This interview is also crossposted on my own personal blog at:
Keep an eye out for a new feature at my blog too, hopefully starting this Sunday. I'm doing a 'month in the life of' feature. Small daily postings of what I'm working on and what's going on in both my personal and professional life since I'm going through some major life events and changes. Feel free to visit and leave comments. Now for Jean's interview.
Forbidden Fruit Questions
1. 1. Do you write only lesbian erotica? If not, what else do you write?
About half the stories I write are lesbian erotica, and this is the kind of writing that comes closest to my lived experience.
The rest of my erotic stories are heterosexual or bisexual. And a few are male/male. Some of my stories are not sexually explicit. For example, one of my recently-published stories, “A Bridge to the Other Side,” is told by a teenage girl in 1965; she has psychic ability and is able to channel a ghost from the American Civil War. She also has a hopeless crush on her history teacher, a very closeted gay man whose lover was killed in the U.S. war in Vietnam. This story was published in Issue 6 of Glitterwolf, a LGBT magazine from England.
I write regular posts for two blogs: the Erotic Readers and Writers Association (www.erotica-readers.blogspot.com) and the ten-writer blog “Oh Get a Grip” (www.ohgetagrip.blogspot.com).
I’ve taught first-year English classes in a Canadian university for the past 25 years, and some of my writing is scholarly non-fiction. In 2001, I gave a brief talk on the history of erotica and censorship, and my notes for this evolved into a talk on censorship that was televised when I was a guest speaker in a bookstore. I also have an article in an anthology on teaching vampire literature, and I co-edited a book based on a local queer faculty presentation series.
From 2008-2010, I had a monthly column on the website of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association on the politics of sex. I called it “Sex Is All Metaphors.” Eventually, my column was cut, but by then, I had written 25 pieces. These are now available as an ebook, Sex Is All Metaphors (www.eroticanthology.com) and the proceeds raise funds for an anti-censorship organization.
I’m tech-challenged, but luckily, a young man I know designed my website as a favour, and it lists most of my publications. It’s here: www.JeanRoberta.com
2. 2. What is your favorite genre and pairing to write and why?
Lesbian (or f/f) erotica never loses its charm for me! In my experience, gender roles are less rigid in a queer context than in the heterosexual mainstream, and sex between women—even when it doesn’t involve a long-term commitment—shows that women don’t absolutely need men for anything. (I have nothing against female/male sex based on mutual choice.)
3. 3. What is a typical writing day like for you?
Unfortunately, I can rarely afford to spend a whole day on freelance writing, much as I would like to! While I’m teaching, my writing can’t usually be a priority, but when a deadline is looming up, I sometimes put everything else aside to finish a story. Last week, I spent most of a day working on my first steampunk story to send in for a call-for-submissions. I was in my cozy office at the university, and was totally in the zone until my wife/spouse phoned at the end of her workday. (We’ve been legally married since October 2010.)
4. 4. Do you prefer to write short stories or longer works and why?
Good question! I’ve had over 100 erotic stories published in print anthologies, and I love the shortness of short stories. They can be written in a few days, they are less complex than novels, and they are usually accepted or rejected within six months (at most) of being submitted. For these reasons, I can’t foresee ever giving up writing short stories. However, longer works allow for characters and situations to be more fully developed. I’ve written several longer works that are no longer in print, plus my historical novella, The Flight of the Black Swan (Lethe Press), currently available in several formats and soon to be released as an audiobook.
I plan to retire from teaching within ten years. When I have more time for writing, I expect to focus more on longer works.
5. 5. Tell me about your story in Forbidden Fruit and give us an excerpt please.
The theme of “forbidden fruit” intrigues me because I suspect that most lesbians have had at least one “unwise” encounter. When I first “came out” in a fairly small community, I was intrigued by the variety of women I met in the local queer bar, including some who sported prison tattoos. I realized then that even when lesbians have little else in common, lust is the great leveler. My story, “Shelter,” is about two women who first met in elementary school, and even then, they came from different worlds. Here is the opening scene:
I didn’t intend to open my door for anyone at 1:00 a.m., but I couldn’t resist looking through the peep-hole to see who was there.
Cheekbones, long nose, full lips, short dark hair, direct gaze, evil grin. Unmistakably Renee Sharp.
I opened my apartment door before I could stop myself. “You can’t stay here,” I told her, stepping back to let her in.
She accepted my unspoken invitation. “It’s good to see you too, Anna baby. I thought about you while I was away.” A year in prison hadn’t deprived her of energy. What was sex like in the joint? I didn’t want to think about it, but I wanted to know.
The woman was leaner than I remembered, more compact. She could take me down. I knew I should call the police, but I couldn’t do it.
“You don’t have to call the cops, girlfriend. I’m not here to steal your stuff or hurt you in any way. Unless—“ She let her sentence hang in the air while she looked down from my eyes to the thin cotton nightshirt that barely covered my naked breasts. I could feel my nipples jiggling with my breathing, and I buttoned my cardigan from top to bottom. Renee snickered.
“You don’t really want the cops to know I’m here, Anna. No one has to know you ever met me. In the morning I’ll be gone like a wet dream.”
“Renee,” I started.
“Friends call me Razor.” She pulled five chocolate-brown Canadian hundred-dollar bills out of the frayed pocket of her denim jacket and laid them on my hall table.
Oh my god. I still wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted from me, but she obviously thought I was for sale.
The next stop on the Forbidden Fruit blog tour is Laila Blake http://www.lailablake.com/blog/ who is interviewing Cheyenne Blue.
Leave a comment on any post in the Forbidden Fruit blog tour to be entered into a random draw to win one of these great prizes. Prizes include a paperback copy of Girls Who Score, lesbian sports erotica edited by Ily Goyanes, Best Lesbian Romance 2011 edited by Radclyffe, an ebook of Ladylit’s first lesbian anthology Anything She Wants, and a bundle of three mini-anthologies from Ladylit: Sweat, A Christmas to Remember and Bossy. All of these titles contain some stories written by the fabulous contributors to Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire. You must include an email address in your comment to be entered into the draw.
Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire is available direct from the publisher, Ladylit (http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/) or from Amazon, Smashwords, and other good retailers of ebooks. Check out http://www.ladylit.com/books/forbidden-fruit/ for all purchasing information.