Interview with Author Susan Wright

Susan Wright writes science fiction novels and nonfiction books on art and popular culture. New York City is her home, where she lives with her husband Kelly Beaton. After graduating from Arizona State University in 1986, Susan moved to Manhattan to get her masters in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Susan is currently the Spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a national organization committed to protecting freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults.

TiamatsVisionFor those unfamiliar with you and your work, tell us a bit about yourself.

Susan Wright– I’ve written over 25 novels and nonfiction books on art and popular culture. Right after I got my masters in art history from New York University, instead of becoming a professor as I had intended, I started writing. I was lucky enough to get an agent and in 1994, I published my first Star Trek novel, “Sins of Commission”. I wrote 9 Star Trek novels in all, and I have a new story in the Mirror Universe Shards and Shadows anthology coming out in January, 2009 called “Bitter Fruit”.

I’m also the spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. I talk to the media about BDSM, swinging and polyamory to debunk stereotypes and defend our communities’ right to hold events. NCSF is a great organization, the only one devoted to helping people in need. The website is www.ncsfreedom.org

TiamatsVisionYou recently released a book called “A Pound of Flesh”  which is a sequel to “To Serve and Submit” . What is this series about and what was your inspiration in writing it?

Susan Wright– These two books are about pleasure training houses in the 11th century – Viking sex! In “To Serve and Submit” , Marja is a submissive heroine who learns through her battles to save her homeland how to use her true nature to become a powerful woman. She falls in love with her master, Lexander. I got the idea from artifacts found in Newfoundland of Viking settlements, and I imagined what would that society be like if it had flourished. I knew the first “new world” settlement would include Native Americans as well as Vikings. Marja’s mother is a Skraeling and her father is Nordic so she straddles those worlds.

In “A Pound of Flesh” , Marja travels to Europe to save the slaves from the pleasure houses, but she has to fight Lexander, her former master and lover, to do it. I loved writing the BDSM scenes in this book because I think it makes the sex more creative – they aren’t the typical love scene. I have much more ability to move the story along during these scenes because the interactions are more intense.

TiamatsVisionDid you have to do any special research for this series?

Susan Wright– LOL! I found the leather community in New York City in 1991 and have been thoroughly involved ever since. So the BDSM is a completely natural expression for me.

For the Viking and real-world building, yes I did a tremendous amount of research. I also benefited because I studied art history for 7 years with an emphasis on the Middle Ages so I have a strong grounding in medieval societies.

TiamatsVisionAre there any future books planned for this series?

Susan Wright– Yes, but my editor left Roc and the future of this series is in doubt. At some point, however, I will return to Marja and Lexander’s story. They will go to Tantalis to deal directly with Lexander’s people who are enslaving poor misfortunates into their pleasure houses.

TiamatsVisionWhat got you interested in writing, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Susan Wright– When I was a young teen, I loved Heinlein novels. They were dated, but nothing could beat his story-telling. I was a passionate reader and that was always the most important thing”‘a story that could take me away and show me things I’d never imagined. Now I read mostly science fiction and urban fantasy. Also lots of 19th century novels, any I can get my hands on, so Trollope with his copious output is a favorite of mine.

I got a computer when I was getting my masters, and that’s when I became a writer. I’m big on editing over and over, putting together a story and layering in details, so I need a computer to create the way I want to. The words poured out of me. I couldn’t stop myself from being a writer, despite the hardship that it’s caused in my life. But being able to write full time, and create the books I want to, is worth everything I had to give up.

TiamatsVisionYou’ve written the Dark Passions books for the Star Trek series and a book on Area 51, ” UFO Headquarters: Investigations on Current Extraterrestrial Activity in Area 51″ . What else have you written and what are you currently working on?

Susan Wright– My first science fiction trilogy is called Slave Trade. The first novel, Slave Trade” , is available on a brand new cooperative of over 20 published authors – www.bookviewcafe.com. I’m really excited about this project. A bunch of us authors got together to create a fun website where we give away electronic versions of our out-of-print and unpublished work. I’m posting a free chapter of “Slave Trade”  every Tuesday – you can read the chapters online that I’ve already posted, or download it. If you can’t wait each week to read it, you can download the entire novel for $4.99.

