An ENE Interview with author Rex Gordon
Author Bio: Rex Gordon has been a cab driver and a bartender, as well as an insurance man and a teacher. He has been writing professionally for thirty years including erotica, mystery, science fiction and romance and some non-fiction under various pseudonyms.
He has published over thirty print novels, most of which were erotica. A few of them went into second and third printings, but he never saw the additional royalties promised.
He admits that some of his early work was embarrassingly bad, but it was what publishers were buying at the time, and he was still learning his craft. He says that most of his early work might be called "truck-driver fiction."
Why do you write?
RG: Kahtt, before I start, let me say that I think Kahtt is a great nom de net--
ENE for kahtt: Thanks Rex ;o)
RG: Why do I write? So I can make use of an imagination that has been "making up things" since he was a small child.
ENE: When did you start writing? What did you
RG: Like a lot of us, I started to write as a child. I wrote a story for a fifth grade class assignment. The nun liked it, and showed it to the principal, who had me read it to every class in our school of about a hundred students. That hooked me.
ENE: Who are your favorite authors of fiction?
RG: I have to start with Hemingway who taught me that you didn't have to be a genius to tell a good story, and that you could "tell it like it is."
Today, and this is weird, I like Stephen King for his writing, but I hate most of his stories. There's fantasy and there's silly. I think the endings of most of his books are silly. Yet, he has such a grasp on "what's happening" in the day-to-day world that he can write a best-selling novel about a little girl lost in the woods. I think I was hooked when in "The Shinning" he
wrote about a little "Visa" sign that was on the desk at the hotel.
I loved "The Green Mile" all six novellas, and his novellas "The Body," and "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," but except for the
magic mouse, those stories were about reality.
ENE: What stimulates your muse?
RG: I am my muse. I sit down and write. If I don't have any ideas, I just pound away. Sometimes I get an idea from a dream, or from reading
somebody else's book or story. Or maybe I happen to be horny, so I pound out an erotic story. (Grins) I suppose that was a Freudian choice of a
I'm a proponent of the "What would happen if" school. Sometimes I think, "What could that mean?" or "How can I make a story out of this little episode in life?"
Or I might put two people alone in a room. Or have one person just do something. My father used to call it "the germ" of the story.
ENE: Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal with it?
RG: Writer's block comes at those few times that I am depressed. A rejection might trigger it, or a personal problem. It usually goes away in a day or two, but sometimes I have to say "Damn it" time to write. When that happens, I usually try to write something that is absolute crap or
something that I KNOW will never be published. That's my attitude, but most things I start that way end up as something.
ENE: Do you ever have to defend the genre you write in?
RG: Only my oldest friends know I write in this genre. I am pretty much a middle of the middle class guy.
Most of my best friends are church going and God fearing. They know what I "used to do," and they forgive me for that. I'm not sure they'd be all that forgiving now, so I keep it a secret.
Everybody knows I'm a writer in other genre though.
ENE: Do you allow others to read your work while it is being written?
RG: Nope. Then they want to tell you how they would do it.
ENE: Do you belong to or know of any organizations for established and/or amateur authors?
RG: Several, but mostly in other genre. I belong to ERA of course, a great organization for erotica, and their simple rules keep it erotica and not
I am also on the SensualRomance list, which is milder than ERA and not really an organization, but a list. I think a step in the right direction
for romance writers. I happen to believe there are many women out there who want their romance not just sensual, but hot.
ENE: What advice would you give erotica and/or romance fiction writers about getting published?
RG: Learn to spell. Learn the language. Send out clean copy, whether it's on the net or on a printed out.
Get a good dictionary--Mirriam Webster's Collegiate, Tenth edition is probably enough. It even tells you when words came into use. You
might want a smaller one to crosscheck your spell-checker when you, or it, has doubts.
You can get as much grammar as you need from Strunk and White. The rules are simple. Learn them. But damn sure don't have your characters
talk like English teachers who are trying to impress the PTA.
Know the rules. If you break them, know that you are breaking them, whether it is to break up the page, or to make the text sound better. If you
are in the mind of a character, even in the third person, never let her or him use a word he would never think in real life.
People have been successful being totally ungrammatical, but that's a fluke.
Modern editors in most genres won't give you more than a page to hook them. They might not even give you that if the writing is inept
ENE: Here are some questions by our readers: How would you characterize your style of writing?
RG: I think of it as "the middle style." I used to do the spare--one simple sentence after another with an occasional compound thrown in. Now I use
everything in the toolbox, as Stephen King calls it, including figures of speech.
Incidentally, if anyone is serious about writing Stephen King's "On Writing" is a must for his or her library. If you are thinking seriously about erotica as a career, "Susie Bright's "How to Read (and Write) a Dirty Book" is good too.
