While attending seminary in Kentucky, Tiffany Reisz began writing fiction, but her interests were far from those of a typical theology student—Reisz specializes in BDSM–filled erotica. After deciding to pursue books full-time, Harlequin published Reisz’s eight-part Original Sinners series to great success. With more recent novels, Reisz has branched out into the “women’s fiction” and Southern gothic genres, but to satisfy her fans’ craving for kink, Reisz created 8th Circle Press with her husband, bestselling author Andrew Shaffer. She now releases titillating stories from the Sinners world on her own, including The Red, a novel about a woman who sells herself to save her art gallery. Originally intended for die-hard fans only, The Red ended up a surprise self-published success and topped multiple best-of-romance lists for 2017.
When did you first start writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I knew how to write. I wrote poetry in the first grade. I know this for a fact because I won a blue ribbon for my poetry at the school’s art fair that year. I only remember one line from the poem, but it’s not bad for a 6-year-old kid: “I see the moon and the moon sees me.”
How has religion impacted your books?
Religion shows up in all my books in one way or another. We all wrestle with those big questions, even as we come to different conclusions. I love writing characters who are engaged in that questioning. And when you have a character who is deeply religious, for example, but also sexually active, that challenges readers, which is something I love to do.
What do you think makes BDSM a compelling subject?
Kink is still taboo whether we want to admit it or not. Kink challenges our notions of right and wrong and consent. It’s consensual, yes, but for a lot of people, it’s still very hard to swallow that it’s OK.
How does “women’s fiction” differ from “romance” or “erotica” for you?
Romance has to have a romance (obviously) and a happy ending for the lead characters. Erotica is a sex-driven story. No happy ending required. Women’s fiction is much more amorphous. Mainly it’s the story of a woman written for a mostly female readership with women-specific plots. In The Lucky Ones, our lonely heroine is trying to find a family after a sudden breakup.
What have been some challenges in running your own press?
You really do have to do everything yourself. You want bookmarks and swag? Design them yourself. Pay for them yourself. Want your book formatted for Kindle, Nook, PDF, Kobo? Gotta buy the software and learn how to do it right. Luckily, my husband does all of that for me…it’s not too different from traditional publishing except I’m married to my webmaster/cover designer/e-book formatter/et cetera.
What do you think helped earn The Red so much recognition?
People were reading it out of sheer morbid curiosity. They wanted to know what this insane/creepy/weird/deranged porno was all about. When we put it on sale for 99 cents through Book Bub, a lot of readers who’d been on the fence about buying it finally took the plunge, and the book ended up on the USA Today bestseller list.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m doing final edits on The Rose, which is the next book in The Red universe. In The Red, the sex scenes were based on famous works of fine art. In The Rose, the love scenes are erotic reimaginings of Greek myths. I mean, have you read the Greek myths? Those old gods were some kinky mofos, bless their hearts and other throbbing body parts.
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator based in Paris.