Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chatting with Felix Baron

Comment today to win a signed copy

by Madeline Moore

Felix Baron is a well-known writer of erotic novels for Nexus and short stories for many erotica anthologies. Felix is also my own true love!

His latest Nexus novel is The Persian Girl. This is a tale taken from the secret diaries of Sir Richard Frances Burton: soldier, spy, explorer, linguist, diplomat, master of disguise, the greatest swordsman of all time, hero, scoundrel and rake.

Isn't it gorgeous?

It also happens to be my favourite of Felix's erotic novels. We'll be taking a long look at The Persian Girl on Friday, with excerpts and a chance for one lucky commenter to win a copy.

Today, let's get to know Felix, and two of his other Nexus novels, a little better...

MM: Welcome back to Lust Bites, Felix. I'm so glad you agreed to submit to being interviewed by me.

FB: Thanks for inviting me.

MM: When did you decide to be a writer, and what was the first thing you had published?

FB: I slithered into this craft. As a salesman, I wrote a lot of ‘puff’ for which I wasn’t paid but benefited from indirectly. Then, when I managed a phone-sex operation, I did a deal with an underground newspaper, copy for advertising. I caught the writing bug. My first stab at a novel was a thriller, written in blue felt-tip on a yellow pad. It was so bad, even I recognized the fact. That’s when I decided I’d better study my craft before practising it. The first half-decent novel I wrote was an epic fantasy. I showed it to a famous ‘writer in residence.’ She complimented me on various aspects of my work but told me she hoped it’d never be published because of the Male Chauvinist Pig content.

I used that. I wrote to an editor and quoted the comments. He asked to look at the book, and rejected it, but suggested I try something in the Horror genre, which was booming at the time. I did, and he bought it, but warned me that the popularity of Horror was waning and suggested I try Erotica, because of the erotic content of my Horror novel. He introduced me to Peter Darvell-Evans, then editor of Nexus. Peter rejected my first attempt as ‘funny and sexy. No humour, please.’ He bought my next.

MM: Is there a genre you’d choose to write in, if you were free to write anything you want?

FB: No. Genres are my harem. I love several: Erotica, Action Adventure, Mystery, Horror and more. Given free rein, I write cross-genre. In my Mysteries, people screw. In my Erotica, they plot, and so on.

MM: Did you read erotica before you started writing it?

FB: Starting with Fanny Hill, in Grammar School, at about age twelve.

MM: What are your writing rituals? Do you have a special place to write in, a special time to start and stop?

FB: I write where my PC is. When? I work best in the morning but have been known to go into a frenzy where time disappears and I am no longer aware if it’s 3pm or am.

MM: In general, what writers influenced you to become one yourself? Who are your favourite authors, (besides Shakespeare, please!)

FB: Poe was my first love. I learned purple from James Branch Cabell. Adam Hall taught me how to write tension. I’m also influenced by Mervyn Peake, Muriel Spark, Chelsea Quinn Yarborough, Stephen King, Marcus van Heller, Anthony Burgess, and on and on… I’ll learn from anyone who impresses me.

MM: When did you start writing erotica? Any influences?

FB: See above. I’ve always loved Fantasy, so my first erotic sale was Witch Queen of Vixania. I planned it as #1 in a trilogy but after #2, Slaves of the Witch Queen, I was told that Nexus was moving away from Fantasy, so my trilogy was never completed. For those two, I was Morgana Baron, at Kerri Sharpe’s insistence.

MM: How did you decide on your pen name, Felix Baron?

FB: Kerri Sharpe asked me for a list of first names and surnames for her to consider – hence Morgana Baron, her choice. After Kerri moved on, I was given leave to use a male name. ‘Felix’ means ‘fortunate,’ so I tried the Chinese mojo.

MM: Let’s talk about Dominant. It tells the story of a young man’s journey to becoming a Dominant. Here’s a little excerpt:

(The teenage protagonist, Cole, begins to understand what some girls want from a man)

...The kisses became harder and deeper. Cole was congratulating himself on having picked a hot one when she slid her arms under his jacket and pinched him, hard.

