The AfterDark World is pleased to interview a man with a great touch of BDSM. He runs his blogs, his own publication, his name is his trademark, and introduced a very talented woman whom we dubbed “The Goddess of Dark Erotica”. Straight out of Dallas, Texas, I introduce Michael Alexander.
1. Michael, what a pleasure to have you on, and thank you for taking the time out for this interview. Please, why don’t tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you, Ray. It’s a great pleasure to be here on AfterDark Online. It’s a fantastic nexus for those of us in the erotica industry. I am a full time writer, editor, and family man. I’ve been married for eighteen years and have three children with my fourth on the way in May. I enjoy hiking, camping, discussing politics, and am a voracious reader of science/fantasy fiction.
2. How long have you been writing and when did you decide writing this genre was for you? Also tell us about your website Michael Alexander Stories, where did it all began and what inspired you to come up with your website?
I’ve been writing erotica since I was nineteen years old and first exposed to Anne Rice’s “Beauty” Series. Admittedly those first penned stories were nothing more than a precursor to what I write now and lacked any real quality. The first story I felt was worth sharing was “The Chapel in the Woods”, a Gothic inspired tale that I wrote for a young lady named Raven whom I met while online. She appreciated it greatly and it was as if a door opened for me. At the time, I was already working for a local newspaper writing editorials and news articles, but the idea of writing fiction erotica inspired me. I posted “The Chapel” at several online libraries and received positive reviews.
The website began as a platform to provide readers with access to my stories, and eventually those of Breanne Erickson, my site and blog’s co-author. One of the problems I find with our particular genre is that publishing standards aren’t very high. Anyone with access to a computer can post an e-book online, and frequently samples aren’t enough to make a determination of whether a book is worth perusing. Michael Alexander Stories provides readers with a plethora of short stories (over twenty of them), samples of both mine and Breanne’s novels, and should give readers enough material to find out for themselves if they like our work. After that, the website expanded and grew. I have an art gallery to feature creative expression used in the writings, character profiles, some non-fiction, and other “insight” works which can give readers a glimpse into either mine or Breanne’s thought processes.
It can be difficult being a male author in a female dominated genre. One of the very first things I had to adjust too was the fact that not only do women lead the writing; they also form the majority of the reader demographic. I write action intensive stories, almost exclusively in third person, with a masculine overtone. Over the years, I’ve tried to add more “emotional” content, which have made my works richer and deeper, and appeal to the female audience at a greater level. Though regardless of gender, I still think the bottom line is being able to create believable, rich scenarios that arouse the reader, while still maintaining the story teller’s art.
When people ask what I do for a living, I’m fortunate enough to be able to say I’m a writer. But since my erotic fiction isn’t much more than a hobby, and my main income is from writing my newspaper column and the various editorials I pen, I don’t have to be too specific about the genre. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it, but imagine everyone’s reaction if they discovered that J.K. Rowling was penning adult BDSM erotic literature before writing the Harry Potter series?
4. How does you family and friends feel about your work?
My seventeen year old daughter calls me a “professional pervert,” but grins quite a bit when she does it. She steadfastly refuses to read my erotica (thank God!) but we frequently backstop each other on some of our non-erotica fiction. She mostly writes fan fiction and posts her work on fanfiction.net. My wife likes hearing my stories, but only if she’s tied up. Friends get a little wild-eyed, and then they laugh. Later, I’ll get a little nudge and a comment about one particular story or another. Admittedly, it makes the threat of “be nice or I’ll write you into my novel” a more dire menace.
5. Is there a particular genre you haven’t touched, but would be interested in doing?
I’m interested in writing paranormal thrillers, with a touch of romantic drama, emphasis on the science, rather than the mystique. I’ve already got some outlines done, but my writing schedule is corybantic. The rigors of being a stay-at-home dad, combined with publishing deadlines, sometimes makes it difficult to find time to sit down and write mentally demanding plots, much less erotica.
6. Tell us about your latest book Breanne’s Three –
This will probably be the last “Breanne” story I write, despite having two partially finished manuscripts for novella length works. As the real Breanne Erickson’s popularity grows, I want to avoid my writing being confused with hers, despite our obvious differences in style and form.
