Please enjoy getting to know author of vampire erotica in the name of Halloween, and just because this is a great interview with tips and insights galore. Also, check out the reviews of Bitter Things – Andrews first vampire erotica/novel. Then return on Saturday for a great guest post by Andrew entitled: Dead and Thriving: Vampire History By Andrew Valentine.
The Writer’s Interview
The Personal Questions
- What’s your idea of total happiness? Answering questions for a blog interview.
- Which trait do you most deplore about yourself? That there’s only one of me.
- What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue? Temperance.
- What’s your worse vice? Intemperance.
- What do you most value in your friends? Complete and total adoration and unquestioning loyalty. Not a big fan of friendly criticism. Tell me I’m terrific and we’ll get along just fine.
- Do you have a mantra or motto? Tell me I’m terrific and we’ll get along just fine.
- Which living, and which dead person, do you most admire and why? I most admire my family. For putting up with me.
- What is your favourite (song) and why? It changes daily. On the current rotation: Madness by Muse; Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys; No Church in the Wild by Kanye West and Frank Ocean; anything by Linkin Park; and on my all-time classic faves list would be Scott Joplin’s The Maple Leaf Rag; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; and The Beatles’ Let It Be.
- What is your favourite cuisine? If I’m out, I love a good steak and a nice glass of red wine. Otherwise, I really like my own cooking, especially my homemade pasta, meatballs and sauce (Italian heritage. It comes through). My favorite drink is bourbon and soda.
- Have your personal experiences (or situations) influenced you, creatively? Give us an example. I wrote my very first book when I was 5 years old, called The Gods of the Monsters. It was mostly a picture book, but some actual words did manage to make it onto the page. Actually, not every word that made it onto the page was a real word in English. The real ones included “monster” and “run” and “escape.” But there were also a lot of almost-words, like “ahh!” and “n-n-no-noooo!!!” You can probably imagine what the pictures were like based on that.
As I got older, I entered into an even more frightening phase in writing: romance. I wrote my first romance novel when I was 11, called “The Little Black Books.” They were all black, hence the name. Do you know those small Mead notebooks, the size of a deck of playing cards? I picked one up and filled it with imagined scenes of the kids in my neighborhood on “dates.” These were highly romanticized dates—the older kids walked hand-in-hand on the beach, all dressed in white linen. The younger kids played truth or dare in basements. In retrospect, these books were really very chaste (lots of handholding and a little bit of kissing), but to my friends, they were absolutely scandalous. And they couldn’t get enough of them. In fact, I had friends who bought me more of those little Mead notebooks just so I would write sequels. That could have been my first series, if I had followed through!
Then, as a teenager, I started dating for real and all the romanticized images went out the window. I suppose you can say my dating career influenced my return to the horror genre.
11. What are you reading now?
Simon Clark’s Whitby Vampyrrhic and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Bad Moon Rising. Clark has a great ability to incorporate history and different belief systems, such as the Viking god Tiw, into the vampire mythology of Whitby. Kenyon has a profound sense of character names that I find inspiring, with men called “Vain,” “Fury,” and “Fang,” and a woman called… “Amy.”
12. What other interests do you have?
Just for fun, I write songs (piano), paint, draw and sculpt. I also do a lot of cooking. But lately that’s become more out of necessity than for fun, which has made it less interesting to me.
I sky-dived recently and that was… well, it was terrifying, actually. Don’t think I’ll do it again.
Well, maybe I will. See, I had a videographer shoot my jump and I don’t like the way I came across in that video. So just to re-shoot the video I might jump again.
What was the vice I hated about myself? Intemperance? Maybe it should be vanity. I’m not sure my vanity has come through while answering these questions, but in case it didn’t, let me just say, I have a tendency to be vain. Which is not bad for a vampire writer. Vein. Get it? Yeah, ok. Moving right along here…
13. What was the last movie you went to see?
The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner. Not nearly as good as the first three (which were much better than the books, which is rare), but it was an adequate entry into the series.
14. Do you have a favourite genre?
I have several favorite genres, based on mood, mostly. These are thriller, horror, erotica, romance and non-fiction.
Some of my favorite thriller writers are:
- James Rollins
- Matt Reilly
- Alex Lukeman (he’s an up and coming star in the field, currently and indie author soon to be a best-seller)
Some of my favorite horror writers are:
- Deborah Leblanc
- Simon Clark
- Robert Bloch (author of Psycho and hundreds of terrific short stories!)
- Cal Miller III
Some of my favorite erotica writers are:
- A.N. Roquelaure (the pseudonym Anne Rice uses for her Beauty series)
- Lora Leigh (especially Forbidden Pleasure)
- Marquis de Sade (believe it or not! He wrote this one book I love, called the Philosophies of the Bedroom, which is both physically and intellectually stimulating)
- Lenore Elliott (I thought her Dirty as Sin novella was fantastic!)
