It’s been a while since I invited celebrated indie author Rosen Trevithick to appear on my blog. I interviewed her back in September 2012, and earlier this year she wrote a highly useful article on telling the difference between real trolls and internet trolls. On both visits, she knocked over some pot plants as she left and, I later discovered, ate all the Cadburys I’d stashed at the back of the cupboard, in the locked box wrapped in barbed wire. So I’m keeping a close eye on her this time.
David: Rosen, hello and welcome. How are you?
Rosen: Firstly, David, nothing advertises decent chocolate like wrapping a locked box with barbed wire. You couldn’t have made it more inviting if you’d put it in the fridge marked ‘Rosen, Eat Me Now’. If you want to protect your stash, you’ll have to be a lot more creative.
Thank you for inviting me back. I’m currently resting a minor ankle injury. Presumably it happened in an unfortunate hula-hooping accident, because injuring my ligaments by forgetting to warm up before jogging, would be really stupid and certainly not the sort of thing a totally splendid hotshot author would do.
How are you?
David: I’m all the better for visualising your hula-hooping hobby, which is really lifting my spirits. Let’s talk about your books. My contacts tell me that you’re approaching something of a milestone?
Rosen: How did your contacts find out my Elmer collection? Oh, wait – you mean the books I’ve written!
Customers have downloaded 244,500 copies of my books. Which means that my download count will soon reach quarter of a million! I’ve released three new titles today (30th November), as well as offering two Kindle books for free. I’m hoping that this will take the figure up to, and perhaps beyond, 250,000.
David: Hang on! You’ve got three new titles out today?! Well, that doesn’t make the rest of us feel inadequate at all, not one bit. Oh I know, it’s just the same book with three different covers, yes?
Rosen: You jest, but actually one of them, The First Trollogy, is a collection of separately published books – Smelly Trolls books 1-3. Seesaw Volume II also contains previously published fiction – The Ice Marathon and My Granny Writes Erotica – alongside lots of new material such as A Stormy Afternoon in Falmouth Harbour, What Crazy Looks Like and Gourmet Girl Burger. Trolls on Ice, however, is completely new. It’s the third Smelly Troll book and features Rufus and his friends at The Winter Trollympics.
David: I must confess I do own The First Trollogy and it makes all the other paperbacks on my bookshelf look puny by comparison. Regarding Seesaw II, was it always your plan to release another collection of stories? How far ahead do you plan what you’re going to write?
Rosen: The First Trollogy is a very large book! I was worried that perhaps it was too big. However, I took part in a school visit yesterday and a ten-year-old boy suggested putting six troll books together in a volume, which would be twice as big!
I didn’t plan to release another Seesaw collection as such, but when it became apparent that I had accumulated almost enough stories for a second volume, I put a little time into writing one or two more. Also, readers were requesting a paperback edition of My Granny Writes Erotica, which I felt was too short to publish separately, so I put that in the new collection.
I usually plan what I’m going to write six months in advance, but I’m very flexible and plans often change. How about you? How far ahead do you plan?
David: Like you, I’m pretty flexible. (We’d be great at Twister! No, let’s not go there.) I always have a sketchy long-term plan that is sometimes two years into the future, but actual specific planning is done on a month by month basis. Since the Auto Series is made up of individual short stories, I have sometimes changed my mind about which one to write next, while following the rough plan I have for the series as a whole.
Rosen: Actually, being an indie does feel like a game of Twister. Everything happens so fast that you’re constantly bombarded with information that changes your game plan. You write a book and a few days after it comes back from your final editor, it’s on sale. You’ve only just started planning your next book when the feedback from the one you just finished starts coming in. That feedback can completely change the course of your career. For example, My Granny Writes Erotica was supposed to be a standalone story, but readers started demanding a sequel, and you have to follow the demand if you want to sell books. As I recall, something similar happened with your Auto series?
David: It’s true that for an indie, reader feedback can change everything! I did originally think there would only be two Auto stories, but the positive reaction to them both made me realise there was a lot more scope, and now it’s a long-running series. One of the benefits of being a self-published author is that you can react much faster to change, and that includes giving your readers more of what they want.
I really liked My Granny Writes Erotica. It was so filthy! Witty, I mean witty. But I was a bit disappointed though. The climax came much quicker than I expected!
Rosen: I suppose My Granny Writes Erotica is quite dirty. It covers butt plugs, animal play and prostitution, but it was all written with my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek. Interestingly, the small amount of sex in The Ice Marathon (another novella present in Seesaw Volume II), proved much more controversial despite being nowhere near as kinky. I think this was down to people’s expectations, added to distinctions between direct/indirect and realistic/melodramatic.
There was talk of a KUF erotica collection at one point. You are in the process of editing the second of three volumes of Off the KUF. How would you feel if the erotica idea was revived?
David: I don’t think I’m qualified to serve as an editor for an erotica anthology, being the clean-living pure-minded soul that I am. But I must confess I would be tempted to write a story for it! Simply because it’s something I’ve never tried before, so I’m curious to see if I’ve got it up me. I mean in me. Oh, you know what I mean.
Rosen: So you think the editor of an erotica anthology needs to be well versed in erotic matters? To what extent have you involved yourself with content whist editing the Off the KUF collections?
David: I don’t think it’s a matter of being well-versed to be an erotica editor (not saying I’m not, cough). It’s more having an understanding of the rules of the genre, expectations of the reader, story structure and the like. As a genre I’ve never read, I feel a bit inexperienced to edit other people’s work in that field. But maybe one day?
You write for two very different audiences: children with the Smelly Troll books, and open-minded adults with most of the Seesaw stories. Have you ever had problems segregating the two styles?
Rosen: I would be embarrassed to publish an erotic story under Rosen Trevithick. I find writing serious sex scenes excruciating because it feels like inviting readers into my bed. Comedy sex like in My Granny Writes Erotica is fine, but anything with realism, like the sex scene in The Ice Marathon, makes me feel very uncomfortable.
As for keeping my content for children and adults separate, I’d like to refer to a guest post I’ve written for Michael Brookes’s blog, covering just that.
Have you experienced many benefits of a long running series? Do you have many readers who enjoy one and rush out to buy the whole set? I’m just starting to experiment with series.
David: I think with series it depends on not only on how much the reader enjoyed the first one, but also how many there are. Some readers love having loads of stories lined up to get through, others are put off by that. You can’t please everyone!
Now, before I forget – you mentioned some books were currently free?
Rosen: Yes! Two short stories from Seesaw – Volume II are free to download today. The Ice Marathon (for adults) and Gourmet Girl Burger (for children and adults) are both free to download for eReaders, tablets, laptops and phones. I’m hoping that adults who enjoy the samples will buy the new Seesaw collection and children will buy The First Trollogy.
Many thanks to Rosen Trevithick for the chat. You can find out full details about Rosen’s new releases on her blog. I plan to sit down and read them all with a nice cup of tea and a bar of… hang on! Where’s my Cadburys? ROSEN!!!