Our first joint interview! *grin*
If you have an alias or pen name, what is it?
Will: I’ve used Belegon as an alias for twenty years. The addition of Will to it was to make it realistic for publishing and because it’s both easy for me and a nod to my “old school” influences. Really old school.
Alessia: Um, it’s Alessia Brio. You didn’t think that was my real name, did you? Unlike Will, my nom de plume didn’t come into existence until very recently—until after I received “the call” from Phaze. Alessia is an Italian name derived from the Greek verb alexéin meaning “to defend/protect” and Brio relates to the Italian musical term con brio meaning “with spirit/brilliance.” (I suppose that would make my middle name “con,” wouldn’t it? *grin*) My heritage is 50% Mediterranean, so I thought it appropriate—and I love its meaning.
Tell us about yourself?
Alessia: I am a figment of the imagination of a woman with a raging libido, a creative mind, and an aging body. I’m young and sexy even on the days when she feels like a wart hog. I’m passionate, irreverent, smart, and occasionally funny. Oh, and *blush* I’m humble, too.
Okay, being serious for a couple sentences: I’m a work-from-home mom and a very outspoken crusader for the civil/human rights of people with disabilities. A lifetime ago, I was a computer geek for the U.S. Dept. of Defense, but I escaped the office environment and never want to go back. (I have a problem with authority, y’see.)
Will: Whereas I’m actively looking to get back into an office environment! I’m one of those guys who proves the old adage about never knowing just what lurks beneath the suit and tie of the conservative businessman. I look conservative, and my day job certainly reinforces that. However, beneath the corporate uniform a not quite reformed teenage rebel still tilts at windmills.
I took a look in the mirror a couple years ago and wondered who that guy staring back was. Since then I’ve dropped 40 pounds, started writing again for the first time since the 80s, and made a wonderful group of new friends who encourage me to push the limits of my imagination.
Anything special the readers should know about you?
Alessia: Honey, there’s nothing about me that’s NOT special. (Did I mention being humble—and modest, too?) Now, whether or not the readers should know about it is another story entirely. A girl’s gotta have some secrets, after all. If you ply Will with drink, he just might tell you some of them.
Will: I’m not sure which of her secrets she thinks I’ll spill, but I appreciate the effort she’s showing to get me free drinks. Special? The best word to describe me is eclectic. I’ve always considered myself someone who was competent at many things and expert at none. So I’m comfortable in a very diverse set of environments.
How long have you been writing?
Will: About three years now. I had told stories for a long time, making up bedtime tales and even spinning a long narrative for an ex-girlfriend that I now desperately wish I had written down. I used to write poetry in high school and college and worked on the school papers. I finally tried my hand at writing fiction and discovered that the few people I showed it to wanted more. This is the result.
Alessia: Since about 2nd grade, I think. What? You mean, like, writing fiction? Oh, um…since the late summer of 2003. That’s when the fantasies swirling around in my head reached critical mass and demanded freedom. Until then, I just wrote scathing editorials and kick-ass essays. (I still write those, too.)
Where do you typically find your inspiration?
Alessia: It usually stems from a random conversation. A word or turn of phrase will strike my fancy, and it blossoms into a story line. Sometimes I’ll build a story around a sexual scenario, but I usually let the characters have free reign to build their own heat. (I hear voices, too. Did I tell mention that?)
Our collaborations have had their genesis in themed contests until recently. We just started on the sequel to Artistically Inclined, entitled Bound for Success. It’s the first of our joint efforts that has not been the result of such.
Will: I’ve also had some pretty random starting points, but mine are usually visual. I’ve had stories spring out of a look from a pretty girl, a scene from a movie, or just wondering what the story was behind a photograph. One of the ways Alessia and I make such a great team is that her influences tend to be more about smells, sounds, or sensations, and mine tend to be about light, shadow, and color. I think it adds to the depth of our writing. She reads something of mine and fills in the senses that I have unwittingly ignored and vice versa.
What genre do you write in? Do you cross over to other genres? Is it harder or easier to stay in one genre or to move back and forth?
Alessia: I’d say, aside from the obvious erotic elements, our stuff is pretty diverse. Wouldn’t you, Will? I mean, we’ve each done historical, paranormal, contemporary, and romance. My muse (a fickle bitch) tells me what to write. I just write it—and leave it to the publisher to label it.
Will: Our settings and plot lines have multiple elements and genres. One thing I do think we have managed to capture very well as a team is the everyday humor of life. Our characters do a lot of bantering back and forth and teasing each other, just as Alessia and I do. So even though our writings may run from the paranormal to the political, the humor is always as great a presence as the eroticism. I think that will always be true. Even if we tone down our sexual focus to put something more mainstream out there, it will always have a smoldering undertone.
Who has influenced you in your writing?
Will: Many of my influences are almost stereotypically classical. I consider Shakespeare a huge influence, for example. People tend to think of him as the establishment, but at the time he was writing he was as close to the edge of respectability as Hunter S. Thompson ever was. Tolkien influenced me by providing so much depth to his world. As far as erotica, my strongest influences have been modern. Gwen Masters immediately springs to mind, as does Anne Rice.
Alessia: My colleagues. I’m not talkin’ about the mega-successful authors or the literary genii. I’m talkin’ about my peers. We learn from one another. Will, for example, is a remarkable influence on capturing the minutiae of a moment in breathtaking detail.
What books do you have out? And do you have something new coming out? Where can they be purchased?
