I am very excited to share with you all an interview with the amazingly talented Sessha Batto!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a homoerotic fiction writer given to epic tales of angsty romance and steamy sex centering on the emotional connection between individuals.
My first career was as a video editor and motion graphics artist, although I did a fair amount of script writing as well. In my spare time I practice battojutso and Tai Chi. I’m a Buddhist and a vegetarian. All in all, not terribly interesting, I’m afraid.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in November of 2008 – I’d been out of work for a year and came across an article about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month) where you try to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. So, I decided, why not? Thirty days later I’d finished my first novel and been bitten by the writing bug.
What do you love most about writing?
Writing is cathartic. I get to be someone else (or several someones), feel their emotions, live their adventures all without leaving the safety of my own office. But the best part is when something I’ve written touches a chord in a reader. Hearing that someone else gets what I was aiming for definitely spurs me to continue.
My ideas are usually sparked by a word or a phrase that I see somewhere. A combination of syllables that sets off a chain reaction in my brain. Before I know it that simple phrase has exploded into a full blown plot and I’m off.
I think everyone experiences writer’s block from time to time. If the words aren’t flowing I take a break. If they still won’t come I switch to a different project. As a last resort I force something down on the page, pushing some words out, even if they’re awful and I delete them, it seems to free up the blockage.
I never outline before I write. Somewhere around the halfway point I’ll sketch out a rough chapter timeline, just to make sure I’m not leaving any loose plot threads. The last 5-10 chapters are usually pretty structured for this same reason, but I’m always open to the happy inspiration that takes things in a new direction.
How many books do you have published to date? Did you self publish or work through an agent/publisher?
My first book (well, actually the second one I wrote, but the first worth publishing) Strength of Will was released as an e-book in November 2009 by Gemini78 Publishing. They were a new, start up micro-publisher and I happened to see their call for submissions. I’m the first to admit, I was woefully unprepared to be published, I’d only been writing a few months. I learned a lot. I ended up doing three complete rewrites, changing location, character names, etc. Looking back now I’d do a lot of things differently, but I will always be grateful, because the chance to be published kept my dream alive.
My short story Wintersong is included in Dancing in the Dark – An Anthology of Erotica which was released in June by Night Publishing. That was another learning experience, especially when dealing with eight different authors. I’m very pleased with the result, and I hope to enjoy a collaborative experience like that again.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your work published?
I’ve been terribly lucky as far as getting published. It was merely by chance that I saw a call for submissions and sent Strength in. My latest book Shinobi was just split in two at an agent’s request. She has the two manuscripts now, so I have my fingers crossed at this point. All of the shorter pieces I’m working on are for specific anthologies.
I think my biggest challenge is going forward. I’d love to see one of my books jump the genre boundaries and gain wide popularity (who wouldn’t?)
How do you market your work?
Well, I have a website, of course. I also have a blog, and a facebook page. I tweet, I tumbl and I belong to a lot of writer specific sites like authors on show, where I run a weekly flash fiction challenge, authonomy, slushpilereader, novel help, goodreads and night reading. I also write serialized fiction, the source of many of my active readers. I post them on my website and on a number of adult fiction sites, anywhere from a chapter a day to a chapter a week, depending on my mood and the amount of time I have. I garnered just over 100,000 hits on those postings last year. It’s definitely a great way to build readership and a good place to interact with readers in your genre, which helps you target your work more specifically to their tastes. It does take a time commitment, but it’s one I think is well worth it.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
My third book was a personal favorite of mine. It was much lighter in tone than anything else I’ve written (usually my work is very dark). Although I loved it, it was not a hit with any of my pre-readers, so it ended up in the drawer. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll reexamine it, but for now I have more than enough new ideas flooding my mind.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think the most helpful thing for a writer is to find readers. There are plenty of sites on the internet for all kinds of genres. LiveJournal is a wonderful cross-genre writing site where you can join groups of like minded individuals, read and be read. The broader the base you can develop, the better. Don’t sneer at writing fanfiction either, it comes with a huge complement of people interested in the characters, sell them on your stories and they’ll follow you to read your original works. As wonderful as the community of writers is – and they are, without a doubt, some of the most supportive and wonderful people I’ve ever met, across the board – readers are what you need to take your writing to the next level. Treasure them, nurture them, interact with them, you’ll be so glad you did.
Will you be having another book coming out soon? Can you tell us about it?
Hopefully my next book to be published will be Shinobi. It’s currently split into two volumes (with two-thirds of a third volume completed). It’s in the hand of a prospective agent now, so my fingers are crossed.
What project are you working on now?
I have a lot of things in the works right now. The two I’m most excited about are a novella, In the Desert of the Porcupines, which explores the similarity of the mental relief found in both self-harm and D/s (I know, very dark).
The other project currently heating up my keyboard is a new novel, tentatively title Onna Bugeisha, set in Japan in the 1500s.
Have you been planning ahead on what you will write in the future? Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
As far as the future goes, I have a number of ideas jotted down, but I’m always open to the spark of inspiration. The only thing I am sure of is that, for the forseeable future at least, I’ll continue to write homoerotic fiction, and that I hope to keep expanding the audience who reads it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers and fans?
I love you. Seriously, without my readers and fans there would be no point in writing. It’s hard work, but their enjoyment and appreciation makes all the long hours worthwhile. I also love interacting with you – so please, drop me a note, send me a tweet, leave a comment on my web site, it always makes my day.
Thanks so much Sessha!
If you have any questions or comments for Sessha please feel free to post a comment!
Dancing in the Dark and Strength of Will are available at Amazon.