NWS member Amelia Thorpe launched her second novel, Breaking Blonde, in June, so we caught up with her to find out more about erotica and self-publishing…
Tell us a little bit about your background as a writer and how you developed an interest in Erotica as a genre?
I’ve been writing since I was 11. I started when I finished a Harry Potter book and was so devastated it had ended, my dad suggested I write my own story. I loved reading from a young age and making up characters and stories seemed to come naturally. I actually began reading erotica in magazines I stole from my big sister’s bedroom, and read the chick lit novels from her book shelves with erotic scenes in them. I didn’t realise until I was older that it was it’s own genre, or that I could publish writing like that. I think the rise of ebooks has made it a lot easier to get such work published and also made it more available to people, and that it’s become a much less of a taboo subject to be reading or writing. Erotica appeals to me because I love exploring characters and relationships and examining them in detail, and this is a big part of erotica, especially when the characters are first discovering each other. Recently I’ve developed an interest in examining the relationship and erotic experiences from both sides, and using both characters’ point of view to show how different their perception of relationships and sex can be.
What is your second novel, Breakdown Blonde, about?
It’s a ménage à trois erotic romance about a woman called Faith, an editor in chief of a magazine who, having just lost her mother, has had to take an extended break from her job. She meets a woman called Sienna by chance in a bar, and their developing relationship is also told from Sienna’s point of view – who is not at all who she tells Faith she is – and examines her insecurities and efforts to keep up the charade. Faith is trying to adjust to the idea of being in a relationship, having mostly had flings and casual arrangements in the past, when her best friend and ex lover Jules – who is about to marry the mother of his children – tells Faith he’s still in love with her, but still fully intends to get married. The three of them become entwined in an increasingly complicated relationship that leads to a conclusion Faith could not have imagined.
How did you find the process of writing this compared to your debut novel?
After my first novel was published I began to write Breakdown Blonde; I had a first draft but wasn’t entirely happy with it. I had learned a lot from the editor of my last book – Vagabondage Press, who openly welcome new writers and did a lot of development editing with me – but I still didn’t feel confident enough to edit Breakdown Blonde and submit it. I signed up for the self editing course with Victoria Villasenor at the studio and found it extremely helpful. She helped me learn how to step back from my novel, completely overhaul it, realise what worked with the plot and what didn’t, and how to do closer line editing as well. It took a lot of time and ended up cutting the word count in half, but I was so much happier with the result and felt it was ready to be submitted.
What appeals to you about self-publishing?
I think the obvious thing is that you have more control. I had been tempted by self publishing before, but I felt a bit uneasy about it, especially the promotional side. So many ebooks are published every day, that it felt like a drop in the ocean. I was initially submitting it to indie publishers of erotica, and got about ten very nice emails back saying they liked it but…it’s not what they’re looking for at the moment. I think because menage erotica is a bit of a niche genre anyway, and apparently, the current market at the moment is more for two men and a woman. So, after being initially frustrated, I decided that I mostly just wanted to see it published, and was happy enough with the novel to do that myself. It was actually a lot easier than I thought, and I did like that I had all the control; I could keep my novel, story and characters the way I wanted to, and even select my own cover art. It was a much quicker process, as when I published The Accidental Purchase of Love it took about 18 months in total. Once I decided to self publish and was happy with the final draft of Breakdown Blonde, I think it took about a week.
Which Erotica authors do you take inspiration from?
Jeanette Winterson. I think that Written On The Body is the best erotica I’ve ever read. I love the way she writes her characters and that you actually feel under their skin. The romantic prose she uses and the way she explores and portrays their relationships are all just perfect to me.
What is your favourite underrated novel?
I’m not sure if it counts, but my favourite lesser known and underrated novel is The Sea Hates A Coward by Nate Crowley. It’s not erotica – probably couldn’t be further from it actually – but I like to read widely, and his intense immersive writing blows me away. His novel is set mostly at sea, and you can practically feel the ship moving beneath you and the salty sea air on your face. It definitely needs to be better known!