Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lusting after Thomas S. Roche

An author of crime, science fiction, dark fantasy, horror, and (most importantly to us) erotica, and an editor of the deliciously dark Noirotica series, Thomas Roche leaves us breathless.

We’ve pooled our collective brain power (16 erotic writers can create quite a few sparks!), and come up with a variety of queries for the talented Mr. Roche.

Lustbites: We know you were young when you began penning novels. How young? How did you get started? Can you remember the first piece that you published?
Thomas Roche: I first started writing novels when I was 12, and wrote my first erotic novel when I was 13. The first one I published was written when I was 17, but not sold until I was 19. The first piece I published was a non-erotic fantasy story called "Artifact" that appeared in a little fanzine called BEYOND; the first professional short story I sold was to MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY'S FANTASY MAGAZINE in 1989 -- called "The Beast with Blood-Red Eyes." I guess I've been around! [laughs]

LB: How many stories/novels have you written? Ball park figure?
TR: I believe the published number is around 400 stories, and something like 40 or so novels, though all of the novels have been under a pseudonym. I guess about half the short stories are pseudonymous; the rest are under my real name.

LB: How many pseudonyms have you used? (Or how many will you admit to?)
TR: Oh, boy... too many to count, I think. At least fifty. I probably wouldn't recognize them all if I met them on the street.

LB: Do you find it difficult to write from a female point of view? From a sub POV?
TR: Not at all -- the thing I like most about writing is to become someone else entirely, totally outside my experience.

LB: Do you have a favorite story or novel? One you were most proud of? One you received best recognition for?
TR: I think I'm most proud of "Up for a Nickel," which was in the first Noirotica, reprinted in Best American Erotica, and just got picked up for Best of the Best American Erotica. I guess that qualifies as the most recognition!

The stories I'm most interested in remember are the ones that cross over into the horror and crime-noir genres. Those are the ones that come closest to describing my internal experiences, so I guess those are my favorites: "Razorblade Valentines" from the Hot Blood series, "The Privilege of the Dead" from Poppy Z. Brite's Love in Vein 2, "Dirty Pool" and "Bank Job" from the Jeff Gelb / Max Allan Collins Flesh & Blood series.

LB: Where do you get your ideas? Are you an eavesdropper? Do they come naturally? Do you ever get stuck?
TR: I spend more time stuck than not stuck, I'm afraid. I think the difference is that, at least for most of my adult life, I spent virtually all my time trying to write, and I'm gifted in that I can turn it out quickly when it finally comes. It's one of the most unpleasant experiences around, though, being creatively stuck, and it happens much more than I would like.

I get most of my crime ideas from reading books about true crime history -- the mafia, mostly. I get my horror ideas mostly from things that freak me out. I am not sure where I get my erotic ideas from, they just pop in my head.

LB: Have you done some/most/all of the things you write about?
TR: I've done a whole hell of a lot that people would consider sexually adventurous, to the point of being fairly jaded.

LB: How did you become a teacher of fetish/safe sex/etc.?
TR: I got involved with an organization called San Francisco Sex Information that answers questions by phone and email -- anyone can ask, on any topic. I decided I wanted to teach the training, so I got involved and learned how to lecture, and eventually I was a fixture! I have lectured and spoken in other contexts, but SFSI (sfsi.org) is still my main teaching gig.

LB: Did you have a goal when you started, like, I want to get into "Best American"? (Or were you writing before "Best American"?)
TR: I was definitely writing before "Best American Erotica," and my goal at first was to create a world of dark adventure as completely as I saw it when I was in high school. When I started writing erotica more "seriously," my goal was to get into "Best American Erotica," then to get into "Best American Erotica again," then to get in "Best American Erotica" again... you get the idea! I think my goal now is to incorporate the erotic or romantic elements I've used in erotica into a broader context about What It All Means, as soon as I figure out what I think that is, or even where to look for it.

