Firstly I’d like to thank Vanessa for stopping by and agreeing to be interviewed. It was a pleasure. Also, MUSA will be discounting her books by 30% in conjunction with this interview! 🙂
Also, we here at PBA would like to congratulate Vanessa on being signed to Riptide.
I did some cursory research on you and it looks like you’ve been writing for the last two years or so. What prompted you to take up writing?
A combination of insomnia, curiosity, and rediscovering my love for writing because I was reading a lot. My first attempts were huge failures–I didn’t have the chops to really draft a story–but I enjoyed it, so I studied plotting and character archetypes, POV, story structure, etc. I just learned everything I could about the craft. I am still learning everything I can about the craft. I look at books I wrote a year ago and the books I’m writing now, and I see how far I’ve come, and it just makes me excited about where I’m going in the future.
I’ve read The Dark Collector and really liked it. It was a very bittersweet premise and seems to be your first foray into BDSM. How did you get your inspiration for it? How did you research it?
The idea for the story came about on a Saturday morning when I was chatting on Skype with Liza Gaines, who is one of my best friends and a wonderful author in her own right. I asked her to prompt me for a story, we started swapping homoerotic photos (as you do) and we found one that showed two men arguing in a hallway. It was hot. There was so much palpable tension in that photograph, and I said “this is it, I’m writing this.” So she asked me what they were arguing about, and I said “They just bid on a painting at an auction–the one who lost was the subject of the painting and it was done by his dead lover.” That story took nine days to draft the first draft. It came out fast and furious, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.
As for research, I talked to people in the lifestyle and I read, a lot. BDSM means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Though the sex in the book is entirely consensual, as are the BDSM elements, at least one act is dangerous, and falls outside the range of “safe, sane, consensual.” I knew I had to be very, very careful in how I presented it, and I hope I was respectful of the lifestyle in doing so.
There is not a lot of bondage or pain play in this story. Some yes, but it’s really not so much about the kink. With Oliver’s story, I wanted to focus on his emotional journey. Yes, it’s erotica, and yes the sex is central. Even though the story was told from Oliver’s POV, it’s the dark collector’s belief that Oliver needed to know himself before he could give himself to someone else that I focused on.
Many authors, I’ve noticed, use celebrities or models as a basis for a character. Have you ever done this? If so, can you tell us which celebrities have characters modeled after them?
I almost always have a photograph on which I base a character’s appearance, if for no other reason than to make sure I keep it consistent throughout the story. I love fashion photography, so a lot of my character inspirations are models. Levi from Hostile Beauty was modeled after Sebastian Suave. Adam from High and Tight (coming in May from Carina) was modeled after Chad White. The dark collector was loosely based on the model/Bollywood actor Upen Patel.
What drew you to the GLBT sub-genre? It looks like you’ve been drawn to the het paranormal/shifter genre historically. Any plans for a GLBT shifter story in the future?
I’ve always had GLBT characters in my books–in Amazon, my first novel, the heroine is bisexual and there are lesbian and FFM menage scenes in the book. I started writing M/M as I started reading more of it in 2012. I was drawn to the M/M subgenre because I was frustrated with current trends in M/F romance, and the more I read in a subgenre, the more plot bunnies I get to write in it.
The first M/M book I wrote was Shifter’s Song, a paranormal in the Wiccan Haus shared world from Musa Publishing, about a bear shifter who can’t shift and a bird shifter/pop music sensation at the resort for some R&R between tours.
I’m working on a shifter parody/romantic comedy about an octopus shifter (working title “Tentacular Spectacular”) which I hope will come out this year.
What is it about tentacles in a story that makes it so appealing? Are there any other kinks that you like to read or write about?
Oh, tentacles. 😀 I love ’em. Octopodes can change the color and texture of their skin at will, and even really giant ones can squeeze themselves through a hole the size of a quarter. That’s a goldmine of potential right there. I’m really drawn to all kinds of specfic, paranormal, scifi, fantasy. Love it. Monster erotica is part of that, and I’m always on the look out for really well written stuff in the genre. As for other kinks, I love reading all kinds, but in particular, I love stories with biting, and I end up writing biting into many of my own sex scenes.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a routine or any rituals?
I don’t have rituals, but I write best when I exercise regularly, so I often start my day with a run and then write afterwards. I can’t have music playing when I write, and I can’t eat and write at the same time (even though I often eat at my desk, it’s usually while checking email and whatnot).
Can you share a little bit about how your creative process works? For instance you’ve participated in the LHNB event. What’s it like to look at a picture and come up with an entire story for it?
I am often inspired by a photograph, or an idea, but mostly the process comes from the characters. I plot around goal, motivation, conflict, so I develop the characters first, then the plot. The exception being Hostile Beauty, which as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, had the plot structure sort of in place already, and I was adapting the characters to the fairy tale story line. When I wrote Jackson’s Law for LHBN, I used Alex’s amazing photo and prompt as the basis for both characters. The pink bowtie screamed “lawyer” to me, and so Jackson’s character was born, and from that his motivations for staying in the closet, for keeping his distance from Elliot, etc. The written prompt gave me Elliot in a nutshell, I just expanded on it.
Is there anything you would like your readers to know about you and/or your works?
I appreciate anyone who reads my works, I hope they enjoy the stories and have fun with them.
What’s something that people don’t know about you that they should?
I’m very, very shy, but I’m also quite chatty on social media. I might not friend/follow someone first, especially on Goodreads where I try to be careful not to cross any reader/author boundaries, but I generally accept all friend requests and love talking about books, so please feel free to say hi wherever you encounter me! I always appreciate someone reaching out to me, especially since I’m often too shy to make the first move.
Do you have any odd or humorous encounters with fans, fellow writers or even publishers that you’d be willing to share?
I am a writer, but I’m a reader first, and I’m a total fangirl over my favorite authors. In particular I adore Amy Lane. Her books really touch me–I’m drawn to her working class characters and the way she emphasizes the idea of a “found family.” I also geek out over the knitting details, because I’m a knitter myself and I love how she works the craft into the stories. But I am incapable of reading an Amy Lane book without crying. They ALL make me cry.
When I read the book Clear Water, I was really, really touched, and a little inspired, so I knit a little stuffed two-headed frog–Caleb and Catherine. That project kept the book with me for a little while when I wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.
I wasn’t able to go to attend GRL as an author this past October, but it was held in Atlanta, which is close to where I live, and the book signing was open to the public, so I drove down with Caleb and Catherine in my shoulder bag, and surprised Amy with the frogs at the signing. She screamed, and then we both cried, and even though I’ve only made her cry once, and she’s made me cry lots and lots, I take a little satisfaction in having made the mistress of angst and pain shed a few tears.
What are you working on now? What can we expect for the remainder of 2014?
Right now I’m working on the octopus shifter story, the sequel to High and Tight, and the sequel to Double-Up, a contemporary sports romance out on sub right now. I plan to participate in the Goodreads M/M group’s event again this year if I can, and also publish free reads through collaborations with my group blog, Love, Lust, and Laptops. We did two free anthologies last year, and hope to do at least one in 2014.
Where can readers find you on the internet?
My website is http://vanessanorth.com
And my group blog with nine other authors is:
Where to Buy
Vanessa has graciously agreed to give away a copy of The Dark Collector to one lucky winner! Either in ebook or paperback format, your choice! All you have to do is comment to be entered!
In addition MUSA, publisher of her novella Hostile Beauty, is also offering a $10 MUSA gift certificate and a copy of Hostile Beauty.
Contest ends 13 February at 11:59pm. Must by 18 years or older, void where prohibited, etc.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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