What first drew you to writing erotica?
A friend that had been in my creative writing group for years started writing erotica, and I guess you could say that she inspired me. I like erotica that’s fun, but I also like erotica that explores sexuality, sexual roles, power dynamics, and human relationships. For example, I really love Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series. I’d also cite Octavia Butler. Her work is science fiction, and not explicit like most of the erotica I read, but I find much of it to be quite sexy.
What is the most important message that you have for aspiring erotica writers?
Other than the sex scenes, writing erotica isn’t much different from writing other genres of fiction. As far as the sex scenes, my message would be simple–go for it. I don’t think I’d want to say the book has a message. I’d like readers to experience it for themselves, and I’d expect their experiences to be different.
What kind of writing environment provides the most inspiration for you and your work?
I have a day job, so keeping my life as manageable as possible as far as commitments, and minimizing stress help to keep the creative juices flowing. Also, I sing in a couple of choruses. It helps my writing process insofar as it’s fun and stimulating and keeps me happier than I would be otherwise.
Does your love of cooking influence your work?
Definitely. Food is as fundamental to life as sex, and it’s always finding ways into my stories. I love to bake so it was a natural that Lilah would be a pastry chef. I also felt strongly that Chad would cook for Lilah, and that he’d make something very simple and basic but hard to do right. Zach also cooks, and in fact probably has more interest in cooking than Chad, whose repertoire in the kitchen is kind of limited.
Congratulations on being included in the “The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 2007.” What continues to inspire you to create such exciting, impassioned erotica?
Thanks! That particular story, Magmadootch, was inspired by watching a mime performance. I started thinking about what goes on inside a person’s head who does mime, in terms of whether it’s “real” or not, and how that might play out in sex. The world is so full of fascinating people, there’s really no end to what can be explored.
Not really. Years ago I read “The Ethical Slut,” but mostly I wrote the book from observing the life experiences of people I know, and imagining the rest. Lilah uses sex to define herself but avoids real intimacy. Annemarie uses it to stay in control, which also impedes intimacy. Their sexual encounters help them learn about themselves and figure out what they really want from their relationships.
The story focuses on characters that explore polyamorous relationships, is that meant to comment on the traditional relationship roles?
I wouldn’t say it’s meant comment on them. There’s nothing wrong with a monogamous relationship. At the same time, statistics and the experience of many of us show that they often don’t work. Do poly relationships “work” any better? I’m not sure, but I do think polyamory is a valid lifestyle that’s not often portrayed in books, so I guess I wanted to change that. Besides, I’ve always been interested in counterculture.
How do you feel that you have grown as a writer over the years?
Hopefully I’ve improved. At the very least, I think I’ve become less worried about how things turn out. Sometimes, I can feel really inspired and think I’ve just created something great, when really it’s pretty mediocre. Other times, I slog through the writing in what feels like a most unnatural way, and it turns out great. The important thing is to just do it. I suppose that’s what I’ve learned.
What is your process for developing characters and their relationships?
I don’t plan the plot, which can make things difficult. After about a hundred pages I start freaking out and think, what the heck is going to happen?? How is all this going to come together?? But like I said, you just keep going and let it take shape as it may. The sex scenes come pretty easily, though. I seem to have quite an imagination for sex.
Do you see any similarities between the characters in your previously published works such as Mrs. M, or Just Watch Me: Erotica for Women and your current work, You Complicate Me?
I’d say my erotica generally focuses on women, women that I hope are empowered in exploring their lives and their sexuality. We need more strong female leads in erotic fiction, fiction in general, and everywhere else, as far as I’m concerned.
The last chapter of the story focuses on Annemarie discussing the current state of their relationship(s) that are being explored, was the end left open for a sequel?
In a word, yes. Do you have any new characters or story ideas on the horizon that you think warrant exploration? I’m working on some fiction that’s not erotica, and I’m starting a sequel to You Complicate Me that will introduce some new characters.
Look for Annemarie’s sister to move in with Lilah, and a new employee in the kitchen, both of which will cause some havoc for Lilah. Despite their good role models, Annemarie and Richard have to figure out a successful polyamorous marriage the hard way.