What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* Laura Roberts writes about sex, travel and ninjas – though not necessarily in that order. In addition to leg-pressing Sumo wrestlers while drinking coffee, she also runs the online literary salon, Black Heart. Laura lives in an Apocalypse-proof bunker in sunny SoCal, and can frequently be caught blogging at Buttontapper.com.
* Laura Roberts writes about sex, travel and ninjas. Because what's better than hot sex on a dream vacation while dodging shuriken? As the author of the “V for Vixen” sex column, Laura began her career writing about Montrealers’ sexcapades, which have been collected together for her book, The Vixen Files. Blending real-life observations with fictional fantasies, she’s penned parts 1 and 2 of her serial novel, Naked Montreal, along with the short story collection The Montreal Guide to Sex, saucy poetry volume 69 Sexy Haiku, and satirical novella Ninjas of the 512. She’s currently hard at work on a sexy murder mystery entitled The Case of the Cunning Linguist.
So, Laura Roberts, what/who inspired you to become a writer?
* Before I wanted to become a writer, I always enjoyed reading, and tore through my local library reading just about every book in the place. I suppose my first inspirations to become a writer came from reading humorous stories by Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein’s wacky poetry, as both of them incorporated the bizarre and the fantastic into everyday life. Eventually I had some encouraging teachers at school, including a rather crazy high school English teacher who told me I would one day make use of his grammar lessons as a published author. I finally went to college to study creative writing, where I also served as the Literary Arts Editor for the school newspaper and started my own literary magazine. After graduation I began writing a column for the local paper, and I’ve been writing professionally ever since.
When did you attempt your first story? What length was it? What's become of it?
* Some of the earliest stories I remember writing were collaborations with my best friend, Jenna, in grade school. We did modern-day variations of different fairy tales and ancient Greek myths, including a take on the Three Little Pigs entitled “The Three Punk Piggies.” In it, the pigs were actually the villains, picking on a nerdy wolf and planting fake fur at the crime scenes in an attempt to incriminate him. I suspect the entire story was only about 1,000 words or so, and I have no idea what’s become of it, but Jenna may still have a copy somewhere in her archives. I’ve actually been thinking about updating that story for 2014, and giving it a dirty twist to make it a kind of fractured erotic fairy tale, so I guess there’s really no telling what might happen to your juvenilia in the end.
How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
* I think the first story I sold was for a grand total of $5, but I do know I had several other short stories published in various unpaid markets before that. So I guess I would say about a dozen or so, although I’ve never really kept track of that! I think part of it is because I know that I will write whether or not I’m paid to do so, and I have to agree with Cory Doctorow’s notion that the biggest problem for writers these days is being discovered by readers. The more you can just get your work in front of readers, the better. And while getting paid to do that is nice, it’s not the only reason to publish – or to write.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
* The best piece of advice I’ve received is the motto of the Book In A Week writing group, which is “BIC HOK TAM.” That’s an acroynm that means “Butt In Chair, Hands On Keys, Typing Away Madly.” It’s really the only way to get any work done on a consistent basis.
* The worst advice I’ve ever received is probably to write to a specific word limit every day. I find I write a lot better when I have a different type of goal in mind, like finishing a chapter, sketching out a scene, or even just creating an outline. It’s not about the number of words, but about getting something important down on paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even good, but it has to get out of my head and onto the computer.
The book you’re promoting, is it a stand-alone story or part of a series?
* Naked Montreal is what I call a serial novel, where Naked Montreal: Sex and the Underground City is part one in the series. I’ve also published part two, entitled Naked Montreal: Porn Stars and Peccadillos, and I’m currently working on part three, which doesn’t yet have a subtitle. Part one introduces readers to the world of Francesca “Frankie” Parker, my narrator who is a sexy tour guide in Montreal. She’ll show you around all the naughtier parts of the city, like the strip clubs and sex shops, absinthe parlors and places where you can eat sushi off a live nude girl. Part two continues her adventures, with lots of colorful characters exploring their own particular fetishes.
What sparked the idea for the story/series?
