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Author Interview: Laura Roberts

Laura Roberts writes about sex, travel, writing, and ninjas – though not necessarily in that order.

As the author of the “V for Vixen” sex column, Laura began her career chronicling Montrealers’ sexcapades, which are collected together in her book of essays, The Vixen Files. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, she’s also penned San Diego from A to Z, Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist, Ninjas of the 512, parts one and two of her serial novel, Naked Montreal, and a wide assortment of erotic Quickies.

Laura is also the founding editor of the literary magazine Black Heart, the San Diego chapter leader for the Nonfiction Authors Association, and offers affordable indie editing services through her company Laura Roberts Creative Services. In her free time, she leg-presses sumo wrestlers while sipping her morning coffee, blogs about travel, and enjoys the music of experimental and electronic artists. She lives in an Apocalypse-proof bunker in sunny SoCal with her artist husband and their literary kitties, and can be found online at Buttontapper.com.

  • : I don't remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember the first story I ever collaborated with someone to write. It was called "Sammy and His Folder," and it was the tale of a kid named who had a favorite yellow folder that one day met its demise, and Sammy flipped the fuck out. I mean, who knew this kid had such a stationery fetish?! He totally falls apart at the seams, until his parents finally present him with a replacement yellow folder, which suggests that even as a child, I had a strong sense of bathos. My best friend, Jenna, and I wrote it on her mother's computer, and I believe we submitted it to our gifted English class as a joint project. We collaborated on a lot of crazy stories throughout our junior high school years, including a lot of "modern adaptations" of classic tales. One of our best was an adaptation of Steinbeck's novella, The Pearl, in which we actually submitted a video instead of a written story. I played The Terminator, employing a terrible Schwarzenegger accent, blowing away the entire family at the end of the film and announcing "Ah'll be bahk!" Terminator 2 had just come out, and I hadn't learned enough about homage (as opposed to outright plagiarism) to borrow subtly -- if one can even borrow subtly from a James Cameron flick.
  • : I grew up mainly in a suburb of Chicago, which was a place I wanted to escape as soon as I could, based on its boring suburban nature and residents who seemed only interested in the most tepid version of the American dream. Looking back, there were a few good things about it, including the fact that my school actually taught me how to think critically, and several of my high school teachers encouraged us to be rabble rousers and free thinkers. This definitely influenced my college years, when I studied philosophy, moved to NYC, and started an online zine. Writing the zine taught me about self-discipline and keeping to deadlines, which prepped me for later writing jobs, as well as eventually taking another college degree in creative writing and English Lit, and moving on to becoming a freelance writer. So, to make a long story short (too late!), that boring town that made me hungry for more, combined with a great education and teachers that cared about me, directly influenced my decision to become a writer. Thanks, Elmhurst!
  • : Since I have a day job, I usually do the bulk of my writing on the weekends, but I also squeeze in time in the mornings when I first wake up, and in the evenings after I've finished my projects for the day. It's never really a set time, and I don't typically work to any word count, but just try to hack away at something every day. Since I also like to work on multiple projects at the same time, I prioritize one until I get stuck with it, and then flip over to something else. Such is the advantage of writing both fiction and nonfiction!
  • : My next big project is called "One Night in Montreal," which I'm writing on-spec for a publisher in the UK. They started this series of erotic stories set in various cities around the world, and since I noticed they hadn't done Montreal yet, I immediately emailed them to ask if I could have dibs. They said yes, and liked my first 5,000 words, so I'm working on finishing the rest of the story for October. Here's the blurb, to get you all fired up: Ryan and Jackie Murphy have come to Montreal for a wild weekend. The young Boston couple is ready to recharge their marriage after a tiring year building their own lifestyle business together. Now it’s time to play in the Sin City of the North, and they’re looking for kinks they can’t get back in Beantown. Jackie loves Leonard Cohen, and wants to make a French connection with romance over fondue and chocolate croissants. Ryan’s looking for something a little more hardcore, like a trip to a strip club, a hot sweat in a swinger’s club sauna, and maybe even a bit of mĂ©nage. Will they be able to reach a compromise amongst all the naughty options in Montreal’s Underground City, or will this romantic weekend away turn out to be a disaster?
  • : When I'm not writing, I'm usually either working at my day job, running my literary magazine Black Heart (http://blackheartmagazine.com), blogging, playing some absurd card game or fish game on my iPad, reading, writing book reviews, or hitting the gym to leg-press the equivalent of an average-sized sumo wrestler. I used to take tae kwon do, but I haven't found a place in San Diego to practice yet, and I need to buy a bike so I can ride along the coast. But usually I'm writing. ;D
  • : I have actually detailed my rather eccentric writing process in a blog post, so rather than retype it, you should go here and read it: http://buttontapper.com/2015/03/06/wherein-i-reveal-all-of-the-secrets-of-my-writing-process/
  • : I usually tell people that my favorite books are (in no particular order) Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Leonard Cohen's book, because there's a sentient sex toy in it. (Among other amazing things.) Jeanette Winterson's, because she's demonstrated again and again that there is really no wrong way to write a book, and the more complex and artsy you get, the better (at least for me - and I'm certainly not her only fan). David Sedaris's, because of his hilariously spot-on commentary on moving to a foreign country and trying to speak French as a second language (living in Montreal felt much the same, for me). And Douglas Adams's, because the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, and that's about as near as anyone can really get to any kind of certainty.
  • : Jobs I have previously held include: Receptionist for the World's Biggest Asshole, Botanical Garden Minx, Wet Playground Attendant ("wet" modifying "playground," not "attendant"), Front Desk Attendant at my college library, Book Reviewer (yes, they pay people to do this),Telephone pollster (I lasted a week), Cam Girl (I lasted less than a week, and only got paid for my first day), and Sex Columnist. I currently have a day job involving transcription and editing services, and write part-time. If you'd like me to critique or edit your manuscripts, check out http://laurarobertscreativeservices.com for more information.
  • : I love the Kindle reading app, but usually I use it on my iPad. That's probably just because I'm a multitasker, and I'll bounce back and forth between my email, some websites, writing up a blog post, and reading. I also write reviews on occasion, so being able to flip back and forth between different apps is helpful. But I did have one of the original black-and-white Kindles, and that was great when I just wanted to READ ONLY. I have since passed it on to my mom, who is wondering why there's so much dirty erotica on the thing (sorry, mom!), but I wouldn't turn down a Paperwhite or any other Kindle device if pressed. It really is the best e-reading experience, in my opinion.
  • : I usually leave cover design to the professionals, and just offer them some color suggestions or potential images to work in, but as I continue to develop new series ideas, I've also been looking for a good way to tie them all together. So I do like to look at other people's book covers online, browse in bookstores, and otherwise take notes. But ultimately, I do pass it off to my cover designer, who does a better job than I can, because that IS his job!
  • : I'm a reformed "pantser," so I do outline my books. But it's not your boring high school English class type of outline, and it's not so detailed that I crush the soul out of the story, either. I mean, I do still want to have to write the book at the end of it all! I view outlining as more of a road map to get to where I want to go. There's always the possibility that I will veer off at one of the plotted exits, or go off-roading for a bit, but in the end, I know I've got the map to help guide my story and get me back on track whenever I get stuck. If you're curious to read more about my outlining process, I wrote up a blog post about it here: http://laurarobertsbooks.com/tag/outlining-a-novel/
  • : Check out my website, Buttontapper Press, at http://buttontapper.com!
  • : You are awesome, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy my work! If you do (or even if you don't), feel free to get in touch via my various social media accounts, or leave a review.
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