Currently I’m working on Confessions of a Demon”  and the sequel, “Demon Revelation” . They’re urban fantasies set in New York City, featuring a possessed human heroine, Allay. Demons are emotional vampires, living off the feelings of others. Allay has to survive in the midst of an ancient demon war without becoming anyone’s pawn. “Confessions of a Demon”  will be published in October 2009.

TiamatsVisionHow did you get involved in writing the Dark Passions books for the Star Trek series?

Susan Wright– My editor, John Ordover, came to me with the idea of writing a set of mirror universe novels featuring the “bad girls” of Star Trek. That was the working title but Paramount nixed it, unfortunately. They feature Seven of Nine and Kira Nerys as lesbian lovers, with Deanna Troi thrown into the mix as well. They’re my best-selling Star Trek novels, which makes sense, don’t you think?

TiamatsVisionWhat inspired you to write a book about Area 51 and tape an interview with UFO hunters? Is this something you’ve always had an interest in?

Susan Wright– I wanted to find out the truth about UFOs. So what better way than to write a book about it? I sold it to St. Martin’s Press so I could live while I was doing all of the research. Since Area 51 was getting headlines in the mid-90s, I focused on that. It’s not far from where my parents live, and I’ve always been curious about the adjacent Nevada Test Site where the nuclear bomb tests were held in the 50s and 60s. This fall, ten years later, I got a call from the History Channel’s UFO Hunters who were doing an Area 51 episode. I got to go back to the border of Area 51 where we saw a Pave Hawk rise up from a gully and fly right over the top of us, like it came up from the depths of the earth! It was really exciting to get to tell what happened. The episode is supposed to air early in 2009.

TiamatsVisionWhat is the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), and how did it get started?

Susan Wright– I started NCSF in 1997 while I was working on an ad hoc project for the National Organization for Women to overturn their anti-SM policy. It took three years, but we did it! While I was educating NOW about BDSM, I kept getting emails from women who were being discriminated against or losing their child custody during divorce battles because of their BDSM. So I went to 5 of the biggest educational and social groups and asked them to join a “coalition” for sexual freedom. We had the educational and social aspect down, but we needed an advocacy group to fight the stereotypes and stigma of alternative sexual expression. Now we have 55 Coalition Partners and almost a 100 Supporting Members (groups, businesses and events who support NCSF).

NCSF has lots of different projects – our Incident Response helps people in need, along with the Media Outreach Project. We also have an Educational Outreach Project that gives workshops on how to produce events and protect yourself. We also have a new project – the DSM Revision Project that is working to educate the American Psychiatric Association about the harm the current diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) are doing to BDSM practitioners and cross-dressers. There’s a petition calling for the APA to adhere to scientific research when revising the DSM. You can find that on the front page: www.ncsfreedom.org.

TiamatsVisionAs Media Spokesperson for NCSF, what’s involved in getting the word out about your organization?

Susan Wright– I do a lot of interviews to influence the coverage of alternative sexuality. It’s having an effect – the term “consenting adults” has permeated the media and public consciousness. The vast majority of Americans agree that as long as it involves consenting adults, it’s nobody else’s business. That’s a welcome but very slow change that religious conservatives are trying to stop. There are groups that are dedicated to stopping gay rights and they dislike BDSM even more, so they attack our events.

TiamatsVisionWhat are some of your successful and more difficult cases?

Susan Wright– We have lots of successes! We help 600 people, groups, events, businesses and clubs every year. You can read the articles under NCSF in the News going back 8 years that reads like our greatest hits. We successfully defended Jack McGeorge, a UN weapons inspector who went to look for weapons in Iraq, when the media tried to discredit him because of his association with NCSF and BDSM. We successfully defended 5 major conferences in the Midwest in 2002 when Concerned Women for America spread lies that blood would flow in the hallways. We fought back Missouri State Senator John Louden when he tried to outlaw BDSM and BDSM conferences in that state. Last year we defended Kink.com when they were attacked for buying the SF Armory building, and we supported Folsom Street Fair when the Catholic League called for a boycott against Miller brewing for sponsoring the Fair because of their poster featuring Leatherfolk in a faux-Last Supper tableau.

