Maria Isabel Pita is already a literary force to be reckoned with. With two highly successful memoirs, seven novels, and a collection of short stories under her belt, she's one of the premier names in erotica writing today. But don't let the genre term of erotica fool you. Pita's writing is elegant and lyric she seems to effortlessly bridge the gap between sex and literature. Her memoirs, The Story of M and its follow up, Beauty and Submission vividly detail her life as a love slave. And that's literal. M is the story of her meeting and falling in love and being initiated as her master's slave. Sometimes shocking, but always thoughtful, M and Beauty and Submission give a rare glimpse inside not only the BDSM lifestyle, but also inside the mind and heart of a woman who lives it. Her novels range from romantic (Recipe for Romance, Fabric of Love) to more traditional BDSM (Eternal Bondage, To Her Master Born) but all carry the Pita stamp where love and submission become intertwined and where her prose and passion shines. She's been featured in some of the premier anthologies (Hot Women's Erotica) and has recently branched into the online world with her first e-published novel, Whips & Whispers. In her own collection of shorts, Guilty Pleasures, Maria truly shines. It's a complex and varied collection that ranges in time and settings from ancient Egypt to the near-future. All of the worlds are beautifully rendered, and the tone and feel of each story is unique. But Pita's writing pulls all together into a cohesive, stunning collection.
1) Who are some of your favorite writers, and how do you think they've influenced you?
Joan Grant is my all-time favorite writer. She wrote a series of “Far Memory” books which for her were memories of past lives, but whether you believe that or not, when you read her books you really feel you’re somewhere else in time and space and her writing is beautiful. I hate historical fiction where the characters just transport their modern brains and feelings into a bygone culture, which misses the point entirely. Working on “Guilty Pleasures” I “felt” the time and place I wanted to write about and then just started talking into my digital micro-recorder, and I swear I don’t know where some of that stuff came from!
Barbara Michaels & Ellis Peters are also two of my favorite writers, which might explain the strong element of romantic suspense in my work. I love mystery, and I guess I substituted sex for murder as the heart of the plot.
2) What do you think is your greatest strength or asset in your writing? Your biggest weakness or flaw?
I really don’t know if I can look at my writing so objectively, that’s just how it comes out, but I think my greatest asset is the poetry of my prose, all the metaphors through which I express thoughts and feelings, which IMO reveal how the human soul is reflected in everything because it is everything, but I’ll stop there; I have a very metaphysical mind. My weaknesses were once quite great. At first my novels were full of “pet words” I used over and over again, like “mystery”, but as I began to define what I meant by that, I avoided pet words and clichés more and more to the point where I have to say I’m pretty damn happy with my writing right now. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am now.
3) You've written novels, short stories, and memoirs. Which form do you enjoy the most? Do you ever feel more freedom in writing fiction as opposed to the memoirs? Do you think the brevity of the short story is more confining and harder than a novel, or is it more difficult to come up with and sustain the longer plot?
The memoirs were extremely painful to write because I was dredging up everything and being painfully honest about it and, frankly, I’d be happy never to write another memoir! For one thing, it disturbs me to have times in my life “set in stone” so to speak which gives the wrong impression, because whereas everything I expressed in those memoirs is true, life is change and in many ways I like to think I’ve continued growing and developing. I much prefer writing fiction. I think it’s more difficult to write a good story than a novel, but I like the fact that in a story you can be totally intense and not worry about filling the length out with dialogue and perhaps unnecessary scenes, yet I also love the development possible in novels and how you can sustain one suspenseful tale, whereas sometimes a story just teases you by making you want more.
4) In your memoirs, you're quite honest and forthcoming about the conflicts and struggles you've felt when it comes to certain aspects of submission in your relationship, and in much of your fiction we see the conflict of characters struggling with their own desires. Do you wrestle with these same conflicting feelings while writing your novels and stories? In other words, as an artist, do you ever struggle between writing what you want and what you feel would make a better narrative and better serve the reader?
No, I just can’t separate what I want and feel from the narrative because what I’m experiencing as I write is the whole point, not what anyone else thinks. When I write fiction, I start with the “seed” of a feeling, a desire, an image, and I just start writing without any idea what’s going to happen; I never have a fully developed outline, I’m just as intrigued and surprised as I want my readers to be by what happens to my character, which makes writing a lot of fun! After one scene ends I see an image like the frame of a movie and I “step into it” into the next scene, and the book unfolds as naturally as a seed germinating and sprouting and ending up as a tree.
5) In your short story collection, you criss-cross many "genres", even though overall it's primarily about erotic love. Do you ever feel like you have an obligation to approach these more erotic subjects, or do you always write solely to please yourself? Do you think this broadens your appeal, or do you think it could possibly harm your future "marketability"? Or do you not really care and you write it cause it suits you at the time?
That’s a lot of questions, but I don’t feel I have an obligation to do anything, so I guess that yes, I write to please myself, because I’m a very demanding reader and if I’m pleased, I’m pretty sure other people will be, too. If I’m not thrilled and engrossed and consumed while I’m writing something, I don’t think it would be worth anyone’s time to read it. As far as marketability goes, writing erotica definitely harms my ability to be taken seriously as a writer by mainstream literary critics, but I feel I have something important to say about our sexuality, which is a mystery still very much to be fathomed and properly understood and lived, IMO.
6) Stock question: Dinner with anyone, dead or alive. Who is it?
There are many people, mostly dead, some alive, I would love to have over for dinner. Joan Grant and Deepak Chopra would be a great combo! (LOL).
7) One CD, one book, one DVD and a desert island. What book, CD, and DVD do you take?
The CD would have to be Curve’s Greatest Hits, the DVD Excalibur, and the book Eyes of Horus, by Joan Grant.
8) When did you first get the feeling not that you wanted to write, but that you could be so successful at it? What are you working on now?
I’ve been writing since someone handed me a crayon! There was no doubt that someday, one day, I would be published because when that’s all you really passionately want to do in life, the odds are in your favor, even so, it took me years and years to get where I am, often with very little encouragement from anyone, but at least my family – my mother and brother are both poets – understood, even though they are rather shocked by my books! (LOL)
9) Suppose you can't have both: Would you rather have respect from your peers and critical acclaim (but not making cash from writing), or would you rather be a bestselling author with the fat coin?
Respect and critical acclaim. I think how I feel about writing makes that obvious.