Breaking Gender Stereotypes in the Romance Genre: An Interview with Indie Author Pixie Stormcrow

Pixie Stormcrow is one of my favorite erotic romance writers. She publishes books on wattpad and amazon (as well as other online retailers). I’ve read The Will to Serve and Bound by Red. Both were so innovative and like nothing I’ve seen before in the erotica genre. I’m so thrilled Pixie agreed to let me interview her!

And I preordered my copy of “The Words to Bind” today. I’ll be waiting with baited breath for May 26th.

Until then, we have Pixie herself to tell us more about her writing process and the way she’s trying to shake up the romance genre!

I’m so excited to have you on my blog! Would you mind introducing yourself to my readers? How would you describe yourself and your books?

Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honour.

I’m a new-ish paranormal and contemporary erotic romance writer with a focus on relationships containing power dynamics of some sorts. I like challenging the genre’s tropes, to explore different kinds of relationships and issues surrounding those relationships. I try to be socially conscious when I write, that is I think about what are healthy and unhealthy dynamics and how they can both help and hinder my characters’ growth.

Beyond that, I’m a nerd with a background in computer science and I’m a bit of a geek culture junkie. Right now, writing consumes most of my free time but I also enjoy cooking and baking a lot.

That’s what I enjoy most about your books. They really do break down so many tropes of the genre. Like in “The Will to Serve” the male lead is so gentle and kind and he loves to bake! I love how you use your erotica to explore stuff like gender norms and genre tropes. You also seem to go out of your way to make healthy communication, boundaries, and consent an important part of the story. 

What inspires you to make social commentary and genre deconstruction a part of your work?

Do you have a background in gender studies, or does it stem more from a frustration with the genre? Also would you consider yourself a feminist, egalitarian, or neither? 

I’d really like to hear more about what prompts you to write the way you do! I’ve never seen anything like it before! Erotica with a purpose. I’ve never seen an erotica author take their craft so seriously and consider the effect their work may have πŸ™‚

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and loved ones that are all socially conscious, “woke”, if you will, and really well versed in everything from gender to class to race politics. I live in diversity and it has enriched my life so incredibly much. All of this adds to being more aware than most of these issues and also adds in a good dose of conscience. If I put something out there without at least trying to tackle these issues, I don’t think I can look myself in the mirror nor my friends and family in the eye.

I don’t really think if myself as an erotica author.Β Yes, there’s a lot of sex in my stories but they are parts of character and relationship development. Sexual orientation are part of my characters’ identities. I didn’t grow up in a sex-positive environment, but I have learned since that sex is part of life and love. (One of the most fun parts.) You can talk sex without losing or giving up other parts of life. I want to show that in my stories.

If I had to pick, I would say I’m somewhere between third and fourth wave feminism, but I’m conservative in my approaches. I believe in equal opportunities. I believe in mentoring young girls in STEM, but I also believe that if a woman choose to be a stay-at-home mom, I have the world of respect for. (Dear gods do I have respect for them. They don’t have a full time job. They are at least working 2 full-time jobs at once ). I don’t believe in hiring practices that single out and only hand the opportunity to women but I do believe in ensuring that every interview panel for a job would have at least one female interviewer on it to balance out biases. I can go on but you see where I’m going with this.

I guess in the end, like I mentioned before, it’s about waking up in the morning and being able to look myself in the mirror. And when my friends and family tell me that they are proud of me for what I do, that just makes it even better.

Very cool. It sounds like you focus a lot on making your identity politics part of your work. I think identity politics, when done right, can be incredibly important and impactful. 

That’s interesting that you don’t think of yourself as an erotica author. I suppose your works would lean a little more towards erotic romance. It definitely is more character-driven than any erotica I’ve ever read, so I can see why you feel the label doesn’t fit you. 

And your style of feminism is definitely one I can get behind. It’s always a good thing to open doors for different groups of people and make sure both girls and boys know that they can go into any field they want to. 

What I’d love to tell my readers a little more about is the femdom story we started talking about on wattpad. It looks like you started out writing bdsm with male doms and female subs as the main characters, but now you’re branching out into lesbian stories, and one story with a male sub who is in the military. 

I think it’s so cool you’re using your stories to deconstruct the concept of masculinity. What can you tell us about that story and what inspired you to write it? 

I think I focus on the development of an individual identity rather than the politics of it itself but yes, identity politics within a BDSM community is fascinating in itself, as there is a definite us vs them mentality through this shared secretΒ  of kinks.

Being a CIS gendered, heterosexual (mostly) female, I started with what I knew best, but as I got more experienced in writing, I wanted to own up to the diversity I try to promote. Each story pushes me a bit more outside my comfort zone and I wanted to keep it that way.Β 

The Heart to Lead is very near and dear to my heart. When I wrote The Words to Bind and The Will to Serve, Lani was a fan favourite and after the events of The Words, which I won’t spoil, I always knew she had her own story to tell. Nathan, her sub, was a brief plot device in The Will, but it made sense to tell their relationship which was glossed over in The Will.

I think toxic masculinity is not discussed enough. We talk a lot about raising strong girls, but there is less talk about raising a feminist boy. I have a little boy of my own and when I think about the kinds of challenges he has already faced (boys will be boys as an excuse for not-okay behaviour) to the ones he will face, I wanted to address those in my books, because we as a society have to start doing better for our boys too. (Not that I want him to grow up to read my books. Dear Gods, please don’t let my kids read my books when they are older.)

