Long and Short Reviews welcomes Deborah Castellano, whose short story “How to Become a Lady Adventurer” was published last month by Freya’s Bower. When she first started dating Jow, who is now her “husband-elect”, Deborah wrote the first version of this story on a typewriter she had bought. She would type it on good paper, mail it to him weekly, and he’d edit it and send it back to her.
She’s currently working on a non-fiction book called The Arte of Glamour, which explores the importance of glamour in ritual, her personal formal ritual format, personal spirits she works with and excerpts from her personal grimoire.
“I’m terrified because it’s my first full book but it’s time,” she said. “It helps having a set deadline in place.”
Deborah first was inspired to write when her best friend in third grade said she wanted to be a writer.
“Since I’ve always been ridiculously competitive, I decided I was going to be a writer too. It just sort of stuck for me!” she told me. “I still have my hot pink notebook with the epic tale of Christina Columbus, Christopher’s misunderstood and under-appreciated sister from my third grade writing.”
“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked. “If so, what do you do about it?”
“I do. My Muse takes off for trips to the French Rivera whenever possible. She shows up at my door drunk and disorderly at weird hours of the night when I have to go to work the next day. None of that is conducive to ever getting any actual work accomplished. You can’t count on your Muse; they’re awful at punching clocks. So it’s up to you to write through your block and just keep making yourself, even when you know you’re producing crap.”
Usually, the seeds of Deborah’s stories come to her in dreams; then she sits down and either starts writing or brainstorming. Sometimes, however, she has a deadline and can’t rely on her dreaming brain, so she brainstorms with her writing partner, John, or her husband-elect Jow.
“How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?” I wondered.
“I think at the end of the day it’s about word choice and guidelines. Pornography tends to be anything is permitted; erotica tends to draw the line at incest, dark themes like revenge sex and rape; erotic romance tends to draw the line at sex toys and D/s. What you’re allowed to call a penis and a vagina varies based on if the anthology or publisher is considered pornography, erotica and erotic romance.”
Deborah discovered that writing an erotic scene is challenging.
“It’s sort of like whistling when having sex,” she explained. “You have to think about choreography and making sure things are consistent (if his pants are off, they need to stay off) as well as word choice and making sure it’s sexy. If I feel like I need a cigarette after writing the sex scene, I know it’s a good scene! Also the characters need to be connected. Without a believable connection, it’s not a sexy scene no matter what you do.”
“What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?” I asked.
“Make sure you develop your characters into whole people. Without that, it’s never as good. When you are thinking about writing your sex scene, it helps to map it out in your head or in an outline like dance choreography. Get ‘beta readers’ to read your work. Take their criticism seriously. Make sure you check your historical facts and make sure you check the sex scenes for consistency. For instance, two of my characters engaged in a passionate kiss which led them to passionate sex . . .except, as one of my beta readers pointed out, one of the characters still had pins in her mouth. They couldn’t kiss! I had to fix that.” Deborah generally ends up writing at the kitchen table or in the living room.
“Not in my office on my nice desk with my nice chair where I’m supposed to be,” she admitted.
Her favorite author is Catherynne M. Valente.
“She writes beautiful books that make me cry, she looks like a fairy princess in person and we’ve been journal friends since Diaryland,” she told me. “What are the biggest public misconceptions about erotic romance?” I wondered.
“That it’s unbelievable. Good erotic romance should be something you can see happening in your fantasy life if not your actual life. The idea of erotic romance being degrading to women is ridiculous as it’s usually for women by women.”
Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”
“You are unlikely to ever make very much money from this,” she said. “If you really love it, that won’t stop you. Get a day job that will help you be able to write as much as possible. And make sure you have someone good with contracts go over your contracts with you so you know what you’re agreeing to.”
About the Author:
Deborah Castellano is 33 years old and lives in New Jersey with her husband-elect and their two cats. She specializes in smut (or “romantica” if you want to be polite), freelance articles on travel to places she’s never been to, tents she’ll never use because she hates camping and what to feed your pregnant mini pony as well. She is also a contributor to Pagan sources such as Witchvox and Witches & Pagans magazine. In what passes for spare time, she’s getting her craft business off the ground which specializes in handspun yarn and other goodies. She watches terrible terrible reality television and likes St. Germain liquor and typewriters. http://deborahmcastellano.com.
) It’s hours before Luna’s wedding to a man who holds less interest to her than the kitchen in his inn. His kisses (the few that propriety would allow) were less electric than the newest alchemical ovens. Still, she chose him so she could secure a good life for her sisters. She had few choices as a baker’s daughter, and she wanted them to have more. Promises were made and expectations in place. She was prepared to do her duty…until she received an unexpected visit from a handsome, long-lost childhood friend.
-Will Luna be able to resist the lure of adventure, aereships, and Aldwyn?