches. And who hasn’t felt insecure about their figures at some point? If you can get your reader to feel connected to your character in one way or another, they’ll have a better enjoyment of the story…and come back for more.

On the same note, a romance is an escape from the ordinary, a chance to experience something you may never have a chance to in real life—like ménage sex or BDSM. It’s why readers flock to taboo books. They’re a fantasy within paper pages or the screen of an e-reader. Even when appealing to a reader’s sexuality, emotion is so important.

Any book can be filled with graphic sex scene after sex scene, but that doesn’t make it a good read or something to remember. If we care about the characters, have some build-up of emotion, and experience their deepest thoughts during intimacy, it’s all the more titillating. Sexual tension mixed with apprehension, a character craving but not revealing it to their lover…a writer can bring a reader on an exciting ride if they take the time to bring the characters fully to life. Do they smoke? Are they scared of growing old alone? Do they have a scar they try to hide?

For example, in Cowboy Outcasts, Callum is an Irish cowboy with Tourette Syndrome. He’s an outcast, a loner, and not the perfect wine-and-dine type of hero. But my readers loved him because he was real, and they were able to watch his journey from sadness to a happily ever after.  It was special to write as my husband and son have this disorder.

My Uniform Fetish series isn’t as deep as some of my westerns, but I still try to make my characters relatable, facing real issues from their pasts or present. Even a book with "sextreme" content or light-hearted fun should still have some real emotion in it to give it a solid foundation. It could be a weight or age issue, an abusive childhood, or a jerk of an ex-boyfriend—but time should be spent making a character three dimensional.

Use some of your own experiences, bits and pieces of your life. It will help your write with passion if you can put yourself in your character’s shoes. Every one of my books has a part of me within it, however small. It can be my love of Tim Horton’s, having grown up without a father, or my love of horses. You can turn past tragedies or illnesses into fuel for your next powerful novel. Don’t forget to challenge yourself as well. Stretch your imagination by delving into the unknown from time to time. It will help you grow as a writer.

That is my take on emotion in writing. It has worked well for me and I couldn’t write any other way. I wish you all the best of luck!

Stacey Espino resides in beautiful Ontario, Canada where she is busy raising her five children. She loves being a Canadian but could do without the brutal winters. She enjoys writing erotic romance that will have you squirming in your seat. From hardcore cowboys to alpha shifters, she has you covered! Stacey also writes alternative m/m romance as Winona Wilder. Check out Stacey here:

Thanks Stacey for her great advice and new word of the day for me:  "sextreme"!  Love it!  Be sure to register for our September Book Factory class here at Bestsellerology while you're here.  And come back on September 15th for our next lecture from author Suzanne Johnson: "Plotting via the Relationship Method".


  1. Thank you for sharing that information about emotions and putting parts of yourself in the character for the story. I will use this. Being new to the craft I love the details of writing there is so much to remember. Again thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing Stacey. Great advice.

  3. Great info, Stacey. Kerrie, your list of guest lecturers is impressive. I know where I'll be on the 15th.

    MM Pollard,
    editor, Black Velvet Seductions
    the MM in Workshops with MM