Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sizzling July Interview with S.L. Armstrong!

Our Sizzling July Interviews continues and they just keep getting hotter! 
Let me introduce you all to S.L. Armstrong!

Welcome to My Twisted & Kinky World!
Thank you for having me by! :) It's always a joy to talk about writing and reading.

Let's start off by telling everyone a little bit about you!
Well, I'm a bisexual, married woman who lives with her co-author/hetero-lifemate surrounded by her furbabies. I write. I read. I publish. I love what I do, and I can't imagine doing anything but work in this industry. I currently live in the hellish conditions of Florida, and can't wait to make the move north to Maine. At the moment, I have ten co-authored publications and three solo short stories out, and I'm working on three more co-authored novels and one solo novella.
Hellish conditions in Florida! *laughs* I love it here but I know not everyone does!

So, I know when I sit on writer panels I am always asked this question. When did you start writing?
I started writing in junior high. It began as poetry, and the moved onto short stories, followed by a co-authored, script-style fanfiction (though we didn't know that's what it was). Shortly after that, I began writing fanfic in earnest until about seven or so years ago when I made the shift from fanfiction into original fiction with the intent of publication.

What inspired your first book? What was the title? Was it published?
My first book was actually the novelette Morningstar, which is still available digitally from Storm Moon Press. I can't recall what prompted the writing of it, only that it was the first manuscript I sat down with to write from my own imagination with my own characters. It was an amazing experience, and I'm still very proud of Morningstar's tale.

Have you always written erotica? If not, what else do you write/have you written?
I've always written erotic romance. Try as I might, sex leaks into everything I do. I have plans to write a literary fiction novel in the future, and I'd like to give my hand a try at erotic fantasy and erotic horror (leaving out the romance bit), but, for now, I tend to stick to the erotic romances that sometimes border more on erotica. I like exploring the psychological impacts of sexual choices and identity, and I just can't do that away from this genre.
I am the same way. I am always trying to explore how sexual choices change a characters identity!

What made you decide to write erotica?
It wasn't really a decision I consciously made. I was writing fanfic, and fanfic for me always had erotic content. So, when I moved to professional writing, it made sense to continue writing what I loved reading. In fiction with erotic content, there's a level of character growth that's achieved that can't always be achieved outside of sex. Sex is intensely personal, even when it's casual, and I like exploring how it affects characters and situations once they give in to lust.

How would you classify your erotic writing? 
I like writing it all, but I tend to be more drawn to paranormal, horror, and fantasy. I like BDSM and the psychological impacts it can have, and I apply that to all genres I write in. I tend to prefer gay erotic romances, but I do play with lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, and genderqueer characters.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I tend to write in third person, past tense. It's the most comfortable for me. Occasionally, I do a piece in first person, but it's usually when the situation is so utterly foreign to readers that being so into the person's head is the best choice. But, third person is my preference, both for writing and for reading.
It's the same for me. It took me a long time to get used to stories written in the first person. *smiles*

What is the process you use for writing? 
Usually, I get an idea and it percolates for a few weeks or months. Then, something sets off a chain reaction where everything comes to me in a rush. I sit down with my co-author and my husband so the three of us can outline the story from beginning to end. We tend to pick four major story events first: beginning, one-quarter, halfway, and ending, and then we fill in the blanks between. Once I have that outline, I can get a pretty clean first draft written in 30-60 days, assuming I have nothing else looming on my calendar. I do this for all stories, from shorts to 100K word novels.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing action sequences. I'm just terrible at them. If there's action to be written, my co-author steps up to the plate and writes them. I just have a very difficult time envisioning them, and if I can't really see the action in my head, I can't write it. Luckily, K. is amazing at them, so she's really a lifesaver. If you read an awesome action scene, the kudos go to her.

Is there a message in your novel(s) that you want your readers to grasp?
Each story has its own message, but I think the overreaching message I have is to be proud of who you are, what you need, what you want, what makes you happy. All my characters go through a lot to find that happiness, and when they finally achieve it, they understand that they could have had it long before now if they'd just been honest with themselves about their needs.
That is a great message for anyone!

How do you come up with your book titles?
The titles usually involve the theme of the book. I tell you a lot in the title of my books. J But, the titles tend to be intuitive to me, easily grasped and applied even before I write the first chapter.

Are your plot lines based on real life experiences or are they purely fiction?
Purely fiction. I incorporate some things from life (like my current novel that's in editing takes place in the same city I live in, in the same area I live in), but the people and situations are purely fictional.

If you had to name one character you have written that was the most like you, which character in which book would that be?
Published? I would say Riley for Other Side of Night:Bastian & Riley. He is the closest to me in personality and likes. [Unpublished], Lorelei from Polyfidelity, which K. and I are working on. Lorelei is the character I've poured so much of me into. She's an full-figured redhead with a love of children and cooking.

