A journalist contacted me about doing an interview that wound up not running, so I thought I'd share it with you. My upcoming erotic writing classes are December 3rd at Nomia in Portland, Maine and January 17th at the New York Academy of Sex Education in New York and erotica and nonfiction sex writing workshops March 14th pre-CatalystCon; if you're interested in booking me for 2014, email me at rachelkramerbussel at gmail.com with "Workshop" in the subject line about details, timing and budget. Thank you to everyone who came out tonight to Bookwoman in Austin for one of the best workshops I've ever taught!
How did you get started in the world of erotic writing?
I was in law school and reading a lot of erotica, and when I saw a call for an anthology called Starf*cker about celebrities, I knew I wanted to try it myself. This was 1999, so the celebrity I chose was Monica Lewinsky. That first story, “Monica and Me,” got published in Starf*cker and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001, and I’ve been writing erotic stories ever since.
Was there a movie or specific story you remember reading that piqued your initial interest?
Susie Bright’s Best American Erotica series was the first erotica I read. The breadth of stories wowed me. I haven’t read it in a long time, but there’s a story in Best American Erotica 1999 by Tsaurah Litzky, an author whose work I’ve since published in my books, called “The Balm That Heals,” that I still remember. It was about something that I’d have thought would turn me off but was so exquisitely written I was completely entranced by it.
As an editor, what makes a good erotic story?
The story should grab the reader from the first sentence and keep a steady pace. You want to tease the reader and give them a sense of who the characters are before you dive into the sex scene, so they’re more invested in what happens. When I’m editing an anthology, I look for diverse stories in terms of characters and settings and scenarios and sexualities, so if you have a hobby or interest that could be fashioned into an erotic story, that can make it stand out. I’ve published stories set at the opera and in chemistry labs; as long as the characters are believable and can convey their particular fetishes and desires in a way that sounds authentic, I’m going to want to read it.
What are some challenges you face when writing?
By now I’ve probably written over 150 erotica stories, so sometimes I get stuck when trying to create a fresh plot. I do my best to challenge myself and write about characters who aren’t like me. I’ve written gay male erotica, straight erotica, bisexual erotica, lesbian erotica, but I’m always looking to push myself and my work into places it’s never gone before. Sometimes that means trying the second person voice or researching something I’ve never done to incorporate it into a story.
What are your goals when you hold these workshops?
I hope people will walk away realizing that they can write erotica involving their everyday surroundings and lives and get inspiration from unlikely sources. I think sometimes people think erotica has to be all about orgies and sex clubs and hardcore BDSM and while it totally can involve those things, it can also be about couples having hot sex in their own home. So much of erotica is about making the characters’ passions come alive on the page. I also hope people are inspired to send out their work and start getting published!
What advice do you have for people interested in writing erotica?
Don’t try to sound “porny” or add extra sex scenes because you think that’s what editors want. Write in your own voice and use the language for body parts and sex acts you’d normally use, unless they would sound weird in the voices of your characters. Even if you’re writing about something that actually happened, feel free to embellish and change things to make the story flow. Good erotica can feel true even when it’s entirely made up. You can get inspiration from all sorts of online resources, from Pinterest to Google to the news.