TiamatsVisionWhat is a Kink-aware Professional, and what exactly do they do?

Susan Wright– NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals project is a free referral list of doctors, therapists and lawyers who are “kink aware” meaning they understand the special needs of kinky people. They have placed their names and information on this list, arranged by state and city, so people can find them. It really helps to have a therapist or doctor who understands about BDSM so you don’t waste time trying to explain everything. There’s still an appalling amount of discrimination by professionals, so most people don’t want to out themselves to their doctors. Also if you’re in trouble, you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars an hour explaining to your attorney the difference between SM vs. abuse. Kink Aware lawyers tend to be very helpful to those in the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities who are in trouble. It’s an invaluable resource.

TiamatsVisionIf people want to purchase your books or find out more information about the NCSF, where do they go?

Susan Wright– You can go to my website – www.susanwright.info It has a link to Book View Café where “Slave Trade”  is being offered in free chapter downloads. Also there’s a link to NCSF, and a link to my blog on Live Journal. There’s also links from my books so you can buy them if you want to. Or send me a question. I love to talk to readers.

Ry Cooder’s American West

“When Ry Cooder and I got to El Mirage Dry Lake, it was 110 degrees and heading to 117, hot enough to cook your head inside your hat. The Mojave Desert in daylight will cut the gizzard right out of you, Tom Joad once said, which is why the Okies crossed it at night. I put away the map and Ry pulled the S.U.V. through the gate and stopped. The gravel road fell away below us and vanished into the bone-white lakebed. The mirage was working: a shoreline shimmered wetly in the distance, made of bent sunlight and sand.

El Mirage Dry Lake sounds like a place one step away from nonexistence, but it’s about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, out among the Joshua trees. It’s not far from Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave’s military-paranormal sector, where secretive government installations lie low among the jackrabbits “‘ a land of spy planes, space aliens, off-road vehicles, sturdy reptiles and people with freaky desert habits, like racing vintage hot rods on dry lakebeds. It is, in other words, a critical stop on Ry’s California trail.

Ry Cooder “‘ the rock and blues guitarist, roots musician, record producer, songwriter and composer “‘ is a son of Santa Monica who has spent nearly 40 years exploring all corners of the musical planet, like a sharp-eared extraterrestrial on a lifelong voyage of discovery. (His two-CD career anthology, released last month, has a perfect title: “The U.F.O. Has Landed.” ) But even that barely covers it “‘ it’s strictly from his solo albums and the haunting scores he wrote for films like “Alamo Bay”  and “Paris, Texas.”  If you add all the records he has made with other musicians, like Gabby Pahinui, Flaco Jiménez, Ali Farka Touré, Mavis Staples, the Chieftains and, most famously, the Cuban all-stars of the Buena Vista Social Club, you can only wonder where on earth he could go next.The answer: his own backyard. Ry’s latest project may be his strangest and most ambitious. It’s a trilogy of concept albums, plus a short novel, that resurrects a lost California of places and people that Ry, who is 61, remembers from growing up in the 1950s. It was a dryer and poorer place then, but rich in things he likes, like simplicity and ingenuity, good musicians, cool cats and hot cars. Time and neglect have bulldozed most of it into oblivion.”

(via The New York Times)

Book View Cafe

“Book View Cafe is a new approach to publishing made possible by the Internet. While most of the fiction on the site is free, authors will also be offering expanded work, additional content, print versions, or subscriptions for a fee. Our authors are all professionals with publishing credits in the print world. The Internet is giving us an opportunity to make their out-of-print, experimental, or otherwise unavailable work to you. We love feedback on how we are doing.

