Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview with Victoria Pond

1.    What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve always been a writer, but I turned into an erotica author by accident! I found out about a 1000-word contest from erotica publisher Circlet Press on the “future of Valentine’s Day” about 1 hour before the deadline. How unintimidating! If I didn’t do well, it only meant I hadn’t had enough time.
I barely managed to research Valentine’s Day traditions, write a draft, proofread it, and email it in to the contest organizer.

My “Terran Export” won the contest, and I was amazed. That was my first sexual scene ever! But I still wasn’t an erotica author until two years later. See, since I’d won their contest, I was on Circlet Press’s mailing list for authors. I learned about one upcoming anthology that I just had to write a short story for.
And they picked it up.

That was when I realized: I must write good erotica! I’d won a contest and sold my first erotica story. (By contrast, I have yet to sell any non-erotica to magazines or publishers on spec.) So now, it’s what I do.

2.    Do you write in different genres?

Yes! I have a few pen names, actually, so that I can switch between Young Adult and VERY Adult without having to worry about someone picking up a book and being surprised (or shocked!).

Within Victoria Pond’s erotic romances, though, I split my time between speculative fiction (like the steampunk elements of My Lady Gambler) and contemporary short stories (like a lesbian encounter in a bar, “Day Trip” forthcoming in the Sex in London anthology).

3.    If yes which is your favorite genre to write?

Anything with an historical bent because

(1) I get to use as much convoluted sentence structure as I like (like titling one of the stories in My Lady Gambler “On the Curious Condition of the Anachronism in Modern Aviation Structures”) and

(2) I get to do lots of historical research! I loved writing chapters from David McAlpine’s POV (he’s the bad guy in My Lady Gambler, the novella itself). He talks in 1811 slang. I found a dictionary of “vulgar” language from that year, and then wrote his thoughts directly from it. I kept checking etymology online to make sure he didn’t say anything too modern (I had an idea that MLG would be set in 1790-something).

4.    Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

I always wait until it’s complete. The title keeps changing while I’m working on it. I have Word documents full of potential titles, most of which don’t fit the final vision or theme.

More interesting are the working titles. Usually, these don’t stick around. For instance, my critique group lovingly referred to My Lady Gambler as Lady Chrome Cock for months! Actually, they still do.

Short stories are a bit easier because I tend to write first drafts in one sitting, so the working titles make more sense. But even those can be a bit tricky. I have an unpublished short story titled “The Three Temptations of Mara Samun.” It’s about a woman (vampire!) in a bar, and a guy tries to pick her up with promises of wealth, fame, and living like a princess. For each thing he offers her, she has an internal mini-story about when she’s had that thing before. For example, when he offers “living like a princess,” she remembers being an actual princess in ancient Egypt, locked away from the world because she’s going to be a god’s bride.

Anyway, the point is that even when that story was drafted, and I knew it was “The Three Temptations,” I still hadn’t decided if it was simply “Three Temptations” or “The Three Temptations of [what’s her name really going to be?]” or “Vampire Threeways.” I’m REALLY good at brainstorming, but my brainstorms leave much to be desired.

In the end, I try to decide what gives the most flavor of the story. “The Three Temptations of Mara Samun” gives the Egyptian flavor I wanted, plus makes it clear that the story is about temptation. And when a reader gets to see that it’s a story in three movements, that just adds to the appropriateness!

5.    Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

“Ambition trumps everything.”

In the novella My Lady Gambler, Cara’s ambition is to play high-stakes poker. So she does! She figures out how to bypass all the obstacles (like not being a man when the highest-stakes game around is in a Gentlemen-only club).
In the short story “The Clockwork Dancer,” Carlotta’s ambition is to be a choreographer. So when she can’t get any dancers to join her, she builds her own troupe. Solved!

In the short story “On the Curious Condition of the Anachronism in Modern Aviation Structures,” Jess’s ambition is to be an aviator. Before the story starts, she’s already sat her exams for officership and joined a crew as First Mate. For her, the short story is just dressing; she only has to claw and scrape to hold onto what she’s already achieved.

In the short story “Dorothea Franklin’s Marvelous Machine,” Dorothea wants to be a respected inventor. She’s got the invention, and if she needs to cross oceans and browbeat bureaucrats to get that respect, then no body of water or officious jerk will stand in her way.

So that was my intention. Be ambitious!

My writing group thinks the message is that women are strong enough to do whatever they want. One of my favorite critique partners accuses, “Victoria, do you even know how to write a weak female character?”

