CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
MC: Well, I like to call myself a ‘literary streetwalker with a heart of gold” meaning I usually write what folks – meaning publishers and editors -- want, which can mean anything from non-fiction to horror, from science fiction to humor, from advice columns to gay fiction, from blog stuff to smut, although most folk seem to want smut most of all. Not that I’m complaining, you understand: smut has been very, very good to me. In fact it’s how I got started and how I made my ‘name.’ Not to toot my horn … at least not too much … I’ve sold close to 300 stories short stories that have been in a whole lot of ‘best’ erotica books: Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica … well, you get the picture. I also have four collections of my stories in print: Dirty Words (gay erotica), Speaking Parts (lesbian erotica), The Bachelor Machine (science fiction erotica), and Filthy (more gay erotica); and have edited 20 or so anthologies including Confessions, Amazons, and Garden of Perverse (with Sage Vivant), and the Best S/M Erotica series. I also have written five novels and am working on my sixth: Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll – of which only a couple are erotic.
CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
MC: I was in the fourth grade or so when I first realized that I liked the idea of writing, and that people could actually make a living at it, but it wasn’t until high school that I really gave it a shot. Alas, it took close to ten years before I sold my first story – a smut story, by the way – but after that I’ve been really working on getting stuff out there and working even harder on having fun doing it.
CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
MC: I’d like to say some of the great and noble gods like Hemmingway and such but I found most of my true inspiration from, and admiration for, honest working writers in science fiction and comics. Okay, I really do love Steinbeck, Kipling, Hugo, and Dickens, but William Gibson, Alan Moore, Alfred Bester, Adam Warren, Ted Sturgeon, Alexander Jablokov, and Phil Dick are who I adore. I also really love classic movies, especially directors like Frankenheimer, Billy Wilder, and Wim Wenders.
I also can’t say enough for writers of simple, beautiful prose who are too often dismissed because they happen to write for things like television; Paul Dini, Hilary J. Bader, and Joss Whedon, and so forth. As I like to say: good writing is good writing, and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s for the New Yorker or a Saturday morning cartoon.
CA: When writers block attacks, what do you do to get back on track?
MC: I have a rather strange work ethic in that I don’t believe in talent, a muse, or suchlike. I’ve always just plain worked at my writing. Sometimes a story isn’t going well but I try to push through it nonetheless, trying to get to the heart at why it might be trouble. I also don’t wait for inspiration: most of the time what I’m doing is because someone, somewhere, asked for it. But that doesn’t mean I sell my soul. I really do simply love to write, to tell stories. When I get an assignment, or an opportunity crosses my path, I always try to make whatever it is ‘mine’ with a story I want to tell, no matter what the eventual market might be.
CA: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
MC: I don’t really have a set schedule but I’m always very much aware of what has to be done and when it has to be turned in. Right now, for instance, I’m writing a bi-monthly article for Dark Roasted Blend (www.darkroastedblend.com), getting the word out about my four new books (Me2, Painted Doll, Brushes, and The Very Bloody Marys), and working on a new book for Zumaya – one I hope to get done in a few more months. Beyond that I’m trying to round up some new novel gigs and trying to find a new day job … after getting laid off recently from my last one, which I had for over ten years (sigh). Between all this I also have a wonderful partner in all things, Sage Vivant, who I adore, and various hobbies I’ve been regretfully ignoring. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to write for a living but until then I’m working as hard as I can to get myself out there: opportunities don’t come to you, you have to look for them.
CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
MC: One word: sigh. I’ve never been a huge self-promoter but I’ve been forcing myself to work harder at it. Like I just said: things don’t find you, you find them. Sitting in the dark hoping someone, anyone, will call just doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean I like having to send out press release after press release or do interview after interview (no insult) but to get where I want to be, which is to be able to write more books, it takes getting people to know who you are. It’s not fun, but it has to be done.
CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
MC: Alas, I’ve been ignoring a lot of my hobbies lately but I do plan on getting back to them eventually: robots and fun electronic stuff, little art projects, photography, food (eating and cooking), and travel. One of these days I’ll be able to get back to them but for right now the writing and the job search is taking up a lot of my time …probably too much of my time, but them’s the breaks.