Every day, new content available nowhere else will be served up on Book View Cafe: short stories, flash fiction, poetry, episodes of serialized novels, and maybe even a podcast now and then. The content will be archived and available after the posting date by visiting the author’s bookshelf.

Author’s bookshelves are accessed by using the pulldown menu at the top of the first page of the site. Current authors are:

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Brenda Clough
Katie Daniel
Laura Anne Gilman
Christie Golden
Anne Harris
Sylvia Kelso
Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
Sue Lange
Ursula K. Le Guin
Rebecca Lickiss
Vonda N. McIntyre
Nancy Jane Moore
Pati Nagle
Darcy Pattison
Irene Radford
Madeleine Robins
Amy Sterling
Jennifer Stevenson
Susan Wright
Sarah Zettel

Our blog is updated daily with posts from the member authors. Subject matter is up to the authors. There are no rules, guidelines, or speed limits.

Some of our authors will be providing additional work for sale. When this premium content becomes available, you can be sure we will be making announcements.  E-mail us if you’d like to be included on our mailing list and receive all the Book View Cafe news you can use. Although there is material for sale the site, Book View Cafe itself is not a profit-making organization. This is a cooperative effort between the authors. Book View Cafe welcomes donations to help pay for the site, site management, and upgrade efforts. We also welcome comments on what you’d like to see here or what we could do to improve your viewing pleasure: bookviewcafe@gmail.com”

(Book View Cafe)

C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing)

“It’s the only thing I’m thinking about recently, so I’m going to go ahead and kill the elephant. Let’s talk a little bit about what happened in October.

You’ve heard about the massive layoffs at Doubleday; you’ve heard about Harper’s terrible state of profit, BNN’s worst quarter and projected year ever, and the closing of Impetus, an indie press (which, as I’ll explain below, I don’t think was Impetus’s fault even vaguely). Yes, there’s a crisis. However. Anyone who wants to talk about “the death of publishing” can leave the room. I’m at the beginning of my career and I plan on being an editor for a long time; a lot of you are yet-to-be-published authors and I’m sure you’re equally intent on not seeing book publishing fold (not that it’s going to; that’s ridiculous). So instead I want to talk about what’s actually causing the problem–it might help us come up with solutions for protecting what’s important to us.”

(via Editorial Ass. Thanks SP!)

(Related:“Major Distributor Raises Concerns Over Borders” via GalleyCat)

Esoteric Sciences Roundtable: The Art of Memetics Interview


Kory Kortis talks to Wes Unruh about the book he co-authored with Edward Wilson “The Art of Memetics”

“Kory Kortis has been running ESR for six years now, and I was the last guest this season. We covered this view of memetics that I’ve been espousing, and hopefully I get some of the important ideas in the book across in the interview below.

Kory was kind enough to send me two DVD’s of the episode and a grip of stickers, so I got this up on my google video account (with Kory’s permission).”

(via Alterati)

Magick Without Tears (PDF and Word versions)

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“Most people experience a similar reaction when they first sit down and actually read Crowley. The name is almost universally known, and somehow most of us have inherited a nasty association along with it; some vague idea of a wacky Satanist and evil-doer. My first thoughts upon delving into Crowley’s 8 Lectures on Yoga were I don’t understand half of what this guy is saying but damn, he is onto something. One is immediately struck but the cutting insight into the previously obscure, the elegant humour, the seductive use of language, and the sheer scale of his knowledge. A few of Crowley’s recurring topics include ceremonial Magick, mathematics, metaphysics, yoga, practical mysticism, Kabalah, Tarot, and one of the first scientific approaches to comparative religion and the attainment of genius, immortalised in the verse:

We place no reliance
On Virgin or Pigeon:
Our method is Science,
Our aim is Religion”

(Download for MWT via Dan Bartlett’s blog)

Wasilla, Alaska, Gadfly Goes Viral

“The woman behind the infamous e-mail that aired criticisms of Sarah Palin to millions across the cyber-globe sat at a computer screen scrolling through unread messages, as dozens more popped into her inbox. “Let’s see, what is the next one?” Anne Kilkenny said with a smile, killing time before her family attended a Saturday evening church service. She clicked and skimmed the words: “Hateful liar.”

