|Posted by Matt Posner on October 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM|
Such a pleasure to welcome for an interview a highly literate and fascinating author, Eden Baylee.
Who are you, where are you from, how do you like it there?
Thanks Matt, for your kind invitation to appear on your blog. I’m from Montreal, Canada originally and now live in Toronto.
Toronto is a diverse city with everything big cities have. Aside from the winters, which I loathe, it’s not a bad place to live.
I met you through Junying Kirk. How do the two of you know each other?
I’ve known Junying for over two years since meeting her via social media. We connected initially by reading each other’s books. She has an incredible story of how she came to live in England from China. By reading her books, I grew to know and admire her.
She’s also a foodie and traveler, as am I. It’s always wonderful to meet someone with common interests outside of writing.
I admire those things about her, too. It often seems to me like Junying and her husband John and my wife Julie and I are on parallel courses, traveling and eating (although I'm not at all a gourmet).
I like the name Eden, with its overtones of Biblical history. Is there a story to explain how you got that name?
I can tell you it has nothing to do with the Bible. I usually write my name in lower case only, simply because I like the look of the letter “e.” Eden Baylee is a pen name, and contains as many e’s as my given name.
Beyond that, there’s no real connection. I like the name Eden for its simplicity.
You worked in the field of bank fraud. Tell us more about that and about how it has helped you prepare for your change of career.
It seems like almost a lifetime ago since I left corporate life. I was a consultant developing programs to mitigate bank fraud. I led projects and was part of projects. It exposed me to some interesting characters and scams in the industry.
As for how it helped me in my career change… working with people taught me the importance of building a network of supporters. Even though writing is a solitary pursuit, it’s impossible to sell books without engaging others to help with it.
Thus what we are both doing here... I love networking with writers. While I was in graduate school, the other writers wouldn't talk to me, and after graduate school, I never met anyway. Facebook and Twitter are amazing for doing that!
You have given over seventy interviews since 2011! How did that happen? Were they more often the result of your promotion effort, or did more of them come about without your acting to arrange them?
It was probably a combination of the two. I started my blog end of 2010 and immediately started connecting to writers. I wanted to learn about the indie author community, and the best way to do it was by interviewing authors, reading their books/blogs, and conversing with them via writers’ forums or other networks.
I’ve invited authors on my blog because they interest me, and if I can help promote their work, then I consider it a good way to build relationships and a strong network. If the favor is reciprocated, that’s great, however, I never do anything as a ‘quid pro quo’ exchange.
Although I don't write erotica myself, I am very close with Jess C. Scott who is active in the field and has some interesting philosophical things to say about it. So now let me get your perspective. How do you define erotica as a genre and how do you place yourself within its variant subgenres?
My thoughts on erotica as a genre are not interesting only because I consider “genres” as arbitrary designations. We need them to give the reader an idea of what the story is about, or what it might contain (adult language, content, structure).
I call what I write ‘literary erotica’because my writing is both literary and sexy, and the sex is descriptive. Some people have called it romance, erotic romance, or fiction with erotic elements.The lines blur, and because I write novella length stories, not all of them will have romance, not all even have sex.
I suppose I don’t have much patience to have a lengthy discussion about genres because I hate being boxed in as a writer. I prefer adjectives to describe my stories rather than just slapping a label on it.
Some people won’t read erotica because they think it’s porn, just sex, BDSM, 50 shades of bad writing, etc. I get tired of defending my writing, so I don’t do it anymore.
The best way to know what I write is to read a sample from my books, a few of the reviews, or some of the stories on my blog.
I definitely respect that. I don't mind adhering to genre conventions for a particular text, but I don't want to write in only one genre. Thus I am diversifying into nonfiction and eventually other types of fiction.
Your novellas, including Fall in Winter and Spring into Summer, feature characters with different ethnic backgrounds. Do you find that your readers respond more strongly to heroines who look like themselves, or do your characters' erotic spaces transcend their background in the view of your audience?
I think most authors write a bit of themselves into their stories. As an Asian Canadian woman, I ’ve written about both an Asian woman, a Canadian woman, and a combination of the two. I’ve also written about a Dutchman, an Austrian man, and an Irishman.
They’re based on people I’ve met and cultures I’ve come in contact with. Different types of people appeal to me, so it’s no surprise I draw inspiration from them.
Readers, like writers, are also diverse people. I would expect they would be interested to read about different ethnicities and places. Because sexual preferences are unique and have little to do with a person’s ethnicity, readers who respond to my characters are those who simply relate to them on a human level, regardless of sexual tastes.
I have two questions based on your statement about your upcoming book: "She is genre-bending in her next book due late 2013—an erotic, psychological mystery combining the styles of John Fowles/Charles Bukowski/Haruki Murakami and a dash of Pauline Réage."
First, talk about how each of these authors is meaningful to you.
Charles Bukowski – Anyone who knows me knows I love this man’s writing and have all his books. Not too many people would consider him sexy, but I do. He pens beautiful poetry, and his book Ham on Rye changed the way I write stylistically. I don’t like flowery prose, and he’s certainly not one for it himself. I admire his spare way of writing.
Haruki Murakami – His anthology of short stories, The Elephant Vanishes,was a diverse collection that pulled at my heart with stories about love, loss, and loneliness. He showed me how you don’t need to beverbose to capture deep emotions. Having said that, he’s also written huge novels. It took me a year to read 1Q84.
Pauline Réage – She wrote Story of O, my first exposure to erotica at age eleven … and you never forget your first. There’s a part of her writing that will always infuse mine because it’s deeply embedded in my psyche.
I read The Magus while on break from college and was fascinated by the constant twists and turns. Bukowski is great -- I'm also a fan of Ham on Rye, though I haven't read it in a long time. I like that style, too.
Second question: what is an erotic, psychological mystery?
It’s a mystery with erotic and psychological elements, like The Magus.
Your two best-known books are collections of novellas.Why does the novella form appeal to you most? Is it especially suitable for erotica?
I think it is. I’ve never written a full-length erotic novel, nor do I have interest to do so.
My stories are strongly character driven,usually involving a relationship of two people.
I don’t need a full-length novel to write about their progression unless the plot is extremely complicated, in which case, there would be many more characters. At that point, I wouldn’t see it as erotica anymore. The plot would probably drive the story, and sex would be included only if it adds any value to the book.
Would you consider doing any of the following? Why or why not?
-- Writing books that did not deal with sex in some way
Yes, that’s what I’m doing in my upcoming book.
-- Writing from a male perspective
Yes, I’ve done it in my flash fiction numerous times, and my upcoming book is written from multiple POVs,including several male characters.
-- Collaborating with other authors
If you mean for a book, then the answer is yes. Allegories of the Tarot, an anthology of twenty-two stories by twenty-authors, releases Oct. 31, 2013.
Each story is derived from one of the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana. Mine is based on “The Lovers.”
I love the tarot! I have two or three tarot readings in every novel of my School of the Ages series. I know I will enjoy that book!
What would you like to say to readers to finish this interview?
I want to thank you Matt, for interviewing me. I’m very happy we connected, and I appreciate the time you take to give authors a voice on your blog.
Best wishes, Eden, and I look forward to learning more about your writing in the future!