About a year ago, I reviewed Best Fantastic Erotica (Circlet Press), edited by Cecilia Tan, for The Fix. Not all the stories were to my liking, but I was impressed by the number of feminist stories therein.
"The Shoot" holds its own amongst them, and I mean that in a very positive way: stories that celebrate the things that make being female special, not the least of which is the friendship and the solidarity with and understanding of other women.
A naïve woman learns some lessons in love.
Kath Mahoney only attends her friend’s first glamour photo shoot because Pippa needs someone to drive her there. Kath expects to find the day boring, but her interest is stirred when the photographer, Rob, turns out to be a sexy, blonde, former model called Robyn.
Andrew, this story is a big departure from the supernatural horror you normally write. Not only is it mainstream, it's erotic women's fiction. You've always impressed me with your ability to write from the female point of view, but this story tested that to the highest degree since it involves a F/F love scene. Do you find it difficult to write from the female viewpoint?
I’ve never found using a female viewpoint difficult – or, at least, I find it less difficult than using a male viewpoint. I’m not a great fan of strong lead characters, who are often also loud, arrogant and generally obnoxious (am I the only one who watched Alien and was begging the monster to get Ripley?). It’s probably a highly sexist thing to say, but readers will probably let you get away with your hero being a bit more quiet and thoughtful if she’s a she. That’s nearer my personality too, so I find it easier to write, which is probably why I’m happy to use the female viewpoint.
And I didn’t find the female-female love scene more difficult than a male-female encounter from the physical or emotional side of things. The main challenge was the practical one of having to use words like ‘she’ or ‘hers’ sparingly so people don’t get confused about which character is being referred to – which is obviously not a problem in male-female scenes.
Hmm, sounds like that getting in touch with your animus/animae thing a al Karl Jung. No matter, it works. You've often said you dislike writing sex scenes but you're so good at it. Do the characters tell you where the story is supposed to go or does it spring from the plot?
Yes, I do dislike writing sex scenes, and if you think I’m good at it, then that’s a complement and a relief. Sex scenes need a different technique than the horror genre I’m used to dealing with, and I do find writing erotic pieces hard work. In general, my stories are very much plot driven. I usually start with a plot outline, and mould the characters around the story’s needs. I do think that characters are one of the joys of writing, though, and the way they act and interact is very much down to them. I particularly enjoy taking characters aside and giving them sub-plots that rely on their personalities.
I know, because I read them both, that the characters in "The Shoot" are the same as those in The Wood, your novel released last spring by Eternal Press. What nudged you in the direction of writing this latest story which is a prequel of sorts?
"The Shoot" started off as a flashback scene within The Wood – it was one of the asides I enjoy that I mentioned just now. It didn’t really work as part of The Wood, though, but I did think it had possibilities. I gave it the tweaks it needed to make it a stand-alone piece, and I’m delighted that Eternal Press liked it.
Do you plan to write more stories like this--mainstream or F/F erotic fiction? Have you considered other subgenres of erotica, or does it all depend upon what inspiration strikes you at any given moment?
I’m not seriously planning any more erotica –"The Shoot" became a stand-alone almost by accident! I don’t read much erotica (actually, make that zero!) so I don’t know very much about the genre. I’ve got a few story ideas but they’re not likely to get written as I’ve no way of judging whether even the basic plot outlines are viable. I got quite a bit of help with "The Shoot" – many thanks to fellow Eternal press author Gianna Bruno who gave loads of advice on writing erotica (Gianna’s "Hot Chocolate Kiss" is due out in January).
I know you have a special love of Celtic legend and most of your novels rely heavily on it. What other interests inform your writing? Who are some other writers whose work influences yours?
I loved having books and films push me to the boundaries of comfort as a child, and that gently led me down the route toward horror. History is another passion, so I suppose it’s not surprising that most of my work is historical horror. I studied the Celts at university, so I’m writing what I know.
My main influence is Richard Laymon, who I think is (or, sadly, was – R.I.P.) truly a genius. He has a sparse style, but you still feel you know his characters after only a couple of sentences. He took a lot of risks, and reading him gave me the confidence to try to push boundaries myself. One of my proudest moments as a writer was visiting the forum at "Horror Writers UK" http://horrorwriters.net/ and seeing The Wood discussed in a thread on the same page as Laymon’s work.
Can you tell us about your current works in progress?
I’ve got irons in a few fires at the moment. My favourite is a novel I’ve just finished, set in post-Roman North Wales. It was hard work as it is primarily fantasy, which was challenging but fun because like "The Shoot" it’s taken me
away from my comfort zone. I’m also working on a slasher set in a medieval Scottish castle – anyone who saw the film Highlander will recognise the keep I’m using for a basis. But I am missing ‘doing’ Celtic myth and I keep being tempted away from my works in progress to revisit legend-based Fomorians, who seem to have made an impression with The Wood’s readers!
Writing out of your comfort zone is good. You taught me that. And, yes those Fomorians. They wreak quite a bit of havoc in The Wood. Where can readers connect with you, and how can they order a copy of "The Shoot" and/or The Wood?
"The Shoot" and The Wood are both available from Eternal Press - http://www.eternalpress.ca/Richardson.html - and from Amazon.
My web site and blog are at:
Before signing off I’d like to thank you for having me, and also acknowledge those people who’ve helped me get two novels published. My name may be the one on the covers, but I have had so much help from a lot of people.
I’m very grateful to the people at Eternal Press, and to Dark Realm Press who published my first novel. In addition, a lot of people have looked at drafts and helped with technique, or with encouragement when writer’s block has struck. This includes you, Carole, of course, and Phil, who is an established author with Black Horse Westerns.
You’re quite welcome, Andrew. I really love this story and think a lot of readers will too. It’s always a pleasure to trade critiques with you, and I’ve also learned a lot from your insights.