Monday, October 29, 2012

An Interview with J.A. Rock's Mom

I am so excited today to welcome my most A-list guest so far, my mother. She not only knows what I do, but she, um, reads my books. Which isn’t weird at all. Right? It’s not weird. Anyway, she’s stopped by to check out what’s going on here at the naughty blog, play dirty word games, and get real about having a daughter who writes smut.

Welcome, Mom! Do you like what I’ve done with the place?

Yes. My favorite part is the consent agreement I had to click to get in here. The one that says: “I UNDERSTAND AND I WISH TO CONTINUE.”

Safe sane and consensual is how I play.

Let’s get right to the hard-hitting questions. You didn’t particularly care for By His Rules. Are you aware that as my mother you are contractually obligated to love everything I do?

You are forgetting the clause that reads: “Every parent is entitled to one activity, gift, or creation (per child) they don’t love.” In your brother’s case, perhaps it was the “#1 Grandpa!” key chain he bought at Christmas Closet and gave to me the Christmas he was six. Regarding your sister, perhaps it was synchronized swimming. All I can say is, I’d rather read By His Rules twenty-five times than watch a single underwater performance of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”

You’ve always encouraged me to go after what I want. I wouldn’t be much of a writer now if you hadn’t read all my stories when I was growing up—and been honest about them. I guess this isn’t really a question. I just want to say thanks. Especially for being cool about the erotica thing. When you and Dad had your secret parent powwows where you tried to predict your kids’ futures, did you see this one coming?

If you’ll recall, you once said you wanted to be a sex therapist. You were nine. Yes, we saw this one--and all of your future characters--coming. And coming. And coming...

Pffffff *Snicker.*

I can’t believe I have parents cool enough that I can say I’m publishing a BDSM novel and they’ll be proud. However, it makes me wonder: What would I have to do to besmirch the family name?

You would have to have an eating disorder. Remember how relieved I was that BDSM didn’t stand for body dysmorphic disorder and its attendant anorexia or bulimia?

Yes, I remember the look of horror on your face when I said, “I have something to tell you,” and asked if you knew what BDSM was. And the look of relief when you learned it was just people beating each other and pushing the limits of what can fit up the human rectum.

I didn’t tell anyone I was going to try to publish smut, which meant I had to pick my penname myself. Could I have done better? If so, please give an example.

It might have been just the teensiest bit better if your pen name was not my dead aunt’s name. Why not Fanny Aiken?

I didn’t know it was your aunt’s name, honest. But what better way to honor her memory than…Okay. Sorry.

Moving on.

I also picked my dog’s penname. Could I have done better for her?


When I told a friend I was embarrassed about my family reading By His Rules, she asked why, and I said because I didn’t want my parents wondering how I knew the details that went into the sex scenes. She said, “If you wrote a crime novel, would you worry about them wondering how you know all those details about serial killing?” I told her sex was different. Is it? Is it weird for you to see all the references to throbbing, thrusting, engorged body parts in my books and know your daughter wrote them? 

No, it's not weird. Besides, I know you learned about throbbin' and thrustin' from the same place I learned it—your Nana's super dirty collection of romance novels. Anyway, even if you are writing from experience, it makes me happy you have such a hot sex life!

One of my favorite memories is you reading Dean Koontz aloud to my siblings and me when we were kids. Also Robert Cormier. Who is the less appropriate author for children?

Even heavily edited on the fly, Dean Koontz is more wholesome than Robert Cormier. The farmer in the dell...The farmer in the dell...

I came out to you a few years ago about my BDSM lifestyle. You were very supportive. If I had a kid and he/she came out to me, I’d be prepared, and I’d probably arrange some ceremonial handing down of my favorite flogger. But you didn’t know much about BDSM. I guess I’m curious as to how it feels as a parent to learn something like that about your kid if you don’t entirely understand it. Go:

Again, I refer you to my relief that you didn’t have an eating disorder. Seriously, though, when you love your kid as much as I love you, why would you want to start tampering with who she is? If you didn’t like butt plugs and flogging, that would change you in some infinitesimal way. And I already think you’re perfect. So. That said, regarding BDSM, the motto of your grade-school gym teacher Mr. Teagarden is as relevant today as it was in 1993: “Safety first.”

Awww. My mom just said “butt plugs.”

