Friday, June 8, 2007

The Many Sides of M. Christian

M. Christian is a chameleon. Just when you think you are familiar with his writing, well –- you would be wrong. Today you might read one of his lesbian stories, then tomorrow pick up another anthology and find man-on-man action. Or you might find something straight-up heterosexual, without a single kink in sight. M. Christian writes everything under the sun, so you never quite know what you’re going to get, but you know it’s going to be interesting. And hot. Deliciously, delightfully, steaming HOT.

He’s with us today on Lust Bites, and we’re all wild to find out about the guy behind the stories. Pull up a chair, have a glass of wine, and settle in for some Q & A with one of the best kick-ass writers out there.

You like science fiction, so let’s go into the time machine: Think back to the very first erotic story you published. What was the story about?

Now you've made me feel old! Let's see, that was when Hoover was president and the tubes the internets travel through were really tiny...and made of brass...

Okay, okay...first story I sold was called "Intercore" which was in FutureSex. It was also picked up for Best American Erotica in 1994. It was a pretty simple little thing, a "cyber" story about a narrator going to take a girl masturbating in an alley -- because that's the only safe sex left. What's funny is that I hadn't written it for publication. Back then I used to flirt with women online...or at least I think they were women...anyway, I did it as something to send to girls. That's not to say I hadn't tried to sell my stuff before, it was just that silly little thing was the first. I had about ten years of failure coming before it.

You are amazingly prolific – most full-time writers don’t get as much done as you do! How do you keep up the pace? Do you have a set schedule for writing?

Nope, I don't really keep a schedule or such. I am pretty good at knowing what has to happen though so even though I don't have a regular routine I keep a mental calendar of my commitments so when something’s due I do it. I've never been a believer in a 'muse' or silly stuff like that so I don't wait for inspiration. I just sit down and try and make it happen. Like I said, writing is a skill that gets easier -- and frequently enjoyable -- the more you do it. I love to do a lot of things...naked things...but writing luckily has become a very close second. The one thing I've never been able to do, though, is write for pure pleasure. I need the 'focus' of a project. At first that was short stories for anthologies, and now its novels. I just can't work on something unless it has the possibility of finding a home somewhere. Creativity-wise that's probably not very good for me; I hope that someday I can get beyond it.

Of course being with the fantastic Sage Vivant doesn’t hurt, in regards to keeping my sanity writing-wise. I was extremely fortunate to meet her and doubly lucky to be able to be involved with her: she’s smart, extremely talented, disciplined, as well as drop-dead gorgeous. I do think finding the right person to be with can help a writer immensely –- and I’m grateful to have found my perfect partner.

http://www.amazon.com/Filthy-Outrageous-Erotica-M-Christian/dp/1555839517/sr=8-1/qid=1171946686/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-4160672-3707960?ie=UTF8&s=booksSomehow, you find time to read, too. Who are some of your favorite authors? Is there anyone whose books you snatch off the shelves as soon as they are released?

I like a really wide range of writers: Steinbeck, Kipling (for the pretentious 'literary' names) and so forth. But mostly I like -- and reread -- lots of classic SF authors and current comic books: Alan Moore, Adam Warren, Phil Dick, Alfred Bester, Sturgeon, Grant Morrison, etc. I try to find new writers to enjoy but so far I haven't found anyone who completely blows me away. What some people think is weird is that I don't read erotica at all -- unless I'm editing an anthology of course. All in all, I like surrealism, humor, character-focused SF, interesting concepts, and vibrant writing. If you know anyone like that please let me know.

Of course you write about sex, but you write about so much more -- your stories convey a huge range of human emotion and experience. What theme do you find emerging most often in your writing? Is it intentional, or do the stories just lead you in that direction?

I always put a lot of myself into whatever I'm doing. I like to say that I don't really know what gay sex feels like and am unequipped (literally) to know what lesbian sex is like but I do know what excitement, disappointment, shyness, bliss, thrill feels like so I add what I know to the story to make the situation and the characters as 'real' as possible. So far I've been lucky, but I'm always a bit worried that someone will slap me down for getting it 'wrong.' Respecting whom I'm writing about is very important to me. I like to think I treat my characters like how I'd like to have my sexual orientation and preference written about.

