Author Interview: E.E. Ottoman

On June 10, 2013 by admin

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 E.E. Ottoman graced Queer for Books with a detailed interview that delves into her writing, her publishers, her future writing ambitions and what librarians could do to create a safer space for LGBT patrons.

Self-described as a “queer writer, graduate student, historian, all around geek,” E.E. Ottoman writes LGBTQ speculative fiction about “geeky masculine of center people doing awesome and sexy things.” They have been published through Less Than Three Press, Dreamspinner Press, and Storm Moon Press and featured in the following anthologies: Queer Fear, Dracones, Private Dicks: Undercovers, Blood and Lipstick, The Bestiary, and Kiss Me at Midnight. They have written three novellas: Changling Moon, Zi Yong and the Collector of Secrets, and Heart of Water and Stone. You can look forward to E.E. Ottoman’s upcoming novel, Selume Proferre.

Find E.E. Ottoman on Twitter, Blogspot, Facebook, and Goodreads.

 

  1. What was your writing ‘root’ moment when you decided to become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before I could physically write things down, I told stories and loved books. As soon as I learned how to write, I started writing fiction. I wrote my first fantasy story from beginning to end when I was fourteen. Writing was how I got through my undergraduate years with (most of) my sanity intact.

The idea that I could actually be published is fairly new though. The summer before I went back to school to start my graduate work, I wrote a silly little steampunk story. Then on a whim submitted it to Less Than Three Press who’s advertisement I’d seen on another writing site. I submitted it to them because they have a good reputation, will accept from unagented authors and work hard to ensure that the books they put out represent the full range of queer experience. I was totally and completely shocked when they accepted the story but haven’t looked back since. Selume Proferre

  1. Your facebook biography says you’re fond of “geeky, masculine of center people doing awesome and sexy things.” What kind of awesome things do you write about and how would you describe your writing?

I write speculative fiction/ romance and erotica. Mostly I write fantasy, steampunk, paranormal with some straight up horror thrown into the mix. I’ve been working on several space opera-type science fiction stories but haven’t had any published yet.

My characters tend to be on the intellectual side: academics, scientists, inventors, doctors, and mages. I’ve written about a private detective undercover at Cambridge University working with scientists trying to invent a super computer in a steampunk 1840s in Regarding the Detective’s Companion. In Heart of Water and Stone, a troll healer breaks out of his solitary life in order to save a witch. The main character in Zi Yong and the Collector of Secrets gives up her dreams of becoming a soldier in order to protect her infant nephew and ends up slaying a mythical beast. Your Happy Ending is about a genderqueer inventor who works designing gadgetry for a superhero team in Honolulu.

  1. What have you had published by Storm Moon Press?

I have three short stories published with Storm Moon Press. “Business Makes Strange Bedfellows” is in Blood and Lipstick Storm Moon Press’ lesbian vampire anthology. “The Possession of Lawrence Eugene Davis” was published in the erotic horror anthology Queer Fear. Finally “Weird Magic” came out in the dragon themed anthology Dracones.

  1. What drew you to SMP?

I really admire the fact that Storm Moon Press is dedicated to publishing romance and erotic literature depicting the full spectrum of QUILTBAG identity. Often in the romance industry the focus is either on straight couples or gay men while Storm Moon Press aggressively promotes  and publishes romance and erotic stories about trans* characters, genderqueer characters, lesbian characters, bisexual and pansexual characters and people in polyamorous relationships.

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  1. Where else have you been published besides SMP?

I publish with Less Than Three Press as well. Less Than Three Press is another small press which publishes queer romance and doesn’t just focus on gay men. They are an amazing press which publishes a lot of speculative fiction/romance and aren’t afraid to push boundaries and publish books with fully rounded and accurate trans* and genderqueer characters.

I also have a novel that is being published through Dreamspinner Press which is one of the most prominent publishers of gay romance.

  1. What is your favorite of your own work so far?

Oh, I don’t think I could pick one over all the others, all my stories are special to me for different reasons.

