An ENE Interview with author Chaz Thompson
Author Bio: Chaz Thompson began by writing screenplays back in the early 1990s, but after months of "artistic differences" he fired his agent and vowed to invest his energies instead in novels, where the final word lies in the hands of the author.
A long-time admirer of sci-fi, he toyed with a variety of plots and characters, but it wasn't until his wife suggested he exploit his secret talent of writing erotica that he finally achieved literary satisfaction. His first effort, Zoot, combined the best of both worlds in a story of an alien lord who travels trans- dimensionally to find women for his magnificent harem. When he abducts a woman from Earth for a different reason, the future of his kingdom falls upon her shoulders. The twist is, she doesn't know how important she is. Until it's too late.
Not a fan of the gritty S&M genre, Chaz nevertheless created in Zoot a dark tale where sex is more than simply essential, it is intensified beyond the average portrayal. "The one thing I always wanted in erotica," he has observed, "was an emotional account of sex, not just a mechanical depiction."
Though Zoot was his first full-length erotic novel, he had warmed up to the subject of erotica long before, penning dozens of steamy short stories for on-line groups and clubs, always receiving requests for more. After Zoot, Chaz reviewed his earlier works and selected ten for a collection he would call Candy Concussion.
"It's a metaphor," he explains, "for orgasm. I'm on a perpetual quest for emotional terms that describe the indescribable moment where sex becomes something more than a bodily function."
Candy Concussion offers a range of sexually explicit vignettes, from a brief valentine for his wife to surrealistic encounters to humorous parodies to expansive stories with fully developed characters and plots. To read excerpts from each entry, visit his website at http://www.candyconcussion.com.
Be forewarned, however. Candy Concussion and Zoot are not for the faint of heart. They contain explicit scenes intended for adults, about adults. You may reach Chaz via email at email@example.com.
Another novel is in the works, but since Chaz doesn't divulge details of unfinished material, we'll have to wait until it is published, sometime during the summer of 2004. In the meantime, Zoot and Candy Concussion are both available at Amazon, Borders, and Booksamillion on-line stores.
|ENE: Why do you write?|
|CHAZ: Someone on a deserted island somewhere found a magic lamp, made a wish, and the next thing I knew, I was writing. The truth is not much different. I am also a musician and an artist. Writing is just another expression of my creative impulse.|
|ENE: When did you start writing? What did you write?|
|CHAZ: I grew up with an older brother who fancied himself another T.S. Elliott, and I naturally emulated everything he did. My poetry was oblique and avant garde. Then I graduated from grammar school, and the Beatles changed everything. I began writing songs. Oblique and avant garde.|
|ENE: Who are your favorite authors of fiction?|
|CHAZ: The heavy hitters are John Irving and John Steinbeck. For the fantasy angle, it's Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Ray Bradbury. A terrific new writer I've discovered is Gregory Maguire, who wrote Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.|
|ENE: What stimulates your muse?|
|CHAZ: An enthusiastic audience. Having someone, even if it's only one person, who wants to know what happens next.|
|ENE: Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal with it?|
|CHAZ: The only time I run dry is when I feel, during the course of a novel or short story, that I've used up all my colors, or blown my wad, so to speak. It's when I can't get past recycling what I've already done. Most often, I have to stop writing for a few days (or longer), until I've replenished the well.|
|ENE: Do you ever have to defend the genre you write in?|
|CHAZ: Only to those individuals too prudish to appreciate it. And to those who are expecting a romance novel. I don't write romance.|
|ENE: Do you allow others to read your work while it is being written?|
|CHAZ: I used to. Not any more. And I quit writing for free.|
|ENE: Do you belong to or know of any organizations for established and/or amateur authors?|
|CHAZ: For erotica, no, other than the usual Yahoo groups and web rings.|
|ENE: What advice would you give erotica and/or romance fiction writers about getting published?|
CHAZ: This is a very touchy subject for me, considering my particular genre (see the last question). If what you're writing is "mainstream" in any sense, if it already has a well-established niche in the marketplace, your only obstacle will be your quality of writing. That means professional grammar, presentation, etc. It helps if something qualifies you as the only person capable of writing what you've written. If you've penned a police thriller, it's to your advantage if you worked in law enforcement. Likewise with legal thrillers, or whathaveyou. Know your subject well. Do research.
