Jul 7, 2009

Interview with Author Cecilia Tan

"I'm a writer, best known for my erotic stories but I also write science fiction, mainstream fiction, baseball nonfiction, and essays."

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! Cecilia is also the founder and editor at Circlet Press which publishes erotic science fiction and fantasy. And there's more. Go to Cecilia Tan's Bio. I don't know how she has time to breath let alone write excellent stories!

Still she is kind enough to give PVN this candid interview. She is also generously offering three copies of her current ebook. Look for details at the end of the interview.

[The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!]

PVN: Discuss your recent paranormal novel Mind Games.

Cecilia: Mind Games was one of those ideas that had been in the back of my head for years before the chance to write it came along. I had the characters of Wren and Derek in my mind, and I had sat down over ten years ago and tried to write a story about them, but it didn't go anywhere. I wrote this one sort of hot scene with them as an established couple, where they are having sex in preparation for her to spy on someone, so he's teasing her to the brink but not letting her come, but the actual story itself never gelled. So I put it away in a drawer. Then I was talking with the editor of Ravenous Romance about things and she asked me if I did a book for them, what would it be? Wren and Derek came to mind, and I thought, what about the story of how they met and fell in love? The book practically wrote itself from that one thought.

: I love the character Lawrence from Mind Games. Would you describe him?

Cecilia: Lawrence is a quirky character in my head. I knew I wanted my heroine, Wren, to have a best friend she could confide in, but I felt like having a female best friend was going to turn it too much into a "chick lit" book, and it's so definitely not in that style. Lawrence kind of tapped me on the shoulder and said, "um, hello? I'm her downstairs neighbor." I named him Lawrence as a little bit of a nod to the writer Lawrence Schimel, who is gay, and who was the person whose shoulder I cried on back in the day when I was starting out as a writer. He was always a great reality check, and that's what the Lawrence in the book is for Wren, too.

: What attracts you to the paranormal?

Cecilia: I like writing elements of fantasy because I like to have ways of adding layers of meaning to the sex and relationships in my books. This isn't to say that just plain sex and falling in love aren't great topics (I wrote a "vanilla" romance in THE HOT STREAK about woman who falls for a baseball player, for example.) but I really like being able to put the characters in danger, and to have them need to dig deep in their souls to find out what kind of strength they really have. Paranormal stories tend to allow for that, especially ones like MIND GAMES where there's a suspense/mystery element. It's just also one of my ultimate fantasies to have a lover who could read my mind. I tend to lose the ability to talk while I'm having sex, which makes it difficult to express what I want or need. it'd just be so handy if I didn't have to, you know?

PVN: What are some of your current or future projects?

Cecilia: I'm currently writing an erotic fantasy series for Ravenous Romance called Magic University. It's four books, one for each year of our hero's trip through college at a--you guessed it--magical university. It's Harry-Potter-esque in that he shows up at Harvard only to discover he's got magical powers he didn't know he had, and finds there's this whole hidden magical world right under everyone's noses. I'm writing it for all the grown-ups like me who loved the Harry Potter books but were left wanting all the sex and on-screen romance and openly gay characters (just to name a few things) that you just couldn't put in a book for kids. "The first book of the Magic U series just launched this week! I can't wait to see what people think of it!" It's available here.

PVN: Tell us about Circlet Press. Would you perhaps discuss the Vampire anthologies you edited - Blood Kiss and Erotica Vampirica.

Cecilia: Circlet Press is my baby. Back in 1992 mixing sex and any kind of science fiction or fantasy was considered totally weird. Paranormal romance hadn't really hatched yet, science fiction publishers still thought their audience was 14 year old boys--it was like in the 1980s genre literature had actually taken a step backwards from the sexual freedom of the 60s and 70s. Blame Ronald Reagan, I guess.

Well, in 1992 I was out of college and trying to get my career as a writer going, and everything I wrote kept mixing sex and sci-fi or sex and fantasy somehow. I ended up starting my own publishing house because there was no one else who would publish material that mixed the genres together! So that was Circlet Press.