Some of my favorite romance writers are:
- Nora Roberts (really enjoyed the “Key” series)
- Lisa Philips
One of my favorite non-fiction writers is Ben Macintyre.
The Writer Specific Questions.
- What is your new book about and what inspired you to write it?
Here’s a short synopsis of Bitter Consequence: Immortal love. Immortal evil. A woman must save her husband from an evil blood-goddess to prevent a supernatural war on the streets of modern New York in this groundbreaking tale of erotic horror. A lot of readers of my first book, Bitter Things, wanted more. So it was really them who inspired me. But I wanted tell a story that was self-contained—so that if you hadn’t read Bitter Things, you could still enjoy Bitter Consequence. The challenge—which I found inspiring—was to be able to take existing characters and bring new dimension to them.
For example, I had great fun with the character Dave, who in the first book was Michelle’s best friend. He was sweet, caring, super nice, a little nebbish and the kind of guy that women think of as “just good friends.” Would it be shocking to reveal just how much I could relate to this guy? Dave’s totally in love with Michelle, and he gets an opportunity to be with her and blows it. He commits the great sin of being honest with her at exactly the wrong time. In the next book, Bitter Consequence, Dave can’t get over the fact he blew it so completely and is desperate to get her back. This is only magnified when… when something happens that I shouldn’t reveal here. But it sets Dave on a path on which he will make alliances with the wrong people and will end up changing his life forever. Dave’s not the love interest, by the way. Scott, Michelle’s husband, is. In Bitter Things, his emotional scars force his wife and him to play a sexual game that spins out of control that has repercussions for the next two books. One of the things that went wrong with that game was that Scott and Michelle unwittingly invite a vampire into their lives. Historically, this is a bad thing to do. In Bitter Consequence, Scott’s emotional scars heal and he’s able to commit himself fully to his love for Michelle. But his love becomes a blind devotion—which works for a while but ends up getting them into trouble. At the center of it all is Michelle, who had the biggest transformation from one book to another. She’s forced to deal with people in a very different manner than she thought possible: her lovers, her friends, her parents—even her enemies—all of them are changed by Michelle’s ability to turn certain death into a fighting chance to win. She’s a determined survivor with an unswerving devotion to her lovers that makes her a fascinating character to me. And I hope the readers feel the same way about it!
2 .Why do you write in that genre?
I love the space I’m currently in with Bitter Things and Bitter Consequence, which is erotic horror. I think there are some profound limitations in both genres—horror and erotica—that are very similar. For example: horror is best when it involves the main character(s) directly; similarly, sex scenes should focus on main characters and not simply be gratuitous, or there because we need a scene like that. Both elements—horrific scenes and sex scenes—need to move the story forward. And what I really like is the juxtaposition of the two: usually a horror scene evokes the exact opposite emotions that a sex scene evokes. At least, most times this is the case—or should be if the writer is doing his or her job. But what I like to do is to play with that a little—make the sex a little dangerous; make the horror a little alluring. There’s a lot of opportunity for play in this mixed bag of genres called erotic horror. Horror also allows me to challenge the reader’s expectations—such as having the main character die in the opening chapter, and not have the rest of the novel work as a flashback. Aside from science fiction, no other genres allow you to do that! When I’m not in this space, I really like writing thrillers. A lot of my thriller writing techniques inform Bitter Consequence, particularly. For example, the chapters tend to be short, and end with a question or an important revelation. This, too, is meant to drive the story forward.
3. What got you into writing?
I always loved to write. I was born with a pen in my hand. It was a difficult labor. Actually, my mom tried to make writing a form of punishment one time. I got caught cutting class in high school one day, and in order not to get thrown out, my mother had to meet with the Dean of Discipline for Boys. The dean outlined my punishment—work detention and after-school detention—and my mother told the dean that wasn’t punishment enough. Without hesitation, the dean replied, “We can take him out back and shoot him.” My mother ignored the crack and soldiered on. “I think Andrew needs to write 10 new poems for the high school literary magazine. “Interesting,” the dean replied. “But I’m not sure we can make that demand on the English department. This response actually frightened me more, because I was afraid the dean might suggest shooting me again.
4. Do you feel writing is something you need to do or want to do?
This is an interesting question—I’m torn. I have such a demanding professional life that I sometimes feel life would be much easier if I just gave up writing. But I don’t think I could do that. It would make me feel too… disappointed in myself. So, is it a need, like—could I survive and never write again? Then I could survive, and it’s not a need. If my own self image is necessary for a satisfying life, then yes.
