Interview: Mila Gray (Sarah Alderson) Talks Romance

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As you all know, I absolutely adore Mila Gray books, cannot get enough of them. Two words: HOT and HEARTBREAKING. Come Back to Me is about Kit, a marine home from leave and Jessa, a girl trying to break free from a father who has PTS. This is One Moment  is a spin-off about her best friend Didi who falls for Walker, a reserved ex-marine who has given up all hope in life. Both books will make you swoon, laugh, and ache at the emotions and revelations that explode.

Mila Gray is the pen-name for Sarah Alderson, who is better known for her YA thrillers, like Conspiracy Girl (which I have also raved about) and the Hunting Lila series. In 2009, she quit her job in London and took off with her husband and daughter on a round the world tour to find a new home. She stopped off at India, Bali and the search continues..

She has kindly agreed to talk all things NA and romance with me!

1. I’ve read in your travel memoir, Can We Live Here, that you were asked to write NA, but what got you interested in accepting this offer? Did you ever want to write NA before?
Well, the amazing editor who signed Hunting Lila and my other YA books at Simon & Schuster moved to Pan Macmillan and she was the one who suggested that I write something for them under another name. I loved working with her and the idea for Come Back To Me came to me very easily so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had never written anything in that genre but it isn’t that much of a leap from my YA stuff, it’s just a little bit more, um… R-rated? 
2. How different is it to writing YA? Was it simply adding in some x-rated scenes or was it quite tricky to make the transition?
It was different in that my YA tends to be action thriller and this was very much a straight up contemporary romance. In a way it was easier as there were no complicated plot lines to figure out or twists and turns. It was much more focussed on the relationships and the characters’ interactions. I really enjoyed that a lot.
3. Let’s get to the good stuff… What is it like writing super steamy scenes and what tips can you give to aspiring writers?
Hahahaha! Brilliant. Oh man… it’s actually quite fun. A bit like sex, it gets easier and less embarrassing once the first time is over. It also helps not to think about anyone reading it – especially your parents. If you think about your parents or your children reading it then you might freeze up, so I just ignore the voice in my head that’s cringing and let loose. I think the key is to never use flowery, euphemistic language and never to veer the other way into using crass language. It’s a fine line. 
I guess my tips would be to read sexy books and see what makes you cringe and what makes you flip the pages faster, then analyse what works and doesn’t work! If you read the book Vagina by Naomi Wolf she talks about the science that proves the link between sex and creativity in women. The more sex you have the more creative you are. So yeah, lots of sex. That helps too. God, I hope my parents don’t read this. 
4. I find your characters so realistic, how do you find inspiration for them?
Thank you! I don’t really know. Often when creating characters it is about thinking up the situation first and then what you do is try to create a character for whom that particular situation is the most painful or difficult or challenging. By creating back story you are then able to think about who they might be on a deeper level. What has made them the way they are. Is your character the daughter of a colonel who has PTSD? That’s Jessa – and I thought long and hard about what that might do to your character if you had to live with a man like that as a father. Likewise, who would you become if you blamed yourself for the death of your best friend? I’m interested in how humans react to extraordinary and ordinary situations.
5. Which NA authors do you like to read?
Is it bad to admit I don’t read books in this genre? I did try early on but I found them all to be so depressingly full of arrogant, narcissistic, bullying, alpha males with anger and control issues so I quickly gave up. I think readers deserve better. Young women shouldn’t be raised on a diet of brooding asshole men. I want to show that it’s possible for a man to be sensitive and strong without being controlling or violent. That nice guys exist and they can be sexy too! Sexier in fact.
6. Anything you can let slip for the next Mila Gray book?
I am toying with a story involving Isaac (Walker’s brother) but I’m really busy with screenwriting at the moment. Hunting Lila is casting and The Sound is in development as a TV series. There are other exciting things in the works too so watch this space! 
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Heart breaking
Heart breaking
Gorgeous- full stop.
Gorgeous- full stop.
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