Good morning, Weird, Wild, Wicked Ones! Welcome back after the holidays. Did you celebrate Thanksgiving? It's a tradition in my family to get together, eat a lot of food high in calories, and scream at American football games. My aunt and my mother are the loudest fans, drowning out the men! I hope you had a good holiday, because it's now time for something a little beyond mainstream.
Today I have the enormous pleasure (and it is VERY pleasurable) to speak with Emerald, multipublished erotica author. She has short story in an anthology called Best Erotic Romance, just released November 19th.
Thank you so much for joining me, Emerald.
Thank you for having me here, Siobhan.
When did you start writing and what did you first write?
I started writing when I was seven. It was mostly memoir at the time—I seem to recall writing quite a few stories about my cat, lol. In third grade, I wrote my first "novel" (which, sadly, is still my only "novel" thus far!) in a notebook I carried around with me almost everywhere I went.
That sounds familiar. I wrote my first novels in blank books. What got you interested in writing?
I don't remember what I found compelling about it at the time—it was just what I did—but the way I feel now is that writing allows me to be heard…or at least to feel I have expressed myself in a way that seems to me less fleeting than speaking. I think that as a child perhaps I felt on some level that I would not be or was not listened to, or that what I said would be dismissed in favor of whatever the adults around me said. So writing became something for me—a way to feel I had the power to express myself and give voice to my experience in a way that was "on the record," if you will, and didn't get to simply be ignored and disappear.
I suspect on some level writing is still that to me.
It’s definitely a public record and one that can’t be ignored. Can you give us a definition of Erotica?
Interesting you ask…I just talked about this last week on my blog. While it has been my careful tendency to not proffer any inherent distinction between erotica and pornography—because it seems to me the question of such a distinction almost always seems to contain judgment (generally of pornography), and I have no desire to contribute to such judgment—it occurred to me as I read an erotic anthology recently what erotica seems to me. I do want to stress that this is simply my personal perception, so I am not saying it is a general definition.
To me, erotica is writing (or art) that explores sexuality. That does it without wincing, without blushing (well, maybe a little), without avoiding, without overcompensating, and perhaps most of all, without trying to adhere to some "standard," be it perceived to be social, moral, literary, or anything external that interferes with an authentic examination of sexuality as the integral aspect of life that it is. As I mentioned on my blog, for me personally, erotica does not even need to turn me on. I simply find the subject of sex so riveting that I am perfectly content to read about it as per the description I just gave without actually feeling arousal.
Is that why you started writing erotica?
As it happened, in my mid-twenties, I experienced a personal evolution—a period of revelation, really—around my own sexuality. As I mentioned, I've been writing since I was seven, so it seems to me that at that time these two phenomena in my life—writing and sex—coalesced, and it occurred to me to write explicitly about sex. I was shy about it at first (lol), but I came around fairly quickly I think (my first published story was about a gang-bang orchestrated wholly by the female narrator). Particularly given what I said above about writing as self-expression, it makes sense to me that at this time when sexuality was taking a front-and-center position in my consciousness, writing about it came forth as well. And fiction has often been my genre of choice.
It certainly always has attracted me. I like making up the stories rather than writing about something that happened. What appeals to you about the erotica genre and why is it important to you?
On my website, the bio on my home page states that I write about and advocate for human sexuality due to a "deep appreciation of the beauty, value, and intrinsic nature of sexuality and its holistic relation to life." This is very important to me. I find sexuality one of the most compelling and fascinating areas of life as well as a profound potential connection to divinity and oneness in ourselves and the Universe. When I see this misunderstood, disregarded, or denigrated on an individual or collective level—which, in this society, I feel I frequently have —it feels wrenching and heartbreaking to me. I do feel our distortions, oppression, and repression around sexuality do not serve and are responsible for much of the suffering in the world. I aspire to invite and open dialog and self-awareness around sexuality for individuals, the culture, and the world in whatever way I can. All the writing I do on the subject is with that fundamental aim.
I think that’s a great aim. The world gets too hung up on sex as something to be feared or derided, and chides people for enjoying it, whether physically or mentally. If you could correct one erroneous perspective about erotica, what would it be?
That it is in any way inherently inferior to any other kind of writing or art. To me, this perception seems fueled by the distortions I just mentioned that our culture and indeed the human species seems to currently experience around sexuality. I would love for such distortions to dissolve, in service of both eliminating this "erroneous perspective" (I love the way you put that) and also inviting each individual into the authentic understanding of his/her/their relationship to the sexual energy/instinct of life.
Do you write other genres other than erotica?
I have, yes, but erotica is the only field in which I've been published. When I first started writing it, I considered it almost a "side project" to the general mainstream fiction I mostly wrote at the time. As I discovered the community of erotic authors and became more involved in it, I fell in love with said community and was at the same time feeling increasingly compelled by writing in the genre. I do write (non-erotic) poetry as well, but in terms of fiction, erotica (erotic romance) is definitely my focus at this time.