* The idea for Naked Montreal comes from the time I spent writing a sex column in Montreal. It was called “V for Vixen,” and was more of a series of personal essays than the typical Q&A-style sex column, so I did a lot of research and spoke to lots of interesting people in the city who either perform sex work for a living or are peripherally related to that sphere. I got to meet burlesque dancers, sex shop owners, indie porn producers, and lots of other folks who got my creative engine revved up. While the column I wrote was nonfictional, it also gave me a lot of ideas for my short fiction, and so I started writing them down and trying to figure out how to compile them together. Eventually it occurred to me that there ought to be a tour guide to the Underground City as the connecting theme, and Frankie sashayed into my life on her stiletto heels to do the job. (And, in case you were wondering, I’ve also collected my columns into another book, called The Vixen Files: Naughty Notes from a Montreal Sex Columnist, which you can also find on Amazon.)
*** Now for some fun info… ***
Would you/have you own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet?
* I’ve never owned any particularly exotic pets, unless you count an orange Persian that my family had when I was growing up. I’m pretty big on cats (I currently have two – Ned and Percy), but I think if I had enough space for owning some larger exotic pets I’d like to own a llama or two. They seem like they’d be pretty hilarious to have around, and if I learned how to make yarn, I could knit a lot of my own clothes from their wool.
Which do you prefer: rain or sun & warm weather or cold weather?
* I’m probably the only weirdo on the planet who’s going to say she prefers colder weather, but I did get used to those crazy Montreal winters. There’s something kind of romantic about cuddling up under a down comforter, or staying inside wrapped up in a cozy sweater and drinking coffee while you pound away on your latest masterpiece. I definitely prefer trying to slog through a bunch of snow to navigating a rainstorm, although you certainly have to have the right kind of clothes either way. So isn’t it funny that I currently live in southern California, where it never ever snows? (I blame my husband; he wanted to live near the ocean and escape the cold.)
If you could live anywhere in the universe, where would it be and why?
* I’d really like to live in Europe, where you can decide you need a change of scenery, hop on a train, and be in a totally different country in a couple of hours. I like the European attitude toward food and drink, where it’s not just about getting a huge pile of food for cheap, but trying to get the best possible ingredients and treating them with care. Plus they have amazing coffee and chocolate, which are two of my favorite things. I’m leaning towards Italy, although I’d be happy with just about any country in the EU.
If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?
* Hmm. How modern are we talking? I mean, running water is a must. And something to cook with, of course. Does this include futuristic technology? Because what I’d really like is one of those kajiggers from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that detects what you’re craving and makes it for you. Barring that, I suppose a stovetop would suffice. I would definitely want some electricity and internet access so I could email for help – although with all those spam messages claiming they’re from your best friend who’s lost her passport in China and please send money ASAP, I suppose they might go unheeded. This “desert island” sure is looking like an island getaway at this point, so I may as well go for broke and insist on a butler, to buttle. I’d make him fetch me plenty of cocktails to keep me calm while I wait to be rescued, and put him to work building some suitable clothing like a coconut bra and palm leaf skirt. I mean, a girl’s got to look good even when she’s been shipwrecked, am I right?
*** About Laura Roberts’ book ***
* Little does he realize, I'm just the appetizer. The main course is on her way, ready to beat him into submission. She goes by the name Lady Evelyn, but I've never seen any evidence of her title's origins. I keep getting texts from her that say she's on her way, which usually means she'll be fifteen minutes late. I've got to keep the Catch wriggling on the line for a few more minutes, until she shows.
* I finally receive a text from Lady Evelyn announcing her arrival, and swiftly draw our meal to a close as the Consultant inhales the last bits of mungfish left on the plate. I casually gesture for the check, and he signs off on our decadent feast with a look of pure evil in his eyes. I stand up, as if headed for the ladies' room.
* “Meet me in back in five minutes,” I whisper in his ear.
* His eyes widen, and a smirk creeps across his face. Showtime.
***Buy Laura Roberts' book here***
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***Find Laura Roberts here***
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Thank you for joining us here today, Laura Roberts! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work.
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