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Saturday, September 10, 2011
Author Interview with Tanith Davenport
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Tanith Davenport, whose debut novel The Hand He Dealt released this summer from Total-E-Bound Publishers.
Tanith originally intended to write women's fiction—which she told me focuses on the lead character's personal journey—because she thought it would give her more freedom of subject matter and would be considered more "serious" writing. The Hand He Dealth, however, naturally fell into the category of erotica because it dealt so heavily with the nature of its characters' sexuality.
"I discovered that there were so many ways that sex could illustrate character and plot points while still being enjoyable to read and write," she said.
To Tanith, the difference between erotica and erotic romance is like the difference between romance and women's fiction, as described above. Pornography, on the other hand, has as its focus sex, not plot.
"What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotica?" I asked.
"Probably the same misconception that I initially had. When I was first advised to pitch my novel as erotica, I thought of it as 'those books at the back of the store that everyone's thumbed through'. Since then, even though I've come to realise how much more there is to erotica, I have had many people tell me that I'm writing 'junk' and ask me when I will write a proper book, which is ridiculous. I'm proud to be an erotic author."
Other authors that Tanith is a particular fan of include Nichelle Gregory and Lisabet Sarai, telling me, "They both have the ability to choose the right wording to create intense erotic imagery."
When it comes to her own writing, if she enjoys it in the moment of writing, Tanith considers it a good start.
"If I then go back to it a few weeks afterwards and still find it exciting, I know it works," she said. "It's much easier after a break to pick out any throwaway bits that ruin the atmosphere."
Tanith told me she's often asked how she does research for her books—and the question is usually accompanied with a sly glance at her husband.
"Experimental and experienced I may be, but I also spend a lot of time on websites researching those kinks I'm not personally familiar with - and there are a few!" she told me. "I find the internet useful for both erotic and non-erotic research, since you can find an answer for the most obscure of questions; most recently I was trawling sites trying to find out how fast a 300-foot yacht could travel between Spain and Italy."
I wondered what Tanith's family thought of her writing.
"My husband is reading The Hand He Dealt as we speak. It isn't his type of novel, but he insists on reading it out of a sense of pride in and solidarity with me; plus he wants to make sure he's ready for any comments my in-laws make about it! Everyone has been very supportive, which has been wonderful."
The most embarrassing sex scene she's ever written was probably the dance scene in that book, she told me.
"Trying to choreograph a dance routine that would make a man come in his trousers made me cringe," she explained, "even though it did come out OK in the end. " Pun intended? Ask her tomorrow in the chat.
Tanith told me that she went through a phase of wanting her navel pierced, but she changed her mind.
"As much as I love the idea of being bejewelled, I’m something of a drip when it comes to piercing. Which is funny really, because I have four tattoos, one of which took four and a half hours to do. I find tattoos a lot sexier than piercings, to be honest – there’s something dark and dangerous about the designs on the skin."
"What food do you consider best for eating off another person?" I asked.
"Chocolate mousse is always a favourite, as is alcohol, although be careful where you pour that. I know from bitter experience."
She's also a great lover of Chinese and Thai food. She told me, "Combine a sweet and sour chicken (served with the sauce separate) with sticky rice and you can ask me any favour you like."
She does not, however, like anything coated in black bean sauce.
"Have you ever known anyone who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue?" I wondered.
"As it happens, yes. When I was a student I knew a girl in my hall who could do it. I tried to learn myself but could never get the hang of it – however, it’s a skill I like to give my heroines, since everyone loves a heroine who can do entertaining things with her tongue."
Along with the ability to tie cherry stems in knots, she also has to give her lead characters names with the letter A in it, or she can't visualize them. In The Hand He Dealt, she has Astra, Sasha, Harry, and Ash and, in her two WIPs her heroines are named Tara and Tatiana.
Tanith loves to try new things when she's not writing, such as skydiving or paragliding—and she told me she loves to go the spa, explaining, "There's nothing like a facial and massage to relax you. I also love going to restaurants, particularly ones with cuisines I haven't tried before, seeing films at the cinema, and singing - I'm a trained classical singer and love musical theatre."
She likes to have her toenails painted, but shared with me she's recently discovered Minx pedicures, which are stickers applied to your toenails, and she's become rather a fan.
"They have a silver firework pattern that I love," she said.
Finally, I asked her, "If you could give a new writer one piece of advice, what would it be?"
"Get as much guidance as you can. I made use of as many online resources as I could, took a creative writing course, joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and even took my synopsis and query letter to a book doctor. There is so much help out there and all of it was invaluable."
You can keep up with Tanith on her blog, http://tanithdavenport.blogspot.com