Sunday, 10 June 2012
Ryan Field Interview
How much do you tap into your own experiences and fantasies to create your erotica?
That all depends. I often go back to personal experiences when I'm getting into the dating period...or rather, when characters first meet. That's the time when things in any relationship should be hot and heavy and the two characters can't take their hands off each other. If they aren't like this, there's something fundamentally wrong in the relationship.
It's when I get into places/situations where I don't normally go it gets interesting. For example, I just finished working on a novel, "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street," that gets into light BDSM. I had to research that and talk to people who are into BDSM because it's not something I've ever personally explored. With that said, the BDSM I wrote about in JSoDS is light, and more about role-laying between Dom and Sub. I didn't want to get into anything I didn't fully understand. But I would not be telling the complete truth if I said fantasy didn't play a huge role while I was writing that book.
Aside from the obvious, what areas do you shy away from? Why?
Up until now, BDSM was an area I kept at a distance because I'm not familiar with the mind-set behind a lot of the fetish scene. I also try to stay away from infidelity at all cost. I know there are people who disagree with me, but that's my own personal thing. I think that's because I've been in a relationship with my partner for twenty years and I value that trust more than anything in the world. When that trust is broken, there's nothing left.
I also don't write unsafe sex scenes without an explanation (the characters have been tested and can prove they are STD-free, or the obvious, where a story takes place pre-HIV/AIDS), because I've seen and witnessed the effects HIV/AIDS has on lives in real life. I've written about this on my blog many times. I know the expense of the ARVs (HIV drugs) just to stay alive (thousands per month), and I know the side-effects. Again, this is my own opinion and I respect the opinions of others. I know there are authors who believe that in fiction, because it's not real, there should be literary license with regard to safe sex. But it's not something I'm willing to do unless the story calls for it in a very strong way.
How much do reader comments factor into your stories?
I listen and pay attention to all reader comments. Sometimes I learn a great deal from readers and I remember them the next time I sit down to write. But the comments I listen to the most are usually very specific. I've had two reviews so far for one recent book and both reviews differ so much I'm not sure what to think. One reviewer said the book had too much sex. And another reviewer thought the sex was too vanilla. We're talking about the same book. I thought that particular book was middle of the road...as far as sex scenes go. The way readers interpret books, especially erotic romance, varies widely. So when it comes to broad comments it's often hard to learn something. It's really the specific, detailed elements/comments readers make that help the most.
You’re often known for working m/m themes into established plots – has this worked out as well as you had hoped?
I've followed that same pattern of parody with all the books I've written that resemble movie titles. In the case of "A Virgin Billionaire," I took it a step further and added a lot of strong sex scenes...which is a parody in itself with regard to ANYTHING mainstream, where strong sex is OFF LIMITS completely. The book was *intentionally* an erotic parody of Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It was not an accident. Truman Capote was a gay man...as flaming gay as a man could get during that time period and everyone knew it (I've read many books about his life). We all know about Rock Hudson. I understand why men like Hudson and Capote did what they did: they were victims of their time periods. But there are more like Capote and Hudson to this day slithering around in the closet. Hollywood and Washington, D.C. are the two places you can do anything and get away with it (Bill Clinton?); just don't do it gay or you'll never be forgiven in the mainstream (Gov. Jim McGreevey?).
So I decided to parody these hetero mainstream films with gay characters on purpose, I hope with a certain amount of snarky humor at times, to make my own small statement in gay fiction. This is something I've never hidden from anyone. If you just look at the titles that is abundantly clear. And, again, I've never parodied a film or story with gay characters or a gay storyline. NEVER. I've written about what my intentions were in blog posts many times and I've always been up front with what I'm doing for readers. So I don't have any regrets at all and I'd do it all over again. It's worked out very well. I might even write a parody of "Singing in the Rain," and title it, "Banging in the Rain," just for shitz and giggles.
It's interesting how things are interpreted sometimes. Take my book "My Fair Laddie," for example. It's a highly erotic parody of "My Fair Lady," and "My Fair Lady," is sexless musical based upon "Pygmalion," a famous play by George Bernard Shaw. Shaw was influenced by someone else when he wrote his version in 1912. Before this, it was very popular in the Victorian era. You can google all this on wikipedia if you don't trust me. It's one of the most used storylines in history.
Now that you’ve tackled self-publishing, do you feel freer to write what you want or what you feel the reader may want?
I'm about to release "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street," very soon. It's self-published with the Amazon KDP program. Like I said earlier, this is the first time I ever wrote about BDSM. And this book is not a parody of any film or pop culture storyline that's been done before with straight characters. I wanted it to be serious this time, not parody. And I honestly can't say for certain whether or not one of my publishers would have let me do this. They may have let me if I'd asked. My goal with self-publishing was based more on being able to price a few books at .99 for the reader. And it was about finding out if I could actually do it alone.
But I'm very glad you asked this question and I'd like to state openly that I have never been told I can't do something by any of my publishers. Loveyoudivine.com has never put restrictions on me at all. And I'm still working with them and I still have new releases with them almost every month. I've been amazed at the freedom they give me more than once. As for Ravenous Romance, the same goes. With RR it's more about brainstorming and collaborating with the publisher. I've worked well with both Holly Schmidt and Lori Perkins with these collaborations. I love them both dearly, though I've never actually met them in person. I've been happy with all my books, I'm still writing for RR with a pen name in a slightly different sub-genre, and hope to be writing more for them with my own name in the future.
As for other LGBT publishers like Cleis Press and Alyson Books, the same also goes. I've never had a publisher tell me I can't do this or that. So my goal with self-publishing was more about finding out whether or not I could publish a book, from concept to cover art, and having control, not freedom. Frankly, though I enjoy the self-publishing process, I still prefer the collaboration I get with publishers. I don't have beta readers and I always depend on the feedback from the publishers. When you're doing it alone, there's no one to say what's right and what's wrong. And that can be scary.
What do you consider to be more important? The sex act itself or other points like the built up and focus on sexy triggers?
In erotic romance I think the points that build up to the sex scenes are extremely important. It's more about the emotion and the feelings in many cases. The sex scenes are still important. But without the build-up of emotion, it's not going to be a romance. The sex should move the romance forward. Without that element, it's more erotica.
I've written more than a few short stories that are erotica, not erotic romance. And I think the sex in an erotic story that's not erotic romance is more important than the build-up. The people who read erotica and don't want the romance will be let down if an author does otherwise. So, for me, it's all about whether or not I'm writing gay erotica or gay erotic romance.
But it's interesting how authors get locked into boxes sometimes. One of my favorite short stories I've written is "Strawberries and Cream at the Plaza." That story was originally published about eight years ago in a print anthology about first time experiences with a different title. I revised completely, changed the title, and re-released it as an e-book. There's no sex at all in that story. The reviews have all been excellent and like I said I loved writing it. But it hasn't sold nearly as well as other books and stories I've written with strong sex. So that tells me something about what readers want. Sales figures are the best indicators. And like I said, it's all about the reader for me.