Q&A with romance author Elizabeth Schechter
Today it is my pleasure to interview romance author, Elizabeth Schechter. Elizabeth was born in New York City but now resides in Central Florida with her husband and son. She recently had two of her erotic tales released in an erotic short story collection titled Carnal Machines . Elizabeth has also previously published several other erotic short stories in other collections.
I found the cover art for Carnal Machines very provocative and beautiful. I checked out the book on Amazon and found the genre quite intriguing and ordered a copy for myself. Tell me a little about Carnal Machines .
I suppose you could say that Carnal Machines is really all my fault. I had sent D.L. King a copy of my story “The Succubus” for her anthology Spank. She rejected it for that anthology, but sent an email to me telling me how much she loved it and wanted to use it, and would I mind if she pitched a steampunk anthology to Cleis just so she could? I would have been out of my mind to say no!
And I love that cover art. I have the name of the model somewhere in my bookmarks -- she’s gorgeous. However, my bookmarks for anything not writing related are a hopeless mess. If you go searching on Deviant Art, there are more pictures of her there.
I am not familiar with the steampunk genre can you please explain it to me?
Oh, that’s a heavy order! Steampunk, to me, is taking the worldview of Jules Verne and turning it on its ear. Take the beautiful Victorian imagery and language and sensuality -- and anyone who tells you that Victorians weren’t sensual needs to go read Rosetti, Swinburne and Burton immediately. Pairing that with existing technology, and then extrapolating what could be done with that technology. That’s the fun part. But a large part of steampunk is the imagery.
That’s my definition. There are probably others. And there are subsets of steampunk, too! There’s clockpunk, which is slightly earlier technologically speaking. Dieselpunk is later. And now there’s stitchpunk, which came out of Shane Acker’s amazing animated feature 9. I had a chance to see that as a short, long before they turned it into a feature film -- amazing work.
There are some fantastic sources of steampunk literature, apart from Jules Verne, which is practically required reading! The Difference Engine , by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, is one of the best. The webcomic Girl Genius , by Phil and Kaja Folgio,was my introduction to the genre. The Folgios just won their third Hugo Award for Girl Genius -- it really is that good!
How did you become interested in writing erotic tales? And what do you think makes a good erotic tale?
I’ve always loved reading erotica. But is has to be GOOD erotica, and I’m fussy. I want more than sex sex sex happily ever after. I don’t want sex with a story attached. I want a good story with sex as part of it!
I got into writing erotica because a friend of mine pointed out that Circlet Press was having an open call for Tarot-themed stories. I was already playing with a couple of characters, and I decided to see what I could do with them and a BDSM-themed tarot reading. That story became “The Hand You’re Dealt,” which appeared in the Circlet Press anthology Like a Sacred Desire.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? Do you have a structured method when you write or do you get an idea and go with it?
The hardest part of writing? Writing with a young child around -- especially one who taught himself to read at the age of three! There is nothing that kills a sex scene faster than a small boy attempting to read what you’ve written.
Seriously, the hardest part of writing for me is distracting myself from the million and a half little things that need to be done around the house. I’m still working on getting myself into the mindset that if I’m working, the dishes can WAIT.
Oh, and my son started kindergarten this year. That helps, too.
Now, my process depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing a short story (which for me is anything under 10,000 words) I will write it stream of consciousness. If I’m writing a novel, I have to outline it. And my outlines work more like storyboards, in that each chapter is a paragraph or two touching on the high points that must be hit in that chapter.
Do writing sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Sexual scenes don’t bother me, but they do slow me down. A sex scene has to ring right, or it will throw the reader right out of the story. So I can spend days working on one sex scene, going over it in my head, researching positions, making sure the reactions are appropriate. I have a habit of putting <SEXSEXSEXSEX> in my manuscripts as a placeholder because I’m on a roll, and I don’t want to be bogged down. I go back in and fill the sex in later.
What books have influenced your writing style? And what author has been an inspiration to your writing?
Oh... books and writers who influenced me? Do you have a few days? I am a voracious reader, and I’ve probably picked up tidbits from everyone I’ve ever read.
Right off the top of my head, my current influences are Robert Heinlein, Spider Robinson, Anne Bishop, Jacqueline Carey, Laura Antoniou, Cecilia Tan, Lauren Burka and Tanith Lee. Right that this moment. Ask me again tomorrow, you might get a different list.
For the inspiration author, that would be Jacqueline Carey. I want to grow up to be just like her. I had the chance to have dinner with her in 2006, and she’s warm and wonderful and approachable and every other lovely adjective you could add. She’s so very nice to her fans, and I love her to bits.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
The biggest advice is don’t give up. Richard Bach said it best: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Don’t quit! Keep on writing, keep on going, keep on reading and learning and growing. Join a writing group, join a crit group. Talk to other writers. Check out groups like the Erotica Readers and Writers Association and the Online Writers Workshop. I’m probably going to get pilloried for saying this, but new writers should try their hands at writing fanfiction! It’s a great training ground for a new writer. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you keep on writing, that’s the important thing.
What future projects do you have planned?
I have two erotic novels coming out from Circlet Press. The first is Princes of Air , a historical fantasy set in pre-Roman Ireland, about the shapeshifting sons of the Goddess Morrigan. The other is House of Sable Locks , which is a steampunk novel that takes up where “The Succubus” left off. Princes of Air should be out sometime later this year, and House of Sable Locks should be next year.
Right now, I’m working on Heart’s Master , which is an erotica urban fantasy and brings back the characters of Steven and his lover Nick, from my story “The Hand You’re Dealt.” Hand is probably the story for which I’ve gotten the most positive reactions, because the main character, Steven, is blind, and he and his lover have a very open, very positive relationship. He’s a character who just happens to be disabled, not a disability with a character attached. People really liked that. I’m about a third of the way into it, and I’m hoping to deliver early next year.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Oh, that’s one I have to think about. It would either be Brain-Sweeps , which takes into account my other life as a jeweler. Sweeps are the little bits of metal left over after you finish a piece. Or it would be Word-Herder: The Life of a Pervy Fetish Writer.
Thank You Elizabeth, for participating in my author Q&A. I wish you continued success with your writing and look forward to seeing more of your published works in the future.
Thanks for having me! It was fun!
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