Saturday, April 09, 2016

Interview with M.Christian-Bionic Lover: An Erotic Lesbian Romance

Q: What inspired you to become an author?

A: I don't think I've ever really been inspired to be a writer, per se: it's who I am ... I think its hardwired.  I can't imagine not being a writer.

The first story I remember doing was way back in the 4th grade.  But it wasn't until high school that I really put my back into it.  Somewhere I'd read – I think it was Ray Bradbury – that if you write a story a week eventually you'll sell something ... or at least get a lot of bad writing out of your system.

Well, I must have had a lot of bad writing to get out because it took me ten years before I sold my first piece.  But after that one story – to a magazine called Future Sex back in '93 – it's kind of snowballed since. 

Now I have something like 400 story sales to my name, edited 25 anthologies, 12 (or so) collections, six (and working on #7) novels, plus a bunch of non-fiction articles, a comic book ... and I'm a publisher on top of all that (whew).

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?

A: Not really: I like to say that I have the writer's version of multiple personalities ... though not a disorder as it's hardly an affliction.  Sometimes I'm overly verbose, other times I'm short and punchy, and every now and again I have this odd Tennessee Williams kind of thing that comes out.

It really comes down to whatever works for whatever I'm writing.  I have a serious thing for pushing myself, trying new styles.  Now and again it works and I discover a new voice in my writing and when it doesn't work ... well, at least I tried (grin).

Q: Do you write in different genres?

A: Oh, yeah – and then some.  It's like with the voice thing above.  You never know what you might be good at until you try it.  When I first started out, back in high school, it was a lot of science fiction, some fantasy, and a bit of horror. 

Then I had an opportunity – purely spur-of-the-moment – to take a class in erotica writing.  I'd always thought erotica was a perfectly valid genre, especially since a lot of my favorite writers had penned more than a few sexy books and stories, but it wasn't until then that I seriously thought about giving it a shot myself. 

That's when that snowball started.  After that first story – that was then picked up for Best American Erotica – I realized that here was not just an eager genre for good work but one that was also a real joy to write for. 

What's great about erotica is that you can write pretty much whatever you want – romance, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, noir, western ... whatever – and as long as it has a sexual component you can still pitch it to an erotic publisher or venue. 

So I guess you could say that while I write for practically every genre, erotica has been very good to me (to paraphrase Roberto Clemente).

Q: If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

A: I still enjoy writing erotica but I've lately been trying new directions. Referencing once again what I've already said, you never know what you're good at until you try. 

I know I can write – and sell – erotica, but I don't ever want to become stagnant.  I've been doing a lot of quasi-sci-fi things (very allegorical), having a blast writing for The Future Of Sex, planning a very twisted horror book, publishing books by some wonderful authors, teaching classes, and generally staying ridiculously (and enjoyably) busy.

Q: How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

There's a couple that just came out.  The first is Skin Effect: More Erotic Science Fiction And Fantasy EroticaSeveral years ago I wrote a rather-well-received collection of erotic science fiction stories called Bachelor Machine (out now in a new edition).  While I loved writing the stories they were definitely a product of the 90s and early 2000's: very cyberpunky, very dystopic, quasi-noir stuff.

Since then I've become pretty ... tired is the most polite way of saying it, of negative futurism.  Beyond that fact that we are living in a phenomenally interesting time I'm concerned that we are all creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: that we are actually beginning to look forward to an apocalypse.

So I challenged myself to write a book of erotic sci-fi stories looking at all kinds of classic futuristic tropes but in a positive, enthusiastic light.  I must say it was a real blast to do and, fingers crossed, people also seem to be enjoying it.

I'm particularly tickled that the book is available not just as an ebook and trade paperback (through Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions) but as an excellently-read audiobook through a special arrangement with Wordwooze Publishing.

But the newest book I have out is called Bionic Lover: An Erotic Lesbian Romance.  I'm extremely thrilled about this one: it's a brand new edition of my erotic sci-fi novelette previously titled Speaking Parts.  While it's a bit noir I think it speaks more about humanity than the (dramatic voice) perils of runaway technology (end dramatic voice).  What's also very cool it that it, too, will be available soon as an audio bookthrough Wordwooze.

Here's a quickie blurb about it: 

Pell was lost, alone, and lonely—until Arc appeared. Fiery, enigmatic, and with a mesmerizing cybernetic eye, Arc was everything Pell needed, wanted, and most of all, desired.

The next time Pell saw Arc the eye wasn’t the only thing artificial about her new lover. And the time after that, and the time after that: each time the passionate and mysterious Arc drifted into her life, Pell saw more and more of her being replaced by refined and precise machinery…and with each departure of her natural body for the artificial, Pell grew more and more terrified.

