Here’s an author interview with K.D. West. Take it away, K.D…
How did you start writing erotica?
Interesting question! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember — I’ve still got stories that I wrote when I was ten or so. And as I entered adolescence, long before I actually new what I was writing about, sexuality made its way into my stories, or at least the ones that I didn’t share with anyone.
Fast-forward a few decades and I hadn’t really written much in a while. I was teaching, and focusing my energy there. I had a couple of novels that I wanted to write, but I had no idea how to go about actually writing them.
Then, about ten years ago, some of my kids turned me onto some books you may have heard of: the Harry Potter books. I started reading them, and had some very interesting thoughts about her narrative style. I loved the way that Rowling’s style seemed to be growing more complex and mature as the characters aged. I went online to answer some questions for myself… and discovered online fandom. The descent from there to fanfiction was a quick one. And within six months, I had started writing… adult fics. Because, in my defense, here was a series of books about a group of teens, an age that I work with, and sexuality is ALWAYS a part of the mix when it comes to that age group. And no – I won’t tell you where my stories are, until I know you a LOT better. 😉
A few years back, I finally started writing a YA fantasy novel that I’d first thought of before my tumble down the Potterverse rabbit hole. What I found frustrating, however, was that while the characters had all of those sexual feelings that teens do, I kept having to bury them or step around them (the way that Rowling and, say, Tamara Pierce do so well). Finally, I decided I had to do something about it. So I wrote what was, essentially, a piece of fanfiction based on my own novel-in-progress. In it, one of my protagonists, a young man, had a chance to act out his fantasy: a sexual liaison with his favorite teacher. Having gotten that out of my system, I put it aside for a little while.
Months later, I looked at the story again, and I realized it wasn’t at all bad – and that it stood on its own. I began to rewrite it – not as a fantasy, but as an actual assignation. I changed the setting from a medieval locale to an American high school, made the teacher and student both fans of John Keats, and “Thing of Beauty” was born.
I loved the main character, Ken. And at the end of the story, he mentioned that he had himself become a teacher and had passed on a meaning-laden book of poems to one of his students. I thought, What if Ken were writing this story for her? Why would he do that? Why would she want to know about a former lover of his?
A whole string of stories flowed from there — from Ken’s point of view (“The Big Easy,” “Veronica,” and “Bridge: Virgin Knot”) and from his young lover Allison’s (“Juliet Takes Stage,” “Juliet Takes Off,” and “Juliet Takes Her Leave,” which are already published, and “Juliet Takes the Floor” and “Juliet Takes Charge,” which are coming soon). A friend of mine had started his own publishing company and convinced me a) to turn the cycle into a novel and b) to publish the stories serially. And so that’s what I’ve done!
What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
So far, my favorite (or, on your side of the pond, favourite) is “Juliet Takes Charge,” the sixth piece in the series that I’m writing from Allison’s point of view. It’s as sexually intense as anything I’ve ever written, and I have really loved getting inside of Allison’s head. It culminates in a threesome that Allison has asked Ken and Allison’s best friend Jordan have with her as a birthday present, and it took me in all sorts of interesting directions.
What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
Do Donne and Fielding count? 😉
In terms of current writers, I’d say Selena Kitt, whose output is staggering and whose variety is breathtaking, and Tess Mackenzie, who manages to write these jewel-like explorations of characters’
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Just about everywhere that I can. Obviously, some of the stories and many of the characters are inspired by personal experiences (though not precisely), but many of them too are sparked by books, movies, or television shows that have caught my imagination or raised a question that I want to explore. “Truth and Games,” the first of my Friendly Ménage stories, came out of a number of pieces that I’d read in which threesomes of various types seemed to form effortlessly, without question, and without any emotional fallout. Well, having a stable, satisfying relationship with just one person is complicated enough! I found myself asking just how such a relationship could come together successfully.
Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Not a ritual exactly, but over the years, I’ve found that writing is at least a productive way of dealing with insomnia, and so when I find that I can’t get to sleep — or get back to sleep — I often paddle down to my home office and write. The funny thing is that the fuzzy-headedness often gets my internal editor out of the way, allowing me to take a story in directions that surprise me.
Where’s your favourite place to write?
Favorite? Hmm. Museums. There’s something wonderful about the quiet hum of an art museum that always seems to inspire me — as much or more than the art itself.
Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
I can think of a couple, but the one that seems most obvious is Allison, the Juliet character in the student-teacher romance series that I’ve been working on. She’s a smut author’s best friend: innocent, intelligent, open for just about anything, and voraciously curious. Well, just voracious, really. She’s somewhat submissive, something that she doesn’t really understand about herself, and so she keeps creating situations in which her lover(s) have control over her. I kind of like the idea of the submissive being in charge. 😉
Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
Um. No. I teach teens, so I think my colleagues would run the gamut from amused to appalled. My boss wouldn’t be pleased at all. My partner… would probably be fine with it, but would probably want me to complete the novel I’ve been working on forever.
My kids would be absolutely disgusted!
What was your ideal career when you were a child?
A writer! Or maybe an astronaut.
If you could bring one of your characters to life, which one would it be and why?
Hmm. I’d love to talk to Jordan, Allison’s BFF. She’s someone very different from me, and so I’m kind of fascinated by what she does and why. Also, I’ve kind of been putting her through the ringer, so I feel like I owe her a hug. 😉
Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
Ursula Le Guin — because she writes these intense, thoughtful, beautifully crafted stories. It amazes me that at 85 she’s still writing wonderful books.
What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I don’t really have a favorite; I love good writing and interesting people, and so any story that really explores the characters and what’s happening with them is fun.
I’ve had a lot of fun reading and writing about threesomes. They’re such a perfect storm of erotic fantasy, and they’re so emotionally charged that I find that the characters take me in all sorts of interesting places. And, in some cases, they just keep taking me there — I started “The Visitor” very much as a one-shot, imagining a young woman, Lea, finding herself entangled with not one but two gorgeous firemen. And then I started thinking about what it would actually be like for her actually to move in with Sean and Andy — how they’d all deal with it, what they’d discover about each other and themselves. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m not done yet!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got a number of stories that I’m working on — ranging from the next Visitor story (which is going to be very, um, climactic), and the last couple of stories in the Juliet Takes Flight series to some one-shots that have been banging around in my brain for a while — but the one that I think I’m looking forward to finishing the most is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew that explores a Kate who, in addition to having the biggest attitude in Padua, is (without knowing this about herself) an absolute submissive. Yeah. I don’t know where that came from either.
What’s the biggest writing challenge you’ve ever taken on? Did you succeed?
The YA novel I mentioned above. Haven’t succeeded; not yet at least. 200,000 words and still going!