| |

Jill Sorenson Interviews Victoria Dahl: A Guest Post

Today we’ve got an author to author interview. Jill Sorenson interviews Victoria Dahl. Thanks, ladies!

Sorenson: Hey Victoria! Or should I call you Vicki? Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me here at All About Romance!! I’m a huge fangirl from way back. So far back that we actually met on MySpace in the age of internet dinosaurs, circa 2008. I tried your books because I liked your personality online and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve read the entire Jackson Hole/GNO series. I just finished Taking the Heat, the latest (final?) installment, and the word I’d use to describe it is joyous. It’s been a joy to watch your career take off, to witness your creative growth as an author, and to laugh with you on twitter. It was a joy to read about a bearded librarian rock climber hero who loves to give pleasure and an inexperienced heroine who discovers delightfully dirty sex.

Dahl: Wow, I can already tell I’m going to like this interview a lot. You should absolutely call me Vicki.

Sorenson: Let’s talk heroines. When I pick up one of your books, I tend to think about you as a person, and how I imagine you are like the heroine. I also think about how I’m like the heroine. This is not always a comfortable speculation, because the qualities I relate to are sometimes parts of myself I’d rather not face. With Veronica, I related to her feeling of being a failure. I didn’t want to relate to that! But often your books are about self-acceptance, and that’s a powerful thing. Your heroines can be prickly, sharp-tongued, non-maternal, bad at relationships, major screw-ups…and it’s all okay. So maybe I’m okay, too. By the end of the story I say to myself “if this trainwreck can get it together, there’s hope for me!”

I noticed a review at Goodreads that commented on the “emotional truth” of your writing. There is an everywoman, authentic quality to your heroines. Do you have a philosophy about writing women or a method for creating true-to-life characters? What inspired you to write a virgin heroine?

Dahl: I am so happy and honored that my heroines mean something to you, because they mean something to me too.

I definitely have a philosophy when I’m writing women. I write about women I know. I have never in my life met a perfect woman and if I did meet her, I doubt I’d want to be friends. Every woman I know is imperfect. Most of them are kind of screwed up, frankly. But when I look at the women in my life that I like and love, no matter how complicated and imperfect they are, I absolutely think they deserve love and happiness. Those are the people I write stories for.

My friends and family are women who are grumpy. Women who are divorced. Women who hate commitment. Women who use vibrators. Women who have great sex with men they aren’t in love with. Women who don’t love their bodies. Women who do. Women who wish they were prettier.

With any or all of those issues, they are still wonderful people who deserve love and respect and adoration from a partner.

The thing I love about writing my heroines is letting them want things for themselves. Not to raise money for orphans or protect their families or save the hero from his self-imposed isolation. They just want something good for themselves. Your heroines are the same way, and I love that so much!

As for my virgin heroine… Well, I’d never written a contemporary virgin before, and I kind of wanted to see what it would be like. The challenge for me was making sure she wasn’t defined by her virginity any more than my other heroines were defined by their sexual pasts. It was really fun to write her. And to write Gabe for her!

Sorenson: On to heroes! Of all the books in the Wyoming series, I think Gabe is the nicest, and the hottest. He’s a lady pleaser and a people pleaser, so his niceness has some interesting layers. It’s presented as an issue he has to work on, rather than proof of his good-guy perfection. In romance, nice guys and hot sex don’t always go together. How did you make this dynamic so sexy?

Dahl: Well, honestly, when I first started writing Gabe, I worried a lot about him being too perfect. I mean…he’s just great. I felt like I needed to muck him up a little, but I kept hesitating because Veronica really needed a good guy. And she deserved him! We all deserve a first time with a man who’s 100% focused on our pleasure, don’t we? Most of us don’t get it, but I was determined to give that to Veronica. J

Thanks to my critique partner, Jennifer Echols, I finally figured out that wanting to be the perfect boyfriend/lover/brother/son is actually Gabe’s problem, so it all clicked for me.

As for his bedroom skills… Well, Gabe has spent his whole life around lots of women. He has two older sisters and a great mom, and he’s a librarian. His associates at school and work have nearly all been women. He’s picked up a lot of sexual information just by listening to female conversations. And he’s done quite a bit of hands-on learning as well. So yeah, he’s good. I mean, really…is it that hard??? (Hopefully that’s NOT what she said.)

Sorenson: Speaking of sex. All of your books are steamy and sex-positive. The hero of Taking the Heat has been dubbed “Cunnilingus Gabe,” which is a beautiful thing, and it always reminds me of that classic “Colonel Angus” gag from Saturday Night Live. But the sexual act that stood out to me most in the story wasn’t cunnilingus. It was fellatio. Joyous, enthusiastic fellatio. You have a gift for writing fantastic blowjobs and I’m really, really into it. I think this is part of what makes your stories so appealing. They are a celebration of sex, of the male and female body, and of giving pleasure as well as receiving it. This isn’t a question, just a full salute!

Dahl: I am giggling madly at hearing I have a gift for writing blowjobs. For me, hot sex is about two people (or more) just being really into each other. It’s not just about the other person looking a certain way, it’s the way they taste/smell/feel/respond. It’s primal.

As for blowjobs…I think sex positivity for women works on many levels. It’s not just “Yes, of course your partner should go down on you because that’s how most women orgasm.” It’s also, “There’s absolutely nothing inherently degrading about performing oral sex on a man.” If you like that man’s body, then enjoy the hell out of it! Passion is a beautiful thing. And so’s a nice penis.

