Interview with Zoe X. Rider
Today I’m hosting author Zoe X. Rider as part of the 2014 Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop. Be sure to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win an eBook copy of Leashed, my latest release from Siren Publishing.
Zoe, I hear a lot of authors talk about the inspiration they get from music. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
I love music. I love going to concerts. I’m one of those annoying hipster types who buys all the new albums on vinyl and won’t have anything to do with CDs. A lot of the characters I write are musicians, because I just love that whole lifestyle: creating, going on the road, the close friendships (and animosity) that form when you’re stuck in what amounts to a sexless marriage with your bandmates. However, a lot of the time I’m either too easily distracted to have music on when I write, or I’m too in-the-zone to remember to put it on. I’ve more than once realized that I’ve had headphone on for two hours, because I meant to listen to music while I wrote, but I forgot to push play. When I do successfully manage to listen to music when I write, I wind up listening to the same album over and over, because it’s easier than stopping to pick a new one, or—if I’m listening to vinyl instead of MP3s—I hear one side of an album and then nothing but silence because I can’t interrupt myself long enough to flip it over.
When I was writing Games Boys Play, the 85,000-word m/m bondagefest that Loose Id put out earlier this year, I must have played Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Baby 81 a hundred times, because the first song on the album—“Took Out a Loan”—was a great way to get me into the rhythm of writing, and then, like I said, I’d just repeat the album rather than interrupt my flow to poke around for something else.
I do often listen to music when I’m thinking about a story. Driving is great for working through stories, and driving is also great for playing music. Sometimes I’ll put an album on in my office, slump down on the loveseat, and just work through story stuff while music fills the room. I listen to a lot of garage bands, current-day psychedelic rock, and old blues, which fits well with what I write a lot of the time.
Do any of your manuscripts have a soundtrack?
Like I said, a lot of my stories have musicians in them, and the novel-length stories tend to have enough room for these musicians have music they’re interested in, so for Games Boys Play and the new adult novel I recently finished, you could probably put together soundtracks of the music those characters are into. In Games Boys Play, for instance, you find out what bands Brian likes when he starts listing their discographies in his head as a way to distract himself when he finds himself turned on but can’t act on it. (It’s the musician’s version of thinking about baseball!) In the new adult novel I recently finished, Shane listens to “new music that sounds old,” and his DIY bondage gear roommate, Derek, listens to classic rock. At one point, Shane gives Derek a mix tape of music he thinks Derek might like—I might make a soundtrack out of that when the book comes out.
As for music that fits the mood of the story as it goes along, I don’t do that so much, though I was haunted by a cover of an old Rosie and the Originals song, “Angel Baby,” as I was heading toward the ending of the new adult novel. There was a Spiritualized song stuck in my head around that too, though I don’t recall which now. Probably something off their Songs in A&E album.
As you said, Games Boys Play has a lot of bondage, as do a number of your shorter stories. How do you feel about fetishes?
I love that sexual desire is so varied and intricate and personal. Even taking a common fetish—being dominated, say—there’s so much variation from person to person about what “dominate me” means to them, how it has to play out in order to hit their uniquely individual buttons. When I find stories that make the fetishes personal to the characters, I don’t even care when fetishes they are, I’m into the stories. Something that reads like a step-by-step BDSM template, though, doesn’t do much for me, because people are just more varied and clever and interesting than that. I’m looking to be surprised and delighted, which doesn’t mean a story has to go over-the-top into finding newer and more extreme ways to get off. It just means I want to have a sense that there are real people with real needs in these characters, that they’re not just working their way through a BDSM (or whatever) Scene Checklist.
My husband recently asked me, when I told him about a puppy play story I had an idea for, “How can you write about something you’re not into?” I told him I don’t have to be into it. The characters do. I’m into the characters: they have needs and desires and fears and, ultimately, courage, and that’s what it’s all about for me. The particulars of thing that sates their desires become interesting to me because it’s interesting to them. And hopefully that makes it interesting to readers too.
Is there anything that makes you nervous about readers?
Oh geez. What doesn’t make me nervous about readers? I’m nervous that readers who aren’t familiar with my writing won’t like it. I’m nervous that readers who like the stuff I’ve already done won’t like what I do next. Whenever I read a review where someone was disappointed with the story, I feel terrible. Intellectually I know you can’t please everyone, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like I let someone down. Who likes letting people down?
But of course you can get paralyzed by that. Either it can shut down your writing, or you can find yourself trying to write to please everyone, which never works out. So I don’t dwell on it. I give myself a moment of wishing I had written what that particular person was hoping to get out of a story, and then I go back to doing what I do, which is writing stories that appeal to me and hoping that they’ll wind up in front of other people who are looking for those kinds of stories.
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Scarlet!
My pleasure, Zoe! Thanks for stopping by!
Zoe X. Rider writes m/m erotica and erotic romance. Her debut novel, Games Boys Play, is available from Loose Id.
See the post below for the full schedule and details of the 2014 Absolutely Erotic Blog Hop!