Wednesday, November 22, 2017

An Interview with Alex Milton (author of The Etiquette of Lying)

As we arrive at hump day of another week, I am delighted to introduce you to an author that I hope we will be seeing a lot of over the coming months. A new addition to the Wordwooze Publishing stable, I present to you Alex Milton!

♥ Thank you so much for taking the time to join us, Alex - we are so very delighted to have you! Can you give us a brief introduction?

Hi, Sally. It’s my pleasure. I’m Alex Milton, author of ‘The Etiquette of Lying’, and the “new kid on the block” looking to gate-crash the written erotica community.

I’m a British guy, so always do that self-deprecating thing when asked to talk about myself. However, a close friend describes me as: “Drinks like Oliver Reed, preens like Marie Antoinette, makes Christian Grey look like an amateur, dresses like James Bond.”

I think she calls me a lot of four-letter names as well…

♥ Alex, right? That is a 4-letter word. :)

You mentioned in your recent Goodreads blog post that you are working to re-acquire the rights to some old stories. How has publishing changed, and what attracted you to Wordwooze Publishing?

Social media has made it easier to get noticed, but with so many 21st Century distractions, keeping people’s attention is more difficult.

Many writers self-publish now, which is a good way of creating “a calling card” for your work. That said, a publishing company will have useful contacts within the industry, and often promote your work in ways you haven’t thought of. And what is it The Joker says in ‘Batman’?

“If you’re good at something, never do it for free…” That appeals to the mercenary in me!

Wordwooze came across as very professional, yet very open-minded on their website. They value quality writing as much as having a naughty imagination, which is refreshing. And their staff work like machines - I’m convinced they’ve perfected an elixir which enables them to function without sleep.

♥ The Etiquette of Lying deals with themes of polyamory and BDSM (among others). If it’s not too personal of a question, where does lifestyle experience end and vicarious fantasy begin within your fiction?

It’s not too personal, but this question’s always tricky, because a gentleman should never kiss-and-tell… I’m pretty adventurous. Close friends of mine are in a polyamorous relationship, so maybe ‘The Etiquette of Lying’ was a response to criticisms of their lifestyle.

Sorry, I’m being evasive, aren’t I? Let’s just say I wouldn’t have written a book on these sub-cultures unless I knew what I was talking about. The enthusiasts are protective of their “scene”, and rightly so. I hate criticising other authors, but I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met who felt ‘Fifty Shades’ neglected the basic rules of any BDSM relationship.

The bars, restaurants and tourist attractions in ‘The Etiquette of Lying’ are real locations. The novel’s partly a homage to Brighton and London – two cities I love.

♥ I like that - great answer! On a similar note (and just to get a little more personal), is there a personal fetish or a fantasy that you really want to explore in your fiction?

I’m keen to explore how BDSM strengthens trust in a relationship - it’s an aspect that often gets ignored. Having someone utterly in your power, yet choosing to focus solely on their pleasure… It’s an expression of selfless love on both sides.

There’s power dynamics everywhere: from bosses and their employees; authority figures and citizens; even how a friendship group selects its alphas. No wonder so many people are intrigued by BDSM… That might be a theme I look at.

It’s not a fantasy as such, but regarding polyamory, what happens when the thrill of multiple lovers wears off? I personally believe –as long as every partner is equal- those relationships can be just as intense and rewarding as monogamy. But can I (and my trusty laptop) convince the doubters through fiction?

♥ With a literary career in two parts, so to speak, what was it that prompted you to begin writing originally, and what is it that drew you back?

 My family gave me something invaluable: A love for written words. From weekly comics to handed-down copies of Shakespeare, they must have inspired me. As a kid I wanted to be a fighter pilot… a conservationist… Indiana Jones… I realised a writer can do all those things vicariously, and never have their expectations crushed by reality.

My first romance story was published when I was sixteen, which might have been a handicap – I thought this writing lark was easy. For ten years, placing my work was intermittent; to be honest, I was still learning my trade. This isn’t very sexy, but I also needed to focus on another career, to pay my mortgage!

The Etiquette of Lying’ started with a challenge. My friend is a fan of kink, and wanted to read: “A Fifty Shades that wasn’t about virgins and billionaires.”

Within two chapters, I was hooked. Some writers plot thoroughly; I give my characters personalities, then let them interact in front of me. I found giving Sean, Jen, David and Annabel real concerns didn’t make them less erotic at all – it just ramped up the tension. I needed to keep writing, to find out what happened to them.

♥ It is amazing when the characters just carry the story away, isn't it? Is there an author who inspires you, or a favourite author you turn to when you want to escape into someone else's imagination?

 There’s a hundred authors who inspire me! I’ll often re-read a favourite novel to recharge my creative batteries.

In terms of the classics, the intensity and darkness of ‘Wuthering Heights’ struck a chord in me, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ has been a major influence. A key theme in ‘The Etiquette of Lying’ is the determination of the characters to outgrow their pasts.

Contemporary writers all have their strengths. If you want to learn how to write dialogue, read Stephen King. For sheer beauty of language, try Iain M. Banks or Cormac McCarthy – ‘The Road’ took my breathe away.

I usually read books twice – once for enjoyment, then, second time round, I analyse the writer’s techniques. To my frustration, I haven’t got close to the exquisite bitter-sweetness of David Nicholl’s ‘One Day’ or the slow-developing horror of Lionel Shriver’s ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ yet.

♥ I have always been a huge King fan, and Banks is incredible. Great picks.

With reader reviews so crucial to generating exposure, what are some of the weirdest or most wonderful reactions you’ve had from readers?

 I’ll always value my readers – without them, I wouldn’t have a profession I love. “Word of mouth” is very powerful. Hopefully, people will enjoy your book then recommend it to their friends, who recommend it to their friends, and the effects ripple outwards.

I’ve had requests to write about fetishes which seem “weird” to me, but that’s only because I don’t share them. I rarely judge; life’s rich tapestry means we’re all into different things.

When a stranger’s kind about my work, of course that warms me – I’m only human. But I’m also pretty thick-skinned. I haven’t received a bad review (yet), but would accept it as long as there was a valid reason. I’m aware of my flaws, but think writers improve with each new project. It’s a great job; you earn royalties as you sleep and usually get better with age.

♥ Finally, with a new year already looming on the horizon, what can readers look forward to seeing from you next?

I managed to tie up all the loose ends in ‘The Etiquette of Lying’ (I hate cliffhangers!) but there’s still aspects of the characters I want to explore. Expect a sequel, and I plan to re-work those short stories you mentioned. A noir erotica and post-apocalyptic erotica would be interesting.

I’d like to write in every genre. Even within the field of erotica I’ll draft stories in all its sub-categories… The results I like will get published. Sex is one of the great human experiences, but even paradise can get boring day after day. That’s why we have so many different kinks.

♥ Post-apocalyptic erotica can be a lot of fun - I just played with that myself in my twinned Alpha stories. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. In the meantime, thanks again for taking the time to join us!

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