Carnal Machines: Double Interview

On the 22nd of April this year, I posted a rather harsh review of Carnal Machines here. I also mentioned three stories int this collection I actually really enjoyed. Two weeks back, D.L. King, the editor of Carnal Machines got back to me. She not only very graciously accepted my criticism, for which I pay her my highest respect, but also got me into contact with Kannan Feng and Teresa Noelle Roberts. They are the authors of Deviant Devices (Kannan) and Human Powered (Teresa).

So I had the opportunity to interview both ladies and this is what they had to tell me:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What got you into writing, who inspires you, are you creative in other ways?

TNR:
I literally don’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing with words. I dictated my first little stories and poems to my mother because I didn’t know how to write yet. At times when I can’t write, I get a little crazy.
As for what inspires me, it would be easier to say what doesn’t. Folklore and history are constant sources of inspiration, but I have notes for a thriller based on a session titles at a professional conference for government IT professionals, notes for a erotic erotic novella based on a gay couple with elaborate tattoos I saw at the beach the other day, stories based on a chance remark I overheard on the street.
Between writing and my day job, I don’t have much time for my other creative pursuits. When I have time, though, I belly dance, knit, cook, and garden. I’ve been known to dabble in costuming, though I’ve lost patience with it lately, and I’m involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism, where I research 11th century Arabic Spain. (In other words, I’m a very busy geek.)

KF:
I’m a queer writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I started writing professionally in 2007, and haven’t really looked back since. Laura Antoniou, author of The Marketplace series, is likely my biggest inspiration when I’m writing erotica. I’m not really happy unless I’m making something, so I also knit, cook, make jewelry, and sew. Sometimes I write poetry, but this is typically considered a Bad Idea on my part.

Where can we find you on the web?

TNR:
www.teresanoelleroberts.com is my website and blog. I moved my blog there only recently; older entries are at www.teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook—look for me by name. I love it when readers ask to friend me.

KF:
My home on the web is at kannanfeng.wordpress.com, where I talk about writing. I talk about writing there, both what I’m writing about and how I do it.

Is Human Powered (Teresa) and Deviant Devices (Kannan) your first steampunk story?

TNR:
Human Powered is my first published steampunk story. I have one more making the rounds, and several in my head.

KF:
Deviant Devices is my first published steampunk story, but it’s a topic I think about a fair amount. Steampunk is one of the playgrounds that I desperately want to play in. It puts together my love of world-building, history, and of course improbable machinery.

When did you first hear of Steampunk and who got you into contact?

TNR:
I first heard about steampunk as a movement in the early to mid 90s, through Arisia, a speculative fiction convention based in Boston. I’ve only dabbled at the edge of the subculture, but I’m intrigued by the imaginative reinvention of history—not to mention the fabulous clothes.

KF:
I can blame everything I know about steampunk on Grace D. Palmer, who is a talented artist and one of my best friends. For a long time back in 2004, steampunk was just this weird thing that Grace did and made art about. She’s still my go-to person for good steampunk world-building.

What other stories or novels of you have been published and where can we find them?

TNR:
I’m the author of the paranormal romances Lions’ Pride (Duals and Donovans: The Different Book 1) and Foxes’ Den (Duals and Donovans: the Different, Book 2), both from Samhain Publishing, and the fantasy-romance Seasons of Sorania Cycle: Lady Sun Has Risen; Rain at Midsummer; Threshing the Grain; and the newest, A Satyr for Midwinter, all from Phaze, as well as two standalones from Phaze, Restraint and Pirate’s Booty. You can find them on the publishers’ sites or at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. I’ve had close to a hundred short stories published, mostly but not exclusively erotica, but I’ll spare you that list.
If that’s not enough, I also write with my friend Dayle A. Dermatis under the name Sophie Mouette; we’ve had one novel (Cat Scratch Fever) and a number of short works appear under that name.