5. What are the challenges to being a writer? And what are the benefits? Have things changed lately?
Writing is hard. Not only is good, standard English no cinch, writing as a profession can be daunting—especially if you want to “make it big” in fiction. There are 100,000 wannabes for every EL James that makes it. But if you manage your expectations you can have a rewarding professional life as a fiction writer. There are more opportunities today than ever before to get your work out into the hands of a public that seems to have an insatiable hunger for good stories, well told: blogs, print-on-demand and e-books all allow writers access to readers that have been unavailable ever in the history of the written word. Small presses are sprouting up across the publishing landscape like mushrooms and self-publishing no longer has the stigma it once had. The benefits are clear: today you, as a fiction writer, have more control over the direction of your career and have more access to developing a dedicated readership. And the community of writers is a great one. Every professional community has its back-stabbers and its dark side, but most of the writers I’ve met and/or communicated with are helpful, encouraging and enthusiastic. Even when we’re jealous of our friends’ successes, each one of them provides a message of inspiration: you can do it, too.
6. Where do you see book-publishing in the future?
I love the printed word. I love books. I’ve got thousands in my home. My kids’ friends call our house the Library because of the floor-to-ceiling bookcases the cover each wall. But I believe the e-book revolution is here to stay and as technology advances, you’re going to see books become more interactive—from something as simple as an animated image on a page , to an alternate ending game system, to interactive novels written by groupthink or ‘crowd-sourced’ novels. I suspect these are some of the things we will see in the coming years and each will meet varying degrees of success. But I also think that the simple Aristotlean story-telling of our standard cannon—beginning, middle, end; good story, well told—will always be the standard by which a successful story will be measured. Even if you don’t understand what I mean by a ‘groupthink novel’ or a ‘crowd-sourced novel’ (which is, a book written by an online community rather than by a single individual), don’t worry about it. There will always be room at the table for a talented author.
7. Are you an indie or traditional author? I’m a hybrid of both. My publisher, National Writers Press, was a traditional small press for Bitter Things who has become a print-on-demand and ebook publisher for Bitter Consequence
8. Did you publish the first book you wrote? Not me—the National Writers Press. But yes. It was the first book I wrote. After I wrote the book, I entered it into a contest, which it won. But because I was in an intense degree program, I didn’t pursue marketing the book. Flash-forward 10 years: one of the judges from that contest called me up to ask if I was doing anything with Bitter Things. She remembered the novel after reading it a decade ago – and after reading hundreds and hundreds of other manuscripts –and it resonated with her so much, she wanted to publish it. I laughed when she called. “Because,” I told her, “I got a call just like this last week.” I was kidding, of course; how often do established publishers (the National Writers Press was founded in 1930) call unknown authors, asking to publish their work? To have my work in print, for others to read, is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But the knowledge that someone else – my talented and delightful publisher, Anita — believes in my work enough to put her money where my pen is makes it even more meaningful. If no more of my books are ever published again, that Anita took a chance on me and on Bitter Things will forever be the greatest moment of my writing life.
9. What advice can you offer to struggling writers? In the immortal words of Yoda: “Do or do not; there is no try.” First think of yourself as a writer. Not as someone trying to become a writer. After that, remember writing is your job. Sitting down at a computer and typing is the hardest thing in the world. But once you’re there, it’s the best thing in the world. Allow yourself to be immersed in that pleasure of creating. You absolutely MUST give yourself some time every day to do it. It doesn’t matter if what you wrote sucks and you end up throwing it all away. The process is paramount. Which means advice point number 3: don’t get discouraged. It’s impossible to count on being lucky, with a publisher-calling-an-unknown-writer story like me. Instead, think like Henry Ford, who said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” I had to write that novel first, polish it, hone it, find the right contest, etc. I had to read a lot of books – even things outside my subject area. My advice comes down to these 4 points:
- Don’t give up.
- Never stop.
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ANDREW VALENTINE Andrew Valentine lives and writes in New York. He has a master’s degree in psychology from the New School, is a founding member of the Paranormal Romance Guild, and is a marketing director in a firm in Manhattan, where his writing is more effective at producing revenue than pulse pounding thrills. Visit Andrew online at www.BitterThingsTheBook.com Author of Bitter Things and Bitter Consequence, vampire erotica. Panelist and Featured Author at Anne Rice’s Vampire Ball & UnDead Con Oct 25-29, 2012 Thanks so much Andrew for an insightful interview and hey readers – it’s not over yet. Come back Saturday 27th October for Andrews fabulous guest post about vampire history – Dead and Thriving: Vampire History By Andrew Valentine. I’ll also be posting my book review of Andrew’s Bitter Consequencessoon too, so keep your eyes open for that. Till then, here are some other folks review of Bitter things to get you salivating.
