Here’s an author interview with C M Fontana. Take it away, C M…
- How did you start writing erotica?
A lot of writers will say that writing isn’t really a choice. You write because you get the itch – and you have to scratch it. If I’m not writing, I get fidgety. As to how it came to be erotica… that was never really the plan. I just write about things that interest me, and it just came about that playing with plots, playing with ideas, playing with the erotic and the unexpected all became interwoven – I realised that I could craft interesting erotic stories, and I enjoyed doing it. And here we are.
- What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
They say the first step is the hardest part of any journey, don’t they? I think it was making that first decision to write a full-length novel. I’d spent years telling myself I couldn’t do it – then one day I just said “enough excuses” and set myself the goal – a 100,000 word novel by the end of the year. It was tough. I never published the book, but it was a big hurdle to clear, and after that saying “OK, now I’ll do a 70,000 word rotic novel” wasn’t in any way intimidating.
- What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
Sexual Sorcery let me play with a lot of intriguing ideas. The Victorian setting immediately sets up a lot of stereotypes and assumptions – both our preconceptions of Victorian sexuality, and the characters’ preconceptions – and it’s fun to toy with those.
I also like playing with plot twists and grey characters. The other book that I wrote at the same time, Deadly Adultery, is an interesting story, of course, but I like the way that with Sexual Sorcery you can argue about who really is the bad guy, who is to blame, and so on, with your opinions changing as the plot develops.
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
Actually, I really enjoy browsing blogs of erotica. I probably read more blogs than I do novels. It’s a great way to find fresh ideas, and fresh voices.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of the most interesting ideas come from a lot of different sources. The fun is in combining them to make something new, something different. So, for example, for Sexual Sorcery, I’ve always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories, I love the idea of a kind of Lovecraft-style occult conspiracy without the big monsters, I’d been watching Penny Dreadful on TV and thinking “nice idea – but you could have done more with that!”, I’d been reading some non-fiction books about life in Victorian England, and so on – there were a lot of different ideas that came into that book, and I think that’s the best way to do it. Just having a single inspiration would lead to fewer surprising ideas.
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
I have a soft spot for Stephanie Richter, the main character in Deadly Adultery. Superficially she’s very serious, very methodical, but there are other aspects to her that nobody sees. And I like her journey in Deadly Adultery – she starts off really closed-off and, on the quiet a bit lonely. And then she has a lot of her prejudices and assumptions challenged, and comes through it as a more fulfilled, happier person – but without it being as obvious as a run-of-the-mill sexual awakening story. I like her, as a person, and by the end of the book I feel happy for her. That’s cheesy, but true.
- What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Ah, that’s the Nike answer, isn’t it? “Just do it!” I guess the second best bit of advice was to read a lot, but the best was probably just to stop making excuses and get on with it, and then practice, and refine, and practice, and on and on and on.
- If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
There’s a character in Sexual Sorcery who is only ever referred to as Helen – we never learn her last name, nor anything about her background. She first appears as a kind of background character, like a good dutiful Victorian girl who is happy to be defined and controlled by the man in her life. But as the story goes on she becomes more interesting, and the reader realises that that meek persona is a front – she acts like that because society expects it, and she has learned to take advantage of their assumptions. She lives in a world where she isn’t really allowed to be herself. But in our world, in the 21st Century, she wouldn’t need that front. I’d like to see what she made of our world, and how it would change her.
- Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
Shakespeare! Yes, it’s an obvious answer, and no I don’t think I’m in Shakespeare’s league. But here’s a guy who could be highbrow and intellectual, but also really popular and accessible at the same time. Today we find his writings hard work – but when he was writing everyone could get into them, and he managed to span social divides, telling great stories that everyone could enjoy.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I love the freedom of having supernatural elements in stories. It doesn’t just open up more possibilities for situations, it also has the big advantage that it gets away from the stock objection to erotica that it’s unrealistic. Yeah, erotica’s unrealistic – just like action movies, superheroes, and so on. As soon as there’s a supernatural element you’re immediately freed from judging the realism of the story – you know it’s fantastical.
- What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished two short novellas to follow on from Sexual Sorcery, and now I’m writing sequels to both that book and Deadly Adultery. The characters, their stories, and their situations have a lot more potential – both erotically and as mysteries – and I’m exploring those at the moment.