On December 13th of 2012, author Red Phoenix visited my group on Goodreads and answer questions from our members. It was a lovely evening with a lot of good questions and even better answers.
About writing in general:
1- Why did you decide to be a writer? And, who, if anyone was your inspiration? I always loved writing, but not as much as teaching. When my teaching career had to be put on hold, I went back to my second love. I love books, so although I can’t point to one particular author, I will say that all the great books I have read throughout the years have had a significant influence on me.
1- When you hit a writing road block, how do you get past it? Do you have a specific way, or you just give it time? I usually play music that goes with the storyline or the character, if that doesn’t inspire, I move onto another story and come back to it. I find that if I am not feeling the flow it is almost useless to write the story. I get nowhere and then have to erase most of it.
1- Are you an organized writer or just an organic writer? Organic all the way. I know basically where the storyline is headed, but I let the characters and events lead me on. For instance, I KNEW how Brie would end, but I let the characters carry me along to that ending. I have a story to tell and a message to get across with each and every one of my tales. Although there have been a few times fans have said something that sticks in my head and I end up incorporating a portion into a story, I basically see myself as the captain. I am taking you on a journey and you have to trust I will get you there safely, no matter if it goes the way you want or not.
- How many hours per day do you spend writing, when you are in writer's mode?
I am horrible. I literally get up at 6 and start. I am normally found at my computer until 11-12 at night. Yes, I do cook dinner, and run errands when I have to but constantly my head is in my books. I have to consciously break away to be a good wife and mother. I am doing better at that, except for this month… so many projects going on at once. To be honest, I have not gotten any Christmas shopping done, or any cards purchased to send out. Now I do jump onto Facebook and Twitter often to give myself a breather, but the writing is a full-time job, every bit as much as teaching was. However, instead of looking at the clock and hoping for the day to end, I am looking at it with tears in my eyes. NO! I need more time! Seriously, I feel that way every day.
1- What do you enjoy and what do you dislike most about being an author? I love getting to know the characters and experience life through their eyes. So many events in the stories are snippets of my life, but they take on more color, more life and more meaning when I write. I love the escape! I dislike the business end of it. I HATE formatting the word document for the different websites and having to publish on each one, I am not so keen on the editing process, and I dread the little blurb for each book. It is almost impossible to take a story and condense it into a couple of lines. It strains my brain.
1- Can you please tell us how you got into writing erotica?
I wanted to publish a novel I had written but was having a hard time finding a publisher for it. I started looking at online romance sites and kept coming across erotica. I thought I could do better, and wrote a piece Loving Amy, based on two characters in my original romance novel. I decided to publish it on Smashwords so I could learn the process and not worry about messing up. It was just a short, written under a pen name so I figured it was perfect. What I didn’t count on was how excited I would get having people read my work. I decided to continued on with the Sensual Erotica series. In the middle of writing that Layla’s story, Keeper of the Wolf Clan, came to me. After I finished the series, we had a snowstorm and Blissfully Snowbound was born. And that, my friend, was the beginning…
1- Someone asked how you got started writing erotica, but WHY do you write erotica? I write is because it makes me happy in so many ways. Yes, I get hot when I write the scenes and my hubby and I benefit from it. But I also enjoy the feelings of romance that it invokes while I play out the lives of the characters, and I like the idea of helping other women get in touch with those feelings. My life is so much fuller, my marriage is so much more delightful with a healthy and active sex life.
1- How do you think your writing has changed other women's lives? I sincerely hoped when I started sharing these stories that women would come to understand what took me years to realize. Our bodies are beautiful, wonderful things capable of great passion and enjoyment. Nothing should be taboo between a caring couple. I hope I have opened eyes to the possibilities and encouraged women (and their men) to enjoy each other more.
1- What do you hope women, or for that matter, men, too, gain from reading your books?I would love it if couples reconnect and enjoy each other more. Communication is so important and it is easy to lose that over the years. I believe couples long for that deeper connection, but many have fallen into ruts, or they have never allowed themselves to explore deeper desires because of shame, simple ignorance or fear of rejection. They stick with what they know and after years it gets stale for both sides.
