Where have you spent most of your childhood?
On a little tropical island in the Strait of Malacca, growing up in a family of 3 brothers and 7 sisters. I am the youngest, No.11, a spoiled brat according to my siblings.
How did you chance upon writing as a career?
Not as a career, only as a hobby, as a ‘bucket-list’ project. I have one story I have always wanted to read but no one would tell it, so I took it upon myself to write it, for my consumption. I wasn’t sure that I could write fiction in English, which is not my mother tongue; I learned English as a second language in school.
What was the first piece of work you ever wrote that you felt happy with?
An Immoral Erotic Parable of American Eve & African Adam. It was a “What If” piece of work, touching on biblical fantasy, albeit erotica. It was not a long story, but it became readable only after I broke it up into 34 short chapters, each one ending with a tease for what happens next.
Why did you choose to write erotic romance?
I’ve always been a fan of erotic fiction. Love without lust is a missed opportunity to tell emotional, very human stories. My epigraph says it well, “To lust is human. To love is divine.”
Also, I think the world is more permissive now, not like in the ’80s when D. H. Lawrence’s seminal work “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was once condemned as being obscene. We can now write c- and f-words without reproach, for they have become everyday vocabulary.
From where (or whom) do you get the inspiration for your characters?
I based my FMC character on a TV drama “Vikings” personality. I borrowed her age and her look, but I made my FMC 3 inches taller without heels. The MMC was incidental, not inspired by anyone. I have often wondered when I’m writing, who could act in my movies? Which actress would be perfect for this or that role? But the story comes first, then the characters get defined & refined.
We realize fiction is usually all made up, but we find ourselves wondering whether there is some truth from the author imbibed in it. Is that so with your books as well?
My stories are all made up, but they can happen in real time. I wish they were real, haha, for I’d like to be friends with my characters. It’s my purpose to make them full-body and realistic. I have described places I’d like to visit, like The Ocean House in Rhode Island, Park Slope in Brooklyn, or Atlanta GA, yet I have never set foot in the United States; I am based in Sydney, Australia. I write in American English; you see. My knowledge comes from copious research and TV and movies.
Some writers describe people they have met. I describe people I would like to meet. Most stories have remnants of the writers’ life experiences; mine are no exception.
What gave you the idea behind, “Lust2love”?
It’s a sequel to my first debut book, “An Immoral Erotic Parable” which to my surprise had ranked up to #1 Best Seller in Urban Erotica and #1 New Release in Romantic Erotica,
and I owed it to my readers to follow up on what happens to the FMC Katheryn Kellington. It’s meant to be some sort of closure. But, as they say, the story never really ends.
Katheryn Kellington is one fantasy woman I have no chance to love, but I can write lovingly about her in my story. Surely, she is too damn hot a sexual woman to stay married to one man; she needs to be divorced, set free, and have financial independence ($3,750,000) to indulge in constant orgasmic pursuits with a sexy giant negro buck or two. It will be a shame if she, a fuckable vixen, cannot be appreciated by other worthy men, albeit her favorite color is now black.
What is the best review you have received?
Five stars and an encouraging long review by Gardy Harp, an Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer, who deems my work pornographic but very entertaining and who wonders if I might continue with my writing project, which I did answer his challenge with “Lust2Love” of which he also reviewed & rated 5 stars.
What is your favorite book—something that no matter how many times you read, you still get the chills and the emotions from it?
Sorry, I don’t have a favorite. I read widely, but prefer assassin thrillers by the late Vince Flynn, or detective stories by Michael Connelly. I seldom read horror but I’m a fan of Stephen King whose non-fiction work “On Writing” is a ‘bible’ that I refer to now & then. If I have to pick a memorable one, it will be “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo.
Have you experienced writer’s block? If yes, how do you cope with it?
I have never been pressured to finish my work. Being a self-publisher, I just let my mind dictate what story to write and when to write it. I do not have a set routine, like a quota of word counts to finish each day. My first work took me more than a year, but that was because I did not intend to publish it in the first instance; it was supposed to be a hobby. The second work took only a few months. I didn’t have an outline; I just created it as I went along. The surprise was, I didn’t know I could tell another story after the first book, and the same Amazon reviewer said my writing was more elegant the second time around, with beautiful prose and constructions.
I often would sleep on an idea and let my sublimely subconscious work while I was busy doing something else. The results always surprise me. Time solves most problems.
I’d like to quote Lee Child who regarded himself not as an author but as a book writer. He said, “You ever hear of truck-driver’s block? (Writer’s block) was just ‘a fancy name for not wanting to go to work that day’.”
Where do you think your strength and weakness lies, pertaining to books that you have published so far?
I think my weakness in writing is not having a plot or an outline. I tend to string it along like Lee Child did, solving the problem as it arises. That’s bad for writing to market. Not thinking about how to capitalize on the first impression that can be gained from Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview feature.
