What is your newest book about? My newest book, Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality, is a departure for me in that it’s not written in third person. It’s a revealing memoir about my journalistic research into Americans’ alternative sex practices – such as swinging and BDSM. Secret Sex Lives was a Publishers Weekly fall 2012 pick in the memoir category, a Barnes & Noble editor’s recommendation, and was selected by Tampa’s Creative Loafing as one of the 10 most provocative books of 2012. It was also featured on Katie Couric’s talk show, Katie.
What is the writing process like for you? Painful! Seriously, it is painful … especially when writing a memoir and being called to reveal things one doesn’t want to reveal about oneself. Beyond that, I’ve learned that writing massmarket paperback true crime is very different from writing trade paperback memoir.
How does it feel to be a published author? Certainly, there is great joy in holding a published book in my hands – that feeling of accomplishment, especially after eight years of researching and writing. But, for me, the joy is always coupled with anxiety as I worry about whether the book will sell, whether it will get any publicity so that people even know it exists, how readers and reviewers and those in the book will react to it, what the Amazon reviews are going to be like, and the, oh, dear, what’s my next book going to be? oh, my gosh, I’ve got to think about my next book.
Any advice for struggling writers? Know that your feelings of anxiety are normal. Even the most successful writers have them. In fact, when I freak out, I think of romance novelist Mary Lynn Baxter. For 30 years or so, Mary Lynn was hugely successful in the romance field. And every time she wrote a book she thought it was going to be terrible and after she finished it she thought she could never write another book. But her books were always successes and she always wrote another one, until she decided she wanted to retire and do something else.
Where do you see book publishing heading? I don’t know where it is going, but I know where I’d like to see it go – where readers have options. If they prefer traditional books that they can cocoon themselves in while reading, I want that to be available for them. If they want interactive e-books with video and music, additional information at a click, optional endings, author interviews, and chats with other readers, I want that to be available to them. In fact, that aspect of publishing is what excites me, especially as I get to face the challenge of learning new skills. I’m psyched and ready to take on the challenge!