Cole pulled back and told her, 'Don't do that. It hurts,' before returning to the kiss.

She twisted his flesh viciously. He caught her wrists and doubled them behind her. Vanessa went crazy. Her lips spread so wide it seemed she was trying to swallow his face. Her body twisted as if she was struggling to escape but her wrists didn't pull against his grip. Cole forced one leg between hers. Still in constant motion, she sank onto it, rucking her miniskirt high. Her pubes pressed down on his thigh and humped it ferociously. Vanessa gave a guttural cry and went limp.

She blinked at him and said, 'Goodnight,Cole. Thanks for seeing me home.'

Her door closed. Cole was left, aching hard, alone.

(Cole sees Vanessa home from another dance.)

When they got to her doorway he took hold of the back of her neck again. Her arms snaked under his jacket. Before she could get a grip on his flesh, he yanked her wrists out and behind her back. Last time, he'd held them in the small of her back. This time he pushed them up between her shoulder blades, knowing he was hurting her. Her teeth went for the side of his neck. Before they could close, he had his fist in her hair and her head bent back. Her kisses were just as wet and fierce as before. Cole pinned her to the wall with his body. He had it all worked out. Being held, painfully helpless, turned Vanessa on. If he could stop her from getting off on his leg, she'd fuck...

His freed hand popped the buttons of her blouse. Once more, he found her nipple and pinched. Her legs came up high and wrapped around his hips. His hand left her breast and worked down between their bodies. It was under her skirt and fumbling at her pantyhose when she jerked and grunted.

The bitch had got off again.

MM: Is this based on your own experience?

FB: Yes. No one is born a Dominant – or if they are, they’re weaned off it by the time they’re three. A Dominant develops. My own journey is reflected in that novel. In my experience, a man becomes a Dominant out of his love for women. Perhaps it’s laziness. Submissive women are the most straightforward in their needs, so easier to please.

MM: What about the woman in the book who seeks serious physical abuse?

FB: I’ve encountered several much more extreme ones. Such women are dangerous. The D/s dynamic can only work if the Safe Sane Consensual rule is paramount.

MM: Do you think bdsm has become ‘mainstream’?

FB: Yes. In hindsight, that was inevitable. People read erotica in order to experience better and different sex, vicariously, than in their lives. In days of yore, in our society, simple promiscuity was a taboo, so if we wrote about a character who had many partners, or a woman who openly enjoyed sex, those were enough to titillate and oral/anal etc., were way out there. These days, most people practise oral at least, and many anal, so we have to go further to reach taboo territory.

Sweet as Sin was your next book with Nexus. It’s a twisted, nourish tale about a mother, and her daughter, a father and his son. Here’s a taste:

Trixie grabbed his right wrist in both hands, pushed it down the length of her body and yanked it up under her slip. His fingers met soft wet folds. It’d been so long since he’d touched a woman there that he’d almost forgotten the intensity of the emotions generated when delicate flesh parts to eagerly welcome hard strong fingers. She was hot inside, and so wet her flesh felt slick. His two fingers squirmed, discovering Trixie’s labyrinthine internal convolutions. There were smooth places, and folds, and soft subtle pockets. Intensely aware of how delicate and sensitive the inside of a woman’s sex is, he explored slowly and cautiously. The thought of damaging her, the mere possibility of his bruising her internally, terrified him.

MM: Tell us a little bit about the plot.

FB: How can I, without spoiling the ending? Suffice to say, the male characters are easy dupes and the female ones are wise and wicked. It’s the ‘black widow’ subgenre of ‘noire.’ I tried to make it obvious that the mother and daughter were up to something but endeavoured to keep the reader in suspense about the ‘what and how.’ Then, after the major ‘dominos,’ twist, I added another and managed somehow to get away with breaking a Nexus rule.

MM: Was it difficult writing female main characters?

FB: Putting me on the spot?