CA: What is something shocking or weird about you that your readers don’t know about?
MC: Well, the biggest one I can think of is that even though I write a lot of gay themed books, for a lot of gay publishers and anthologies, I’m straight – but certainly not narrow, as the joke goes. I'm actually pretty proud of being able to make my projects, whatever they are, respectful of the audience and the ‘theme.’ I'm happy that my publishers don’t mind who I am, and that so many of my readers like my work --it's something that keeps me going. I just hope it continues because while it can be challenging, there’s a lot of enjoyment that comes with that challenge, and I really think it’s helped my writing.
CA: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
MC: I’ve already nattered about what I’ve done, so I don’t need to do that again. As for my fave … well, I don’t really have one. Sure I thought that Me2 came out really well and Painted Doll, Very Bloody Marys, and Brushes were lots of fun – and collections are always a kick -- but I like to say my favorite is the one I’m either working on right now or will be working on next. I just don’t like to look back, I guess. Besides, if you think your best is behind you, it doesn’t push you forward. I like the books I’ve written but I also think I could do better, which is what I try to remember whenever I do something new. I also try to stretch as much as possible, taking risks each time so I can learn and grow.
CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
MC: That’s a toughie: I do but I don’t. I don’t put ‘real’ people in my stuff, meaning friends and such, but I do put a lot of myself into whatever I do. I’m not gay man – and I’m not equipped to know what being a lesbian is like – but I do know what desire, hope, fear, embarrassment, pride, and love feels like so I write all of that into my stories and books. I also try to project as much of myself as I can into whatever I’m doing, to really get into the people I’m writing about. Occasionally, though, I do borrow an actor or actress though it never feels … ‘real’ I guess you could say.
CA: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
MC: I once wrote a column called “Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker” for the Erotica Readers & Writers site, which I’ve been reposting on my own site at www.mchristian.com. Part of the reason I did those columns was because I was tired of the poor advice teachers and other writers were dishing out. Some of the more important topics I addressed was that writers, especially new ones, shouldn’t try and be the next ‘fill-in-the-blank’ celebrity author. Instead, they should work where there’s work and not be biased about different genres. I got my start in smut and am now writing novels for a wide range of audiences. I also think writers should focus on the writing and not spend too much time ‘playing the game’ of being a writer instead of actually writing. Finding publishers, agents, and such is important but doing the work is what it’s all about. Lastly, but not leastly, writing should be fun: if it’s not then you’re not doing it right. Being a writer sucks: the pay is cruddy; no one gives you any respect; and it’s a lot of hard, emotionally brutal, work – but if you enjoy writing then it becomes something truly amazing, and totally worth it.
CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?
MC: All of my books are on Amazon.com under “M.Christian,” and I have links to all of them from my page at www.mchristian.com. I’d check that page out first and go from there. I’m also very free with my email address, so please feel free to write me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
CA: Is there anything you would like to add?
MC: Just that I also have a pair of fun blogs I post to quite often: Frequently Felt is a place for fun and strange sex stuff, and Meine Kleine Fabrik is for fun and strange stuff (no sex). I’ve been posting my “Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker” columns on my main site as well
CA: I’ll have to hop over and check out your blogs, Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker is an attention grabbing title : )
Monday, August 18, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Despite apparent semiotic similarities, the female is, in fact, from a genus not at all related to its common mating partner, which in no way prevents it from various futile reproductive attempts.
This pseudo-positive assortative mating – the preference of one gender to seek out mates with similar or superior characteristics – has been likened to the behavior of a unique subspecies of baylisascaris that frequently attempts to reproduce with more developed species in an attempt to mimic their successful behaviors. Unlike these fecal parasites, the female is far more aggressive in its mating behaviors.
