Today, here on my little corner of Blogsville, I’m hosting the marvelous Alison Tyler, author, editor, blogger extraordinaire, and herder of cats. One of Alison’s most recent projects (I should add ‘prolific’ to those descriptors) is (to date) two books which evolved from a series of blog posts loosely based around her own memoirs. The first book, “Dark Secret Love”, introduced us to Samantha, a young submissive with a penchant for combat boots, and her life and loves.
And now, after what seems like a really long wait, we have the sequel “The Delicious Torment”.
You can read my review on Goodreads.
Alison was kind enough to drop by to answer a few questions about the books, her writing process, and of course herself.
Cheyenne Blue: This series, of which The Delicious Torment is the second book, is based on your own memoirs. It takes a special kind of courage to expose yourself in this way (I know I couldn’t do it). Did you set out to write in such a deeply personal way, or was it something that evolved?
Alison Tyler: I hardly ever plan anything. I’m not kidding. I tend to fall ass-backwards into most of my projects. This series began with a single blog post (back in 2006)—and then followed with another 180 or so posts over a year and a half. I have 500,000 words (so far) on the project. This is like nothing I’ve ever worked on before. Have you read Kitchen Confidential? If so, you might remember a scene where the chef has to “feed the bitch.”
That’s a little bit of how I feel for this project. The thing has grown far beyond what I ever imagined. The books have taken on a whole life of their own.
CB: Most erotica writers have experienced an “Oh, you write erotica” comment, said in negative tones. What’s your snappiest comeback to those who would judge you for what you write?
AT: I wish I were snappy. I read all the Al Jaffee “snappy answers to stupid questions” books. I idolize snark. But truly, I am thin-skinned. My feelings get hurt. Even if I have on my kick-ass combat boots and my favorite leather, I am easy to wound. But you’re right. People feel totally comfortable giving others shit for their lifestyles. This is what happened to me several years ago…
CB: There’s a general perception that an experienced Dom will recognize the need for submission in a sub, even before the sub recognizes it in themselves. Does this work in reverse?
AT: I made a Dom once. Yes, I did. Out of barbed wire, tobacco, beat-up Levis, burnt matches, and shoe polish. No, just kidding. I did turn a man onto his own hidden desires once upon a time. He’d never given in to his fantasies before, and I unlocked that door and showed him who he really was. And who he really was equaled one fuck of a tough Dom.
CB: Quote a favorite paragraph from The Delicious Torment . One paragraph, no more, no less, and tell us why it works for you:
Closing my eyes now, I try to recall how I managed to make myself get into that frightening metal puppy cage. Maybe it was what Juliette had said: Alex didn’t fight. Perhaps it was the fact that Alex was right there, his eyes on me, silently watching my every move, willing me to fail. I sensed that he wished I would cause a scene. My disobedience would make him look more superiorly submissive, wouldn’t it? Alex, I could tell, always wanted to be the top boy. He needed the gold star on his forehead, the A+ on his chest.
AT: There’s a lot to swallow in this scene. But I particularly like the fight Sam has with herself. She doesn’t want to get into the cage, but she also doesn’t want to let Alex “win.” I’m bizarrely competitive. Mostly with myself. I set goals and I try to crush them. I absolutely love the balance here—a war within her mind (and with Alex) to be the best.
CB: I adore the ( US edition) cover art for “Dark Secret Love” and “The Delicious Torment”. Did you have any input in this?
AT: Cleis sent me ten covers to choose from for “Dark Secret Love.” The final one was the only one in my opinion. Absolutely, pure perfection. For “The Delicious Torment,” I begged for a matching cover. Something that would look beautiful next to the first. We went through several rounds before landing on this one.
CB: Boxers or briefs on a man?
AT: Boxer briefs, please.
CB: Satin, lace, cotton, or microfiber on a woman?
AT: Microfiber? You’re so evolved. I don’t even know what that is. For me, satin. In different colors. I appreciate the art of knickers all swirled together in the drawer. But I also have a bit of a hard-on for day-of-the-week cotton panties.
CB: Your style is uniquely your own, to the point where I think I could pick out your writing from a “line-up” of other writers. Are there writers who’ve had an influence on your style?
AT: Oh, I love that. Like a taste test. Which one is by Alison? We played a game like that on my blog awhile back. Thomas Roche and I each wrote stories for His and Hers, but we did not say which ones we wrote on the TOC. I asked readers to guess which were by him and which were by me. Many people chose correctly.
My stories have been influenced by many different writers. I think “Broken” (which appears in Twisted) is the closest I’ve ever come to writing like Elmore Leonard.
CB: You can nip over to Alison’s blog and try your hand at picking Who Wrote What. Match the author to the snippet. I had to put my money where my mouth is, so I’ve had a go. Not as easy as it sounds…
CB: What (or who) do you read for pleasure?
AT: I have read nearly all of Elmore Leonard’s books. Many on repeat. But I favor memoirs (although I didn’t realize that for years). So I have battered copies of Kitchen Confidential, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, Tender At the Bone, Wrecking Crew, Just Kids, The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Life, The Basketball Diaries, Nickel and Dimed. I want to read Angelica Huston’s memoir, A Story Lately Told, because I’ve read several exotic-sounding excerpts. Honestly, I didn’t know I gravitated to memoirs until I did a double take of my bookshelf a few years ago. And there they were. All in a row.
CB: There’s a lot of chatter on word counts lately. Do you set yourself a word count goal for your writing day or week?
AT: No. I can produce a huge amount of words in a short period of time if I need to. But my best work comes fairly organically. Some of my books have taken months to write, others have taken years. I have over 250 stories “in process” in my “new stories folder” at this moment. (My man says I’m insane.) But this is just how my brain works.
I write all the time.
The only point at which I pay attention to word counts is when I’m running out of words. That is, when I’m nearing the end of a novel, I watch to make sure I don’t go over.
CB: In “The Delicious Torment”, Samantha writes with a pen and pad. Is this something you do too? Is there a special brain–to-pen connection that doesn’t work for brain-to-keyboard?
AT: I’m bisexual. I mean, ambidextrous. That is, I swing both ways. I write in longhand and on the computer, depending on where I am. But I have whole notebooks of drafts of stories. I like flipping through the pages. Confession: I’ve got a fetish for notes.
Check out my blog: scruffyjottings.blogspot.com
CB: Planner or Pantser?
AT: Yes. For some books, I do sketch out the plot. Generally, I have the ideas for the beginning, middle, and end—and the rest falls into place. For short stories, I often simply have the wisp of what will happen in my head. Right now, I’m finishing up a story called WYSIWYG. I knew the whole entire thing when I came up with the title.
CB: If you were coming to dinner at my house, what would you want me to cook? What would you bring?
AT: I would bring champagne. Because I don’t cook. And I have simple tastes. French fries, hot and crispy with plenty of salt. Chicken wings with Frank’s hot sauce. Or sushi—tiny little bites of perfection. Wow, I guess what I’m saying is that I like to eat with my hands and I like to lick my fingers clean.
CB: Thank you, Alison. *applause*