Author Interview: Laurelin Paige
I’m delighted to welcome Laurelin Paige to the blog today to chat about books and writing and the author life. Laurelin is a new friend, and this is the first chance we’ve gotten to really chat with each other! I’m so excited to have her here and to talk about her provocative new book Porn Star, which was cowritten with Sierra Simone (and I want to know more about how cowriting a book works for them—don’t you?) So without further ado, welcome Laurelin!
Marie: I have to tell you again that I loved Porn Star! In addition to a great romance between the main characters, I loved that it was something completely different for the romance genre that usually has such rigid conventions about what the hero and heroine can and cannot do within the story. Sex with other people? Generally, not done, but you pulled off a complex story about a man torn between his career as a successful adult film star and the woman he loves. You made me believe that he could compartmentalize the sex for work and the sex with his love. Can you tell us about why you and Sierra decided to write about porn (and great job portraying the adult film industry, by the way) and what the overall reaction has been to the book?
Laurelin: Thank you so much for having me, Marie! I’m so honored to be talking to you and your readers. I already feel like we’re old friends.
And thank you again for your Porn Star love! Sierra and I have been critique partners for three years now. We have such honest admiration for each other’s work, it seemed inevitable that we’d do a project together sometime. Last summer, we were both writing particularly challenging pieces, and somehow or another we started using porn as our reward for hitting our word count. One day I teased on a post on Facebook that we were going to stop writing real books and just write porn fanfic. We were surprised how favorably readers responded, and, next thing you know, we’d decided to write a book about porn.
One of the things that specifically interested us about adult film stars, was how they could be in any sort of relationship and have it mean anything. Both Sierra and I are one-man type of girls. There’s no way either of us could be with a man who was sleeping with other women for whatever reason. But our research introduced us to a world of people who can seem to do that, which fascinated us. If sex is no longer a special thing between you and your lover, what was? What activities become intimate? Basically, writing Porn Star was our way to explore this.
So far the reaction has been really positive! We were prepared for people to be turned off by the subject and perhaps upset that Logan still does his job after falling in love, but we couldn’t shy away from that aspect of his career since that was what drew us to the story in the first place. And we didn’t want to write the same old porn story, where the hero suddenly gets limp dick every time he’s on set after he falls in love. That’s not this story. This book doesn’t rely on the hero’s body to fail him, but requires him to make a choice about who he shares his body with. I think it’s definitely more real that way, and makes the love story all the more sweet. Thankfully, a lot of readers have been pleasantly surprised, and our reviews and private messages have been so amazingly supportive. I have no regrets about our choice.
Marie: I love your passion for this topic and that you have no regrets. I’m a big believer in no regrets when it comes to writing books—when we put our names on a book, we have to own the content, for better or worse. Luckily, most of the time it’s for better! I really loved the characters of Logan and Devi. One thing I thought was interesting is that while they both worked in the adult film business, Devi only performed with other women. Did you feel that showing her with other men would be a deal-breaker for romance readers? Do you feel there is still a double-standard of sorts of what we can show male characters doing vs. what we can show females doing? I imagine you and Sierra had lots of conversations about what you could—and could not—get away with in this book. Do tell!
Laurelin: We definitely talked about this a lot, and it was probably I who was more conservative in our discussions. Sierra’s brand is much more taboo, so she didn’t feel as many concerns with breaking romance “rules” while I was more wary. Yes, I think there is a double-standard about how men are allowed to act versus how women are allowed to act. But, in the end, we didn’t let that influence the story. We realized that Logan’s trajectory and the choices he was forced to make had less of an impact if Devi was also making the same choices. In order to give them very distinct story arcs, we gave her a smaller role in the industry.
I do feel that if we had shown her having sex with other men, many readers would have been turned off, which is sad to me. I’m a progressive women, and I’d like to believe that slut-shaming is going away. But perhaps that’s hypocritical of me because I live in a traditional monogamous relationship with my husband, and I really do like the stories where the man is alpha and experienced and the woman is a virgin. It’s tough to write stories that balance what I believe with what I’m personally into reading. So maybe we did cower a little here. But I’m also sure that many readers are turned off because Logan has sex with other women, and we decided to be brave and stay true to our vision instead of worrying about what people would say about that (even though my publicist did seem a bit shocked when she read that part of the book).
Marie: I agree with you—it’s sad that women can’t do whatever they want in life and in romance novels and get away with it—but the men can run wild and still be adored. And I LOVE the experienced alpha with the virgin stories too. 🙂 I’m glad you stayed brave and true to your vision. Porn Star was a very unique book and you’re to be applauded for taking on a “taboo” subject, at least as far as the romance genre is concerned. And LMAO on shocking the publicist. You must’ve been like, “My work here is finished.” Tell me about how you managed the co-writing. I give so much credit to authors who can do that. I think I’d probably want to stab a co-writer a rusty steak knife (a la Sam in my Fatal Series). LOL! How do you DO it?
Laurelin: Oh, cowriting… it’s so terribly wonderful. I’ve written books with both Kayti McGee and Sierra Simone, and before Sierra, my sound bite was “Never cowrite, but if you do, write with Kayti McGee.” I’m terribly controlling, you see, and the idea of someone coming in and messing with my words gave me the chills, and not in a good way. But Kayti was a very good submissive, and we worked out how to write together, which was to both write all the characters and divide the book in sections between us. After several books, I figured I had the hang of it, and I decided why not try it with Sierra – she’s equally submissive, it should be fine. And it was fine, but it didn’t go the way I’d thought where I bossed her around and she made magic. Instead, we wrote very independently. She wrote all of Logan’s chapters, and I wrote Devi’s chapters, and we would pass them back and forth and basically respond to each other’s story by writing one of our own. In many ways, it was like actually dating. I didn’t always know what was going on in Logan’s head while I was writing him, and then Sierra’s chapter would come along and explain it. It was a very unique experience. Instead of feeling like I was writing a book WITH Sierra, it felt like I was writing FOR Sierra. Took a lot of pressure off. I’d definitely do it again.
Marie: Thanks so much for coming by to chat with me today. I really enjoyed hearing about the behind-the-scenes of Porn Star and the co-writing process. Great to have you here, and check out her books at http://laurelinpaige.com.
Laurelin: Thank you so much for having me. It was really fun to talk about this book, especially because I feel so passionate about it. Thank you to everyone who’s taken a chance on this little story of ours. We’re so appreciative of the support!
Porn Star is available exclusively for Kindle.