So, before I let Elliot take it away, let me tell you a bit about my first interaction with him...
I'm still a relatively fresh editor; this is the first time I've completely run an editing process from concept to final product (any errors remaining in the printed version are mine!) and I'm getting submissions in... I'm trying to be all professional and stuff, but you all know me by now, it ain't working. I glance at Sense-Think-Act and read the cover letter attached. Elliot DeLocke. Hmmm.
When I write back to inform him that I've gotten his submission, I say this:
(oh, please tell me your pen name / legal name is a play on words for Elliot Ness, because that's just awesome.)Which turns out to be the case... so, I'm already in love with this writer and I haven't even read the story yet... (I have a stuffed Loch Ness Monster whose name is "Elliot") I was really, really hoping his story would be wonderful, because his name is wonderful... and I think you'll agree that Think-Sense-Act is just a lovely little piece of smut... so, without further running of my mouth, let me turn this over to Elliot.
What are your greatest challenges in your writing career?
One of my writing goals is to publish a collection of short stories. I've written quite a few short pieces, but not really enough to fill out a whole collection. And my stories tend to be in a variety of genres and styles, so I'm not sure how thematically cohesive or interesting a collection would be with what I've got.
My greatest challenge, then, is to find a consistent voice in my writing and apply it across enough written short pieces to fill out a collection. I still feel like I'm finding my distinct voice, and working towards finding the style and themes that are interesting enough for me to want to stick with them across multiple stories.
|contains my post-apocalyptic short “Valentine’s Day”|
I've spent many years in difficult, painful and very unsatisfying relationships, and elements of this tend to creep into my writing (sometimes even when I'd prefer they didn't). In erotica, the most important character interactions are sexual. Having experience with damaged or dysfunctional relationships - full of misunderstandings, bad intentions, secrets and lies - can show you how those issues influence physical/sexual interactions, is actually great fodder for a smut writer who wants something resonant and plausble. Cliché it may be, but sometimes suffering really does lead to better art.
How much of your life and the people you know end up in your work?
A fair bit. I tend to write from ideas or scenes - I get a picture in my head, and work the story and characters backwards from there. Some of the scenes come directly from my life, and as such, tend to be populated by characters that are amalgamations of friends or acquaintances. Even when I'm writing fantasy or sci-fi, I usually base characters from how people I know might act in that situation. My day job takes me to some interesting places and lets me meet a variety of people, so that gives me quite a bit of fodder.
What's your writing routine?
At the moment, mine would be the "all over the place" routine. My life is fairly hectic with family, work and extra-curricular obligations, so I write whenever I can: during my lunch break at work, in the evening (if it's free), on weekends. It's not the most productive routine, but I'm still getting stuff done.
The routine that has worked best for me in the past is to write first thing in the morning, every morning. I woke up, rolled out of bed and got straight into it, before coffee, breakfast or a shower. Sometimes I'd oversleep and only get about fifteen minutes done, but that was still fifteen minutes more than the day before.
The best thing about doing it first thing in the morning is that I felt like I'd already achieved something creative that day. There was no nagging sense of "when will I find time to write today?" and I could have the evenings to relax instead of feeling obligated to write. When life settles down again, I'll be aiming to get back into this routine.
What writers or novels do you consider “must reads”?
I think it's essential to read something completely different every now and then - a different genre, a new writer, something in some medium or style that's nothing like what you are usually into. Making the effort to read outside of your preferred tastes, to experience something that's new or different, is a great way to get new ideas and learn new writing tricks. So I'd consider a "must read" to be anything that you might not normally put on your "must read" list - try a different genre, some literary fiction, some YA, a comic or gamebook.
The next out-of-the-box novel on my list is "Angela's Ashes". I prefer genre fiction - sci-fi, fantasy, noir and the erotica equivalents - so a door-stopper memoir about growing up poor and Irish is about as far out of my wheelhouse as I could imagine. But enough well-read people have recommended it to me that I'm really looking forward to it.