Welcome to the five hundred and eighty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with erotic writer and author marketing adviser Lucy Felthouse. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Lucy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Lucy: Hi Morgen. Thanks so much for having me on your site! I’m Lucy Felthouse, I’m 27 and I’m based in South Derbyshire in the UK.
Morgen: Derbyshire is a beautiful part of the country. I’m only a couple of hours south yet I go too rarely. Note to self: go to Derbyshire more often.
Lucy: I’ve always written, as long as I can remember. When I was a child I’d announce I was going to be an author, but as I got older I realised it wasn’t as simple as sitting down and writing a book and people throwing money at you. So I tried to figure out what else to do. I finished college and still had no idea, so I decided to buy myself three more years by going to University to do a degree in Creative Writing. It was then I started writing erotic fiction, as a dare. I left University and started working in PR & Marketing and continuing to write on the side. Now I work for myself and my days are a combination of running my PR & Marketing business (Writer Marketing Services (http://www.writermarketing.co.uk) and writing.
Morgen: And don’t the days go quickly, but I bet you enjoy yours as much as I do mine. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Lucy: I write erotic fiction and erotic romance, and lots of sub-genres within that. I haven’t yet tried any other genres. I have too many erotica and erotic romance ideas still bouncing around my head, but perhaps once I’ve exhausted them I’ll try my hand at something else.
Morgen: 🙂 You have the same ‘problem’ as me; more ideas than time. What have you had published to-date?
Lucy: I have 16 single-author short stories, one novella, over 30 anthology appearances and four anthologies I’ve edited or co-edited.
Morgen: Yay for short stories, my favourite format. Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Lucy: I’ve self-published a few pieces, but have a mixture of self-published and publisher published pieces. The self-publishing was more of an experiment than anything, just to see how everything worked.
Morgen: And it did, I’m sure. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Lucy: All of my published works are available as eBooks. In terms of involvement, it depends on whether the stories were in anthologies or whether they were standalones. Generally there’s no involvement in anthologies, but with standalones there’s more input into covers, editing, etc. I read eBooks and paper, probably equally.
Morgen: Most interviewees have said the same, and it’s great having the choice. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Lucy: I’m currently writing my first novel, which has a working title of Stately Pleasures, and I would say the two leading men in the book are my favourite characters. They’d be played by Jeremy Renner and Jared Padalecki because they’re my muses for the characters!
Morgen: 🙂 Which authors would you compare your writing to?
Lucy: I wouldn’t, at all. I’ve never tried to emulate anyone in my writing. I’ve just done what comes naturally and I think developed my own style. It’s not intentional, usually, but I seem to have a lot of humour in my work.
Morgen: Humour’s important, I think. Even the darkest pieces work well with some element of humour in it. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Lucy: It all depends on the type of publication. In terms of importance I think covers and titles are very important because they’re what help to draw a reader in.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Lucy: I’m around halfway through my first novel and enjoying it very much. It’s an erotic romance based in a country house. The new Property Manager is blackmailed into having kinky sex with the owner and his best friend, but before long she realises she enjoys it! And that’s all I’m saying 😉
Morgen: Sounds fun. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Lucy: I don’t write every day. I only work Monday—Friday as the only time I see my other half at weekends. It all depends on how busy I am with my business as to how much writing gets done. I have to put the guaranteed money first!
Morgen: Ah yes, that is useful. I have my priorities all wrong; the blog takes most of my time, then the writing but I like to think it’s marketing. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Lucy: Both. With short stories I tend to just have a snippet of an idea and I start writing and see where it leads. But with my novella, Off the Shelf (http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/off-the-shelf) I planned it out before writing, although things changed along the way, and I’m doing the same thing with my novel.
Morgen: Things do change and I love it when the characters take over. I’ve learned not to plot too much, although my latest (sixth) is the beginning of a crime series and I’m beginning to think I should have plotted more, although I’m looking more long-term than one book so the bittiness of it may (hopefully) work in my favour, in that what I’ve written actually becomes more than one book itself. I just mentioned characters. Do you have a method for creating yours, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Lucy: I don’t really have a method, to be honest. In some stories, I don’t even have a vision of what they look like, or describe them. In other pieces, I do. For the most part my characters, particularly the male ones, are based on celebrity crushes. Names come from the baby name Apps I have on my phone, and the surnames—if they’re needed—come through scrolling through my friends list on Facebook!
Making them believable is easy—just don’t have them do or say anything unbelievable! Unless you’re writing a paranormal, of course. Then the rules change entirely.
Morgen: To my knowledge, I’ve never written anything paranormal so it’s interesting you say that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Lucy: I tend to write a bit, then when I come to a natural pause I’ll re-read what I’ve written and make tweaks. Then I’ll go through more thoroughly when a piece is ready and I’m preparing to send it to a publisher.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Lucy: Not really. Most of my stuff is written from experience, in that I use locations, language and jobs I’m familiar with, or have a basic idea of. For the sex scenes, that just comes from my imagination!
Morgen: 🙂 What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Lucy: I like first and third person points of view equally. When I start thinking about a story I usually know then whether I want to write it in first or third person. Though occasionally I’ve changed this part way through a story to improve it. I’ve written in second person a few times, but I don’t tend to do it any more.
