Super-thrilled to be chatting with Tiffany Reisz today. Here are some questions she answered for your delight. (Warning, we were dropping f-bombs left and right. Brace yourself, Nelly.)
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MADELINE IVA: How’d you get your agent?
TIFFANY REISZ: I found my agent, Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency, on querytracker.net. I’d sold SEVEN DAY LOAN, a Spice Brief novella, on my own the year before and it gave me the confidence to start querying. She was in my first batch of agent’s I queried. I picked her because she said she was looking for erotica. I didn’t (and still don’t) consider The Siren “erotica” per se but I knew I’d need an agent with, let’s just say, a high tolerance for pain. We’ve been a beautiful team. She believed in me from day one and has sold what should have been an unsaleable (hardcore S&M with underage sex, multiple partners, a kinky Catholic priest, a heroine who’s a Dominatrix…) book to a massive mainstream imprint.
MADELINE IVA: How’d you get your first sale?
TIFFANY REISZ: I started with seven agents and only one of the seven wanted anything to do with me. Same deal with the editors. Seven editors were sent The Siren, six said no. Quite frankly, the book scared the shit out most of them. It wasn’t erotica, wasn’t romance, was “too cerebral” according to one editor. Nora made another editor nervous (she’s a Dominatrix, that’s her job). But then…Susan Swinwood of Harlequin of all imprints was looking for something different. Susan has gone on record as saying she likes taboo subject matter in books and complicated endings. She fell in love with Nora and bought book one, The Siren, and book two, The Angel on September 1st of 2010.
MADELINE IVA: A friend once said: “A MIRA heroine owns a vibrator and may wave it around occasionally, but you’ll never see her actually use it.” Were you shocked that MIRA ended up buying your trilogy? Is MIRA (a division of Harlequin) headed in a new direction? Does 50 Shades of Grey have anything to do with this? (But it couldn’t with your book could it?–because they accepted your book before that phenomenon broke out, right?)
TIFFANY REISZ: In 2011 Harlequin did away with its erotica imprint Spice. The market for erotica had seemingly dried up and most Spice writers were doing nothing but writing romance novels with a couple extra sex scenes. The majority of the Spice writers got moved to HQN, the romance imprint. Once again, The Siren scared too many people. No way could it be marketed as a romance novel. I got sent to Mira where the expectations would be different. Mira is for women’s fiction, general fiction, mysteries and suspense. All my books are erotic (and Gothic) thrillers.
Now that you ask, you don’t ever actually see Nora using a vibrator. If she wants something phallic in her vagina, she just uses somebody’s cock.
On the other hand, you do see her using…
-scalding candle wax
-a riding crop
Compared to all that, a vibrator seems pretty vanilla.
MADELINE IVA: What has been your response to all the “deeply conflicted” reviews you’ve been getting from authors and readers? They seem to be very moved by the emotion in your work, but oh-so-troubled that you’re breaking all these ‘rules’. They warn each other constantly to remember that this is erotica–not erotic romance. This tells me that a) your readers are erotic romance readers, not erotica readers and b) you fucked with them pretty good. Did you mean to break the erotic romance ‘rules’ on purpose? By having an under age virgin in the story, for instance? –Or did your story just come out that way? Let me be blunt here: do you like messing with erotic romance reader’s expectations? Do you think they need to loosen up about some conventional standards?
TIFFANY REISZ: The reviews crack me up. First of all, I’m utterly floored by how overwhelmingly positive the response to The Siren has been. Go to Amazon and see how many five-star reviews I have. It’s ridiculous. Harlequin says The Siren is the best reviewed book they’ve published in years.
That being said, some readers are conflicted. That’s okay. They’re supposed to be. The whole series is a mindfuck. And I’m saying that in the same tone of voice Morpheous used when explaining to Neo about the rabbit hole he choose to fall down. You won’t even know the mindfuckery I’m pulling until the very end of book four. So in a way, the response to the books was what I intended. I wanted to fuck with minds. Shockingly people are reeling. Readers who hated Søren in book one are madly in love with him by the end of book two. Readers who come into the book thinking monogamy is the only right way to conduct a relationship, cheer Nora on when she follows her heart and her libido into one bed after the other. Readers who think that underage sex is horrifying and male-male sex is gross are falling madly in love with my male-male subplot in The Angel.
I don’t have readers. I have submissives. You can call me Mistress Tiffany Reisz if you want to play.
MADELINE IVA: What is next? I heard you’re quitting your day job in the near future. Shall we imagine you (a la back cover photos of Barbara Cartland) in a giant pink satin bed, massive jeweled rings on your fingers, surrounded by frou-frou dogs and a fat box of chocolates? Or is it back to researching in Gotham City dungeons? (How much do you tip a dungeon dominatrix btw?)
MISTRESS TIFFANY REISZ: All writers dream of quitting the day job. Hopefully this is something I’ll be able to pull off in the next year or two. All signs point to maybe! I think the future holds a move to the West Coast, a lot of writing, some walks on the beach with my ridiculously handsome boyfriend (author Andrew Shaffer), and finally putting Honeytoast, my sad kitteh, into therapy.
Oh, and you tip a Dominatrix 15-20%, just like your hairdresser. Remember, she has to pay dungeon fees.