Interview with Erin O’Riordan

Jen: This weekend we welcome author Erin O’Riordan to Book Talk. Erin, will you please share a short bio with us?
Erin: Sure. I grew up in the ’80s in the Midwest United States, going to Catholic schools from kindergarten through undergraduate degree. Raised by two bibliophiles, I read everything I could get my hands on, from trashy horror anthologies to literary classics. The Catholicism didn’t stick, but the love of reading and writing did. I’m a health care worker by day, writer in the evenings and on weekends. If it were up to me, though, I would never do anything else but write and edit.

Jen: Tell us about Beltane and where it’s available.
Erin: Beltane is an erotic romance about Zen, a modern-day witch. When she meets Orlando, her intuition tells her he’s the man in her dreams, even if she feels a little funny about the fact that he’s married. At the same time, Zen’s twin sister Allie is finding out some not-so-flattering truths about her new husband, Paul Phillip, after she’d already convinced herself he’s the love of her life. These two sisters are questioning what Fate, or the Goddess, has in store for them. Beltane is available as an e-book from Eternal Press.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Erin: I’ve been writing ever since my chubby little fingers could hold a pencil, but I’m also quite shy. I wish I could say I wrote for the school newspaper and that kind of thing, but the truth is, I didn’t start writing things for publication until my husband began encouraging me in 2006. I had my first short story published in January 2007, right before I turned 30.

Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Erin: As you might expect, they’re of two minds. They’re proud of me, but at the same time, because I write erotica, it’s not as if they can go bragging to all of their friends. Just the really open-minded ones. My husband is a constant help and source of encouragement to me in my writing. He never tells me “no.”

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Erin: Smart, spiritual, sexy.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Erin: No, not really. I just try to write for an absolute minimum of ten minutes each day. My goal is to have one short story or article submission completed each week, but it’s a goal I’ve been able to meet more and more infrequently lately. I hope that changes soon.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Erin: I read up on modern Paganism and the religion of witchcraft. It’s not the easiest thing to do, since Paganism and witchcraft aren’t organized religions with any specific texts that define them, the way Judaism and Christianity have the Bible and Islam has the Koran. But I tried to know as much as I could before filling in some of the sketchier details with my fired-up imagination. Along with Neo-Paganism and the Goddess craft, I also had to learn more about herbology and some of the aspects of magic. At the same time I was writing Beltane, I was also writing a book about female bodies, sex, and growing up for older girls and young teens, and I think my research into the female body seeped into the novel as well.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Erin: The most challenging aspect of writing is finding enough time to get everything out of my brain and onto actual or virtual paper. The easiest thing to do is think of another project to begin as soon as I finish one. I’ve got them queued up in my mind like the stacks of jets circling the airport.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Erin: Knowing someone, somewhere is reading my words is the most rewarding part. I love reading so much, it feels good to be able to give that same pleasure to the readers of the world.

Jen: Where do you draw your inspiration?
Erin: Everywhere: my husband, other people I know, current events, TV, movies, songs, even other books I read. It all gets diced up, spun into yarn and woven into the tapestry of story. That’s a mixed metaphor, I know, but I think it’s apropos in this case.

Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Erin: Adriana Trigiani, the best-selling author of the Big Stone Gap series, is an alumna of my alma mater. To Adriana Trigiani, I’d like to say, “Thank you so much for the encouragement.” To Kate Douglas, whose novels I absolutely adore, I’d like to say, “Thank you for appreciating my quirky review of your book.” To Joan Borysenko, who is a wonderful scientist, feminist, and spiritual person as well as a talented writer, I’d like to say, “Thank you for A Woman’s Journey to God.” Then I’d like to reach back into the nineteenth century and give a warm thanks to Emily Dickinson, who is always inspiring because the way she used words was simply genius. Finally, I’d like to thank the person who probably had the biggest influence on my writing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure whether that’s my mother, who got me into reading romance and erotica in the first place, or my husband, who is a great encouragement and the most wonderful of content editors.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Erin: I was once told it was “about time” Neo-Pagan themes made their way into a “mainstream” novel. I don’t know how “mainstream” I’d consider Beltane, but I agree it’s time for the Goddess-centered religions to return to the forefront of society. It’s nice to have a fair balance between the masculine and the feminine, both at the individual and societal levels.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Erin: I love the paranormal erotic romances of Kate Douglas (especially the Wolf Tales series), Charlaine Harris, and J. R. Ward. Right now I’m reading an erotic novel called The Surrender of Persephone. I love modern retellings of Classical mythology; I love stories connecting the ancient with the contemporary. I also love classic American literature, and particularly Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Erin: Read, watch movies and episodes of The Simpsons, listen to music, go for walks along the river, kayak, eat, and sleep. Not necessarily in that order.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Erin: I’m editing the second book in the Pagan Spirits series. I intend to make it a twelve-part series, with one title inspired by each of twelve holidays celebrated in traditional cultures. One for each month of the year.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Erin: My home page is www.aeess.com, and my Pagan Spirits blog can be found at www.erinoriordan.blogspot.com. I also enjoy virtually meeting readers on the social networking sites Gather and Facebook.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Erin: Absolutely! Beltane is my first novel, and I still have a lot to learn. What do you love most about reading romance? What else can you teach me about being a Neo-Pagan or a witch? Or, for that matter, what can you teach me about being a woman, a lover, a wife, a mother? What pieces of Goddess-wisdom have you learned from inhabiting this world in a female body? Or, if you are a man, what pieces of Goddess-wisdom have you learned from inhabiting this world in a male body? Then there’s the subject that continually fascinates me: what connections have you made between the sexual and the divine?

Jen: Thanks so much Erin for the interesting interview. Readers, Erin is giving away an autographed copy of her book The Erotica Anthology. Obviously, due to the content, this contest is only open to readers over the age of 18. To enter, please leave a comment here. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, February 22 around 5 pm PDT.