Get Your Child’s Mind Out of the Gutter

Because I spend hours every day writing about sex, it’s hard (tee-hee) to not hear everything as an innuendo. It’s like being in junior high all over again. Please fill in the following blanks to create a totally innocuous, nonsexual phrase or sentence.

A throbbing headache
His eight-inch trout
“Kneel down and echo my prayer.
Stroking left until it was fully a mile from shore.
“That’s the biggest dictionary I’ve ever seen.”
“Where did you learn to quilt like this?”
He thrust his gift into her stocking.
She managed to win at Scrabble thirteen times in one night.

What makes a great romance?

Unbelievably naive and idealistic people who crush each other’s dreams, let each other down, then continue to love each other anyway.

That is literally the best answer I’ve heard to that question.

Hugh Jackman, Hugh Laurie, or Hugh Grant?

Hugh Laurie. House and I share a love of loosely regulated pharmaceuticals.

You’ve read all three of my books. What is the most appalling BDSM act you’ve read about so far?

The people stuff is fine, but I am lastingly disturbed about the trick Scott used on Aiden in By His Rules. The trick he stole from horse shows. I can’t about it...ALL THE PRETTY HORSES!!!

I’ll bet there are some horses who love it.

You are also a writer, albeit of the epic, sweeping, generation-spanning, sparklingly-metaphored, literary-historical novel variety. My brother once suggested your opus would benefit from some acid-spitting Egyptian statues. May I make a suggestion? And you can take it or leave it: nipple clamps.

Well, you certainly took to heart your brother’s point about spurting liquid livening up a plot. That’s all your crotch crockery seems to do. I will give nipple clamps due consideration.

I invited you here intent on making you uncomfortable, but wow.

What is the best part of writing?

Getting paid. I guess. I wouldn’t know. I thought you said you knew someone who knew someone...?

That isn’t the best part. It’s getting paid and finding subtle ways of working that into conversations with other writers who aren’t getting paid. Which reminds me, I have to go to the bank after this and cash the enormous paycheck I got from writing and then call the people who are installing my new swimming pool.

What’s the worst part?

Probably the writing part.

What is the hardest thing about raising kids?

Not being allowed to murder other children who are mean to them.

Go through the following list and select which of your children would be most likely to do these things. To protect identities, let’s call my siblings Kathy and Brett.

Be charged with manslaughter   YOU
Live in their car   KATHY
Win the Hunger Games   BRETT
Appear on a billboard   BRETT
Accidentally invent something important   BRETT
Win a cruise on a game show   BRETT
Run a successful business   BRETT
Burn dinner   YOU
Enjoy a movie called Ghostbusters v. The A-Team   KATHY
Have a pet monkey   KATHY

WHAT?? I would so beat Brett in the Hunger Games!! He can’t go ten minutes when he’s visiting without asking what’s for dinner. I’m like Katniss Everdeen on crack.

Ayayay…moving on.

Okay, for the next question, I want you to answer with the first thing that pops into your head. To ensure you don’t peek, I’ve put this question on the next page. Scroll down slowly…then answer immediately.

Who’s your favorite child?

Brett. See above.


One last question: What book do you wish you’d written?

Lonesome Dove.

Thanks so much for sitting in the hotseat today! And hey, good job raising me.

Thank you. I felt it went well. The raising, I mean. Safety first.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

To My Archnemesis

When I was six, my mom brought home a picture book from the library. It was about a baby whale who disregarded his mother’s warning, swam too close to the shore, and was beached until a little boy helped him.

My mom said the author of the book was six when he wrote and illustrated it. I think she thought that would be a cool thing for me to know. Like I’d feel a sense of kinship with the author: I was six. I liked writing. And marine life.

“How did he get published?” I demanded. My own picture book, Diver the Small Dolphin, about a dolphin who was very small but could still jump through hoops, had most definitely not been published. It was not available at the local library. Who the hell was this boy who'd made it before he left kindergarten?

My mom tried to explain that the boy probably had a relative who worked at a publishing house—that he almost certainly hadn’t sent out a query, landed an agent, and scored a six figure advance. But I wasn’t in the mood to hear it.

The little bastard had published a book. And I hadn’t.