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

My settings and (embarrassing?) sex scenes are often based on my life experience. The characters, not so much.

Settings: This is probably why I set so many stories in England, the US, and Japan… and almost always in big cities.

For My Lady Gambler and other stories that are set in an old-fashioned and upper-crust England, I’m luckier than a lot of other writers. I read for my graduate degree at Oxford University. (Or, as an American would say, “I went to grad school there.”)

So, my college (University College, which is a marvelously confusing name) has some interesting quirks. It competes with a few others for the distinctions “oldest college” (founded in the 900s, 1100s, or 1200s, depending on whom you ask). The dining hall is a lot like being in a Harry Potter film (also filmed at Oxford, but at Christ Church College, I think).  The undergrads, grads, and profs/fellows have different common rooms.

Once, I got to go to the Senior Common Room (for the profs/fellows), and they’ve got the woodcuts on the walls which I later saw in a museum.
University College has its own chapel, with stained glass windows that were hidden from Cromwell (during the English civil war) and survived the German bombings in WWII.

I think nothing of studying in the Bodleian, or reclining on couches older than my own country.

And I bring all those locations that I once took for granted to my writings of upper-class English historical locations.

As for sex scenes: Almost every sex scene in one of my books is something I’ve done or something I’ve read about (and then done). Almost. My husband quite enjoys when I say things like, “I need to work out this scene. Stand behind me like this, now put your hand here. Aha! That’s how it feels. **pause** Mmmm, do that again…”

7.    What book are you reading now?

Now that I’m done with My Lady Gambler, I’m on a regency romance kick. I know, I know, they’re not spicy/hot/erotic, but I adore them. I love the historical flavor. I love the way they’re all about snappy dialogue and social situations. And I didn’t want to read a single one while writing My Lady Gambler because I didn’t want to be influenced too much!

In the last two weeks alone, I’ve read Ridiculous, Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career, and The Duke’s Tattoo. (I’ve also read few others, but these are the standouts.) I recently heard about one, Libby’s London Merchant, which involves some bonus cross-dressing.

8.    Who designed the cover of your latest book?

I was super-lucky to get Anne Cain to do my covers. She’s got an amazing portfolio of book covers, and I’d already contacted her before I also learned that:

(a)  I’d once picked up a book in the bookstore based on the cover, and it was one of hers!

(b) She’s a professional Amazon cover artist.

(c)  She also does marvelously geeky fanart. Her recent Loki character study is gorgeous!

My Lady Gambler
Stories of Erotic Romance, Corsets, and an England That Never Was
Victoria Pond

Genre: erotica, erotic romance, steampunk romance, steampunk erotica, steampunk Regency

978-9886468-0-3 (ePub)
978-9886468-1-0 (MOBI)

Number of pages: 200
Word Count: 50,000

Cover Artist: Anne Cain

Book Description:

A collection of erotic romance in the Age of Steam, featuring a Regency novella...

Cara St. Cross is determined to play at the highest-stakes poker club in all of Great Britain... even if getting in requires her to dress like a man. Stanley, Lord Greenhope, doesn’t truly believe that “Mister” St. Cross has had relations with his wife, but that doesn’t stop him from challenging the (wo)man to a duel.

In the early Age of Steam, duels are still legal, young ladies get kidnapped to Gretna Green, and only the villains seem to care whether Cara wins at the tables.

As well as the Regency novella, My Lady Gambler, this collection includes three short stories of Victorian-style steampunk erotica:

Miss Carlotta Stembridge crafts her own troupe of dancing automatons in “The Clockwork Dancers”. When she meets a flesh-and-blood dancer who steals her heart, she must fight society and her own creations if she wants to keep him in her life.

In “On the Curious Condition of the Anachronism in Modern Aviation Structures,” First Mate Jess Priory of the merchant airship Aer Nova offers passage to a handsome doctor. Lucky thing she did, since his skills come in handy when the ship is attacked!

The possibility of a time machine causes more problems than it solves in “Dorothea Franklin’s Marvelous Machine,” Thankfully, the inventor can console herself with the darkly sexy, powerful Sir George, Grand Master of the London Masons.

 About the Author :

Victoria Pond is a professional writer on projects ranging from video games to novels. She lives in Seattle with a husband and a cat, where she sings with a Celtic band and is working on the next novella in her steampunk erotica universe.

Amazon Author Central –