So aggressive, in fact, that few species can survive the attempt. For many years hypotheses regarding these common coitus fatalities were few and far between, more than likely because of the high incidents of injury and death among researchers who put themselves at high risk to study the sexual activities of this unusually destructive female. Fortunately recent experimental developments have paved the way for researchers to safely observe for the first time the actual behavior of the species from initial excitement phase to the inevitable conclusion of its unique sexual response cycle.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Constantly distracted by more fleshly concerns and chronically late for his night job, Valentino arrives at work one day to find that his mentor, Pogue, has disappeared. What's worse, this disappearance seems to be just one move in a larger game that involves a supernatural feud amongst San Francisco's less human residents, a feud which promises to leave a lot of corpses in its wake, including everyone close to Valentino.
M. Christian creates a variety of quirky characters from wizards to zombies to fairies, and the tone captures the feeling of a fast-paced horror movie, alternately funny and creepy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Ever since Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire and scared the bejesus out of me but over time drifted less and less into the spooky vampiresque culture, the creative world has been a bit dead and stagnant and void of imagination…that is until M. Christian burst upon the scene with The Very Bloody Marys.
This fast moving novel, with street-smart young vampires, had me by the balls, so to speak, from the first when the city of San Francisco is introduced and it held me till the end, with war-like street battles atmosphere undergone by various vampires like Valentino, Pogue, Mariah, et al.
It also a very quick-moving novel at that, before I knew it Valentino was taking stock of those fallen and those surviving and my how the vampire had grown!
By the end on this book you’ll be waiting for the next one in store, which I’m sure M. Christian has plenty of…keeping my fingers crossed for the next one, vampire, sex fiend, identity seeker, whatever….But I’d read anything by this master, and M. Christian is certainly one. So bring them on, M. Christian, bring them in!
Monday, August 11, 2008
From ectoplasmosis (cross-posted from Frequently Felt)
In his new book, Excavating Kafka, author James Hawes publishes a sampling of the late author’s secret collection of mail order pornography, copies of which Hawes stumbled upon while performing unrelated research in the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford leading one to the conclusion that someone knew about Kafka’s erotic peccadilloes. Why then are they only coming to light now? Well, it could be that they are filthy:
Even today, the pornography would be “on the top shelf”, Dr Hawes said, noting that his American publisher did not want him to publish it at first. “These are not naughty postcards from the beach. They are undoubtedly porn, pure and simple. Some of it is quite dark, with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action… It’s quite unpleasant.”
So there it is. It seems that Kafka scholars, unable to bear the idea of the mind behind The Trial and The Metamorphosis being titillated by the forbidden fruit of bestiality, have done their best to ignore it.
I think I speak for all of Ectomo when I say that this is a fantastic discovery. Mr. Hawes and I may have differing opinions on the photographic depiction of erotic lesbian encounters — which I would maintain is one of Nature’s great wonders and should be recorded at every opportunity, particularly if both parties are in heels — but I share his excitement over this discovery. I for one look forward to describing pornography featuring barnyard animals as being “Kafkaesque”.
Update: Sven KaoZ maintains, in the comments, that this is a stunt by Hawes to sell his book and that the magazines in question were published by Kafka collaborator, Franz Blei. The Wikipedia entry for Blei makes mention of this as well.
Friday, August 08, 2008
In M.Christian's futuristic story, THE PAINTED DOLL, we never learn how the world has got to this point. But it doesn't matter, we know that this is the future, a chaos has taken place, the world has been turned up-side-down; the priority of the West is over, and there is an exodus to the East.
In a time of spiritual and emotional drought, memories are all that Claire has left. The perfect love that she shared with Flower, her only love, her soulmate, is told through electronic mail. Claire is also the alluring Domino, the Erotist, the expert in sexual desire and manipulation. We watch her as she delicately dips her brushes, and seductively applies her arrousing chemicals to her clients bodies; an unbearable, yet pleasurable torture. But Claire despises what she has become; the mask of the chalk faced painted doll is cracking.
