Today I’m excited to say that V.C. is joining us! I met V.C. on one of the many facebook groups that I’m a part of and through facebook pages. I couldn’t be happier that she decided to join us today.
Tell us about yourself.
V.C. writes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* romance/erotica fiction that she affectionately calls glitterotica. Her writing career started in high school where she gained a reputation for her historical short stories, even having been given a couple of gold key awards from Scholastic Inc. She got her start writing erotica during college. After having numerous short erotica stories published on Oysters&Chocolate.com, she has since had various erotic shorts published in anthologies and has written six novels so far, and counting. She’s been published by O&C Press, Ravenous Romance, Freaky Fountain, Cleis Press, Go Deeper Press, and Storm Moon Press.
When she’s not writing, V.C. enjoys reading literature, watching classic movies, studying French (and occasionally Icelandic), going to concerts, museums, and drag shows, and simply taking each day as it comes and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. She currently lives in New Jersey.
What is one thing not in your bio, something totally random that only a few people know?
That I am intersex. Not too many people would know this about me because the term “intersex” (meaning that someone was born with both male and female genitalia) leaves people confused because it’s not openly talked about and is still a baby term that hasn’t yet made a big mark on our culture yet. Like, it’s not a household name or anything where people, when they hear it, would go, “Oh, I know what that means.” I wish that were the case because then it would make things less awkward and annoying for me especially when dating and sex is concerned.
Once in a while it hits the radar in the media (like when it was reported that Germany now has a third-gender law for infants born with “ambiguous genitalia”) but I think people still don’t understand what “intersex” is and what it is like growing up and being an intersex individual. Plus, people wouldn’t know this about me because I don’t go around letting everyone know that my body is different from the average female. However, it is something that I’m not afraid to let be known when the opportunity calls for it, which I feel fine and comfortable doing in author interviews. It’s part of who I am as a person and in some ways has shaped me into the LGBT author that I’ve become.
Wow, very interesting. I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind for a while and seeing how we would do things different if intersex were a more common term. But back to writing, what made you decide to write? If it even was a decision. And what kept you at it?
It wasn’t a decision for me. When you are passionate about something, it’s just something that you do, and the “keeping at it” part is something you just do naturally. There’s no other way for me to explain it. I do what I love and what turns me on, and it’s the love and turn-on that keeps me focused on it.
Who has been your biggest inspiration and support in writing and in publishing?
I’d say my teachers during middle school and high school. I don’t want to mention names; I’d rather keep that to myself and their identities private. Many of them time and time again would comment about how I should look into getting published. Some of them even went out of their way to get me published in the school paper. One of them (a drama teacher) had one of my plays for a class project get turned into a stage production that actually got to be on a stage for people to watch and enjoy. They saw my potential in ways that at the time, being so young and all, I just didn’t see. I was only doing what I enjoyed doing on my free time. It was just a hobby then. Now, not so much ;).
That’s great! Why is it that you are an independent author? What prompted the decision to publish with a small press publisher, and how has that experience been?
I never really put much thought as to “why” I am an “independent” author. I guess I am an independent author because I like being an independent person? I don’t know, hehe, I only see myself as just an author. I send my short stories and novel manuscripts to publishers that intrigue me based on their unique anthology calls or because they publish work that I would (or have) actually read myself. They just so happened to be a small press/independent publisher. It doesn’t matter to me if a publisher is independent/small or mainstream.
Not all publishers are created equal of course, but in my mind, be it a small or big publisher, they are the same. Just different in their own way. It’s just a pleasure working with publishers that I admire and respect like oysters&chocolate.com and Freaky Fountain, both who are sadly defunct, Go Deeper Press, Cleis Press, and Storm Moon Press. My experiences with these publishers have been eye-openers in many ways because each press was different and unique in their editing and promotion process. Not entirely perfect experiences, I’ll admit, but even in their imperfections they are absolutely fabulous to work with, and I’m happy to be an author for all of them.
What has been your experience going from short stories and publishing with anthologies, to your first novel and publishing a full-length work?
Oh, it’s just a fun and wild ride. There’s one other thing that not many know about me: I get bored very easily. Not bored as in “Oh, I have nothing to do, I am bored,” but “If I don’t do a variety of things outside of just writing short stories or writing just novels, I’ll be bored out of my mind.” This variety is what makes the whole experience of going from short stories to full-length works more exciting for me and keeps me from that restlessly bored feeling.