People are people. Of course our hormones make us different, but we all encompass both genders and many personalities. If I can write about psychopaths and monsters from the inside, surely I can do the same with women.

MM: I believe this book might be the one that caused our editor, Adam Nevill, when asked what he wants in our books, to cry out ‘More dead bodies!’ Do you think so?

FB: Perhaps he was using corpses as symbols of cross-genre writing. Now that the Internet has taken over the anatomical school of Erotica, it behoves us to create real characters in real plots.

MM: Finally, your new release, The Persian Girl, is available now in the UK and for pre-order in the US. How did you come to write this novel? Why did you get two complete sets of royalties for it? (I think we’d all like to try that!)

FB: I’ve long been a fan of Sir Richard’s. He was an absolutely incredible character; much larger than life. If he hadn’t lived, I’d have been reluctant to create him. Who’d believe that the greatest swordsman of all time would also be a scholar, spy, diplomat and linguist of such amazing stature? I’ve wanted to use him as a character ever since I read his biography. I must add, his real adventures make the one I wrote for him pale by comparison.

I didn’t get two sets of royalties, but I did get two advances. I happened to mention Burton in casual correspondence with Maxim Jacubowski. He encouraged me to write about him for Neon, so I did. Neon paid the advances but shrivelled on the vine and released the rights back to me. I pitched the novel to Adam, who bought it despite his reluctance to buy any more historical tales. Adam makes a lot of rules. He has to. He isn’t blinded by them, though. Even if he’s actively discouraging a subgenre, show him something that he feels works well and he’ll allow it.

MM: Now that we all belong to Random House, what’s next for Nexus, Felix?

FB: Ask Adam, but I doubt even he’d be definitive. Obviously, our future work will need to be well plotted and be inhabited by interesting characters. The days of sub meets Dom and discovers her/his true nature are gone, thank goodness.

MM: Cats or dogs? Werewolves or vampires? White wine or red? Tea or coffee?

FB: Cats for apartments. Dogs for the country. Vampires, but modified ones. I’m against magic outside of Fantasy, so the vamps I write don’t change into bats. I’ve also written about werewolves, but had to adjust the way mine changed shapes. I simply couldn’t see them sucking all that fur back into their pores when they transformed back into humans.

Red wine, the drier the better. I still remember the ordinaire that I drank in France, that puckered my mouth and stuck my tongue to the roof of my mouth.

The tea/coffee thing is tricky. I arrived in Canada a true Brit, loyal to tea. Gradually, I was seduced into drinking coffee. Then, a few years back, tea lured me and is now my regular beverage. Next year? Who knows?

MM: Thank you, Felix.

Bloggers! Ask Felix your questions, share your opinions about Nexus, erotica and bdsm, tell us your stories or just post a line or two on your thoughts about this post.

We'll be giving away one copy of Dominant to one lucky commenter and one copy of Sweet as Sin to another lucky commenter. Let the fun begin!


Olivia Knight said...

it behoves us to create real characters in real plots

Absolutely, Felix - I couldn't agree more! (If you could just revive him, Madeline, after the shock of my agreeing with him?) I think one of the best things about writing for the Random-Virgin imprints (man, that just gets cooler with buy-outs) is that they stay just that bit ahead all the time - first in daring, then in quality, then in crossing genres.

(Hmm. I rack up a substantial body count in my own writing, from decimating swathes of an army to up-close-and-personal killings to the occasional exhumation - so perhaps corpses are a way of measuring quality! After all, look at Shakespeare's tragedies... ;-) )

Portia Da Costa said...

"it behoves us to create real characters in real plots"

Yeah, I really liked that line too. Don't know whether my plots are all that realistic... they're probably too slender to non existent to be realistic! But I do like to create believable characters that readers can like and relate to. :)

Thank you so much for an absolutely splendid interview, Madeline and Felix!

tls said...

Good plots and believable characters are always appreciated.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Random-Virgin. LOL, Olivia.

Great interview Madeline and Felix, I'm always intrigued about the differences and similarities between the Black Lace and Nexus lines.

real characters in real plots

We try, really we do.

