November 18, 2012

Meet Jennifer Cierra!

Interview with author of gay erotic romance, Jennifer Cierra!

Why do you write?
There are so many words bouncing around in my head, and I just have to write them down. I'm not going to claim I'd go insane if I didn't write, because it's not true; if you give me enough other things to do, I can go without writing stories for months (unfortunately). But I lose something of myself when I do. When I write, one idea leads into the next, and it's this tumbling, waterfall-style effect, and I just can't stop. (As a case in point, I once wrote three different stories -- about 60,000 words total -- which were all inspired by those long, thick eyelashes men sometimes have. One idea led to another, and pretty soon I was writing a quasi-transgender character in a "comedy of errors" type plot with no idea how I'd gotten there, other than that it had something to do with eyelashes.)

What story haven't you written yet but would like to? Is there anything holding you back from writing it?
I have a half-finished novel set in the same world as Blast Off, a science fiction story with genetic manipulation, interplanetary wars, and really twisted relationships. It's been on hiatus since July, though, because, while science fiction is my favorite genre to read, I never realized quite how much work went into believable world design. I got fed up with trying to figure out how to put a 5,000-person village and all their goats into one spaceship, so I came back to contemporary, Long Beach stories for a while. Long Beach already exists, so I don't have to define its architectural style. Still, I'd like to return to the novel at some point. World-creation is frustrating but thrilling, and I need some practice. And besides, Zeke makes a cameo in the end, which I'm looking forward to writing.

What would you consider is your favorite part of a book to write? The beginning, the middle or the ending?
I have two favorites: the beginning, while it's still that honeymoon phase and I'm not worried about continuity or understandability or plausibility or any other annoying "-ity" and can just write, and the final edit. I usually have major issues with the middle, and I almost always switch to other stories at that point, which explains my large backlist of unfinished stories. I'll write until a little ways before the climax, get frustrated or confused or disinterested, and move on to something else, and then, weeks later, I'll look at the story, decide it was actually worth something, and buckle down and finish the thing. The final edits are wonderful, because I can look over the entire piece of writing and think, "Yep, I created that."

Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I usually outline while writing, along with some notes about hair and eye color, and other easy-to-mix-up details. If I outline past the climax, though, I'll move on to another story without finishing the one I just outlined, though, so it's important for me to keep that in mind.

Do you track work count or write a certain number of hours per day?
Outside of NaNoWriMo, no. I'm terrible with length requirements; they eat away at me, and no matter what they are, the story I've designed usually doesn't fit well within them. For me, the length of the story is the time required to tell it convincingly and interestingly. The only type of length requirement that doesn't distort my muse is the type saying 5,000-100,000 words, and even then, I'll probably end up writing something 4,500 words long and want to call it finished.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Definitely help. My muse has a lot to say, but she's willing to demur to more pressing matters, so the things with deadlines (e.g. essays, freelance editing, and midterms) usually come first, unfortunately. A strict schedule of deadlines makes for a much more productive me.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
As entire characters, always my imagination. I put my characters through too much grief to want to pretend they're anyone I actually know! They're not entirely inorganic, though. I've read that characters are usually at least half-author, and I think it's true at least for my writing. My characters deal with my fears, usually in much steamier situations than I would allow myself. Take Jordan in Blast Off, for instance. He was scared of attachment -- scared of being left -- and he made a snap decision which he thought would be better for everyone and ended up regretting it. I've done that, in less serious contexts. I try to give my characters real-seeming fears and conflicts, and one way to do that is to use my own.

Is it hard coming up with names for your characters?
Sometimes. Zeke and Jordan were very difficult, mostly because they started out as Cal and Dwight, respectively. The main characters of the other novel I'm working on in this world, though, are named Cory and Derrick, and I couldn't see having two couples with C&D names. Luckily, I have a friend who's wonderful with names, and she fixed Zeke and Jordan in minutes. (She's the force behind Vince Valentino in my Valentine's Day short, too.) Names are usually last in my character-planning process.

What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
They have to be different. I can't stand those relationships where both people are exactly the same, go to the same haircutter, have the same interests, wear the same shirt three days out of four ... My characters have to have their own lives outside of their relationships, and those lives can't be identical. I need points of friction between them to be able to write about them. Without friction, I can't start a fire.

And now, enough about the writing -- give us some fun facts!

Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Definitely dog. Cats are probably smarter, but dogs are just so much more lovable.

What is your favorite curse word?
Schei├če. It's German for "shit," and it's probably the only curse word I say on a regular basis. I write expletives (and think), but I rarely say them, for some reason. But cursing in German doesn't seem as extreme.

Name something you do when you're alone that you wouldn't do in front of others.
Sing. I can't stay on tune for the life of me, and other people hearing my singing usually don't even know what I'm trying to do, but I don't have an iPod, so sometimes, when I'm walking in the city and the street is completely empty (because no one walks in Southern California), I'll just start singing at the top of my lungs. (It's usually right about then that I walk past a bus stop and find out I wasn't alone, after all, which then stops the singing again for at least twenty mortified feet, or so.)

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
You're reading it =). Although I must admit, I don't feel particularly guilty about it.

Jennifer Cierra
Twitter: @CierraJennifer

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