She opened the next one: “I think you are nothing more than disgruntled and jealous in some way!! Be truthful now. Are you pro-abortion? For gay marriages? Embryonic stem cell research? Euthanasia?”
“Blah, blah, blah, blah,” Kilkenny said, chuckling and shaking her head, moving on to the next e-mail: “Get your own life Anne and leave hers alone.” “Shame on you Anne Kilkenny, that is if you really do exist!” one person wrote. “You are probably fake.”

Kilkenny, 57, lives with her husband and son in a one-level home surrounded by raspberry bushes, crab apple trees, birch and fireweed. She speaks in a high-pitched voice, cheerful as a grade school teacher, pausing for deep breaths between thoughts. She parts her steel gray hair down the middle, wears ankle-length skirts, irons meticulously and grows potatoes and asparagus in her backyard.

After Sen. John McCain named Palin, the governor of Alaska and former mayor of Wasilla, as his Republican vice presidential running mate on Aug. 29, friends of Kilkenny’s in other states began asking, “What do you know about her?” Two days later, Kilkenny decided to set down her observations about Palin in a 24,000-word sober critique, e-mailed to 40 of her friends in the Lower 48.”

(via The L.A. Times)

10 Questions with Neil Gaiman


“Neil Gaiman’s imaginary worlds are indisputably dark, often chillingly macabre, and always fun to visit. His characters are spooky but charming, like Death, the beguiling goth girl of the groundbreaking comic series The Sandman; the Other Mother, the soul-snatching matriarch of the young adult bestseller Coraline; and Aziraphale and Crowley, the angel and demon frenemies of the popular satire Good Omens. Gaiman chatted with Goodreads about his latest spine-tingling book, The Graveyard Book, his sources of inspiration, the Hollywood rumor mill, and what he has on his Goodreads currently-reading shelf.”

(via Goodreads. h/t: SF Signal)

The Query Project

In a follow-up to the Plot Synopsis Project, author Joshua Palmatier has put together the Query Project, in which a group of authors post and discuss actual query letters that got them an agent or an editor.

“Hey, all! A while ago, when I ran the Plot Synopsis Project, it was suggested that I also do a Query Project. I didn’t have the time then to organize it, but I’ve put something together now. What you’ll find here (from me) is an old post that I’ve reposted with some changes, mainly dealing with the actual paragraph pitch that I included. In the first posting of this, I made a pitch up on the fly, and it sucked. This time, I put in the pitch I actually used in the queries I sent out to agents and editors regarding that particular book. I’ve also tweaked some sentences and whatnot since the original post.

So, here’s my advice on how to write a query and what it should include. At the end of the post, there are links to a bunch of other authors who’ve agreed to post one of their own queries (one that netted them an agent or editor) along with comments about queries in general. Some of the authors participating never used queries, and they’ll explain how they got published without them, or why they didn’t need them. But most of us used queries to catch someone’s attention. As always, this is just our experiences and our advice, which may or may not be the best advice out there. Use your own judgment after considering what we’ve all had to say. And good luck with your own agent/editor hunt!”

(via Joshua Palmatier’s blog)

(Thanks Smoking Pigeon!)

Banned Books and the Election


There’s a bogus list of books that Palin wanted banned making the rounds on the internet these past few days. In reality the books listed were taken from a site listing books that were once banned in the United States. And while the list is clearly disinformation at its finest, it at least brings attention to the fact that Palin attempted to fire a librarian after inquiring into banning some books from the library. According to Anne Kilkenny who has known Palin since ’92:

‘While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.’

This poses a threat to the liberty of writers, book lovers, publishers, and libraries everywhere in the country. This means that it’s extremely important to put additional emphasis on this year’s ‘Banned Books Week-Celebrating the Freedom to Read’ (Sept. 27-Oct. 4). Spread the word…

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