Welcome to the one hundred and twentieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with author of erotic fiction and urban fantasy Jess C Scott. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Jess. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Jess: Thanks for having me today!
Morgen: You’re very welcome. Good to finally ‘speak’ outside of Twitter etc. 🙂
Jess: I’m an author / artist / non-conformist / dreamer / doer. I experienced some “events” when I turned eighteen, and I felt the story was the right one to develop into my first official debut novel (you can only debut once). I’d been writing for years before that (poetry, journalling, short stories). Most of the time, I write because I’m angry or discontented with certain things (such as the pervasive mass media’s commoditization of sex and relationships). I try to create the changes I wish to see in the world, via my writing.
Morgen: Writing with emotion is key and you do so many things, I’m impressed. Is there a genre that you generally write?
Jess: My two main specializations are erotic fiction (focus in on psychosexual themes > explicitness) and urban fantasy. I like working in a diverse range of genres, such as such as experimental fiction, paranormal fiction / romance, new media, young adult fiction, poetry, literary fiction, and cyberpunk.
Morgen: I’m an agent’s nightmare – I can’t stick to one genre. 🙂 What have you had published to-date?
Jess: I’ve published a multiple-genre-crossing erotic anthology, a YA novel, an incubus-themed novella, poetry collection, various short story collections, and have started on a couple of urban fantasy series. My debut book was EyeLeash, a realistic sexting written entirely in blog posts and chat transcripts. If I’m not wrong… I first uploaded the eBook copy of EyeLeash onto Smashwords back in mid-2009.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jess: I set up my jessINK, my “indie publishing division,” in early 2011. I’m constantly adding new products and developing my brand (concentrating on both alternative and mainstream material), but it’s more or less focused on two things: (1) my brand / identity as an author / artist / non-conformist, and (2) my commitment to producing original fiction that’s both meaningful and entertaining. These two elements have always guided whatever marketing I do for my work and / or brand.
Morgen: I like “constantly adding new products” – I think that’s what’s made the likes of Joe Konrath so popular because he has (or so I understand) a lot of good-quality content. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Jess: I write under the same name across all the different genres I work in. I’ve never really felt a need for a pseudonym. My writing is what I do–I like being able to stand beside my projects once they’re on the market. If I can’t support or believe in my own work, I’m surely not going to expect anyone else to.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jess: I don’t at the moment, though I’m not 100% closed off to the idea of being traditionally published some day. I think an agent can open doors that are otherwise closed to an author (it’s dependent on a lot of other factors too), although 21st century publishing allows an author to get their books published in a way that’s both speedy and efficient. At the very least, independent publishing allows an author to have a chance at reaching their target audience and creating their own success.
Morgen: And wouldn’t that feel better? Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Jess: All my books are available as eBooks. I have an eReader I use occasionally, but I still like print books when I really want to take my time and enjoy my reading material 😉
Morgen: Me too. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jess: I’m almost done with my second erotic anthology, Primal Scream. After that I’ll be seeing to an incubus-themed anthology, and the remaining two books in an urban fantasy series featuring cyberpunk elves.
Morgen: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Jess: I think it happens from time to time. I either just crash through the draft(s), or step aside and do something else (for a few days or weeks).
Morgen: Good plan. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Jess: I need to have the list of names before I begin any writing (if the names aren’t right, nothing’s right). I think it’s because of the sense of identity involved with a name. I usually have quite detailed character profiles drawn up for each of the main characters. Gotta know them inside out and what makes them tick 😉
Morgen: And I think a key ingredient to making a story work. It’s funny how names mould characters. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jess: Definitely a lot of editing. I’ll read and re-read and go through the story backwards (with full-length novels, especially) to make sure both the logical and emotional structures feel right.
Morgen: Going backwards, I like that. As effective as line editing I’d say. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Jess: I like to feel a spark, something that inspires me (it’s what challenges me and helps me to improve artistically). I usually zone out / space out big time before sitting down to write…
Morgen: 🙂 Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Jess: Paper for first drafts and initial planning. I like to see the scribbles and thoughts take form organically!
Morgen: Apparently using the computer and writing by hand use different sections of the brain and you get different results – it’s a shame we can’t write the same thing twice (from scratch) to test it out… unless I guess you left it long enough in between to forget what you put the first time. What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Jess: Anything from hard rock, alternative rock, electronica, dance, Korean pop, to classical music. Currently listening to Kylie Minogue.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Jess: I’ve used an epilogue once. I try to use them only when absolutely necessary (when I feel they contribute to the structure of the story).
Morgen: That’s what most authors have said; they have to be there for a reason. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Jess: I have a couple of erotic pieces that just weren’t mentally stimulating enough.
Morgen: “A couple” sounds good going considering how much you’ve done. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Jess: My favourite aspect would be the freedom and flexibility writing offers. Least favourite = the tediousness and slow pace of “doing something right.”
Morgen: But your writing is bound to be better for is and no doubt more appreciated by those who read it. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Jess: I never expected some of my taboo-themed stories to get banned by Amazon, and how that would turn out to be a positive experience. It was due to that incident that I put up a disclaimer on my blog explaining why and how my erotic fiction is erotic literature, not pornography. I guess it was a pleasant surprise to discover first-hand the potential power/danger of the written word (as has always been, and will always be, the case).