I love the challenge of writing a story in its short-form, but I also enjoy the commitment of being in a relationship, so to speak, with a 50K-100K manuscript for two months before I try and find it a new home. I write these short stories/novels based on the mood I am in. Sometimes I am in the mood to write novels, sometimes I’d rather just write short stories and send them to anthology calls. I’m still learning to master the art of both forms of storytelling, and that’s really the best part of the experience of going from short stories to a full-length work: the learning process.
Speaking of full-length work, The Man on Top of the World will be your first full-length novel, if I understand correctly, tell us a bit about what goes on in the story.
On the surface it’s a rock and roll love triangle. It takes place during the 1970s glam rock era (think T. Rex, David Bowie, Roxie Music, Lou Reed, and Suzie Quatro). The love triangle in The Man on Top of the World is between a glam rock drummer boy (Jonathan Maxwell, the narrator of the story), the glam rock superstar that he works for and can’t help but fall foolishly in love with (Izzy Rich), and the glam rock groupie (Roxanne Foster, Izzy’s fan girl) who comes between them. The love triangle aside though, in the core of it, The Man on Top of the World is a love story between two passionate, beautiful, and flawed men who, for better and for worse, are meant to be together as the best of mates and as lovers.
You put images and sounds to your characters in The Man on Top of the World when doing character sketches. How is this helpful for you?
This is more helpful for the reader than it is for me. The images and sounds are all in my head. After the manuscript was finished, that was when I decided on doing the character profiles for Izzy, Jonathan, and Roxanne, which then prompted me to search for pictures and video clips that comes as close to those images/sounds in my head as possible. I do the character profiles for my readers because it’s just a fun way for them to get to know the characters before they get their hands on the book. I’d hope that from those character profiles, and from all the images and sounds I put into them, that it would have the reader feel like they already know (and hopefully identity with) the characters before reading The Man on Top of the World.
So you did entire blog posts on three characters in The Man on Top of the World. I’m going to be mean and ask for one single sentence on each of those characters.
Jonathan Maxwell—a pansexual, drama-queen, hopeless romantic who has such ridiculously fine taste in clothes, jewelry, women, and men.
Izzy Rich—an eccentric pretty boy/egomaniac turned messiah and pariah who, despite all his fame, musical genius, and celebrity, is a tortured soul.
Roxanne Foster—a good girl who has a lot of bite and a whole lot more moxie that she’s too modest to show, offstage, anyway.
If you could meet one character in real life from The Man on Top of the World—and yes, I know this is a hard question—who would it be and why?
Without question, Izzy. I identify with him in many ways, not as the rock star, but as the man. He’s eccentric, misunderstood, and a child at heart, like me. He’s like me in many ways, but he’s far off from being me in a lot of other ways. I’m broke, he’s not, but he used to be, so he doesn’t take his fame and money for granted because of his poverty-stricken upbringing. I’d be the same if I was rich and famous. We both embrace our androgyny, but he is way more over the top and ballsy about expressing his androgyny and femininity. He’s more in touch with his feminine side than I am; he just doesn’t give a fuck, he does and wears what he wants. I can’t walk in a pair of high heels to save my life; he can because wearing high heels is his life. He can be a total asshole, but he’s one that I adore and would love to meet in real life if he were real. That would be so awesome if he was. A girl can dream.
What has been your process through writing The Man on Top of the World, and how has it been similar or different from your normal writing process?
The Man on Top of the World was originally a short story submission for Storm Moon Press’s Glam Rock anthology call. They didn’t get enough submissions for the anthology to go forward, but they liked my story and felt that the word count was high enough to be turned into a short novella. From there, it evolved into a novel. So, in a way, this process of writing The Man on Top of the World has really been like watching a child grow into an adult. The short story was its baby phase, the short novella form was its teenage years, and the novel makes it all grown up. None of this was intentional. It just happened that way.