One of the earliest anthologies I edited was called BLOOD KISS, erotic vampire stories, because I thought, what a no brainer. Everyone understands that vampires are sexy, right? I wanted people to send me all the stories they went and wrote after reading Anne Rice's vampire books and discovering there was no actual sex in them. I edited several more in the erotic vampire series, including Erotica Vampirica, Cherished Blood, and A Taste of Midnight. Then I did Blood Surrender for Blue Moon Books, and the latest erotic vampire collection from Circlet Press is an ebook called Like Crimson Droplets: Erotic Vampire Stories. (Available at circlet.com as well as the Amazon Kindle store and other ebook sellers online.) I also just edited one for Ravenous Romance called BITES OF PASSION, which I think is the best one yet. The stories are so fresh and hot; writers just keep finding ways to keep vampires sexy and interesting. It just went live on the RR site last week and will be up on Amazon and places like that by next month. (I should send you a copy!) Thank you!!

PVN: *Would you care to riff a bit on your love of baseball?

Cecilia: I used to joke that baseball was my one non-erotic passion! But now I wrote a baseball-themed romance, plus some short stories, for Ravenous, so I can't even say that any more!

PVN: Describe your writing day and your writing environment?

Cecilia: I live in a Victorian house in the Boston area that was built in 1887. My ideal writing day starts with me making a pot of tea and carrying it up to my desk on the third floor. I have an office that overlooks my street, a cherry tree right in front and half the wide windows shaded by a pine tree taller than the house. I'll work on things like email for an hour or so, then be out of tea and have to take a break to make more. Then I'll write through two more pots worth, and then go back to email and Twitter and such for a while. I'll go to the gym, then have dinner with my boyfriend of 17 years (we've never gotten around to getting married). We trade off who cooks and who cleans. And then I'll go back upstairs and write some more.

Lately it's been a bit more hectic than that, so most of my writing has been after dinner, between the hours of midnight and three a.m. I'm a night owl.

: What authors have influenced you?

Cecilia:When I was growing up the two authors who influenced me most were the sf/fantasy writers Roger Zelazny and Marion Zimmer Bradley, because I wanted to write like them. My aunt Maureen Brady was also a big influence--she was the founder of the feminist publishing house Spinsters Ink and published her first novel, Give Me Your Good Ear, when I was a child, and so she was always a huge role model to me. She always encouraged me to write and express myself and I know that not every aspiring writer gets that kind of direct support!

PVN: What do you do for relaxation?

Cecilia: What's that? Just kidding. I like to travel. I'm a bit of a workaholic, so the only real way to get me to relax is to take me out of my work environment, whether that means a trip to Disney World (which I love), somewhere new and exotic like Spain or Aruba, or just a weekend in New York City. I am also a big foodie and love eating in nice restaurants and discovering new cuisines. Both traveling and eating-for-discovery lets my mind experience new things, which ultimately end up back in my writing somehow.

PVN: Where can readers find you on the Internet?

Cecilia: I'm easy to find! I have my own blog at http://blog.ceciliatan.com, but I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, et cetera: "ceciliatan" just about everywhere.


[The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!]

Three lucky commenters will each win a copy of ebook Mind Games

To be eligible do one or more of the following:
* Leave a comment on any topic in the interview
* Ask Cecilia a question
* Link this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL

If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.

Winners will be selected by Random.com. Name will be posted and contact made by email. The winner has 2 weeks to respond after the name is posted. If there is no response a new name will be picked.

Contest ends July 9 at 11:59 PM

[The contest portion is now closed. Many thanks to all who visited and/or commented!]


Chris said...

Zelazny had a huge influence on me, too. Oh, I so wanted to be a Prince of Amber (nope, not a princess - the princes had way more fun/power).

Madison said...

I've read a few of the vampire anthologies. They're very good. Nothing I like better than a little vampire sex.

Roxanne Rhoads said...

I have read Cecelia's vampire anthologies, love them. I am such a huge vampire fan from way back. I was first seduced by Interview with the Vampire then went on to anything else vampire I could get my hands on.

Susan Blexrud said...

I can totally relate to the workaholic thing and having to be away from the work environment to relax. Don't you find, Cecilia, that it re-energizes you, though, to have some time off? I hope you'll say yes because I struggle fitfully when I'm away from my 'puter. Mind Games sounds fascinating!

Vickie said...

Muh-rowr on the cover of MIND GAMES!
When you work up in your studio on the third floor, do you work in quiet or do you keep music going or any kind of background noise? Do you maintain a playlist of tunes for your books?