KF:
I’ve got Lord of Misrule, which is an erotic novella from Circlet Press. In a nutshell, it’s about demonic possession and queer men having sex at a sort-of 18th century university. I also have an erotic cyberpunk novella forthcoming from Torquere Press, as well as several short stories available from Circlet.

What was your first published story/novel?

TNR:
I had several pieces of literary fiction published in the eighties, when I was twenty-something and trying to do the serious, angst-filled writing one does at that age, instead of telling the fun genre stories I prefer to read. One was a serialized novel—very Dickensian concept! Unfortunately none of those are still available.

The earliest story that’s still in print is “Soaring with Eliana,” a lesbian erotic fantasy, in the anthology Stars Inside Her. That came out in 1999. Writing about hot women with wings, I realized I far preferred fun, sexy and touched with the fantastic to dour and serious and I haven’t looked back since.

In which other settings have you published? (as in: fantasy, sci-fi, pulp, modern, historic).

TNR:
Contemporary, historical, fantasy, pulp/noir…am I forgetting any? 🙂

In what other genres have you published (romance, crime etc)

TNR:
Most of my publications qualify as erotica or erotic romance. The solo books, with one exception, have fantasy or paranormal elements. Some of the works published as Sophie Mouette are erotic comedies, mysteries or caper stories. I’ve also had a few pure fantasy stories published, the literary fiction mentioned above, and two books of poetry.

Is there a format, setting or genre you prefer?

TNR:
Almost all my work has elements of romance and sexuality, although it’s not all explicitly erotic. If I can work in something fantastical, be it pure fantasy elements such as magic or shape-shifters, or aether-based steampunk technology, so much the better.

KF:
I want to be a novelist. I really, really want to be a novelist. However, I seem to think in short stories. I am working on this. As to genre, I’m squarely a speculative fiction writer; if I don’t have improbable airships, chthonic horrors, or ancient and petty gods, I feel like I’m missing out.

Was it hard to get your first piece published? How many tries did it take?

TNR:
I’ve been publishing regularly since my late teens. Since that was practically the Dark Ages, I don’t remember the pain too clearly, though I’m sure there was some. Since then, I have garnered my share of rejections, and still do, even with approximately a hundred published works (not counting the poems).

KF:
I’m incredibly spoiled. The very first piece I sent off was accepted by an online publication. That’s not to say that there haven’t been ups and downs since, but getting my work published for the first time was remarkably smooth.

Is there something you consider difficult about writing?

TNR:
What I find most challenging isn’t writing, but the publication and marketing process. I’m shy, despite the fact I write about sex incessantly, and putting myself out there to sell my work doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Writing is hard, yet somehow natural to me.

KF:
I have this problem where I don’t always recognize what kind of character I’m writing about. I once wrote what I thought was a character who was roguish and charming. As it turns out, he was a psychopath who creeped out all of my first readers. (All two of them). Beyond that, I also have a bad habit of never thinking about what my characters look like.

Do you follow a strict schedule when you write?

TNR:
Ha!

KF:
I try to make myself write every day. It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is on, and of course the deadline is sacred, but as long as something gets written, I’m a happy camper.

Do you prefer a certain environment for writing (in the garden, kitchen, Starbucks etc.)

TNR:
I have a home office, but these days I do a lot of work on the commuter train. It’s hardly an ideal environment, but after a wretched year of wasting the same two hours a day commuting by car, I look at train time as stealing back part of my life from the evil necessity of the day job.

KF:
I’m a dedicated laptop user, so I tend to be pretty mobile. Sometimes, I want a little sign that says “Freelancer at Work.”

Anything I forgot but you would like to tell us?

KF:
I recently learned that if I’ve written something that I think is hilarious or romantic, I need to run it by other people. Chances are passingly good that I just wrote something horrifically creepy.

Thanks again to both of you for your time and willingness to do this interview.

Now I suggest you check out the sites Kannan and Teresa mentioned and delve a little into their other work. Maybe you volunteer for reviewing this creepy romance Kannan mentioned?