BIO: The author of several books of fiction and fiction with spice, Leslie Lee Sanders spends her time writing erotic romances (mostly in the gay and ménage categories). She currently has two books available for mature teen readers and several erotic romances published as e-books and in print. Published with Xcite books and Breathless Press.
Nymph Du Pave: What lead to your choice to write?
Leslie Lee Sanders: Writing has always been more of an urge rather than a choice for me. Discovering the many adventures, conflicts and characters in books made me want to create my own world. In sixth grade I did just that, writing short horror stories inspired by the scary story books by Alvin Schwartz. Even now, it’s that urge to write, to create that keep me at my computer at all kinds of crazy hours.
NDP: What are your current projects? Can you share a little of your current work with us? (it will be linked to as a PDF)
LLS: My latest release, Tongue Tied, is an MM erotic short. It’s a very erotic tale about Ryan who develops a longing for his best friend’s tongue after a night of “double dating” with sexy Katelyn. However, it’s difficult for Ryan to tell his friend what’s been nagging at him.
I’m really excited about what I call my MM, post-apocalyptic erotic romance, Before the Darkness. In short, it’s about Elliot and Adam who are survivors of an asteroid impact and are working together to get over their inner demons and their growing attraction for each other as they search for other survivors. But they get sidetracked when they find spray painted signs pointing them to a mysterious place: Refuge Inc.
Before the Darkness is the first book in the Refuge Inc. Series and it’s currently out on submission. So wish me luck!
LLS: Writing is definitely a career for me now and hopefully in the future too. I hope to continue getting promoted every year, making new friends and growing in every way possible.
NDP: Do you have a message or theme you want to get across? Is that something that is in all of your work, or just a particular line/series/piece?
LLS: One of the major themes I tend to promote in my stories is TOLERANCE. You know, tolerance for the eccentric, different, the unconventional. It comes across subtlety in my writings and sometimes blatantly. I think that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy writing stories with an erotic slant. I love to push the boundaries and then say, “Deal with it.” The fact that I am able to write what I please and do so unapologetically is a message itself.
NDP: Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
LLS: I would like to be on the cover of magazines, have a million dollar book deal, a movie deal, and a figurine made in my image. However, although I dream big, I live in the real world and striving to gain a larger readership, produce at least one award winning tale and write better and better books doesn’t seem too out of reach. And it wouldn’t hurt to see my name on a few bestsellers lists. I think that’s every writers dream.
NDP: What books have most influenced your life most?
LLS: As a girl I read The Giver and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Back then, I used to think a book’s title was exactly what the story would be about so I anticipated reading about some blue dolphins on an island and some Santa Claus-like character giving away stuff. Now, when rereading these stories and understanding the underlying messages and themes. I like to think that reading these books as a child had something to do with the urge I have to create stories with core messages, even if I didn’t recognize the impact then.
NDP: What was the best advice you have ever heard, read or been given regarding writing?
LLS: Best writing advice by far: Know the rules, understand them, and apply them before breaking them. Now, that’s not an exact quote, but the gist of what I’ve read in dozens of books on fiction writing over the years. And it’s true, I believe. You have to know the rules of writing and publishing before you can break the rules and still succeed.
NDP: What book are you reading now?
LLS: I recently finished reading an amazing dark tale, Hushed by Kelley York. It’s a great take on a semi-romantic thriller for those who enjoy dark reads. You actually feel for the young killer who falls for another man. You understand his motive and feel his pain enough to root for him. And there’s somewhat of a happy ending. Brilliant story. Highly recommended.
NDP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
LLS: Besides the aforementioned Kelley York, I was eyeing Damon Suede and his MM story Hot Head which has gotten a lot of attention lately.
NDP: What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
LLS: Ooh, good question! I always wanted someone to ask, “What’s something you find weird about yourself that you’d like to share?” And I would answer, “I use men’s deodorant because I’m allergic to an ingredient in women’s. It burns my pits, man!” Funnier if they asked me that question in person, because then I can use hand gestures and facial expressions to get my point across. Lol.
NDP: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? (OR) What is the hardest part of writing for you?
LLS: The hardest part of writing, for me and probably most fiction writers, is to FINISH writing the story. It’s always so easy to start a novel or novella, but to keep the momentum going requires a lot of determination.
NDP: Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so how do you get through it?
LLS: I don’t really believe in writer’s block. To me, writer’s block is just an excuse not to write. The problem is you’re losing interest in the part of the story you’re stuck on. A good solution is to skip ahead. Start writing the next chapter, the climax or even the ending. That way you’re still writing and stimulating your imagination at the same time. So when you get to the end, you can go back to the part you skipped and finish writing it, rewrite it, or scrap it with ease.
LLS: I’m inspired by movies, music, other stories, dreams, headlines and everyday life. Everything is inspiration for writing, either by inspiring ideas, characters or scenes, etc., or by inspiring me to keep writing and keep improving.
NDP: How do you keep the love of writing alive?
LLS: I think part of my love for writing comes from the “creating” part of it. I’m an artist. I have to make things, invent this, and bring things to life. I have an intense urge to leave my mark on the world. I need to mold something into existence with my hands or my voice, use my mind, my imagination, my concepts, and share it with the masses. It’s an addiction, which is the only way I can explain why I do the creative things I do. I’ll never stop. And money has never been a factor. Even if I were a billionaire I would still write fiction.
NDP: Have you learned anything from writing? What was it?
LLS: If it’s too easy, you’re not doing it right. That’s my motto. It can be applied to almost anything really; writing, exercising, sex. Kind of like that old saying: No pain, no gain. I picked up this motto after realizing … just because I finished writing a 60k word novel in 30 days doesn’t mean it’s ready for publication. Some things you have to learn the hard way. It’s better to fail and learn from it than to fail and fail again, right?
NDP: What do you feel are your strong points? What about things you’re working to improve?
LLS: I think I deal with criticism and rejection quite well publically. I understand everyone has their own idea of what’s good or bad, and I respect that. However, I think I need to work on dealing with criticism and rejection in private. Hubby is often subjected to an earful. Poor hubby. Thankfully, after I get it all out of my system I move on.
NDP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
LLS: A critique partner is priceless. Whether you are indie published or established, seeking publication or representation from an agent, a critique partner is invaluable and every writer needs one. Get a critique partner or two!
NDP: Do you write an outline before every book/story you write?
LLS: Not every book. I do write an outline for the big projects like series or novels with lots of characters and subplots. It a great way to keep organized. Otherwise, I know where I’m headed in the story and just write until I get there.
NDP: How do you come up with characters that are not only real to you and your readers but continue to intrigue you through the life of their in-book/series time?
LLS: Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the journey you take with the character that makes you hold on to them and their roller-coaster ride. Creating a character with enough background, personality and inner issues might be the trick. I’m in love with the characters of my MMF novel (turned free online serial), Three’s a Crowd. I haven’t written about them in a while and I actually miss them. They each have so many issues to explore, you can’t forget about them so easily. They just don’t allow you to move on.
NDP: What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily/weekly writing goal?
LLS: I work mainly in my home office on my computer when I can. Honestly, I have no daily or weekly writing goals. I pick a month and tell myself I have till then to finish my current project. That’s how I’ve been rolling recently. There are too many tasks in a day or week for me to complete, and forcing myself to write when I absolutely don’t have the time to seems ludicrous. However, I always finish what I start.