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See also: Roger Zelazny's Amber series reading order and synopsis; 160x480
See also Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robots series page reading order and synopsis; 160x480

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Cecilia Tan

answers the Usual Questions

photo, Cecilia Tan, courtesy of the author; 220x220

Cecilia Tan

Cecilia Tan writes about her many passions, from erotic fantasy to baseball, from her home in the Boston area. She has served as publications director for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) since 2011.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Yes, definitely. I've been attending fan-run science fiction conventions in the US since Noreascon 3 which was in 1989. (It's now 2014).

I always knew I wanted to be a science fiction writer but that didn't stop me from enjoying being a fan before I "went pro."

Come to think of it, that hasn't stopped me enjoying being a fan since then, either. I found it very useful to get out of my isolated writer shell and interact with people who love the same genre I do. Online fandom also influenced me, possibly more strongly, because I found that when I wrote and posted stories online, I got instant feedback about how people were affected by the stories. My very first story, Telepaths Don't Need Safewords, I posted online because I couldn't really sell it anywhere. Science fiction publications wouldn't take the sexual content, and erotic/porn/BDSM publications wouldn't take science fiction! So I put it online first, and then published a book of it later. Here we are more than 20 years later and I'm still doing online fiction, including various serials. With a serial you really learn immediately what fans are drawn in by and the feedback loop grows very tight. I feel like I've sharpened my writing and my ability as a writer to create certain experiences for the readers.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

There is one: at Arisia a few years ago, I threw a book party for Circlet Press, as I often do, and a girl came up to meet me practically in tears. A friend was with her providing moral support. I was worried at first, like, did something I did upset her? I consider myself an activist: I write science fiction with sexual content partly as an empowerment for all readers, to show them that arousal is a valid human emotion to experience, nothing to be ashamed of, and I write empowered female characters in erotic situations in particular. So I'm trying to change the world for the better with my stories.

I thought, oh no, I've gone too far and freaked someone right out. But her friend finally started telling me the story because the girl was too speechless to. "I gave her a copy of your short story collection, Black Feathers, a few years ago, and it changed her life," he said. The girl finally spoke up, then, and told me that actually she was seriously thinking of suicide because she thought absolutely no one would ever be interested in the kind of stories she wrote, she'd never find acceptance or publication or fame, and her friend said, wait read this book. See? Someone DOES write stories like that and got published! So she read the book, it changed her life in that it made her believe in herself as a writer. She did not kill herself -- she enrolled in a writing program instead. And that, as you can imagine, really really blew me away. Awesome. Unbelievable awesome. And I bet her stories are awesome, too. The result of THAT is I never have doubts that pursuing writing was the right path for me. Even if I never write another word, I've already had that kind of influence. Awesome.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

When I was growing up the writer I wanted to be was Roger Zelazny. I internalized his books so deeply that it's like they sank into my subconscious, and even when I re-read them, they fade in my memory. Isn't that odd? It's like they seep down to the subconscious level where they can only be recalled in dreams. I re-read one of my old Zelazny books every other year or so, but I think ultimately I don't write like him at all. Or the influence is so close, I can't see it. I think Ray Bradbury also probably influenced me in a similar way because I can't remember his books either. I read a lot of Zelazny and Bradbury from age 10 to about age 14. Everything I could get my hands on. The annoying thing is that I remember BAD books with great clarity, because I remember what was wrong with them or what bothered me about them.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

David Bowie. In which case, spaceship.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Ugh, any of the misogynist, racist, right wing conservative nutjobs from the United States. They're sort of interchangeable so pick whichever one is in office at the time.

book cover, Black Feathers, Cecilia Tan; 140x211

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Assuming that it would be a long, uneventful trip, the one thing I would need is a writing tool. Whether that's a laptop or a notebook with lots of paper and endless supply of ink, either would do. If you mean *other* than a writing tool, which is a given for a writer to carry, then... a guitar.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

I want to change the world. I want a world with better tolerance for gender diversity and better tolerance for sexual expression and diversity. The reason I write erotic science fiction (and non-erotic science fiction but that deals with questions of sexuality and gender) is because I think reading stories about sexualities and gender experiences other than one's own increases tolerance for diversity in others and also opens up each person's own understanding of what is possible in themselves.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

That it's working! To bring it all full circle: where science fiction PUBLISHING was not open to ideas like BDSM back in 1992, science fiction FANDOM most very certainly was. And now even mainstream publishing and media have become much much more open to gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and kinky characters, stories, and themes than they were two decades ago. At least in English in the US and UK, but elsewhere too, if what languages my books are now being translated into is any indication. And that goes for society as a whole, too. We still have work to do: Uganda keeps trying to pass a law that would mean the death penalty for homosexuality, for example. But I will keep writing.

submitted by Cecilia Tan

31 August 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: April 1967/New York City
Resides: Boston-area of Massachusetts, USA

Fiction Books:
1992 Telepaths Don't Need Safewords (Circlet Press)
1998 Black Feathers (HarperCollins)
2001 The Velderet (Circlet Press)
2004 White Flames (Running Press)
2008 Royal Treatment (Torquere Press)
2009 Mind Games (Ravenous Romance)
2009 The Hot Streak (Ravenous Romance)
2009 The Siren and the Sword: Magic University Book 1 (Red Silk/Red Wheel Weiser)
2009 The Tower and the Tears: Magic University Book 2 (Red Silk/Red Wheel Weiser)
2010 The Incubus and the Angel: Magic University Book 3 (Ravenous)
2010 The Poet and the Prophecy: Magic University Book 4 (Ravenous)
2011 The Prince's Boy: Vol 1 (Circlet Press)
2011 The Prince's Boy: Vol 2 (Circlet Press)
2013 Slow Surrender (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing)
2014 Slow Seduction (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing)
2014 Slow Satisfaction (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing)
2013 RT Reviewers Choice Award for Slow Surrender
2011 Rainbow Awards Honourable mention in "Best Gay Fantasy" for The Prince's Boy
2011 Pantheon of Leather President's Award
2011 Honorable Mention in the Pauline Reage Novel Award for The Prince's Boy (given by NLA-I for excellence in BDSM writing)
2010 Rose & Bay Awards for Best Crowdfunded Fiction for Daron's Guitar Chronicles
2010 Inducted to the Saints & Sinners LGBT Literary Hall of Fame
2010 NLA Writing Award: Best Anthology co-winner for Like a Thorn
2004 National Leather Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Various of my books have also been finalists for the Passionate Plume Award, Maggie Award, Best of Soft Science Fiction, Lambda Literary Award, Firecracker Book Award, Ippy Awards (Independent Publisher Awards) and so on, but did not win.

Short stories far too numerous to mention. Non-fiction also not included here.

Web site:
Twitter/Tumblr/LiveJournal: ceciliatan
Instagram: ctan_writer


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