Today, my guest at the Naughty Corner is Annabeth Leong, who’s on a promo tour for her latest release, Not The Leader Of The Pack.
Hi, Annabeth, and thanks for stopping by.
Thanks so much for having me!
First of all, tell me a little about how you got into writing erotic fiction?
I used to think I wanted to write fantasy and science fiction, and worked at that for years without a lot of success. That often involved trying to write pieces that I thought would appeal to particular publications. At one point, I got frustrated and asked myself what would happen if I wrote a story that really came from myself and communicated the things I wanted to say about the world. What came out had a lot of sex in it. I freaked out while I was writing it, thinking no respectable publisher would ever want it—of course, I wasn’t yet aware of all the very respectable publishers who put forth quality erotica. In any case, I allowed myself to complete the story, which was a great choice. I was sort of ashamed of it, though, and put it away for a long time. Eventually, I discovered erotica markets, and that story became one of my first published pieces. I wrote more and more erotica after that until it took over my writing life. I now think I couldn’t really get stories published until I learned to write authentically—which, for me, involved writing erotic fiction.
What’s your writing space like?
I’m too much of a nomad to have one. Whenever I get stuck in a story, I pick up my laptop and walk somewhere else, whether that’s another part of the apartment or the nearest library. A new location often gives me new perspective on my work.
Are there any routines or rituals involved in your writing – for instance, any music you like to listen to, or any time of the day when you feel most creative?
I write in drive-by spurts, about 250 words at a time. The small goal helps me to focus and avoid procrastination. Whenever I finish a 250-word chunk, I go away from the computer and do something else for at least five minutes. I’ll watch a little TV, maybe, or clean something, or stretch. Then I come back and write another chunk. I felt weird when I first developed this routine, because it didn’t seem like it would be very productive. I actually get a lot more writing done every day since I found this method, though, I think because it helps me to avoid distracting myself with the Internet. Recently, I’ve also been experimenting with a program called Freedom that cuts off a computer’s Internet connection for set time periods, and I’ve really been enjoying that. So, essentially, my routines and rituals are built around staying away from the Internet when I’m trying to write, because I can easily waste hours that way if I’m not careful.
What is your favourite genre to write in, and to read?
I love anything that could be considered erotica, and more recently have learned to love romance as well. I read and write a pretty wide variety of sub-genres. I do particularly enjoy reading and writing erotica with fantasy and science fiction elements — such as the paranormal erotic romance I’ve just released, or my work with Circlet anthologies.
What made you decide to write about werewolves?
I think various popular fantastic creatures represent different questions about humanity. They provide a way of exploring certain territory of the human psyche. Zombies, for example, represent conspicuous consumption at its most extreme. I think werewolves represent the struggle between civilization and our uncivilized desires. As many authors have demonstrated, that’s pretty sexy territory. I started thinking about that, and asking myself if I had stories to tell about it, and found that I did.
There are lots of werewolf and shifter stories in print. What would you say makes Not The Leader Of The Pack stand out from the rest?
I’d certainly like the book to stand out, but I also don’t want to stray too far from what makes a shifter story fun—when I read within a genre, I enjoy creative flashes, but I also have particular themes I like and want to see. In Not the Leader of the Pack, I try to give fans of shifter stories what they know and love, while providing interesting variations on a much-used theme.
As far as elements that need to be present for a story to be satisfying (based on my own desires as a reader), I’ve packed the story with lots of hot, primal tension and the explosive sex that can result from it. I’ve also worked to make the setting strong, since a lot of what I like about shifter stories is the way the shifter is affected by environment, whether that’s a location in the natural world or a stifling urban location.
The main variation in my world is that the werewolves govern themselves through a rigid, legalistic system that runs against their very nature. Those who can’t obey strict and complex rules are forced to take lycanthropy suppressants that prevent their lupine sides from emerging. As a result, rebellion and self-knowledge are major themes. I hope that colours the common theme of primal passion in a different, interesting way.
The hero and heroine of the book, Neil and Juli, seem to have a dynamic that’s driven by animosity as much as desire. Is this something you particularly enjoy writing, and how hard is it to keep characters apart who are clearly meant to be together?
