Five More Questions about writing erotica. See 21 Questions for indie author Kathleen K.
Kathleen, do you think the arts and entertainment world are becoming more sexually open or less?
Exaggerated sexuality splashes over music and video, film and advertising. It deadens the impact of the rare and real opportunities we have to consider passion in our lives. The wedding industry corrupts the ceremony of private pledge to everlove. Fashion parades itself on stick-thin models who diminish the confidence of the consumer they claim to embody. I do think pandering to the lowest common denominator is all twisted up in commerce and culture, and not to our benefit.
Erotica flourishes underground, taking a sacramental approach to the magic words of desire. Shamed by the religious-civil morality police for celebrating sex, the average reader lacks the confidence to judge for themselves when offered explicit verbalizations of natural lovemaking. People can get hot under the collar with a banned book in hand. I think it is the personal reaction to erotica that proves its power. We’re thrown in the salty sea of commercial sexuality without a defense, it is just there on the screen, on the billboard. Written erotica demands you move yourself ahead one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time.
As in any form of literature, there are standards and conventions in erotica that distinguish it from porn. Basically, is the writing all and only sex (porn) or were there connectors via dialog and scene setting to qualify as “artful”. Our vocabulary is wide open; our acknowledgement of the basic interconnection options available to us is presumed. Erotica is deliberate. Using deliberate to mean considered, judged, evaluated, meditative. Erotica straddles the reader.
Porn-adgraphy is deliberate too… deliberately thrust into view not to celebrate the deeper powers of soulful attraction but to sell whiskey, motor oil, and web domain names.
Have sexual attitudes in this country changed over the past 10-20 years and therefore, such views are reflected in our books and entertainment, or is it that our literature and entertainment have pushed the envelope and the public’s views have followed along?
We’ve polluted ourselves sexually, like we do the air and water (we’re sloppy), it shows in the decline of our bodily health. Overtly sexual messaging dulls the receptors, it is as simple as that. If you want to prize the images of intimacy then you must make some choices about what you watch by choice and what you absorb passively like the beer commercials on a tavern’s TV.
This oversaturation is part of the video culture that came of age as the century turned and settled. We were doing fine with our Y2K cable TV and our mobile telephones which were not high-speed interactive processing centers. You flipped it open and made a call; you flipped it closed until you wanted to talk on it again; it didn’t talk to you. Even with that primitive communication system, we were meeting and mating and procreating. Exponential growth in what you can see on your own screen, what you can pipe into your ears has some relation to the need for Viagra and scientific sperminating. We brag about our hip appreciation of sex more than we experience its true glory which is by definition a private act.
We’ve got a bit of monkey-see, monkey-do left in us so the shiny objects and pounding music of visual input are hypnotic. If I drink that potion, I will drive that car; if I smell like something other than my own self, I have a better chance of connecting with a partner who disguises their scent too.
Books take an investment from the reader and thereby carry additional impact. My bedside reader books are tailored for the nightstand. Like all intoxicant-stimulators, dosage matters. Some folks need one simple good-night vignette, some want a couple to mix and match. There are changes in tone, in personnel, in subjective objectives that let the reader skip past any that don’t ring right (at the moment). Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey where you must appreciate the dominant male and subordinate female motif, my books shift focus to all sorts of scenarios. There is value in variety, allowing each reader to find parts of the book that work for them without begrudging that some pages go to those of other interests. It’s about thinking about sex.
Do books lead the way in terms of influencing and commenting on sexual mores — or is that role being usurped by film or cable TV or other forms of art?
Books remain the hidden asset of our influential thinkers, there are few true intellectuals who ever forsake reading. Reading closes down those other sources of input in order to drop into a world of words. People can read amidst distraction, on a bus, with the dishwasher chugging away. Some reading is snatched a page or two at a time; other times you set up survival supplies, kick back the recliner and enter a COVE away from everything else.
Of course video impacts reading, because it represents a separate stream of info. Before TV… before even radio… cultural significance was given to magazines or books. Publishing is controlled by restricting access to presses and paper and distribution points. What was available to read fifty, a hundred, two hundred years ago, was “richer” on a per-volume basis due to scarcity of choices. It wasn’t better or worse but it had more impact on the individual since they saw so little of it. Video is the EXTRACTION OF WORDS which means the message is accessible by a less invested audience. Telegraphing visuals through the eyes floods the mind, reading a word at a time teases it forward (wayward).
How do your books make the reader feel?
Squirmy sometimes… mostly grateful. They stress how smart the books are. For those who do enjoy sensuous writing, I provide them ardent landscapes. I have collated so many perspectives that the reader has been able to grasp essential details about what is truly attractive to them. You say you like boobs? Perky upturned titties or heaving bosoms with dark crowns? Pert bottom or a big fat can? Saucy talk is impish, almost elven. Erotica works best when it carries the reader forward, sets the pace as part of the out-of-control indulgence in savoring luscious language about sex.
There’s some consternation about my book Sweet Talkers in particular because it is nonfiction. This upfront chronicle of running a phone sex business includes so much “unspeakable” dialog to and from the callers that it defies an easy dismissal. This isn’t dirty, it’s rude – in a dare-you-say-you-don’t tone. It was first published in 1994 and went to paperback in 1997. That experience set me into a rich niche of collectible erotica. I understood I was counterculture for the times but I also had faith that the times, they were a-changing.
Readers feel the possibilities that parade through the books, they are curious about the situations that percolate and escalate. They are surprised that it is inventive and intelligent, frank and explicit, oddly thoughtful, successfully riding the fine line between not quite enough and a little too much.
As a woman, do readers relate to you differently when you are writing erotica than if you were a man?
I have been told readers “forget” that a female is writing my books because the male characters are so strongly drawn… as if men haven’t been strongly drawing female characters into our myths and fiction all along. There is always a little kick when women enter a sex-based exchange: any woman, any time. Overall there is such a strong sense of humanism in the books that I hope it dulls the gender-skewed perspective on sex. [He complains he’s doing it just three times a week, she complains he wants it every other day.]
Readers are engaged and aren’t overly concerned with the gender of the mechanic providing the linkage as long as the proverbial vehicle moves them along.
My most economical phrasing of sexual dominance. Who is fuckin’ who? [You don’t know fuckin’ if you remember to say “whom” here.] Bing-bang-boom. It’s sweet and snarky, hot and hotter. Choosing to provoke those reactions isn’t gender based, we’ve had our naughty bawds male and female, straight and gay, all along. My gender has colored my late-Boomer childhood, my white American experience. We’ve each got our finitude to contend with. My day job is in IT so that’s another boy-land I’ve invaded… even there I am counterculture. Gender rules culture… I try to counter that.
#erotica #sexy #KathleenK