Sunday, May 29, 2016

Q&A With Bell, Book & Erotica!

Rock and roll: check out this fun interview I just did with Bell, Book & Erotica about all kinds of thing ... including the release of Bionic Lover

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: I’ve always loved science fiction … and erotica has become, shall we say, near and dear to my heart. So when I heard that The Mammoth Book Of Short Erotic Novels anthology back in 2011 was looking for contributors I decided to put two of my favorite things together. I was fortunate that the editors, Mike Hemmingson and Maxim Jakubowski liked my story — then called “Speaking Parts.”

Jump ahead a few years and the great folks at Wordwooze Publishing have put it out, now called Bionic Lover, in a brand new edition … both ebook and audiobook.

Q: How long did it take you to write the book? 

A: To be honest I can’t remember. Not to brag but I’ve written quite a few things before and since. But, going by my usual rate of about 2,000 words a day I’d say I had it done in a week or so. I do remember enjoying the process quite a bit. I mean, I like whatever I write but this was one of those ‘magic’ stories that just seemed to flow out. Very special, that…

Q: Where did the ideas for your characters come from? Are they based on people you know? Do they have similar traits? 

A: I rarely base my characters on real people — though every now and again I try my hand at it just to mix things up. For Bionic Lover I felt I was creating a mixture of many people I’ve known, both real and fictional. I’ve never been a fan, both writing or reading, of one-note characters so I try to give whoever I create a sense of depth — I just hope that people reading what I do will enjoy the end result.

Q: Did you find the erotic scenes hard to write? If so, why? 

A: Nope! I don’t get (ahem) aroused doing it — in fact I try to avoid that: too damned distracting!

Sure, sometimes a lot of sex scenes can be a bit tendious but writing anything too much or anything can be. Like with characters, I really try to make the explicit parts reveal as much about the people doing it, and the story around them, as much as possible.

Sex scenes might be a key part of an erotic story but it’s not more or less important that setting, plot, characterization … everything else.

Q: Do you have a favourite scene in the book? If so, which? 

A: The whole process was really wonderful — though I do remember having a lot of fun with the character interactions. For me, when that’s working, I’m not really aware of writing: it’s people just being with one another.

I also had a lot of fun with the world-building — especially as that’s not something I usually focus on.

Q: How old were you when you started writing? 

A: I’ve always wanted to be a writer — think I wrote my first story back in the 4th grade — but it wasn’t until high school that I really tried to make it happen. Even though I tried, on and off, to write a story or so a week it took me about ten years to finally get published.

In my own defense I was trying to sell where everyone on the planet was also trying to sell: mostly science fiction, horror and mystery magazines and books. In 1993, on a whim, I took a class in erotica writing from Lisa Palac, who was editing a magazine called Future Sex. I gave her a story, my first shot at writing erotica, and she ended up buying it — and then it made it into Best American Erotica. The rest, as they say, is history.

While I never set out to become an erotica writer it’s been a wonderful place to grow and challenge myself creatively. Even though I’ve been expanding out a bit from it, writing sexy stories will always be a labor of love … or, at least, lust.

Q: Where do you get your book ideas from? 

A: Pretty much everywhere and anywhere, really. Sometimes it’s pragmatic: like when you have to write for a specific anthology, magazine, or site. But often they just kind of work their way around in my subconscious. I also like to play games with myself creatively: like making up TV show episodes, movie sequels, spin-off books, etc. I don’t actually ‘write’ them but the ideas get turned into new projects.

I’m a firm believer that writing is not for the faint-of-heart — it’s damned hard work, there are very few financial rewards, and even less recognition — so you have to enjoy yourself … and I try very hard to do just that.

Q: Does your family know you write erotica? If so, how do they feel about it? If not, why not? 

A: My father passed away decades ago and my mother about three so my only family is my brother … who thinks my kinky writing is great.

But while she was alive my mother did know I wrote erotica, and even read a piece or two. I always got the impression she thought I should be trying to be the next Dan Brown or something (shudder) but she never said anything.

Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? 

A: Bio time! I’ve something like 400 short story sales — that’s sales and not stories themselves: I’m prolific but not that much.

I’ve edited some 25 anthologies (I don’t keep count) and have some 12 or so collections to my name, including the recently released Skin Effect (a sequel to my erotic sci fi book, Bachelor Machine. I’m working on novel number seven right now — which should be done in a few months.

For novels I’ve written erotic romance (Brushes), queer vampires (Running Dry and Very Bloody Marys), erotic science fiction (Painted Doll), and two — to put it nicely — weird queer thrillers: Me2 and Finger’s Breath.

