Interview with Cecilia Tan

Published 2018-07-16.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do remember the first story I wrote because my mother had it up on the fridge with a magnet for years and she still has a copy of it. Don't laugh! It was called "The Witch and the Bunny," but I hadn't learned to spell yet because I had basically taught myself to write by sounding out words. So it reads "The Wich and the Bune." It was illustrated and and folded the paper over and wrote "Th end" on the back. I was four.
What is your writing process?
When I write a short story I just sit down with the blank page and let inspiration flow: it just takes one little nugget of a feeling or an image to build an entire story. With a novel it's a bit more involved, but honestly every one has been different. Some series I do a lot of planning of plot points and arcs beforehand, others all the prep is in the worldbuilding and characters but I don't actually write out any of the plot. I've written over twenty novels now and each one has unique demands. As I often say, I know how to write a book, but each time I start anew, I have to learn how to write THAT book.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
You have to go all the way back to Dr. Seuss for that. I remember being so intrigued by The Cat in the Hat and also The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. I thought there was more going on there than I understood. The first things I bought with my own money to read for myself, though, were comic books. Wonder Woman, Superboy and the Legion of the Super Heroes, and Superman Family were my favorites. I read them over and over again. I loved stories that were different from the real world in some way or that showed a side of things I didn't know about. That continues on into "real" books like Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME and Ray Bradbury's MARTIAN CHRONICLES. Bradbury's stories like "All Summer in a Day" and "The Veldt" cemented my early conviction that I was a writer and would someday be published, too.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pleasure I try to read outside of the genres I write in. If I read an erotic romance or a paranormal, it's "work." So I read stuff like YA fantasy, which is so very different from what I write, and autobiographies of interesting people. Of course sometimes the autobiographies end up being research--like all the memoirs I've read by US Navy SEALs, as well as all the rock stars. Lots of rock stars in my books!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on my phone. It's always with me!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in New York City and grew up in and around the city in the 1970s and '80s. This may be why I write urban fantasy and not small town romance! I grew up thinking every place was like Sesame Street and the Starship Enterprise, where people of all races and colors and ethnicities were all mixed together as normal. I think maybe I've always written what's now called "diverse" casts because to me that is just normal. Having everyone be white and straight feels very, very artificial to me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have published with every level of publisher, from the Big 5 to the cutting edge niche publishers to self-publishing, and I always have. I self-published my first book in 1992, and my first book with a big 5 publisher in 1998, and I've continued to sell different projects in different ways all along. At first I didn't want to self-publish, but it was better to self-publish the material that publishers would not touch than it was to try to write something "mainstream." When I was a young writer, if instead of self-publishing books like Telepaths Don't Need Safewords I had tried to chase after what publishers "wanted," I would not still be writing today. I would have burned out and probably given up. Instead, I found my own audience and proved that there was a readership for me, for BDSM, for erotica, and for erotic science fiction back when no publisher would touch it. Here we are over 25 years later and the world has finally caught up with me. So now I have some projects that are right for big publishers, some that are right for small publishers, and there are still some I indie publish for myself. Now I save those projects for the ones where I want complete control and don't want to compromise.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There's nothing like feeling a story come to life. You remember the old TV show, "The A Team," and at some point in every episode their leader would say "I love it when a plan comes together!" That's me while writing every book. It always seems like it's all going to fall apart of it's never going to be finished... and then you realize that the pieces are falling into place. Nothing feels better. Although sex is a close second.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are everything. Without them I'm just shouting into the void. One of the best things about self-publishing is it has meant making connections with fans that I wouldn't have in the traditional publishing process. Like when I publish a serial online and the fans comment and build a community around it. That just wouldn't happen with a traditionally published novel.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, you'll find me either eating in the best restaurant I can find or asleep. Eating and sleeping are underrated activities, and I am a champion of both.
What are you working on next?
My time is being split this year between two big projects, one that is ending, and one that is launching. I'm in the midst of writing what will be the final arc of Daron's Guitar Chronicles, a book series I originally launched here at Smashwords in 2009. The serial has been running for almost ten years! So there are a lot of threads to tie up in that one. The other one, the thing that is just starting, is The Vanished Chronicles. These books will be urban fantasy with sex magic and ritual BDSM instead of vampires. Book 1 is done but we're not going to launch until I have a full draft of book 2 to make sure we keep up the momentum. It's exciting.