One day, she knew, there’d be nothing left of her lover but the cold, the engineered…the bionic.

Pell knew what she had to do…but the end, when it came, was worse than she ever could have imagined.

Q: Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

A: A little from column A, a little from column B.  Sometimes the title comes first, other times I just write and then try to put a title to it.  To be honest, the former is much harder than the latter. 

For my next novel it's definitely a title first thing.  Though for Finger's Breadth – my queer/sci-fi/horror/erotic/thriller that's also out in a new edition – the first title I gave it didn't work for the publisher so I had to quickly find a new one ... which worked out perfectly as I think the new one is a lot better. 

Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A: I usually try to stay away from being much of a 'message' writer.  Far too often, in my humble opinion, when writers try to speak louder than their work the end result is a lecture, or sermon, instead of a work of literature.  Not that writers shouldn’t try, but if it becomes clear that you are speaking at your readers and not to them it far too often pulls them out of the reading experience.

I guess, if you had to corner me, I could say that most of my work tends towards the bittersweet.  I don't believe in happy endings, but I also don't think life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (to use Thomas Hobbes).  We can have bliss mixed with sadness, pain with joy ... in short human life is incredibly, and even beautifully, complicated. 

Q: Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true-life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

A: Not really.  I know a lot of writers who use their friends and such for their work but that's never really been my thing. 

That being said, there's a lot of myself in whatever I do.  Part of the reason why I think I've been as successful as I've been in writing outside of my own sexual orientation (I'm straight-but-not-narrow, if you want to know) is that I focus not on the differences but similarities.  I may not know what gay sex feels like, or am unequipped to understand lesbian sexuality, but I try to spend a lot of time examining my own life, experiences, and inner-workings and bringing what I discover there to my work. 

Q: What books/authors have influenced your life?

A: Oh, my ... far too many to name.  As someone much smarter than I said, we are all products of our lives, the shows we've watched, our friends, our family ... and in the case of writers it's every word we've ever read, mixed and matched and combined to make us

I know I've tried to learn as much as possible from other writers.  When I read what I think is a particularly well-written passage, or notice someone does something really well (like dialogue, or descriptions, or story structure) I enjoy trying my own hand at what they did ... see if I can figure out their literary magic trick.

I've often thought we have this silly (to be polite) idea that creating anything has to be a spontaneous act: something arising from nothing.  Not only does this unnecessarily add tremendous pressure to the already difficult but it also fosters a totally unrealistic attitude.

Every creative person on this planet is standing on the shoulders of other creative people.  That's not plagiarism, it's learning.

Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

A: Once again, far too many to name every one.  Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Kipling have been huge influences – but then so have Alan Moore, Adam Warren, and Grant Morrison.  Then there's the films of Frankenheimer, Wenders, and Kurosawa.  Let's not forget Alfie Bester, Zelazny, and Ted Sturgeon – or Karl Taro Greenfield, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe. 

Q: What book are you reading now?

A: To be honest I don't have a lot of time to read for pleasure.  As an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books and the Publisher of Digital Parchment Services I'm always reading new books with an eye towards hopefully being able to get them out into the world.  Not that it isn't fun, but there's a big difference between being a Publisher and not just a reader.

When I do read for fun I usually go back to my all-time favorites: Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick, Nimbus by Alexander Jablokov, To Marry Medusa by Ted Sturgeon, A Specter Is Haunting Texas by Fritz Leiber, Lord Of Light by Zelazny ... plus everything by Alfie Bester, Hunter S. Thompson, or Adam Warren.

Q: What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

A: I'm always working on something ('vacation'?  What's that?).  I already mentioned Digital Parchment Services: we've been working with the estates of sci-fi luminaries like Jody Scott (author of Passing For Human and I, Vampire), William Rotsler (five time Hugo Award winning fan favorite), and authors like Ernest Hogan, Arthur Byron Cover, and James Van Hise plus publications like Amazing Stories and Fate Magazine – which is all very exciting. 

I just finished a quasi-sci-fi novel – tentatively called Blue – but that's going into a drawer for a few months while I do some pondering.  Next up, beyond more articles for Future Of Sex and teaching classes (on a wide array of subjects) is a new novel project that's very personal.  More on that when I have something worth showing. 

Q: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

A: Not right now, I'm afraid.  Blue isn’t ready for being out there and the special project I just mentioned is so nascent that I don't have anything ready to reveal.  But you can always keep track of whatever I'm doing through social media:

Twitter: @mchristianzobop
Futures-Past Editions:
Sizzler Editions:
Digital Parchment Services:

Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A: Having chronic depression just getting out of bed can be daunting – but I'm slowly but surely learning self-care so there's a light at the end of that very dark tunnel. 