I’m also an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books (that includes the erotic imprint Sizzler Editions) and the Publisher of Digital Parchment Services, who have been releasing the works of Ernest Hogan, Arthur Byron Cover and others — as well as being the sole publishers for the estates of Jody Scott, William Rotsler, and more.

I don’t have a personal favorite book or story — I like to think that the next one is going to be it. I think the best way to say it is that I like to keep moving forward.

Q: Are you going to write more books? If so, will you continue to do so under the erotic genre? 

A: Oh, yes — to both questions. The one I just finished isn’t erotica — and the one I have planned next is also non-erotic, but I have many sexy ones also in the pipeline. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing erotica but I also think it’s a good idea not to write the same kind of thing. I never knew I’d like writing erotica until I gave it a shot — so maybe I’ll love penning westerns or thrillers or noir or …?

Q: Do you think people are becoming more accepting of erotica? 

A: Definitely! Well, some people: there’ll always be people out there who are anti-pleasure and joy. But I think attitudes are definitely swinging towards acceptance — in all kinds of ways. Yeah, things look bleak in some ways but when you look at the way things are moving, even in the often-backward USA, erotica will be getting more and more ‘acceptable’ (whatever the hell that means).

Q: What do you think most erotic authors do wrong? 

A: As a publisher — as well as an editor and a writer — I do see more than my fair share of work that just misses the mark. I think the main reason some erotica works and other attempts don’t has to do with the writing focusing only on the bumpy-grindy parts of the story and neglecting the, as I mentioned, essential elements like character, plot, descriptions, setting, and so forth.

Another way that writers miss that mark is when they phone it in: they think that erotica will be an ‘easy’ sell — they get lazy. Yes, getting an erotic book published is not as hard as trying to score a big-advance romance, mystery, romance or such but writing down to an editor, publisher, or — worst of all — an audience does everyone, especially the writer, a tremendous disservice.

Q: When reading, do you prefer eBook or print? Why? 

A: It may make me unpopular but I say that print may not be dead but it’s not feeling all that well. With ebooks publishers can take greater risks, as they won’t lose their company if a title fails to sell, and readers are more willing to experiment with a $2.99 book than plopping down $15 for a print one.

This doesn’t just mean it’s better for readers and publishers financially, or even creatively. I feel it’s good for literature itself. A personal case in point: Jean Marie Stine and I created Digital Parchment Services with the aim to put out into the world the authors and works we thought hadn’t gotten a fair shake originally. With a bit of hard work, and some great people, we are re-releasing the works of Ernest Hogan, Jody Scott, William Rotsler, James Van Hise, Arthur Byron Cover and many others. While we have print editions available we could never have done any of this with the old print model of publishing.

Q: In your opinion, what elements make a good erotic scene in a book? 

A: That’s kind of tough to say. As a reader I like sensuality and playfulness: a rich use of language (and not just the naughty bits), vivid descriptions, and a use of every sense. As an editor and publisher I like it when a writer clearly cares for what they are doing and are enjoying the writing process — but then that’s true of any kind of fiction.

(plug) By the way, I also penned a how-to erotica book: How to Write And Sell Erotica

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? This may sound schmaltzy but I always wanted to be a writer, even before I knew what a writer really was. My family was moderately creative: mom was an interior designer and dad was an engineer so words weren’t around all that much. Think I’ve always been over-imaginative and words just seemed to be the natural tool for me.

Q: Tea or coffee? 

A: Java! But I have been experimenting with teas lately — though I seriously don’t think I could ever give up at least one cup of the devil bean a day.

Q: Summer or Winter? 

A: I have a tendency to run hot, so definitely winter. I like to say that when it’s hot you can never completely cool down but when it’s cold you can always snuggle under the covers.

Q: What’s next for you? 

A: Busy, busy, busy! In addition to running Digital Parchment Services with the wonderful Jean Marie Stine, and also working with her at Renaissance E Books, I’m having a real blast as a regular contributor to the Future Of Sex site, teaching kinky sex classes, and working on various writing projects.

Wordwooze is also working on an audiobook of Finger’s Breadth — and they previously put out a great audiobook of my science fiction erotica collection Skin Effect.

As I mentioned I just finished one non-sexy novel but I’ve put it in a drawer for a few months. Next up is another scifi novel but I just got work that someone might want me to do a very erotic novel (with my dear friend Ralph Greco — so it looks like that might be next on my plate.

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