8 Questions with Lexi Maxxwell

Lexi

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I keep a low profile on purpose (my mom and dad don’t know about “Lexi” and wouldn’t approve!), so I’ll have to answer this kinda sideways.

Let’s just say that I’m a girl who’s on the youngish side (but not as young as I used to be) who likes to have fun and laugh a lot, but that I’m not in “Lexi mode” all the time. Maybe that’s actually the best way to begin, now that I think about it … even before I joined up with you guys, Lexi was a character. She was me and not me.

In other words I can be Lexi, but she’s just a part of who I am everyday. I’m also a mom, a friend, a daughter, and a good-hearted country girl. I’d hate it if people thought I was just a manic sex fiend all the time. :)

When did you decide to become a writer, and why?

I grew up being told that what I felt inside contained a lot of wrong (and came with a lot of shame), so I took my frustrations out by telling stories very early. One day, when I was old enough to be able to actually tell a story rather than just salivate onto a page, I decided to try publishing some of my stories, so I did. Turns out people liked reading them, and I had this huge surge almost right off the bat.

That was great, but what shocked me most (and really what keeps me writing) was the way people responded. I got all these emails (from women, mostly) saying that something I’d written (as stupid as some of those stories were) had helped them through shame like I used to feel. People said that embracing their sexual selves helped save their marriages, but not because they suddenly started giving blowjobs in phone booths or something. It was just that they became more confident, and were able to be more of who they’d always been … but somehow I’d given them permission to be that even more, or at least accept it. Feeling I’d touched lives was a kick, and drives me every day.

What is your writing routine like? (include tools used, space you work at, music you listen to, anything else which is part of your routine, time you spend writing, etc.)

I’m kinda on and off right now. Actually, when Dave sent me this, I almost didn’t want to answer it because I haven’t been writing! I had an ad copy job before stuff got going for my books and I’ve taken a bit of it back up mainly because I need to do this balancing act where I pretend to be a “good girl” for my family. It’s like money laundering, but it’s “job laundering.”

I hide Lexi, so I need some way to show I’m making income. (Note: this isn’t a tragedy or anything. I don’t feel bad about it and am not being forced or shamed into it. My folks are getting older and I love them and just want to take care of them. Right now, dealing with “Lexi” is something I’d rather not ask them to do.)

When I am writing, I do most of my writing first thing in the morning, like Sean and Johnny. (Does Dave count? I know he writes after he gets up, but that’s at like 2pm, right?) My setup is nothing fancy. I have this little desk in my apartment and that’s where I stick my laptop. I use Scrivener, like the guys, but really have nothing else going. I’m really erratic and go through writing spurts, on and off, no decent schedule to speak of. My daughter is partly to blame for that.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

To write the truth. I think Stephen King said it in On Writing (OMG I’m such a groupie!), but I’ve heard others say it too. Basically, I just write the stories that come into my head. For some reason, those stories tend to be juicy in parts. But I used to think about what “should” be done, and now I just tell the fucking truth about what’s coming to me.

It’s made all the difference, and so many readers say it’s made a difference for them, too, because those truths are theirs as well. My saying them gives those people permission to say them too. Or at least to think them without feeling bad about it.

If you could back in time to when you first started and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? We’re assuming that this advice wouldn’t derail the learning process or take away from your current success, but rather help you find success sooner.

See the question above. “Just tell the truth, Lexi. Publicly, even under your pen name. It will feel good and people will respond to it.” That would have been so much easier if I’d learned it earlier in my life.

Do you find that people take smutty stories less seriously? How do you balance smut and character-driven story and demand respect for your more serious books?

Sigh. Yes, definitely, they take them less seriously. It kinda sucks. It’s one of the reasons I’m so 100% behind what you guys want to do with my rebranding — something I know all too well from my hardcore copywriting days. Writing so-called “smut for smart people” works on one hand, and it gives people the permission to be themselves I mentioned above. But on the other hand, it makes a ton of people rule my books out IMMEDIATELY, without so much as reading the descriptions.

People are weird about sex. We have to position the books as they are now: story first, sex as dirty little bonuses.

Balancing requires telling the truth. I have this whole thing about how REMOVING sex from stories is actually the lie most writers commit. I don’t feel like this is my problem, though I’m the one who has to contend with it. You know what, world? If you tell Sense and Sensibility or Les Misérables honestly, both of those stories would be brimming with sex. Do we really think Jean Valjean wasn’t prowling the city looking to score some ass in his off-screen time? Please.

So we just do what we can, playing the reframing game. We’re going to try to classify my books as the other genres they are (time travel, sci-fi) rather than the truth-telling stuff that makes people call them “erotica.” Let’s see how a mental reframe works out.

Marketing erotica is harder than ever with last year’s online booksellers restricting visibility. How do you get around these limitations and find your audience?

cover-Lexi-temptation-in-time-finalFan by fan. Like I said, my stuff is no longer truly erotica, so we’re going to try and frame it as such and leave the censored ghetto behind. There are plenty of mainstream books out there with scenes as graphic as mine, but because the author doesn’t start by telling the reader (with the title, cover, and description), “Hey, this is a raunchy tale to get your juices flowing,” nobody goes in thinking about it that way. So we’re going to do that.

Take A Temptation in Time, which used to be Fate. Yes, there are a few very graphic scenes in that series, but only a few. The story is mostly about regret and the malleability (or lack thereof) of time and fate. So if we frame it as such, hopefully that will help.

Do you have plans to write in other genres? If so, which ones? And will you use your Lexi name or another?

LOL! Do you really think I’m not worming my way into Sean, Dave, and Johnny’s heads? We’ve discussed the references to “Lexi type stuff” that they’ve already included in their books. Hell, I’m practically writing across S&S in spirit as it is. :)

More seriously, I can’t say. For now I’m happy where I am, but if I decide to write a dry western with no sexuality in it at all, it’s unlikely I’d do so as Lexi.

What do you most want to be remembered for/as?

As a storyteller, just like you guys said. It actually makes me cringe these days to hear you guys refer to me as an “erotica author,” because while that’s technically true in a merely technical way, I also really feel like it’s stuffing me in a box. So little of my work today is truly erotica. It’s stories in which I didn’t flinch back when the characters started getting amorous.

So maybe that’s it: Maybe I’d like to be remembered as a girl who told the truth, and maybe helped to empower some others — ashamed of their own truths — by doing it.

Comments

  1. Such a brilliant 8 Questions! Love it! 😀

  2. Desiree Moodie says:

    “Do we really think Jean Valjean wasn’t prowling the city looking to score some ass in his off-screen time? Please.”

    Love this. Especially when visualizing Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean!

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