My series of interviews with erotica writers documenting their first time publishing/writing experiences is proving so popular, that I’m going to be popping them up a little more frequently for a while.
Today I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Ria Restrepo to my site. So why not go and grab a cuppa, a little something to nibble, put your feet up, and have a little read…
Can you remember writing the first story you actually wanted to write, rather than those you were forced to write at school? What was it about?
Yes, I remember it vividly. I was in my first year at university and going through a lot of emotional upheaval. While I was trying to study in upstate New York, I kept getting distressing phone calls from my parents in Miami. There was a lot of crap going on with their psycho neighbours and some unrelated drama with my extended family. I’m an only child, so I was naturally very close to my parents and felt isolated and helpless.
To vent my frustration, I started writing. It was a psychological thriller, called Rachel’s Destruction, about a coed whose parents were killed, so she seduces a gangster to help her get revenge on all the people responsible for their deaths. There was a surprising amount of sex in it. The opening scene was her giving her shrink a blowjob to escape a mental hospital. Let’s just say, there was no “happy ending” for the doctor.
I shared a few chapters with a friend at the time and she called it “dark and twisted, but hot.” I’d been reading a lot of Anne Rice and Stephen King, so that may have influenced the direction of my musings.
Rachel’s Destruction remains unfinished, in a manila folder, tucked away in the back of a desk drawer — along with a lot of other unfinished early work. I’d never really planned on publishing it, but who knows? I may revisit the story and finish it at some point.
What was your first official publication? Was that erotica?
No, it wasn’t erotica. When I finally got serious about my writing and getting it published, I had a couple of things happen around the same time. I’m not sure which happened first. Under my given name, I had two literary fiction short stories published in an anthology of local writers. Both were very idealistic and heavy with meaning, but definitely G-rated.
The other thing was a chapter I’d written for Harlequin’s website. They had something called a “Round Robin.” One of their writers would start a story, then readers would submit the next chapter. They’d choose a winner and publish it on their website. It went on like that until they decided to finish the story. When I discovered this, the Round Robin was already under way, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Shockingly, the first time out, my chapter won and was published. I think the story was called “A Touch of Scandal,” but it was PG-rated. I don’t know if Harlequin still has this contest.
I had no idea I’d be an erotica writer- it just came from nowhere! Was writing erotica something you intended to do, or was it a bit of a shock?
No, I didn’t set out to write erotica — although, as I mentioned, my writing started out with a lot of sex. Mainly, I was interested in writing romance, but tried just about everything to “get published.” My writing was all over the place — everything from literary fiction to political humor.
My first complete novel was a romance, which I now look back on with horror. There was more wrong with that book than was right. It had just about every mistake a novice writer can make. At the time, though, I submitted it everywhere and it was rejected — rightfully so. But I continued writing and submitting, learning the hard way, through trial and error. Finally, I wrote a chick-lit novel intended for Harlequin’s Red Dress Ink imprint and they asked to see the complete manuscript. Thrilled that it made it that far and hoping for the best, I rested on my laurels when I should have been working on another novel. This was another newbie mistake.
During this down time, I discovered the website Literotica. Yes, there is a lot of poor writing on there, but there are also some very hot stories. My only exposure to erotica up until that point was Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, which I read in college. I loved the series and it made a big impression on me. After enjoying some dirty stories on Literotica, I submitted one of my own under a pen name for a contest. It didn’t win, but was very well received. Soon, I was editing other people’s stories for their volunteer editing program. One of the writers I was working with introduced me to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) and their calls for submissions. I met a lot of talented writers and learned a great deal.
I began writing and submitting erotica more seriously after that and had a few modest successes. Although Harlequin ultimately passed on my chick-lit novel, I was still writing romance too. It wasn’t until years later when “erotic romance” became popular that I decided to focus on writing romance, erotica, and all the shades in between. My path to writing erotica has been a long and winding one.
What affect did that have on your life?
My erotica writing has been a dirty little secret for a long time. I come from a sexually repressed Catholic background. Although my parents didn’t ram the church down my throat, make me go to mass, or indoctrinate me in the catechism, the mentality was still there. Anything sexual was verboten. Oh, I knew my father kept dirty magazines hidden in the bathroom, but I knew better than to talk about it.
Even though I’d been doing it since I was about twelve, I didn’t learn the word “masturbate” until I was almost in high school. A friend of mine mentioned it and of course I denied ever doing such a thing. I doubt she believed me, but she was kind enough not to call me on it. So writing and reading erotica has always been about exploring the forbidden and embracing my sexual desires.
Still, I can count on one hand the number of people from my everyday life that know I write erotica. When I tell people that I’m a writer, I say I write romance. It covers a multitude of sins, saves me embarrassment and censure from folks who’d be scandalized, and allows me to avoid unwanted attention from lecherous men.
Does your first published story reflect your current writing style?
Not at all. I’ve learned a lot since then and honed my writing style. I’d like to think I’m a much better writer now. I’m also concentrating on writing romance and erotica as Ria Restrepo. I’d written under my given name initially, and then under another pseudonym, which I’d rather not reveal for personal reasons. After a hiatus, I relaunched my writing career as Ria Restrepo at the end of 2014. My first story as Ria was an erotic romance called “Undercover Desires,” published in early 2015 in Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica. My most recent published work, “Restitution,” was released January 2016 in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Not much about my style has changed between those two stories, although “Restitution” is more erotica than erotic romance.
What are you working on at the moment?
Apart from continuing to write and submit short erotic stories for publication, I’m working on a full-length erotic romance novel called “Bounty girl.” I started working on it for NaNoWriMo 2015. It’s about a submissive bounty huntress who goes after the fugitive brother of her first love/Dom. Of course, all sorts of complications and shenanigans ensue!
My first published work as Ria Restrepo was “Undercover Desires” in Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica, published by House of Erotica and edited by Jillian Boyd. The buy links page on House of Erotica’s site is here:
“Restitution” in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 is my most recent published work. Buy links here:
Another story, “Rickshawing with Rick and Shawn,” a MMF erotica piece is coming out soon in Prompted. No buy links for it yet, but you can read about it here:
Also, here are links for my website and blog:
Ria Restrepo has written in many genres, from literary fiction to political humour, under various names. Now she’s focused on writing what she loves to read—romance, erotica, and all the shades in between. She’s spent most of her life in South Florida and continues to live in the Sunshine State, because she still has nightmares about standing in feet of snow, waiting for the school bus in rural Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Spy Games: Thrilling Spy Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Vol. 1, and will be in the upcoming anthology Prompted.
Thanks for a wonderful interview Ria – good luck with Prompted and all your future work.