The story itself will pick up close to the latter half of The Will, told from Lani’s and Nathan’s perspectives. I don’t want to spoil the other books but both Lani and Nathan have their own challenges to tackle and pasts to confront before they are ready to commit to each other. What I will say is that I love Nathan’s submission without compromising his masculinity and it’s a wonderful thing that someone can be both.

Identity politics is just a term for feminism, black lives matter, LGBTQ+ activism, intersectionality, or anything else surrounding gender, race, or sexuality. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean legislation or lobbying or affiliation with any particular political ideology (although most forms of identity politics are left-leaning, but they don’t necessarily have to be; Blaire White is a trans-woman and trans/LBGT+-activist who is outspokenly conservative and right-wing).Β Sorry, just wanted to clear up that I wasn’t saying I think there’s anything explicitly political about your work.Β 

“The Will to Serve” is one of my favorite books of yours. I can’t wait to read more of Lani and Nathan’s story! 

How do you feel about the “Own Voices” argument that writers should not write outside of their own identity? That is, straight people shouldn’t write gay characters, white people shouldn’t write black characters, etc.Β 

The argument is that people from privileged groups “colonize” the stories of marginalized people when they try to tell their stories. They’re also taking up space that a marginalized writer could have. 

Full disclosure, I’m a tad more conservative than you (for example, I’m not a feminist). But that’s really why I’m curious how you feel about Own Voices. As a highly progressive person who cares about diversity in your stories, how do you feel about those that say people should not write characters that don’t share their identity? 

Thanks for the clarification. Yeah by that definition, for sure identity politics play a huge role on my work.

I’m glad you touched on “Own Voices”. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to lately. Full disclosure, I guess I can be considered a visible minority as a Chinese-born Canadian.Β  In fact, my next short novel coming out after The Words to Bind features an Asian male lead. From a very personal perspective, I love it when others write Asian characters, as long as it is done well. I don’t give a damn if the author is white or black or Asian. What I do care about is if it’s done with respect and whether it perpetrates or breaks down stereotypes. And please for the love of everything good in the world, stop making the white person the god damn saviour. We can save ourselves, thank you very much.

I’ll say the same thing I say in many writing groups I am part of. To me, as long as it is done with lots of research, consultation and sensitivity readings, along with a healthy dose of respect and humility, then I think it’s fine. Some people say that you should write the character irregardless of their race, but I think that is doing characterization a disservice. We are so much a product of the cultures we are part of that race should be taken into consideration if you want a non-flat character.

What does your writing routine look like?

I don’t really have a routine. As a mom of two small children and a working mom, I write whenever I can, which means snagging a few minutes here or there. I’d like to say I keep writer hours, that is, writing starts at 2am except my kids get up early, so unlike most people keeping to those hours, I don’t get to sleep in either.

So basically, I don’t sleep and I write on my phone whenever I can.

What advice would you give to newbie writers?

Read. Read with intent. Take a look at how accomplished writers structure their sentences, develop their plots, reveal their characters. I do a lot of reviews for new writers on Wattpad through the Erotic Book Club, and the thing I noticed is that people struggle with the technical aspect of writing a lot. If you are serious about your craft, take note from the masters.

Your website is gorgeous! I have to ask this for myself and any other indie writers who might be curious; do you have any tips on creating a beautifulΒ and professional website?

Thank you! I am fortunate that web design is a part of my profession so I could do lots of these things myself. I have given talks and informally taught some of this, so stop me if I info dump too much.

Start with a template. There are tonnes out there. Building something good from scratch is hard, especially if you don’t have the background. Think about your visual identity and make sure your website expresses that. Your visuals should match the genre you write in.  Cursive fonts for romance is common, blocky ones for Sci Fi ,etc. Then tweak the template you choose to mirror that.

Lastly, test, test, test. Make sure it looks good on all major browsers, make sure it looks good in mobile. You’d be astounded by the number of sites that do not gracefully downsize, and yet we are all mostly looking on our phones.

I was hoping to end on some fun questions: What are your hobbies outside of writing? Do you have a favorite band? A favorite movie? Favorite tv show to binge?

Let’s see, rapid fire round!

I used to be a more of a gamer (PC, console, tabletop, both RPG and boardgames) Nowadays I don’t have much time. I love cooking and baking and I used to knit as well.Β 

I don’t behave a favourite band and I have a very wide range of taste in music – JRock, Celtic, Folk, Rock, you name it…

Favourite movie – this one is hard. I have happy movies. How To Train Your Dragon is one of them. I am also a huge MCU geek. As a consumer of media, I am a lot less picky than as a writer.

TV show – I am going to put in a shout out for The Magicians which just ended its last season. Although based on the book, it is such a wonderful show that is the epitome of taking tropes and turning them inside out. The show has such incredible range and doesn’t shy away from hard issues from trauma and grief to sexual identity while somehow never losing its sense of humour and quirkiness. I’d say if any show inherited the throne from Buffy in how groundbreaking it is in the genre, it’s this one.

Lastly, when is your next book being released?

The Words to Bind in all its fully edited glory will be out May 26th.

Check out Pixie’s wonderful stories!

You can also connect with her on wattpad, facebook, or instagram. Or on her beautiful website: https://www.pstormcrow.com/

3 Comments

  1. Excellent interview! Pixie does an awesome job with twisting the tropes and writing strong women made even stronger by not being afraid to be vulnerable, plus realistically dealing with that.

    Liked by 1 person

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