Very cool: as part of the Stroke The Fire blog tour, the very fun Cecilie Smutty has just posted a brief Q&A with yers truly about my best-of-my-very-best queer erotica: STROKE THE FIRE: The Best ManLove Fiction of M.Christian (part of the special Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions M.Christian ManLove Collection)
I am pleased to say that M. Christian has graced the Lair with his presence... Please put together a warm, smutty welcome for our guest today!
Since you are a new to me author, I am hoping to bring you to the light of others! So let’s share!
Why don't you tell us a little about yourself.... Something that we cannot Google about you, lol!
Well, let's see ... I began with fertilization (thanks, mom; thanks, dad) then quicly moved along to being a zygote and then to cleavage before going onto blastocyst differentiation. Nine or so months and I was on the scene as a – according to mom – rather big infant.
From there to about high school is not really worth talking about -- bullies, zits, voice cracking, hair where there hadn't been hair before, hormones – the usual stages of development from sprout to young adult.
I'd always been a creative kid – thus the bullies – but didn't really have much of a direction for it, but then in High School I was struck (almost literally) by the idea of being a writer. When I say struck I mean it almost literally: I went after being a published author with a serious vengeance. Reading somewhere that the best way of becoming a writer is to ... well, write I set myself a rigorous regimen.
In the end it paid off ... though in a rather usual way: in 1993 (or so), on the spur-of-the-moment I took a class in writing erotica taught by Lisa Palac (who was editing a magazine at the time called FutureSex). Spur-of-the-moment (2) I handed her a story I had just written ... and was totally, completely, utterly shocked -- and totally, completely, utterly delighted – that she bought it for her magazine. A short time later the same story was picked up by Susie Bright for her Best American Erotica 1994.
Just like that I was a published author: a pornographer, sure, but after struggling with my rigorous regimen for (yes, you may gasp) a little under ten years I was ecstatic. After that first story I write another and another and another until...
...here I am: 400+ published stories in anthologies like (the already mentioned) Best American Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica – and even Best Gay Erotica, and Best Lesbian Erotica – plus a whole lot more. I've edited over 25 anthologies – including the Best S/M Erotica series; Pirate Booty; My Love For All That Is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica; The Burning Pen; The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowksi); Confessions, Garden of Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant), and lots more.
My short stories have been collected into many books covering a wide variety of genres, including the Gay Literature/Lambda Award finalist Dirty Words and other queer collections like Filthy Boys, and BodyWork; also collections of non-fiction (Welcome to Weirdsville, Pornotopia, and How To Write And Sell Erotica); science fiction, fantasy and horror (Love Without Gun Control); and erotic science fiction including Rude Mechanicals, Technorotica, Better Than The Real Thing, and the acclaimed Bachelor Machine.
I've even written quite a few novels: the queer vamp novels Running Dry and The Very Bloody Marys; the erotic romance Brushes; the science fiction erotic novel Painted Doll; and the rather controversial gay horror/thrillers Fingers Breadth and Me2.
I'm even an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books, where I (really) try to be the publisher I want to have as a writer, and to help bring quality books (erotica, noir, science fiction, and more) and authors out into the world. My site is www.mchristian.com.
Tell us a little about your book?
The book I'm pushing right now is called STROKE THE FIRE: The Best ManLove Fiction of M. Christian and it's the best-of-the-best of my queer erotic short stories – taken from my previous collections Bodywork, Filthy Boys, and the celebrated Dirty Words. In addition to the best stories from each book I also included the introductions to each book as well: Me from BodyWork, Felice Picano from Filthy Boys, and Patrick Califia from Dirty Words. A lot of the stories have been in books like Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, and the like.
What's rather odd (to be polite) about this book is that while it's queer erotica –and I've written a lot of queer fiction in general – I'm straight.
The way it happened – me being a straight author of queer fiction – is actually rather simple: one day an editor friend was doing a book of gay erotica and wanted to know if I could write a story ... so I did, and he bought it. A few dozen or so stories later I got an offer by a gay publishing house to write a novel, which led to move novels, some anthologies and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
Being serious for a second, I am always very clear with every editor and publisher I work with that I am not gay. In fact when I teach my Sex Sells: How To Write And Sell Erotica class – and what I also say in my How To Write And Sell Erotica book – is that fiction is fiction and that writers should always stretch themselves creatively but when it comes to be a writer talking to a publisher they should never, ever pretend to be someone they are not.
I cannot begin to say how touched I am by the queer community for being (1) to supportive of my work and (2) so understanding of who I really am. A great friend of mine – a publisher of many of my books – once said, and I totally agree with him, that love is love: meaning that even though I may not be sexually queer I adore my gay characters and friends. The mechanics are secondary once you realize that all of us – gay, bi, straight or otherwise – have more in common than less and that we all share the same, basic emotional landscape.
