Hi Everyone!! :-)
We have a very special guest today!! Tracy St. John is an independently published author of Sci-Fi and Paranormal Erotica, and a personal hero of mine! Thank you so much for joining us today, Tracy! Will you tell us a bit about yourself? Did you bring any Kalquorians with you today? *Looks around hopefully*
Tracy: I did, and they are already hard at work to win you over. The Imdiko is in the kitchen, deciding what to make you for a romantic dinner. The Nobek is lurking around the area, making sure there are no threats to your well being. The Dramok went straight to your bedroom to search for – ahem – toys. He also brought his own supply. I hope you took your vitamins this morning.
Me: Oh my! I hope what the Dramok finds doesn't shock him; he isn't too young, is he? And the Imdiko is likely to be appalled at all the junk food he finds, but hopefully that won't slow him down too much. ;-) The Nobek had better beware, I have attack cats! While we wait for the boys to make themselves at home, can you tell everyone about yourself and how many books you have written?
Tracy: I’m honestly one of the most boring people you could imagine. I’m mostly a wife and child wrangler. I’m really into fitness. I possess an exceptionally smutty mind, which my readers get a glimpse of through the 25 books I’ve written. I’m also a geek who loves sci-fi and horror.
The main thing I write is the Clans of Kalquor series. It’s science fiction erotica featuring an alien species that forms family groups of ‘clans’ – three men of different personality breeds with one woman. It’s set against a backdrop of the nearly extinct Kalquorian Empire and an extremely dystopian Earth society. There are currently nine books in the Clans of Kalquor series and nine other books that are related to it.
Me: Yes, and I've read every single one that you've publish and am anxiously awaiting your next one! :-) Take it from me folks, everything Tracy writes has steam coming off of it, you won't be bored! ;-) What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Tracy: The last new book I released was Michaela, a story that takes place in my Clans of Kalquor universe. It’s not part of the main series itself, but more of a companion story to Clans of Kalquor 2: Alien Rule. Michaela is intersex (male and female) and my readers adored her. They wanted to know how she ended up with a clan of three doting men. They kept begging for more of her story, so I delivered it. Despite being intersex, she has turned out to be my most popular heroine.
Me: She is an interesting character. It was great to learn more about her! :-) I think I already know the answer to this next question, but I'll ask anyway: What are you working on now?
Tracy: I’m doing battle with the tenth book of the Clans of Kalquor series, Alien Indiscretions. I say battling, because this is my most ambitious project yet. Trouble has reached a fever pitch for the Kalquorian clans and their female Earther mates. Long hidden secrets are revealed, which threaten to blow up in an all-out revolt. This book has so many twists and turns, and I’m far behind the original release date I had set for myself. Every time I sit down to write, I discover a new complication has arisen for my characters. This book should be dubbed, The One That Refuses to Behave.
Me: I was right! The excerpts you've posted have me waiting with bated breath for this one! I hope it starts behaving itself soon! :-) What authors, or books, have influenced you?
Tracy: As far as authors, I’m devoted to Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Jules Verne, and Tolkien. Probably my biggest influences as far as books would be A Handmaiden’s Tale, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series, Frankenstein, and Carmilla.
Me: All the classics! I love the Dragonriders of Pern series. It was one of the first series I read as a kid. My mom didn't quite 'get' what those riders were doing while their dragons went on 'flights.' ;-) What are you reading now?
Tracy: The Bible, with companion research references; Old Town by Lin Zhe; and Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic as you can see from that last one. I’m the kind of person who can quote you proper intake percentages of carbs, protein, and fat.
Me: Eclectic grouping! :-) For those who might consider reading your books, what would you tell them to expect?
Tracy: Though the search for love and happily-ever-after is the main drive behind my books, I don’t do romance. I do BDSM erotica, often with a dubcon edge. My characters, including heroines and heroes, are basically decent people but they have their dark sides. My worlds are not pretty. They aren’t meant to be. In my books love is desperate, it’s sweaty, and it’s sometimes as painful as it is wonderful.
As I mentioned, the Earth backdrop to my Kalquor series is a dystopian society. Many people take issue with what I write, taking my fiction a little too literally sometimes. I’ve been accused of being anti-religion, particularly when it comes to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I simply write about a belief system used by those in power to subjugate others. The heroines are often traumatized by what they’ve been through. Sometimes I even posit views that I don’t agree with if they serve the story or a particular character best. In the end it’s just a story, but some readers take it rather personally when it challenges their beliefs.
Me: I've noticed that particular phenomenon myself. It's fiction people! :-) What is your favorite part of being an author?
Tracy: Hearing from the readers. I never in my wildest dreams thought people would tell me that my books helped them get through a particularly dark period in their lives. Yet I’ve received so many emails to that effect. Knowing that I did something, however inadvertent, to make someone else’s life a little better is incredibly humbling. It always makes me stop and feel grateful I could offer some sort of relief when others needed it most.
