Interview with Sessha Batto

I am very pleased today to welcome Sessha Batto, writer of homoerotic literature, to my blog.

Welcome, Sessha. Tell us about your new novel, Shinobi.

At it’s heart, Shinobi is the story of Takahashi Yoshi, a modern day ninja struggling to overcome years of sexual abuse in the course of his duties. It explores the complexities of duty, honor, and trust in light of such abuse and whether or not a heart so hardened can truly learn to love. His counterpart, Sasaki Makoto, has spent his career in torture and interrogation, exploring not only the dark secrets of his clan’s enemies, but also the darkness in his own heart.

I’m intrigued: what is Literary Anime?

Literary anime is a term I coined to try and convey the stylized vision of the world I was trying to create. Just as anime uses certain stylized visual conventions I tried to create a similar stylization through language.

When and why did you become interested in writing homo eroticism?

I actually first came across homoerotic fiction by accident while I was searching for some companion stories for my son to read based on his favorite television series . . . needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t just turn him loose on the internet! While I was initially surprised by the pairing, as I read more and more I found the dynamics of male/male couples to be much more intriguing than the usual heterosexual pairings. The exchange of power is much more fluid, and control can shift in an instant and in the unlikeliest ways. There is also something very hot about two men being vulnerable with each other. All of these make writing homoerotic fiction much more interesting than working with a more traditional male/female pairing. I also must admit that, as a decidedly heterosexual woman, female heroines in romance leave me flatter than flat – I could not have less interest in voluptuous heaving bosoms, give me more hot men instead!!

What research did you do into the complicated world of Japanese society, and indeed, into homoeroticism?

Japanese society, culture and language have been an interest of mine for most of my life. The hard part is not incorporating it but, rather, doing so in a way that remains accessible for people not familiar with the culture. The homoerotic aspect is not much different from writing heterosexual erotica – the plumbing is a bit different, but the underlying emotional connection (or lack thereof) is the same. Add a few gay friends with a propensity for oversharing and voila!

How would you describe your fan base/ readership? Exclusively gay men or do your books have a wider audience?

My audience is mainly women (about 80%) which makes sense as they like hot men (and if one is hot, two together is even hotter) and they enjoy the romance aspect, about 15% gay men (although those numbers are growing) and about 5% brave heterosexual men (although I admit a lot of them suggest I rewrite the stories without the sex!)

What sort of feedback do you get about your books?

My writing is dark, the road for my couples is always a rocky one because, in my opinion, real life is rarely the fairytale perfection so many romances put forward. The comments I receive usually focus on my believable characters and the way I handle the hurt/comfort – drawing vulnerability out of very masculine men without making them weak or womanly.

Where are your books available?

At the moment the only things available are some short works – Wintersong is part of Dancing in the Dark: An Anthology of Erotica, although it is the only homoerotic piece in the collection. Amadan na Briona is part of Eightcuts Gallery Press’s Once Upon A Time in a Gallery exhibit http://eightcuts.com/eight-cuts-gallery/once-upon-a-time-in-a-gallery/mirror-mirror/. Shinobi will be out this summer as an e-book and early this fall as two volumes in print. My first book, Strength of Will, will be re-released later this summer in both print and e-book formats. I also have a piece, The Poetry Game, in the upcoming New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan anthology for tsunami relief.

What other books or projects are you working on?

I’m currently splitting my time between two projects – In the Desert of the Porcupines, which is a very dark novella about a D/s relationship and Onna Bugeisha which is set in 14th century Japan and draws parallels between the three main characters (two men and a woman) and the Japanese mythology of Amaterasu, Susanoo and Tsukuyomi.

Thank you Sessha, the best of luck with your writing. I’m sure I shall read some of your books in future.
Shinobi is available from PfoxChase publishers

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14 thoughts on “Interview with Sessha Batto

  1. I read this interview while travelling through the vast rural areas of the former Soviet Union – finding a reference to this remarkable woman made my day! Sessha is an amazing woman, managing the difficult balance between being a prolific and accomplished writer and being a constant source of encouragement towards fellow writers. I'd love to meet her, who knows, perhaps one day…? I'm firmly in the 5% camp, resolutely heterosexual yet able to appreciate the depth of characterisation in Sessha's work, regardless of the male/male nature of the subject matter. Her research is formidable and her deep love for the culture and history of Japan shines out from every line. I'm so pleased to see one of my favourite writers singled out and brought to a wider audience – great choice of 'subject,' Catherine.

  2. Great choice of interviewee, Catherine. Sessha is one of my favourite writers; possessing great ability herself, yet always available to support fellow writers. As for the content, packed with fascinating and well-researched details of the history and culture of Japan, I'm firmly in the 5% camp, a heterosexual male. Despite this handicap (!) I can appreciate the writer's talent and the depth of characterisation behind these tales of male/male relationships.I came across this interview while travelling through the vast realm of the former Soviet Union, a day spent travelling through fields of cabbages, and it made my day!

  3. I've only read (and enjoyed) short pieces by Sessha so far but the approach to her subjects and to the writing process which she articulates here make me even more eager to get into a longer piece. An excellent and unashamedly intelligent interview. Very refreshing.

  4. Wonderful and honest interview. Good choice. Sessha is one of the people I really admire for her energy and being a great person in general. She works hard and helps everyone around her. She's also a very accomplished writer who knows how to create worlds and scenes. I'm so chuffed that she's finally being published with Shinobi and I wish her all the best of luck and success with it.Though I admit I'm surprised about the 80% women. I really thought it's mainly gays who'd read her books.

  5. Great stuff, Catherine. Sessha is a 24-carat legend. Sessha, if you're reading this get on withe Porcupines!! I've been looking forward to it since you first mentioned it.I'm always intrigued why people would assume homoerotic stories are primarily read by gay men when no one assumes lpesbian stories are primarily read by gay women. I was at a conference last year where someone gave a paper on the demographics of yaoi readers in China, and there were gasps when she showed a pie chart demonstrating that most readers are straight women. It seems there are some stereotypes about female sexuality that obstinately persist…

  6. Thanks for all the comments.You exactly hit the nail on the head Dan Holloway. Why is it okay and encouraged for straight men to enjoy lesbian scenes, but still a niche/ unacceptable for straight women to do the same with gay male scenes?I'd comment more but got a family situation atm.

  7. Fabulous interview! Sessha is a brilliant, talented writer who has taken yaoi to a whole new level. She's also a wonderful, supportive friend and I'm so pleased for her.Not a bit surprised that the readership is 80% women. Most of my J rock and anime loving friends read yaoi, quite a few write their own.

  8. Sessha explained it very well. Homoerotica really is something that is taking off, fueled by the interest of normal heterosexual women. On the face of it, it makes no sense, but Sessha shows how it's perfectly logical.

  9. Some people have had trouble leaving a comment, so here's what they tried to say:From R. R. Jones (Reggie):What I wanted to write was, "Wow, what an imagination! I thought I was a bit out there but Sessha's really breaking the caste !! I'd be fibbing if I wrote that I'll be buying her books; I'm afraid I'm far too much of a social dinosaur to be comfortable with men making out.However, I will write that I am in awe of her creative drive and that the concept of Literary Anime has really fired my mind up.Great interview and thank you both.From K J Rigby (Kate):I found the interview fascinating and Sessha is a great writer and very supportive to her fellow writers. She's also an extremely talented artist. I've written about gay men myself and their relationships or straight men having sex with each other. And yesterday, without knowing it, I voted for Sessha's Paragraph of Power! I didn't know it because they're all anonymous of course.

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