Greetings! The Review Board here with our next episode of Wordsmith World of Discovery. This time in the hot seat (or warm couch) we have the first of our two October Author Spotlights, Alessandra Torre.
Now here is our interviewer, Wordsmith Andi.
Hello Alessandra! Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you for The Review Board’s October Author Spotlight! I have to tell you that when No Labels communicated your acceptance of the spotlight feature I was ecstatic to be asked to be your interviewer. Having previously read Sex Love Repeat and reviewed it with top rating, I am now most eager to delve a little (or a lot, depending on the question) deeper into the mind that wrote such a fantastic (and super steamy) novel.
A lengthy visit to your website provides oodles of information about you as an author, including an in-depth look at the entire process you go through from inception of the story idea to final product. As a fellow author this insight was most appreciated. As a fellow erotic wordsmith, I am most curious about the source of your inspiration(s). What aspects of your personal or even professional life have led you down the road of erotica and erotic fiction?
I have always read – but my interest were more along the thread of suspense, rather than romance. My erotic reading was limited to ‘Penthouse Forum’ type books bought at the local sex shops. It wasn’t until I read Fifty Shades of Grey (and saw its immense popularity) that I realized that explicit sex could be merged with intensive plots. That is how my journey down the road of erotica began.
What literary works, and their authors, have given you the courage to add your own voice to the genre?
E.L James, for the reasons stated above. Also – Jennifer Crusie, her mysteries always have a sharp edge of sex, and I loved them. I think that CD Reiss is very brave and unique and rides the hell out of her words – she is a great role model in this genre. I also respect Mia Asher, who wasn’t afraid to write an unorthodox heroine.
Sex Love Repeat was, for me, a most unexpected look into the world of polyamory and sexual partners. I enjoyed the dichotomy of relationships between Paul and Stewart, two men of opposite temperaments and life goals, and the mysterious figure of Dana and how she played into the whole storyline. Your work bears a heavy leaning into confronting or examining what some would consider controversial or even taboo topics and sexual situations. How has the overall public received such controversial subject matter?
My most controversial subject matter was probably attack in my Innocence Trilogy – where the male lead, a cocky attorney, leads an intern into the world of threesomes and swinging. I dove pretty deep into the reasons of swinging, and tried to paint the world as I see it – which isn’t sleazy or greedy but can be – in some ways – healthy. I was expecting a strong push-back from readers, but I have been shocked, with each and every one of my books, at my readers’ open minds and willingness to listen and experience, before judging.
On the heels of this question, and coinciding with your inclusion in the article by Dr. Laura Berman, entitled “35 to Read After 50″ in which she recommends your book Blindfolded Innocence as a follow up read for fans of EL James’ Fifty Shades of Gray, what are your thoughts on the growing profusion of erotic works in the literary field?
I think that mainstream literature could use a little more sex. Reading is meant to involve the senses and few things are more effective than arousal. Sex can convey so many emotions and conflicts – if written properly it can be an excellent tool in drawing the reader further in, in pushing their boundaries, in connecting them to a character. My book, The Girl in 6E, is one of the few books that is solidly in the erotic suspense category. I am hoping that it paves the way to more erotica in suspense. Only time will tell if that is the case.
Do you think sex is something we’ve always wanted to read or write about but, as a society built upon the ideas of sexual repression and subsequent exploitation, have been ashamed to openly admit? Correspondingly, what do you believe your candid look into such “taboo” topics has added to the American perspective on love, intimacy, sexual expression and identity and how they all intermingle in forming human connections?
I think, prior to Fifty Shades, a lot of women didn’t even realize what reading erotica could do – they didn’t know that door existed and – once they walked through it – were ravenous for more. I think the immense popularity of Fifty Shades removed some of the stigma that, had these new readers discovered erotica on their own, might have been attached to it. Fifty brought into mainstream erotica and made it socially acceptable to both read and discuss it. Fifty and the resulting erotica trend reduced some of society’s sexual oppression, but it still exists. There is still a hesitation on the part of readers to openly discuss their reading choices. I am hoping that – with time – our society will grow both more confident, and more accepting.
In regards to affecting the American perspective, every book that a reader picks up has the opportunity to affect that reader. Change their perspectives. Cause them to have a discussion that might change another individual’s perspective. Writing erotica gives me, and every other author, a voice that can affect society’s views. It is a great opportunity, one I hope that I will one day use properly.
You recently released your newest book, Black Lies, on August 25, 2014. The synopsis provided on your website reads as:
Brant: Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years.
Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.
