Here’s an author interview with Emily L. Byrne. Take it away, Emily…
How did you start writing erotica?
I started writing erotica under a different name about 20 years ago when I found myself…unimpressed with an erotic short story that I was reading. I believe it included the line, “Blonde and blue, her skin was magnificent.” My first reaction was, “I think I can do better than this.” I was already writing some short fiction in another genre, as well as articles for a local newspaper, so I added erotic short fiction to the mix. I finished a couple of short stories and started sending them out, they were accepted and I was hooked.
What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
I do find it hard to choose amongst the children, as it were, but some of my favorite short stories are collected in my books Knife’s Edge and Desire. I think that “An Incident in Whitechapel,” “El Tigre,” “The Old Spies’ Club,” “Viva Las Vegas” and “The Goddess Within” are some of my strongest stories, full of interesting setups, interesting characters and, of course, hot sex.
What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
Sacchi Green, Lisabet Sarai, Cheyenne Blue, Xan West, Cecilia Tan, M. Christian and Marilyn Jaye Lewis, just to name a few. They’re all great storytellers and I love that about their work. Their stories really stick with you and entertain as well as arouse.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
So many things! I like to write erotica about places I’ve visited (though not necessarily places where I’ve had sex). I also like to push myself to explore different themes or plots I haven’t written about before. For example, I’m currently working on a story set in a LGBTQ bookstore now because it’s something new and something familiar for me, as a former bookstore owner. I sometimes like to experiment with tense and voice when I write as a way to push myself and grow as a writer. Most of the my stories start with a setting, then go from there.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Hmmm…not unless you count being compelled to write on the couch so both of the cats can sit on me?
Where’s your favourite place to write?
I’ve learned to adapt but greatly prefer quiet, solitude and good music. My cats have trained me to write on a laptop while sitting on the couch so that has become the new normal for me.
Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
This is a really tough question for me! I think because I have written so much short fiction and because I don’t reuse characters much, they’re almost all my favorites while I’m writing them (at least by the second or third draft). When I’m writing, I get lost in the story and when I’m done, I move on to the next project, so there’s always a new “favorite” or two. That said, I’m fond of the protagonists from the stories, I mentioned in my previous response as well as those from a few stories I’ve written in first person. First person makes the story voice and events so immediate that they tend to stay with me.
Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
Yep! My wife has always encouraged me in my writing (I write in other genres under a different name), my mother has been to my readings and all my friends know that I write erotic as well as nonerotic fiction. I started writing all my fiction at roughly the same time so there was no Big Reveal or “Aha!” moments. That said, I started writing erotica back before Google existed so when my writing world and my day job world started to blur together, I switched my erotica and erotic romance to “Emily L. Byrne” as way to keep that work separate. It also helps quite a bit with marketing.
What was your ideal career when you were a child?
Well, at first I wanted to be a jockey, then a racehorse trainer, then a veterinarian. So now, of course, I work in IT and write stories and books and recently started my own small press. I’d say I’m much better suited to the latter occupations!
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
Deadlines! But when I’m not working toward a specific deadline, I try to write some fiction a couple of times a week. I have to work around my day job and other commitments so finding time, energy and focus can be a challenge. Since I’ve been writing for publication for over 20 years now, it’s more of a question of whether or not I have energy and focus than mood. Music helps, as does setting a specific goal (1000 words in the next half hour or a new scene in an hour, for example). I do have a kitchen timer and I use that when I really need to get something done in short bursts.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
You can always fix it on the rewrite(s). Like most writers, my first draft are about getting the story out of my head and out on the screen or page. The second, third and fourth drafts are where everything comes to life so I would say this is one of the more useful things I’ve ever heard about the writing process.
If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?
So far, I’ve never really experienced writer’s block, though I will say that 2017 has proven a bit of a challenge.
Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a bunch of other erotic authors at different conventions and readings so I count myself very lucky in that regard. I would love to meet Lisabet Sarai or a couple of the editors that I’ve worked with who live in countries other than the U.S.
Outside of erotica, I would have loved to have met science fiction and fantasy author Joanna Russ before she died. It’s clear from both her fiction and nonfiction that she was quite brilliant and must have been fascinating to talk to. My second choices, by just a smidge: Tanith Lee or Angela Carter, for the same reasons. Lee also wrote some erotic fiction so it would have been interesting to talk to her about her process and the ways she approached writing different kinds of fiction.
What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I really like erotica with science fiction or fantasy elements and settings. I think that adding magical or technological elements can add a whole new dimension to erotica and can result in some intriguing and unusual storylines. This is an area where I think writers like Cecilia Tan and M. Christian really excel; I’m always intrigued by their stories.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on an erotic romance science fiction novel, called Medusa’s Touch. It’s been on the back burner for a bit but I’m finally getting ready to go through my edits and do one more rewrite. I’m hoping to get it out in the world in the next year. I’m also working on some new short stories.
What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
In 2006, I wrote 10 new short stories for Crave (my second collection), a novella for an anthology and a bimonthly erotica column for Erotica Reads & Writers Association, while working my day job. I also have issues with the tendons in my arms so the cycle was: write a scene on one project, write a scene on another project, sticks hands and arms in ice and rest. Repeat. I did get all of those things done and Crave did win a couple of awards. On the other hand, I don’t remember much of 2006.
What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
I’m proudest of having won some awards for my previous single author collections (under a different name), Crave and Night’s Kiss, including two Goldie Awards for Lesbian Erotica.