Welcome to I J Miller, my Friday guest this week. It’s great to have you here.
First of all, please would you introduce yourself to anyone lurking here?
I am the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. My latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and will be in bookstores as a trade paperback and audio book on April 23. I have a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and have taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.
What made you decide to start writing?
I started out developing a love for language and stories by being an avid reader. In late high school I started translating that love into stories of my own.
What genre(s) do you write and how did you get into it/them?
I write erotic and literary fiction. I didn’t start out writing erotica. I simply wanted to tell a good story. Most of my fiction uses sex to help reveal story and character, but not always in an erotic way. However, for classification purposes, many refer to my writing as literary erotica.
Is there any genre(s) that you haven’t written yet which you would like to? If so, which genre(s)?
I would like to write about sports, the psychology of it. I also have a background as a college tennis coach.
What do you think makes for a good hero and/or heroine?
Complexity. Not always being so good and perfect. I like revealing the strengths as well as the flaws. Makes for a far more interesting story.
What do you think makes for a good villain?
Revealing complexity as well. If you can get to the heart of what makes someone a villain, arouse some empathy, you can also layer that character to be more than all evil.
Which do you find easier to write: series or standalone stories?
So for standalone. But I just finished the first draft of a new novel that is part of a three book series, so we’ll see how the next two books go.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
The solitude. Just you and the computer. The joy of turning a nice phrase, using the right word, creating an interesting character, developing a complex plot.
Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?
Always start to finish. It’s how my mind works.
Do you plot out the stories before you start writing, or do you let the characters take over? Or is it a bit of both?
I used to come up with a germ of an idea and just starting writing to see where it would take me. Now, with less time to write, I plan a lot more before starting, usually a quicker path to the finished story.
Which of your own characters is your favourite and why?
Heathcliff in my current novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is most intriguing. I stuck to Bronte’s original characterization, keeping him both brutal and flawed, but always passionate. He puts as much energy into being bad as good. But, ultimately, in my version of the book, he seeks redemption.
Where do you get your ideas from?
My stories usually start with an observation about life, then attaching that to a particular character, then from there, developing the plot. For example in my novel, WHIPPED, I observed how often affluent, suburban housewives who seem to have it all, but have always been dependent on men, can often be miserable. The result for me is a novel about a woman who develops self-reliance, strengthens ties with her family, and finds redemption.
What kind of research do you do?
Depends on the project. Most of my stuff comes from things that are familiar, but for WUTHERING NIGHTS, I devoured the original text for every bit of language and nuance I could use. For WHIPPED I did some research on the Professional Dom scene, learning about “safe” words and protocol.
How do you keep disciplined in your writing?
By sticking to my routine and not getting up from the desk chair until I’ve produced something of merit.
What are the best and worst things about being a published author?
The best is hearing from a reader or reviewer and knowing they got what I was going for and I made them think. One of the worst things is seeing a non-professional review that pushes forth a personal agenda rather than honest observations about what was written.
What do you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
Play tennis. Read.
Who are your favourite authors when reading for inspiration?
Bernard Malamud. Philip Roth. Junot Diaz.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favourites?
I love movies. Favourites: Shawshank Redemption. The Sting. Schindler’s List. Citizen Kane.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
I’m working on a New Adult erotic romance for the 18-25 crowd called CELINE’S SOLUTION, about a college girl who gets her final, senior year education from her young English Professor who is both a master of passion and a troubled, secretive soul. Before she can know for sure whether she has found true love or needs to move on, she must unravel all of his mysteries.
Please tell us about your latest book.
WUTHERING NIGHTS is out now as an e-book and will be in bookstores on April 23 as a trade paperback and audio book. It is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights. What makes this book different from other typical mashups, is that it’s not a lot of verbatim text with some sex thrown in. I dove deeply into the story and produced a novel that stays true to the original language, themes, and characters, but has many new plot twists and turns that help make the eroticism more organic and heightens the romance.
Excerpt: It was not by experience, but by incredible sensuous instinct that the pair continued this gentle lovemaking. Although almost everything on this night seemed like a first, they had locked inside them the wisdom of two beautiful creatures constructed for full carnal pleasure. Inspired by the feelings and tension between them that had been nurtured and grown since their childhood, their touch, their whispered expressions of love, their exchange of caresses and kisses held more power than any lightning in a storm.
Side by side, as equals, they kissed passionately. Without thought, their tongues escaped their mouths and entered the one opposite, touching, playing, caressing, as did their hands over each other’s bodies. It was as if neither had eaten, and the only meal that could satisfy this hunger was each other.
Heathcliff pushed Catherine to her back and began to lick and kiss her neck, tasting her. She arched her throat and moaned softly. He licked down while cupping her full breasts in his hands and began nuzzling and sucking her nipples. Catherine thrashed under him. “Heathcliff, my love, I missed you so much. Never leave me, please.”
“Never,” replied Heathcliff.
Where can we find you and your books on the web?