Sorenson: You’re hilarious, outspoken and decidedly NSFW on twitter. From 70s cawk shots to “got yer peenus,” you don’t pull any punches. What’s your favorite online moment? Do you ever struggle with your social media presence or feel pressure to be funny all the time?

Dahl: I’ve gotta tell you, “Got yer peenus” still makes me laugh every time, so it may be my favorite thing. It’s really the perfect response to a misogynist troll losing his mind all over you. (For the uninitiated, the original tweet was “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][as a feminist] I steal penises like grandpas steal little kids’ noses. Where did it go? Oh, it’s in my hand! Want me to put it back? No. FEMINISM!”)

Of course, I also love talking about vaginas with you, Jill! That probably goes without saying.

I don’t struggle with feeling pressure to be funny, but I do struggle with guilt about my media presence. It’s not exactly professional in the traditional sense, but then again I do write books with lots of blowjobs in them. I go back and forth with whether I’m too political or too irreverent or waaaay too dirty.

But any time I really sit down to think about it, I come to the same conclusion. I’m a professional writer, yes, and being a writer is very important to me. But before I’m a writer, I’m a human, then a woman, then a mother, then a wife and friend and part of my community. All of those things are more important than being a writer, so if I lose a book sale because I spoke up about violence against women, for example, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

As for the more risqué talk on Twitter… Well, the older I get, the more comfortable I become being myself and saying what pops into my head. It’s a joy to just be the weirdo I am. Plus I just like looking at pictures of hot men.

Sorenson: Your twitter bio describes you as a “laid back feminist.” Do you consider your work feminist? Do you think romance readers look for feminist stories and embrace feminist authors?

Dahl: I do think my work is feminist! I think a lot of romance is feminist. (Yours, for example!!!) I write books for women about women’s sexuality. I think that alone is a feminist act, though there’s probably a lot of disagreement about that.

I feel like the idea of “feminist” romance is pretty new, but I believe a lot of us have been gravitating toward those types of stories for years. My heroines don’t declare themselves to be feminists, they are just women who believe in living independently and having careers and enjoying sex and having control over their own bodies. In fact, my heroes all believe in those things for women too. It’s not usually talked about, it’s just what makes them heroic for me.

Feminist romance isn’t about lectures or diatribes and it’s definitely not about hating men; it’s about writing a heroine who’s determined to have power over her own life, even when she’s being a partner to someone else. I think almost all of us want that.

Sorenson: Is Taking the Heat the last in the series? What’s next for you?

Dahl: It’s the last of the Jackson romances!!! My next contemporary work is a little up in the air, but I’m currently working on a proposal for a three-book series set at a lake in Minnesota. But coming up next is a historical erotic romance titled Harlot that I’ll be self-publishing in the fall. Here’s the blurb:

He came home to marry an angel…

After two years working in the gold fields of California, Caleb Hightower has come home to marry his childhood sweetheart, Jessica Willoughby. But when he returns, Caleb learns his refined bride-to-be is now a whore. Enraged by her betrayal, he can’t reconcile this shameless woman with the sweet innocent he once deeply loved–but Caleb knows what to do with a harlot. He’s determined to get everything from her that she’s sold to other men. And he’s prepared to pay for the pleasure of his revenge.

But all he found was sin.

After her father’s death and hidden debts left her penniless, Jess made a deal with a devil. Now that Caleb’s returned, the shock of his scorn is matched only by Jess’s regret and heartbreak. To make amends, she’ll let Caleb quench his rage with her body, even though this rough cowboy barely resembles the loving man who once courted her. Their lurid bargain quickly strips them down to searing passion and naked vulnerability, and in the end, the unbearable truth could push them toward forgiveness…or it could destroy their fragile bond forever.

Sorenson: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions!! You’re the best.

Dahl: No, you are clearly the best, because you’ve made me feel wonderful. Thank you for an amazing interview.


Jill Sorenson is the author of 18 romance novels. The second book in her Dirty Eleven series, Shooting Dirty will be published this month.



oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
09/09/2015 7:05 am

Maybe it’s just me, but this interview grated. It read like a parody of a “”girl gabfest””–you look great! No you look great! No you!–which is not how either authors have presented themselves on Twitter or in other pieces I’ve read by them.

Dabney Grinnan
Dabney Grinnan
Reply to  Gigi
09/09/2015 9:23 am

Hmmm…. I didn’t read it that way. I do think that Twitter is a more personal place to express one’s self than on an industry blog. I know I’m much more blunt there than I am here!

09/02/2015 4:00 pm

Great interview. I loved especially the discussion on feminism. People have such outdated ideas about feminism and associate it with didactic politics or even worse, “”man-hating,”” when for me it is such a positive position to have. In fiction with a good writer feminism is interwoven into characterization that is positive rather than negative. Thanks for sharing!

09/02/2015 11:33 am

Well, if she loses readers because of her tweets, she also gains them. I bought one of her books because I found her tweets so funny. I liked the book, and have read three more.

Dabney Grinnan
Dabney Grinnan
09/02/2015 8:52 am

Victoria does write enthusiastic blowjobs. My favorite of her heroes is Chase from Lead Me On. I still remember his and Jane’s (I also adore Jane.) first sex scene. The blowjob in that is so much fun for Jane–I can’t imagine reading it and not thinking, “”Yes!””

The enthusiastic blowjob is just one piece of the joy that infuses Victoria’s sex scenes. When I read them, I’m always reminded of what a great gift good sex is. She also does consent really well. Books like hers show how sexy getting consent can be–Gabe’s sex scenes with Veronica would make a great addition to the “”what defines sexual misconduct”” sessions taught at colleges and universities!