Since Leia Organa and Han Solo are at the foundation of my experience of romantic stories, I have a special place in my heart for relationships that balance animosity and desire. I don’t like when characters are kept apart artificially, though, or when they start to seem blind to the obvious. I plotted this story around Juli and Neil’s conflict over leadership, because they both care about the pack too much to commit to each other before that question is resolved. I didn’t have to work to keep them apart because that deep conflict stood at the very heart of the story, meaning that the romance resolves naturally at the same time the primary plot conflict does.
What’s your next writing project?
I’m a little superstitious about describing things I haven’t finished, since I don’t know for sure how they’ll come out or if they’ll be contracted. I will say that, while Not the Leader of the Pack can be read alone, it does take place within a larger context. There are questions about the world and its leadership that I still want to develop and resolve. I have plans to revisit this setting in other stand-alone volumes, and plans to include cameos for Neil and Juli. Raul and Chandra, the couple from a previous title, Not His Territory, will also make appearances.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write faithfully and don’t give up. If you keep at it, you will eventually learn everything you need to know. I am still learning and improving my craft thanks to regular practice.
What was the best advice you’ve ever been given about writing?
Revision is important, but it can become an excuse to avoid sending your work out into the world. I can’t remember who told me that, but it was true for me. I’d do ten or twelve drafts and never quite feel ready to submit a story. At a certain point, more revision doesn’t improve anything. Now I revise much less, and I allow myself to declare things finished and get them out there.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with us here at the Naughty Corner?
Just that I’m so grateful for your thought-provoking questions. Thanks for giving me the time and space for them.
Thanks very much for answering these questions, and I hope Not The Leader Of The Pack does well for you.
“Neil.” She lifted her big, blue gaze to his. “Since I have to stay to lead the pack, maybe we can talk later about… what happened between us years ago. If you want. If it’s something you regret.” Neil gritted his teeth. He remembered this look. She’d looked just this way the last time he’d seen her, the only other time they’d been alone together. One hand fluttered toward his. If she touched him, he’d be lost.
Neil pulled his hand away, shoving it into his pocket. The cab of the truck felt too damned small. “You’re not thinking clearly right now. How are you going to win the trust of the people you abandoned five years ago?” Then he threw his biggest pitch. “What are you going to do without me?”
She actually gasped. “Without you?”
“Without me. I’m not a possession, Juli. You don’t get to inherit me. I’m not going to be on your side.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Neil?” All the softness had gone out of her expression now.
He expanded his chest, knowing she would pick up on the animal body language. “Darrow should have named me alpha. We both know it. I could have taken it any time I wanted. He had no right to deny it to me after the respect I showed him.”
Her eyes widened. She barked a short laugh. “No right? Since when is it a rule that when werewolves are nice to each other, we give each other things? If you wanted to be alpha, you should have challenged him. End of discussion.”
“Juli, you don’t really want this.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Try me.”
Rival alphas Juli Gunby and Neil Statham want to tear each other apart — but will they do it in battle or as mates?
When Juli Gunby left Missoula, Montana, she didn’t intend to come back. Not to her exacting alpha werewolf father, and certainly not to Neil Statham, the beta who rejected Juli’s girlish advances. Her father, as usual, has other ideas, using his dying breath to pass pack leadership to his daughter. Juli resolves to carry out her duty to her father and her pack, but the one man she wants on her side has made himself her enemy.
After years of loyal service to the pack, Neil expects to take over as alpha when his mentor dies. As good as it is to see Juli again, he knows he can’t trust her. After all, she abandoned both him and the pack years ago and never looked back. Neil determines to fight for his rightful position in the pack, even if that means going up against a woman who fills him with an overwhelming urge to mate every time she walks into the room.
Someone needs to lead, and the more Neil and Juli fight, the more they attract interference from those who would control the pack and destroy the ties between them.
Annabeth Leong has written romance and erotica of many flavors — dark, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her titles for Breathless Press include Not His Territory, Not the Leader of the Pack, and a contribution to the Ravaged anthology. She enjoys writing about the tension between passion and control that werewolves embody. Unfortunately, when Annabeth loses control of herself, she does not gain the power to change shape. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong. She loves talking books on Goodreads, too: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5295946.Annabeth_Leong
Buy One, Get One Free Offer:
Not The Leader Of The Pack stands alone, but Annabeth has written in its world before. She’d love to share the previous title, Not His Territory, with current readers. If you’d like to participate, e-mail proof of purchase of Not The Leader Of The Pack, such as an Amazon receipt, to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com and let her know your e-book format of choice. Annabeth will buy a copy of Not His Territory for the first 25 people who respond.