7. What inspired you to write Breanne’s Three – Chicago BDSM?
Breanne herself is sufficient inspiration for a hundred authors. But on top of that, I wanted to explore the idea of moving through a BDSM erotica story with a more extended plot line arc. Previously my novel length works have been formatted into “chapters,” each with its own subplot, but without much of a cohesive plot arc throughout the book. “Fuckfests” is the derogatory term for that kind of writing, and while certainly marketable, I’ve been trying to move away from that mediocre level of writing. “Breanne’s Three – Chicago BDSM” gave me ample space and room to work.
8. Do you have any upcoming projects that you wish to share?
9. I understand you do a lot of self-publication, along with Breanne Erickson’s stories, do you plan on publishing other people’s work in the future, being that BDSM is a popular category?
Many authors take advantage of the service provided by erotic publishing houses. Getting free marketing, book cover and illustration artwork, as well as editing services is worth their weight in gold. That said, I do most of my own artwork and editing, or have access to artists and beta-readers that I like and trust. So I’ve chosen to go the route of self-publishing. The returns are a touch higher, and since I have the added advantage of being relatively well-known in the BDSM genre, I get the same kind of exposure that many publishing houses give their top earners.
I have to admit that the idea of opening my own publishing company has crossed my mind. The problem however is time and standards. One of Breanne’s complaints about my editing is that I’m something of a perfectionist. I’ve returned countless drafts to her for rewriting. Granted, this has made her a better author, and is something I wish someone had done for me years ago, but it is time consuming. I wouldn’t feel right about publishing and promoting someone else’s work, unless it met up to the standards that I hold for myself. Since I’ve been known to be a “right bastard to make happy”, I think I will probably stay away from publishing for the time being. I suppose if I find another struggling or beginning author like Breanne, I might be willing to promote their work, but I’m not ready to start publishing yet. Add that to my already busy schedule, and I think the BDSM world will have to wait a little longer for a Michael Alexander Publisher.
10. What was one of the toughest projects you have ever faced, but was proud of the accomplishment?
The toughest project I’ve ever tackled within the BDSM genre was writing “The Club”. It’s a novel length “choose your own adventure” story. It was originally intended to be the flagship tale in the “VIP Lounge” of my website, but I ended up moving it to the Free Story Archive where it is currently available for perusing. I rarely get any feed back on it, but it seems to be popular. It was a logistical nightmare writing, with multiple scenes for each character, and a decision tree that required an Excel spreadsheet and the start of a compendium. That said, I’m relatively pleased with how it turned out. You can start “The Club” fifteen or sixteen times and still never get the same story twice.
11. What advice would you give to other writers, especially to those starting out?
Write. Write. Write, and then write some more. Practice is the best way to get there. Choose a topic or genre you love, and then put pen to paper, or stroke the keys, and write. But after that you have to develop two things; the talent for telling a tale, which means understanding the concepts of plot, tension, and timing, and the technical skill, which means understanding how language works. I’ve been studying these two things for years and still haven’t mastered them.
12. Lastly, where can people follow you (i.e. social networks, blogs, websites, etc.)
Fans and readers can find me at www.michaelalexanderstories.com, which has links to my BDSM Blog, The Cream of Venus Blog, my BDSM Reviews Blog, and I’m on Facebook as well.
Time for some trivial questions...
13. Cocktail Moment: If there was a drink of your kind, what would it be (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)?
I’m afraid that I’m not much of a drinker. Water is my beverage of choice, though I’ve been known to splurge every now and then and have an RC cola.
14. Your Day Off: If you could take a day off from your normal activity, how would you spend it?
In the woods. I love hiking and being outdoors. I’d take my camera and go crazy.
15. Favorite Man Food: It’s your day off and you wake up at 10AM, describe your kind of brunch?
Eggs over easy, lying atop a slice of brown sugar ham, with cheddar cheese, on top of a slice of toast. It’s not exactly healthy, but it sure tastes good. For dinner I’ll keep to the typical Texan concepts: Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and cream gravy.
Mr. Alexander, I had an awesome time interviewing you and I hope to see you on here again. Thank you so much!