Friday, August 27, 2010

Dishing it up with Sharazade . . .

Sharazade, thank you for hanging with me here on my blog today.

I understand you write erotic shorts. Can you tell us a little about your stories and why reader’s should add them to their “must have” collection?

Shar: My first collection, as well as a second one in press, are short stories that all involve some aspect of traveling. In some cases, it’s an exotic setting; in others, it’s a location associated with travel, like an airport or a hotel; and then in others, it’s a mode of conveyance, like a plane or a train. One thing I like about short stories is the chance to focus on one small thing—one idea, one feeling, one problematic interaction. You don’t have to worry about subplots running away with you. Despite the travel wash, the stories are all about people and how they relate to each other, and how they learn to do that better.

JET: What enticed you to write erotic romance?

Shar: There’s a wonderful quote on writing from Molière, which compares writing to prostitution, and goes something like this: “First you do it because you love it, then you do it for just a few friends, and finally you do it for money.” My first stories I wrote when I was cooped up in a hotel. For security reasons, we weren’t allowed to leave in the evenings, and then the Internet went down, and I’d read all my own books… but I had my laptop. There’s also a slightly rebellious feeling that comes from writing erotica in a place where sexuality is repressed, even if (or especially if?) no one knows that you’re doing it. I sent a few of the stories to friends, who were very encouraging, and finally I sent one to a publisher, who expressed interest in a collection of similar stories.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Shar: I write non-fiction for a living, and that has to come first—because, of course, it’s providing me with that living. Story writing, even though it is certainly legitimate work, still feels like a bit of a luxury to me. I can’t get to it till my other tasks are at least mostly managed!

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Shar: Maybe it’s because I also work as an editor, but I love the moment when the manuscript comes back from the copy editor and it’s time for a final check. It’s been long enough since I’ve seen it that I can give it a fresh look, but there is still time to make changes if I spot anything awful. I have a very communicative editor, and she was willing to go back and forth with me quite a bit over email making sure that my word choice was really working, that that word was actually hyphenated, that I could still change the order of the stories, etc. She’s very patient!

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Shar: I read everything I could get my hands on. I’m glad I did, too, because I learned to love the “popular” books as well as “literature.” Sometimes one wants to shovel popcorn in at the movie theater (Nancy Drew), sometimes one wants to savor a meal (The Lord of the Rings). I read horse stories (all of them), adventure stories, mysteries, science fiction, humor, a little fantasy, histories, biographies… just about everything except romance, come to think of it. So perhaps this is now my rebellious stage!

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Shar: I slid, rather than plunged. My non-fiction writing grew out of my career in the same field, and then I suppose fiction must have come from non-fiction. I’ve always liked writing, though, even in school.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Shar: Nothing crazy, I don’t think, but I did recently treat myself to a hamam (Turkish bath). I was so sure it would be worth writing about. And it was! I don’t write, for example, historical novels that take detailed research. But since I do write erotica… well, my stories involve men and women, and I am only one of those genders. So to write realistically about the other, occasionally I need to ask for a male reader’s help or advice. It came as a total surprise to me that some men like to be bitten (and I don’t mean on the neck). I had always thought we had to be very gentle with that area! Mind, I don’t think all men want that. But before, I didn’t know any did.

JET: What advice would you give to the novices out there?

Shar: I’ll pass on some of the best writing advice given to me, in a class I took once on writing magazine articles. The instructor asked us, probably the first day, what we thought was the single most important quality to be a successful writer. We all gave some version of “Be good at writing.” No, she said, there are plenty of average writers who make a decent living out of it. The most important thing is to be persistent. Keep doing it. As one hand is mailing off the submission, the other should be working on the next piece. Of course, no one aims to be an average (or a poor) writer. But the very act of doing it makes you better, so both the chances of success and the issue of quality is addressed there.

JET: I see you travel a great deal, tell us a little about your favorite places to visit?

Shar: I like places that are unusual, or at least very different from where I live. I prefer developing countries to developed ones for that reason. I can’t entirely put my finger on why, but I like it when things are just a bit inconvenient. On the whole, I’d rather travel in the back of a pick-up truck than in an air-conditioned bus. A quirky pension beats a five-star international hotel. I love Asia and the Middle East, and would love to see more of Africa.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

Shar: Reusable cloth sack.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Shar: Tofu!

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Shar: Mountains, although I love water too.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Shar: Classical.

JET: Leather or Lace?

Shar: Lace.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Shar: Paper.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Shar: Eh…. neither. Can I have a pony?

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Shar: Silent film classes. Though if we could go forward into the 40’s and 50’s…

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Shar: Salty.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Shar: Coffee!

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Shar: I have another book of travel stories that I’m finishing; this one will have a wider variety of settings (international ones, I mean). The trick is to still have a strong plot that justifies the setting. I mean, there has to be some reason that the story happens in this particular place, other than that I happen to remember it. I’m working on another collection that I suppose could be summed up as “power play.” But still very much in the romance arena.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Sharazade and her work at the following places:

blog on writing and erotica: (paperback and Kindle):

Smashwords (ebook):

Scribd (one story to download free):

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