Felix Baron said...

The bucket of ice-water was quite refreshing, Madeline, thanks.

Olivia, you have a point. I guess that means that Persian Girl is several hundred times as good as Sweet as Sin, by the body-count.

Portia, you are renowned for your character creation and once we have interesting ones, plot follows, no?

Madelynne, I think BL and Nexus are converging in requirements, with the hybrid more BL. IMHO, that's a good thing.

Thank you, Lusties!


Kate Pearce said...

Fascinating stuff Felix and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by the lovely Ms M. I've never really understood quite what Nexus is all about, so your examples helped to show the differences between it and BL.
I think The Persian Girl sounds fascinating!

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

So interesting and thought-provoking! Thanks for visiting, Felix!

::rushes off to add several Nexus books to To Buy list::

Felix Baron said...

Nexus v Black Lace, Kate? In the most general terms, it used to be that Nexus was simply male fantasy, in all its variety, but concentrating on very simple plots. The readers wanted 'who does what to who' without too much importance being given to who they were, or why they were in the situation. Nexus writers had to come up with a vast variety of sexual acts, often D/s. The basic plot was that the female hadn't realized she was a submissive masochist until...

Now that so much porn is available free on the Net, and men having the reputation of being more visual than women (A wild generalization) Nexus seems to have lost its less literate readers. Now, it seems to me, the remaining male readers are more demanding and more interested in complex emotions as well as plots. (and positions) That suits me just fine, though I think that's why the number of releases have been cut back so drastically.

Now, Nexus seems more literary but still male-centric. Using my own work as examples, Dominant is a coming of age, about D/s but from a more psychological/emotional pov. Sweet as Sin is about how wicked some women can be and how some men can be lead by their cocks. Persian Girl is, to me, the ultimate male fantasy; he's big, tough, brave, brilliant, and irresistible to all women.

Thanks, Dale. May I recommend some titles? Or you could win them, of course.



Madeline Moore said...

Here I am, late to my own party.
What can I add? Well, I'm also pleased that BL and Nexus are looking for realistic plots. It's much more fun to write a novel with the sex left in than some wacky tale about a gal who discovers her sexuality in a dungeon or a strict boarding school. Altho...I did enjoy those tales, back in the day...

Felix and I have very different approaches to writing. I think the reason he can write a book quickly is because he has written it in his head, first. He is always working on his wip, even while watching TV, and even in his sleep.

He has said that as I'm a faster typist, I should write more than he does (!) But, while I work out the general plot in my head, I don't 'write' until I'm at the keyboard. When I'm watching TV, I'm just watching TV.

Felix also writes every single day, and if he hasn't written one day, due perhaps to visitors or doctor's appointments or what have you, he is not content. I can go for quite a stretch of time before I get crazy and have to write stuff down before I lose my mind completely.

ps - Felix, Dale can't win the books because she's a member of LB.
Hopefully we'll get more comments on Thursday from non-members...or ex-members (?) Otherwise it would appear 'tis' is in luck.

Kate Pearce said...

I write my books in my head too!

Nikki Magennis said...

I'm here too! I had a tussle with the pooter yesterday so I missed commenting. Great interview, Madeline.

It's interesting to get a peek into the Nexus line, as I've never read anything Nexus.

God, imagine one day BL and Nexus merge into one rich and varied multi-sexual literate plotty extravaganza! Even a 'best of' antho with stories from both imprints would be fascinating. I'd buy it.

tls said...


I could use a bit of luck today, and reading would be a pleasant way to reduce stress.

Felix Baron said...

Nikki, great idea! I wonder if Adam would consider an anthology of the sexiest passages from both Imprints' novels? It might make a sales-tool.



Sarah said...

Interesting interview and I liked what you talked about in regards real plot and real characters. It has been on my mind a great deal recently. I primarily read m/m and it always frustrates me when it comes across as a facsimile and a grainy one at that!

After reading a bit about a leather guys thoughts on BDSM, it was interesting to see yours on being a Dom.