Morning, commies and kinky peeps!
Today's guest is Shaunna Peterson, a daring and prolific author of fantasy and erotica.
MJN: One of the hats you wear is being a stay-at-home mom. There seems to be this popular myth that full-time moms are somehow bland and sexless. As a woman and a writer, do you make an effort to maintain a certain level of appeal? If you write erotic stories, it definitely helps to have an alluring head shot to go on your Amazon page. I really need to update my bio on Amazon. :)
SP: I am no longer a stay at home mom. I am a full time mom, I work full time and write. It's a lot on my plate but there is no rest for the wicked, with the help of my husband I am able to juggle this most of the time. As far as full time moms being bland or sexless I would have to disagree, we just learn to prioritize. I don't find it necessary to get all dolled up to do laundry and clean house I am no June Cleaver. But I do try to maintain my appearance. If I am working or have an outing that requires more than yoga pants and a tank top then yes I will take the time do my hair and make-up. :) I agree having a head shot that is alluring or attractive might make readers take another look is great, but I would much rather them read my books than stare at my picture.
MJN: There are many venues, digital and print, that publish romantic and erotic fiction. You have published your works independently. Was it a conscious decision, to gain more control over the final product? That's one of the reasons many independent authors cite.
SP: I like the fact that I can be hands on with every aspect of my book. From the template I use or the design for front and back cover. I like the control I have over it. If something doesn't look right or doesn't come out the way that I wanted it then I have no one to blame but myself. I am still fairly new to writing and publishing and I really wanted to be able to have final say in how my book was published.
MJN: Some romance publishers have a "heat level" scale and they assign a number/category to each book based on the content. When you write your fiction, do you make an effort to adhere to any particular heat level?
SP: No, not really. I make sure that there is a disclaimer in my books warning the reader that what they are about the read has nudity or strong language, ect. I strongly recommend that anyone under the age of 18 not read my books. They are not young adult or for the faint of heart. It is written for adults by an adult. In my mind I don't feel it’s necessary to give a heat level. For this reason not everyone finds the same things sexy or a turn on. For example: One might be completely turned on by the thought of being spanked, where as another person may find it archaic or barbaric. So they heat level wouldn't really apply to either of them. Everyone has different level of what they consider sexy or arousing. All I am doing is trying to titillate your mind a bit. If you like reading my erotica that's great! If not then go back to reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, my books are obviously not for you.
MJN: Many of your reviewers have commented on one particular technique you use: throwing curveballs and constantly surprising the reader. Diamonds in the Sea contains an element of ... almost X-files? The novel starts off as a rebound romance between a single mom and her ex brother-in-law and ends with government conspiracy.
SP: I like curve balls but I hate cliff hangers. One of my pet peeves when reading a book is predictability. If I am reading a book and I can see how the end is going to happen before I even get there then I become bored with the book. I want my readers to think they know where I am going and then BAM I throw you a curve ball that you will either love me or hate me for. But in the end you keep reading and that's the goal is to keep the readers reading, keep them interested. I want my readers to be able to escape there real lives and slip into the ones I write. I want them to think about my book even when they aren't reading it. Curve balls keep them on their toes. Diamonds in the Sea was my baby, my first published book. It is surrounded in danger, action, lies deceit, love and my favorite part....mermaids! I wanted to give people a story that they could become attached to. I knew I was on to something when my mom called my crying asking me, "Why? Why did you have to kill that person off?" Hence she did not like my curve ball.
MJN: With so much romantic and erotic fiction released, how does an author who writes in this genre stay competitive? One of the reasons why I've avoided writing in that genre myself is because the scenarios are really limited. At first it seems like with sex possibilities are endless, but in reality there are just so many potential combinations. MF, MFF, MMF, and only so many potential outcomes. The originality is in the details. It's not the sex itself but what happens before and after.
SP: As far as competitiveness goes the only competition I feel like I have is myself. When I first stepped foot onto the writing scene I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't know if other authors would be catty or degrading or what. But I was surprised at how I was welcomed with open arms and the amount of friends that I have now that are also authors. I am not trying to compete with anyone. I am simply trying to follow my dream instead of sitting around and talking about following my dreams. When I first started writing I had no interest in become an erotic writer, however after publishing Diamonds in the Sea, I literally had these amazing opportunities fall into my lap. These opportunities would give me a platform to explore that side of writing. My first erotic short story was Dirty Little Devil a FF story with a twist at the end, followed by Wicked Temptations: An erotic twist onnursery rhymes. After writing them and reading the reviews it turns out that I have a dirty mind and people like to read the stories that are produced from it. I think that one thing that readers get wrong is that they think that erotic writers lead the lifestyle they write about. That is not always the case. I have never had a FF encounter, I have never been to a brothel. I have never had group sex, yet I can write about them. I write what I know, I write what I like and I write what I think the readers will react to.....good or bad. I realize I am not everyone's cup of tea and I am okay with that. As long as my fans and followers keep coming back for that teas then I am good.