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Great Reviews for Bitter Things
- Robin Shannon, NPR / WFUV: “Valentine takes us on a mysterious and erotic journey… [Bitter Things] delves into bondage-eroticism and I found myself blushing… what a book!”
- 5-Star Review from Paranormal Romance Guild: 5*****Star
Book- Bitter Things
Author- Andrew Valentine
Publisher- National Writers Press
Rated- Adult Erotic
Andrew Valentine has a great new take on Vampirism with Endorphins…and Blood and Sex. He has taken the Vampire story to another level….I loved Michelle for her strong bullheadedness to find Scott and her fierce determination to keep him. …I found Scott to have a fine sense of strength of love over sex to try and not succumb to the evil. Take the ride with them and see for yourself. What would you have chosen in Michelle or Scott’s place? Hope Mr Valentine is not finished with this story. Hopefully we can coax him into giving us a sequel, I look forward to it.
Gloria Lakritz – Senior Reviewer – Paranormal Romance Guild
- Jordan Rich, WBZ Boston: “a whole new take on vampire mythology… clever use of sexuality and a reason for the elements of domination… one feels empathy for the ‘killing machine’ which adds to the storyline… you tear through the book.
- Ramsey’s Reviews – http://trinagon6.blogspot.com/search/label/Andrew%20Valentine – Reviewed by Nicola Ormerod (4 out of 5): “[Bitter Things] is spot on. A good mixture of sex, violence and plot. Characters are all believable and the ending was not predictable and kept the reader guessing to the end.”
- · Lisa Phillips, author of Obsession Everlasting: Andrew Valentine’s Bitter Things is an exciting, erotic, page-turning thriller that speaks to being very careful what you wish for! When a young couple’s sexual fantasy comes to life in an alluring, exotic woman neither can resist, their lives are forever altered in a single night. What follows is a dark, desperate exploration of the frailty of human emotion and the seductive lure of a vampire’s bloodlust.Mr. Valentine takes traditional vampire lore, adds a contemporary, sexually-charged twist, and leaves the reader gasping for more!
- EJ Stevens, author of She Smells the Dead, (Spirit Guide, Book 1): “…a wonderful read. If you enjoy Vampire Erotica then this book is for you. Blood, sex, mystery and suspense–this book has it all!
- From Tamel Quijas, author of Moonlight Deception: Recently, I picked up BITTER THINGS which is an unforgettable novel by stunning new author, Andrew Valentine. Honestly, I was amazed! I was caught by Chapter One, drawn into a world of murder, erotic sexual depravity, and a delightfully strong female lead that will battle tooth and nail to find her husband. With the turn of each page, I was pulled deeper into this wondrous tale, filled with absolute human persistance, graphic vampire bloodlust, and an unexpected ending that left me breathless. Bitter Things is a riveting tale written by an amazing new male talent, which brings delightful insight into the paranormal. This is, absolutely, not your teenager’s vampire novel!
- Nick Sarames, WVOX AM 1450: “extremely interesting book! Not for the faint of heart…”
- Jamie London, WSPL AM1250: “very cool!”
- Tron Simpson, KCMN: “Great … Kinda weird, man…. Woo-hoo!”
- Richard Garfunkel, The Advocates, WVOX: “Bitter Things… addresses the new cultural (and often eternal) phenomenon and fascination with vampirism and eternal life”
- “Fresh, brash, in-your-face, evocative story telling. Andrew Valentine’s Bitter Things is actually frothy and stimulating… and slyly literate. Highly recommended summer reading – for that matter, in any season.” – Paul Levinson:Author of The Plot to Save Socrates
- “Bitter Things is everything a vampire book should be. Just like an incredible steak, it’s juicy and sensual and satisfies some animal craving of yours, even though underneath you always know there’s a dark side to it. Valentine’s writing is as sharp and polished as an incisor pressed against your pulse point. A real treat.” — Cecilia Tan: Author of White Flames
- “Andrew Valentine’s Bitter Things delivers a hard punch to the senses. It’s provocative, erotic, and filled with unforgettable characters that make you eager for more. Within this story, Valentine brings new meaning to the word ‘Vampire,’ ripping it from the pages of folkloric fantasy and shoving it into the realm of horrific plausibility. I defy anyone to put this novel down after the first two pages–it simply can’t be done! ” –Deborah LeBlanc: President of the National Horror Writers Association
Excited yet? I know I am. Don’t forget, check back for my review – Soon! And as always, huge thanks for reading. Please do leave us a comment/question/tell us your views of vampires/on erotica? And have a great day.