Writing itself is not for the faint-of-heart.  As I like to say, it's one of those creative pursuits where it's just you, in the dark, by yourself.  Film makers have whole crews to help, musicians can jam with their fellows ... but writers (aside from help from a good editor or publisher) not only have to do everything themselves but when something doesn't go well they have no one to turn to. 

Not only that but there's this constant pressure to sell your work.  Yes, we live (sadly) in a capitalist nightmare but it's a frustrating state-of-affairs that creating for simply the pleasure of doing so is either seen as naive or pointless. 

If you look at it logically, writing is pretty much the stupidest thing anyone can do with their time: it can often be emotionally and creatively exhausting, no guarantee of any rewards for your work, little to zero respect from non-writers, competition and insecurity from other authors, and when you do sell your work the amount you make is nowhere near minimum wage.

This all means, we should try to look at writing not as an end but as a means.  Sure, getting paid for something I write feels nice but I always try to stay much more focused on the joy of creating something unique and, hopefully, entertaining or even enlightening.  That's what gets me out of bed.

Q: Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

A: Alas, not as much as I'd like.  I used to travel a lot more but money is tight so I stay pretty close to home (the San Francisco Bay Area).  I do get a treat now and again when a convention flies me out somewhere but even when that does happen – and don't get me wrong I love to teach and attend events – most of the time it's staying in the hotel. 

Speaking of classes and such, I have a special part of my site dedicated to just that.  Just click here to see what I'm up to any particular month:

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?


Okay, that's overly simplistic.  But I already said a lot about writing for pleasure and not a potential paycheck.  Adding to that, though, it's always a good idea to challenge yourself: not how many words you write per day or week but what you write. 

Don't like westerns?  Write one.  Don't like erotica?  Try a sexy story.  If it doesn't work then you learned something about yourself.  But you don’t know until you try.  Who knows, you may very well be the next best Western/Roamnce/Sci-Fi/Erotica writer out there – or, best of all, you could have a wonderful time!

Beyond writing, stay away from comparing yourself to other writers is key.  Nothing kills the joy in creating anything, including writing, is thinking you are doing something wrong because you haven't sold something, won an award, gotten a fat check, or have so-many friends on Facebook.  Your journey is yours: do what makes you feel good about you and your writing and get the rid of anything – or anyone – who doesn't.

Q: Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

A: Funny, I didn't used to be a huge music fan – though that's changing.  I used to put on TV shows or movies when I was working but now I find myself listening to more and more tunes.  In fact, if anyone out there can recommend some good writing songs I'd really appreciate it.  Right now I'm grooving to Amon Tobin, KMFDM, Dust, and Tangerine Dream.   
A powerful and erotic lesbian romance exploring love, lust...and loss

Pell was lost, alone, and lonely―until Arc appeared. Fiery, enigmatic, and with a mesmerizing cybernetic eye, Arc was everything Pell needed, wanted, and most of all, desired.

The next time Pell saw Arc the eye wasn’t the only thing artificial about her new lover. And the time after that, and the time after that: each time the passionate and mysterious Arc drifted into her life, Pell saw more and more of her being replaced by refined and precise machinery…and with each departure of her natural body for the artificial, Pell grew more and more terrified.

One day, she knew, there’d be nothing left of her lover but the cold, the engineered...the bionic.

Pell knew what she had to do…but the end, when it came, was worse than she ever could have imagined.

Available at Amazon

With Bionic Lover, acclaimed erotic science fiction author M. Christian spins a mesmerizing tale of bittersweet desire, lesbian romance, and all-too human frailty set in a near future San Francisco where cybernetics aren’t just commonplace but the stuff of erotic dreams. 

"M. Christian's stories squat at the intersection of Primal Urges Avenue and Hi-Tech Parkway like a feral-eyed, half-naked Karen Black leering and stabbing her fractal machete into the tarmac. Portraying a world where erotic life has spilled from the bedroom into the street, and been shattered into a million sharp shards, this tale undercuts and mutates the old verities concerning memory, desire and loyalty…truly a book for our post-everything 21st century." 
―Paul Di Filippo (author of over 100 stories and five novels) 

"Rarely is raunch paired with such style and wit…this story offers the sizzle of strokebook sex combined with the dark lyricism of the perverse." 
―Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Safety of Unknown Cities 

"M. Christian's stories are the fairy tales whispered to one another by dark angels whose hearts and mouths are brimming with lust. He goes beyond the pale, ordinary definitions of sexuality and writes about need and desire in their purest forms. Readers daring enough to stray from the safety of the path will find in his images and words a garden of delights to tempt even the most demanding pleasure-seeker." 
―Michael Thomas Ford, Lambda Literary Award winner