Meredith Wild, seen here with her husband and three kids, balances parenting with writing best-selling erotic romance books. (Photo: Meredith Wild)
Meredith Wild is a soccer mom by day — and a best-selling erotic romance novelist by night. Mostly night, anyway, as waiting till her three kids are asleep makes it easier to get into the sexy mindset that her occupation requires.
“It’s really difficult, the sex scenes aside, moving between writing and reality,” she tells Yahoo Parenting.
She didn’t enter parenthood with the plan to straddle such opposing worlds. But two years ago, Wild — a pseudonym that she uses on books and in all related publicity — became simultaneously disillusioned with her career as a software company CEO and intrigued with the world of romantic fiction. So the Smith College English grad tried her hand at it, writing and self-publishing the novel Hardwired. It would become the first of Wild’s four-book Hacker Series, which follows the lusty adventures of savvy businesswoman Erica Hathaway and bossy billionaire Blake Landon.
The books became a phenomenon, landing on several bestseller lists — and, earlier this year, were scooped up by Grand Central Publishing, along with a fifth-book deal, for a whopping $7 million. Now fans are eagerly awaiting the Sept. 15 release of the newest addition to the series, Hard Love, for which Wild has been tweeting out teasers (“Our bodies, our love, and the fierce way we came together made sense when the rest of the world failed us”) to her 24,000-plus followers. (A sixth book, On My Knees, remains self-published.)
Hardwired was the first in Wild’s Hacker Series; Hard Love is the eagerly awaited fifth. (Photo: Grand Central Publishing)
Yahoo Parenting spoke with Wild, 33, as she sat in her car to avoid the construction going on at the family’s new house in Destin, Fla. — where she, her husband of a dozen years, and their three kids relocated to from New Hampshire over the summer. “We went on vacation and kind of had a revelation that we wanted to live down here, so we bought a house,” explains the newly moneyed author. “But the rest is going into the college fund.”
You have three kids — two boys, 7 and 9, and a girl, 5. What are they like?
The boys play soccer. My oldest is like a burgeoning Hollywood director — he’s wicked tech savvy! He edits his own videos, and he has a series and does interviews. He’s so technologically progressive that it shocks me. My second son is a little more introverted, but he plays along [with his brother] sometimes. He’s an exceptional athlete. And my daughter is just like my oldest: She’s a big, sassy performer who wants to be up on the table at every restaurant we go to.
How did you go from tech to erotic romance?
I had gotten my degree in English and was so burnt out on all the classics that I literally did not read for years — and then I was having babies, and nobody has time to pick up a novel when they have infants. Once I got out of the woods a bit, I started reading more popular fiction, and one of the first things I read was Twilight. I was like, wow, this is like candy. Then I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey and I was like, whoa, this is crazy! I remember being so scandalized when I read it, like, oh my god, people are reading this and talking about reading it? Out loud, to other people? But I really enjoyed it, and at one point I thought: I think I can do this.
How do you and your husband Jonathan split up childcare?
He is incredibly helpful. He basically takes the morning shift so I can sleep in and have energy to write later in the day, and he also does all the extracurriculars with them. It’s obviously very helpful that he doesn’t have a full-time job outside of the house: Jonathan was a city firefighter north of Boston for many years, but he retired so he could work full-time on marketing my books. We have our own imprint, so even before this deal with Hachette [Grand Central Publishing], I just kept moving forward with my plan to get my books into more stores and to publish other authors. So we’re definitely a team.
Wild and her two boys. (Photo: Meredith Wild)
Are there awkward moments when fellow parents ask what you do for a living and what you write?
I can’t speak for the new community yet, but [in New Hampshire] I didn’t really volunteer the information. People sort of just find out. They know that I write books. They don’t know about the content. But as I’ve explained to my oldest, especially since our move, “You can say I’m an author, but we’re not going to say what my pen name is.” I just explain that my books are for grownups, and they don’t really seem fazed. They just seem proud. I’ve never gotten any sort of backlash from anyone. More than anything, I’ll go into school for a kid event and a teacher will pull me aside and start talking to me about the books — which makes me sort of like, “I’ve got to be a parent now!” I’m not ashamed of anything I do. I just blush a lot. I turn bright red. It’s complicated, because I don’t want to shout it off the rooftops, but I’m not ashamed to talk about it, either. The news will disseminate as it does and we’ll deal with it from there.
How will you feel when your kids read your books?
I don’t imagine that they will.
I don’t think so. I could see them being interested in that kind of content in general, but I don’t know if they’d be interested in reading it if it was written by their mother.
You obviously have a healthy, open attitude about sexuality. How will you pass that on to your kids?
They’re really young right now, though we’ve kind of put it out there to our oldest. I said, “Do you know what sex is?” and he was like, “No,” and I was like, “OK, we’ll talk about it later!” [Laughs.] When the time comes, I’m obviously well versed in talking about and writing about it. I don’t want there to be anything taboo that [my kids] feel they can’t talk to me about, at any point in their lives, when it comes to sex. I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed the [erotic romance] books, and why I continue to write in this particular genre: I think it opens up a dialogue with people in their relationships. Even when people have been in relationships for a long time it can be very hard to talk about sex. I would genuinely hope that my kids are comfortable in their sexuality, and are talking about it with me or their dad or their partners, because that’s the key in having it be healthy and positive.
The writer and her husband, pre-kids. (Photo: Meredith Wild)
How do your books help keep your own sex life healthy? And what would you tell other parents about keeping their romantic passion alive?
I think you get to this point — especially when you have young kids and everyone’s tired and you’re really slammed with things to do — where it’s hard to stop and think about your relationships, and specifically your sexual relationships. It’s especially true for women, because we have a thousand things in our heads all the time. I think for guys, it’s a little easier to compartmentalize and be like, “Okay, it’s sexy time now,” while women are like, “But I’ve got 12 things I’ve got to do right now!” You can’t shut your brain off. When you read these books, it allows you to shut your brain off and just feel sensual and aroused, and to think about sex in a healthy way — and then shut the book and look at your husband and think, OK, I’m ready now. That was definitely something I’d experienced as a reader. Now, as a writer, I write scenes that I would enjoy and that I hope other people would enjoy. And yes, it’s nice when Jonathan reads them and looks at me like, “What’s next?” and I ask, “But did you like it?” and he says, “Yes.” And I’m like, “Did it turn you on?” and he says, “Yes.” It’s like the male test of if it’s sexy enough.