Twitter is a wonderful place, a place where I’ve gotten to meet supportive and interesting writers. George Pappas is one of them. His new book, Monogamy Sucks, is an e-book from the new digital publisher Lazy Day Publishing. It’s George’s second novel, but his first one released by a publisher (his first novel was self-published). George was kind enough to take time chat with me about Monogamy Sucks and its road to publication.
Name of book: Monogamy Sucks
Book genre: Erotica
Date Published: December 1, 2010
Publisher: Lazy Day Publishing
What is your book about? Monogamy Sucks is an erotic fiction novel that explores a Long Beach, Calif. man’s sexy, humorous and intriguing adventures into the swinging lifestyle. The story is told in the form of a fictional diary by the book’s protagonist Jake Dalmas, who is searching for answers and alternatives for his frustration and boredom with conventional relationships and monogamy. It is being published as e-book by new digital publisher Lazy Day Publishing and is very frank, funny, explicit and painfully honest about the ups and downs of casual sex. Kind of like Tucker Max (author of Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Assholes Finish First) for people in their thirties and forties. Or an edgy male version of Sex in the City.
What was the most challenging part of the writing process? Getting down the initial first draft of my story or writing project with my original vision intact while avoiding the impulse to edit while I go along.
What motivates you to write? The desire to explore and express some kind of understanding about my life’s experiences, and maybe even resolve emotions about certain situations that are still unsettled in my mind, heart or soul. It is only later after you write about a scene that occurred in your life or someone else’s life that you begin to perceive the real motivations behind your actions or other’s actions more clearly.
I have no choice. I am compelled to write. It has always been that way. I had written my first novel when I was 15 by hand — a science fiction novel called Jake’s War. It was 70 pages!
Did you experience writer’s block? Before I starting writing this novel, I experienced a writer’s block on writing fiction that lasted 13 years. I used to write fiction when I was in college, but I went into journalism and later public relations. My only writing was for my job. So all for those years, my fiction ideas and words were just pent up inside of me and later came out in a torrent of writing starting in the late 1990s.
Even now, I do experience writer’s block from time to time, but I don’t worry about it. Usually I figure it is because I have written too much and need to replenish my creative well, so to speak. One method I use to get over writer’s block is giving myself a modest goal – let’s say, writing a paragraph or two when I sit down to write. Before I know it, I have written a lot more than I intended. It is a way to trick your mind into writing that I learned from Julie Cameron’s excellent book Write to Right.
How long did it take you to write this book? More than 12 years. I had worked on and off on Monogamy Sucks since 1998, but finished my first draft in 2001. I kept polishing and reworking it while I wrote two other novels — my first self-published novel Letters from Cyberspace and another unpublished novel. It was actually fear more than anything else that kept me from bringing out Monogamy Sucks. I wasn’t sure if there was a market for it, and I couldn’t afford to self -publish it like I did my first book. I had a bad experience looking for an agent and publisher for my first book, and I didn’t want go through that again.
How difficult was it to find a publisher? I know from my first book that looking for an agent and publisher is a long and frustrating process. I finally gave up with my first book and put it out myself.
I had no intentions of shopping around Monogamy Sucks to traditional agents and publishers. What was the point? I thought it made more sense to get my work out there via my blog and to build my own readership and fans. I figured at some point I could always publish it myself. In my case, finding a publisher wasn’t difficult at all. A couple of months after launching my blog, Lazy Day Publishing contacted me. I know that is not a common occurrence, but it was something I was hoping for.
Earlier this year I read an article on the Huffington Post about how many recent bestselling books started out as blogs. That gave me the idea to launch put my novel out on my blog one chapter at a time last summer.
Lazy Day Publishing is a new digital publisher and asked if I wanted to turn the book into novel. They thought it was hilarious and reminded them of Tucker Max’s writing. Fortunately, I had my novel written already. I was intending to eventually bring out my novel myself, but thanks to Lazy Day I didn’t have to worry about that. Lazy Day has been a dream to work with. They have been so supportive and have championed my book from the start. I have heard from other writers that is not typically the case with traditional publishers.
My first book Letters From Cyberspace was also a novel. I have always written novels or, when I was younger, short stories in the science fiction vein. I really enjoy the novel form. I think it is a great vehicle for expressing a story in a longer format. My favorite writers have always been novelists. I have read most of the classic novelists in addition to all the genre writers. I believe there are subjects and stories that you can only effectively tell in a novel. I also like everyone else wanted to see if I could actually write an interesting novel. I have to let the readers be the judge if I actually succeeded.
What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? The two biggest misconceptions are that is it easy to do and impossible to do. Some people think they can just whip out an interesting book, but if it is going to be intriguing or compelling your book needs to come from a place deep inside of you. That is never simple to do no matter what anyone says.
At the same time, you can’t let fear and the judgment of others prevent you from telling your stories. I’ve known so many writers who have started books or other writing projects and just abandoned them. I remember one writer I knew spent six months writing and rewriting the same 11 pages and couldn’t finish her novel. You have to shut off the critical side of your mind, and just get your book down in a cogent form. Without a rough draft, you will ultimately have nothing to work with.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? Well, I experimented a lot with this book in the writing with different techniques to better get my original vision on the page. Sometimes I would dictate a whole chapter into a mini tape recorder and then transcribe it into my computer. Other times I would write out whole chapters in notebooks and then later put it into my computer, and then there were times I would just write at the computer. I enjoyed all of that, but my favorite part of the writing process for this book was the long editing process I was afforded. Through each draft, I could see my character’s self-deprecating, sarcastic even sardonic voice come to life. Jake Dalmas’ humorous commentary about what he finds on his journey is the real core of this book.
My first book Letters From Cyberspace was a much different experience in that I wrote it very quickly – six months! – to prove to myself that I could actually finish a novel. My first novel is also based on the emails and experiences of a lady friend of mine so the story wasn’t as deeply personal to me as with Monogamy Sucks.
Do you plan to write another novel? While I was editing Monogamy Sucks all those years, I wrote another novel and I am in the process of editing it. This novel has a provocative celebrity angle. I can’t say much more about it except that it focuses on the romantic, erotic adventures of a man in his late twenties. I also have started a sequel to Monogamy Sucks, which picks up six months after where this book ends. Eventually, I am hoping to turn Jake Dalmas’ erotic adventures into a trilogy of books.
Oprah has famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? Yes, I would agree with Oprah, as I think we make our own luck. When Lazy Day Publishing reached out to me to publish my book, I was ready and prepared with a finished novel that I worked on for years. However, Lazy Day’s co-owner Staci Heller would have never known I existed and contacted me if I hadn’t put my book out on my blog. She was able to read parts of my work online and see the potential.