I’m definitely an ‘intentional’ writer: I always know where a story or book is going before I start it (in fact I can’t write unless I do know that), so the real question is that do I always put in my stuff, consciously or unconsciously. I really like to play with identity, the various ‘selves’ we are or become depending on the situation (Painted Doll has a lot of that). I also like to tinker with expectations – that’s why I did those movie parody stories, because everyone knows the flicks in question it gives me a lot of ways to change or twist the outcome, make them very different.

Have you ever written a story that seemed too emotional -- cut too close to the heart of your own life, perhaps -- to share with your readers?

Not really -- at least not specifically writing a story where I felt that exposing it would be too...tenderizing for me. I've gotten criticism from some writers for not being 'honest' when I write about sex, that I hide my own preferences and experiences and never break that wall. That's more than likely a bit true, especially since I really like to tell stories and not 'confession' type things, but I also think it's not true because writing for me is more important than...well, a lot of things. So while I may not be talking about what makes Mr. Happy stand up and salute the process of writing alone is wonderfully thrilling and stimulating – as well as making me feel very vulnerable. As I like to say: writing is my real orientation, and like anyone’s orientation there’s more than a little nervousness around acceptance.

Here I go, venturing into waters all authors fear to tread: What's the difference between erotica and porn? What's your view?

I don't really have a view about that, because I don't think there is -- or should be -- a difference. Depending on how I'm feeling, or who I'm talking to, I've been a pornographer or an erotica writer. It bothers me a bit when people work to create a boundary when one really exists: we write about sex, and that's all that matters. Sometimes the language is coarse and the details explicit, sometimes the language is soft and the details are fuzzy, but to the people who'd burn us at the stake -- or just ban our books -- we're all the same. It's about damned time we started to hang together so we won't hang apart. Sure, I don't like being lumped together with books with titles like Tranny Truckstop Sluts but that author and I have something very much in common: freedom of expression. If something is nasty it has the same rights and deserves as much respect as something sweet. We're talking about art, after all, and the only certain thing about art is that there's nothing certain about it.

Staying on my soapbox, I think it's incredibly important not to draw lines. 9 out of 10 times those who'd ban or burn us will use our own arrogant 'standards' against us: we say there's a difference between us and pornographers, they say there's the same kind of difference between us and 'decency' or 'family values.' The line could be subject matter, language, focus, intent...it doesn't matter. Once we agree to a line it'll be used to isolate and demean.

Okay, Plug Time! What's coming up for you?

Well, let's see: The Very Bloody Marys just came out from Haworth/Southern Tier. The Painted Doll should be out in November from Orion in the UK. What's weird is that there's another "M.Christian" out there, and he supposedly has a book coming out from Alyson Books in 2008. Something called Me2. I just hope people don't confuse me for him. I mean, come on, would I ever write a strange, weird, scary book about identity, existence, and duplication? Get real!

Aside from this stuff people should check out my site at www.mchristian.com for writing news and www.meinekleinefabrik.blogspot.com for fun and weird stuff.

And speaking of The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian is graciously offering a copy of the book to one lucky commenter on today’s blog! We'll choose a comment at random and if your name is chosen, you're the winner. You can’t win unless you play...

29 comments:

Portia Da Costa said...

Welcome to Lustbites, M! Nice to have you here and thanks for answering our questions.

I need the 'focus' of a project.

Yeah, me too... and I think knowing I'm writing for something specific increases my creativity rather than hampering it.

I always put a lot of myself into whatever I'm doing. I like to say that I don't really know what gay sex feels like and am unequipped (literally) to know what lesbian sex is like but I do know what excitement, disappointment, shyness, bliss, thrill feels like so I add what I know to the story to make the situation and the characters as 'real' as possible.