My strength, I think, is my adequate command of English. I can write with poetic justice, and humor, with good enough vocabulary and grammar to not bore the readers. I am also careful with my spelling and word choices.
What is the major obstacle that you faced while writing your book, An Immoral Erotic Parable of American Eve & African Adam?
There were two.
First, it was supposed to be a product of a conversation between Lucifer the Devil and God in the early days of Great Creation but then happened in the present days. So how could I tell the story? By using a prologue. And since I started with a prologue, I needed to close it with an Epilogue. These devices are no longer trendy, I’m afraid. They say most readers skip Prologues and Epilogues. But I like them, for their unique purposes, if the stories warrant them.
Second, it was a porn movie setting and I wanted to introduce film script writing in the story (movie scripts were invaluably typed in Courier New font), but Amazon Kindle would not allow 2 fonts and it mainly uses its Bookery font styles. My solution is to set the script in Bold but smaller point size, to distinguish it from the body text. I have no problem with the paperback or hardcover versions which use Courier New for the script and Dante fonts for the body text.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to young writers in the world?
I will give the same advice Stephen King gave me in his book, “to be able to write well, you have to read more.”
I’d add, in editing, listen to what you’ve written. I use Microsoft Word Read-Aloud feature to detect subtle errors and similar-sounding words that the spelling checker passed (e.g. “and” vs “an”), and in dialogues to use contractions to speak naturally (e.g. “I’ve…” rather than “I have…”, “hasn’t” vs “has not”) and so on.
Are you working on a new book?
I won’t say it’s a book, but a collection of erotica shorts. No plan to finish it yet. I still don’t know how to continue the Katheryn Kellington stories or expand the Zen & the Art of Interracial Love series. Any idea?
How about this? Some readers are asking:
Will Katheryn marry Massai to help him get his marriage green card? What if their license application failed for one obvious reason, what’d happen to them both? Did she get her divorce settlement, and if so, how much? Did Kasey get to help her daughter tame the Massive virile African beast? And if so, will she also become obsessed? And how would the mother and daughter manage their relationship thereafter? What is the story of Jolene, of Scarlett, or of Howard? There are so many ideas that I truly wouldn’t know where to begin.
How different are your two published books?
The most obvious difference is the length of their titles and subtitles. AIEP has an unconventionally overlong 10-word main title and an equally lengthy 15-word subtitle (I was naïve). L2L has a simpler 3-word title and a short 5-word subtitle. These are two extremes, a nice diversity, don’t you think? Haha.
The story pacing is also different. Main actions in AIEP were compressed over 5 days; it’s like, Go Go Go. Whereas L2L leisurely walked over many weeks; it’s more relaxed, taking the time to enjoy the ambiance, deeply, slowly, and reflect on important things. Besides, the landscape is wide in L2L with New York street & ocean views. AIEP is mainly indoor until the MCs had to get some Vit.D (i.e. Sun).
I was late in realizing AIEP is overly narrative and has very little dialogue. Therefore, I corrected this by writing more dialogues in L2L. Truth be told, a good dialogue is deceptively difficult to write; it has to sound real. I agree that well-written dialogues allow the readers to better understand and feel the characters.
In AIEP, Katheryn was transforming.
In L2L, she was fully transformed. It was, after all, her journey.
In AIEP, the focus was on Katheryn and Massai. The chauffeur and the slave girl actor had no names. The husband and the parents were also unnamed until the sequel. In L2L, more characters came into focus. First is the cousin Jolene Johanson. Then in quick succession: the mother Kasey Wilkingsen and her lover Andre Abram and his wife Talisha, Kasey’s twin Cortney, the massage therapist Scarlett, then Howard the lawyer dad. I had a blast inventing names.
Did you write the blurbs yourself or did someone help?
I did them myself, following good online advice (there are plenty). They are not easy to write, though. They force me to think what my books are all about. Each blurb is a synopsis, yet not revealing too much; it’s a tease, really. I had to be creative with the choice of keywords to aid the Amazon algorithm for searches. Then, revised, revised, and revised. I know they have worked when the reviewers quoted them.
How do you sum up your publishing experience so far?
Gratifying. Fun. I get to create something out of nothing. I get to enjoy my humble labor of love and have a guilty pleasure.
I am glad I am invested in Kindle Select because my genre Erotica has a small niche market. Amazon KDP is a gift to indie authors like me. It is so easy to publish my work. All the tools are there: templates, instructions, and support. I do have to get my eBook manuscripts formatted, and book covers done externally. There are heaps of “how-to” resources online, free and paid. One setback is that I have to do my marketing and promotion because the Amazon Ad service will not allow adults 18+ content. But I can use their free A+ content promotion features on my book pages (see above). Fantastic. A+ makes me look like a major publisher.