SM: I think that these are two topics which originate back to instinct and carnal need. Basically, everyone has a deep inner feeling and urge to be loved. Romantic love ideally because people want the fairy tale happily ever after that has been a staple in the romantic genre forever. As far as sex is concerned, I think that this is a base need that people want to explore but don't always know how or where to do so without judgment. With the introduction of erotic and romantic literature this need has a safe place to delve without committing to anything that may otherwise feel awkward and uncomfortable. People can love vicariously through the stories they read and the character interactions in those stories, which seems to be the great appeal.
2.) Do you think it's an important component of art and literature?
SM: I absolutely believe that romance and sexual expression have always been cornerstones of the Arts. So many artists have been inspired by the complexities of love and sexual desire that I feel there are innumerable examples of this. I also feel that some of the most notorious writers and artists specifically challenged the acceptance or sexual expression and romantic interaction to prove that they were muses of strong motivation. After all, love lost and sexual yearning were the very things which spawned the Trojan war with Helen of Troy. I honestly don't think I can picture history without these two components being a part of literature and art. However, even if sexual acts aren't shown in a written or tangible art the implications or suggestions are often there. You can see this in the works of writers and artists of every Genre. Even in children's stories, romance has always been a facet of artistic expression.
3.) How do you incorporate it into your own stories?
SM: My stories are often written to both entertain and educate to an extent. So, the tools I use to engage readers are admittedly often romantic. Because I am a multi genre author, I admit you will find facets of romance in all of my tales. But that doesn't mean all of them are romances yet I can't imagine writing a story that didn't utilize the emotion I feel is the strongest for humanity. Because I want my readers to relate to my characters I try to create them to be as real as a person would be so their love lives are used often to express and connect with those readers.
4.) Do you think it's possible to write a compelling story without it?
SM: I'm sure it is possible but I'm not sure if I would be able to do so myself because of my writing style and the way I choose to grow protagonists. However, even when I consider many horror stories I still see elements of eroticism and romance.
5.) How is erotica and love relevant to your most recent works?
SM: Well, my newest book is an erotic romance by classification, so I would say it is entirely relevant. The book was written to showcase all manner of sexualities, sexual confusion, and sexual gratification within a fulfilling relationship. I also wrote it because of the craze of BDSM in the past few years. I did this because I wanted people to understand that it is a multifaceted world and not all who engage in it fit the standard bill of the Fifty Shades of Grey hysteria. I wanted people to understand that it's a very colorful world of many types and walks of life and that dedicated relationships do exist within it.