What's your life like?
Selena: Well, when I'm not pawing away at my keyboard, I worship my devoted husband, corral four kids (with another on the way) and almost a dozen chickens, all while growing an organic garden on about six acres of land. I also enjoy bellydancing, photography and taking long, lazy cat naps in the middle of the afternoon.
At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us about your "call to writing" story...
Selena: I was first published by the now defunct Stardust Press. I had no real interest in e-publishing at the time, but someone sent me a contest they were running, and being the competitive type (I think they call it "A" :) I entered. I didn't win the cash, which is what I was hoping for. Instead I won a publishing contract... and so I was plunged into the seedy world of e-publishing, tell-all memoir soon to follow. Okay, I'm kidding. Except about the contest and getting publishing part.
As for my "call story." Interesting term! And quite apropo, I suppose. Writers always say they've been writing since they could hold a pencil—or a crayon. Me, too. *shrug* You'd think, as writers, we'd make up some great story about how we discovered our art, right? Because that's what we do. We tell stories. We make stuff up. So I should tell you I was backpacking in the Himilayas on a break from my college courses when I visited a Tibetan monestary and had an epiphanic spiritual awakening wherein I was charged by the divine to go back to the States and write porn... ha. But that would make me more James Frey than...than...oh, hell. Somebody the opposite of James Frey. So I'll just be boring and tell you I'm just like all the other writers out there. I write because I have to, because I'm called to. Indeed.
How do you describe your writing in three words?
Selena: Poignant. Intelligent. Hot. (I bet everyone says hot! :)
How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Selena: To quote Vivienne in Pretty Woman: "I'm actually no, I'm not a planner. I wouldn't say I'm a planner. I would say I'm a kinda fly by the seat of my pants gal. You know moment to moment, yeah that's me, that's...yeah..."
Do you have a favorite character or one that you identify most with?
Selena: No. Can I skip this question? Oops, just did...
If there was one place in the world you could visit where would it be and why?
Selena:Alaska. I'd actually love to live there one day. I had a good friend who lived there (he was a wildlife photographer) and he loved it.
Would you or have you based a book on this place?
Selena: I've considered it. Alaska men are... yum! Plus, who could forget Chris from Northern Exposure? Oh my. It would be fun to write an Alaska romance. Love on the tundra!
What gives you inspiration when you write?
Selena: I can't ever force a story. That never works out well. Inspiration comes when it comes. There's something to that idea of a "muse." Mine is a tattooed, pierced hunk with a shaved head who comes to visit and brings ideas with him! Ha, just kidding. I wish! To a great extent, writing is a mystery to me, and so is inspiration. I know I need to write something when it stays with me. I don't keep a "writer's notebook" by my bed to write down ideas. I know that if I need to write it, it will keep coming back until I do!
Where do your ideas come from?
Selena: The planet Neptune. Don't yours? Just kidding! My ideas come from a million different places, like any writers. Life experiences, situations, snippets of conversations, dreams. I never know where an idea is going to come from, but I always know when it's one I need to follow if it keeps recurring. If it disappears, it wasn't a "good" idea, for me. But if it keeps coming back, I know I have to write it. I don't keep a notebook of ideas, like a lot of writers, for that reason. I know that if I need to write about it, it's going to come back to me eventually, and I'll end up putting it down on the page.
How many readers/fans contact you?
Selena: I have over 1200 readers subscribed to my Yahoo group and I get fan mail daily. I thoroughly enjoy hearing from readers and other aspiring writers and always (at least so far!) try to respond to every email personally.
Do your fans' comments and letters influence you in any way?
Selena: Of course they do! Readers have their fingers on the pulse of my writing, and they are the ones who give me the best feedback... Did it work? Did it elicit the response I wanted? Did it move them, touch them, give them chills, made them cry or laugh out loud? It's all great information, and I take it all in stride.
Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
Selena: This one came anonymously about my story, Connections, that was nominated for the 2006 Rauxa Prize (I was one of three runners-up, out of over 1,000 nominations!) I really cherish this comment: "This story is touching and compelling, regardless of the erotic component. This is literature that happens to have an eroticism. A truly excellent story."
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Selena: There's a part of me in every character I write (even the villains!) but none of them are completely autobiographical, and I'm sure that's the case for most writers. You can't help putting something of yourself into your characters, but only the people closest to me would really be able to pick out the true pieces of "me" in every character I write about.
Do you find sex scenes difficult to write?
Selena: For me, the sex scenes are the easiest to write! The passion and connection that builds between two characters and culminates in a love scene is the very best part of writing erotic romances. It never gets boring or mundane for me, because every character is unique, and their reactions are never the same. I find it fascinating to explore the different facets of sexuality and human response with the characters that happen to grace me with their presence through my work.
What kind of research do you do?
Selena: I have a confession to make... I hate research. I'll do it if I have to, but in those cases, Wikipedia is my best friend! I have a lot of general base knowledge, which is helpful, and don't have to do a lot of research for most of what I write. It's one of the reasons I like reading historical fiction, but I don't like writing it—all the danged research!
