The first time I picked up a copy of The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Short Stories, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, I fell in love with the cover, the sensual reds and oranges, the expression on the woman’s face. Inside, buried in the stories, I participated in all the gasps and the sighs, the moans of pleasure, and the trembles of orgasms the words inspired. Reading this book is a sensual experience that will never be forgotten and this blog can’t hold all the praises I want to sing.
I have to say the same thing regarding my opportunity to interview the one and only Rachel Kramer Bussel herself. She’s all that I aspire to be…a prolific writer with longevity that inspires thought and creativity. No matter how much she puts out into the world of erotica, it’s always fresh and new and exciting. Sigh….
1. Do you remember the first erotic book you came across? How did you cross paths with it and what was the experience like? — Was there a particular book that inspired you to take the genre path you chose?
I don’t remember the very first erotic book, though in high school and college I read a lot of Danielle Steel and Judith Krantz and Jayne Anne Krentz and Nora Roberts. I started reading the Herotica and Best American Erotica series, and one other early book, that I believe I bought at the sadly defunct Mama Bears bookstore in Oakland, California, during college, was Virgin Territory edited by Shar Rednour. That one and its sequel, Virgin Territory 2, blew my mind with their wildly hot true lesbian stories. There was nothing at all formulaic about them and they had this ring of truth and the scenarios were about things I’d never considered before, and those are still classics I turn turn to when I’m looking for something hot to read. Funnily enough, Shar Rednour, and one of her contributors, Tristan Taormino, both published my very first erotica story, “Monica and Me,” about Monica Lewinsky, Shar in her book Starf*cker and Tristan in Best Lesbian Erotica 2001. I didn’t know then that this would be anything more than an interesting hobby, but it slowly evolved from something I did to relieve the awfulness of law school into a full-fledged career, and I think that’s in part because I didn’t plan it, it somewhat happened, from writing stories to editing books to becoming more strategic about which projects I work on and my goals for each book.
2. I’m fascinated every time I read one of your anthologies. They’re always new and fresh and intriguing. You said once before that you’ve read quite a few erotic stories (and I can’t pretend to say I’ve caught up on all the ones with your name attached). What are your secrets to being so prolific and keeping the topic new and exciting?
Thank you! I’m so glad—I always hope that new readers find my books, but I want to keep them different and varied for those who are avid erotica readers as well. The great thing about editing anthologies is there are always new writers with new things to say submitting to my books, and I think that breathes new life into each anthology. I do read much more than I write, though these days I read mostly outside of the erotica field for pleasure just because I read so much erotica when editing my anthologies, though occasionally I will get lost reading an incredible erotica collection or novel and be blown away.
As for writing, I’ve always told myself that when I get bored with erotica I will quit, and while that may happen someday, so far, in 14 years, I haven’t gotten bored. I try to always find ways to push myself and my ideas into new territory and explore things I haven’t done before in my writing, or haven’t done in quite the same way. So one of the stories I’m proudest of us “Punching Bag” in Tristan Taormino’s Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, about several things I don’t have any personal experience with, boxing and being transgender, but one thing I do to a much smaller degree, BDSM and sensation play. I do my best to find the core of humanity in my characters no matter what the setting or their fetishes or emotions.
Some topics just seem to bring out a lot of creativity—I never in a million years would have thought of a plot like “Remote Control” by Logan Zachary in The Big Book of Orgasms, but it’s such a fun twist and, while humorous, also brings up some questions about what we’d do if we could change genders and how that impacts the characters’ sexuality and what they want to do with each other. Editing other people’s stories certainly fuels my creativity and gives me new ways of looking at sexuality and the world, as does teaching erotica writing classes. Every time I do so, I come home fired up and full of ideas.
3. What’s next?
Right now I’m focused on helping The Big Book of Orgasms be the best little book it can be! I believe so strongly in this book and out of the 55 books I’ve edited, it’s my favorite so I’m going all out for it. I’ve loved hearing what readers’ favorite stories were and am looking forward to the audiobook, which will be out in early 2014 and narrated by the wonderful Rose Caraway, who narrated my most popular audiobook, for Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex (http://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/Gotta-Have-It-69-Stories-of-Sudden-Sex-Audiobook/B00BD3DXKW/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1385043159&sr=1-1).
I’m wrapping up some 2014 anthologies I’m editing for Cleis Press, and currently taking calls for Best Bondage Erotica 2015 (http://erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Best_Bondage_Erotica_2015.htm), with a March 1 deadline, and a few more calls are coming soon, so stay tuned. I’m very excited to teach my first Portland, Maine erotica writing workshop at the wonderful sex store Nomia on December 3rd. I stumbled across Nomia while on vacation in Portland in 2011 and loved the store so it’s an honor to head back. I’ll also be teaching and doing some readings in New York in January and February and then on March 14th I have a big day before the start of CatalystCon, with a three-hour erotic writing workshop and a three-hour nonfiction sex writing workshop I’m teaching, which will cover the writings of basics and the markets for each type of work, and how to build your brand as a writer and get published. I’d love to have the opportunity to teach more classes. I’m also working on my first collection of erotic short stories for Cleis Press and have a few personal essays and other nonfiction articles in the works. My schedule is updated on my site at http://rachelkramerbussel.com/calendar.php and you can follow me @raquelita on Twitter for the latest info.