Fabboo! Yes! We can't all 'do' everything, but we've got emotions we can tap into...

writing is my real orientation...

I love that... wonderfully put!

Love

WendyPortia

Nikki Magennis said...

Hi M! Thanks for dropping by.

I just read a little about 'The Very Bloody Marys' on your blog, and it sounds wonderful. Mind if I quote?

"Le Conseil Carmin is concerned. People are being killed on the streets of San Francisco by a gang of Vespa-riding vampires called The Bloody Marys, and the hard-assed cop the conseil had expected to investigate the crimes, Pogue, isn't answering his doorbell.

Which means the investigation must fall to Pogue's screwup of a deputy — the insecure, disrespected, nervously chattering vampire Valentino, who's painfully aware that he's in over his head and only hopes he can keep treading water until his boss returns.

Until a faery kills Julian, his one true love.

Suddenly, Valentino's out for vengeance.

Zombie taxi drivers, golems of Abraham Lincoln, a four-star restaurant in the city morgue, vampires, warlocks, fairies, ghouls, and angelic apparitions: they're all denizens of The Castro's other night-life, and Valentino must bluster his way through them as he hunts for a murderous faery, his missing dickwad of a commanding officer, and — of course — the pretty and ruthless Very Bloody Marys."

Fabulous! I wonder, what prompted you to write a vampire book?

Olivia Knight said...

surrealism, humor, character-focused SF, interesting concepts, and vibrant writing,

C'mere, baby...

Uh, sorry.

Yes - question: the above are 'genres', whereas erotica never feels like a genre to me. 'Erotic' is a bit like 'American' - no-one's every just American, they're Italian-American, Chinese-American, African-American, etc. (IMHO, which isn't so H) So, SF-erotica, fantasy-erotica, realist-erotica, and so on existing; do you write surreal erotica? And how popular do you think SF-erotica is?

t'Sade said...

Oh! Someone who writes everything. "I wanna be just like you."

Heh, actually, I do have a goal of writing everything in the world, but it has taken me a while. It is really cool that you have done it successfully and you wrote about it.

I do agree with the difference of porn verses erotica. Drawing lines or sticking to a single genre, I feel, can hurt you since you limit yourself to a single arena of life.

Alana said...

Gwen, thank you for inviting the illustrious M. Christian to LB. Awesome.

M, you can't wander the party long before someone (me) mentions "How Coyote Stole the Sun" and asserts it's a staple like milk and eggs. A genre classic. Part of my personal writing canon. If I taught an erotic writing class that story would be on the reading list. Anyone who writes or wants to write convincing creative erotica (fiction) should read it. No shit.

Another thing that comes to mind M, is how mystified I was by you in the beginning, when I first began plowing through every bit of erotica I could. Were you a gay man, a lesbian, a gay lesbian, a lesbian gay man, a woman, a man, a man/woman? Then one day Cara Bruce says to me, "Chris, yeah he's just a straight guy."

Weird how THAT never occured to me. Seriously, straight guys don't write gay erotica. To do so might suggest they're far more secure with thier own sexuality than the average straight dude, not to mention far more empathetic and intuitive than the rest.

Hats off to you, M. You're the needle in the haystack, mister.

Last but not least, you're a prolific writer, and the reason for that is you're diciplined, evidenced by your responses here, and you treat writing like a job. Reminds me of another friend of mine, Shanna Germain. You're the kind of writer who should talk to young writers about writing and set the example they follow.

I mean, yeah, the idea of a "Muse" is romantic and all, and certainly we all understand inspiration, but good writing is the result of hard work, not divine intervention.

Which reminds me, I hate it when other writers tell me their characters won't do what he or she tells them to or makes a comment like, "My character has a mind of his own." Whatever.

I'm the mind and the master. Characters do exactly what I tell them. :-)

Alana said...

P.S. Can't wait to read Filthy!

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, I'm so glad you're here!
Yay!

As anyone who's read any of my collections knows, I'm a huge fan! But I've been trying to think of *my* favorite M. Christian story... so difficult to choose. You tend to win me over with your melancholy ghost tales... But there are so many lovely stories. I don't think I can pick just one...