If you don't have an intimate connection with your subject matter, you'll still be high on the reading list if you have a background in writing, or at least in teaching (any subject). Professional readers/publishers generally respond to material that comes from someone who is either connected to the story, or who has legitimate writing credentials. They just want to be convinced, before they spend one minute of their valuable time, that the author knows the material well and is capable of presenting it in the best possible manner.
|ENE: Here are some questions by our readers: How would you characterize your style of writing?|
|CHAZ: Fantasy/sci-fi/surreal/erotica. The sex is extremely graphic, but poetic. The plots are cerebral, motivated by a visceral need. If Ray Bradbury wrote erotica, I'd be accused of copying him.|
|ENE: Are you tempted to make scenes sexy? Or do you demur so your books sell?|
|CHAZ: Are you kidding? Sexy doesn't come close to describing the temperature of my stories. I write what satisfies me as a writer, which is hardball foreplay and high-octane orgasms. Time will tell whether or not my potential audience is up to the challenge.|
|ENE: Do you do any research?|
|CHAZ: As far as the sex goes, every time I make love I consider it research. In reference to context and characters, absolutely, unless it's something UNresearchable, which covers most fantasy/sci-fi stuff. But even with that, I need to be up on the basic laws of physics and philosophy. Currently, I'm writing a novel that takes place in rural 19th century England, and it has required extensive research.|
|ENE: Why do you write? How do you write? Do you use a word processor... pen or pencil... dictation?|
CHAZ: Why? I can't NOT write. It's an addiction. If you've seen "Quills", you know what I mean.
I approach short stories and novels differently, however. For short stories, I work exclusively at the computer. Outline, quick drafts, everything. Sometimes I have it all in my head, so I can just dive into it. Novels require a different approach. Since I'm an artist, I like the "feel" of creating with pen or pencil on paper. I'll scribble ideas, plots, characters, whatever, on any paper I have handy. Even if my original idea came from something I typed into my computer notepad, I always develop it with pencil and paper first. Sometimes I even draw maps of the locations. Anyone who has ever played Dungeons and Dragons will understand this part. I'll keep these notes and maps as I write and refer to them frequently. I'll write a quick synopsis of the chapter, or section I'm writing, just to capture the emotion or plot points, and keep it at the bottom of the page while I compose the full story at the top.
|ENE: Do you just sit down and write till dry and then go back and revise? Or do you write a whole lot and then redraft?|
|CHAZ: As an artist, one of my specialties was caricatures. To do this, I started with a blue-line sketch, then traced it onto vellum, refining it. I might trace it a dozen times until I got it right. Same thing with writing. After I outline the entire plot, I plow through a chapter, just to get everything out of my head, then come back the next day and refine it, often extensively. When I've completed the entire novel, I go back to the beginning and re-read, highlighting all the places I'll want to re-write, but I don't stop to fix them. I want to keep the momentum. After I've made those changes, I do it again, this time fixing as I go. Then I have my wife read it, and, if I can find someone, a third party. To this day, I can't pick up a copy of something I've written without taking a red pen to it. By the time I've finished reading something old I've written, it looks like a dropcloth from Nightmare On Elm Street. But eventually, an author has to simply stop and let it go.|
|ENE: Where do you write? How do you deal with distractions and interruptions?|
|CHAZ: Don't tell anyone, but I get away with writing at my place of work (yes, I have a nine-to-five). Other than that, I write at home, in an office, where I can be isolated. Distractions? Get used to it. Especially if you have children (as I do), which is why I do most of my writing at night. For the erotica, I absolutely need to be alone, so I can "trance-out" and reach a part of myself otherwise inaccessible, except when actually having sex, and who is thinking about writing at a time like that?|
|ENE: Do you live what you write?|
|CHAZ: Nobody could live what I write. Do I endorse the sensibilities portrayed? Most often. Since we're talking sex here, I have a fairly pedestrian association with it in reality, but my emotional expression of sex equals anything I've ever written. If an ordinary portrayal of sex can't capture what I'm feeling, I'll expand and exaggerate until it does.|
|ENE: How did you sell your first novel? Did you send out query letters, outlines and sample chapters or complete manuscripts? Did you go through an agent (if so, how did you manage to snag one)? Or get did you get an agent after you had an offer for your manuscript?|
CHAZ: Ah, the question all the writers will come to first. For my first two books, Candy Concussion and Zoot, I went straight to Print On Demand. I didn't even bother with conventional publishers. In the first place, the genre I write in is not well represented in the marketplace. That doesn't mean there is no market. Still, locating a Print On Demand publisher that felt comfortable "representing" me, wasn't easy, either. Most of them accepted only mild erotica, or romance erotica, or "women-only" erotica, or gay erotica, or s&m erotica. I kept my queries as sparse and honest as I could, until someone (Kim Blagg at PageFree) responded. To be accurate, other POD publishers responded too, but they wanted to change what I'd written.
As far as agents are concerned, I had one when I was writing screenplays, and he was immensely helpful and thoroughly destructive. I ended my relationship with him and Hollywood simultaneously. Having said that, professional representation is essential when you're dealing with traditional publishers. How did I get mine? I mailed out query after query after query until, like a single sperm through a blizzard of companions, one of them hit home. NEVER send out an entire manuscript. Not only is it expensive, it's the mark of an amateur. Even so, it might get read. But don't do it.
If you're a literature student, network with your instructor and fellow students. If you're, as I was, simply floating around in the ether with five hundred pages for sale, it takes perseverance.
Presently, I have no agent.
Read a review of Candy Concussion and Zoot by G. Russel
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