1- What does writing offers to you personally? Blessed escape. I get to control the worlds I write about and I always make it a pleasing one for me. It also releases the creativity that burns inside demanding release. There has been a side benefit I never saw coming… I have met and become friends with a bunch of amazing people!
1- You often say that your fiction character is pushing you to move on with his story. How you mean that? You hear their voices like talking to you or is it like the story plays 3D in your mind or you see something and you think that would be good for this character to add in the story or something else?? Great question. It is not like Sir is saying, “Red Phoenix, I’m talking to you.” Instead, I see and hear their scenes play out. In the case of Faelan (who has been ‘bothering’ me lately), I knew where his story was going in the new Brie, but for some reason, his scenes kept coming to mind until I finally wrote them out. I am not sure why, as it isn’t until further in the storyline, but sometimes it feels like these characters are real in a spirit sense. Like they NEED their stories to be told and have chosen me to tell it. The first time I felt that strongly was with In 9 Days. Kevin/Luke’s story had me in tears. The determination and heart of Tesse inspired me. :)
1- What do you enjoy most from your fans? The witty banter. I love connecting with them every day and laughing together. There is no shame, no judgment about our sensual desires, just support and encouragement – plus good humor and lots naughty pics.
1- Your teasing on is merciless, drives your fans crazy.. (and I have personal experience of that!). What offers you more satisfaction, your teasing or writing? You know what the teasing really stems from? My desire to share what I have written with you. I want to just throw it out there after I write a good scene. But I am trying to be good and wait until the story is done. I started doing it with Brie Bows to Her Master and haven’t been able to stop. I have to admit though, I love when I throw out a quote and it can be interpreted in different ways. I know when you read through the story you’ll be thinking, “That is so NOT what I was picturing!” Wicked little giggle.
1- Where does your inspiration comes from? Mainly my husband. He is my perfect mate. But simple things like a snowstorm can trigger a story. :) Naturally, I draw a lot from my life, but as I have said before, I feel like some of these characters call to me, wanting me to write their story. All that is required is for me to listen and write what I see and hear in my head.
1- When do you write better, day or night hours? At all times, I am the energizer bunny!
1- How did you feel the first time you put out a book? Always nervous and excited. I wonder how the book will be received, but I can’t wait to share. It is an adrenaline rush, but by the next day I am crashing. I always do, the next day is always a struggle. It takes so much energy and time to publish a book that I’ve got nothing left afterwards. Poor family… They dread publishing day.
1- Is writing something you do for fun or is it like a full time job? It is the funnest job I can imagine. Yes I work all the time, but I LOVE it.
1- Do you do research to develop your story line? I do a lot of research. Once I know what I want to write about, I start researching the topic or setting.
1- Do you read your reviews? Do you believe even a bad review help? I read them all – but sometimes I wish I didn’t. The vindictive ones have a negative influence on my day. But yes, I have certainly had bad reviews that were helpful. One helped me make changes to Her Gift, because I agreed with what the reviewer said. One reviewer encouraged me to write more BDSM after reviewing The Flame. For me, it’s the ones that are personal attacks, attacks against erotica in general or the out and out lies that slay me. Even though I tell myself they don’t matter, those really get my goat and don’t do my psyche any good. I have cried a few times. Most are helpful. I want honest opinions. But I think some reviewers have an agenda I don't know about. Personally, I reserve 1-star reviews for unreadable work. If I really hated the storyline and think others need to be warned that it is not sold as advertised, I will give it a 2 and explain why. But I don't attack the author.
1- Which of your books you enjoyed more writing and which was the most difficult to write? Details please :) I loved writing Brie although it was a hefty burden to come up with a completely different scene for every sexual encounter. I did repeat the DP, but it was a different situation so I felt it was okay. I love her heart, humor and her need to please while remaining true to herself whatever the cost. I found Blissfully Broken the most difficult to write. Although it is fiction, it brought up some issues in my past that were very hard for me. I was about to publish, but both a beta reader and my content editor said it needed tweaking and I had to postpone publication so I could rewrite it. It was like pulling teeth, however I am very happy with the results. Based on the lightness of the storyline you would never suspect the turmoil it created.