Morgen: That’s a shame but I know that it’s an acquired taste. I write a fair amount of it but it tends to be short. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Lucy: I don’t write poetry at all, never have done. I’ve written non-fiction in terms of reviews, articles and essays. I have an essay coming soon in a book called Fifty Writers of Fifty Shades of Grey, where I talk about what impact the series has had on erotica books and authors in the UK. As for short stories—yes, tons!
Morgen: Being a short story author, I’m glad to hear that. I volunteer in a British Red Cross shop once a week and we’ve had a couple of sets of the Fifty Shades trilogy in (and yes, they did sell). We currently have a few that look very similar; the monochrome covers, including Vina Jackson’s Eighty Days trilogy. I’ve resisted so far (it helps being single) but may sometime out of curiosity. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Lucy: Yes, some of my old pieces that I look at now and think they’re horrendous. Now, though, everything I write is aimed to be published. So hopefully it all will be!
Morgen: I do, or at least self-published. It would help if I submitted something. 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Lucy: Yes, I’ve had lots of rejections. It used to upset me at first, but now I just brush it off. As I’ve edited books myself, I know that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your work isn’t good enough. It can mean that it doesn’t fit the particular theme of a book, or there are too many similar pieces, etc. I just go through the piece and make sure it’s the best it can be before sending it out again.
Morgen: Absolutely – just the right thing for the wrong person. Of course if they take the time to give you feedback, that’s promising. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Lucy: No, I don’t have an agent. In the erotica and erotic romance market, I don’t really think there’s any need for one. There are enough publishers out there that take unagented work, and some publishers will not deal with agents at all. So at the moment, I don’t see the point. Perhaps this will change in the future if I do start to write in other genres.
Morgen: It may do, and I’m sure most of us would love to have an agent (for our novels) but certainly short stories are a different beast. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Lucy: Pretty much all of it! Nowadays, an author is expected to get involved with marketing. Publishers don’t have the budgets they used to, certainly not for eBooks and so it’s up to us to get stuck in and get the word out there about our work. It’s something many writers struggle with, too, which is why I set up my business—I knew there was a market for it!
Morgen: There is. Marketing is usually the answer to the ‘least’ part of my next question… What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Lucy: My favourite part is publication. Seeing my name in print just never gets old!
My least favourite part is editing. Working with an editor, you get to see just how imperfect you are—how many times you repeat words, how often you tell instead of show, etc. And don’t get me started on the whole British / American English debate!
Morgen: 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Lucy: Read as much as you can in your chosen genre, research publishers and learn to edit your work.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Lucy: I’d invite Jared Padalecki, Philip Winchester and Jeremy Renner. I wouldn’t cook, because I’m crap at it. Hopefully one of those three can cook. I think I’d be too busy drooling to care, anyway.
Morgen: <laughs> Or get a sexy male caterer. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lucy: I love reading, watching TV and films, spending time in the countryside, at country houses and cool ancient places, and playing with my dog.
Morgen: Cute. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Thank you, Lucy. Great to have you join me today, and all the best with your novel.
I then invited Lucy to include an extract of her writing…
Annalise hated leaving her favourite toy behind when she went away, but she just wasn’t brave enough to take it with her. She usually only took carry-on luggage, and the very thought of the distinctive shape of the Rampant Rabbit popping up on the screen of the airport scanners made her shudder. It would be bad enough for the staff to see it on their monitors, knowing what it was and giving her knowing looks; imagine what would happen if they decided to check inside her bags! She would want to curl up and die of embarrassment, she just knew it.
No, it was much better off staying here. She could make do with her right hand for a few days. Even better, she might meet someone. Annalise smiled. She’d had some pretty steamy encounters on her travels: the desk clerk in Dubai; the gym manager in Turkey; the waiter in Corfu …
Annalise shook herself. This wasn’t the time to let her mind wander down that path and get herself all worked up. She had to go and get ready now. There’d be plenty of time for daydreaming later, when she was in long and boring queues, and on the flight.
Just as she was about to head into the bathroom, Annalise’s phone rang. Retrieving the handset from its cradle on her bedside cabinet, she glanced at the caller display before putting the phone to her ear.
‘Hi, Mum,’ she said, trying to keep the exasperation out of her voice. Her mother often called when she was short of time, and it was always a struggle to get her off the line without upsetting her. ‘You all right?’
‘Yes, dear. Everything’s fine. I’m just calling to wish you a safe journey. Where is it you’re going this time?’
‘Portugal, Mum. Just for a few days.’
‘Portugal. Lovely. I expect you’ll get a nice tan.’
Annalise rolled her eyes. She’d given up trying to explain to her parents that she wasn’t going off on free holidays all the time.
And a synopsis…
At 35, travel writer Annalise is fed up with insensitive comments about being left on the shelf. It’s not as if she doesn’t want a man, but her busy career doesn’t leave her much time for relationships. Sexy liaisons with passing acquaintances give Annalise physical satisfaction, but she needs more than that. She wants a man who will satisfy her mind as well as her body. But where will she find someone like that? It seems Annalise may be in luck when a new member of staff starts working in the bookshop at the airport she regularly travels through. Damien appears to tick all the boxes; he’s gorgeous, funny and intelligent, and he shares Annalise’s love of books and travel. The trouble is, Damien’s shy and Annalise is terrified of rejection. Can they overcome their fears and admit their feelings, or are they doomed to remain on the shelf?
Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story – so she did. It went down a storm and she’s never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Constable and Robinson, Decadent Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Evernight Publishing, House of Erotica, Ravenous Romance, Resplendence Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour, Seducing the Myth, Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City.
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