XXX,
Alison

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview today and Bloody Marys sounds like my kind of read.

Shanna Germain said...

Hear! Hear!

What a great interview. I'm so glad you came to visit, M., because this was amazing. I learned so much, and you put a lot of what I feel as a writer into words.

writing is my real orientation...

Yes, and I am SO going to steal this. I mean, really, be prepared to sue me over it, because it's mine now.

I, too, am an avid fan. *gush, gush*. I love your ability to write all over the board, and to do it well. You're one of those people that I aspire to be when I grow up!

And I can't wait to read the Bloody mary book. Totally up my alley.

Best, s.

Janine Ashbless said...

Bonjour Monsieur Christian!
(Sorry, but that's how I always read your name)

I've just read your "In Control" (from He's On Top). Clever clever.

So ... black lacquered chopsticks. Hmm! I like that a lot...

Janine Ashbless said...

I'm another one who likes to have a 'project' to write to, by the way. I started writing (ghost) stories as part of a group, with a single topic (or keywords, or quotes)picked for each round. I find the external trigger to my internal musing really helps.

Gwen Masters said...

Alana, I did the same speculating on who this M. Christian person might be. I remember spending a solid night just reading some of his stuff and deciding first that it HAD to be a woman, then...no...a man...maybe...

When I finally learned he was a straight guy, my first thought was "Anyone who can make you wonder like that is a GREAT writer."

I loved wandering both the blogs he mentioned in the interview.

Madeline said...

Welcome M. Christian! It's lovely to have you here, doubly lovely as we ran my interview with Sage a few weeks back, so now Lust Bites has a complete picture of the Christian/Vivant team. You've said a lot that resonates with me, particularly about having a writer needing the right partner. I was thinking about that last night, actually - how much I needed a writer/mentor/partner in my life, and how much better my life as a writer has been since Felix Baron and I... met. I'm also a person who needs the 'focus' of a project in order to focus myself, I think, and create a deadline...which is as important as the need for a place to publish.
My story in 'Amazons' (ed. M. Christian and Sage Vivant) was huge, for me, for two reasons. One, I finally wrote a story I'd kept in my mental file cabinet for years. I had this idea about a woman who loses a breast to cancer and eventually becomes an Amazon. What's the likelihood THAT story would ever find a home? I pitched it to Sage and she luved the idea...and 'The Bearded Lady' was born. Second, it was while writing the first couple of paragraphs of 'The Bearded Lady', setting up the scene as succinctly and yet colourfully as possible, that I was hit, hard, with the realization that 'I really can write a short story!' Yay! So, many thanks to you, and Sage, for your continuing committment to excellence in erotica, and for taking a chance on an unknown writer with a story to tell. I hope you and Sage will come by Lust Bites again. You are always welcome! And thanks, Gwen, for asking all the write,sorry, right questions.

Oh yes and it's just too wonderful that you are simply a straight guy, Christian. I'm sure non-writers are hit hard by that fact, and it's great, for all of us, to be forcefully reminded that writers USE THEIR IMAGINATIONS to create stories outside their own experiences. Bravo!

Mathilde Madden said...

I *really* enjoyed Filthy. It's hard to pick favourites. I do have rather a soft spot for Friday Night at the Calvary Hotel.

But About the Author was the point where I almost threw the book across the room at the the sheer size of your balls (that's a compliment - honestly)

MxM

M.Christian said...

Hey, folks, that's SO MUCH for all the generous (and very sweet) compliments. I'm blushing, blushing, blushing!

I'll take a shot at answering specific questions in a little while but in case I don't get around to all of them please feel free to write me at zobop@aol.com

M.Christian said...

Hiya, Nikki! To answer your question about VERY BLOODY MARYS I didn't really decide to do a vamp book -- I'm actually not a fan of the suckers (excuse me) but VBM was one of several proposals I ran by Haworth and it was the one that got picked.

