You will find this blog linked to the ABC23 article, Woman, 39, Appears On '39-And-Over' Book Cover.
Interview with Phaze publisher, Kathryn Lively:
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: What’s Phaze Books draw to publishing erotic fiction and related genres?
Lively: Phaze was launched as an imprint of Mundania Press, LLC, in 2004, in response to the rising demand for steamier romance fiction in eBook and print. While Mundania had enjoyed success publishing science fiction and non-erotic romance, it could not be denied that readership was becoming more attentive to spicier content given the success of other eBook publishers who specialized wholly in the erotic romance genre.
Prior to 2004, they had published an erotic work by Piers Anthony, called Pornucopia, but decided the Phaze imprint (named for a popular series by Anthony) would focus on stories offering strong content and romantic overtones, particularly the "happily ever after" romance readers love.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: Why are readers interested in sexual content? Is there a relation between sexual content in books, film and TV? Do books follow film and TV trends?
Lively: In the last ten years, I personally have noticed how TV in particular has raised the bar on graphic content. While non-cable networks remain somewhat conservative, you have shows like Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, and Big Love literally baring all in love scenes. In talking to some readers, I would say the desire to read more explicit material stems from a healthy fantasy life.
Society is continuously becoming more open as people become more comfortable with their own sexuality. I don't know how many Phaze readers have actually lived the stories some of our authors have written, but I would imagine it's fun to believe, even for a short while, that you could be as desired by some of the book's heroes.
As for relation between books and other media, I don't believe one follows the other. As long as I can recall, books and film/TV have crossed the same boundaries almost simultaneously. Think of Jacqueline Susann's novels, first published in 60s at the cusp of the sexual revolution. Back then, her work might have been considered pornographic, and it had come out in tandem with films like Midnight Cowboy. These days, some might argue both are tame by today's standards.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: What are the trends these days in erotic fiction? Is it becoming more popular? Are more writers writing in the genre?
Lively: I would say definitely yes. Some attribute the decision by major romance publishers like Harlequin and Kensington to publish erotica to the success of erotic romance eBook sales. Erotic romances, once relegated to the back shelves of Borders with the sex manuals, are now showcased among the top romance sellers.
As for trends, I notice different publishers tend to have their big sub-genres. Phaze, in particular, does a good business in urban fantasy (contemporary paranormal and vampire romance), interracial romances, and gay male romances written for women -think Brokeback Mountain with the heat turned to high!
I do know a few authors who have branched into erotic romance from milder genres, as well as authors who started in erotic romance and moved toward less spicier endeavors with major publishers. I don't know if more writers are in the genre than five years ago - I think writers will continue to produce the works they want regardless of sexual content.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: What does an interesting book cover mean for marketing and selling such books?
Lively: I recently read an article in a trade periodical that stressed the importance of an attractive cover. A good percentage of readers browsing a brick and mortar store will purchase a book by virtue of the cover – I have to admit I've done it myself. That is why we have worked to expand our art department to create more eye-catching covers, and we have employed our own models for certain projects.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: What is baby boomer fiction? Is it just a targeted age group or is there really a fiction genre geared for baby boomers? What’s the difference with erotic fiction? Does baby boomer lit need strong sexual content? Why?
Lively: I usually associate baby boomers with my mother's generation, as that was the term used to define that group born after WWII. Baby boomer fiction to me could represent everything from coming of age stories, suspense novels, and "second-time-around romances" where the heroine isn't exactly an ingénue. I don't think these books are necessarily targeted toward a specific audience; if a reader enjoys books, he will pick up whatever appeals to him.
With regards to erotic romance, we really have no way of knowing specific demographics, though we are aware our readership is predominantly female. Because the majority of our books are available only in eBook format, we know our readership is computer savvy and has the means to read the material.
I don't think fiction in general needs to be sexually graphic. It should have well-rounded characters, strong dialogue, and a cohesive plot. When I look at books for publication, I try to imagine how the story will hold without the sex. If it does, that's a good indication of a salable story.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: What does it mean to be self-empowering?
Lively: You are a self-starter, determined to finish what tasks are at hand and resolved problems to the best of your ability. You are immune to pettiness but conscious of constructive criticism.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: Do you feel self-empowered as a female publisher? What would you need in your life to be more so?
Lively: There are days I feel I could conquer the world, and there are days I want to quit and go back to bed. Every day for me is finding the balance that makes the most of my time. Ideally, I need a second me to help with the workload!
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: Why are shows like Sex and the City and Robin Slick novels appealing to people? Is there a correlation between what people want in books, TV, and film regarding such topics?
Lively: I think there is a correlation. Robin Slick's Three Days in New York City, for example, features a heroine to whom many people can relate. Elizabeth has come to a crossroads in her life, and realizes she wants her happiness before she is too old or too complacent to enjoy it. She is forty, and knows her sexual needs have not diminished. I've experienced my own Elizabeth moments in the last few years, and to read her story - while I may never live it myself - at least offers possibilities.
Sex in the City offers one version of such possibilities as well. While I may never get down to a single-digit dress size like the four main characters, it is comforting to know that life does not have to end at forty. It's just the beginning.
Nick, ABC23/Noveltown: Thoughts on the covergirl's age, the photo, and self empowerment?
Lively: I love the cover the minute I saw it. It's sexy, daring, curvaceous, and simple. Even though the book involves over-40 heroines, the cover seems to transcend age and offer a timeless portrait of beauty.
2008 nick belardes