Are there certain characters or stories you would like to go back to?
I keep wanting to revisit Kasper from Catalyst, as he's one of my favorite characters, and I'd like to continue Bastian and Riley's story ten years later. I have many short stories I've written that I'd like to eventually return to and give full novels or series to. None of my characters are asleep or finished. Their stories keep going in my head, and it's a temptation to just keep telling them.

Is being an author your only full time job or do you have a 'day job' as well? 
My full time job is publishing. I own and operate Storm Moon Press, and that takes up a vast majority of my time. I tend to write in between contacting editors, authors, cover artists, typesetting, and every other job that lands on my desk to be done. It's a busy job, but I always try to make time to write 2,000 or so words a day because writing is my passion and I never want to sacrifice that.
Sounds like you are extremely busy!

What other types of jobs have you held before becoming an author?
Hmm. I've been a cashier for a craft store. I was an assistant manager for Blockbuster way back when. I opened mail and processed payments for homeowner associations for quite a number of years. I tried to choose positions that allowed me to write and didn't demand large chunks of my time.

Do you travel much concerning your books? 
I've only begun traveling to conventions this year. I'll attend three. Next year, I think it's three, too. Other than that, no, I don't do much traveling. I suffer from anthropophobia, so it can make venturing out of my home difficult. Even when I do go to a convention, I usually push my co-author into the spotlight because I'm just so intensely agitated engaging with people. Not that I don't like the people, but I have this irrational anxiety about strangers and people in general.

What current projects are you working on?
Right now, I've just sent a contemporary novel to my editor, and I'm working on a short story involving twincest and a contemporary D/s novel about a young man who discovers quite a lot about himself, his desires, and his goals. Beyond that, I have distant plans to write the sequel to The Keeper, the poly novel Polyfidelity, and the second book in the Other Side of Night series, Havva & Amiri. There are several plates in the air at the moment, including a massive fantasy series, an urban fantasy series, a series starring Dorian Gray in a contemporary setting, and dozens of other things in my 'To Write' file. XD It never ends!
It sounds like you will be busy for awhile. I am sure your fans are happy about that!

What is your latest release and where can readers find it?
My latest release was last year, Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley, a contemporary vampire novella. My upcoming release is Mae, a contemporary novel about a teenage single father who finds love in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. Bastian & Riley is currently available from Storm Moon Press, and Mae will be available this fall from them.

Most authors offer some sort of e-pub of their work. Do you offer traditional paper versions as well?
Yep. All my titles can be found in print and digital. The short stories are found in anthologies. Readers can buy them from Storm Moon Press or any major book retailer.

What is the toughest criticism you have ever received? How did you handle it?
Most of the criticism of Rachmaninoff, my first novel, was hard to take. It wasn't my best book, was poorly edited, and left many readers feeling the book was okay at best. It was hard, but I understood the criticism, and it just ensured I would never allow a mediocre book to be published. I think my writing has vastly improved through the criticism. Instead of lashing out of readers, I took responsibility for my failure, absorbed the feedback, and applied it to my next book. I feel Catalyst was an excellent title, and I've received glowing feedback for it, so I think that tough bout with Rachmaninoff really helped to kick my ass as a writer.
I enjoyed reading Rachmaninoff but of course, I enjoy gay vamp erotica!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything? If so, what?
I think I would have chosen a different editor for Rachmaninoff, ensured it was the best it could have been, but I think—in my three year publishing history—it's the only thing I would change.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write every day. Write everything. Write what you'd want to read. View your editor as your friend, not your enemy. Ask questions. Don't say anything anywhere you don't want repeated. Read your contracts. Know what rights you're signing away. Be professional.
Thanks a lot of advice and all of it good!

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I love hearing from my readers. J Writers thrive on fanmail! I like knowing what worked, what didn't work, and engaging with readers. It's always fun and informative.

Thanks for dropping by My Twisted & Kinky World!
Thank you for inviting me! It was a pleasure.
*waves goodbye to S.L.*

Don't forget to check out these other Sizzling July Interviews!

Amara - July 1-3
Evan J. Xaiver - July 4-6
S.L. Armstrong - July 7-9
Brita Addams - July 10-12
Leigh Ellwood - July 13-15
Blaine Arden - July 16-18
Leigh Jarrett- July 19-24
A.D. Cooper - July 22-24
Giselle London - July 25-27
Rachel Haimowitz - July 28-30
Aleksandr Voinov - July 31-Aug. 3

Don't forget to stop by my Smashwords for the Summer/Winter Sale! Selected Titles are up to 50% Off!

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