Here’s an author interview with Sonni de Soto. Take it away, Sonni…
How did you start writing erotica?
- I actually majored in writing speculative fiction for children in college. But I would write smutty erotica as a kind of literary palate cleanser between classwork. Then, after graduation and under the grind of being in the workforce, I realized that my cleanser had become my palate. Erotica, particularly kinky erotica, is a genre that I’ve always loved and that I found I, as a feminist, queer kinkster of color, had something unique to add. While there are a lot of great kink stories out there, much of which is written by actual kinksters, there’s still a lot of porn, erotica, and romance stories in the mainstream that still treat kink like it’s less of a sexual fantasy and IRL lifestyle and more like it’s a literary fantasy. Some mystical, unreal phenomenon that doesn’t require research, realism, or respect. Same goes for LGBTQ+ and interracial relationships. And I figured the world could use more voices out there preaching the message that, while it’s always great and awesome to HAVE a fetish or fantasy, it’s never okay to treat someone as if they ARE a fetish or fantasy.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
- I like writing in unlikely places. In email drafts at work (shhh, please, don’t tell my boss). On my phone on the bus, surrounded by other riders. I’ve even written a story in a church pew, waiting for a wedding to start. There is something oddly fun about writing sexy stories in places you probably shouldn’t. Especially while editing, since I like to use a voice reader program that repeats my smut back to me in a slow, sexy voice.
Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
- Like any benevolent creator, I love all my characters equally, of course. But, sure, I’ll admit that the ones who seem to say the first unfiltered things that come to their heads—like, Rand or Max or Carey—tend to get my favorite lines. Unapologetic outrageousness is always a lot of fun.
Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
- Most do. I tend to get introduced to new people as “my friend who writes porn” nowadays. But I do also firmly believe that my family has a right to not know the out-there things I do in my own time, which means I have a familial duty to shield them from it. So long as they don’t snoop; if they snoop, that’s on them.
What was your ideal career when you were a child?
- I wanted to be an actress. Not for the fame or the money. I just liked climbing into another persona for a spell and seeing how it fit. I love writing and reading for the same reason. But authors, unlike actors, get to eat as much ice cream as they want.
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
- I’m a deadline kind of girl. Like any good masochist, I crave the pressure and stress of a disciplined, near-unattainable schedule. Somehow, knowing someone is waiting for that story is often the only thing that kicks my muse in gear.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
- I had a professor in college who would make you sit silently while the class workshopped your story. You couldn’t argue or defend or explain yourself during a critique; you were to just sit there. Reaction-less. It drove so many people in class crazy. Myself included. But it taught me a useful lesson. As a writer, you need to listen to all criticism and advice carefully; there is almost always something valuable there. You don’t always have to follow the person’s suggestion—in fact, you shouldn’t—but they are telling you that something about your story didn’t work for them. That there is something about it that needs closer examination and might need work. Take the time to listen and think about it; it’s usually worth it.
If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?
- I read. If I’m just stuck in a story and can’t struggle my way through it, I put it down and pick up someone else’s story. It’s a good way to remind yourself that, even though there are infinite ways to tell stories, stories are constructed. They are always and already an act of creation and part of a conversation. There have always been storytellers and there always will be; it’s helpful to remember that, even in a profession that’s known for its introverted isolation, you’re not alone. You are part of a great tradition; one that’s always worth tapping back into, when you just can’t get out of your own head long enough to stay in your characters’. For me, inspiration needs fuel and stories are batteries; when yours runs low, you just need to pick up another and charge it up.
Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
- Oh, no, I don’t want to meet any of my heroes. One of my partners got me tickets to a book signing for my favorite author, Neil Gaiman. It was a very sweet thought, but this is a man I worship as a literary god. I spent weeks agonizing over it, worried I’d trip all over myself or sputter out the wrong words. Or that I would just melt into a puddle of fangirl at his feet. By the time the event actually happened, I was so tense I couldn’t manage to say a word to him, just thrust my book under his nose for him to sign. I barely even remember anything. And none of my pictures turned out. I think I am destined to love my literary gods from afar.
What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
- To date, the story I’m still most proud of is “Odd Man” in Rose Caraway’s For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them) anthology. I had never written in the second-person before and just wanted to see if I could. I had no idea what that story was going to be or where it was going to go or if it was even going to be any good, but it turned out to be far better than I could have even hoped for. It’s one of those stories that I think I will always look back on and be kind of impressed by. I’m so thoroughly honored that Rose Caraway included it in that great anthology.
What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
- I think that, no matter what I do or how far I go in this industry, sending off my first book to a publisher will always be my greatest achievement. Not even getting accepted. Just the act of sending it off. It is the ultimate act of bravery to be untested and unproven, not to mention unsure and insecure, and ask someone to take a chance on you. It’s corny and clichéd, but it’s true: that first step—made on faith and possibly in folly—is the hardest. Once you clear that, you can go about finding familiar footing.