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Latest books by This Author

Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume Ten
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 148,580. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » New adult
Daron prepares to go on an international tour with the Ziggy Moondog show. Daron is working himself to the bone to make everything click: the music, the show, and his love life with Ziggy. But his obligations to another band have Daron out on the road just when he wants to be glued to Ziggy. Can they maintain the passion while a thousand miles apart? This is volume ten of the award-winning serial.
Watch Point
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,150. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2017 by Riptide Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Erotic, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay
Eric Sakai-Johnson joined the Navy SEALs to protect his country and the people he loves. After discharge, he finds himself relegated to protecting big pharma billionaire Aiden Milford from assassination attempts and kidnapping. Until Aiden reneges on a promise, fires Eric, and lets Eric’s mother die with millions of dollars in medical debt. Now Eric is the kidnapper.
Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume Nine
Series: Daron's Guitar Chronicles. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110,350. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » New adult
The year is 1991 and Daron Marks stands at a crucial crossroads in his career. He’s on tour with Nomad and his mentor Remo Cutler, but Ziggy wants musical director, and more. Ziggy always wants more. Young, gay, and talented, Daron lives for his music and the people in his life who have helped him love himself. Contains chapter 637 through 708 of the award-winning web serial.
Magic University: The Complete Series
Series: Magic University. Price: $29.99 USD. Words: 420,270. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2015 by Riverdale Avenue Books. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » New adult
Available only for a limited time! Award-winning author Cecilia Tan's new adult erotic magic series follows Kyle's quest for true love at Veritas, the magic university hidden inside Harvard. For one low price get all four full-length Magic U. novels, the complete collection of 17 short stories, and one brand new novella, Christmas Magic! Who better to tell a Christmas tale than Frost?
Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume Eight
Series: Daron's Guitar Chronicles. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,030. Language: English. Published: November 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » New adult
Life is tough when you're a talented musician whose life is controlled by gigantic mega-corporations. It's 1990/1991 and Daron Marks is trying to stay true to his heart. He invites Ziggy to spend Christmas with Daron's chosen family—his mentor Remo and the guys from the band Nomad—but Ziggy's career is taking off at rocket speed. Will their careers pull them apart or push them back together?
The Poet and the Prophecy
Series: Magic University. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 106,950. Language: English. Published: September 15, 2015 by Riverdale Avenue Books. Categories: Fiction » Romance » New adult, Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal
Kyle has mastered sex magic and poetry at Veritas. But in this conclusion to the Magic University series of new adult paranormal fantasy romance, will the dire ancient prophecy he has been studying come true if Kyle cannot find true love? The only person in Kyle's heart is Frost, his former nemesis. Can Kyle win Frost's heart and undo the dire secrets of Frost's past in time to save them all?
Spellbinding: Tales from the Magic University
Series: Magic University. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 74,480. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2015 by Riverdale Avenue Books. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » New adult
When lovers meet, it's magic-literally-when your characters are studying at the Magic University and erotic magic is the most powerful of all. 17 short stories feature characters from Cecilia Tan's Magic University LGBT new adult romance series, erotic energy heals wounds, lifts curses, bonds people together, and tears others apart. Tan wrote 7 stories and 9 writers join her. Gay, bi, & lesbian.
Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume Seven
Series: Daron's Guitar Chronicles. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 127,980. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Gay, Fiction » Romance » New adult
When last we saw guitar prodigy Daron Marks, he was on a beach in Australia. 1990 has dawned and Daron must embrace change what with Ziggy going AWOL and poor record sales. Daron embarks on a journey of artistic growth, studying music in Virginia, Spain, and New York. But while he prepares for what's next in his career, is Daron prepared for a reunion with Ziggy? Ziggy's back and he's got a plan
The Incubus and the Angel - Book Three of the Magic University Series
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 80,220. Language: English. Published: April 9, 2015 by Riverdale Avenue Books. Categories: Fiction » Romance » New adult
The third volume in Cecilia Tan's LGBT new adult paranormal romance series. Since his arrival as a freshman at Veritas, the hidden magical university inside Harvard, Kyle Wadsworth has been on a quest for true love. He's had his heart broken a few times along the way, though, and now halfway through his junior year he thinks he isn't ready to love again.
The Incubus and the Angel: Magic University Book Three
Series: Magic University. Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 80,220. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2015 by Riverdale Avenue Books. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Erotic
Kyle is in his junior year at the magic university in this third volume of Cecilia Tan's "new adult" paranormal erotic romance. After his previous heartbreaks, unexpected romance blossoms with a female friend. But Kyle is still haunted by his experiences with sex magic and the one person who could help him solve the mystery of the incubus dreams refuses to speak to him: his old rival, Frost.
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