Morgen: There’s a whole debate over what Amazon bans and doesn’t – a fine line it seems but great that a positive came out of it. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jess: Stay focused (on what it is you’d like to do / accomplish with your writing). Keep improving. Keep going.
Morgen: Absolutely, it’s all about practicing. What do you like to read?
Jess: I like reading the classics the most. I like the depth and insight involved. Some of my all-time favourites are Roald Dahl, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Vladimir Nabokov, Anaïs Nin, D. H. Lawrence, and George Orwell (amongst many others!).
Morgen: Roald Dahl is definitely in my top three. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Jess: I actually think that the best books are the ones that a writer wishes to emulate with their own work. So just keep reading whatever you enjoy, and let the style / content of those books and stories influence your writing 🙂 I also find business-related books useful, like the ones written by Martha Stewart and Donald Trump. Writing (the creative side) goes together with publishing (the business side), and personally, I need to be able to work with a clean / clear conscience, because writing is both my passion and purpose in life.
Morgen: Me too. 🙂 In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Jess: I’m currently in Maine, USA (I grew up in Singapore). One of the things I enjoy the most about the online medium is its global outreach.
Morgen: Ah, I know of Stephen King’s Maine – it sounds lovely. Where can we find out about you and your work Jess?
Morgen: I noticed another interviewee had a media kit (http://jjhohn.com/press-room), what a great idea. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jess: More opportunities and more challenges. To borrow a quote from Jeffrey Gitomer (a top sales authority in the U.S.): “Offer value, if not, all that’s left is price.”
Morgen: I like that, and the strategy I’m working to (although mine will be price too :)). Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jess: I’m conducting interviews on perspectives on the art of erotic writing (open to writers of all genres). The Q&A is available at (http://missfey.blogspot.com/p/author-interviews-quality-erotica.html).
Morgen: Oh great!
Jess: It’d be nice to create more exposure / awareness for erotica as an art form, instead of mixing up erotica (as an art form) with pornographic writing (which often has little to no social and / or artistic / literary value). Something’s not right when the works of Anaïs Nin and D. H. Lawrence are featured alongside contemporary “related / similar books” that are pornographic. To borrow a quote from Nabokov: “In pornographic novels, style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust.”
Morgen: 🙂 Is there a question you’d like to ask me?
Jess: Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook? (which I forgot to ask in your Q&A).
Morgen: Ooh, good question (and thank you again for interviewing me, that was fun). They both serve a different purpose for me. Although I have a core group of regular Twitterers (probably not the official term) that I bounce tweets back and forth, it doesn’t feel quite as cosy as Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter) and with Facebook, apart from the obvious extra space in which to write (450 characters instead of 140) it’s easier to add pictures, videos etc. Twitter is great though for editing as the word limit really does make you look for alternatives (e.g. join instead of ‘get together with’ 4 characters instead of 17, because even spaces count). I did have fun on Twitter when the Royal Wedding was on TV recently as people were talking about Kate’s dress, Bea’s weird hat and those few Twitterers that were trying to tout their books were ‘shouted’ at with the likes of “don’t you know there’s a wedding on”… it’s like the world stops for such an event and we get together, which is great. They’re all great if you get stuck with something as invariably someone is watching who can help. Twitter is the wider audience though, at the moment anyway as I’m approaching 2,000 followers but have 450 Facebook friends but although my blog’s new feeds appear summarised on both automatically, it’s Twitter I’d turn to for any ‘touting’ of my own. Sorry, a rather long answer to a simple question… not like me at all. J
I then asked Jess if she’s like to include an extract of her writing. This is from Jack in the Box, which features in ‘Primal Scream’:
The scene was a swirl of candy bright lights–the Victoria’s Secret fuchsia signboard, signboards which lured one to purchase “confidence,” or “sexual appeal,” or whatever it was that was being advertised–the fluorescent lights in each store, contrasting with the shiny, black-tiled walls and eye-catching speckled marble tiles on the ground.
One could lick the floor–the tiles were spotless, clean like the fake air she was breathing in, like the atoms and cells in her that were decaying in stale neglect.
“Miss…what brand of facial wash do you use?” a cool, level voice asked, breaking through the little bubble Drea was encapsulated in. She heard the words in drifts and drabs—“Miss” and “facial”” were the only ones she heard clearly.
A young man had appeared, and was standing next to her, quite near to her. He had entered her personal space without even trying. Drea’s mind and spirit were so dead and desensitized, that her entire being engaged the well-groomed, pleasant, and easy-to-look-at figure before her. He was a hint of a breath of fresh air / oxygen–and she was happy to take it, even if it lasted for just a second.
Jess C Scott is a 24-year-old contemporary writer working in a diverse range of genres, such as experimental fiction, erotic fiction, new media, young adult fiction, poetry, urban fantasy, and cyberpunk.
As a creative professional, she experiments with a variety of genres and styles to produce original work which stands out from “the same old re-packaged mass-market pulp (Bibrary.com).” Her erotic writing focuses on psychosexual themes (not porn) and love / emotions (not fluffy formulaic romance).
Some of Jess’s taboo-themed stories were banned by Amazon in December 2010, which prompted her to set up www.jessINK.com (her indie publishing platform / company).
She has always aligned her business goals with her personal values and continues to identify herself as an author / artist / non-conformist.
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