There’s no way to truly draw a picture of how colorful and unique this book is with a couple paragraphs from just one story. That’s like showing the wonders of the human body by showing you a strand of hair. I have no choice but to lengthen the size of my excerpt. Here are bits and pieces of some of my favorite stories:
by Logan Zachary
It’s my birthday and you bought me a remote control? Why not a blender? A toaster? Wait, better yet, why not a vacuum cleaner? They say the same thing.” Jessica’s eyes welled with tears.
“But honey,” Simon said. “Didn’t you read the label? The New Ultimate Remote. It can do anything.”
“I never get to pick what we watch.”
“This remote can change things. Let me show you.” He ripped open the package. “Watch this.” He pointed out the front window. The snow disappeared. Green grass covered the lawn, and the summer sun beat through the glass.”
Jess’s mouth opened wide. “How did you do that?”
He showed her the SUMMER and WINTER buttons.
“Let me see that.” She grabbed for the remote.
“Watch this.” He aimed it at his head. His brown hair turned blond instantly. His hair grew down to touch his shoulders. He smiled and his hair retracted to a crew cut. “You’ll never have to go to the salon again.”
She took the new remote. “And it’ll do whatever I program?”
“What if I were a man?” She pointed the beam at herself. Her breasts flattened and firmed int muscle. Hair sprouted across her massive torso, tickling as it covered her with a thick brown pelt. She felt a stirring between her thighs. She pulled open her sweatpants and watched her smooth mound of sensitive nerves inflate like a long balloon.
Her fine pubic hair thickened and turned coarse. Two weighted orbs descended from inside her and emerged as firm hairy masses. Her smoothly shaved legs darkened and turned fuzzy. Her hourglass curves bulked into square ridges.
“Check this out! She flashed him her new organ. It stood straight out, erect and pulsating with each beat of her heart.
“It’s bigger than mine.”
“So guys have penis envy, too.” She aimed the remote at his groin.
UNDER THE TABLE
by Elizabeth Caldwell
“I’m going to make you come.”
The words are mouthed, rather than spoken — after all, it’s not the kind of thing you say out loud in the middle of an expensive restaurant, while your boss consults the dessert menu and struggles to decide between the profiteroles and the tiramisu — but the look on your face suggests you’ve understood them all too well.
I know exactly what you’re thinking. Here? Now? But you’ve been with me long enough to know I can and I dare, no matter where or when, or how risky the circumstances. It’s all part of the game we play, seeing just how much we can get away with in public. You’ve gone out without your knickers enough times, only the two of us, knowing there’s nothing but fresh air caressing your pussy as you walk. And you’ve “accidentally” flashed that pussy on more than one occasion, sliding casually out of a taxi and offering a lucky passerby an eyeful of wet, pink girlflesh if only he’s quick enough to spot it. Not to mention the way you love to press up against me on a crowded Tube train, rubbing your bum against my groin until I’m hard and aching to come.
But now I’m raising the stakes, and I’m waiting to see how you respond. You arch an eyebrow, mouth back confidently, “I’d like to see you try.”
by Anya Levin
I place the mirror carefully, prop it on a pillow, adjust the angle, squint a little — old eyes — to make sure that I can see what I want to see.
I think I’ve got it.
Now to get to it.
My blood’s suddenly run cold, that burning curiosity that had propelled me this far having died an unnoticed death.
But I’m determined.
Taking a deep breath, I unbutton my pants, the pull and give of the motion taking forever, seemingly brand new and fully attention grabbing. I pull them down slowly, taking care not to catch my underwear. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that step yet.
“You’re beautiful,” he used to say. He’d stare at me down there, eyes locked on that secret part of me that I’d never seen.
Despite his assurances, I’d never considered that part of me particularly interesting or impressive, let alone beautiful. We’d had an active sex life; it had been beaten and stretched more than it probably should have been — two children, and my younger son wasn’t a lightweight when he passed that way.
He’d loved to touch me, to caress me, to give me pleasure and watch how I moved as orgasm swept through me.
I’d loved him but life moved on, and now I was alone and I found myself curious…
Doesn’t it make you want to slip on your shoes and rush to the nearest bookstore? Maybe you could win a free trade paperback copy here. Just leave a comment below. If you’re a fan of Rachel’s, let her know which of her books you call favorites. I’ll randomly choose a winner on Monday, December 2, 2013. Good luck!!