Can you tell me about your publishing company? What makes it different from other publishers? Why did you set it up?
Selena: eXcessica is a publisher... but we're not a traditional publisher, who collects money from an author's work to cover costs and make a profit (generally called a "royalty,") nor are we a "self/vanity" publisher who collects money from the author him/herself to publish their work. Instead, we're a partnership of authors who have come together to work in symbiosis to benefit everyone within the cooperative.
eXcessica was my little brainchild, just an idea I had to bring authors together who might not have a chance at publishing with the other houses—not because their writing wasn't good enough, but because their subject matter was too "taboo" for companies who relied on reputation and a bottom line in order to make money.
With eXcessica, I wanted to create a publishing cooperative, rather than a company that was out to make a profit. I didn't want to make money on other authors' work—just my own! And as an editor, I've always had an interest in furthering the works of other talent. It just seemed like the natural progression, to allow each author to become his/her own publisher within the protection and to the advantage of a larger whole. At eXcessica, working together as a group benefits everyone.
And because eXcessica is a partnership, each member reaps all the benefits—the name, the marketing and production—without all the strings attached. Peer editing, cover art, production, it's all done within the partnership, each person volunteering to do something at which they are skilled.
I've heard comments like, "I don't get it. Why would they publish something if they're not making money off of it?" I suppose that's the typical capitalist view, and we're a rather socialist experiment in that regard. We'll see if it pays off. So far, it's been more lucrative for myself and many of eXcessica's authors than, I think, any of us could have imagined.
What does your significant other think of your writing?
Selena: My husband is the most supportive man in the world and my biggest fan. He thinks I'm the best thing that happened to writing since sliced bread, which is wonderful for my ego, I admit.
Do you ever ask him for advice?
Selena: He's not only my biggest fan—he's also my best critic. I've rarely met a person so able to pinpoint the very thing missing or wrong or just slightly "off" in a story. He gets personal readings, daily, of what I write. We both enjoy that part of our day!
Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?
Selena: Strangely—Stephen King. There's a description in Stephen King's book, On Writing, is the closest I've ever come to describing the way that I write. He says that he doesn't so much write a story as uncover it. That's always been my experience as well. I'm not a planner or an outliner. I don't create stories—I unearth them. Most of the time, when I write, I feel as if I'm an archeologist, clearing away the debris to discover the treasure underneath. I find out where the story is going in the same way my readers do, by following my characters to the end.
If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
Selena: Delivering babies as a midwife. I may still do it, some day. Right now, my children are too young for me to live a life "on-call." I can write in my own time, on my own schedule, and that works well for me right now.
Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Selena: Write. Keep writing. Pay attention to feedback, the good and the bad. Especially the bad. Don't stop writing. Even when you feel like what you're writing sucks, don't stop writing. It's like practicing any instrument, you need to keep doing it to get better. Read other writers that you admire. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if you need to write like your "favorite writer" until you find your own style, that's okay, too. Your own voice will eventually emerge. Just keep writing. The poet, William Stafford, once said in an interview that he wrote a poem every single day of his life. "But how do you manage to do that? I could never write a poem a day!" the interviewer said in awe. Stafford looked at him and replied, "Lower your standards." You don't have to write perfectly... you just have to keep writing. Perfecting your writing happens during the editing process. The actual writing process is more like dancing or singing or painting or playing the guitar... you just keep doing it until it becomes effortless, like second nature to you. Then you won't have to think about it anymore, you'll just do it, and you'll want to keep doing it. That's when you'll know you're really "a writer."
Fill in the blank favorites:
Dessert: Elias Brother's Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake—ah, childhood memories!
City: I hate cities... too dirty and crowded. I'd rather be in the middle of nowhere than in the city...
Season: Autumn... cool weather, the changing fall colors, cider and donuts and hayrides...
Type of hero: Alpha males... love a man with a dominant streak...
Type of heroine: Feisty, but with a desire to surrender underneath that attitude...
What has been the highlight of your career to this point?
Selena: Well, the yellow ones are just so un-original... I do like the pink and neon green ones, though. Okay, okay... seriously? Let's see...oh, I know! I was recently listed #5 on the Fictionwise Bestselling Author list. Not just in erotica, but on the entire site. I was actually sandwiched between Nora Roberts and Stephen King there for a minute (a stranger threesome you'll never see!) That was kinda neat. NYT Bestseller List, here I come? *snerk*
What's next for you?
Selena: Well, I've got about five loads of laundry to fold, and I'm probably going to turn on Pride and Prejudice for the 100th time while I do it...because who can ever get enough of that Mr. Darcy? Ohhhh you mean, like, writing-wise? ;) I've got lots to finish (just see the coming soon section on eXcessica!) And when all that's done... who knows?
What question would you love to answer that I didn't ask?
Selena: I don't know... but the answer is "a chicken, two crayons, a Slim-Jim and fifteen light bulbs," whatever it was!