Candid, talented, adaptable and prolific. Oh, and let’s not forget opinionated. These words all describe Loki Renard, who’s unabashedly, unapologetic about her full-time job of writing “solid lesbian and hetero disicplinary” romance. For this plucky author of books like Nocturne, The Rebel Princess and her popular Finn the Devourer series, the writer’s life may not be the easiest career, but that doesn’t mean she can’t find humor in it.
In addition to her books, Loki pens two blogs, maintains a Twitter feed and is about to embark on another project. But she took time to answer some questions from Blushing Books in her own frank and forthright style:
Blushing Books: On the front of your blog is a heading called “Who Is Loki Renard.” Clicking on it takes the visitor to a rather tongue-in-cheek explanation. But who is Loki Renard, really? And how did she get started writing erotic romances?
Loki Renard: Not to go off on too much of a tangent, I find it interesting that spanking romance is almost always called ‘erotic’ romance, even when it’s as erotic as a damp sock. This is a trend I’ve noticed among the big mainstream romance publishers too. They sell plenty of spanking, but it’s always tucked away in their ‘Spicy’ or ‘Exotically Erotic’ or ‘Shame, Shame On You’ imprints.
I’ve written spanking novellas that, aside from the fact they have spanking in them, are essentially very tame romance. I mean, not a sex scene in sight, but because they have some guy’s hand meeting some woman’s ass, they’re immediately ‘erotic’. Makes me stabby, because it makes spanking out to be something inherently dirty, which I don’t think it is.
I think there’s a lot of shame around spanking, and I’m really not sure why. It’s one of the most mainstream of the kinks. Having said all that, I started writing spanking stories when I was about eight, because I had exhausted all the Enid Blyton books with spanky fairy tales in them and I realized that one could write one’s own stories if one wanted. That was quite the changing day in my life. I’ve been writing ever since really, mostly for my own enjoyment. In the last couple of years I’ve been publishing some of my works, which has been great fun.
I’m avoiding the ‘about me’ question aren’t I? It’s very difficult (or perhaps I’m just very contrary) to say a lot ‘about me’ like I’m a bit of furniture or something. I’m 29 and 5/365ths. I was lucky enough to be born in New Zealand (being born on a picturesque Island in the South Pacific pretty much means that you’ve used up most of your luck on the first roll of the cosmic dice) and I’m a writer.
Blushing Books: I was looking at your three (soon to be four sites) yesterday. You are a very prolific writer. How do you juggle a personal blog, a professional blog and Twitter and your romance writing?
Loki Renard: I don’t have a day job. That pretty much explains it. I also have no qualms about stopping blogging for a while if I feel like it. My readers are a particularly forgiving and loyal bunch who don’t seem to mind much if I go off on a tangent for a while. They’re pretty awesome. I experiment a lot. I’ve started several blogs and shut them down when they didn’t work out for one reason or another. The Internet offers us a massive range of ways to express ourselves and reach others and I’ll try pretty much all of them.
Blushing Books: Most of our writers are from the U.S. Your Web site states that you live in Indonesia. Do you see any geographical differences between what readers like?
Loki Renard: I’m actually a New Zealander who lives in New Zealand (and complains about the quakes on a regular basis.) I have no idea what New Zealanders like in terms of romance because I haven’t actually asked any of them.
That’s not because I’m not interested necessarily, it’s because being an author of primarily spanking fiction, I’m pretty much working in the nebulous global marketplace. Most of my readers are from the US, UK and Europe. The wonderful thing about working in the digital age is that location really has become irrelevant in many respects.
Blushing Books: Where do you find inspiration for your stories? When you write, do you ever model any characters after actual people?
Loki Renard: Hardly ever. If people wanted realism, they’d go talk to real people. I write characters that are the way people wish other people were. Having said that, I do try to give my characters some depth. Sure, he’s a hard hitting top who has a way with the ladies, but he’s also allergic to Gruyere cheese. Things like that.
Blushing Books: Do you have a favorite book or story that you’ve written? A favorite genre?
Loki Renard: My favorite genre by far and away would be humor, which is probably not what you meant, but it’s true. My favorite book that I’ve written, hmmm. This question has actually made me have a bit of an epiphany, every book is my favorite whilst I’m writing it, but I’m having a hard time picking a favorite out of the ones that are already published. I like them all. I guess if I had to pick one (or two) I would say Finn the Devourer and MotoBrat (a lesbian spanking novella I wrote) for much the same reason, both have very feisty female protagonists who make me smile.
