January 29th, 2011

Author Chat: Julie Cox

Hello and welcome, ladies, gents, variations thereof and otherwise! My name is Julie Cox, and I am the author of one of Circlet's newest titles, Chasing Tail. It is a series of intertwined erotic short stories about the shapeshifter community in northern Arkansas. I have individual short stories in other Circlet titles, including Like a Prince, and a self-published ebook of non-erotic short stories, Hearth and Harvest. My website is at SouthernMystic.com. I am here to talk with you about all things writing, erotic and fantastic.

The topic I'd like to start with is how small, familiar details can make a character real to the audience. My take on eroticism is heavier on the romance angle than the erotic. Since reading is a very mental activity, the usual pornographic imagery isn't enough to thrill the reader; their mind has to have a firm grasp (heheheh) on who exactly these people are and what they are feeling. Who cares if he's a hot immortal or she's a transforming cyborg? I have to know why the sexual encounter is important to them in order to live the moment with them.

Something that Stephen King described in his absolutely fantastic book On Writing is that it's not the number of details you include that make for a great description, but the quality of a few choice details. I think this is especially important in sci-fi/fantasy, since so much of the story may be wildly outside the normal sphere of experience. Our transforming cyborg starts out as a very distant, amorphous entity; then she does something familiar, like chewing on her nails, or being unable to sleep after reading a scary story, and she becomes a little less distant, a little more familiar. Knowing the color, fabric, make and cut of a man's clothes may or may not tell me much about him, but simply stating something like 'his wardrobe cost more than his education' or 'his clothes were the mismatched affair of one who has few choices, if any at all' tells the reader far more about the personality, values and state of life of the character in question. Enough of those little details add up to create in the reader's mind a clear picture of the character - and along with it, a connection to said character that makes the reader care who they bed, and how, and why, which makes it especially relevant to erotic stories.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and ideas on the concept. Share with me little details you remember that stuck with you, whether you wrote them or someone else wrote them. Disagree with me, and tell me why. Agree with me, and sing my praises. (Ok, it's true, I like that option the best.) Think about it and tell me why you think it is or isn't true, and how it does or does not specifically relate to erotica and the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Thank you!
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Author Chat: Julie Cox, Issue 2

Hello again! In this second installment of Author Chat, I want to talk shapeshifters! See here for the first round of thoughts and ideas, as well as an explanation of who exactly I am.

Shapeshifters are a pretty big theme for me. Part of it is my affinity for a totemic type of spirituality, identifying parts of oneself with aspects of the world, be it animals, plants, zodiacs, etc. From there it's an easy leap to imagine changing one's shape to better suit the internal world. Part of it also is simply disliking being corporeal; how appealing it is to imagine the physical realm as malleable and subject to the will of the individual.

One of the big decisions in Chasing Tail was what type of animal shapeshifter each character was. With a main pair in each of the six stories, I had a lot of decisions to make. Each character's relationship with their animal form was different, and what they took from that animal was different. Their relationships were affected by what their animal forms were. Their society was informed in part by the blended psychology of animal and human.

In the world of Chasing Tail, when a person becomes a shapeshifter, they choose what animal they will become. So what I want to hear from you is simple: What animal would you choose to turn into, if you were a shapeshifter? Why that particular critter? For my part, it would be a fox. It's been one of my totems for many years; I have a fox tattoo on my back. We've had foxes den under our deck (and kill our chickens). I feel an affinity for the opportunistic, sly, observant and highly adaptable little bastards. How about you?