M.Christian's irresistably poetic story is told through more than one narrative voice. An anonymous tourist, a killer, prowls the red light district. Christian is an expert weaver of tales and tells the story of THE PAINTED DOLL, with panache and confidence. Claire's story can speak to us all of an emotional awakening; a lament; the sacrifice we wished we'd made. The door we should have opened, into the rose-garden.There's resonance here with the best of stories; Christian's style is lyrical, he loves words and how he places them. THE PAINTED DOLL is a wonderfully crafted book to read for all those who love language.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Amos Lassen on amazon:
I started reading the fiction of M. Christian about this time last year and I am slowly making my way through his works. I have read four of his books so far and each is completely different from the others. “Painted Doll” is the most different of them all. This is a novel about the art of seduction and deals with Domino, an erotist (a professional who paints her client’s bare skin with neurochemicals that bring about sensuality. An erotist can provide landscapes of “ecstasy, pain, joy and delight” and few can afford this).
“Painted Doll” is a noir tale which deals with the future and it is an erotic adventure that is completely imaginative as it explores the nature of man and sexual awakenings that arise when we take on someone else’s identity. M. Christian has such a way with words that it is pure pleasure to read his work. He dares to tackle stories that other writers will not touch. He takes erotic tales from the privacy of the home and rubs our noses in them and we love it. He is not what some might consider post-modern but rather creates a whole new form of literature that can be pure fun. He writes across borders and genres and creates something new with everything he writes and he surprises me every time.
“Painted Doll” is erotic and another new kind of book for Christian. It features a dominatrix unlike any other and the book is set in a world we do not know. Christian has the ability to deal with the senses in a way that the reader feels the perception. Everything in “Painted Doll” is in living color and the action never stops---the imagery is unexpected and the prose is sheer perfection. The book is totally unpredictable and totally provocative and above all gives the reader a sense of pleasure.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
Erotica or pornography? To be honest, how I answer that question really depends on who asks it - though I have often thought about the distinction. Personally, if it's a fellow writer asking if what I is erotica or pornography, in other words high literature or low smut, I have a tendency to answer with 'erotica' for obvious reasons. If it's someone who rings my doorbell late at night, or at some other obnoxious intrusion, I snarl that I'm a pornographer, and I have to really get back to writing nasty stories about equally nasty sex - if just to get rid of them.
This playful ducking of the issue aside, some people really do take the idea of a different between the two very seriously. A common definition between the two is that pornography is 'just' sex, in other words the author appears to be doing nothing that just arouse the reader, while erotica is aiming for a higher purpose. The problem with that though is that one man's erotica is another's pornography: that the reaction to a story is completely subjective. Besides, who knows what the intent of any writer really is?
Another attempt at definition is that erotica is refined, while pornography is course, rough, ham-handed. The idea behind this is that there is some kind of vocabulary litmus test that can be made against a work to see if it passes or fails. This also falls flat because a lot of sexuality simply is course. An honest story, talking about someone's real sex life, can sometimes use language as salty as the crustiest sailor's.
A classic way of telling one from the other is the old favorite that pornography is "without any redeeming social importance." Again, this falls flat as who can say what impact anything artistic will have - either today or hundreds if not thousands of years from now. I'm sure a lot of contemporaries of Beethoven, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Rodan, and so forth looked on their works and wrinkled their noses in disgust. Not that I think something from Hustler will seriously be hanging in the Louvre someday, but who knows what folks will someday find artistic.
What I think is even more alarming that censors and social commentators trying desperately to find some simple way of differentiating between smut and art, is that many writers are trying to separate the two as well. In other words, the same folks who are trying to keep it out of 'inappropiate' hands have intentionally or unintentionally, have joined forces with the people writing it.
Erotica has changed a lot in the last twenty or so years. Once the mainstay of the desperate writer, people are now actually either pursing erotica writing as a respected and fairly well-paying job or are using it as a stepping stone to bigger things. I wouldn't be writing this column, and having my stories, published in magazines like this without erotica. I even have books - four collections, edited over a twenty anthologies, written five novels - because I write about sex. That's quite remarkable, especially considering the stigma sexual writing used to have.
But as with many things, success has a price. Some writers are desperately trying to draw a line in the sand, if only so they can feel just a bit better what they do by elevating themselves through lowering others. "You," they say, "write pornography, while what I do is erotica." Their reasons are understandable, for the first time sex writing is getting respect, some money, and has been opening some otherwise closed doors. In their eyes, it doesn't do then any good to be grouped together with course, "just sex," or works "without any redeeming social importance." The problem is their criteria are just as nebulous as those who want to be able to prosecute for one, while grudgingly permitting the other. The problem is they are both have the potential to be very dangerous.
