Interview with I.J. Miller
Thanks for joining us, I.J. How did you start writing erotica?
I.J.: I’ve published four books before the current one, WUTHERING NIGHTS. All of them have graphic sexual material, but I never considered them erotica, aside from a few stories in my collection, SEX AND LOVE. The sex was used to tell the story and reveal character and was not always erotic. I fell into the label because the publishing world became so genre oriented and erotica was the closest one to fit me. However, there is no getting around the fact that WUTHERING NIGHTS is an erotic romance. I came to write the novel because a publisher liked a proposal and sample chapter I did for a Dickens mashup and commissioned me to retell Wuthering Heights.
Tricia: What’s your favorite published work of yours and why?
I.J.: Right now it’s WUTHERING NIGHTS. The book possessed me during the writing process and it was a real challenge to adopt language and certain types of imagery that I don’t normally use. My short story collection, SEX AND LOVE, is also close to my heart because the stories are so personal.
Tricia: What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
I.J.: I was initially influenced by some old school writing: Xaviera Hollander, Erica Jong, Anais Nin. I like Jeremy Edwards, Sharazade. I recently read Susana Mayer’s SenSexual Anthology and enjoyed the stories there because they’re a direct reflection of the passionate “open mic” readers who attend her once a month Erotic Literary Salon.
Tricia: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I.J.: My books usually come from a personal observation about life.
My novel SEESAW: from how people seem more attractive when they are in the power position.
My novel WHIPPED: from how some affluent housewives who seem to have it all can be unhappy in the bubble they created.
My collection SEX AND LOVE: from how quite often sex is the one thing even very controlled people find difficult managing.
WUTHERING NIGHTS: the incomparable Emily Bronte.
Tricia: Who is your favorite character from one of your stories and why?
I.J.: Heathcliff from WUTHERING NIGHTS. He seems to have been created before all of the unwritten rules pertaining to heroes in literature were formed: completely bare and raw, equally as passionate about love as he is brutal. No filters, no censorship, all real tortured soul.
Tricia: Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
I.J.: My nearest and dearest do know what I do, but some of them don’t read my work. My basically personality just doesn’t seem to fit the pre-conceived notions people have of writers who write about sex. My wife, however, reads everything, and is my number supporter and critic.
Tricia: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
I.J.: Bernard Malamud: “Using personal experience in your fiction, without invention, is like uncooked spaghetti.”
Tricia: If you get writer’s block, how do you get around it?
I.J.: Read a lot, write emails, write anything...even a shopping list.
Tricia: If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
I.J.: I’d have to go with Heathcliff. Some of my main male characters can be a bit alter-egoish. He definitely is nothing like me, except we can both be very passionate, but I am in a quiet intense way, while he is all raw emotion. I’d love to hear him talk about anything with the great zest he has for life. I’d also think he would enjoy hanging with me and learning how to chill.
Tricia: Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
I.J.: Philip Roth. It’s so amazing how prolific he was from his early years to later in life. He is a master observer of human nature, a beautiful manager of language, all with touches that every person can relate to.
Tricia: What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I.J.: Literary erotica. It has the aura of sexy and well-written to it.
Tricia: What are you working on at the moment?
I.J.: I’m working on a New Adult erotic romance for the 18-25 crowd called CELINE’S SOLUTION, about a college girl who gets her final, senior year education from her young English professor who is both a master of passion and a troubled secretive soul. Before she can know for sure whether she has found true love or needs to move on, she needs to unravel all of his mysteries.
Tricia: What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
I.J.: Believe it or not, as stated in the contract I signed for WUTHERING NIGHTS, I had six weeks to deliver a first draft, then another three to produce a final accepted manuscript. This included the research as well. I immersed myself into the book, ten hours a day, seven days a week...and met the deadline.
Tricia: What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
I.J.: My biggest achievement is that I’m still doing it. I started out with mainstream success in the mid-80s, but struggled to sell my work for the next ten to fifteen years. But I never gave up, never stopped writing. A great testament to follow your dream. I’m enjoying my current success but never for an instant take it for granted.
BIO FOR I.J. MILLER
I.J. Miller is the author of five, distinct, literary, erotic works of fiction: SEESAW was translated into two languages, with over 130,000 copies in print; WHIPPED appeared in both English and German; SEX AND LOVE, a collection of short stories, made its debut in the summer of 2011; CLIMBING THE STAIRS, a novella, was released just a year later. His latest novel, WUTHERING NIGHTS, is an erotic retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic, Wuthering Heights, and is published by the Grand Central Publishing imprint of Hatchette Books. It is available now as an e-book and as a trade paperback both online and in bookstores. The audio book is due out July 16. Miller has a Master of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute and has taught creative writing and screenwriting at the university level.