The things I like about Cooper’s books are the genre (you might have guessed!), but also the quality of the writing, the relatability of the characters, the imagination of the plots, and the sheer breadth of the tales. Unlike some writers in the TG/gender-bending/transformation genres, Cooper’s works are about as far from the single-story-told-over-and-over-again as you can get. From their earlier stories on FM – which cover familiar superheroes or space ship captains undergoing unwanted gender and or mental changes, and other juicy stories – to the newer works on Amazon, we have ghost stories, aliens, fantasy, people being drawn into books, gods subverting the patriarchy, spies in tricky situations, male chauvinists getting deserved come-uppances, cops doing their jobs in even more difficult circumstances than usual, psychological thrillers… the range is too broad to encompass in a single sentence! And these are not just short stories dressed up as books, these are good length reads with rich character and lots of plot development and twists, and a variety of types of endings.
I have enormous admiration for Cooper, so I jumped at the chance to do this interview. Without further ado, here are Twelve Questions for T. G. Cooper:
1. What passions drive your writing?
I always wrote. When I was little I drew my own comics and progressed to prose in part because I couldn’t draw. So, there is something in me that always liked making up stories. I think part of it, too, came from being painfully introverted, and since I often could not talk to others I wrote stories and lost myself in these worlds I would create.
The shift to putting my work out there came because I didn’t feel like a lot of people were writing the kind of stories I liked to read, and I thought maybe there would be others out there who wanted to read the same kinds of stories I did.
2. All your books have very strong plots, but a lot (most?) are also quite erotic. What can you say about the relative importance of those aspects of your stories?
I do like plot driven stories. I think for me that’s very important because I make them up as I go along, so part of the fun for me is finding out what is going to happen as I write. I don’t outline or plan much, and sometimes I’ve started writing with nothing more than a cover. I like active stories where the characters go for things, face obstacles and struggles.
The erotic side also fascinates and motivates me. I am very interested in how my characters experience life as they change, and eroticism is a big part of life. Of course, for me, even things like having a male character try on a pair of yoga pants or a bra is erotic, so it isn’t always about the physical act of sex. I do like writing sex scenes though, and exploring what it might be like for a man or, sometimes, a woman to experience sex from the other side or while they are in-between genders.
3. You seem to put a lot of thought into every book. Do you think writing in a specific genre of erotica is very different to more traditional fiction?
I think so, although I like to think I sometimes maybe push those boundaries. I have tried lately to write some stuff that maybe wouldn’t be considered erotica, and it is different to write stories where there is no sex at all and very little talk even about bodies. Most of the YA stuff I read is very abstract when it comes to the body and physical attraction, so when writing in that genre it is a challenge and an opportunity to write more just about feelings without getting specific. I’ll see things like, “Our eyes met, and I felt myself blush.” But it’s rare even to see something to my mind as innocent as “I looked at his broad, muscular shoulders” or “I couldn’t help but admire her legs.”
4. What can you tell us about your writing process? What helps you to be so productive?
A few years ago I set myself the goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day. I try to treat it like a job. I write whether I feel inspired or not, tired, busy, sick. It doesn’t matter. Write. I am a pretty tough boss! Of course, I also enjoy writing, and once I got in the habit it became a healthy and fun thing most of the time, but the runners have a saying; the hardest part is putting your shoes on! So, I always remember when I am not feeling it that I just need to start, and then it is usually pretty good.
There is a book called The War of Art which was very helpful with this issue. I also recommend The Artist’s Way. I think it is important too to keep feeding my imagination, so that means reading and watching new stuff all the time, going to museums, seeking out new music.
5. Which parts of the writing do you personally find to be easiest, and which hardest?
The middle is easiest for me. Often times it is a little hard to get a story going, but there usually comes a time when I am about ¼ to 1/3 into a story and I will start to dream scenes, or I will see them when I am out walking, and the characters and the story pretty much write themselves. Finding an ending can be hard sometimes.
I think getting started is hard, especially as I have written a bit and I worry about repeating myself, so I am always trying to come up with new ideas.
6. What ideas in erotic stories do you find really hot? Are those the same things you write about?
I like a total role reversal, where a guy finds himself female and being dominated in very aggressive sexual play. I also find it very interesting when a guy who has not yet accepted his new gender is forced into performing his new gender while it still embarrasses him: a straight guy forced to be a stripper, or to seduce another man. In Serren’s case, to dress and live as a princess.
Even just when the guy looks and sounds like a woman but still thinks of himself as a man. One of my favourite old school stories is Team Spirit [Ed: mine too! Janice Dreamer], and one of the best scenes to me is when the guy’s voice changes in the middle of a football game and he finds himself talking in the voice of a little girl. Or when he loses all his body hair, and a woman compliments him on his smooth, soft skin.
7. When did you first start writing your stories?
As per above, always. Always. Always!
8. Who are your favourite mainstream authors?
9. Who are some of your favourite erotic fiction writers?
I am bad at remembering names, so let me apologize in advance to all the great writers whose stories I have enjoyed over the years. Some that come to mind – Tom Tame. T.G Trinity. Joe Six Pack and his whole crew (though he refused my request for an interview!) Donald Allen Kirch. Selkie. (When is the next book coming out?) [Ed: Feb, I hope!]
Just about anyone on TG Comics and Stories [Ed.]. I know I am forgetting a bunch! Sorry folks!
10. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about sexuality?
It changes all the time!
11. (Tee hee.) How many of your fetishes did you discover by watching children’s television?
From my childhood I remember being very fascinated by an episode of Gilligan’s Island where the character’s were body swapped. The Professor was put into Mary Ann and the Skipper into Mrs Howell. I thought it was the most amazing thing ever. There was also an episode of a TV show called Real People where they did a whole thing on female impersonators – these were all the way with hormones, breasts and many of them looked exactly like women, which freaked me out and amazed me. I wrote a short story at the time about a criminal who tried to escape justice by becoming a female impersonator, and that was my first TG story.
Oh, and I just remembered – Get Smart had an episode where there was a male agent undercover as a go go girl at some club. Maxwell Smart wanted him to be his best man, so there’s this whole weird conversation. They used an actress and just overdubbed a male voice but the scene fired up many neurons in my brain both due to the idea of a guy having to perform as a woman and also the gender confusion of her being a best man. Agent 38 – such a small part but one that opened up my mind!
12. Please tell us something else, you wish you’d been asked about?
This one is a challenge. How about my side line hobby of making TG art for deviant art? I can’t say I love it as much as writing, but it is something I enjoy and love to post and get feedback on from people. [Ed.: here.] I especially love toying with known characters – Darth Vader, Batman, Superman. Also, I was once writing a TG story on the train, and this guy for some reason decided to look over my shoulder. I didn’t notice until he freaked out and started babbling to his friends, “What the hell? Guys with tits? This guy is sick!” I packed up my laptop and got away from the guy, but have ever since believed that I opened his eyes to a whole new world!
Thanks for the interview! This is my first one, and I am so excited!!!!
And thank you so much, Cooper, for agreeing to be interviewed. As I said earlier, you can find a treasure trove of her great books over at Amazon, or check out her blog at Gender Fluid News, which lives up to its name.