MJ said...

What book do you wish you had written...for literary value..not money? LOL


Cybercliper said...

I love the paranormal / sci-fi genres. Gritty storylines that involve life and death situations. Heroes and heroines that validate their existence through intense sex, blood and violence. I guess you can tell I'm an adrenaline junkie :-)

Mind Games sounds like my kind of read!!!

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

I love the whole fantasy genre including paranormal and urban fantasy. I really feel the way the story moves, exciting my senses. I used to hate anthologies, but suddenly I have a thing for them, and anything involving vampire pheromones definitely has my attention.

Mind Games definitely sounds like it would definitely be my cup of tea!

Dottie :)

Chris said...

I'm so jealous of your home office. So many writers have had an influence on me, but my writing style is definitely a modern, abrupt style. Not that I truly think I will ever be published. I just enjoy writing.


Chrisy said...

I'm excited to share a book I read that I think you would like, called Predatoress, by Emma Gabor.
The main character falls in love and works with her new love to eradicate the disease of vampirism forever. It seems that it could be made into a movie. Almost reminds me a bit of the movie called I am Legend, which I really enjoyed.
Check it out, and feel free to share more books...I'm falling head over heals for this genre and would love to read more about it, starting with Cecilia's book you shared with me!

Cecilia Tan said...

Thanks everyone who has enjoyed my vampire anthologies in the past. A new one, with all lesbian stories called Women of the Bite, will be launching later this week! I'll be sure to send a copy to Patricia, along with Bites of Passion!

@Chris -- So true! And it's probably not totally a coincidence that my partner of 17 years is nicknamed "corwin"....

@Susan -- I do need time off to re-charge. But I'm not good at "just relaxing." I have to have something to do--I can't *just* sit on a beach. Well, maybe for a day, but then I need to stimulate my brain again, go to a museum, or do a puzzle, or something. My boyfriend says the trick is to find things that are fun for me and that are like work for other people, but which aren't anything like MY work. For example, doing "pick your own strawberries" recently made for a very relaxing trip to a farm! I don't have the urge to check my email while I'm out there doing something!

@Vickie -- I often have it quiet while I'm writing, sometimes I put on the "Spa" channel on XM Satellite Radio (which is all new age music, very placid). But for MIND GAMES actually I ended up making a kind of "soundtrack" for myself in my iTunes on my computer. Something about certain pieces of music just put me in the mood for writing these characters. The songs included some anime soundtracks (Gankutsuou and Mushishi) which featured a lot of piano, some ambient piano from Brood XIV (much of which you can download free), and some Richard Schulman solo piano. I have no idea what it was about the piano... there's no piano in the book!

@MJ -- I've actually written a couple of things I'd consider were written more of less just for literary value. Um, of course they didn't sell to publishers, so... I can't point you to them! Maybe I'll self-publish them one day.

M. L. Kiner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MoziEsmé said...

I love how you measure your writing time in terms of pots of tea!

Silent Raven said...

I love vampires. I haven't read any of the anthologies but I surely got interested!

Beth said...

This looks fun! Please enter me!

The upcoming Magic University books sound divine!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Keta Diablo said...

Major Kudos to Ceclia Tan. Not only is she "author exceptionale" but such a wonderfully nice person.

I"m very fortunate Cecelia chose my story The Sin Eater's Prince for her upcoming Vampire Anthology (male/male) "BOYS OF THE BITE." Watch for it coming soon.

I already have a copy of Mind Games, a fab story, so I guess you don't need to include me in the contest.

WTG, Ceclia,

Keta Diablo
follow me on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ketadiablo

Anonymous said...

Marion Zimmer Bradley is a favorite of mine!

Mind Games sound so interesting.

(I read your terrific review, Patricia)

Put my name in please!


RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thanks for a terrific interview!
I adore Cecilia Tan.
Marion Zimmer Bradley is a big inspiration to me too. I submitted a short story to her once and she sent me back a handwritten rejection note that I've kept telling me to keep writing.
Love From Canada

Beverly said...

Like that you are making paranormal fiction a little more erotic.

And yes, vampires are sexy!!!

Also like your working habits - very similar to mine but I do not anything exciting as writing by manage technology projects.


lagot said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Patricia Altner said...


So glad you found this site. Hope you visit again!