Thursday, October 24, 2013

Author: Alison Tyler Interview and Giveaway!

I'd like to welcome Alison Tyler to the blog today to celebrate the publication of her gorgeous semi-autobiographical novel, Dark Secret Love from Cleis Press. Be sure to stick around until the end to get the chance to win a print copy!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Alison! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Called "a trollop with a laptop" by East Bay Express, "a literary siren" by Good Vibrations, and "the mistress of literary erotica" by Violet Blue, Alison Tyler is naughty and she knows it.

Over the past two decades, Ms. Tyler has written more than twenty-five explicit novels, including Tiffany Twisted, Melt with You, and The ESP Affair. Her novels and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Dutch, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Greek. When not writing sultry short stories, she edits erotic anthologies, including Alison's Wonderland, Kiss My Ass, Skirting the Issue, and Torn. She is also the author of several novellas including Cuffing Kate, Giving In, and A Taste of Chi.

Ms. Tyler is loyal to coffee (black), lipstick (red), and tequila (straight). She has tattoos, but no piercings; a wicked tongue, but a quick smile; and bittersweet memories, but no regrets. She believes it won't rain if she doesn't bring an umbrella, prefers hot and dry to cold and wet, and loves to spout her favorite motto: You can sleep when you're dead. She chooses Led Zeppelin over the Beatles, the Cure over Nine Inch Nails, and the Stones over everyone. Yet although she appreciates good rock, she has a pitiful weakness for '80s hair bands.

In all things important, she remains faithful to her partner of seventeen years, but she still can't choose just one perfume.

You are one of my FAVORITE Cleis Press editors, Alison—I kid you not (check out my Alison Tyler reviews, the majority of which garnered 8 or 9 hearts!!!)—so it's really an honor to get to feature you today. Readers, here's a little bit about Dark Secret Love to get you hot and bothered...

keep your safe word handy

Trust me.
That's all he'd asked for.
Trust me.
And I did.

Dark Secret Love is a modern-day Story of O, a 9 1/2 Weeks-style journey fueled by lust, longing, and the search for true love.

Inspired by her own BDSM exploits and based on her private diaries, Alison Tyler draws on twenty-five years of penning sultry stories to create a scorchingly hot work of fiction, a memoir-inspired novel with reality at its core.

A luscious and literary experience of authenticity,
Dark Secret Love is a romance for readers who desire sweetness edged with danger and a kinky fairy tale with a happily-ever-after ending.

Take a deep breath and prepare to submit. Alison Tyler will push your boundaries to the limits—and have you begging for more
Describe Dark Secret Love in six words.

A kinkily-ever-after love story.

As we all know, you're a Cleis Press editor for dozens of erotic anthologies. What’s something that draws you to anthology projects in particular?

For me, curating an anthology is like putting together an art show—but with words instead of pictures. I was an art history major at school, and I love seeing how different authors approach the same theme. I receive unbelievable pleasure jig-sawing the books together: This story here, this one there. Until all the pieces agree.

Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at, or any you want to stay away from?

I’ve written two mysteries (Dial “L” for Loveless and Strictly Confidential), and I wouldn’t mind trying another one. I’m not a paranormal writer, but in the early '90s I spent nearly an entire year writing about a girl who could turn into a lizard. (She was based on a cold-blooded woman I knew.) I have that book in the upstairs closet. It’s called The Lizard Queen, and I hope to be able to finish the thing someday. I’ve got over 100 drafts.

That's something I'd like to see! LOL! What was your inspiration for Dark Secret Love?

This is the book—or really, the series—that I have always wanted to write. I read the Beauty books several lifetimes ago, and I hoped to be able to create something... well, not like them, but of that level. Obviously, I don’t do descriptions with Anne Rice’s savoir faire—I have my own (sparse) style. But I wanted to create a series with characters you care about, with situations that ring true. A real-life fairytale with a heart of pure kink.

And it sounds phenomenal, it really does.

Click "Read more" to find out the top five books that influenced Alison the most, the most disastrous date she's ever been on (YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO HEAR THIS), and her advice for aspiring writers. We're also hosting a giveaway for a copy of the book, so you don't want to miss that either!

Which character from Dark Secret Love was most difficult to write?

Sam, who's based on me. Seeing your own flaws—your own fears and insecurities—on paper can be daunting. There’s a desire to make yourself appear more together than you might actually be. I say “you” but of course, I mean “me.” I didn’t hold back. Sam cheats on her fiancé while she has his ring on her finger. Readers might give her a free pass once they become acquainted the man she’s supposed to marry. But I did my best not to whitewash her. She’s no saint.

It's incredibly courageous of you to have done that. Exposing yourself so rawly, without the little touchups authors normally make when they put parts of themselves into protagonists, leaves you more vulnerable than ever, but empowers you in the same way. What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

Strengths: I never stop writing. If I run into a steel wall on one project, I flip and work on something else. I’ve written thousands of stories. No joke. I think I’m prolific because I don’t stop. I won’t stop. (Don’t try to stop me.) Also, I edit like a mofo. Some of my stories have more than a dozen drafts. Unless pushed to the limit of a deadline, I refuse to turn in green work.

