Frequently Asked Questions!
1. When are you going to write a 'real' book?
Every writer I know has been asked this question at some stage in their career. It's not genre-specific! It's asked of writers of: spec. fic, romance, young adult, children's, erotica -- but we all want to know what constitutes a 'real' book? We assume that it must be something that is considered 'worthy' -- perhaps some non fiction tome, or a literary novel. I write spec fic (speculative fiction) because I love to explore the human condition through the perceptions of other beings in extraordinary settings. And I also write what I call 'spec-rom' - speculative fiction with romantic elements. I make no apology!
Of most recent times I have been asked why I write erotic fiction. And why do I have weird spec fic as my chosen sub-genre?
Well, writing erotica is fun. It is also a challenge. How many times can you write about 'it' and still present fresh and unique descriptions? -- this is the greatest challenge to any writer, no matter the genre, but when you write about 'sex' -- words are limited! As for spec fic? Well, I might start out writing using a contemporary setting, but very quickly the 'weird' steps in. No encounters in a pool hall, or parking lot or dingy alley -- my characters have more finesse than to stalk and seduce their 'prey' in such places! No, I have to have a more romantic setting, and the universe is a big place -- there's no need to use cliched settings! And as for using otherworldly characters who are hunter and hunted -- how erotic is the touch of a feather, the feel of scale or fur? This surely adds a new dimension to the erotic experience of reader and writer.
2. You often have animals in your stories-why?
Apart from the 'hero' being an animal? LOL. I share my life with animals as do many other writers and artists. Companions -- whether furred, scaled, feathered are an important part of human existence and a person who doesn't like animals, is, I think, 'suspect'.
3. What advice can you give to a new writer?
There is so much to know, but we are lucky to have expertise so unstintingly given through many online sources. Most new writers ask: "where do I start?" Well, you need to know your intended market. This might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but if you are aiming to write category contemporary romance, for example, then you need to know what the publisher's guidelines require. Regardless of genre, you need to approach the book with a fresh voice, a new take on an old theme. Then you begin to build your book by creating your characters. I have a writing tip posted on this web site for further information. You also need to focus. FOCUS is the key. You must write every day. EVERY day regardless. This is the hard part! Set yourself a goal. A minimum: determine that you will write one page per day (that's 250 words per day). By the end of 12 months you have a 365 page manuscript. Aim for a larger word count (say 5,000 words) per day and how long will it take to finish that book? Every professional writer (regardless of genre or publishing credits) will set a daily minimum writing target. Set writing goals: short, medium and long term. What do you want to achieve and when? How will you achieve these goals?
4. I am a new writer, will you read my book?
No. Most authors will NOT read unsolicited work: for legal reasons and because manuscript appraisal takes such a long time; many writers haven't got that amount of time 'spare'. It is far better to approach an independent professional editor/expert. There are excellent manuscript appraisal/freelance editorial services available and you can find the reputable ones by contacting your local writers' centre. Also -- be aware that some 'editorial' services aren't worth talking to. Get recommendations from other writers before you decide to send out your work! Scams are out there and all writers need 'beware'. Excellent sites for uncovering scams: preditors&editors and science fiction writers of America (sfwa).
5. I don't think my work is good enough. How can I tell?
LOL. There are few writers who do not doubt their work! Get feedback from a professional editor/reader/agency.
6. How did you get started in your professional career? How long had you been writing before you got published?
I was presenting two ff&p romance writing seminars at the Romance Writers of Australian conference in Sydney some years ago. I did not know until after my workshop finished that there was an editor in the audience. Had I known, I would have gone to pieces! The editor approached me and asked if I would write some ff&p erotica for her. I didn't know what 'erotica' was, but I soon found out, submitted stories and they were published. Not long after another publisher rang me wanting book length ff&p romance. I have written stories ever since I was 5 years old. I started writing with an aim of professional publication in 1992, and my first sale was in 1997. BUT I had been writing for a long time, honing my skill. Most writers will serve an "apprenticeship" that can be as long as 10 years before that elusive first sale. Be Determined and Be Persistent.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. (Calvin Coolidge).
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. (Anais Nin).