I really loved writing “Business Makes Strange Bedfellows.” It was a huge amount of fun to write. I think because it was one of those stories that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a steampunk romp about a scientist, Gert, who ends up letting loose a hideous tentacle monster onto the streets of New York and has to team up with a vampire private detective to hunt it down. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

I’ve also enjoyed writing and editing Like Fire Through Bone which is scheduled to come out in August or September of this year. It’s set in a fantasy world based in part on the Byzantine, Persian and Ottoman Empires. In it a rash of murders is being committed by a demon and General Markos Özdemir must seek the help of Vasilios, slave and eunuch, who is plagued by prophetic dreams of the murders. Both Markos and Vasilios were so much fun to write about, and the world is a really rich one based on some amazing history and mythology.

  1. What do you hope to add to queer literature?

For literature, in general I hope to write more romance novels, fantasy novels, and science fiction novels with well rounded queer characters whose sexuality is not the only thing that defines them yet isn’t swept under the rug either.

For queer literature I hope to add books that represent fully realized, realistic queer characters but are also fun to read. I strive to be a paper back novelist ::laughs:: I love writing fantasy adventure stories with magic and mythical creatures, fluffy feel good romance novels and space opera. I want to make sure there are amazing queer characters in these kinds of fun and fluffy books too.

  1. What are your future writing ambitions?

I want to continue publishing romance novels and maybe one day branch into more mainstream fantasy and science fiction as well. I would love to work with publishers like Baen or Tor one day, but I’d still want to write books where the main characters were queer, with sex and intimacy as a big part of the story. That’s just how I roll.

  1. You are a historian. What is your favorite time period and why?

I love lots of time periods. Right now I’m studying late 19th early 20th century New York City’s Chinatown. I think I am particularly fond of the late 19th century because it’s close enough to the present that culturally I think we assume not much has changed. Looking at what has changed over the last hundred  and fifty years though can be very telling not just about that time period but ours as well. I love researching and studying the ancient world too though, and continue to do so in my spare time. I’ve taken several classes on the history of modern China and would love the opportunity to do more research into Chinese history as well.

  1. How does your historian background influence you as a writer?

My background in history has a huge affect on my writing. History is often the first place I go for inspiration when world building, as a result most all of the fantasy I’ve written as a quasi-historical feel to it. Heart of Water and Stone, and The Kraken Lord and Eater of the Sun are based on Viking age Iceland, Zi Yong and the Collector of Secrets is based on Song Dynasty China, while Weird Magic and Business Makes Strange Bedfellows both take place in 19th century New York City, all be it with vampires, dragons and alchemists. The worlds in my two upcoming fantasy novels both were inspired by history. Like Fire Through Bone, is based in equal parts the Byzantine, Ottoman and Persian Empires, while Memory of Blood and Lotuses was inspired by the Egyptian New Kingdom.

  1. What advice would you give librarians trying to improve outreach and representation for their LGBT patrons?

I’ve never worked as a librarian but a a someone who regularly patronizes lots of libraries and has my entire life, I’d say just make stuff available and be informed. I write fantasy, science fiction and romance with queer characters because I remember as a teenager that’s what I really wanted to read but could not find. I never felt like I could go to the librarians at my local library to ask for recommendations of great fantasy novels with queer main characters, because a. I didn’t feel like they would know of any and b. I felt like I would be judge. So I guess just being friendly and open and always including books by queer authors about queer characters on book lists and knowing the genre well enough to recommends some great titles is what I would love to see.

  1. What kind of reader should librarians recommend your work too?

I think anyone who enjoys speculative fiction/romance with a strong emphasis on character and world building will enjoy my books. Also readers who are looking for  queer romance or erotic elements in their speculative fiction will enjoy my books as well. Maybe that’s the same thing, now that I think about it.

  1. Is there anything that you would like readers and librarians to know about your work?

I think a lot of people discount books published by small presses because they are small and don’t generally sell books through brick and mortar bookstores and also rely on ebooks sales more than paper books. Lots of amazing stuff is coming out of small presses though. We are now seeing books at the same quality and with the same level of creativeness published by small presses as the major publishing houses. Also I think a lot of people shy away from romance as a genre, but romance has been growing and changing by leaps and bounds with the ebook market. There are now many, many authors, editors and publishers in the genre working to make it a place were sexuality, sex, intimacy and romance can be explore in realists and sensitive ways while still being fun to read. I’m very proud to be part of this new turn in both the small press and romance industry.

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