Here’s an author interview with M. Christian.
Take it away, M…
- How did you start writing erotica?
To be honest it was quite the quirk of fate: after trying for a long, long, long, long – ten years to be exact – time, I signed up for a smut-writing class taught by Lisa Palac, who was editing a magazine called Future Sex. Lo and behold she liked the story I slipped her – my first shot at erotica – and she not only bought and published it but it was then picked up for Best American Erotica … and the rest is history.
- What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
I don’t really have a favorite ’cause that seems like looking backward – something I really try not to do. When I’m feeling like a smart-ass I usually say that the best book of mine is the next one I write … but, to be honest, I do think that Me2 and Finger’s Breadth came out well-enough. Though I am also having a blast working on my new book….
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
To be honest I don’t read that much erotica – unless I’m editing an anthology, when I have to (smile). I admire quite a few of them but I don’t like to pick favorites because we are in the same field … and emotionally and spiritually on the same journey. Writing can be tough enough without elevating one writer over another. As I like to say: a writer – no matter what awards they win, money they make, fame they have acquired – is no better than any other writer … who writes, and tries to improve themselves and their work.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Pretty much everywhere, honestly. If I am working for an editor or publisher I normally have to listen to what they want – which sets the stage for what I do. But when I work more ‘free form’ I get ideas from all over the place: movies, other authors, video games, taking a walk … you name it. I do have a certain weakness for moral questions and putting people in unusual, and sometimes very difficult ethical quandaries – but I also love playing around with new, and sometimes very challenging, genres. After all, a writer really doesn’t know what the may be good at until they try something new – and I love trying new things. If they work it’s terrific … and if not no big deal: it’s just part of the learning curve.
- Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Well … I don’t believe in muses and all that rot: when I have a deadline I sit down and write what has to be written. But I do have a tendency to write in (ahem) spurts: two to five thousand words a day … usually a short story in two to three days and a chapter of a novel in a week. I can sometimes push that but it leaves me a bit shaky and weird afterward.
I do write with the TV on – which is very odd, I’ve been told. I find that silence is kind of oppressive and having a movie or show playing helps me to relax and also set the mood a bit for what I’m working on.
- Where’s your favourite place to write?
While I’ve worked everywhere from (I’m ashamed to say) Starbucks to on planes I usually just stay home. I have a lovely little room in a kind of artists’ colony home in the Bay Area – mom was an interior decorator so you can imagine that it’s a bit … arty – so I usually have my java, answer emails, do some blogging, and then get to writing.
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
I don’t really have a favorite … though some of them came out pretty well, I think (like Valentino from The Very Bloody Marys). Part of it is that I’m a storyteller so my characters are mostly just puppets that allow me to tell the story I want to tell. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes they get a bit … frisky. But I just snap my whip and they usually fall into line (grin)
- Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
I have a very small, and very supportive, family. My mother, when she was alive – she passed away last year – knew I wrote smut and she even read, and liked, what I did. My brother knows what I write so there’s no problem at all there. I guess I’m pretty lucky with both of them that I never had any family issues with being a pornographer.
- What was your ideal career when you were a child?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Boring, I know: but it really is true that my first love as always been writing — though I do love to play with odd art projects, cooking, photography, and other stuff — mostly because being a writer I live a lot in my brain so I like to entertain myself with hands-on hobbies.
- How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
Coffee mostly, but I also suffer from chronic depression so sometimes I have to resort to a (ahem) prescribed pick-me-up to get me out of any deep-dark hole I may find myself in. But if I want to write what I’m working on it doesn’t take much to get me going … writing is just damned fun! Or it can be when I’m feeling good about it and me (sigh).
- What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
I actually teach a class in smut writing (check out my classes at http://mchristian-teaching.blogspot.com) and have a book out called How To Write And Sell Erotica (which is made of the columns I wrote for the fantastic Erotica Readers And Writers Association) – in short, yeah, I have something to say about this. Keeping it short, though, I think the best advice is to keep writing … no matter what.
Writing can be a very difficult thing – professionally and especially emotionally so it’s very important to keep focused on the love of what you are doing and not to get sucked into the ‘business’ side of things. Marketing is important, but writing and loving what you do is what is truly the most important thing. Period.
- If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
I don’t really suffer from writer’s block but I do get slammed with depression more than I like. When that happens I usually just pop my pills or try to get into a project for just fun and not to think about the anxiety of marketing, publicity and all that crap. It’s not easy, but it seems to work for me most of the time. Like I said, staying focused on loving the actual act of writing is what is the most important thing–
- Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
You know, while there are a lot of people I’d like to meet (Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Robert Silverberg come immediately to mind) I’ve had some very poor interactions with authors whose work I’ve admired – which ruined my love of their writing – so now I try to avoid actually talking to other writers … especially the ones who I enjoy reading.
I avoid them, as well, because I don’t want to have the experience give me any doubts about my own creative path: that’s why I advise beginning writers not to do what other writers do. Experiment, sure; try new things, absolutely; but don’t let another writer’s habits change what you are comfortable with.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I write all kinds of stuff – from queer smut to kinky SF – so I don’t really have a favorite … though I have a (ahem) weakness for SF, mainly because it gives me a chance to explore some really ‘out there’ sexual concepts.
While I have written a lot of queer smut I am trying to move away from that a bit. Not that I don’t love doing it – which I do – but because I think a writer needs to step out of their comfort zone to grow. So my next few projects are going to be that … though I am sticking with my SF fondness (smile)
- What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on finishing up a brand new collection of SF erotica called (tentatively) Skin Effect – a spiritual sequel to my acclaimed Bachelor Machine collection. I should have that done in a few months. Next up in a SF novel called (tentatively) Fortune And Men’s Eyes, which is a kind of echo to my queer erotic thriller Finger’s Breadth. I have it all written, broken-down, in my mind … just need to get it out and down into my computer (grin).
- What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
Hum … that’s a toughie. It’s very hard to judge ‘success’ in something like writing. There are some books and stories and such that I feel rather good about but others that were a total pain to do … but that people seem to like.
Thinking a bit about it, I’d say that the greatest challenge is that I have kept at it all these years. As I said, writing can be a real tough life and it seems to be constantly throwing disappointment and frustration at you – so the fact that anyone stays with it is a huge accomplishment. I like to think that if you stick with it you will, eventually, find a good place and be comfortable and happy with not just your life but what you write.
- What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
Not to repeat myself, but I’d have to say that – despite the headaches and nightmares that come with being a professional writer – I’ve stuck with it. I can only hope that I can continue to work, enjoy what I do, and always be working to improve not just myself but my craft as well.