Name Ronnie Strong
Where are you from
Ronnie: I live in Reservoir, a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
Ronnie: I have had a meandering academic life. I started-off a while back as a maths/science student at high school. A few years ago, I finished up doing a history PhD, relating to my career in advocacy, human services and social policy.
I have four beautiful children. I share the care of our two younger children with my former wife.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Ronnie: I had a difficult year in 2015 with the end of my marriage. I was also busy with a family retail business, which consumed my time and energy. I am looking forward to resuming writing erotica in 2016. I have no shortage of ideas. My busy life and imagination give me plenty of inspiration. I will enjoy writing a sequel for The Laundromat. I am not continuing the Kate Gets Marks stories. I will explore love, sex and relationship’s challenges in new ways over the coming year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Ronnie: I started writing erotica almost by accident, but at a point in my life where it was a natural thing to do. I was finishing the writing of my PhD thesis at the time. I was also studying professional writing and editing. I wanted to do something different to my academic writing. My immediate inspiration was attending a monthly gathering to discuss sex-positive ideas. I went along to hear a panel of erotica writers talking about their craft. It sounded good to me and I started writing The Laundromat the next day.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Ronnie: I considered myself an author when I pushed the publish button for my first novel, The Laundromat.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Ronnie: The direct inspiration for The Laundromat was an incidental comment from a sensual friend. She remarked one day that she had seen a boggle-eyed man at her local laundromat. That was the jumping-off point for the main character. Like my friend, she is a mature woman in her late forties. She learns about herself, through an intense sexual adventure.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Ronnie: I am a man, writing my erotic work in the first person from the perspective of a woman. She is curious about herself and her limits. She has a rich fantasy life with a vivid imagination. She is in control of what happens, even while submitting herself to ordeals and the desires of others. She is deciding what she will do, and what others may do with her. Her journey is an exhilarating process of self-discovery.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Ronnie: A different kind of laundromat is the venue for Petra’s exploits, giving the title. Washing and drying your clothes and sheets is a personal chore. Doing it in public makes it even more of a chore, but also gives rise to other possibilities. I liked the idea of laundromat as an intimate space where strangers meet. I also liked the idea of Petra washing away a former self. At the laundromat, she is working out a new assertive and confident version of herself. There is a lot of water and washing in the story, with sensual and ritualistic elements.
I used this washing metaphor in Kate Gets Marks too, but less so. I could not resist the play-on-words with the word mark and name Mark. This settled the title for me early on in the writing. I hope my readers forgive me my punning, and see how the title is meaningful. If I were to write a sequel, I would use that to show more of the emotional marking of Kate from her journey.
The word heat in the title of my free short story Dolphin Heat hints at several elements of the story. Most readers might appreciate the more obvious suggestion of sexual frenzy.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Ronnie: My main purpose in writing erotica is to give readers a good and literary read. My stories feature people struggling with life’s dilemmas. I focus on those predicaments arising from our nature as sexual beings. These fundamental wants and needs of ours depend on others for their satisfaction. I like to explore how we can express our libido, fantasies and desires. I want to write what readers may yearn to experience.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Ronnie: I write fantasies. They come from my life and experiences, including my reading and conversations. It is important to me for my descriptions of sexual encounters to be possible, if one were able to try it out. Her cosmic orgasms are the way Petra experiences the light shining through us all.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Ronnie: In recent years, I have become much interested in learning from tantric teaching. I am only a novice. The understanding of tantra as love has had a powerful affect upon me. It has opened me to a broader understanding of myself and life. I now strive to be more of a Shiva, and to honour the women I love as Shakti.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Ronnie: I have read many great books in my life. In recent years I have done a lot of serous reading for my work in research. This has left me less energy for reading for pleasure. Books that were a direct influence on my writing style include Women On Top. This is a collection of ordinary people’s sexual fantasies compiled by Nancy Friday. I purchased that book about twenty years ago. I was also reading a lot of Marquis de Sade at that time. Other books come to mind. I must mention The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell and Eat Me by Linda Jarvin.
Outside of books, a recent influence has been Cyndi Darnell. She is a wonderful person and sex therapist and educator. She created a whole community in Melbourne through her four-year Pleasure Forum Australia gatherings. One of these events led me to Emma Power of Tantra Is Love. Her teaching has been a wonderful discovery for me. I was also challenged recently by Sasha Cobra. Her intervention was a good thing for me. The person that started me on this path was Barbara Carralles. Her work Urban tantra: sacred sex for the twenty-first century was a huge influence.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Ronnie: I have had little time for reading lately. I have had the Game of Thrones series beside my bed for a while. I wanted to read this during my holidays and ran out of time. In the meanwhile, I have just started The Martian, which is most engaging. The last book I finished, about a month ago, was A brief history of time. It took me many months.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Ronnie: I have had a lot of encouragement from my friends at Little Raven. They hold events and publish erotica. I enjoy the company of erotica readers, writers and friends. Adrea Kore tells hot stories. There is a little community of us here in Melbourne. This was important for me in persevering with writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Ronnie: I would love to be able to write full-time. That is still my aim, even after the diversion of a business venture, in the last year.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Ronnie: Despite all the difficulties, the only thing I would change is it being my last book. I would love to have written another in the past year.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Ronnie: Writing erotica from personal experience does come with its little challenges. My former wife did not like The Laundromat for its BDSM scenes and themes. She suggested the outline of my last novel, Kate Gets Marks. The intersection of fiction and fact made the writing of this book difficult. It took me a while to find a way to deal with the issues it created. I took ownership of the story back, treating it as a piece of pure fiction with me as author. The conflict in me made it a better story.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Ronnie: Philip K Dick is a huge influence upon me. He first helped me understand that what is real is not always obvious. It can have more to do with power and viewpoint. Subtle influences upon our perceptions shape what we make of shifting circumstances.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Ronnie: I wrote Dolphin Heat after a good holiday. Actual events were its inspiration, with a lot of imagination thrown in. I do a lot of my writing while on holiday. It is part of my holiday routine now. It is no accident that I am doing this interview while on holiday, and just after.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Ronnie: For better or worse, I usually do my own covers. I like the challenge of doing graphic art. I acknowledge that as a graphic artist I make a good writer. Some of my covers did not work. I changed them. Others of mine are good enough, without being brilliant. The nudity in the Kate Gets Marks covers causes some promotional and other problems. I purchased the cover of The Laundromat. I like it a lot. It incorporates water and light, two of the key themes of the story. It is true that good covers sell books.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Ronnie: The hardest part of writing my books has been my impatience when I have finished the writing. I am good at editing and proofing, when I give it proper attention. By the time I have finished, I have read and reread the story so many times that I just want it over and out there. This is a problem. I have not given myself enough time to do the final proofing. This means doing a few more revisions, when I have the energy, to get the presentation of the story right.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Ronnie: I have leant a lot from writing my books, including the importance of tenderness.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Ronnie: My advice is to listen to the advice other writers give, and then work out what works for you. Too many advice givers espouse rules that one must never break. One frequent example is not to mix writing with editing. I break this rule every time I resume writing my work in progress. I always start my new day’s writing by reviewing and editing the previous day’s work. This helps me with continuity and inspiration. I am not saying every writer should do this. I am saying that writer’s need to develop a writing practice that works for them. Writers must write, so get writing and work it out as you go.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Ronnie: Please buy my books.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ronnie: Read with Dick and Jane. This is a reader for five-year-olds starting school.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Read with Dick and Jane
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Ronnie: You can find me at http://ronniestrong.com/
Fiona: What are some other places where can people find you?
Ronnie: Thank you Fiona.