Blushing Books: Supernatural stories are very hot at the moment due to the success of the Twilight movies and series like True Blood. Is it your opinion that this is a trend that’s going to stick? You’ve written a series of books based on a character Finn the Devourer. Aside from current popularity, what do you think draws people to these supernatural tales?
Loki Renard: Honestly? People love supernatural tales pretty much for the reason it says on the tin. They’re supernatural, they transcend the mundane. They elevate the (almost always mortal) heroine to a position in which she is desired by beings that are timeless and nigh all powerful. It’s romance plus plus plus plus, designed to make people who feel average (which is all of us really) feel very very special for a time.
Finn the Devourer was an attempt to subvert all that. Firstly, Finn isn’t a mortal, she’s a vampire (as far as we know at the beginning of the book, watch out for spoilers here) but she’s rather bad at being a vampire. She wants to eat human food and she has to be coerced into drinking blood.
Of course, it later turns out that Finn isn’t weak and useless at all, but one of the most powerful kinds of vampires there are. Her redemption doesn’t come from being ‘saved’ by Leonard Chevalier, he acts more as a firm handed mentor and guide. Her ultimate redemption comes from remembering who she is.
I think that’s a much more positive message than ‘oh you are so weak and pathetic, but fortunately, pretty enough that a dead man will want to love you forever.’
All that aside, will vampires and the supernatural stick around? Yeah, they’ve been big since Dracula and I imagine they’ll continue to cycle in and out of popular culture for centuries to come.
Blushing Books: You’re a very adaptable writer, penning books not just for the straight community but for lesbian readers as well. Did you do this by popular demand or was this just something you evolved into on your own?
There’s actually hardly any demand for lesbian spanking at all, which is probably why there is so little of it out there. I’ve written quite a few lesbian spanking novellas regardless because writing them allows me to explore the dominant side of women, which you pretty much never get to do in traditional spanking romance.
I think that most women can be incredibly dominant creatures when they want to be and I enjoy creating female characters who are comfortable in their own ability to lead and control if need be.
It’s strange actually, because straight readers understandably tend to prefer straight fiction and a great deal of lesbian readers and writers actually prefer M/M stuff, so there’s a weird shunning of F/F that is probably indicative of some sort of female angst but I’ll leave that up to Germaine Greer and the like to explain.
Blushing Books: You’re very candid about the writing life on your blog, and you offer advice for other writers. With the eBook market exploding, is this a wonderful time for new authors to break in, or will they perhaps find it more difficult because of all the competition? What advice would you have for writers who decide to try their hand at erotica?
Loki Renard: Once again, being brutally honest here, I don’t think there has ever been a ‘great’ time to be an author. Being an author is hard, not only because writing fiction that isn’t completely awful requires a lot of practice and skill, but because writing is wildly undervalued in our society.
There is a silver lining though, once you’ve got the ‘writing good stuff’ part sorted out, this is a brilliant time to create your own following. Never before have authors had so much access to their audience. It’s now possible to interact with your readers on, quite literally, a daily basis. There’s never been this much scope for autonomy from traditional publishers and there’s never been this much of a chance to make it on your own terms.
I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. It’s not. And a disturbing number of authors, award winning authors with impressive back catalogs still have to hold down day jobs in order to make ends meet. The only reason I don’t is because I do a lot of non fiction work as well and because I don’t have children, or a mortgage, or a new car, or you know, things. The whole game would change if I had to support a family and liked shiny pretty things.
Erotica won’t necessarily make you rich (it might, but I wouldn’t bet your mortgage on it). It won’t make you the toast of the town. You won’t be able to stuff grandma’s stocking with your latest book. But as all writers know, you don’t pursue a career in any kind of fiction because you want to be rich, or even solvent. You pursue a career in fiction because storytelling becomes so much a part of your blood that you couldn’t stop if you wanted to.
Writing makes me happy, selling one ebook and earning a couple of bucks from it gives me a rush. If you’re the same way inclined, then go for it.
Blushing Books: I noticed you’re about to launch a free story site. Can you tell us about that? And what else can Loki’s readers look forward to?
It’s not a free story site so much as a catch all for free and paid spanking stories. Basically I’m going to be hunting down the best spanking stories on the ‘net and linking directly to them with short reviews /excerpts. Whether you’re looking for free stories, ebooks, M/F, F/F or descriptions of real life encounters, you should be able to find something you like there. I’m hoping that other writers will submit their stuff and that it will eventually become a repository of most excellent spanking fiction.
What can people expect from me in the future? More spanking stories, more erratic blogging, more fun.