The Virgin Diaries. Seventy-two men and women were interviewed regarding their first consensual sexual experiences. They came from all walks of life, ranged in age from 20 -77 and were both gay and straight. A questionnaire with about 30 questions was provided to each participant in the survey. Anonymity allowed the participants to provide honest answers. Most interviews were conducted online with people unknown to us, although some interviews were with friends and family. We decided not to include commentary because we didn’t want to put our slant on the content. The stories stand on their own, allowing readers to form their own conclusions.
Tell us something about yourself.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, we moved to Southern California in the late ‘70’s. Kimberley’s father was a news cameraman for a major television network, which provided her with the opportunity to attend the Anglo-American School in Moscow Russia for the ’80-81 school year. Starting in the mid-90’s both of us worked on the daytime drama Days Of Our Lives for over seven years. Ann Werner’s first love is fiction and she has a self-published science fiction novel titled The People Next Door with a strong feminine lead character.
What inspired you to write this book?
Kimberley first came up with the idea off the cuff and after further investigation found there was nothing like it on the market. We wanted to provide a tool for virgins to make an informed decision as well as provide interesting and thought-provoking stories for those interested in the human condition. The finished product is a perfect vehicle parents can utilize to help educate their children on the uncomfortable topic of sex. Bristol Palin is currently preaching abstinence. Studies prove abstinence does not work and it is only one aspect of the dialogue. It is interesting to note (though not surprising) that the majority of female respondents found their first time to be less than thrilling and parents of teen girls might view that as useful information when explaining why it’s better to wait until they feel ready.
How did you choose the title?
A friend read it before it was published and said it felt to her as though she was reading someone’s diary and the title was born.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
As so often happens with unknown authors, the rejection slips from publishers and agents were in plentiful supply. But we knew we had something special and unique. We decided we needed artwork and bubble quotes to make it more appealing to the eye. Not too long after, Kimberley reconnected with Ralph Faust, a gentlemen with whom she attended high school. He was very enthusiastic about the project and he designed and formatted the book. The finished product looked so good we didn’t even want to start the arduous process of searching for an agent and decided we would publish it ourselves.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
Ann has always loved writing and has been writing novels for over twenty years. Kimberley’s first project is The Virgin Diaries. We created the company Ark Stories with the intention of continuing to create anthologies exploring the human experience as told by John and Jane Q. Public.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Ann writes everyday. Kimberley writes but her forte is asking questions and engaging people regarding various topics.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Since the book is nonfiction, the people in the book remain anonymous. We requested that people change the names of the people about whom they were writing but we feared some had forgotten to do so while being caught up in their recollections, so we changed the names in each story. It was a pretty easy process, as we just pulled a name out of the air and substituted it for whatever the participant had provided. As far as fiction goes, when Ann is writing, determining the names of the characters is one of her most difficult tasks. Sometimes a name will change several times before she’s satisfied with it.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
We both learned that it’s a hard road being self-published authors but when you create something that many people can relate to, your audience finds you.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
We really wouldn’t change a thing.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
Both of us enjoy escapist fiction. Some of our favorite authors are Dean Koontz, F. Paul Wilson and Stephen King. It’s fun to leave your everyday life and get into a completely different world and set of circumstances. All three of these authors are great at writing books that make you want to keep turning the pages. Plus it’s fun reading a scary story when you know you’ll escape unscathed.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
The next book we plan to debut is about body image. We plan on the same format, interviewing men and women on how they view themselves physically.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
If it is a burning desire of yours to write, then do it. Don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t or can’t. Self-publishing is still a tougher road but it’s getting increasingly popular and within five to ten years the stigma will fade. There is no greater feeling than holding your finished piece of creative work.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
We have found that virgins, both male and female, are the primary audience but also parents of teens. Women 50 and up also seem to really enjoy this book. Anyone who is interested in the psychology of the first time or who likes a vicarious experience will enjoy the book.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Our website www.arkstories.com has a lot of information, including the questionnaire and two complete stories from the book. There is a link to amazon.com, where the book can be purchased and we are also on almost all of the online bookseller sites. The Virgin Diaries can be ordered at your favorite bookstore as well.