1- From all the books you have written who are your favourite characters and why? Brie, her humor and kindness. Kevin/Luke for his loyalty and character. Cryil, for caring enough to step in. Marquis, his expertise and teacher’s heart. Tono, his peaceful and loving spirit, Layla, her determination… or crap I love them all!
1- Is there in any of your books a character that you have had to tone down because you worried that your readers would not accept or like him/her? Master Anderson in the Sensual Erotica series. If you read the original scene you might have been quite surprised. Really it was more appropriate for a girl who was more fully trained, so it is good I scaled him back. Amy was a newbie after all. ;) Ms. Clark, probably goes without saying.
1- Other than writing what are your interests or hobbies? Volleyball, reading, Texas Hold ‘em, the game Catan. (But really, all I do is write these days.)
1- What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas? If he could grant a wish, it would be that Brie takes off enough to be in bookstores. It would tickle me to death. That, or a sexy cable series… If he had limitless funds, that I get a maroon Mustang with black racing stripes on the side, and my Phoenix on the hood. (Grins)
About writing the Brie series:
How did you come up with the idea for Brie? I dreamed of training as a Geisha when I was younger, thinking what a joy it would be to know the secrets of pleasing a man - any man. I decided to pair that with my submissive tendencies and created the Submissive Training Center. I also enjoyed the movie The Paper Chase and how the college weeded out perfectly good law students because they only wanted the ones who would give everything to stay in. I combined it all into that first novelette.
Are all your stories as erotic and which of the others would you say were on a par with your Brie stories? All of my stories written under the name Red Phoenix are erotic. Some are sweet romances like In 9 Days and 9 Days and Counting, some are adventurous like Brie (Sensual Erotica Series and the Blissful Series), and I even have a couple of paranormals (Varick and The Keeper). The closest to Brie I would say is The Blissful Series. I see Dan and as potential Dom material, but it is not BDSM, it centers around ménage. There are a few chapters of BDSM in Sensual Erotica (where you get an introduction to Master Brad Anderson of the Brie Series). In all of my writing, I try to convey the beauty and energy of good sex.
What research have you done for these or is it a reflection of your experiences or wished experience?
The most common question asked. As much as possible, I have experienced or personally tried out what I write about. What I have cannot experience, I have researched to find out how it is done and why women like it.
In the Brie series there is a school that Doms or subs enroll to to learn their positions. Is there really such a place that you used for research or is it totally fictional? I have heard there are some that exist, but nothing like what I wrote about. I was writing out my personal fantasies - college professionalism with tons of different “teachers” and hand-on training, i.e. The Submissive Training Center. I think a lot of subs wish there was such a thing. But the reality is, most people come together and discover those things as couples. The Dom trains his submissive.
Do you have a friends who are into BDSM lifestyle and you can pick their brains or were all of Brie's scenes from you own experience ?? All off the Brie scenes were either my experience or my tireless research. Yes, I do have some friends who are into the BDSM lifestyle, who knows, you might too (you just don’t know it.) :)
Did you research the areas of PTS syndrome to write about Mary's breakdown? I know the importance of full disclosure and the terrible effects it can have when those memories are triggered. I desperately wanted the message of being upfront and honest with one’s partner to be loud and clear. It is not fair to the sufferer nor the partner who has thoughtfully set up the scene.
Does your hubby help with the Male POV in Brie? My husband is too embarrassed to read most of my work. I understand, it is like a play by play and he would rather keep it private. As long as he doesn’t read it, he doesn’t have to deal with the embarrassed of how I sing his praises through my characters. My Male POV comes mainly from years of observing him and my upbringing. Most of my life, I related better with guys than girls. I just couldn’t relate to most females. I found them shallow, silly and mean. Men, however, I get and I love! But now that I am older, I have found a TON of awesome women who get me and I them. I adore it. <3
At first I was kind of hurt, but when he asked how I would feel if he wrote about me, I understood. I am lucky that he is willing to let me write whatever I want. As long as he doesn't read it, he can pretend it doesn't involve him.(grin) I am fortunate to have found my soul mate and I know & appreciate it.
Did you ever interact with a disfigured man like the Captain ??
Not as badly hurt as Captain nor Kevin/Luke. The scars he carried were in places most people would never see. I find them alluring because they speak to survival and grit.
