Here’s an author interview with Annabeth Leong.
Take it away, Annabeth….
- How did you start writing erotica?
The first erotic story I wrote was a science fiction story that just needed to have sex in it. Once I crossed the line, though, I wrote more erotica, and things explicitly intended to be erotica. At some point, I realized that a lot of my old stories might have been better if I’d just come out in the beginning and made them erotic. I think erotica was trying to get out of me for a long time before I actually allowed it to.
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
I have particular love for Remittance Girl and Debra Hyde. Their writing was what convinced me that erotica could be really valuable and important, while also being hot as hell. I’ve been loving the work of Thirteen lately, again because it’s very hot while also conducting serious psychological investigation of sex, kink, and relationships. My “favorites” file on my computer also includes work by Valerie Grey, I.G. Frederick, and Kay Jaybee, along with several Circlet Press anthologies.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I really like writing for anthology calls or themed collections. If the publisher sets a topic, whether it’s as broad as “spanking” or as specific as “alternate reality erotica,” I feel encouraged right away because I know something they’re interested in.
- Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
I have a fountain pen that I fetishize, which I use to break writer’s block. If I’m really stuck, I take that and a notebook and go to a park, and something will always happen.
- Where’s your favourite place to write?
I like to write on a clear table. I have one in my living room that I use a lot, but I also write sometimes at the kitchen table.
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
This is a tough question — I’m always partial to whoever I wrote most recently. That said, I think I’ll choose Raul from my forthcoming werewolf book Not His Territory, which Breathless Press will release in October. I have a thing for hot men who feel they need to hold themselves back for some reason or other, partly because it’s so delicious when they finally release the full force of their passion. Raul is a werewolf regulator used to holding back his primal urges. I love watching him struggle with the desire to fully shift into werewolf form and fight for the woman he loves.
- Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
My current partner loves that I write erotica — I think it was part of the initial attraction to me. My mother and sisters know and are supportive, though I have sometimes had to field questions from my mother about why I would want to write about that particular thing. Close friends know, which is normally all right, except for when I accidentally make myself or someone else blush when I answer questions about what I’ve been up to lately. I’m a devoted churchgoer, and that’s probably the place it’s most awkward, since people there know I write and publish but don’t know what.
- What was your ideal career when you were a child?
At one point, I wanted to be a priest, and I’m still serious about religion. When I was about 10, I realized I wanted to be a writer, and have not wavered since.
- How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I’m not sure I believe in “the mood to write.” I’ve had plenty of experience to the contrary. I’ll feel excited to write, then sit down and start messing around on the Internet. Or I’ll feel really bland about it, but then be surprised, pleased, and focused once I get going. I have schedules and procedures that I follow regardless of mood, and that works well for me.
- What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Be willing to write badly. If you’re not, you’ll never write anything at all. I’ve heard this from several places, but I guess I’ll give the majority of the credit to Julia Cameron.
- If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
I set a timer and promise myself that I’ll sit down and make an effort until it rings. If I feel really blocked, I’ll set it for a very short time, sometimes as little as five minutes. In my experience, most writer’s block is related to a fear of getting started. If I can get myself started in any way, I can clear the block.
- If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
I think I would like to be friends with Shannon, the main character of “A Cure for Excess,” published in Spankalicious: Erotic Adventures in Spanking. She struggles with accepting the full extent of her libido and the shame she’s sometimes felt because of it (though I think she finds a happy ending in the course of the story). It’s a subject that means a lot to me personally, and I’d love to talk with her about it.
- Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
I am a total fangirl for Remittance Girl. I have blogged enough about how much I love her work that I worry sometimes about being too enthusiastic. I’d love to have a long coffee date with her. I’d ask about her writing, but would also instigate a rambling talk about philosophy and sexuality.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
BDSM erotica is special to me because it’s what really turns me on. I like reading and writing erotica of all types and really enjoy the marriage of speculative fiction and erotica (I have quite a few steampunk erotica books, for example). That said, unless it’s BDSM, a book is unlikely to hit the real “wow” factor for me.
- What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
Getting through the revisions for my novella, The Six Swans, was a tough haul for me, but very worth it. Will Belegon, the editor of the series, is generous and insightful, and the book is much better for his influence. I’ve always known that writers have to be able to revise, and I’ve spent years working professionally in journalism, so I had some practice. However, Will Belegon raised some structural issues with the novella that I hadn’t had to deal with before — probably because I mostly write short. Learning how to address those was a difficult process, but I’m a much better writer for it.
- What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
I’m really proud of The Six Swans, and all of my involvement with Coming Together (a publisher that donates the proceeds of sales from their erotica titles to charity). I love writing smut for charity. It feels really important to channel the pleasure I get from erotica toward helping people.