Home > Blog Tours > My Interview with Sessha Bato

My Interview with Sessha Bato

How did you get into writing? Is this a new venture or have you always had the writing bug?


I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was four – Obediah the Panda. Needless to say it was NOT a literary masterpiece, but I guess I’ve always had the urge to write down the stories I’d like to read. I wrote poetry and angsty plays through my early twenties, but once I was out of university I stopped writing fiction. I did write treatments and scripts for educational, documentary and training films on occasion, but the bulk of my creative efforts were directed elsewhere. It was only after I lost my job three years ago that I started writing again. After a year of unemployment I was bored to tears and saw an article about NaNoWriMo and decided to give it a try. A month later I’d finished my first novel. It was barely 50,000 words, but I was hooked. Since then I’ve been writing full time (the blessing underneath the curse of unemployment).


Is there any particular reason you chose to write in the erotica genre?


I wanted to tell stories that laid my characters open and sex is one situation that gives characters vulnerability and lets you see who they are underneath their veneer of socialization. I write homosexual erotica because I love the parity a same sex relationship gives to both partners, roles and expectations are so much more fluid. And, of course, I enjoy reading homoerotic stories, I write the ones I’d like to read but no one has written.


Have you ever written in any other genre, or would you like to in the future?


I have attempted a few things in other genres, but I wasn’t happy with them. Rather than change genre, my goal is to write books that will, hopefully, open the genre up to a wider audience. My greatest joy is when get a review that says ‘I usually don’t read erotica, but . . .’ because I know I’ve opened up someone’s mind to something new.


Does being a Buddhist have any effect on your writing? Do you ever incorporate ideas or beliefs into your work?


I think being Buddhist has a huge impact on my writing. Many of my works are set in Asia, and even those set in other locations definitely have a different take on life, death, honor, duty and the lessons to be learned from our lives.


Do you have any troubles balancing home life with your writing?


I think all writers do. The temptation to keep writing instead of doing mundane tasks like laundry and dishes is very powerful, and tends to win out. Thankfully my husband and son are very supportive. Of course, I’m sure it helps that I’m much happier now than I was when I was working full time, and much more balanced, which makes me a lot easier to live with, I’m sure.


You practice battojutso, can you tell us more about this? Do you find having knowledge of sword work helpful in your writing?


I’ve practiced Tenshin Niten Ichi Ryu Battojutso for thirty-five years. The technical knowledge hasn’t helped me in my writing to date, however my next book is set in 16th century Japan so it should come in handy. That’s not to say I don’t find it helpful in my other writing. My morning practice focuses my mind before writing, my afternoon practice wipes away the stress and tension that accumulates while I write.


You write a lot of flash fiction, are these for fun and practice or part of marketing and getting your name out there?


The flash fiction is mainly my attempt to be less wordy. My last book finished up at almost a quarter of a million words and even after substantial editing still ended up being reshaped into a series. Since I tend to write the big picture I thought it would help me to learn to write short. It’s a LOT tougher than it looks, give me a novel project any day.


What are you currently working on now, a new short story or novel?


Right now I’m about halfway through a novella, In the Desert of the Porcupines, and gearing up to start a new novel, Onna Bugeisha, in November for NaNoWriMo.


How hard was it for you to find a publisher in your genre?


There are quite a few excellent publishers in my genre, so there’s an active market. That being said, my first book was published by a start up micro-publisher. I wasn’t even contemplating doing anything other than sticking the book in a drawer and moving on, as I had with my first. I saw their call for submissions though and took a chance. This was good and bad, as my work is much more hard core than anything else they’ve put out. At this point I’m contemplating pulling it, giving it a good re-edit and releasing it myself. What it did do was give me confidence to keep writing. The shorter pieces I have in anthologies are also through multi-faceted presses, so I have yet to actually seek publication with an erotica publisher. My latest book is in the hands of an agent at the moment, if she takes me on then I’ll follow her lead as to where to submit, of course.


What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of being a published author? What do you find the most difficult?


The most rewarding aspect is hearing from readers who liked your work. Positive reviews are always inspiring. I like the negative reviews as well, they tell me where I’m falling short and give me specific things to try and do differently next time. The most difficult is a toss up between the waiting (I hate to wait) and the writing time you lose to promotion.

Thank YOU so much for the great interview.  Keep on writing my friend!

  1. Madison Woods
    October 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Excellent interview! I enjoyed learning a little more about one of my favorite #teasertuesday participants 😉

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