I thought about him occasionally over the next few years. When I was ten I wrote The Great Pet Adventure, about a family who moves to Virginia but leaves all their pets behind. The pets then have to find a way back to their humans. It was a bit of a Homeward Bound knockoff. I could do better. When I was twelve there was Let’s Go to Europe, about a zany group of friends who go to Europe and get kidnapped. There was a character named Rachel Green who had a stylish layer cut. I really liked Friends.

When I was sixteen, there was Hellbound, my first stab at a BDSM romance novel. It wasn’t supposed to be about BDSM. My friend September Adams and I decided to write romance novels over the summer. Hers was normal. Mine had whips. We both tried to laugh it off.

After that there was a slew of projects, ranging from YA to literary to romance to sci fi, most of them abandoned, a few completed, sent out, and rejected by agents and publishers. Every now and then that kid and his whale book would pop into my head and I’d burn with fury.

Last year, after By His Rules was published and all my dreams came true slash I realized I was exactly the same person just with way less time to relax, I tried to look up the book. I typed “6 year old beached whale” into Google and got a picture of a humpback whale—presumably age six—stranded on the Manzanillo shore. I seemed to remember the name Joshua was involved, so I tried “Joshua and the Whale.” Did you mean “Jonah and the Whale?” Google asked.

Had the book ever really existed? It must have. That kid was how I learned to hate people who were more successful than me. He was the one I voodooed when I couldn’t think of a good ending for The Great Pet Adventure, or when Harlequin told me Hellbound was really not what they were looking for. He was a phantom, this child prodigy, eternally six, always just out of reach, laughing at me as I struggled to achieve my dream. But where was he when I typed “six-year-old whale book” into Amazon and got a book on Orcas that had been published in 2006?

I wanted to know the kid’s name, wanted to know what he was doing now. Wanted to hear him admit he’d only been published because his uncle worked for Random House and this was his uncle’s version of putting his drawings up on the fridge.

Two days ago, I tried searching again. I actually found it pretty quickly. The book is called Joshua Disobeys, and it was the winner of a contest for writers ages 6-9 in the 80s. The author’s name is Dennis Vollmer, and he still holds the record for youngest male author ever published. The youngest female author was four, and if I’d known about her when I was a kid I would have tracked her down and poisoned her Lunchable. Except I think she lived in the 1940s or something.

There isn’t much info on Dennis. He doesn’t appear to have published anything else, or participated in any interviews about Joshua Disobeys (a title I might steal for my next BDSM novel). But I just want to say to him, now that we’re both grown up and are mature, responsible adults—thank you. Sorry about the voodoo. I have never forgotten you or how inadequate you made me feel when I was six, leafing through your book on my staircase and thinking your drawings really weren’t that good. You had little sense of perspective and your shading lacked subtlety.

I hope you’re well, and that you are doing something you love, even if it’s not writing. I am doing what I love best, and it’s partially thanks to a six-year-old kid who won a contest years ago. And that’s why I love writing so much. When we share our stories with the world, we don’t know whose lives we might affect, or how.

There’s a scribbly marker drawing of a baby whale stuck on a beach. And somewhere there’s a six-year-old girl on her staircase looking at that picture and wishing more than f’ing anything she was the author of a book other people could read.

She’ll grow up to write sex novels.

All of us, at times, lack subtlety and a sense of perspective. So today, Dennis, I’m offering your voodoo doll a tiny doll-sized olive branch, and I’m buying a copy of Joshua Disobeys.


Congrats to Trix!

Trix has won a copy of Calling the Show over at Joyfully Jay's Young Love Week. Congrats, Trix!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Young Love Week

It's Young Love Week over at Joyfully Jay! And my boys Jesse and Sim from Calling the Show are psyched their story is included on a great list of books featuring a young love theme. There are lots of giveaway prizes (including a free copy of Calling the Show), and it's a great opportunity to find some new reading material if you're a fan of all the confusion, hormones, and giddiness that come with being young and in love. I guess that all comes with being any age and in love. But isn't there something a little extra special about college-age hormones?

The giveaway post is live as of today, and you can comment on it any time this week for a chance to win. The contest will run through Saturday, October 13th, at 11:59 p.m.

Click here to head over to Jay's blog and join the festivities.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1 Down, 49 to Go

Why, if we could get 49 more states on board with this, we'd have an entire nation that stood against the idea of playing damaging and ineffective mind games with children to prevent them from being who they are.

California Becomes First State in Nation to Ban 'Gay Cure' Therapy for Children.