Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I'm a lover of anything overtly human. Engaging conversation, learning, good food, good wine, high thread-counts, socializing, and living life to the fullest, in general. I'm also stubborn as hell, making me a pretty stereotypical Taurus. I do like to plan, plot, and squirrel away, so I guess that's the practical side of my sign-if you're into that sort of thing..
My love of good wine took me all the way to the classroom, where I studied and earned certifications to be a sommelier, with a heavy focus on Ontario wines. Not a terribly titillating aspect of my life, but one of which I'm extremely proud. Since I always wanted to study in the food and wine industry, attending culinary school in my wheelchair would've been awkward, so I took the cushier option.
As well as a formally-trained wine geek, I am a professional Sexuality Coach. That just means I advise individuals and couples how to improve their sex lives, get in touch with their fantasies, and to embrace their inner desires. After independently studying everything from fetishes to gender dysphoria, I can always maintain an open mind, so long as the proclivities fall within the boundaries of Safe, Sane, and Consensual. I say those words so often, I think they're my mantra!
Most people know I'm fierce fan of ice hockey. My perfect Saturday night means cheering on my favourite teams with my husband and friends well into the wee hours.
When I'm not at a hockey game or a wine tasting, I'm usually found at the library indulging my addiction, on a club dance floor showing off my wheelies, or stalking a craft store's yarn aisle. My great-grandmother taught me how to knit, sew, do embroidery and needlepoint, and crochet, and even though she passed away when I was 17, I still look to those skills when I need to relax and centre myself. Doing such intricate handwork is very rewarding, and is my way of meditating. For larger projects, I love knitting warm, cozy blankets for animal shelters and toques and scarves to distribute to the homeless. It's a win-win situation: I get the joy and relaxation of knitting, then the warmth is spread around!
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
I suppose in some ways, all of my characters have a little of me in them, yet all really are completely separate. There are two characters that come to mind to answer that, but for different reasons. My first answer is Max, from my (yet to be released) erotic novel, Good with Change. I look up to him in many ways: for his strength, intelligence, his easy manner, for finding himself and having the courage to make it a reality, then even managing to get the girl in the end. He's just a loveable kind of character. I identify most, however, with Stephanie, one of the main characters in "Lucky Boy," from my short story collection, Hat Trick. She likes people for who they are, not what's on the outside. When she figures out Alex's secret, she doesn't for a moment let that stop her from following her heart. I respect that.
Who or what influences you when you write?
I usually mix one part of my own Fantasies and one heaping serving of my Unbidden Erotic Dreams, add a dash of Zany Discussions with Friends, an Occasional Creative Bet, and shake well to combine. Pour over ice and enjoy!
What do you do for inspiration?
Music never fails to help me set the mood. For more lighthearted scenes, I'll listen to something upbeat, jovial, and maybe even humourous. For serious moments, I tone it down, and by the time I get to the juicy parts, the jazz is playing, the candles are lit, and the room is filled with warm, tantalizing aromas. I certainly can't seduce a character without first seducing myself.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
I love a time frame! Give me a deadline, let me procrastinate, wait till the last minute, and watch the adjectives fly. I love working within time limits; I think in many ways, it forces me to concentrate and distill my creativity.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
When I was younger, I began by submitting poetry with the support of my family. It ended up everywhere: books, magazines, local publications, you name it. I stopped writing for a time under the pressures of university, but in 2001, I had a really sexy dream. The next morning, I woke up, typed it up into a story, and read it for my own pleasure. My (now) husband loved the story, and with his unstinting support (also known as prodding), I submitted it to the Best Lesbian Erotica series. It was accepted and printed in the anthology for 2002. I felt an exhilaration that I hadn't felt in years, so I haven't looked back since. I'm officially hooked.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
The first erotic story I had published was, "Full Service," in Best Lesbian Erotica 2002. I honestly don't remember which was my first published poem, but I think it was in 1995, when I was fifteen.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Absolutely! I have another short story collection coming out in Winter 2008, also from Phaze, entitled Flexible Sexual. The content really lives up to the name, taking the reader on a wild ride through sexuality: a lesbian gypsy, group sex involving scones, a little bondage with a female to male transsexual, a straight guy at a coffee shop and his (new) favourite customer, and several others. It definitely isn't something for the 100% vanilla, but every story has defined characters and enough buildup to please almost any persuasion. It really is all about being flexible...
What would you like to tell your readers?
I would love the opportunity to thank all the people that read my work with an open mind. I understand it can be a bit hard to absorb and process so many different variations on sexuality, but when readers can look past that to just enjoy the stories, that's all I can ask. My main objective is to inspire creative, sexy thoughts, so even if you don't normally find gender-bending hot, or if gay truckers don't usually do it for you, or even if you're "not into" heterosexual sex, no matter what your sexual orientation, challenge yourself. Just open up and let the erotica take you somewhere new and exciting. In the world of our fantasies, anything is possible!
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group? There is nothing I love more than hearing from readers! Whether it's an email filled with praise, or a Myspace message telling me off, no author knows where to go with his or her writing without feedback. My website can be found at www.ajbray.com, and I also have a Myspace (www.myspace.com/ajbraywrites) where everyone is welcomed to message me, add me, or anything they desire. On my site, readers can sign up for the newsletter for updates and check out my blog (blog.ajbray.com). As you can tell, getting in touch and hearing from readers is one of the most important things in my world!
Thank you for this opportunity!
Interviewed by Tammie King