As I said, there is no absolute definition between literary erotica and pornography. A classic case of this was the quote from Justice Potter Stewart: "I know it when I see it." In other words, it's all a matter of opinion. The problem is, while some writers who are part of this new form of sex writing are looking for a way of telling apples from oranges simply to preserve their new-found self-respect, there are others who are trying to tell the two apart to send the writers of what they consider to be 'pornography' to jail. What better way, they are beginning to say, to draw the line than to use the rules that writers themselves are using?
Allowed to continue unchecked, puritans and hysterics who want to protect the world from what they see as the 'evils' of sex writing will be using these attempts to discriminate between high and low, art and "just porn" to draft laws, ban books, and possibly even fine or imprison authors.
My name is Chris, I write under the name "M. Christian." I am a writer. I write many things: essays, columns, reviews, articles, novels, short stories, and a lot of pornography - and, no matter who asks or why, I'm very happy doing all of it, including writing pornography. Sex writing is daring, risky, innovative and touches on something that most everyone on this world has experienced, something that makes us human.
I'm a pornographer, and proud of it.
Friday, August 01, 2008
"So, you're a writer?"
Oh, boy, here it comes: the question. I really should think up a nice, eloquent response - some way of saying I write smut, but somehow conjuring up the fun, the magic of it. Some day .... "Yep."
"So, what do you write?"
"Oh, all kinds of stuff: fiction, non-fiction, editor of anthologies, collections, novels." So lame - did Hemmingway have to go through this? What really irks is if I mentioned something from the airport newsstands they'd be impressed.
"What kind of stuff do you do?"
That's the question I really hate. The smart ones recognize the (fairly) impressive credits, nod, and go back to their Wall Street Journal or Monster Truck Special, but others ... they want qualifiers, as if certain sales are more important that others. The 'I hate' part is that they're right: a sale to The New Yorker is just a tad better than one to, say, Truckstop Bimbos Monthly - even if you've written, like I have, a lot of Truckstop Bimbos Monthly stories. "Oh, all kinds of stuff: some mysteries, some noir, some non-fiction, some science fiction, some horror -" sigh "- lots of smut."
Now the fun real one: "You write from life?"
Oh, yeah, like Truckstop Bimbos Monthly is a page from my diary. I don't put myself into my stories - they come from the same place my science fiction or my horror stories come from, and certainly haven't hacked someone to death or visited other worlds. Still, I sometimes wonder: can a virgin really write smut? I've had a good sex life: did some porno movies, had some group sex, some orgies, did some S/M, some gay-play, some cross-dressing - not De Sade but sure more than Buchanan. Did that add to my stories? I don't know - but saying that opens the door to looking like having something to hide, and in this culture I might as well as be screaming YES! So: "Not really, no. But I certainly need to know a bit about what I'm writing about."
Hehehehehe "I bet your stories are pretty hot."
I think so, but frankly I don't really think of men and women jacking or jilling off to my prose. I try my best, putting in the good and juicy details, but there's no way to meet everyone's needs. Hell, the fact that anyone reads what I write is a compliment - let alone someone getting hard, wet, or wanting to buy the next book. "I hope so - that way I can keep selling stories."
"Do you - " ahem "- get excited when you work?"
One of my favorites. If you don't write from life then you must get a screaming hard-on when you click and clack out those filthy stories. This one I have no question answering - no pondering, second-guessing or hesitation. "Nope. It's all up here - " I tap my head for emphasis "- don't get turned on at all. For me, it's all writing: and what I'm writing doesn't really matter, a scary story or a sexy one. I get all lost in the words, in putting them together in fun combinations. From Mr. Happy, not a tickle."
"Why do you do it?"
I write smut, horror, non-fiction, mysteries, EVERYTHING because I'm a writer. It's fun - more fun that sex sometimes. It's an addiction, a trip, a high. I don't know what's going to come from my dancing fingers from one moment to the next, and that's a joy. So I answer, truthfully:
"Because it's fun."