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Saturday, June 12, 2010
Author Interview: Katalina Leon
The Long and the Short of It: Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Katalina Leon, whose two latest books, Owned by Rome and Beautiful Stranger, are now available from Ellora's Cave.
Katalina was a fine art painter—the butterfly avatar she uses as an author picture is one of her original works. In fact, she had no skill or interested in being a writer. So, how did the writing come about?
"It literally came as a gift from beyond from a loved one," she answered. "One summer day several years ago we were called to be pallbearers at a friend’s funeral. The funeral got pushed back several hours to make way for the huge funeral of a city dignitary. In hundred+ degree heat, I sat under a shady tree in the cemetery, and an entire book popped into my head—plot, dialog and all… I grabbed a pad of paper and started writing notes that became my first epic 800 page, historical, which," she added with a laugh, "will never be published!"
Katalina told me she sees a huge difference between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
"Pornography throws bodies together with no emotional connection or bonding as human beings. No thank you," she said. "Erotica appeals to our deepest primal desires, at its best it’s a wake up call to our true nature. Erotic Romance calls to our desire to combine primal drives with love and share those intense feelings with someone worthy. In my opinion Erotic Romance is the jewel in the crown because it throws personalities together for the bliss and betterment of all concerned." She laughed. "You can’t beat that!"
"What do you think is the biggest public misconception about erotica?" I wondered.
"That it’s subversive, shadowy and somehow immoral. I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As women become more responsible, honest and expressive of their sexuality, expect creativity in our culture to boom."
Katalina told me she strongly recommends that writers, especially those who are starting out to write erotica, connect to their own sexuality and emotions whether they have a partner or not and learn to express it in a creative way.
Other than that, she doesn't recommend "research" from books with the exception of safe sex practices, especially within a BDSM relationship.
One thing she will never write about is underage or emotionally unprepared characters.
"The emotions and situations involved in erotica especially BDSM erotica should be for informed adults and volunteers only," she explained.
From the time she started writing, Katalina set her sight directly on erotic romance. "I knew it was the best venue to reach readers on the visceral level and connect with them," she told me.
Curious, I asked Katalina what her family thought of her writing.
"I have a big-blended Brady-Bunch family who are wonderful. My husband reads my books and does my book trailers. My sisters test-read and help with content, but my loving, supportive, curious as hell Father is absolutely banned from ever reading my books!"
On more of a personal note, I asked Katrina which body part she would pierce if she had to pierce something.
She laughed and told me that she already has ten piercings—each of them done to commemorate special occasions and have special meanings attached. They were also performed by special friends—but they are private. She wouldn't "show and tell."
She did agree, however, to tell us about her most embarrassing moment.
"It happened on our honeymoon in Acapulco. I wanted to try parasailing. I got buckled into the harness and I was waiting for the speedboat to race away from the shore. I turned and waved goodbye to my husband but as I did the speedboat took off, the harness yanked me down onto the beach and I was pulled face down across the sand until my bikini bottoms slid off and then and only then did I lift into the air and sail above a beach full of laughing people… If God had taken my life at that moment I would have said thank you."
In addition to Acapulco, Katalina has traveled on the cheap through South America and Asia and learned to "get grateful and get over it" when it comes to strange food, so there's nothing she won't eat.
"I eat what's offered," she said, "often with a little whispered prayer—please don't make me sick."
However she does have a favorite food: grilled anything. Her favorite of the favorites? Hot peppers.
"When we’re in the mood for punishment we go for the extremely, painfully hot peppers just to get the endorphin rush," she explained.
"What is your strangest habit?" I asked.
"I sniff sweaty men at the gym… Really," she assured me. As a matter of fact, when I asked Katalina what she did when she wasn't working, she told me she'd been a gym rat since she was seventeen.
"It feels good to be there, I always leave feeling happy. Weight training is a natural mood elevator. Many psychological studies have been done exposing women to small samples of male sweat. One study found male sweat to be a mood elevator to women and postulated that women felt happier and more optimistic when the men around them were 'working hard'," she explained. "Duh! Someone got a grant for that… I just wish they could bottle the scent of a man cleaning out the garage." She laughed.
Finally, I asked Katalina, "If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?"
"Start writing and keep writing. Divine intervention or not, most of us have to write a lot before we write anything worthwhile but by that time you’re a much better writer with skills that will last a lifetime. I would also add be as honest and nurturing with yourself as possible."
You can keep up with Katalina on her blog, http://www.katalinaleon111.blogspot.com