Here’s an author interview with Amy Jo Cousins. Take it away, Amy Jo…
How did you start writing erotica? I started out writing pretty traditional category romances for Harlequin, actually, but with each book I found myself writing more erotically. I’m fascinated by the vulnerability, intimacy, awkwardness, and potential for unhappiness of sex, so I write about it a lot. Plus, I’m a huge fan of writing that turns people on. That’s hot. It’s a win/win situation for me.
What’s your favourite published work of yours and why? Probably Off Campus, because it kicked off the entire Bend or Break series that allowed me to dive deep into all of these interconnected friends and family members. Tom and Reese are also, um, intensely close to me as far as their anxieties and the things they’re dealing with, so a lot of my personal experience went into that story. Plus it brings me tons of reader contact with people who identify really strongly with it and that always makes me cry.
What erotic authors do you enjoy reading? So many! Cara McKenna is one of the most brilliant erotic romance authors I know, and she definitely was someone who expanded my idea of what I could write. I also love reading Rebekah Weatherspoon, Alexis Hall, JA Rock, Kris Ripper, Santino Hassell, Solace Ames, Tamsen Parker, Lyn Gala, and Alisha Rai.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Literally everywhere. J I can see someone at the grocery store and write an entire story about them in my head before I pay for my groceries. My brain does a lot of “what if?” work. A lot of times, I’ll be reading and enjoying a book, but finding myself thinking, “What if…” about how a detail from the plot would play out with totally different characters. Same with the news, or songs I hear, places I visit, articles I read. Almost everything has me scratching out notes, and then I just wait and see what becomes a book.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals? When I’m nearing the end of a book and desperately trying to finish it in those last twenty-four hours before it’s due, I will often find one song that really resonates with me and just play it over and over again. I swear, I could make anyone in the room with me go crazy, because I’ll play it a hundred times in a row or more.
Where’s your favourite place to write? Anywhere I get to write with friends. At the library, the coffee shop, my dining room table, doesn’t matter. My favourite place is wherever a friend is to help me focus/give me someone to ask, “is hand job one word or two, do you think?”
Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why? Cash Carmichael is the most fun character I’ve ever written, because he has no filter and says everything that floats through his brain. He’s a treat.
Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out? Yup. I’m a terrible secret keeper. My family are beyond proud that I’m doing this thing I dreamed about doing since I was a kid. I think they were awkward at first, because I was awkward. But I’ve got a whole soapbox speech about feminism and sex positivity and publishing and the importance of LGBTQ romance and erotica, so I think they’re all mostly past the awkward point by now.
What was your ideal career when you were a child? This was it. I dreamed about it. I wrote terrible stories and my newly divorced mom somehow managed to buy me a used typewriter for Christmas when I was in eighth grade. I’d stay up all night in the basement, writing on that noisy electric thing. I’m not sure I ever really wanted to be anything else.
How do you get yourself in the mood to write? LOL. The mood happens when I sit in the chair and know I don’t get up until the work gets done. But it helps if I remembered to be human first, i.e. get some exercise, eat good food, shower, and if I have an accountability partner who’s expecting me to check in every hour or two with a word count total.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given? Finish your shit. The only advice that matters is the advice that gets you to The End. Write fast or slow? Plot or pants it? Storyboards or stream-of-conscious interviews with your characters or picking a point of view? Figure out what works for you, don’t freak out if that changes with every book (raises hand), and do whatever it takes to finish my shit. I learn from every book I complete, and then I learn even more when I start revising, but nothing happens if I don’t get to The End.
If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it? I don’t usually get it, because I can’t. Bills gotta be paid. But when I do feel stuck, what often works for me is switching up ms. and working on a different story for a while. That sometimes gives my brain time to do some subconscious work on the ms. where I’m stuck, giving me new inspiration. Other times, nothing works. Then I just have to gut it out, write stuff even if I think it’s crap, and remind myself that I can always fix it later.
If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why? Cash Carmichael of the Bend or Break series, again, for sure. He’s pretty much my faith in humanity made flesh in a banging bod with a totally open mind when it comes to sex and people. I’d love to hang out with that dude and just laugh.
Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why? I pick a different author every time I’m asked this. Today, let’s say Laurie R. King, a terrific mystery author whose various books feature Sherlock Holmes, a lot of LGBTQ characters, artistry/crafts, theology, travel, and psychological tension. I think she’d be amazing to talk to about damn near any subject.
What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why? Probably contemporary, because I admire writers who can take a story with no additional special elements (aliens! serial killers! history!) and make it work on the sheer strength of the relationship conflict alone.
What are you working on at the moment? The first book of a new LGBTQ baseball series. I’m having a ton of fun with the research, riding high on the joy of my Cubbies winning the World Series this year!
What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed? Honestly, short stories are usually the scariest for me, because I don’t do short. I tend to write everything way longer than originally intended. So the challenge of writing a tightly plotted short story is always intimidating to me. But I love pushing my boundaries. A future scary thing I want to do is write a historical LGBTQ series, and the research involved scares the shit out of me. Fingers crossed I succeed!
What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why? Figuring out that I was writing books about the world I grew up in as a kid (white, suburban, middle class) as opposed to the world I live in as an adult (urban, racially diverse, heavily LGBTQ and immigrant) and changing my writing to reflect the world I love and want to see represented more in publishing. Plus, my publisher collapsed and it didn’t kill me. That’s an achievement indeed.
About Glass Tidings
Eddie Rodrigues doesn’t stay in one place long enough to get attached. The only time he broke that rule, things went south fast. Now he’s on the road again, with barely enough cash in his pocket to hop a bus to Texas after his (sort-of-stolen) car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Midwest, USA.
He’s fine. He’ll manage. Until he watches that girl get hit by a car and left to die.
Local shop owner Grayson Croft isn’t in the habit of doing people any favors. But even a recluse can’t avoid everyone in a town as small as Clear Lake. And when the cop who played Juliet to your Romeo in the high school play asks you to put up her key witness for the night, you say yes.
Now Gray’s got a grouchy glass artist stomping around his big, empty house, and it turns out that he . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . likes the company.
But Eddie Rodrigues never sticks around.
Unless a Christmas shop owner who hates the season can show an orphan what it means to have family for the holidays.
Available from Riptide Publishing. http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/glass-tidings
About Amy Jo Cousins
Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series.
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To celebrate the release of Glass Tidings, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 10, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!