What was her (Ms. Clark's) whole obsession with eye aversion? I get that some people are way into that but I never heard any of the males complain. Dominants all have their preferences. For Ms. Clark, eyes averted is a sign of respect that she demands. But it goes much deeper than that. The two are like oil and water. Although Ms. Clark was impressed with Brie that first day, she quickly grew to resent her. Sir’s breach of conduct with Brie and her outing with Rytsar (a little background story that will be explored in the next Brie) was more than Ms. Clark could handle. She saw Brie’s need for eye contact as a problem, so she became relentless about it.
The session of Ms. Clark with Brie, so the readers wouldn't be left with a bad impression of Dommes - was that planned from the beginning or did you feel like at that point the story called for it?
I believe every person has their good points, even antagonists (no human being is one dimensional). I wanted to show another side to the woman, but waited until the last book to reveal more of her. Being a teacher myself, I know that you do come across students that rub you the wrong way. As a professional, you have to curb those feelings and do your best for the student. Ms. Clark failed to do that with Brie and she knew it. Although Sir was the one to insist on it, the trainer in Ms. Clark wanted to rectify her mistake. Even during the paddling scene (which some readers hated), she was attempting to teach Brie. She just couldn’t overcome her irrational loathing of the girl.
Was Brie based on somebody you know or just your own imagination?
Brie... truth? Hmm... there is a lot of me in Brie. But she is funnier and less cynical.
What is Master Anderson connection to Sir?
They are longtime buds, that will become more clear in the new series. Brie is going to learn a lot about Sir!
In Master Anderson story will see him interact with either one of Bries friends or will his personal life be already in place?
Master Anderson is still recovering from his loss of Amy. First time to give his heart away and then it was crushed. He is an experienced Dom, but as far as relationships he is still green. He will gather his courage again.
Will there be novelette on each Dom ??
If I do a novelette for each Dom, it will be in the way future Juanita. I love the idea, but so many other stories are waiting to be written.
Songs I used to write Brie: Promises by Nero - speaks to Brie's angst. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. This was the song I used when I wrote the scenes with Tono Nosaka. Spectrum by Zedd I got chills. This song speaks to Sir's inner struggle concerning Brie. You are Mine by Mute Math for Faelan. I often enjoyed the naughtiness of Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment. The song Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova moved me to tears. This melody carried me away as I wrote the last scene of Brie.
Will you continue with more about Brie, or do you have plans for similar themed stories? Yes, the second season of Brie’s life will begin the end of January. It will be written on a novelette by novelette basis just as the original Brie was. When it is finished, I will compile it into a novel. I AM writing another Dom based series which I have dubbed “The Secret Project” for now. It was an idea given to me by my husband and I am not sure there is anything else out there like it. Hope to publish the first piece very soon.
Will all the main characters from the old Brie series be carried on in the new series? And are there new characters to look forward to?
Certainly, the characters are all part of the BDSM community and will be seen again. There are going to be new experiences and new people in Brie’s life as she navigates the ‘real’ world with her Master.
About other works from past and future:
Can you give a rough date when we will find out what the secret project is?
The minute I pen the last line I will post the cover and give you guys the date to expect publication. I hope the end of the month if not sooner.
Did you Know how Amy and Troy was going to end each of those books were a surprise. And did you know there would be 9 in total?
Juanita, I wanted to play out a of ton sexual encounters in one book. I knew Amy and Troy would end up together, but I wanted each to have unique experiences. I also wanted to play with the male POV.
Can you give a rough date when we will find out what the secret project is? The minute I pen the last line I will post the cover and give you guys the date to expect publication. I hope the end of the month if not sooner.
My secret project: Looking forward to the male Dom perspective
Yes, Kate, it is a challenge. Although I wrote about male Doms in Brie, I wasn't doing from their POV. This has been an exciting challenge. I read it to my hubby aloud and I also pass it by another Dom to make sure I am capturing not only the male perspective but the Dominant frame of mind.
Will the secret project be a short story or a series of short stories or a novel? It will be a novella, longer than my normal novelettes. It is going to be an ongoing series, but not with cliffhangers. Each will be a complete story unto itself but the main character will be reoccurring.