What authors or books inspire your writing?
I feel such profound gratitude to have the opportunity to personally know so many of the authors whose work I find inspiring. In the erotica genre, I love reading Donna George Storey, Charlotte Stein, Justine Elyot, Craig Sorensen, Jeremy Edwards, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Saskia Walker, Andrea Dale, Shanna Germain, Kristina Wright, Alison Tyler…there are so many more. I really love that, since I know them personally, I have had the opportunity to tell them how much I appreciate their work. In particular, Donna George Storey's novel Amorous Woman and Charlotte Stein's short story collection The Things That Make Me Give In strike me as exquisite examples of the heights of what erotic fiction can be.
Of course I don't just read erotica, and I have also been inspired by—well, really, I've probably been inspired by every book I've ever loved. As a writer, when I read something that moves me, I feel that solidarity of inspiration in that I was just moved by the same medium in which I work—and the yearning aspiration I have to channel what needs to come through me to allow that same inspiration in anyone else. My favorite novel is The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. I wouldn't know how to describe in words (ironically, I guess!) how moved I felt by the reading of it—and correlatively, on some level, how inspired.
I read a lot of nonfiction too, particularly on the subjects of consciousness/inner Work, and since I feel those inform me in general, I feel no doubt they inspire my writing as well. Authors that have been particularly important to me as such include Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, A. H. Almaas, Adyashanti, and Eckhart Tolle.
The story in the anthology that was just released, Best Erotic Romance (edited by Kristina Wright and published by Cleis Press), is called Honey Changes Everything. What is the story about?
|Best Erotic Romance|
The story is told in the third person from the female protagonist's point of view. Superficially, the plot line involves her husband being laid off from his job and her perception of his general state following it. She conspires to make him breakfast in bed one morning in an earnest display of the things that are still okay for him and for them.
On a deeper level, I consider the story to be about attachment to our self-identity (especially external "accomplishments"), connection with ourselves and others, and self-awareness.
What inspired you to write this story?
That's a good question—I'm doing my best to remember now that you asked! First, I really like to cook, and I think it occurred to me at some point that I wanted to write a scene in which a character was baking/cooking the way I have appreciated doing so, which is with reverence and appreciation for the ingredients and the process.
I had also observed my partner losing his job not long before I began the story, and I was considering how wrenching that may feel to someone who perhaps experiences so much of his/her/their identity as connected to respective livelihood—especially if one has worked for many years at the same job or in a certain field.
Secondarily, it occurred to me how I, for example, have perhaps had a tendency to focus on "fixing" things or others and how that has often seemed a way to deflect from actually examining myself and seeing what I might be doing that I am not aware of or that is not necessarily serving. So both of those undercurrents, I feel, came forth and are represented in the story.
It is a great story. I really enjoyed it and I think other readers will, as well. :)
Well. Thank you. :)
You’re welcome! What other stories can we look forward to and when are they likely to be coming out?
I have a story forthcoming in another anthology to be published by Cleis Press in January, this time edited by Violet Blue. The anthology is One Night Only: Erotic Encounters, and it contains my story "City Girl." Later next year I'll have two more stories coming out in Cleis Press anthologies: My story "The Beast Within" will be in KristinaWright's compilation of fairy tale erotica, LustfullyEver After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance and Rachel Kramer Bussel has an anthology forthcoming later in the year entitled Anything for You about kinky couples that will include my story "Apple Blossoms." I'm very excited to be included in all three!
That’s terrific. Congratulations! We will definitely look for your writing in the next few months starting in January! Thank you so much for joining me, Emerald.
It has so been my pleasure, and thanks so much for inviting me!
Below is an excerpt of Honey Changes Everything to whet your appetite for Emerald's writing.
Turning, she saw him enter the living room. She knew he had been upstairs on the computer, most likely searching through jobs or working on his resume. He shuffled forward onto the linoleum.
"Want some lunch?" she asked.
Terry shook his head, not looking at her as he sorted through the stack of papers beside the phone. Kim watched him, unsure what to say. She couldn't say everything would be okay, because she didn't know that it would. She couldn't tell him not to be scared, because she was too.
She lowered her head with a frown, suspecting again that the demon Terry was wrestling went deeper than those things. Something in him questioned more than the situational concerns, more than what would happen. It wasn't questioning circumstances or emotions or outcomes.
It was questioning him.
Kim set the head of lettuce she had pulled from the refrigerator down and walked over to her husband. He looked up as she fixed her dark eyes on his. Kim almost flinched at the hollowness she saw there, but she straightened herself tall, ready to tell the part of him she knew was saying those things to him to fuck off. She took a deep breath and opened her mouth.
"I love you."
It wasn't at all what she had expected to say, but neither her posture nor her gaze wavered.
If you're interested in more of Emerald you can find her on the web at her website, The Greenlight District, and on Goodreads. You can also find her books here:
Thank you for stopping by and happy reading! :)