Lee: Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.
Beyond the blurb provided, can you share more about Black Lies and the story it tells?
Black Lies’ blurb is very cryptic, and it was written that way intentionally. If you read reviews for Black Lies, the common thread among readers is that you should go into it blind. To that note, there isn’t much I can say about Black Lies without giving away too much.
I will tell you this. Black Lies is a roller coaster. It is one where you will curse me at times. Hate me at others. Be teased and provided clues to the puzzle at every opportunity. It is not a complicated read. There are not complex plot details for you to remember. You should enjoy the roller coaster without thought. Just know, at one point, you will set down your Kindle and have a WTF moment. This is the best twist I have EVER written. This is the best book I have EVER written. Find a friend, read it together, because you will need someone to hold your hand through it. You will need someone, once the secret is revealed, to call and freak out with. Trust me. This is not a book you have read before.
Among your many books and their myriad characters, do you have a favorite and why?
Brad De Luca from the Innocence Trilogy is my favorite character. If you have read the series you know why. He is an unapologetic sexual demon. He is an alpha that owns half of my heart and will never give it up. No contest – he’s my favorite.
Are any of your characters based more on your personality than a potential cobbling of characteristics?
Julia from the Innocence Trilogy is me at 21, when I met my husband. She’s a little frustrating at times, but she grows up a lot during the trilogy, as I did.
Whose books are you currently reading? Is there any particular book or series that you’re anxiously awaiting? Why?
I’m halfway through 53 Letters to my Lover. Honestly – right now – any spare time I have is sucked into rewrites and writing. I’d love to read more, I just can’t right now. My plan is to take the month of January off and read and sleep.
Since you originally published your Innocence series independently and were eventually picked up by Harlequin, and have published The Girl in 6E through Hachette’s imprint, Redhook, can you speak to the differences (both pros and cons) of indie vs traditional publishing? Do you recommend one over the other and why?
It really comes down to control, but here is my breakdown:
-upfront advance, if you can get it. This takes a lot of the risk out of a non-published work but can hurt you if the book hits bigger than you expected.
-higher potential for foreign deals. Girl in 6E got some amazing foreign deals when pitched by Hachette. I couldn’t have gotten those deals as a self-pubber
-marketing opportunities. Every publisher is different. Hachette got me exposure in Huffington Post, booked a radio tour, sent me to independent bookstore events. It is never a guarantee, but being with a publisher might give your books more FaceTime with readers.
-prestige. Books on shelves. Additional income from your book being in stores around the country.
-lack of control over ANYTHING except the words in the book. Little to no say over the cover. Pretty much no say over pricing or discounting. Release date? Out of your control. The description on the Amazon listing? Often written or decided by someone else.
-Complete control over EVERYTHING. Want to hold a 99¢ weekend sale? Go for it. Want to change the book title three months into publication? Sure. Cover not working? Replace that bad boy.
-Money, money, money. The publisher will pay you about 18% of list price on your ebooks. As a self-pubber you’ll get 70%. No advance, but in the long term, you’ll most likely earn more. I have to sell 3x more publisher copies to make the same amount as my self-pubbed stuff. That’s a big deal.
-you have to do everything yourself. Cover. Edits. Formatting. Uploading to retailers.
-limited to mostly ebook income. I have very little print sales through Amazon.
My personal opinion is that being a hybrid (half traditional, half self-pub) is best. You get the meaty power of the publishers, but you have the freedom of self-pubbing. IF I HAD TO PICK ONLY ONE: I’d go with self-pubbing.
For those authors looking to break into the genres of erotica and/or erotic fiction what advice do you have to offer?
It is not easy. Write erotica because you enjoy it, NOT because you need the income. It is very very very hard to get a book to stand out. Most self-pubbed books sell less than a hundred copies a year. Keep that in mind. That’s about $200 a year, without considering any expenses. Our market is saturated. We have too many books and amazing books often get overlooked. Write for yourself, create a quality product, and then write another one. Be prepared to market your ass off. I spent 4 hours a day marketing. Be prepared to work and accept that you might not see a return. It is a difficult business but a worthwhile one. Should your books succeed, it is the best job in the world. Just be prepared that it will take a lot of effort to get there.
I’d like to wholeheartedly thank you for your time in answering these questions. I can’t wait to read more of your books, having absolutely loved Sex Love Repeat. Congratulations on your nomination for our October Author Spotlight and may the words always be with you!
Thank you for having me on!!
Thanks everyone for checking out another Wordsmith World of Discovery. Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment. Have a terrific day!