Saturday, September 01, 2007

Six with Rob Graham

A male erotic romance writer is a rare thing indeed. Sure, there are plenty of authors who write under a male or ambiguous name, particularly for the M/M market, but women truly dominate the field.

So today I'm picking the brain of a guy (or "Diva Dude" as he's referred to at the Romance Diva forum) who breaks the mold. Let's find out all about him...

LB: There's nothing like a first sale story. Tell us all about yours. Do male writers scream and happy dance like we ladies do—or do you pump a fist in the air and make grunting noises?

Rob: The first sale I made was Discovery, to Phaze as part of their Fetish HeatSheet line. Didn’t scream. I did happy dance and pump my fist in the air. No grunting though, I chanted “Yes!” over and over. I’m a ridiculously articulate person, even when excited. ;)

LB: Your D/s tale, The Gift, was also published by Phaze. Why does writing about this lifestyle appeal to you? What kind of research did you do for this story?

Rob: There are two things that interest me about this lifestyle. First, I’ve always been fascinated with power, and power is an important part of D/s. The other, with The Gift at least, was me exploring the submissive mindset, something I didn’t understand at the time.

Research consisted of reading stories in the genre, determining what worked in the ones I liked and didn’t work in the ones I disliked. I also spoke a fair bit with people involved in the life. The closest I came to ‘proper research’ was reading a book by Erich Fromme, Escape From Freedom. I learned from that book that along with loss of freedom comes a loss of responsibility. That’s where the submissive mindset clicked for me. The sub doesn’t have any responsibilities but to enjoy what’s being done to them. That was a major breakthrough for me and really helped with creating my characters for The Gift.

LB: That's the cool thing about research--that "aha!" moment that supports your story and makes you love the writing of it all the more. Unfortunately, not all authors like plotting as much as research :) Are you a plotter or a pantser... or a little of both? Share with us the process you go through when you take a story from an idea to the finished work.

Rob: I’m mostly a panster with a little plotter thrown in. The clearest process I can recall was for a story I wrote called The Orange Slip. I was working as a janitor at a place here in Toronto at a place called The Distillery District. This is a cultural centre, a rather popular one. I went into one of the galleries there and I saw this painting.

Light (Housewife series) by J.T.Winik

I started wondering, “Who is this woman? Who is she smiling at? Why? What brought them to this point?” Answering those questions, and answering the questions that the answers raised eventually became the story. My creative process is sort of a Socratic dialogue with myself.

LB: That's a lovely painting--it would inspire me as well. Tell us about the details on your latest release, The Gift and any works in progress.

Rob: The Gift is the story of Charlene Raleigh. She’s a driven lawyer who has put aside pretty much everything in her drive to the top of her profession. She’s almost anhedonic, that is someone unable to enjoy pleasure. She meets a man by the name of Tom Jackson.

Tom sees something in her. Over the space of several weeks and several outings he draws this from her. He makes Charlene experience joy once again.

When she is ready, Tom takes her into his playroom and gives Charlene a gift. The gift of herself.

I’m very pleased with this one. When it was posted at Literotica I received nearly eighty pieces of feedback on it. Most of them quite complimentary.

My next release is an anthology of romances entitled Gillian’s Place. It will be available soon from Aspen Mountain Press.

This is what it’s about.

A lot of people pass through a bar. As they do, they leave small pieces of their lives behind in the form of stories.

Come and listen to the bartender at Gillian’s Place as he tells the stories of the patrons he’s seen over the years.

Here’s a short taste of it. This excerpt is taken from the story The Orange Slip, mentioned above.

Marian was standing in the entrance to the hall. She was dressed only in the orange slip from that day over two years before. Her hands were holding the hem as if to lift it and reveal herself to him. A small, wicked smile played on her lips.

“Good God,” Frank managed to choke out.

“I see you remember that day,” Marian noted, her smile growing a little.

“It’s never far from my mind.”

“I’ve remembered that time every day since. I saw you looking at me with that lust burning in your eyes. Ralph had never done it. It felt so good to be wanted so badly. If I wasn’t such an honest woman I would have had you take me right then.”

“For a second, I wanted to take you right there. But I couldn’t. You were my friend, and married. Troubled or not, I couldn’t let you risk that.”

Marian nodded. “That was my thought too. But it was so hard. That’s why I didn’t visit for a while. I didn’t think I would be strong enough to say no. If I hadn’t missed your friendship so much, I would never have come over again."

“But I did miss you. When I finally went back to your house for coffee, it was because I wanted my friend back. And I was prepared at that point to be your lover as well if that’s what it took. I was so relieved when you didn’t, and a little disappointed too. I saw you wanted me. I liked being wanted again.”

Frank felt himself relax, and his manhood harden. Marian’s honesty was allowing him to slip the tight bonds he had put on his feelings for so long.

“Marian, I did want you. But if I had followed my wants, we both would have regretted it. Neither of us thought adultery was a good thing. Sooner or later, our guilt over doing it would have destroyed our friendship. I would rather have had a friend forever than a lover for a year.”

Marian moved on bare feet towards him. “We don’t need to worry about that anymore.”

“But it will still change things.”

“I don’t care!” she replied with vehemence. “I want you, Frank. I want you now! We’ll survive this night. Changed or not, we’ll have each other, as we have all these years. As we always will.”

She sat on his lap, straddling his hips. For a second he could see the dark triangle between her legs. Reaching for his fly, she unzipped it, then pulled his stiff manhood from his briefs into the open. “I want a man who wants me,” Marian panted. “I want the man who wants me. It’s been too long and I won’t wait anymore.”

And at that, she placed him at her entrance and pushed herself down his full length.

LB: Great excerpt! Reading excerpts always makes me wonder about the dreaded editing process. So about editing your work before submission... love it or hate it? Any tips for fellow writers on revision?

I enjoy the revision process. It lets me both read and write at the same time.

As far as advice to my fellow writers goes, when revising, be cold. If a sentence, paragraph or chapter adds nothing to the story, delete it or redo it. If you get too attached to it and can’t make the necessary changes, your work won’t be as good as it could be.

LB: Very true. Speaking of fellow writers, what authors inspire you? What genres besides erotic romance do you enjoy as a reader?

Rob: For writing style I love Harlan Ellison. His stories ‘Repent, Harelquin!’ Said The Ticktockman and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream are two of the finest short stories in the English language. If I ever write half as well as he does, I’ll be very happy with myself.

My favourite fiction genre is fantasy and speculative fiction. Fantasy is just fun while speculative fiction deals with a lot of philosophical ideas that I love thinking about.

My favourite non-fiction genres are history and political science. They’re all about humanity and I’m fascinated by my species and the trouble it gets itself into.

LB: Thank you so much, Rob, for taking the time to share a little about yourself. I enjoyed learning more about you and your work. And good luck with your next release! For more about Rob, visit his website,


rgraham666 said...

Thanks ever so much for this opportunity, Laura. It was a lot of fun answering those questions. :)

Laura Bacchi said...

You're welcome, Rob! It was my pleasure :)

Sasha White said...

What a great Interview!!

Congratulations on all of the sales, and the new release, Rob. I love the insights into the D/s motivations, and can;t wait to read Gillian's Place. As a bartendinger, you can be sure I'm gonna love it!!

rgraham666 said...

Thank you, Sasha. :)

danetteb said...

Hi Rob,
I chatted with you a few times on live chats,it was nice getting to know a little bit about your books and your creative process.
Hugs, Danette

rgraham666 said...

Thank you, danette. Glad to be of service. :)