Oh, and just for shits and giggles, here's the table of contents forStroke The Fire:
Stroke The Fire
The Greener Grasses
The Hope Of Cinnamon
Suddenly, Last Thursday
That Sweet Smell
Friday Night At The Calvary Hotel
How Coyote Stole Sun
Coyote And The Less Than Perfect Cougar
About The Author (which is actually the title of a story)
How easy do stories come to you?
I like to say I have it bad -- I'm not just a writer by profession but in every way, every part of myself: I just absolutely love to think about stories, plots, characters, novels, settings ... you name it. Sure, writing can still be a trial (to put it mildly) especially when you have to hammer your head again and again and again against things like publicity and the other awful, icky parts that come with the professional side of writing, but when it does get difficult I always try to get back to the joy I feel when I'm writing ... when I'm tellingstories.
What is your favorite part of the book?
I don't really have any favorites ... mainly because I always try and look forward rather than backward when I think about stories and novels and all that. When I'm feeling cute I say that my favorite story is the one I haven't written yet.
You can only pick 3 words for your main characters ... what would they be?
Hum ... I do know that my stories and books and characters have a tendency to be bittersweet – which kind of reflects my view of life, I guess: that there really aren't happy, shiny endings but, instead, shiny, happy moments in what can be dark and stormy lives.
That being said I'm actually working on a new book – a sequel to my science fiction erotica collection The Bachelor Machine – where my goal is to write not just hot science fiction erotica but stories where the future is depicted as being a very positive place. Part of my reason for doing this is noticing that the stories in I wrote for the original Bachelor Machine were a tad ... stormier than usual, but also because I've noticed a lot of people seem to be reflexively negative about the future. So I want to show that the future could just as easily become a wonderful, positive place – even with scary things like genetic engineering, artificial intelligences, memory alteration, and so forth.
Which was the easiest character to write and the hardest -- and why?
Characters themselves, believe it or not, can sometimes be the problem. I usually write as more of a storyteller, who keeps his characters really tightly in check as what they are doing is usually more important who they are. I know some writers who let their characters roam free, and say that their books or stories aren't done until the characters tell them so ... but that's just not the way I work.
But I should also say that I'm a huge fan of pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: professionally, personally ... you name it. So one thing I'm planning for the future is a book where the characters are running the show – if just to see how it all goes. After all, I didn't know I could write erotica until I tried, didn't know I could write gay fiction until I tried, didn't know I could edit books until I tried ... you get my gist. Who knows what I – or anyone – might be good at until you give it a shot?
What are you currently working on?
Well, I just mentioned a book that is more character than plot-driven as an experiment, and I also chatted a bit about my follow-up to The Bachelor Machine ... but I'm also planning in starting a new novel very soon. I really enjoyed writing the books Me2 and Finger's Breadth – as they touched on a favorite theme of mine: playing with the unexpected and unusual way we human beings act and interact with each other -- the roles we unconsciously play, the dark (and light) sides of our natures that come out under adversity, mob psychology ... all that fun stuff.
Do you have anything due to release soon?
The great folks ay Renaissance/Sizzler Editions (who I also – ahem – happen to be an Associate Publisher for) are going to re-releasing a new edition of my erotic romance, Brushes, and a collection of my non-queer short stories. I'm also finishing up my first shot at a comic book, called Masquerade (with incredible art by Wynn Ryder), and an anthology I edited – about food and sex – called A Lover's Feast, and a new edition the transgender anthology I edited a few years back, Trans Figures.
In other words I like to stay busy – and then some! I'm also getting out there more as a reader/teacher/performer. Just check out my sub-site at mchristian-teaching.blogspot.com for info on all that fun stuff.
What's one thing that you enjoy about writing?
Well, as I said I have it bad. I see writing as an almost spiritual thing – that, somehow, my one little brain can create characters, worlds, tales ... all kinds of things ... that, if I do my job right and/or am damned lucky can reach out and truly affect people's lives. And if I really do my job right and/or am lucky my words will outlive me by decades or maybe even hundreds of years.
When I teach my classes I tell my students – and tell myself when things get dark and depressing – that writers are true and real magicians: our spells are our words, our stories, and they can literally change the world.
I truly love to explore, learn and more of all play with language and story. It's not just what I do as a living but who I am as a person. I don't think I could ever not be a writer.
What do you prefer ebooks or paperbacks?