Even though I say I'm not a fan I really enjoyed writing the book -- so much so that if there's interest I might even do a follow up. Keep fingers crossed.

M.Christian said...

To answer your question, Olivia, I agree that erotica isn't a very well defined genre. Hell, 90% of what I love to do in it barely has any sex at all.

As for surreal and SF -- I lOVE to write both. The problem is while I really do think both are popular publishers seem to be very resistant to buying it. I was damned lucky that Orion agreed to PAINTED DOLL as it's very SF ... but many other publishers would never have been considered something like it.

Kate Pearce said...

thank you so much for visiting our blog and for saying such interesting and thought provoking things.

I loved your take on the whole porn/erotica thing. I remember another writer saying it's erotica if you like it and porn if you don't, which kind of resonated with me as well.

I also appreciate that you write about all kinds of sexuality. I get fed up telling people I don't have to do everything in my books I have IMAGINATION

Sage Vivant said...

Just had to pop in and tell you ladies what it's like to live with this man.

Picture it: Chris and Sage, sitting on the sofa around midnight, perhaps staring blankly at the television ("Futurama" is a favorite) as sleep looms. Chris gets an idea for a book (or a short story, or a play, or a movie, or even just a prank) and goes into enthusiastic, animated detail. Sage is rendered speechless by his ability to create at the end of the day, whereas she can barely recall how many toes she has.

Picture it: Sage works for several days on developing a story idea. She shows it to Chris, who, in a matter of moments, has a great idea for an interesting twist.

Picture it: After every movie we watch together, Chris has thoughts on how it could have been better.

Oh, and picture this: no matter how down Sage gets and no matter what kind of day Chris has had, he is unfailingly encouraging and supportive.

He has only one flaw, ladies. He cannot cook. But I find that I don't really give a damn, given his talents elsewhere....

M.Christian said...

I completely and absolutely adore you, beloved -- especially your tiny fist :-)

Gwen Masters said...

-sigh-

Ain't the right love just grand?

Amanda said...

wow, this was such an insightful interview...thanks to both Gwen and M. Christian. i especially liked the bit about writing being M. Christian's real orienation and the respect that he gives to his characters. there's a reason why some people's writing is so damn good. thanks again for this great site. i learn more each time i come. brendan fraser photo doesn't hurt either ;)

Amanda said...

oh,and another thing...reading thru the great blog comments. Olivia, i agree with you. erotica never feels like a genre to me either. lately i've been saying that i write sexually explicit fiction because at least right now the sex is not the central theme of my fiction. it is just that i don't pan to the fireplace when the sex starts happening, i take the readers into the bedroom. but erotica is the label that our writing gets pinned on it. i don't mind because some of the best, brave and original writing i've read is erotica lately. i am definitely going to read the Very Blood Marys and How Coyote Stole the Sun. thanks for the tips.

M.Christian said...

Exactly, Amanda -- my fave definition of 'erotica' is literature that doesn't pan to the fireplace. In other words the idea that sex is as important in a story as setting, character, plot, and description. Just like it is in real life.

Stacia said...

Great interview. I'd never heard of M before but his books look really good. Can't wait to check 'em out. Thanks for introducing me to his writing.

Sue A. said...

Like Stacia I'm discovering a lot new (to me) authors here. I love discovering new authors and to find out that they're prolific is a bonus. Thanks for puting M. Christian on my radar.

danetteb said...

Hi M.,
I'm new too your books too,but I reading new authors,especially one who has so many different types to choose from.*g*
Hugs, Danette

Sabrina Luna said...

Thank you for interview THE M. Christian! I so admire his wonderful writing style & the variety of stories he writes!

I'll never forget a few years ago I got a very nice rejection letter from him --thx, M! ;)

Hugs,
Sabrina )O(

kiki said...

*crumbs!* one of the teeshirts i'd wanted is all sold out! that's what happens when i wait until the last day to get the 20% off!

ah well - i'm still very happy with my nintendo uno cards *guilty pleasure indeed!* and an army of darkness tee! YEA!!!!