Treats, treats. I love treats! You probably already knew that, if you've ever seen a pic of this curvaceous Bitch. But today's treat will not require an hour of Wii Fitness after consuming. Bitch Factor 10 is lucky to have two fantastic writers visiting today, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, authors of The Druid Stone. Heidi and Violetta were given the Question or Two treatment. Here goes:
- First for some probing personal questions. Heidi, please give us a detailed description of your fave "fat slutty bi girl" look (er, we need a Heidi paper doll for this, hmmm). Violetta, give up some deets on your "checkered past".
Heidi: Oh my! I actually dress very conservatively now! My high school best friend calls it “kindergarten teacher chic”. But if I think back on my proudest fat slutty bi girl look, it would have to be the matching nurse uniforms I and a friend wore for Halloween a couple years back. We got hit on . . . a lot.
Violetta: I used to smoke PCP in graveyards. Oh wait, I already used that line for another interview, sorry! I do have a history with certain chemicals, but I gave them up a long time ago, way before I had kids. I’ve been arrested but I haven’t been to jail. I guess the legal transgression I’m most OK with being public about is going to Cuba, which is mainly illegal for US citizens. I went there with my family for an educational vacation because we think the US embargo is ridiculous. It’s quite easy, actually: we just went via Nassau and asked Cuban customs not to stamp our passports.
- How did you two come together to start co-writing together? What clued you in that you could be simpatico as co-writers?
Violetta: We beta’ed for each other and had a great rapport.
Heidi: Our first time co-writing was writing a short porn story. We had so much fun bouncing ideas off of each other and egging each other on we had to give it a go on a bigger (and more serious) scale. I still love writing sex with her though.
- Please speak about your transition from fanfictioners to being full-blown novelists. What habits carried over? In what way have you had to become more disciplined writers, as novelists?
Violetta: I wrote a fairly long blog post about the transition. I think the habit of writing steadily carried over. That is, once you start writing, don’t stop. Being a novelist means kicking it up about ten notches in terms of organizing and motivation. Writing fanfiction is a gregarious activity; writing a novel is more isolated, less immediately rewarding.
Heidi: When it comes to fanfic, I think what I learned was just what kinds of characters really appeal to people and what touches and intrigues them enough to want to explore more, read more, write more, discuss more. I’m always searching to capture that spark in my own characters. (Hopefully someday I manage it!) Discipline wise? I definitely agree with V on discipline. Fanfic is a world of immediate gratification, where there’s always a beta-reader nearby and a built-in audience for whatever you do. Original fiction, you’re starting from scratch. You have to find an audience. You have to forge a new emotional connection to get people to care. And yeah, in fanfic you can leave a WIP hanging and it’s sort of accepted. With original fiction, if you don’t finish the novel, you don’t get paid, and then you don’t eat!
- What writerly quality would you want to borrow from your co-writer?
Violetta: I love Heidi’s banter and body language. It really makes dialogue scenes come alive.
Heidi: Violetta has a really wonderful grasp of authentic cultural representation. She has a great “ear” for dialects and slang and is so empathic when it comes to people’s values and beliefs. Take a story like “Harm Reduction” and that sense of place and personhood? That’s her magic.
- Have either of you written any non-fanfic solo works since starting to co-write, and if so, what was it like writing without the other? Have you co-written with other authors yet? If so, how has that experience differed from writing with each other?
Violetta: I’m working on a solo effort now. It’s moving steadily but very slowly! I’m pretty much resigned to the slowness, however, even if it gets frustrating at times.
Heidi: I’m working on a solo project right now too, a series of short novels / novellas about a group of guys who work at a seedy porn store. I find writing solo absolutely terrifying! I’m hoping once I finish this book, my confidence will get better, but for now I feel very insecure about what I’m writing. And yes, it’s very slow going!
I’m actually co-writing with someone other than Violetta for the first time right now, as well! I’m writing a series of non-con slave/capture stories with Rachel Haimowitz. We’re having a blast, and I hope that people into that sort of thing will enjoy what we’ve come up with.
- You both have spoken up about the importance of creating diverse, multi-cultural characters, like Ori in Hawaiian Gothic or Sean in Cruce de Caminos and The Druid Stone. Why is this important to you? What challenges and/or criticisms have you faced in doing this?
Violetta: It’s important to me because... that’s me. I’m Asian and I come from a multicultural family. I live in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. I don’t want to go into the challenges too much because they’re kind of depressing. But I will see that the most frustrating force is not negative reaction, it’s simply... ignoring. I see people doing that all the time. They’ll spend thirty seconds blasting Victoria Foyt for Save the Pearls, get a lot of backpats, then go on buying and reading nothing but novels with white people on the cover. I’m bored with attacks du jour and bored of white self-flagellation. I just want readers of color to have more choice, writers of color to be more financially rewarded, characters of color to be more prevalent. I don’t care how that happens, I just want it to happen.
I do think m/m is actually somewhat better in regards to racial representation than mainstream romance, but on the downside, the drekkier stuff is full of the most ridiculous and ludicrous fetishization of Asian men. I mean, romance and erotica is kind of fetishistic by nature, but you can do it in a smart or stupid way, and I see way too much of the stupid.
Heidi: Violetta pretty much covered this one. I think the issue with IR/MC romance is quite the same as say trans* romance or lesbian romance. People say they want to read more or think they should read more, but often don’t.
- The Druid Stone is a sequel to your Riptide Publishing Rentboy Collection novella, Cruce de Caminos. I loved both stories, which feature Sean O'Hara as a main character, yet the tenor of TDS and CdC wildly differ. What accounts for that difference? What was it about Sean in CdC that made you hold on to him for further fantastical adventures, a continent away in The Druid Stone? Or was the expansion from CdC to TDS the plan all along?
Violetta: We actually wrote CdC after TDS. The main thing that accounts for the difference in tone is that we knew CdC wasn’t going to be a romance. We didn’t need to have a happy ending. So we felt very free to let psychology and mood be the guiding forces for the narrative.
Heidi: What she said! After we wrote TDS, we sort of wanted to explore that aspect of Sean’s history (and his sexuality) more. But it really is a completely different experience, and that was what we wanted.
- What magic underbelly do you imagine existing beneath the surface of your "real" world? What fantastical element from The Druid Stone would you run away from, if it suddenly appeared in our world?
Violetta: Atlanta, where I live, used to be called Terminus. An ominous name, although it simply meant where the railroads ended. This used to be Cherokee land, and the Civil War is still being waged in sideways cultural forms.
I think my favorite monster from The Druid Stone is the giant eel with human hands for whiskers. I don’t know where I got the idea, although it feels vaguely Cronenberg.
A big Bitch Factor 10 thank you to Heidi and Violetta for dropping by and sharing. The best of luck with The Druid Stone and all your writing endeavors!