Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Setting the Mood

My guest today is Dana Fredsti, author of MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon. Dana also writes erotica under the nom de plume Inara LaVey. Her latest release is Ripping the Bodice. Dana is a fascinating woman who has worn many professional hats in her career, but today she talks about the contrast of writing before being published and what it's like to write under contract.

When I write, I like to set the stage. Kind of like a woman preparing for what she hopes will be a super romantic date. You know, candles, the right music, the perfect food, and no distractions. Creating an atmosphere conducive to a particular outcome.

When I lived in Glendale (part of Los Angeles, near Griffith Park and the L.A. Zoo), we had a fireplace in the house so on days that were chilly enough (we don't really do 'cold' in the majority of Southern California); I'd build a fire. I confess to using a lot of non-environmentally, unfriendly faux fire logs back in the day. I’d draw the curtains to shut out the noise of the neighborhood (we lived on a busy corner, complete with bus stop and the only roundabout in Glendale), light some candles, and settle in on the couch with my computer and whatever music best suited the mood of my current project. The cats would curl up the couch next to me or in front of the fireplace and I'd write for a couple of hours. It didn't always insure a productive writing session, but it generally helped keep distractions to a minimum. The fact I worked at home doing freelance transcription also helped; I could pick and choose my writing schedule.

Then I moved to San Francisco and I lost the fireplace, but I gained a four-block walk to the beach, a quiet neighborhood and several cats. Easy access for a beach stroll and the lack of shrill, obnoxious teenagers improved the ambiance for writing. The cats? Not so much. Nothing says 'distraction' like a thundering herd of felines racing through the house, using one's lap and laptop as part of the racetrack. And I can light all the candles (and matches) I want, but when you're fostering kittens during the phase of weaning them from kitten kibble to adult food...there aren't enough matches in the world to mask the gaseous warfare that ensues.

Now if I'm working on one of my hard-boiled cozy mysteries, kitty poots can inspire such lines as 'he hung around like a fart in a phone booth.' But when working on erotic romance for Ravenous...not so much inspiration as watching my muse hightail it out of the room with a promise to come back when I've bought her a gas mask.

I also gained a full time job; including a 40-minute commute each way. The necessity of paying bills not yet covered by my writing income has severely cut into my creative schedule. However, over the last year and a half, I've been published three times. One traditionally published mystery novel, and one short story and novel for Ravenous Romance, an erotic romance e-publisher, co-written a non-fiction book about what women really want in bed (sleep!) with my childhood pal Cynthia Gentry and have a contract for seven more books with Ravenous.

I don't have time to create the perfect ambiance for my writing now; I get home from work, toss down some dinner, park in my rocking chair, and fend off felines while working for a couple of hours. Sometimes I work with one or two cats draped on the top of my arms, my hands and laptop keyboard barely visible below the furry bodies.

Weekends are better: I get up and go for a long walk on the beach (Must. Collect. More. BEACH GLASS!), come home and putter for an hour or so, and then settle in around noon to write for most, if not all of the afternoon and evening. Some days I listen to music. Other times I have a movie playing quietly in the background. Something about bad Sci-Fi original movie about giant snakes/dragons/alligators/spiders and zombie movies just fires the creative juices. I think it best not to analyze why this helps me write erotica. Some things are better left to the mystery of the muses, doncha think?

What does this all mean? I'm not entirely sure, but it seems the less time I spend trying to set the perfect mood for my writing, the more time I spend actually doing the work.

And I finally understand what people mean when they say 'writers write.' It still makes me want to smack 'em, mind you.... but at least it makes sense now!
Dana has been involved in the entertainment world for many years as an actress in film and theatre. She has worn the hat of actress, producer, and writer much of that time.

Dana's love of all things feline has involved her in volunteer work with both large exotic cats with Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center, and ongoing urban feline rescue. She has been writer and associate producer of several award winning documentaries on the subject.

Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon. She is at work on the second in the series, Murder for Hire: The Big Snooze. Writing as Inara LaVey, she has a short story, Succubusted, and a novel, Ripping the Bodice, and is currently working on Champagne with Ravenous Romance, a new e-book site focused on erotic romance.

MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon is available through all fine bookstores in the US and Uk, on-line through, and other internet sites. Also available direct from the publisher at