Research interview went in a different direction

Romance Author

Research interview went in a different direction

As a very private person, it takes a lot to get me to talk about my writing face to face – especially in the states.  Europe is a little easier since I am not in the cities for a very long time and I can doll up and be myself.  So doing an interview in my home town took a lot of pushing from some of my friends.

Now this was not like any interview I had done in the past.  Most of the interviews I had done were either online or more of a book promotional thing.  This one was much different.  One of my friends’ daughter is a psych major at one of the universities in town and I was asked to interview with them to discuss the affects of sex and literature.

My initial response was no, but we continued to negotiate and went from emailing me the questions, to doing a phone interview to doing a face to face meeting.  I was very clear about the interview and how I expected it to be conducted which she and her two project partners agreed to.

So, they came out to my place which was private and a place I felt comfortable with.  After getting past the pleasantries, we sat down and went through the interview questions.  I was pleasantly surprised at the seriousness the three of them had about the interview.  I was expecting more of an immature and awkwardness that never showed itself.

Now, most of them were pretty straight forward.

How did you get in to writing?

Why did I choose the genre?

How did I find the inspiration for the stories and characters?

The group came loaded and the interview was a lot longer than I thought it would be, but aside from the time it took to complete, it was pretty painless. The questions mostly centered around emotional state when I was writing and reading similar topics, choice of vocabulary, character development and feedback. They did eventually ask me about specific books they had read as part of their research and specifically the biography I wrote and re-released earlier this year.

What I was surprised about was they didn’t refer to me as an erotic author.  Something I needed to clarify with them during the interview.  They made reference to a a few books they thought didn’t really fit the erotica genre – specifically, Understanding Steve VR-Nica and a Victim’s Revenge.  They categorized these as more suspense or in the case of Understanding Steve – “feel good” stories.  I had never thought of my work as feel good stories and it certainly opened my eyes to how others view my work.

When we were finishing up, my friend’s daughter Lisa (that is not her real name) stuck around after the rest of her group left.  She had a few more questions for me that didn’t have anything to do with the interview, but tried very hard to make it about the interview.  She asked me about her father, who’s a good friend of mine and part of the LGBT community, but someone I was not sexually attracted to, but still a great friend who I confided in.

Lisa was worried about her father and his isolation.  Because he lives alone and is retired, he rarely leaves his apartment which had Lisa concerned.  She had been trying for years to get her father open up to her but he continued to remain a very private person.  She said that her reason for studying psychology was to help her understand her father, but while she now had a better understanding, he continued to talk with her about his lifestyle choices.

This was tough for me as I have kids of my own and have kept my secrets hidden away.  Lisa knew about her father not long after her mother passed away four years ago. It was not something I felt comfortable getting involved in but couldn’t stay away.  I simply told her that while she had to be patient, she had to also consider the fact that he was never going to open up to her about his choices and the best thing she could do was simply continue to be supportive.

When I told her that she opened up even more telling me that she tried helping her father become more feminine and even shared some of her clothes with him, but he was in such denial that he just became angry at the thought that Lisa knew more than she should have.  What I suggested was that she write him a letter and let him read it on his terms and not to speak about it again.  If he is is willing to reach out and discuss it further than he will do it on his terms.

For someone so educated, I was a little shocked when she asked me what she should write.  So, I sat her down at the kitchen table told her to write down what she wanted to tell him.  When she got stuck, I told her to talk to me as if I was her father and the emotions poured right on the page.  I never told her what I already knew that her father shared with me. He had told me that the divorce was because he realized he was different and wanted to explore that lifestyle.

Lisa’s mom was not only devastated but the humiliation boiled over into hatred for him and the reason he is somewhat distant from Lisa was because she initially blamed him for the divorce.  Not surprising considering she only had one side of the story, but time does heal some of the wounds and some wounds need a lot of time to heal because they are just too deep.

Lisa was older now and doesn’t blame her father and wants him in her life.  I would like to say that she would accept him no matter what, but based on our conversation and the tone of her letter, I think there are still barriers to break down – especially when it comes to her perception of her father being out in public or having someone special in his life.  I could tell this was difficult for her when she asked me if her father and I had ever “hooked up”.  She was somewhat relieved to her we hadn’t.

When she was done and was ready to leave, she asked if she could reach out to me – to talk and be friends.  How can you turn down a supportive friend with a good heart?  Hopefully Lisa and her father can have a relationship they can both be happy with and I hope those of you faced with situations like this one can find the strength you need to understand the circumstances before passing judgement or attempting to force change onto others.

Best of luck “Lisa”.

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