Here’s an author interview from M. J. Lance.
Take it away, M. J…
- How did you start writing erotica?
I suppose it started in first grade, in a roundabout way. I was at an age where I hadn’t really been fed with the inculcations regarding feeling shame over the naked body. You see, I drew a picture of my classmate in the nude—thinking I was the next Titian or something—and that prompted the teacher to call in my parents. Of course, I didn’t realize it then, but looking back I know that I’ve been a perv ever since.
- What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
It’s probably going to shock everyone since it’s neither smut nor fantasy/sci-fi (which are my go-to genres). I’d honestly have to say The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien—there’s something about his meta-commentary that really speaks to me, and it brought me to tears when, at the climax, he flips our entire conception of what the story is on its head.
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
Through the magic of Twitter, I just stumbled across Jordyn McKenzie. Wow! What I’ve read of hers has been flash fiction, but boy does it pack a lot of punch into a very small amount of space. I mean, the story that I just read was barely over a page, and it did a lot in that page.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From my experiences, I suppose. From experiences that I’ve had, experiences that I want to have, and experiences that I regret having. I guess everything is inspired by experience when you really break it down, so this isn’t a particularly nuanced answer. What I do know is that if you draw too much of your inspiration of external forces, especially people, then you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment. Instead, I search for inspiration from within. I’ve already disappointed myself as much as I can for one lifetime, so I don’t have to worry about that at least.
- Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Well, I don’t suppose that writing in the nude is unusual for this crowd. I often drink yerba mate until I’m speaking in tongues, but that isn’t really particular to writing.
- Where’s your favourite place to write?
I have a a 2-monitor+1-television “command center” where I try get the majority of my writing done (otherwise, what’s the point of having it?) Still, there are some days where I just like to snuggle up in bed, tuck myself in, and whip out my netbook. Some days are just lazy days. If you’re going to work in your pajamas, might as well work in bed while you’re at it, right?
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
Probably the Englishman from Midnight Train, one of the short stories in my book, Ligature Marks. He’s not an attractive guy by conventional standards, but he has a way of conducting himself which draws people in. He puts so much time, energy, and calculated detail into constructing a scene that it even blows my mind when I realize that he’s already planned for something to happen which seems like a total accident.
- Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
As far as my blood relations go—no, they don’t know. And I’d be much obliged if you didn’t tell them. Haha. With the exception of my mother, though, most of my “real” family—the people who really stick by me through all of the trials and tribulations—aren’t even related by blood. A lot of them know, and most of them are encouraging.
- What was your ideal career when you were a child?
I think I must have been a pretty wise kid, because I don’t remember ever wasting my time dwelling on the future when I had so much present to live in. I was content to play in the dirt with all the bugs. I certainly wasn’t going to bother myself with adult questions, like what I was going to do to pay the rent.
- How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
It’s usually more of a issue of getting myself “out of the mood,” so to speak, once I start writing. Creating erotica tends to be a very stop and go endeavor—which I suppose is one way to know that it’s working. When I really do need to hit the reset button on my brain, I’ll usually go for a walk. Either before or between writing sessions I’ll walk up to 10 miles—a good 2-3 hour walk—and the fresh air, sunshine, and natural landscape really work wonders on a taxed mind.
- What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
Probably the oldest writing advice that humanity has been sharing with itself since the beginning of the craft—”write what you know.” I’ve struggled for a long time trying to write in various genres with various settings which were just outside the grasp of my experience. If you write what you know, you’ll eliminate about 50% of the struggle you’d otherwise feel.
- If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
I view procrastination and writer’s block as two separate things, and I think genuine writer’s block is the mind’s way of saying you need to take a break. And so I do. I’ll either go on a walk or find something social to do. I’ll write in due time.
- If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
It would probably be the Englishman, and for the sake of learning how to be as suave as he is. Seriously. Anyone else would have dozens of restraining orders filed against them.
- Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
If it were as a gag, I’d want to meet Ray Bradbury before he keels over, just so I could fuck him and rub it in Rachel Bloom’s face. If it were for less nefarious purposes, and it could be someone living or dead, I’d probably say William Stafford. His poetry rocks me to my core, and it was through him that I was really able to enjoy other poetry.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
BDSM, hands down. I’m especially fond of male Dominant/female submissive relationships in my erotica. It’s a relationship that exemplifies gender roles that are at once celebrated and demonized, in a way that is mutually respectful, and which deprives that role of its power on account of it being chosen. It’s one of the most powerful symbols I can think of, and one that lots of people relate to.
- What are you working on at the moment?
I’m still working on the final edition of Ligature Marks. I’m lucky that, with the technology we have today, we can go back to the kind of serial publication that was once practiced without losing the cohesiveness that is provided by book form. If this is the bloggification of the book industry, then I say “bring it on!”
- What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
I wrote a very ambitious novel, and I’ve been in the middle of the second draft for a few years. It’s speculative fiction, and it’s important to me to get the science right, but I just don’t have the resources necessary to do the kind of fact-checking that the book deserves. I’m not ready to call it a failure, but it certainly hasn’t succeeded yet. Hopefully later in my writing career it will have a chance to shine, but for now it’s staying on the back burner.
- What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
I think this is. Having people pay for my work, giving interviews, and—dare I say—having groupies. I knew I was onto something when I was 15 or 16 and got a $100 check for an article I’d written about parents’ roles in sex education, but it’s so much more powerful to be paid, almost directly, by one’s own readers. Knowing that people enjoy what I write is a very powerful feeling, and I hope I never do anything to abuse the time they devote to reading my work. I wouldn’t be anything without them, and they deserve my best work.