I wouldn’t say this transformation has made the writing process different. It was about the same. The only change was that I had to expand on a lot of areas in The Man on Top of the World that needed to be there, mostly because of the sequel, All That Glitters. At the time when I wrote The Man on Top of the World, I didn’t plan a sequel. All That Glitters (Izzy’s autobiography/bildungsroman) came a bit later, and I wasn’t planning on having it published in the first place, actually. I did it only as a fun side piece for my own keeping. It was when the story took off that I decided on getting it published. After that sequel got picked up by Storm Moon Press, I had to go back to The Man on Top of the World many times to make sure that some areas were consistent with the sequel. Sorry that I’m intentionally being vague about what those “things” and “areas” are. I’m a no spoilers kind of gal.
Haha! That’s perfectly fine! So, what do you do when you get stuck in your writing? What happens when that nasty writer’s block sets down and refuses to budge?
A lot of writers might hate me for saying this, or may not believe me at all, but I rarely if ever get writer’s block. I’ve had times where I started a story and didn’t finish it, but that’s only because the work wasn’t “speaking” to me and I move on to something that will. When I’m committed to a work that doesn’t just speak but screams at me, I write like the wind. I believe that writer’s block happens when the author overthinks their work way too much in the process of writing it, basically letting their mind (the part that overanalyzes things too much) interfere with the flow of creativity and imagination. I don’t let that happen. I stay calm, cool, and write when the inspiration/creativity is there. I don’t force it or overthink things during the process of writing. I don’t worry about word counts either. I just relax, write, and have fun.
Writing, at the end of the day, has to be fun to result to a finished product that I can be proud of. There’s nothing fun about writer’s block or forcing myself to write something that just isn’t speaking at the moment. To prevent that from happening, if I lose momentum and focus while writing a chapter, I just go offline and kill the potential writer’s block by having fun and living life. That’s really the best medicine to prevent writer’s block from happening in the first place. I like to destroy the problem before it manifests into this big deal. It has worked for me so far. I hate stress, and I sure as hell would hate writer’s block, which sounds like the most stressful thing for a writer to go through. What I do helps me. I hope that I’m not alone in doing this and that other writers do the same thing, for one’s health and sanity.
I actually completely agree with you. I don’t think I’ve ever had “writer’s block,” and I practice living life stress free and creatively. But enough about that. What is your editing process? Editing seems to be the bane of a lot of author’s existence, so how do you edit and stay on track?
Editing is not the bane of my existence. I think it’s the best part of the writing process because basically editing is where you are taking this ugly lump of clay, this diamond in the rough, and molding and polishing it into something better and prettier. You can’t do that while you’re actually writing; that can only be done after the work is finished and when you have something to actually work with. So with editing, it gives me that opportunity to really make my work shine. I typically go through three rounds of editing. I take a week off in between each edit round so that way when I return to the manuscript I’m editing it with a fresher pair of eyes and more refreshed state of mind. This helps me stay on track of the process.
This technique of editing—edit, take a week off, edit, take a week off, edit one more time, and take one more week off—makes the process less tedious and more fun, and it helps me to pace myself. I like rewriting areas, expanding on areas, and taking out filler/unnecessary writing that doesn’t add to the narrative. I like being given more than two chances to make my work better. Editing gives me the chance to make my work better as many times as I choose until it’s polished to the best of my ability before it is in the hands of a professional editor. I find the whole process (self-editing and editing with a professional) exciting. As long as I keep it this way, editing for me is more fun than it is a burden.
Interesting. Would you mind sharing some of your ups and some of your downs about writing and about publishing? Any advice to new and upcoming authors?
The ups of writing and publishing is of course when you’ve created a work that you are proud of. Even better is when it finds a home with a publisher. The natural high of getting a work published, there are no words. It’s all the more thrilling, and sometimes surreal, when others enjoy your work for days, months, and who knows, maybe years to come. Most would say that the downs of writing and publishing would be getting a rejection email/letter. Yeah, that can sting a little, but I never bothered with dwelling on that negative side of publishing. I’ve had a few rejection emails, had two of my publishers go out of business, and had some not so nice comments about my work. I could have moped and vented about it, but that was far from my mind. What good would that have done? I’m not a fan of misery; I really just don’t have the time or care for it.
