Lord Craven and the LIT ladies, want to welcome to the Lust in Time manor, our very special guest, author, Victoria Janssen.
I'm hoping we can talk her into some steamy (though admittedly the PG-13 stuff) excerpts this week! Feel free to ask Victoria questions about her work and her new book! Later in the week, I think Victoria has some special fun in store!
Here is the gorgeous cover of her new book THE DUCHESS, HER MAID, THE GROOM, & THEIR LOVER"
Amanda: Victoria, have you always written erotic fiction?
Victoria: I didn't start out with the goal of writing for Spice, or even for Harlequin. When I first start writing, around twenty years ago, I thought of myself as a science fiction/fantasy author. I'd always assumed I would be a novelist, but wasn't quite sure how to go about it, and spent a great deal of time writing and rewriting the first half of various novels. It wasn't until I discovered I had a talent for sexy scenes that I considered writing erotica at all.
I started out in erotica with short stories, using a hastily-chosen pseudonym, Elspeth Potter. I sent my first story, "Water Music," off to an anthology edited by Mary Anne Mohanraj called Aqua Erotica. Alas, the story did not sell. Later, when I saw the anthology, I realized why; my story was considerably smuttier and less literary than what was chosen.
So, first rejection in hand, I went to erotica writer and editor Cecilia Tan (whom I knew already) and asked her where I should send the story. Cecilia suggested Best Lesbian Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino. I can't remember when I mailed the submission, but it was probably the winter of 1999. In the summer of 2000, I received an acceptance for "Water Music," which was incredibly exciting and validating. Also it paid money!
"Ducal Service" was another of the earliest stories I'd written, and one of my favorites; it had eventually sold to an e-anthology, but nowhere else, and a long time had passed since that sale.
Amanda: So you're basically writing "fantasy" at this point but with an erotic twist, what did you do next?
Victoria: Cecilia Tan was co-editing an anthology about older women with younger men, which fit the story's plot. I realized I'd never submitted a story to her before, so I sent it off, in the hopes that the fantasy setting would be unique enough for a sale. She bought it, and soon after I had an enquiry from her co-editor, Lori Perkins: would I be interested in shopping a novel proposal, based on the short story? I said, sure. We exchanged a few emails, Lori agreed with me that Emma Holly's erotic novels would be good models, and I went off to write another couple of chapters and an outline.
A side note here. Lori was Cecilia's agent, and I had once been briefly introduced to her, but it had been so many years before that I'd completely forgotten even her name. Even though I had now been reminded she was an agent, it took several hours for me to put the pieces together. I was riding the bus home that evening before I began to wonder if having an agent shop a proposal for me meant that I had an agent. It doesn't often work that way, but in my case, it did. I had completed a novel at this point; it didn't sell, but it did establish that I could write an entire novel; otherwise, selling on proposal would have been much more difficult.
After I sent Lori the proposal, then came the hurry up and wait stage that is common to publishing. I continued to work on short stories, and occasionally would add material to the Ducal Service manuscript, to have a head start if the proposal should sell. Publisher one turned the proposal down--too much sex. Publisher two passed, I think for the same reason.
Amanda: This sounds like a familiar story, but you persevered, obviously!
Victoria: In May 2007, thirteen months after Lori first started shopping the proposal, I heard from an assistant at Mira Books, who was interested in seeing the full manuscript. I let Lori know, and she called Susan Pezzack Swinwood, editor of the Spice imprint. By this point, I had seven additional chapters, roughly half of the manuscript, and feverishly began writing more. I forwarded those to Susan, and based on those chapters, she went to Acquisitions. By early September, the book was sold, along with an untitled second book. The completed manuscript was due the end of October, for publication the following December.
Much gleeful bouncing and squealing ensued. I'd achieved a lifelong dream. Then I had to buckle down to work!
Amanda: Wow! Congratulations! So you ended up changing the name of the book to what it is now? How did you come up with that very intriguing title (though it may seem obvious) Do you enjoy writing erotic historical? What do you have coming next?