“It is not simply Bronte’s novel with sexy bits added. It is Miller’s novel, deeply inspired by the characters, language, and story of the original…An inventive and perceptive re-imagining…Dark and sexy and compelling.” Meredith Collins, editor/reviewer, five stars on Amazon.
Following on from my post on Monday on whether there is discrimination against male erotica writers and if it’s possible to tell if an excerpt is written by a man or a woman, I’m delighted to say that the author is here today for a chat. Okay, okay, I’ll put you out of your misery and tell you who it is ;).
If you haven’t already guessed from the cover and that fantastic review, the book is Wuthering Nights, an adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and the author is IJ Miller, who is definitely male!
The debate on Monday’s post was interesting with quite a close vote – 62% voting for a male author and 38% for a female author, and I’m very happy to say that, if there is discrimination against male erotica authors, it does actually appear to be positive. Several people commented that they would love to read more male erotica authors, that they would be intrigued to get their point of view and Shar Azade summed it all up for me when she said “Convince me with the writing, and I don’t care if you have a gender at all.”
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed joining in with the debate and the poll, now I’m very pleased to introduce IJ Miller :).
Thank you, IJ, for being such a good sport and for managing to bite your tongue during the debate this week :). Onto the first question:
How did you get started writing in general and with the erotica in particular?
I started writing seriously in high school, then all through college. I never thought I could make a living as a writer, but after college I ended up writing a tennis article and sold it to a major periodical. There was no looking back. I started out writing literary stories that used sex to tell the story and reveal the character but it was not necessarily erotica (not always titillating, not always successful). During the last decade, publishing has become so genre oriented that I’ve gotten slotted into erotica, particularly literary erotica. WUTHERING NIGHTS is actually the first book I’ve written that wholeheartedly fits the erotic genre.
What do you think makes good erotica?
Everything always starts with a good story. If you create believable characters and put them in interesting situations, it is much more likely that you can raise the temperature of your readers. Good use of language and the proper details will make it even better.
In this blog with Travis Luedke, he talks about discrimination against male erotica writers. Have you ever encountered anything like that? And do you find that both men and women read your books?
More women do read erotica and it is natural to look for female writers to speak to the readership. Ten years ago there were a lot more independent presses looking for women writers only, but now the market is so wide open that many publishers are simply looking for the best stories. Mainstream fiction with sexy stories does sell better when written by women. Perhaps it seems more titillating and less dirty when a woman writes it. Definitely more women will be reading WUTHERING NIGHTS. But my last book, SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, was read by both, as I covered a wide gamut of sexy relationship stuff, focused on both men and women. Bottom line, if you want to be a writer, you should be a master of all points of view.
Great advice, IJ. Why do you think there seem to be so many more female erotica writers than male?
I think because more women read the material.
Normally I ask about how a writer comes up with their characters but in this case can I ask, what do you think you added to the characters that Emily Bronte didn’t create initially and do you think she would be happy with the result?
Eroticism is a very powerful tool. I stay true to the essence of Bronte’s characters, but by exploring their carnal sides, I’ve peeled back more layers and thus intensified many of their characteristics, from Catherine’s narcissism to Heathcliff’s brutality. I can’t speak for Emily, but there is a review of my book on Amazon that reads as follows: “I am sure Bronte would have been happy with the additions.”
Following on from the debate on Monday’s post, there are several erotic scenes in the book from Catherine’s point of view that if I used them I think I would’ve gotten more votes as a female writer. And if I used the ones fully from Heathcliff’s point of view there would be no doubt the author is a man. To be fair, I deliberately chose one that had both Catherine and Heathcliff’s point of view represented.
For the book, I went with an omniscient narrator so I could present all of the significant voices and they all rang true in my head, whether male or female. The original book has a first person narrator named Lockwood who is practically irrelevant to the story (and thus I eliminated him), while most of the original is really told in the first person from Nelly, the housekeeper, who relates the story to Lockwood.
Thank you for sharing that. It’s fascinating to hear a little of how you went about converting such a well known book. Now, there have been so many films/TV series of the original Wuthering Heights over the years so I have to ask, if your version of the book was filmed, who would you see in the roles of Catherine and Heathcliff? Would you choose anyone from the original casts or would you prefer current actors?
I am in the process of trying to sell the film rights to the story. After all, this version is, in a way, the historical FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, and Heathcliff is really the original, tragic alpha-male hero. And I do want to write the screenplay. I think Michael Fassbender, star of the movie SHAME would be great as Heathcliff. I’m not sure who should be Catherine, but definitely not Keira Knightley. She’s been overexposed in these historical roles.
Best of luck with the screenplay! Do you have a writing routine? Do you need absolute quiet to write or background music/noise?
I need quiet. I need my mind clear of all other obligations. I need my routine: shower, exercise, breakfast, desk…stay in my chair as long as it takes to produce something meaningful.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Early on in my career I came up with a germ of an idea and let the writing process take over. Now, with more outside obligations, I try to be as prepared as I can before beginning a new project.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so, how do you get over it?
Never extreme writer’s block. If I’ve taken a break, writing long email letters and short articles or stories help me get back into it.
I’m seeing an awful lot of great advice to writers from you here, IJ, but what was the best piece of writing advice you received?
Bernard Malamud: “Using personal experience in fiction without invention is like uncooked spaghetti.”
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Don’t give yourself a timetable to prove that you can do it, that you can publish. Everybody develops in different ways and some people run into good fortune earlier than others. As long as the muse is calling, stick with it. Never give up!
With 130,000 copies sold of Seesaw, I’ve got to ask you how do you promote your books? Do you have any advice on marketing books for a new writer?