LB: You’ve lived in a variety of cities—L.A., San Francisco, New Orleans—all decadent in their own ways. Did you feel one was more open to sex than the others? What were your experiences like living away from the Bay Area? Glad to be back?
TR: San Francisco is definitely my home, and I’m very glad to be back. It is the most sexually open city I've lived in, but it can be conservative in its own way. I live across the bay in West Oakland now, which is often thought of as sort of a marginal, run-down neighborhood, but I find that the urban environment is incredibly inspiring to me. I often feel like downtown Oakland could be an alternate version of the Detroit in The Crow (the comic book). And like all urban jungles, you head a mile up the road and you have Rockridge and Temescal, which are moderately chi-chi neighborhoods.

It is good to be back in the San Francisco area, but I am a traveler by nature, and wherever I am, I want to be somewhere else. I daydream all the time about places I've been and want to go back to -- London, Dublin, Paris, Prague, Panama, Krakow, Detroit, Boston, Seattle, New York, even LA, which I love and hate. Living in New Orleans was one of the best experiences of my life, but it's always good to come home.

LB: Does your sex life affect your writing, or vice versa?
TR: I definitely write about experiences I have, and things I write make me explore new ideas sexually.

LB: Do you always wear black?
TR: [laughs] Pretty much everything I own is black, grey, or blue. I make an exception once in a while if I'm bowling, and I'll wear a red tie if there's live jazz on the menu.

LB: Strangest request you’ve received from a fan?
TR: I actually don't get many requests at all from fans. I did have someone ask me if I'd written all the lyrics to a fictional song that was excerpted in a short story, but I don't really consider that all that strange... I guess it was unexpected, though. I actually had written that song (I used to write a lot of songs, and play the guitar) but I was too shy to share them with her.

LB: Can you talk about your pin-up photos… how did you become interested in taking sexy pictures?
TR: How could I not be interested in taking sexy pictures? I'm fascinated by the female form, and once I got interested in digital photography the first thing I wanted to photograph was a naked chick. What I discovered was that I'm so anal retentive when it comes to lighting that I found a whole new way to express myself.

However, I had to put photography on hold for a while, because I found it was too tough to pursue it seriously while working with a writing day job AND trying to write creatively, not to mention teaching at SFSI and doing Dr. Sketchy's Barbary Coast, the live figure drawing salon I comanage. I'm sure I'll take up the visual arts again some day soon.

For more information about Mr. Roche, check out his website or his blog, and sign up to be his friend. And come to Dr. Sketchy's Barbary Coast, a burlesque figure drawing salon he organizes in San Francisco in association with the Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School Global Empire.

P.S. We'll be giving away a copy of His and Hers, two books that Thomas co-wrote with Alison Tyler, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. Winner announced next Monday.


Nikki Magennis said...

Hi Thomas,

Thanks so much for letting us grill you! It's lovely to have such a stylish man about the place.

Oh, and your phenomenal story count is making me feel quite faint...

Wish I was able to make the burlesque figure-drawing salon. If you're looking for a Scottish rep for the anti art school global empire, I'm your girl!

jothemama said...

I love Thomas' stories - I don't know how he gets them to be so - just right!

Great to see the interview!

t'Sade said...

Only 48 pennames, 340 stories and 36 novels to go. :) But, great interview, I can see why he he seems to write in all my favorite genres. I'll have to pick up a ton more stuff from him. I might have a new role model. :)

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Sounds like an interesting dude. I'll have to check out some of his material. Thanks for the heads-up on this one.

tetewa said...

It's good to have the male perspective here today enjoyed the interview. Don't know how you find the time for all the writing but keep it up. Sounds like I need to check out your work.

kristina lloyd said...

Great interview - a red tie for live jazz. I love it!

I want to read lots more Thomas Roche. I recently read The Blonde in 1812 in Alison's A is for Amour, and I really admired it. The sex is fairly vanilla but Thomas lingers on the action, fills it with detail, and keeps the tension high and hot. There's such an art to that.

Anyone writing a lot of erotica can easily forget how sexy simplicity is. When you've written what is basically the same scene time and again, the temptation to skimp on detail or bring on the dancing pony-girls is quite high.

Smart story. I learnt from it. Damn horny too.

Alison, does Thomas always have a wicked glint in his eye?

Thomas said...

Thanks for all the kind comments -- glad to hear you've enjoyed my work! It's always fun to hear from readers!
--Thomas Roche

Thomas said...

