Q&A with Elia Winters (Author of Purely Professional)


What is your inspiration for writing?

Is it too forward to just say I love reading hot sex? Because that’s the truth. I write the scenes I want to read. I’m also inspired to write characters that I think the world needs more of, like women of diverse backgrounds and body types.

What is your favorite character you have written and why?

I think Cecily Lahey from Combustion, my upcoming Steampunk romance, might be my favorite character of all. She is unapologetically comfortable in her skin, sex-positive, and a wonderful support for the main character Astrid (whom I also love to pieces). Cecily’s a side character in Combustion, but she’ll get her own book in the future, I promise. (There’s a rough draft of it on my hard drive as we speak.)

What do you do when you get writers block?

If it’s a first draft, I solve writer’s block by lowering my standards. Writer’s block tends to come when I’m trying to write something perfectly on the first try, and that’s just impossible. My first drafts are messy nightmares and that’s essential to my creative process. Once I stop trying to make it good, it comes a lot easier! I seldom get writer’s block when editing, because between my first draft and my editing I do a ton of preliminary work to clarify my characters’ motivations and the plot points of the story.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Margaret Atwood. She writes complex, engaging fiction that doesn’t shy away from gritty realism while still holding out hope for the human capacity for joy and beauty. I love her work.

 What is your favorite novel you have written and why?

This is such a tough question! I love each book differently. Ugh, that’s such a cop-out answer but it’s the truth. I love Purely Professional because it was my first novel and it landed me my dream agent and my first contract, plus it’s full of my favorite kinks. I love Playing Knotty – which comes out today, by the way! – because it’s body positive and captures all the things I love about bondage. I love Combustion, releasing this May, because it combines Steampunk and sex toys, two of my favorite things ever.

What is something that your fans may be surprised to hear about you?

I grew up in a very conservative household. I wasn’t allowed to see Rated-R movies until I went off to college, and I was certainly forbidden from reading all the romance novels that I used to sneak behind my parents’ backs.

 How did you come up with the title of your book?

I struggled for a long time to come up with the name of Purely Professional while I was writing it. That all changed when I wrote the conversation between Bridget and Max when she asks him to teach her about BDSM. I wrote the words “purely professional” in a line of dialogue and knew right away I had my book title. With Playing Knotty, the title came first. I wanted to write a bondage book and the phrase just popped into my head. I searched and couldn’t believe no one had beaten me to that glorious, glorious pun.

What book are you reading now?  

I’m in grad school right now, so I’m reading a lot of books for that. I just finished William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and I’m about to start Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movements Through Its Songs. Definitely not for grad school, I’ve also been reading The Threesome Handbook on and off for a while because my husband and I have some really hot friends.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Cutting scenes I really liked but that didn’t move the book forward. There were some hot scenes that I enjoyed writing, but since they didn’t serve much of a purpose in the novel, they had to go. There was a scene in the first draft of Purely Professional where Max has Bridget mark her interests in a book of sex stories, but it didn’t make it through to the final round. The first draft of Playing Knotty actually had much more hardcore scenes in it, since I originally wrote Emma as an experienced BDSM practitioner, but my rewrite cut all of that in favor of a new, stronger plotline. I’ve still saved those scenes, as they might make it into the Purely Professional sequel.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Every book I write increases my confidence in my own writing and my overall writing skills. I think my character development and plots get stronger with each new novel.

 Do you have any advice to your fans, who are interested in becoming a writer themselves?

Write for yourself, first. Write what you love to read rather than what you think is selling. If you’re always writing for the market, you’re not going to have much fun in the process, and the market changes so much that you’ll be behind the times anyway. Also, don’t fall in love with your first novel. It might take you a few novels before you find one that will get you a book contract – if you even want one, in this day and age – but each novel will make you a better writer. It’s not wasted time, especially if you’re writing for yourself first.

About the Author:

AuthorAvator_Purely Professional

Elia Winters has always been a New England girl, despite having spent much of her childhood in Florida. She holds a degree in English Literature and teaches at a small rural high school where she runs too many extracurricular activities. She balances her love of the outdoors with a bottomless well of geekiness.

Elia dabbles in many genres, but erotic romance has been one of her favorites since she first began sneaking her mother’s romance novels. In high school, she kept her friends entertained with a steady stream of naughty stories and somehow never got caught passing them around. Her erotic fiction and poetry have been published online at Clean Sheets and Scarlet Letters under a different name. Elia currently lives in New England with her loving husband and their odd assortment of pets.

Elia’s virtual life is as busy as her real life. In addition to her website, http://eliawinters.com/, you can also find her on:

Author Links:

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About bhillson


  1. What an intriguing cover! Some hardcore going on there!

  2. Thanks for having me here! I’ll be stopping by throughout the day to answer questions and respond to comments.

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