“Beauty is only skin deep.
So are scars…
Stock car racing chamion, Shane Davis had it all-money, fast cars and even faster women until a fiery crash changed everything in a flaming instant.
Shane never intends to get married; not with the way he looks now. He knew no woman could ever love him and wasn’t about to find out if he was wrong. But when he needed a woman in his life to play a pretend girlfriend for a few short weeks, he selected the one he felt would suit his needs with no strings attached: Angela Neil.
The first time Angela came face to face with Shane, she was taken aback by his scars but more so by his sizzling magnetism. The way he looked at her, with a searing heat made her simmer in secret places. This was supposed to be all about business, but Shane made it clear early on that he wanted much, much more. Angela was a smart woman and wasn’t about to let her hormones rule her common sense. But temptation called Shane Davis was a dangerous thing to resist…”
I wanted to ask Ms. Burke a few questions about the real life events that planted one of the seeds of this story into her head, as well as her experience writing it, because a character in my upcoming book also has to deal with real physical scars and how people react to them.
Hi Dez, thanks for taking the time to talk with me!
Hi Emma! Thanks for having me.
I read your author profile and I understand a couple years ago you yourself were badly burned on the hand and wrist by hot grease. How long was it until you were able to use your hand as normal?
A very long time. The skin tightened up on my hand so it took a while for me to be able to use it normally. It was a stupid, freak accident. One of those things where you look back and can’t believe how dumb you were. A friend was cooking a pound of bacon grease in a cast iron skillet on a grill. He asked me to hold a glass jar while he poured the grease into it. As you can imagine, as soon as he tilted the pan, the grease overheated and bubbled up and over, coating my entire right hand in bacon grease. The glass jar shattered and for a moment I didn’t feel the pain. And then I did…
What kinds of treatments did you have to go through?
The worst part was the debridement where they have to scrape off the burned skin. It gives me the shivers now to even think about it. Then there was quite a bit of physical therapy to stretch the skin and teach my hand how to work again.
How self-conscious about it were you in those early days? Did you feel like people treated you differently or reacted differently to you than they normally would? If so, are these issues that have carried on right through to the present?
I was extremely self conscious for a long time. The doctors told me I had to leave the burn uncovered so I couldn’t wear a glove or even a bandage when I went out in public until it healed. The burn looked terrible and everybody noticed and commented on it. I have a life and responsibilities so I had to go out. Hiding in my house wasn’t an option. Eventually I learned to ignore it because they didn’t mean to be hurtful, they were only horrified.
You strayed from the romance-norms a bit on Skin Deep, didn't you? So often it seems that romance heros are like Mr. Perfect-Everything from their looks to their personalities but your character, Shane, has been badly burned and carries those highly-visible scars with him all the time. Did you worry that readers wouldn't respond well to him?
I didn’t worry because I had confidence my readers would see what was on the inside of Shane. To be honest, it never crossed my mind that the readers wouldn’t accept him because he wasn’t perfect or the typical hot guy on the outside.
What do you think it was about Shane, or the heroine Angela, or them together that allowed Angela to see Shane in a different way to how everybody else saw him?
Have you ever met someone that you didn’t think was handsome at first and then after you get to know them you think they’re the cutest guy in the world? That was what happened to Angela. The more time she spent with Shane the more his scars became completely invisible to her. She couldn’t see them at all.
When I'm writing a book there's often a few scenes that I think about but just don't really fit into the particular story or timeframe I'm telling so they don't make it into the book. Some of them even get written before being edited out. Did you have any of those with Skin Deep? If so, would you tell me about one?
Sometimes extra sex scenes are left on the cutting room floor. There was a particular scene that I cut only because I felt like there were PLENTY of other hot scenes in the book.
Was writing ‘Skin Deep' a particularly emotional experience for you? I mean more-so than writing a story where all the elements are further removed from your real life? Was it ‘therapeutic' in any way?
It definitely was therapeutic in some ways. People don’t mean to stare at burns, they can’t help it. It’s a very normal reaction for people to say, “Oh my God! What happened to your hand?” In Shane’s case, the burn was on his face so he couldn’t hide it in a glove or under a table. He had to face the stares and comments head on. I know how difficult that would be to do.
Our boxed set is called ‘Top 100 Reasons' to love. Our fellow author, Cerys Du Lys started a ‘Reasons to Love' list here. What would you put on that list?
1. He’ll humor you by letting you watch as he takes off his tie, unbuttons his dress shirt and shrugs it off one shoulder then the other.
2. He’ll go out in the pouring rain to pick up your favorite pizza for takeout.
3. He’ll fill up your car with gas on the weekends so you don’t have to hang around a gas station.
4. Once a month or so, he’ll ask if you’ve lost weight.
5. He’ll buy you bird feeders instead of jewelry. ( I love birds! What can I say?)
You know, in my upcoming book, the heroine for my scarred hero is also an actress, how did you travel forward in time to plagarise from me?
Great minds think alike! I can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!
If readers liked “Skin Deep” what other book of yours do you think they'd like the most?
Safe House and Liberated, a biker motorcycle club romance two part series. I always write my heroes with a heart of gold so even Flint, a member of a biker club, has a good heart underneath the tough exterior.
Thanks again for your time, Dez, all the best!