Interview with Tracy St. John

Published 2013-09-23.
What's the story behind your upcoming book, Alien Caged?
'Alien Caged' is the eighth (!) book in the Clans of Kalquor series. Those who have read the series know the Earth/Kalquor War has ended ... at least it has in a formal sense. There are still those who refuse to stop fighting, which is where we are when the book opens. A renegade Earther battlecruiser has captured the crew of a Kalquorian destroyer. The captain and his two male clanmates are trying to figure a way to escape, and they think the lovely Earther crewwoman Elisa might be the key to their freedom.

The characters in this installment are a little different from previous books in that they are older ... middle-aged, mature, settled into their lives. I myself am 46 years old, and a large number of my readers are not the twenty-somethings that appear so frequently in erotica. I really felt it was time for us to have a heroine with some laugh lines and crow's feet. We are still vital, beautiful, and sensuous women despite what media would have us believe. 'Alien Caged' celebrates that and the men who appreciate us.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the coast of North Carolina in small town. I was surrounded by the fishing and tobacco-growing short, there was very little to do, especially in the pre-Internet and video gaming age. We had two channels on our television. There was nothing to do but play and read, for the most part. Playing for me, my younger brother, and our friends meant using your imagination. A stick could be your rifle, sword, magic wand, a snake ... whatever it needed to be. We played 'pretend' constantly, becoming characters and making up scenarios and adventures as we went. We were coming up with stories all the time! I think of that as my earliest writing lessons.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote short stories as a child in school. I wrote about my dog, the horse I wanted, everything. I wrote a little newspaper for my neighborhood when I was in fifth grade. I can't remember when I wasn't writing.

I wrote my first 'novel' when I was in sixth grade, I think. It was a horror story about a black cat that ends up killing an entire family. It was awful, but what do you want from an eleven-year-old? I think it was the first time I took the idea of a writing career seriously.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm all over the place with my reading. When it comes to fiction, I read a lot of horror (mostly Stephen King and Dean Koontz), fantasy, and science fiction. I also enjoy the classics, like Tom Sawyer, Frankenstein, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Funny enough, I rarely read erotica, the genre I'm known for writing. I have a very small list of go-to authors that I enjoy in that category.

I read a ton of non-fiction. Lately I've been heavy into history, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. I also read a lot of philosophy, religious study, and books on spirituality. I'm fascinated by everything.
Describe your desk
Ponderous, ha-ha. Last year I worked sitting at this cramped little hand-me-down denizen with overflowing drawers and sagging shelves. I asked for a new desk for Christmas, and Santa was kind enough to deliver. I have this immense executive desk with cubbies and drawers galore, some with space for files. It's gorgeous and when I sit down to work, I know I'm at my 'office'. It helps me get serious about what I need to do, which is write. Best of all, it was a tax write-off.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I have received emails from readers who have told me how my books helped them escape when life has been at its worst for them. They thank me for providing a place where their sadness and hurt can cease for the little while they are immersed in the story. I am always humbled to hear that the words I've strung together gave someone a little happiness. It is the absolute best compliment I think a writer can receive. You can't put a price on that.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have been traditionally published and quite successful at it. However, I have found that a publishing house, with multiple authors to cope with, cannot always respond quickly to our concerns. When there is a problem, it can take quite some time to get it solved. Not only that, but a traditionally published author has little say when it comes to things like book covers, formatting, and things like that. As far as marketing and promotion are concerned, even traditional publishing houses leave a lot of that work to the author. Copy editing? In my opinion, that has become a joke with even the Big 6 publishers. I can't believe the number of mistakes I'm reading in bestsellers these days.

I love that as an indie, I can respond to issues with my books immediately. I don't have to contact someone else and wait for them to get to my problem, which may be a long way down the list. I get to tell my cover artist, "No, that part isn't quite what I want to see. Please change it." Formatting mistakes are no longer a nightmare, as they were at one time. I have complete control over my product and how it is presented. Plus, I keep a lot more of the money my books make!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Right now I use a very old Kindle, one of the original devices. I have asked for a Galaxy tablet for Christmas, which I plan to use for reading once Santa confirms I'm on his 'nice' list.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I like interacting via social media with my readers. I try to make it a point to respond to their emails and Facebook comments. I figure if they take the time and effort to write to me, I owe the same to them. I have the best readers! They let me know what they like about my writing, we discuss the worlds I've built for them and the characters they (and I) love, and we have a great time. Some have even inspired me with new story lines. I think being available to them has helped build relationships beyond that of author/reader. It's like having a bunch of cheerleaders motivating me every day.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything!!! I love them with all my heart.
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