Stylish!?!? Little old me?? Ha!

Seriously, thanks. And you may be in luck... http://www.myspace.com/drsketchyscotland

Rachel said...

Interesting interview. I've read some of Mr. Roche's work in various anthologies and really enjoy them! Glad to get a taste of the man behind the work.

Kate Pearce said...

As a smut writer who only has her perverted imagination to draw upon, I'm always fascinated when someone writes from experience, and to be so prolific as well? Wow

And I have to agree with Thomas, some parts of Oakland are very nice. I live on the other side of the Oakland Hills in the Tri Valley so I know.

Alison Tyler said...

Yes, Kristina,

He always has a bulge in his...
Wait, was that the question?

Can you tell I'm out of my head sending out contracts today....

Love learning more about the man with a thousand names. He's more than an inspiration for me...

He's my friend.
(Now you all want to touch me, don't you?)


P.S. And Karl, you need to get your hands on work by Thomas. The man writes spanking stories like you wouldn't fucking believe.

Maria said...

Thank you for bringing us an interview with another great author!

I was just looking at the anthology page at Thomas' site and so many of my favorite erotica collections are on it.

Sommer Marsden said...

**The man writes spanking stories like you wouldn't fucking believe.**

Say no more! I have actually read a bit of his work and have really enjoyed everything I've read so far. But there's always room for more spanking ;) Really enjoyed the interview.

I'm not supposed to be blog hopping for the next 5 days so...I never said that and I was never here.

Alison Tyler said...

Our lips are sealed, Sommer. You were never here. Now get back to work writing 7 stories in 5 days, you maniac. Who do you think you are? Thomas Roche?

May said...

The man writes spanking stories like you wouldn't fucking believe.

You've sold me, Alison.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

The man writes spanking stories like you wouldn't fucking believe.

Agreed! Now what I want to know, Thomas, is how you perfected life without sleep--which you must have to get all that wonderful writing done, do all the other stuff you do, and still have time for what seems to be a very interesting personal life.

I know, I know: focus. But got any tips for those of us trying to build our productivity and still have lives away from the keyboard?

Little Lamb Lost said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview. Funnily, I haven't read erotica written by a male author as of yet. *writing it down on list of things to do*

kiki said...

heavens to betsy! to say that you are multitalented is the biggest understatement EVER! yowza!

and i have to say, i'm glad i wasn't drinking anything when i read this part: "I am not sure where I get my erotic ideas from, they just pop in my head." i just giggled myself silly!

and marion zimmer bradley? dude! you are just about the coolest ever.

and your erotic stories are delightful! i even heard violet blue do a podcast of one of them - i am, of course, drawing a blank on the name right now - fuck. hmm. it was a sales call. hopefully that helps a bit. but it was BRILLIANT and funny and sexy.

so glad that LB interviewed you. it was great fun.


kiki said...

little lamb - i'm wondering if maybe you have. it's always possible that one of thomas' pennames is a female....hmm - that could be fun.


Amy S. said...

Great interview! Adding books to my wishlist!

Erastes said...

Thank you so much LB's and to Mr Roche for this interview, it's really interesting to read and inspirational as well.

Alison Tyler said...


You said exactly what I was thinking! If "little lamb" has read a range of erotica, most likely there has been a man dressed in women's clothing somewhere within the book.

And I know that podcast by the fabulous Violet Blue! I'm trying to figure out which story it was, though. I forgot to say that before—one of Thomas' many talents is the ability to be funny *and* sexy.

Did you hear that Tilly? He's like the male you.

Alana said...

Hi Thomas,

Cara Bruce turned me onto your stuff back in 1999. I think. Yeah, 1999. You and J.T. Leroy. She used to tell me what a nice man you were and what a inspiration you'd been to her writing. First picture I saw of you was on Cara's website. Congratulations to you regarding your longevity and continued success. And by the way, is that what Susie has up her sleeve for the fifteenth anniversary, Best of the Best American Erotica? She dropped a teaser in the last email I received from her. That's so cool!


Alison Tyler said...

Ooops, I missed the Monday deadline!
Winner is jothemama...
Email me your address (msalisontyler at yahoo dot com), and I'll send your books out asap!