Q: What made you decide to write The Vixen Files?
A: The Vixen Files is a collection of writing from my sex column, “V for Vixen,” which ran in a Montreal weekly paper that was recently retired. I decided to release the material as an ebook so that it would always be available to friends and fans who enjoyed it in print. It also makes a great nonfictional introduction to my novel, Naked Montreal, which will be released this fall.
Q: What makes someone a sexpert?
A: “sexpert” is someone who claims some expertise in the sexual realm. Sometimes these people are doctors or nurses (like Dr. Ruth or Sue Johanson), sometimes they’re sex workers (like Violet Blue and Tristan Taormino), and sometimes they’re just regular people who have good advice to give (like Dan Savage). You don’t necessarily have to have a degree in sexual psychology in order to be a sexpert, but your advice should be backed up by credible sources.
Q: I don’t really like the term “sexpert,” because it seems to imply that there’s only one right way of looking at sex and sexual relationships, and if you’re not the “sexpert,” then you’re doing it wrong. I certainly think that the concept of sexual experts is a good one, in terms of being able to ask knowledgeable people for help with issues pertaining to their field, and I do believe that if people feel comfortable asking for help in bed, that can only be a good thing. But really, anyone who has open, honest answers to sexual questions can be a sexpert.
A: What separates good erotica from bad erotica?
Q: Good erotica gets you off, both mentally and physically. Bad erotica keeps pulling you out of the story with its bad grammar or clumsy comparisons. Good erotica is like any other well-written story: it has a plot, well developed characters (and not just characters with overdeveloped body parts!), a conflict of some kind, plus the action required to move the story to its climax. Those who have not mastered the basics of storytelling should certainly not attempt erotica, nor should anyone who believes it’s just about putting Tab A into Slot B.
Q: What is Rebels of the 512 about?
A: Rebels of the 512 is the tale of Suzie Jimenez, a high school history teacher who is suddenly dismissed from her job due to budget cuts passed by the governor of Texas, Nick Harry. Instead of getting mad, Suzie goes rogue and joins up with a band of ninjas to take back her job and stop the governor’s evil plan to take over the United States with the use of a mind-control device. Though it’s partly a satire on Texas state politics, it’s also a humorous adventure pitting ninjas against pirates, where the ninjas are on the side of truth, justice and the American way. Since ninjas are usually viewed as faceless assassins, I thought it would be fun to make them the heroes in my book, as the kind of freedom fighters I’ve always admired throughout American history.
Q: What are the advantages of self publishing an e-book?
A: One definite advantage of self-publishing is that you get to keep a lot more of the money you’re making than you would with a traditional publisher. It’s also fun to have all the control over the publication process, and meeting other self-published authors to help cross-promote each others’ work has also been a positive side for me. I’ve met some really good writers who are doing unique work that crosses and bends genres, which is an experience I definitely wouldn’t have had if I had published with a traditional publisher.
Q: What are some of the disadvantages of it?
A: The disadvantage of self-publishing is also the advantage: you only get out of it what you put into it, so if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to marketing and promotion of your book, you won’t make a lot of sales. To me, it’s all a learning experience, so I try not to be discouraged. I figure if you keep on writing and promoting your books, eventually you will reach your audience and the sales will follow.
Q: How realistic was Sex and the City?
A: Sex and the City was definitely not a realistic depiction of life as a sex columnist. For one thing, I’ve never been able to afford even a single pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, much less purchase my own condo. That’s not to say it’s a lifestyle of poverty, but it’s certainly not the lifestyle of the rich and famous that Carrie Bradshaw’s fictional existence depicts. Although the part about writing on your laptop in your underwear is pretty true.
Q: Why do you think erotica is so popular?
A: Erotica is popular because our culture is very uptight about sex. Now that you can instantly download erotic pictures, books and movies, it’s becoming more acceptable to do so (at least in the privacy of your own home), and I think that eventually people will become less judgmental about it. As for erotica vs. pornography, I would identify erotica as the “thinking person’s porn,” because more is left to the imagination. Erotica can definitely be explicit, but because it’s written instead of acted out, you have to use your mind to picture the characters and their interactions, and I think a lot of people get off more on reading erotic works than watching porn because there is that element of working your brain–which is, after all, your body’s largest erogenous zone.
Q: What is the strangest feedback you’ve ever gotten about your writing?
A: The strangest thing, to me, is that lots of people assume that everything I write about is true, or that it has all literally happened to me. Since I have written both fiction and nonfiction about sex, there’s a tendency for people to believe that *everything* is actually nonfiction, but I wouldn’t be much of a fiction writer if that were the case! Certainly I am inspired by real-life events, but I also take ideas from stories in the news, stories my friends have told me, other erotic writings and such. I guess it’s just the type of thing people like to read these days; they prefer to believe it’s all true or inspired by reality.
Q: What would you say to someone who says there is too much overkill in the media when it comes to sex?
A: I think the problem is not so much that we are oversaturated with sex, but that the media typically presents sex in a very limiting (and limited) way. We see lots of sexual relationships, but they are almost comical in their caricatures of both men and women. Sexual dysfunctions are still considered more something to be joked about than serious issues. Sexual scandals usually involve conservatives who try to appear morally superior to the rest of us. Lots of relationships, such as open relationships or gay or lesbian relationships, are either skipped over as if they don’t exist or presented in such a token way that it’s offensive. I think it’s really quite telling that sex is considered worse than violence by our society. So I would say that it’s not that we talk too much about sex in the media, but that we don’t go deep enough with our discussions or treat sex as a serious or legitimate topic of interest, worthy of our time and attention. Ironic, given the fact that none of us would be here without it, don’t you think?
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)