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Saturday, January 29, 2011
Author Interview: Anna James
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Anna James, whose latest book Isabella's Dilemma has been released by Sugar and Spice Press.
Anna told me that, in her opinion, pornography is typically viewed as being exploitive or degrading, where erotic romance includes a plot and well-developed characters, and she would never write anything that could be considered exploitive or degrading to any of her characters. The plot in an erotic romance can stand alone without the explicit sex, however if the sexual content is removed the characterization will suffer.
For Anna, a good erotic romance will have characters that are passionate and linger in the reader's mind long after she finishes the story. There should also be strong emotional conflict, sexual tension, and a level of sexuality that is emotionally driven. Also, as far as she is concerned, a happily-ever-after ending is a necessity.
"What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotica?" I asked.
"I think the biggest misconception is that that the term erotic romance can have a different definition depending on who is publishing it. There are romance novels that are considered 'main stream; but have sex scenes that I think are explicit. Then there are erotic romances that have very mild sex scenes and probably should be considered 'main stream'."
When Anna is researching her books, she either goes online to find specific details she needs or she asks someone she thinks can help her.
"Many times my stories will take place in locations I have visited. For example part of the story I just finished takes place in Boston Massachusetts," she told me. "I have visited Boston on many occasions and have incorporated things into the story that I enjoy doing whenever I visit, for instance walking the freedom trail or visiting Fanuel Hall."
"Did you always set out to write erotica or did it evolve from something else?" I wondered.
"I was actually surprised when Isabella’s Dilemma (now available from Sugar and Spice Press) came out and it was classified as 'Erotic Contemporary Romance'. So, no, I didn’t set out to write erotic romance. I started out writing what I thought was more 'mainstream' than anything else. While the sex in my stories is descriptive it’s not necessarily explicit. I consider it on the mild side of the erotic romance genre."
She has also written a short romance story called "A Picture Perfect Christmas" that is in the 2010 Christmas Collectibles Anthology that is available from Midnight Showcase Fiction, which is non-erotic romance.
"I think it was easier to write because I could 'close the door' and not have to worry about the rest," she said.
I wondered how her writing path evolved.
"I’ve read hundreds of romance novels. Literally! I used to belong to a reader service and they sent five books per month. After years of reading them I thought maybe I could actually write one. So I gave it a shot."
She wrote her first story about twelve years ago. Unfortunately, it was rejected multiple times. She got so frustrated that she gave up on the whole idea of writing.
"Then, about two years ago, I was on line and found a bunch of small press publishers. I either didn’t know about them or they weren’t around at the time I was first submitting my story for consideration; regardless, I was excited to find this new pool of publishers that I hadn’t yet tried. So I dusted off the story, did a minor amount of editing to update it and sent it off. It went under contract last December."
"What does your family think of your writing?" I asked. "Do they read it?"
"My family is supportive of my writing and they read my stories. In fact, I don’t send out anything for consideration before my mother reviews it."
On a personal note, I asked Anna, "If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?"
"I can’t really think of anyone else I want to be. I have been blessed with a terrific husband and five wonderful kids (although their teenage years were / are a huge challenge!!!). I guess I’m really happy just being me!"
She has considered getting her belly button pierced because she thinks it looks cool, however she hasn't done it yet because someone who did it told her it was very painful.
Her favorite food? Chocolate.
"I consider it a staple that I can’t live without. I have developed a taste for dark chocolate because it is actually good for you, which is how I justify eating it every day," she said.
However, she cannot bring herself to eat cow brains or frog legs.
"What is your strangest habit?" I wondered.
"According to my husband, it’s my obsession with having the lights on all the time, even though they may not be needed. I also forget to turn them off when I leave the room – which drives him nuts."
When she's not writing, she enjoys hanging out at their cottage and going out on their pontoon boat for a cruise around the lake. She also enjoys listening to books on her mp3 player, especially when she's on vacation or when she's exercising.
"I love going to NYC or Boston for a day of shopping, theater and excellent food," she said. "Most of all I like hanging out with friends and family."
Finally, I asked Anna, "If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?"
"Believe in yourself and in your writing. The road to publication is littered with rejection letters (or e-mails as the case may be). If you get rejected find another publisher and keep doing it until you have a contract!"
You can keep up with Anna on her blog, http://annajames1.wordpress.com