Every negative in book publishing can always be turned into something positive. That is, if you want it to be. I chose to look on the positive side of things and to just continue doing what I do. The greatest thing about publishing that can’t always be said about most things in life is that a negative can always be turned into a positive. There are so many publishers out there that there’s no reason for one rejection letter to bring someone down; solution: just send out the manuscript/short story somewhere else. Publishers go out of business; don’t worry, your work will find a new home soon enough. Bad reviews/negative comments? If you’re entitled to write one and have one, so can other people. Not everyone is going to like my work. Whatever. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Live and let live; life’s too short to dwell on the negativity.
My only advice to new and upcoming authors is to not take yourself, or the publishing industry, too seriously. And don’t take anything too personal either. All the downs I mentioned above that I’ve experienced, if you go through all that too, remember, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Sometimes, the negatives and even the rejection letters/emails can be blessings in disguise, for something better could come along. All the ups of getting published—being published, selling tons of books and gaining a huge readership/fan-base—don’t let it all get to your head and make it big. Nobody wants to support the work of an egotistical/cocky author. Be heard and be successful, but stay humble. Don’t compare yourself with other authors/writers. Unless you are still in high school that kind of drama is unnecessary. No matter what ups and downs you go through with writing and getting published, just stay cool, don’t lose yourself, be classy, and most importantly, keep on writing.
Great advice! Here’s a more serious question. What is it like to write in the LGBT realm of craziness that we all support? What’s it like to dip the toe into the rainbow through writing and publishing?
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where LGBT literature, and LGBT issues as a whole, is more accepted and open for discussion and expression than it was years ago. That’s the beauty of writing in this genre for me. It opens a world of opportunities for creativity, breaking boundaries, and challenging the way people perceive the LGBT genre. It also opens a huge comfort level in discussing LGBT issues that matter. For me personally, the LGBT genre is the easiest and most fun way for me to express myself. To have people out there who are as passionate about this “LGBT realm of craziness” and who love reading/writing in this genre as much as I do—that is even more beautiful. The genre lets everyone know that no matter if you are gay, bisexual, transgender, or lesbian, nobody out there is really alone anymore. I can really only sum up the experience of writing in this genre in that one word: beautiful. Oh, and delicious. Who doesn’t want to taste the rainbow? Those who don’t just aren’t fabulous enough to enjoy it for what it is ;).
LOL! What is your best memory from the whole writing and publishing process?
My best memory was when one of my readers commented about my F/F short story, “Stella Loves Bella.” At the time it was published on oysters&chocolate.com (you can now find it in Cleis Press’s Best Lesbian Erotica 2013). This sweet reader said in the comment section that the main character in that story (“Stella”) reminded her of her girlfriend, and that the story as a whole encouraged her to work up the courage to be her girlfriend’s “Bella.” That comment made me smile. It still does five years later. I’ll never forget it.
Storm Moon Press will be publishing The Man on Top of the World when it’s ready for our eyes. I was wondering if you would be able to tell me a bit about your experience with them; I’ll actually be meeting them at Rainbow Con in April.
I’m still a fairly new writer with them, but so far, Storm Moon Press is one of the most helpful and fun publishers I’ve worked with. One of the reasons why I was attracted to this publisher is because of how they like to publish unique niches in erotica that other publishers rarely take on, like blood play, gun kink, and incest. And they’re open to publishing works that feature trans*, poly, bisexual, asexual, and intersex characters. Not that other publishers out there wouldn’t support any of that, but Storm Moon Press stands out in that they are more proud and open about publishing works that represent all that and more.
They are also very author-centric too. If you are contracted by them, they’ll allow you to re-work your manuscript before the hardcore editing process begins. With The Man on Top of the World, that was so needed since so many things had to be fixed and expanded. I’m especially grateful and appreciative of Storm Moon Press for wanting to take “The Man on Top of the World” and have it become the novel that it is now. They are a great press, and the founders/co-founders are especially amazing. Have fun at Rainbow Con! I hope you will adore the Storm Moon Press crew as much as I do.
I’m sure I will! I know that you do a lot of reviews on your blog and that you give a lot of promotion to other authors. What prompted you to do this?
I’ve been reviewing movies and sex toys for a professional company for years, so I guess naturally, I’d eventually take on the fun task of reviewing erotica/romance fiction too. Except independently (and for free) on my blog. I started reading/reviewing books on my blog from Storm Moon Press first. Then, last fall of 2013, I thought to myself, hmm, I’d love to read/review erotica/romance fiction from authors outside of Storm Moon Press as long as they give me a free copy of their work in exchange for an honest review from me.
