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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Author Interview: Cindy Jacks

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Cindy Jacks, author of the Point of Distraction series and Wilder Fantasies series.

She's always loved writing stories, even though her first works were a far cry from the erotic romance she writes or the horror she writes under the name of CJ Elliott. Her earliest stories revolved around her teddy bear turning into a prince who then married her pink stuffed elephant and lived happily ever after.

"I spent ten years as a corporate drone clawing my way up the ladder to Director of Quality Management which required lots of miserably tedious technical writing," she told me. "Once I finally decided to close that chapter of my life, I set about the task of figuring out what I wanted to be now that I was supposedly a grown-up. I thought about the dream of my youth to become an author, but shied away from it thinking, 'Who’d want to read what I write?' I did, however, entertain my best friend—who’s far too busy to date much—with erotic tales that revolved around a central character named Ana. All right, all right, at this point, they really were just porn for girls.

"The more I wrote, the more my ex-husband pressured me to send one of the stories in to an e-publisher because he noticed the growing market for women’s erotica. One night, after a couple glasses of liquid courage, I took the best story of the group and submitted it. Lo and behold, the story was accepted and the Point of Distraction series was born."

Cindy originally planned the series as twelve stand-alone short stories, all with the same heroine—Ana Welsh—but without the stories building on each other. Unfortunately, her first publishing house closed and she discovered that many e-publishers didn't take works under a certain word count. So, Cindy conceived the idea to bind the stories together into a collection of four books with three stories to each book following a central plotline: Ana's struggle to heal from crushing heartbreak and find herself again.

"After I’d made that decision, everything else fell into place and the series as we know it today was created," she said.

The experience she gained with both Dark Eden Press and Lyrical Press helped Cindy polish her writing skills. She pushed herself to try different genres, such as non-erotic romance as well as the BDSM series, Wilder Fantasies, with Freya's Bower. The success with these led to further experimentation and, as CJ Elliott, she landed a horror story with Wild Child Publishing called The Wedding Feast.

"I feel my career has really started to blossom this past year and I’m eager to see where this exciting ride takes me," she said. "I’m still on the fence about getting an agent and pursuing print houses. On one hand, that path leads to the traditional definition of success for a writer, but at the same time I ask myself why jump on the tail of dinosaur when you’ve gotten in at the ground floor of the future of the industry?"

Cindy had said her earliest versions of Ana's story were more "porn for girls," so I asked her, "How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?"

"To me, erotica and erotic romance differ from pornography in the way the sexual situations are handled. In porn, the sexual situations are portrayed for the reader’s gratification only, without respect to people being depicted in the writing. Also the sex scenes don’t have to be germane to the plot…if indeed there is a plot at all. However, in erotica and erotic romance, the characters are treated with respect and the sex fits logically within the framework of a plot.

"As to the difference between erotica and erotic romance, I would say the primary distinction lays in the readers’ expectations and the type of relationship the characters’ desire. In erotic romance, it’s understood that the hero and heroine (or heroes if it’s a m/m piece) will fall in love and live happily ever after. In erotica, the HEA ending isn’t required, and in some situations it isn’t desirable."

It's also important to Cindy that on characters' personal journeys, there doesn’t have to be a life-altering event, but the main characters have to come away from their time together with something more than they had at the beginning of the story.

"In my series—Point of Distraction—every lover the heroine encounters gives her greater insight into herself," Cindy shared. "Eventually she winds up making a major change, but it’s the baby steps she takes along the way that keep the readers coming back for more.

"What’s important to remember is that erotica isn’t all about the sex," she continued. "You can write the hottest sex scene in the world, but if the plot sucks, the book will flop. Focus on writing a good book that happens to have hot sex in it instead of hot sex that happens to be part of a book."

Some of Cindy's favorite writers of erotic fiction Jacquelyn Frank, Larissa Ione, Aubrey Leatherwood, Ericka Scott, and Lisa Troy.

"Each of these authors brings a unique flavor to her books," she explained. "Jacquelyn’s sex scenes are primal and her prose inspired. Larissa keeps you on the edge of your seat with her plotlines and seduces you with her characters. Aubrey has such an eclectic energy in her writing that you can’t help but be charmed by her books. Ericka’s style shines and keeps the heat and spice on high. Lisa’s work never minces word and shows how strong a female author’s voice can be. I draw inspiration from these ladies and many others."

The sensuous quality of food is a common theme in Cindy's work and she's written some hot scenes with chocolate truffles, honey, yogurt and more. It’s no surprise that in real life she also find food very sexy.

"Well, some foods," she qualifies. "Canned tuna, not so sexy. And mayonnaise. My least favorite food is mayonnaise. I cannot stand mayonnaise. Just the sight of it gags me. Don’t even get me started on the smell. My theory is this—mayo is the work of Satan. Now, hear me out before y’all run to fit me for a straight jacket. Mayonnaise can kill you! Or at least make you terribly ill. If unpasteurized eggs are used to make it, you run the risk of contracting salmonella. If you leave a potato salad made with mayo out in the sun too long at the family picnic, it turns into a bowl full of food poisoning. And even if your food handling habits are impeccable, the wicked stuff is still a contributing factor to clogged arteries and obesity. Does mustard do this? No. Catsup? Nope. Salsa? No way, all those veggies are super healthy. Mayo is the only condiment that poses a health risk. I rest my case." She laughed. "Sorry for the rant. Anyway, if I had to pick the best food to eat off my man’s tummy, it’d have to be caramel. I highly recommend the kind of caramel sauce you’d use to make a sundae. You can drizzle it, paint it on your lover, pool it in his/her bellybutton. It’s very versatile and oh-so yummy.

"Though I am partial to caramel, I have to say my favorite food-in-the-bedroom memory involves a package of Skittles. I’ve always struggled with my weight, even as a child, so if start to put on some pounds, I’m quick to adjust my diet to take them off again. Last year, I was on my annual post-holiday fitness kick and I’d lost the eight pounds I’d put on after Christmas. As I brushed my teeth and prepared for bed, my man set up a sweet surprise for me. He made a trail of Skittles from his neck down to his nether regions. I can tell you, I’ve never enjoyed candy as much as I did that night!"

You can keep up with Cindy on her website,

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