I am massively excited today to be hosting an interview with prolific and award-winning BDSM author Claire Thompson. Claire's books never lack in originality and intensity, and I was thrilled to get some insight into her writing process.
Annabel: How long have you been writing, and what genre did you first begin writing in?
Claire: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but nothing you’d want to read about (copious journals full of self-absorbed expounding and teenage angst). I started writing fiction for publication in 1996, before ebooks were even a twinkle in someone’s eye! I began writing my darkest BDSM fantasies and my dreams of love within a D/s context. I pretty much have kept on doing that these past fifteen years, while throwing in some m/m vanilla erotic romance along the way (not too much, BDSM remains a strong draw for me, so my fictional heroes are into it too. It’s good to be queen).
Annabel: I know over time you've expanded into more types of genres, such as m/m and paranormal. Was this a natural evolution or something you did intentionally to broaden your audience?
Claire: Each time was intentional to attract a broader audience, and was suggested/encouraged by my editors at the time. My leap into m/m BDSM with Golden Boy and Golden Man was a huge success, and I had so much fun doing it, that I just kept right on. I enjoy the process of getting into the head of someone different from myself in certain key ways. This is also true when writing a het male character, but the dynamics are different when the men are gay, and interacting with one another. The dialog and the way they relate are different than in a m/f story, and I find that quite challenging and exciting.
I’ve tried my hand at some paranormal (my vampire series, my warlock story) to less success, so I have moved away from that. I think I do best in a contemporary setting, where I can focus on the characters and what they are going through, without any extraneous trappings to confuse me!
Annabel: Yes, I've always loved contemporary too, for the same reason. Now, you're a very prolific writer, and you're also very linked in to your readership. Is it difficult to balance the demands of promotion and still ensure there's time to write? What does your daily writing routine look like?
Claire: Alas, at this point, I am still tethered to a day job, due to the need for benefits. So my daily routine during the week is the 9-5, or in my case, the 7:30-4:30 grind. After dinner, errands, occasional exercise (never enough), I do try to find time to answer emails, perhaps visit my chat group, write a blog entry, check out facebook, open the tweetdeck and try to figure out twitter (I am old), but I rarely write then, because I am too tired from the day to focus.
The weekends, however, are my special time to write, and when I make it happen. I will generally get up between 4:30 a.m. and 6:00 (6 is called sleeping in, in my book). I will get my coffee, boot up the laptop and hit the ground running. I will spend most of the day writing, usually a block of four hours or so in the morning, then off to do errands, eat something, finally go pee (I get so caught sometimes I forget!) and then return to work some more until my eyes are crossing and my fingers are tired. I strive for at least one chapter a weekend, and am lucky if I can make it two. That is the first draft, mind you, as my wonderful betas usually make me write them three times a piece (three times is the charm). I actually don’t mind the rewrites, because at least we have something solid to work with, “words on paper” as an old pal of mine used to say.
Regarding the balance of promo versus writing, I spend 95% of the time writing, 5% on promo. I find that writing a new novel and getting it out there is the very best promo there is!
Annabel: You won the coveted NLA Pauline Reage prize for fiction in 2010 for Submission Times Two. That is great promo! Can you tell us a little about the book, and the experience of being recognized by the NLA?
Claire: It was a huge honor to win that award, and I was delighted with it, doubly so since Submission Times Two was my first m/m indie book (Accidental Slave was my first m/f). I went indie, doing my own publishing, about two years ago, and so every aspect of the work was mine. There was no editor telling me to add more sex or delete this entire chapter, or, “no, you can’t call it that, we have too many titles with the word ‘submission’ in it, oh, and we have too many of your books in the pipeline, so release will be pushed back ten months, and we may or may not ever take it to print, so don’t hold your breath.” Ah, are you getting a bit of a sense of why I went indie?
As to the NLA award, I actually flew down to Oklahoma City (Why couldn’t they have had that event in San Francisco or New York City? Oh well.) to accept it in person. The response was fantastic, and my cheeks hurt from so much grinning. I brought a couple of dozen paperbacks with me, and sold out within minutes, which was quite gratifying. Most of the folks at these leather events had never heard of me, so it was great exposure and a lot of fun.
Annabel: Thanks so much for being our guest today, Claire. I read and enjoyed your books when I was still struggling to put words down on paper, so it was a real thrill to talk to you author to author. I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors!
Claire: Hey, thanks, Annabel, for this great chance to chat with folks. I do love to connect with readers. I answer all emails and love to hear from my readers and friends. I include my social media links below, and encourage anyone who would like to, to sign up for my newsletter. Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so you can be included in contests, and hear about the latest releases and work in process. I never stop. Fifty novels under my belt to date, but I still have ideas, projects and things that need to be said, so stay tuned! And thanks again for this chance to connect.