Alessia: Well, we’re here pimping our new release (which I’ll let Will tell you about). My earlier publications include Erotique and fine flickering hungers. (Yes, it’s supposed to be lower case.) Both were released in the fall of 2005 by Phaze. Erotique is a short story, while fine flickering hungers is a single-author anthology consisting of 8 short stories and 8 poems. Both have received glowing reviews.
Will: Our first published collaboration is currently available from Phaze. The title is Switch, which references the unexpected and unexplainable result of an electrical storm and some electric exploration on the part of our two main characters. The story started out as a scenario idea and then took off when Alessia suggested using Bruce & Mandy from her Erotique. I already loved the relationship between the characters and when she made the suggestion, things started rolling. We also have Artistically Inclined coming out soon from Venus Press. Switch is available as a Phaze HeatSheet at http://www.phaze.com and Artistically Inclined will be at http://www.VenusPress.com.
Are you doing any sinning or appearances soon?
Alessia: Well, I do the “sinning” part every day. In fact, it’s a priority in my life. *wink* As for the appearances, I’ll be in Bethesda (Maryland) on June 3rd with a few other Phaze authors for a reading and book signing at the South Beach Restaurant & Loft Lounge from 12:30pm to 5:30pm.
Will: It’s nice to see that Alessia is as willing to tease you about Freudian typos as she is to do it to me. I had to develop a thick skin after sending off a few late night ramblings. The hard part about appearances or signings for us is that we live at opposite ends of the country. We may have an opportunity to get together at the Happy Ending Lounge in NYC on August 11th for a Phaze reading and signing. Alessia will definitely be there, but my participation is still pending due to the travel involved. I live in San Diego, so you can’t get much further away and still be in the continental U.S. I’d say it’s about a 75% probability right now.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Will: Michael Jordan is credited with saying that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. To relate it to the sport I was the best at, I would say you can’t hit a home run with the bat on your shoulder. But I’m also very well aware that it is a nerve wracking step to submit for publication. So I would say that the first step is to show someone, anyone at all. Your husband, your best girlfriend, a poker buddy, I don’t care. I received some incredible advice from Alessia and fellow professionals like Gwen Masters after telling them I wrote as well as read. Sure, I’ve had to smile through a few I-told-you-so's. Believe me though, it was worth it.
Alessia: I know quite a few very talented and prolific “aspiring” writers who, for one reason or another, are hesitant to submit their work to a publisher. My advice to them is simple: SUBMIT! It ain’t gonna get published if you don’t. To the not-so-inhibited, I say: Write every day! No exceptions. No excuses. Bottom line: If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.
Do you have a website or a blog?
Alessia: I’m all over the ‘Net. I have a site (www.alessiabrio.com), an author blog (http://alessiabrio.blogspot.com), and various accounts on MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga, Yahoo!360, TagWorld, BlogLegion … you name it. *blush* The ancillary accounts are largely inactive and simply direct visitors to my main sites. I created them because if someone is searching for me, I want them to find me. The publishers expect us to pimp—I mean, promote—ourselves, so I’m giving it the ol’ college try.
Will & I also maintain a blog for our collaborative works. It’s named after the novella we recently contracted with Venus Press: http://artistically-inclined.blogspot.com
Will: In addition to the joint blog, I have my own at http://willbelegon.blogspot.com, and I also have a Yahoo! group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/willbelegon. I have a MySpace account, but to be honest, I rarely pay much attention to it. The Blogspot and Yahoo! group get much more of my time.
Do you prefer fan mail/email?
Will: I’m an admitted feedback slut. It was my desire to learn more about what I was reading that did much to fuel my first attempts at writing, kind of like the kid that picks up a guitar to play along with the radio and then becomes a rock star. So please, if anybody out there has any comments or questions I would love to hear from you. The easiest way to reach me is by signing up for my group or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alessia: I absolutely love hearing from readers (and other authors and, most especially, publishers wanting to buy my work). I can’t bring myself to use the word “fan,” though. I definitely prefer e-mail, and my address is Alessia@EroticAnthology.com
Other than being a writer, did you ever picture yourself doing anything else?
Alessia: Actually, it’s being a writer that I never pictured. And a poet? Pffft! (That’s a VERY recent fetish.) I still wanna be an architect when I grow up.
Will: That’s one place Alessia and I differ. I’ve considered myself a poet, if a poor one, for over twenty years. As far as other things, my overactive imagination has created daydreams of being everything from character actor to musician to professional athlete.
If you had time off to do whatever you like, what would you do?
Alessia: Research, of course. *grin* An author can never do enough research. I know, I know! It’s an incredible sacrifice to travel to exotic locations, to field test all those toys and positions and scenarios—but, hey, someone’s gotta do it. Anything for my art…
Will: I’d become a professional student. History, art, science. Everything except math. I’ve balanced enough checkbooks to last a lifetime. The travel thing appeals to me, too. I’d love to walk the streets of London or Paris or Rome and just think about all the people that have done it before me.
Is there a favorite author you haven’t met that you’d like to?
Alessia: There are a whole bunch of ‘em – many as yet unpublished. You can find ‘em all on the Literotica Author’s Hangout (forum) – which is where I got my start writing erotica and poetry & where I met Will. Oh, and add Gwen Masters to that list. She’s a dynamite writer and one helluva supportive colleague.
Will: Gwen is on my list, too. She first took me under her wing two years ago, but every time we have thought we were going to be able to finally meet for that fabled cup of coffee, something has gone wrong. After the incredible camaraderie I’ve experienced in meeting some of the Author’s Hangout writers, I would always jump at a chance to meet more of that fantastic group. One man I have met briefly that I would like to have more time with is fantasy author George R.R. Martin. His bravery in letting a story take him where it will is amazing.