Then there are those who tell me that I inspired them to pursue their own writing dreams. How amazing is that? Rhetorical question; it’s fantastic! I do a happy dance every time one of my readers lets me know they’ve written a book and been published.
Me: I'm one of those readers you inspired and I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of your advice and suggestions!!! :-) You've blogged quite a bit about being "successful" as an author (ie: being able to make a living writing) and about other jobs you've had in the past. Are you still working at those other jobs? Would you like to share any "secrets" you've learned about being a successful independent author?
Tracy: I am currently not doing other work. I miss working in video and film production, but at this stage of my writing I simply can’t. I started losing money by working on things besides my books, so the day job had to go. However, I hope to do film work again in a couple of years by producing a script that I’m writing right now.
I wish I had a secret to share about making a living as a writer, other than never give up. I wrote and submitted to publishers for 24 years before my first book Alien Embrace was accepted. That is a long time. Once that book was offered to the public, things began to happen pretty fast. To this day, I have no idea why that first book took off the way it did. The success Alien Embrace and the books that followed it enjoyed enabled me to break away and do things on my own terms. I am beyond grateful for my good fortune, though it took quite a while for Fortune to smile on me!
The only advice I feel comfortable giving is keep writing no matter what...even if it takes 24 years for anyone to accept you! Write the book you want to read. Polish it until it screams under the strain of perfection. Send it out to a publisher or publish it yourself, promote it ceaselessly, and treat your precious readers with the respect and love they deserve. And while you’re promoting that first book, get to work writing the second book. Keep the momentum going.
The truth is, most ‘success’ stories are not like mine where the first published book takes off quickly. Most authors who earn a living through writing get there the hard way. They write book after book after book first, slowly building a readership from the ground up. I’ve known tons of talented writers who have written a dozen books and still work their day jobs. They write not for success, money, or fame. They do it because writing is like breathing.
In the end, you don’t write fiction to make a lot of money or even to make a living. You do it because writing is your life. Even if I wasn’t able to support my family through my books, I’d still be writing.
Me: Hear that folks? An indie author who had to give up her day job to keep from losing money! :-) While we all dream of that, you're right. All of the authors I've spoken with write because we love it. Because the characters wouldn't let us sleep if we didn't! :-) Best of luck getting that script written and produced! :-) What would you say are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?
Tracy: The hardest part for me is getting family and friends to take my writing seriously as work. Sitting at home all day in front of a computer and drinking coffee does not invite respect. People think they can interrupt at any time. No matter how much I tell them I am working and can’t be disturbed, they continue to drop by or call at all hours anyway.
If you’ve seen the scene from The Shining during which Jack Nicholson tells Shelley Duvall to ‘get the f--- out’ because she’s interrupted his writing flow, then you know pretty much what’s going on in my head when someone decides they can butt into my day.
The easiest part is getting ideas for books. I’ve never understood it when people talk about writer’s block. I have at least 50 books waiting to be written. The ideas never stop coming. I’m drowning in them. I feel like I won’t live long enough to get to them all.
Me: Ha! I feel your pain. As someone who has worked graveyard for years, I border on violence when someone calls me during the day because I'm "not busy." Maybe I should start making phone calls at 3am? ;-) I placed your books in the Sci-Fi and Paranormal Erotica genres, would you agree or do you think a different genre describes them better?
Tracy: I agree. That’s exactly where they belong.
Me: Too bad there isn't a 'gobs of fun!' category, then we could move them. ;-) Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers?
Tracy: Whether or not you read my books, I’d like to make a request for all the authors you do follow. Please leave reviews for the stories you read. Whether for good or bad, your opinions count. Reviews help new and indie authors get noticed. Even bad reviews can help a writer, particularly on a site like Amazon. I’ve learned that some of the less favorable comments left for my books actually attracted readers who liked the very things that bothered some! But please no spoilers. Reviews that reveal major plot twists ruin it for other readers.
As for my own readers, I know I say it often but I have to say it again: I love you guys! Thank you for everything.
Me: Amen! And so anyone here who doesn't already know and love you (where have they been? under a rock!? ;-) ) can find you, are there any links you'd like me to post?
Tracy: I have a website that offers excerpts and links for my books, as well as the Wicked Words blog that updates regularly with news of upcoming releases.
Wicked Words: http://tracystjohn.blogspot.com/
There is also a blog I write that features an ongoing free serialized story called Shalia’s Diary. It is part of the Clans of Kalquor universe. It’s been running since 2012, and you can start with the first entry at http://shaliasdiary.blogspot.com/2012_09_01_archive.html.
Thank you for having me!
Me: You're welcome, Tracy, and thank you so much for coming! Please feel free to leave those Kalquorians here if you have enough at home. ;-)
Everyone else, thank you so much for joining us here today!! If you'd like to check out the artist who designs Tracy's covers please check out my blog posting for 1/7/2015. Erin Dameron-Hill was kind enough to grant me an interview, and her work is definitely worth seeing!! And don't forget to check back often for the latest news, updates, and interviews!! :-)