I love reading/reviewing LGBT erotica/romance fiction—that was the first prompt. The second is that I do enjoy seeing what kind of talent is out there in this genre from authors I haven’t heard of. So far, it’s been a real pleasure doing that for these authors who need some more exposure and whose work deserves more attention. By doing reviews on my blog, it’s a win-win for everyone. I get to read/review a lot of free e-book copies of LGBT erotica/romance fiction. These reviews give my blog some exposure. On a few occasions, I’ve made new friends with these fellow authors. The authors get the free promotion from me, and if the review is a positive one, they could use that review to promote themselves. If my review(s) encourage readers to check out their books, then that’s the greatest win. I get immense joy out of doing book reviews on my blog, and I hope the authors and readers enjoy it too.
Why focus on the LGBT genre? What are the plusses and what are the minuses of doing so?
As an intersex woman who identifies as pansexual, I don’t think I could ever stray from this genre even if I tried. I have many friends on and offline who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered. I’ve dated lesbian, bisexual, and trans* people throughout my life, still do. The issues I deal with as an intersex individual can only be understood by another intersex person or by a trans-individual (even better when I’ve found a friend who is intersex and trans. Thankfully, I have that, and she so gets me and I get her). Not that my life is all about LGBT 24/7, but it’s important and personal enough for me to dedicate much of my time on it on a regular daily basis be it through my writing, book reviewing, and watching LGBT-related films. It’s not a hobby; it’s my passion. I don’t see any minuses in focusing on that.
The pluses about the genre is that it allows me the ultimate freedom to be myself. And the genre also helps me, and others, further understand and appreciate the many ways of how we all identify and express ourselves in and outside of the genre and the dizzying number of labels that go with it. The minuses of it are not so much the negative stigma or judgment others might feel about it. Like, I don’t care about people who are turned off by it; it’s none of my business how or what they think of me and the genre I write in. There are assholes out there, that’s just life, I can only live mine. The minuses I notice are when I see that the representations of LGBT characters in the LGBT erotica/romance fiction genre aren’t varied and rely on far too many tropes, clichés, and stereotypes that don’t challenge the reader and are only giving the same ol’. Other than that, all I see is pluses in the LGBT genre. And lots of rainbows.
1. Dog or Cat? Cat.
2. Favorite color? Fuchsia.
3. Favorite junk food? Chocolate chip cookies.
4. Favorite musician? Björk.
5. Favorite curse word? Fuck.
6. Favorite quote? “When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent.”—Rupaul
7. Rolaids or Tums? Rolaids.
8. Short or Tall? Short
9. Favorite body part? Boobs
10. Favorite holiday? New Year’s Eve
Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 is about the trembling pleasure of anticipation as much as the moment when sex actually happens. Curated by Lammy nominee, Kathleen Warnock, Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 is as diverse as it is delectable- unlikely pairings appear as do sizzling hot one-time encounters and well-developed characters in well-developed relationships. Lesbians meet, sometimes fall in love, have a break up or two but always have lots of intensely great sex. Raw, romantic and always unforgettable, Best Lesbian Erotica 2013 will test your erotic boundaries and take you over the edge and into a world where fantasies become reality. Lesbian literary icon Jewelle Gomez (The Gilda Stories) returns to the series she helped put at the forefront of erotica. Gomez, who selected the stories for the 1997 edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, has returned once again to pluck the jewels of the best lesbian erotica around. In the words of editor Kathleen Warnock, “expect the unexpected.” In “Cucumbers & Cream,” by Helen Sandler, a butch finds herself hosting a burlesque show…not that she minds at all!Sometimes you just want a stranger pushing you up against a fence, as in “Anonymous,” by BD Swain.When one butch with a smartphone spots another, it might be a momentous “Morning Commute” by Penny Gyokeres.
In Femme Fatale, an erotic collection edited by Lana Fox, dangerous women hunt down their deepest desires with everything from guns to wordplay. From a brazen thief who seduces her marks, to the ardent lover of a serial killer, these femme fatales are smart, inventive, and hard to trick.