Weaknesses: I welcome critiques, but occasionally, I’ve listened too hard to someone else’s opinion. For one of my novels, a reviewer said my secondary characters were two-dimensional. On the next book, I tried so hard to make the best friend really sing. The next reviews complained that the secondary characters were more interesting than the heroine. Sometimes you can’t win.

Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.
  1. City Primeval—High Noon in Detroit by Elmore Leonard
  2. Getting It Right by Elizabeth Jane Howard (I have whole passages memorized)
  3. Diva by Delacorta
  4. Wrecking Crew by John Albert
  5. Just Another Love Story by RR Knudson
I love how these are all books I've never heard of and some of them are (unfortunately) out of print. Obscure and underrated high-impact books are the best! What’s the greatest thing you ever learned?

Oh, my god. I love this question. I have no idea how to answer. But what a fabulous query! The greatest thing? Do you remember Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life? I feel like the greatest thing I ever learned is...

How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

People are obviously entitled to their opinions. However, the reviews I dislike most are of the type that say: “This was a short story.” And then give a low rank. Um, yeah. The Spice “briefs”? They’re short stories. That’s what they are. Sudden Sex has 69 short stories in the collection. To say that the stories are too short is akin to not getting the point. To me, this would be like giving a beagle a bad review because it’s a dog.

But I know there are books I’d give 1-stars to that the authors would absolutely hate me for. The Red Pony by Steinbeck and Ethan Frome by whoever the fuck. (I know. I know. Wharton.) Hated that book. Oh, and Billy Budd. For god’s sake. Why? Why? So yeah, everyone’s entitled.

Oh, wait. You asked you I react. There’s this special little trick I have. It’s called tequila. I take mine straight.

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Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside??  No. No chocolate for me. Sweet Tarts or Hot Tamales. I like candy that makes my mouth hurt.  

All-time favorite quote? “What fresh hell is this?” — Dorothy Parker

Most romantic thing a guy has ever said or done to you? I’m the sap who will say: mixed tape. But not from just one guy. I love my mixed tapes.

Most disastrous date you’ve ever been on? The one where he turned out to be a Nazi. Oh, and there was the one where the guy took me to an AA meeting because I’d had one beer—one beer—on our first date. Oh, wait, and then there was the boy who brought me to the grocery store so he could suck the gas out of the tops of whipped cream cans. But I’m forgetting the architect who said in the heat of the moment, “Show me your titties.”

Gosh, there were so many winners. How can you choose?

LOL! You got all the Prince Charmings, eh? How do you get over heartbreak? You don’t.

Currently reading? Electroboy by Andy Behrman, Thrill Seeker by Kristina Lloyd, and Hello Sailor by Eric Idle. I have to confess to this weird thing I do: If I love a book, I have a difficult time finishing it. I linger, reading slower and slower, so I’ll never get to the end.

Unfortunately, I'm not clever (or patient) enough to do that. Good books = instant gratification for me. Currently wearing? A turquoise-and-blue plaid workshirt over an MTV t-shirt. Favorite thriftstore Levis. Love these Levis. Checkered vans. I know. I know. The '80s called. They want my wardrobe back.

Most visited websites? The ones that follow me and tell me my cart is lonely? Zappos and Allposters.

Favorite vegetable? (yes, you have to pick one) Artichokes. The hearts. Marinated. Don’t get me started.

Biggest celebrity crush? Gene Hackman’s voice.

Mmm. Guiltiest pleasure? For food? Dipping Pepperidge Farm Chessmen into chilled white wine.

For events? Reading in a bar during the day.

Can't say I've tried either, but I must! What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? I’ve always been a writer. 

Charity or cause of choice? Currently, I’m working with a slew of writers to put out a book to help Sommer Marsden, whose husband is going through his second round of chemo.  

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Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Don’t take advice from someone who doesn’t like your work. Seriously. Make sure the person appreciates your writing. I take edits well. I am willing to do a million revisions. But I’ve learned that if someone thinks you’re no good, their critiques will never work for you.

What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Writing keeps me sane. Not writing makes me insane. I need to tip my head and knock the words out or they spiral around inside there and make me crazy.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

You mean like running out of paper?

What is the message in Dark Secret Love that you want readers to grasp?

Be yourself. Find someone who accepts you for who you are. Don’t settle. I would rather have been alone for the rest of my life than marry my ex. I would have been happier, healthier, and saner. But I was so young when we got together, and I listened to people who I shouldn’t have.

Amen! What are your goals as a writer?

Get up and write. I do this every day. I hope I never run out of stories to tell.

What's next for you?

Coming out next is The Delicious Torment, second in my series of novels for Cleis.

Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

Oh, please, please, please let’s ask the readers the greatest thing they’ve ever learned. I would love to hear different people’s answers to this fabulous query!

Fabulous question! Readers, you can find Alison online at the following sites:

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to get to know the "trollop with a laptop" better today, Alison! I am seriously such a huge fan and it means a lot to me that you were able to drop by the blog. Thank you so much for joining us and answering our questions, and best of luck with your future endeavors.


Books à la Mode is giving away a print copy of Dark Secret Love—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is answer Alison's question in a comment below:
What's the greatest thing you've ever learned?

Don't forget to include your email address in your comment so I know who to contact when I randomly select winner. Don't make me track you down!!!!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Alison and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to Cleis!
Giveaway ends November 7th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Check out my sidebar where you'll find a list of giveaways that currently are running internationally—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!