AMY: First of all, tell me about how you came to Grub Street.
LANA: I'm a Brit who moved to the Boston area over ten years ago. When I arrived here, I knew that my writing was going to be important for me and I wanted to tap into a supportive community. When I researched writing centers and classes, Grub Street was the obvious choice -- they had such a rich array of courses and everyone spoke so highly of their instructors. They were also one of the few places that offered classes in different genres. I went along to "Fiction 1," which was my first ever writing course and I never looked back! I currently teach Six Weeks, Six Stories as an online course, not to mention an indie publishing seminar. Grub is a wonderful place.
AMY: To this day, you are one of my favorite writing instructors. What have you found is the best way to successfully lead a group of writers through a workshop?
LANA: How kind, Amy! Thank you! Well, when we writers look at our work, we're often looking for what isn't yet working. It's easy to do that -- to focus on negatives. But that's an important skill, right? After all, editing and redrafting are part of every writer's toolbox. But when we look critically at our work and/or the work of others, it's all too easy to skimp when praising what is actually working. That said, when we know what is working well in our writing, not only is our self-esteem higher, but we also gain the confidence to take more risks and experiment more fully.
So, in workshops, I try to make sure that we focus specifically on what is working in pieces of writing and why, while also making very specific suggestions for a next draft. Everyone benefits from analyzing what works well in a piece of writing, and the strategy also makes for a safe and inspiring atmosphere that increases our general stickability! We don't shy away from what will strengthen the pieces, of course. That is a vital part of workshop.
AMY: Erotic fiction is a genre that is wildly popular and at the same time utterly taboo. Can you tell me what draws you to the genre?
LANA: Well, I felt a great deal of sexual shame when I was younger, and it caused me all sorts of problems. (Among other things, I was already well into my first marriage when I managed to face the possibility that I might be gay! That's what sexual shame can do to us, of course -- it can make us hide from our true selves.) I've also seen the lives of people I love absolutely ruined because of their fear of their own sexual desires and identities. I was fortunate enough, however, to come across Anais Nin quite early on. Nin's writings, particularly her diaries (like Fire: A Journal of Love, which is often extremely erotic) tapped me into the heart of a woman who knew that her sexuality was powerful and vital. It was like coming home.
So, I began to enjoy erotica -- and I also found that I loved to write it. Sometimes, when my stories were first appearing in print, I'd receive emails from readers saying that my erotica had liberated and touched them. That was pretty profound for me! Then, years later, my wife Angela Tavares and I started up Go Deeper Press in order to fight shame and show that erotica can add amazing depth to our lives. We love the work we do!
AMY: What have been some of the difficulties you have faced in writing this genre?
LANA: Thanks to recent trends, I think erotica is far less frowned on than it was. That said, I launched my second identity as Lana because of an incident that proved erotic writing didn't mix with aspects of my career, (I wrote a post about that at Psychology Today recently) so society still has its biases, for sure! I've certainly had to become very strong with my boundaries. People make all sorts of assumptions about erotic writers in terms of the quality of our work, the activism we feel and express, our private lives, and the content of our books. Such assumptions, of course, are part of the very same sexual shame that authors in this genre so often actively fight!
Erotic writers are so often amazing people with a real commitment to creating a happier world. I have made some very close friends through being an erotic writer. It's a profound privilege.
AMY: Tell me about your latest novel, Confessions of a Kinky Divorcee.
LANA: Thanks for asking! In the book, Debs overcomes a painful divorce and finds her true erotic self because of her love of shoes. Rather than judging her adoration of stiletto heels as shallow, she decides to accept them as part of her identity. And that's what brings her the courage to become herself, both inside and outside of the bedroom, and
finally pursue the woman of her dreams.
AMY: In addition to writing, co-running Go-Deeper Press, and teaching at Grub Street, you have started a website to help self-published authors get their books published. Can you tell our readers about Here Booky Booky?
LANA: Here Booky Booky has been so exciting to launch and we've been working with some amazing indie writers! (We are selective about who we work with because we value shared passion so highly, but anyone can easily apply.) Basically, we turn authors' manuscripts into beautiful e-books and/or print books, and help them get these out to the readers who want/need them. As well as book and cover design, we offer web design, social media services for writers, and manuscript feedback services. It's all very exciting and we're having a wonderful time! Our community rocks -- and is constantly growing. What could be better?
Thanks so much for an awesome interview, Amy!
Visit Here Booky Booky
Check out lanafox.com
Visit Go Deeper Press
Buy Confessions of a Kinky Divorcee on Amazon
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Amy R. Biddle, co-founder and editor at Underground Book Reviews, was raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has since made a living on the great blue sea. Find out more at www.amyrbiddle.com or check out her book, The Atheist's Prayer.