ENE: Are you tempted to make scenes sexy? Or do you demur so your books sell?
RG: In some of my genre, I push the envelope--but I don't tear it. If I tear it, I have to think of it as erotica. If I hold back, it's usually not erotica.
ENE: Do you do any research?
How about a lot? I spent weeks learning about skiing for one book--without going skiing. I learn about life styles from talking to people.
I even learn about how the buses and subways run in NYC if I'm writing about NYC. Some people may say, "Well, you really don't have to do that;
It's ONLY stroke fiction. Sorry pal, as an old editor of mine said, "If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing well."
I'm talking about erotica here, but I do it no matter what I am writing, research is important. Even if I am writing about my home town, I might check things I am CERTAIN I know.
ENE: Why do you write? How do you write? Do you use a word processor... pen or pencil... dictation?
RG: As I said earlier, I write to exercise my imagination that has been hyperactive since I was a child.
Usually on the computer. I have written so much now that clean sentences make their way to the screen and much of what I write stands first draft.
But I also need effect, and I have to be practical. Sometimes a short paragraph of description needs to be put into better order. Sometimes what I at first thought of as a fantastically good phrase or sentence has to come out--not because it's not good, but because it just doesn't work in that spot or in that piece.
I most first drafts of novels in a month. Then I rewrite them. Sometimes immediately, sometimes a few months later.
ENE: Do you just sit down and write till dry and then go back and revise? Or do you write a whole lot and then redraft?
RG: I have a planned number of words per sitting. Sometimes I miss; sometimes I might do twice or even three times what I planned. I don't revise until I have finished a piece, although I used to go back and revise all the time.
Occasionally, I do run dry, but that is not very often anymore. Before I started to use a computer, I might completely rewrite something. Now, when it's so easy to move things around, I usually just do that. On occasion though, I do have to redraft a section or to go back to add or
delete a character or incident.
ENE: Where do you write? How do you deal with distrations and interruptions?
RG: I write in a room cluttered with books for research, tables, a chair, my computer, boxes of old scripts, and my son's cat. (He's an adult and
he doesn't interrupt although the cat often demands to get petted.)
I set a goal for myself. For example, I want to write x number of pages, but I also make time to send out stories and novels--usually on Monday.
I have a daily set of affirmations, which include a line "I stick to task." That helps keep me focussed.
I do stop for emergencies, but everyone must define for himself or herself what constitutes an emergency.
If the phone rings, I get to the reason for the call and handle it promptly. Even if it is from a friend.
ENE: Do you live what you write?
RG: (Chuckles) Don't I wish.
No, I write mostly to expose my imagination and to vicariously live my fantasies even if I am writing something serious. My erotic characters
over the years have had real life sex far more often than I have and usually more varied than my own--although it may not be necessarily better.
Real life sex is best, even if it is just missionary sex. Sometimes the missionary position can be very exciting.
ENE: How did you sell your first novel? Did you send out query letters, outlines and sample chapters or complete manuscripts? Did you go
through an agent (if so, how did you manage to snag one)? Or get did you get an agent after you had an offer for your manuscript?
RG: When I was just out of college thirty years ago, it was much easier to break in, although even then, everyone was preaching how hard it was to
I was someplace when I had an hour or two to kill so I wrote the first seven page of a novel in longhand. I went home, typed it up, wrote a cover letter sending it to three erotic publishers in a row. The first two wanted to see something else. The third bought that book and two others,
although the publisher went bankrupt before books two and three came out. Then I started to write for one of the other publishers.
Just because you've done a lot does not mean that publishers are breaking your door down--or even letting you in when you knock. To sell you need
an idea that hits somebody just the right way. Even a great idea might be rejected if it's the wrong time or the wrong editor.
Try this--Rita Newwriter tells an editor who does not know her that she had a book about somebody cloning dinosaurs for a theme park, but the
dinosaurs get out of control and threaten a Caribbean Island--if not the world.
"Yeah, the public will believe that," the editor says, and he sends out letter number one "not for us, but try someplace else."
Michael Creighton, already with a track record, tries the same approach and they put up the bucks and the hype to make it a bestseller. (Not that I
honestly believe that is a GREAT idea.)
I don't think any advice about getting started will necessarily work, and I also believe ANY advice can work. The one thing a new or even an
experience mid-list writer needs is tenacity. She needs the guts, the drive, and the ambition to stay with it. She needs to get up when pushed back and she must try again. She can try a different approach or the same approach but she must keep trying until something works.
As I said, nothing may work, but anything can work, the most important ingredient is persistence. It's actually better than talent--unless you are totally inept, and if that were the case, you would probably not be
persistent. After persistence, you need the resilience.
This thing is pretty long.
What's the old saying? Ask where the milk is and the bastard wants to tell you how to make a cake.
Well, thanks for asking where the milk was.
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