Author Interview: Xan West

Hello, friends! Today I’d like to introduce you to my friend Xan West, author of Their Troublesome Crush and Eight Kinky Nights. They’ve joined us in honor of Aromantic Awareness Week. Xan previously wrote a fantastic Polyamorous Romance Rec list for us, so check that out! I think you will love them, so get to reading!

Xan West Author ImageXan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter. Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, is out from Go Deeper Press. After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance, and has recently published Their Troublesome Crush, a kinky polyamorous queer metamours to lovers romance novella with an autistic trans man MC.

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Hi, Xan! Thank you for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

 Hi folks! I’m excited to be here. I’m a queer trans stone butch genderqueer who recently came to realize that I’m demiromantic and demigraysexual. (I’m so grateful to folks in aspec communities who helped me find resources and figure out how these identities applied to my own life.) 

I spent many years writing queer kink erotica and have begun to focus more on writing queer kink romance. My work generally centers characters who share some of my own identities as a fat, disabled, autistic, Jewish, queer & trans trauma survivor, and I’ve recently begun writing aro spec and ace spec characters as well. 

I read voraciously and also maintain a book blog, Corey’s Book Corner, which focuses primarily on romance, but also more generally on queer and trans literature, fat representation and disability representation across genres.


What are some of your favorite books by aromantic authors?

 Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault is one of my all-time faves. I love the bigender aro MC in that book so much. It’s not currently in print, but I need to mention The Trouble by Daria Defore, because I adore it to pieces and really appreciated the allosexual aromantic representation in it, so much. I really appreciate the demiro representation in Shadows You Left by Taylor Brooke and Jude Sierra, it resonated for me. I love the aro, ace, and gender-questioning MC in Help Wanted, by J Emery; it means a lot to have questioning representation. And Michelle Kan’s aromantic fairy tales are just wonderful; a new one is out this week!


How do you go about including aromantic people in your work?

 I try to write aro representation that echoes my own experiences as a demiromantic person, and to allow the aro-ness of my characters to impact the arc of the story, if it’s a romance. Because romance centering aro characters often works rather differently. I think there’s this way that some romances try to fit aro characters within classic romance arcs, and I get why they might make that kind of choice, but for me it often feels…like I’m going against the grain, if that makes sense? When I was writing Their Troublesome Crush, for example, which has a demiro POV MC, a lot of the internal conflict for him was about his confusion over whether he had a romantic crush and dealing with his discomfort around potentially having one, so the pacing of the story worked differently than it might in a more classically structured romance. The story matches his pace.

When I write aro spec characters for shorter work especially, I endeavor to disrupt assumptions and stereotypes about aros, to be more pointed when I lampshade those disruptions, because I really don’t want to contribute to the vast awfulness that is harmful representation of aro spec folks in stories. Whatever length, I try to get feedback from more than one aro spec person about the representation and to seek it from folks who are comfortable reading kink romance and erotica, as those are my genres.


What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

 The most impactful piece of writing advice I got was from a writer friend of the family when I was a teenager, who taught me to consider carefully what feedback I took in and used from others, and to think especially about where the feedback was coming from. She taught me to question requests to give more context and explanation for things in my stories, that such requests might be about the readers’ discomfort and not about improving the story.


Who are five of your auto-buy authors?

 I will read everything by Katrina Jackson, Austin Chant, Talia Hibbert, J Emery, and Alisha Rai. There are more than this, but these hold steady for me.


If you could spend a day with someone you admire (alive, dead or fictional) who would it be?

This is hard for me to imagine as an autistic person who has chronic pain and complex PTSD where a day with anyone mostly feels overwhelming. But, let’s say we imagine I have the spoons for that and there can be resting and quiet time reading next to each other, and maybe a nap or two, and that we both want to be there and enjoy each other’s company.

I would love to spend a day with Patrick Califia, a disabled trans writer of kinky queer fiction whose work has had a rather large influence on my own. It would mean a lot to be able to talk about these areas of overlap in our lives and our work. But see, in my fantasy of this kind of meeting, we both would want to connect and be open to that kind of vulnerable conversation, and when do you ever have that with a stranger?


What is your favorite emoji?

I am not really an emoji person? I use the purple heart the most, and maybe the one that looks like \0/ second most frequently.


What talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to draw my own illustrated covers and make them as beautiful as the ones I’ve commissioned. That’s the talent I ache for most these days. I adore working with artists, but it’s such a challenge for me to make words about visual things, and I’d love to have respite from the need for that kind of translation.


If you had a burger named after you, what kind of burger would it be, and what would you want to be on it?

 I like deconstructed food the best, so this is likely not the question for me. I’d love to have a medium-rare beef patty made with black pepper and seasoned salt and marinated in Worcestershire sauce, grilled in the backyard, and served with tempura batter onion rings, curly fries, and challah toast with butter and a salad made with vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh cucumber, and field greens and balsamic dressing.

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