I actually started my 'career' in the days of paper so I'm one of those folks who can actually look at both pretty clearly ... and I have to say, without hesitation, that eBooks are better for both writers as well as readers. Sure, writers won't get those advances again, but they always seem to forget that's just what they were: money givenagainst the sales of their books, and the brutal truth is that if their books didn't make that money back – and more – their 'career' could very well be over. With eBooks there is no pressure to make your book into a bestseller in the first month – in fact, eBooks can sit on their virtual shelves for a very long time before taking off and it in no way affects how the publisher feels about that author's work. This also means that publishers can take books that are more ... experimental, as they don't have to invest thousands of dollars into printing, distributing and promoting them – just to break even!
eBooks are great for readers (and authors as well) as books don't have to die. One of the man things I love about working for an eBook publisher is being able to re-release books that otherwise would be either out-of-print or practically out-of-existence. I think that is marvelous as there are so many fantastic books out there that otherwise people would never have a chance to read. With eBooks they can!
Is there a genre you would like to write but are a little apprehensive to try?
Well, I always try to push myself in all kinds of ways – you've already heard my little rant about "not knowing you are good at something until you try" so, with that in mind there are a LOT of things I'd love to try: I have plans to try my hand at either a one-act play or a screenplay, a more (ahem) optimistic romance novel, a straight-up horror novel, plus a few really out-there-experimental projects that will hopefully push the boundaries of what a book can be. We're seen a little bit of this kind of stuff with augmented reality games but I want to do so much more with it.
Okay ... personal time! Oh yeah, I go there: If you thought you were safe ... Nah ... Forgot it ... Not a chance! We will start off slow and easy, I promise!
What is on your night stand/dresser?
I really don't have either: I live in what I call an artist's colony – which is really just a big, crazy house I share with a musician, painter, and a gardener. My room is small but – as mom was an interior decorator – it's really very nice. I only have room for a small bookcase (comic books) a large bookcase (books), my desk, and a bed. I do have a few odd things, a pair of model Theo Jansen strandbeests, another pair of models but this time from Hieronymus Bosch's Garden Of Earthy Delights, a miniature terrarium, and two huge stained glass windows my father made.
What are you listening to you right now?
Actually I don't write to music: I'm much more of a visual person so I watch movies while I work. I don't have cable – in fact I can't stand broadcast TV – but I have a great Internet connection so I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and a whole bunch of other great sources of entertainment and information. Right now I'm watching Roger Corman's War-Gods Of The Deep on YouTube (with Vincent Price) but later I'm planning on watching one of my all-time favorite films: Seconds by John Frankenheimer (starring Rock Hudson).
What are you reading right now?I have an iPad and a rather huge eBook library but, thanks to a nice sale on Amazon, I scored a bunch of Philip K. Dick books for a buck each, so I'm halfway through my favorite of his: Eye In The Sky.
What is your favorite season? Holiday?
My family is just my brother (my mom and dad both passed away) and so my family is all my friends -- so we don't have a lot of traditional holidays. I like to say that we have a celebration every time any two of us get together ... that and holidays and such just feel a bit too stiff and 'traditional' for me.
You know you do ... Quickie time ... Think fast ... Dark or Milk Chocolate?
Dark, absolutely. Vosage's bacon dark when I can afford it, Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups when I can't
Whipped or Melted?
Whipped or Melted?
Definitely melted: cheese is one of my big weaknesses – though I have been trying to cut down on it a bit.
Straight up or with a twist - sex?
Even though I've written quite a lot of queer fiction (erotic or non), I'm straight – and even though I've written a lot of kinky sex I'm actually a very meat-and-potatoes straight guy ... though I have a weakness of big, beautiful girls. But I never let my libido run the show: I fall in love with a woman, first, and her body second.
What's your fave drink - in a glass or on her?
What's your fave drink - in a glass or on her?
Can I say in her ... I'm more than a tad orally fixated when it comes to sex.
Spank or Flogger?
Neither, but I teach classes in both ... as well as bondage, caning, nipple play, cupping, and a whole lot more.
Junk or Health Food?
Neither, as I'm kind of a foodie – though I do try and eat as healthy as I can. At home I've been experimenting (be afraid ... be very afraid) to give me better options than just quesadillas, but I love to get out and try new places and new cultures. There's this Turkish place in Berkeley I'm seriously in love with....
Leather or Lace?
Either is fine with me. I'm a very empathetic lover so if my partner lives something and gets turned on then I get turned on ... even though, like I said, I'm really a very simple guy when it comes to sex.
Control or Be Controlled?
I say controlled: I'm a pleaser – especially in bed. Oh, I know how to top and am quite good at it but my heart is never really in it ... though, again, if my partner is into it then I will definitely try anything.
Vampire or Werewolf?
Neither – even though I wrote two vamp books (Very Bloody Marys and Running Dry) and plan on working on a sort-of werewolf book – I really am quite bored with the whole paranormal thing. Come on, folks, let's be a bit more original!