Writing articles, doing guest blogs, interviews, and readings. I’m active on Facebook and Goodreads and I’m on Twitter as Heathcliff (@heathcliffian). All writers should do whatever they can to get the word out there, because unless someone paid a lot of money for your book it is limited what the publisher will do, especially after a month or so has passed after your book’s pub date.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
The peacefulness of working at home. Turning a nice phrase. Choosing the right word. Creating a story that arouses emotions in readers and makes them think. Not having a boss!
Amen to that! :). You’ve written so many different books and short stories. Do you think you could pick a favourite and, if so, why pick that one?
Right now it’s WUTHERING NIGHTS. I was commissioned to write the book and had six weeks to produce a first draft and three more weeks for rewrites. I was absolutely inhabited by the story, characters, and Ms. Bronte herself. It lived in me, breathed in me, and flowed from a place I did not know I had. With that being said, I am also quite fond of my short story collection, SEX AND LOVE, because the stories are so very personal and intimate.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just completed a New Adult erotic romance for the 18-25 crowd called CELINE’S SOLUTION, about a college girl who gets her final, senior year education from her young English professor who is both a master of passion and a troubled secretive soul. Before she can know for sure whether she has found true love or needs to move on, she needs to unravel all of his mysteries.
Thanks so much for your time, IJ. Now, of course, we have the full details of the book.
Romantics everywhere have been enthralled by Emily Bronte’s classic novel of the tragic love between beautiful, spirited Catherine Earnshaw and dark, brooding Heathcliff. The restrained desire between these two star-crossed lovers has always smoldered on the page. And now it ignites into an uncontrollable blaze. In WUTHERING NIGHTS, writer I.J. Miller reimagines this timeless story to reveal the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff–in all its forbidden glory.
Set against the stark, raw beauty of the English moors, Heathcliff, an abandoned orphan, recognizes his soulmate in wild, impulsive Catherine, the only woman who can tame his self-destructive nature. And Catherine cannot deny the all-consuming desire she feels for him, despite his low birth. Together they engage in a fiery affair–one that will possess them, enslave them, and change their destinies forever…
Amazon UK (Paperback only, released April 23rd)
Excerpt (This time with the correct names ;)):
Isabella floated from the powder room into the bedroom that held her beloved. Her hair was done up in a perfect set of curls, hands powdered white, body carefully scented in all of the right places. He was right, where there was love, there was luxury, and her love helped her block out the dreary dirtiness of their honeymoon suite.
“You move like a noble lady,” said Heathcliff. “You make this room your palace and I your servant.”
Seductively, he pulled back his shirt and revealed again the full manliness of his chiseled torso. He shook his long black hair out of his eyes and it was with great willpower that she did not give in to this sensuous action and rush to his arms. He enjoyed her reaction to even his slightest of movements, enjoyed the power each part of his body held over eyes as they remained transfixed.
He unbuttoned his pants, but hesitated. She realized she had been staring, frozen, at the bulge between his legs, and did not look up until he laughed, causing renewed blush at her eagerness to feast her eyes on this grand rooster.
“Do not toy with me, husband. I long to feel you in my arms with abandon, release the emotions you have inspired but I would not set free until you called me wife.”
He let the pants drop, causing a hard intake of breath. She was not sure if he was fully aroused, but he had the equipment to rival any stallion.
He beckoned her to come forth. A side of her would have preferred he had a bath first, to wash away the muck of the road, yet something about the scent of Heathcliff, even when dirty, aroused her immeasurably.
She went to his arms, about to kiss him, when he turned her toward the large mirror over the dresser. With the weight of his body, he nudged her closer to the glass.
His powerful arms crisscrossed her chest as he stood behind her.
“Look at yourself, Isabella. You see a noble lady, powdered and puffed in full grandeur. You see yourself such, as Edgar sees himself a nobleman, as all of your family perceives themselves, nearly royal in stature.”
He ripped her nightgown apart with one complete sweep and let it drop to the floor, exposing her full bosom and delicately trimmed private parts.
“But I will peel away all the perceptions that are false, and show that underneath lies the sordidness of the most common scoundrel, and the base feelings of the lowest soul.”
Isabella turned to protest, to make effort to break away and confront his words with her own sharp tongue. But he put both her nipples between each thumb and index finger and teased them with a gentle caress, instantly calming her ire.
She moaned her approval.
His slow caress turned to a sudden twist, causing her to cry out in discomfort.
“Please, Heathcliff. More gentle.”
“You will learn to enjoy the pain.”
He delicately cupped her full breasts, sensually kneading them with his strong hands, and she closed her eyes and swooned slightly. He licked along her earlobe, letting his hot breath brush against her neck.
“Yes, my love,” she whispered.
Thumb and finger at the nipples again, hard, turning, and she cried out once more, but this time her exclamations revealed more of the throbbing pleasure that joined intensely with the sting.
“That’s it, Isabella. Don’t fight it. Give in to your body and more gratification than you ever dreamed of will be yours.”
The cupping of his hands at her breasts turned rougher, and she could feel her chest swell with desire. Her nipples leaped to his fingers, whether teased or twisted.
From his sensuous licking at her ear, he went to her neck, and she arched her head back and let her weight fall against his. His tongue was like a wand that marked spells along her flesh. He went back to her earlobe, grabbing it with his teeth, caressing lightly, with love it seemed, until he bit a little more sharply.
“Heathcliff!” She struggled again to break free of his arms, but was helpless in his mighty grip.
“Look in the mirror now. Not so noble. I see the coarse desire that existed before you yourself were aware.”
She was about to voice further protest, but then he slid his hand down her stomach and rested it firmly between her thighs. With one finger he began a circular caress at her most vulnerable spot.
Who is this man? she wondered, a tremble forming in her body.
I.J. Miller is the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. His latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, WutheringHeights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and will be in bookstores as a trade paperback and audio book on April 23. Miller has a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and has taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.