Here’s an author interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel.
Find out what she had to say…
- How did you start writing erotica?
I was in law school, and had been reading erotica for a few years, and got it into my head that I could try my hand at it. Then I did, and my story “Monica and Me” made it into celebrity erotica anthology Starf*cker and Best Lesbian Erotica 2011. That early validation helped spur me on.
- What’s your favourite published work of yours and why?
I have a few favorites but the true-life ones that are dark are the ones I found most challenging and therefore the ones I’m most proud of, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So “The End” is one of my favorites and most poetic, but I also have a fondness for the humorous pieces, like “Doing the Dishes” and “Lap Dance Lust.”
- What erotic authors do you enjoy reading?
So many! I’m a fan of Alison Tyler, Donna George Storey, Elizabeth Coldwell, Stan Kent, L. Elise Bland, Jacqueline Applebee, Shanna Germain, Kay Jaybee, but am always looking for the next story that’ll wow me. I’m probably forgetting some too (sorry). I like people who have a unique writing style but aren’t afraid to mix it up. When you’re reading as much erotica as I do for my anthologies, it can be easy to get bored, but there is always something new and exciting around the corner.
- Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All over—my life, my friends, the news, a random word or image or piece of clothing or location. I try to look around and see what seems interesting, but usually there’s an image that begs to be written about. I love having a real-life location or object to focus on and build a fictional story around it. That way I can include details that sound realistic but also give my imagination free reign.
- Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
Not really. I try to push past the parts where the writing is toughest and just keep going. I’ll sometimes look at my outfit or my surroundings and fixate on an object to include in a story if I’m having trouble.
- Where’s your favourite place to write?
I have a laptop and take it to Starbucks. There’s one in particular in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that’s in an old movie theater, that I like. Any café where I’ve successfully written a story is one I am happy to return to; I feel like I’m channeling good writing energy.
- Who is your favourite character from one of your stories and why?
I’ve just started getting into writing in the third person, and it gives me a way to access the characters I don’t in other tenses. I’m the type of person who’s always interested in the story I’ve just written or am about to write, so one recent one that will be in Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica is called “Punching Bag” and it’s about a transgender man named Kyle who takes up boxing and has an encounter at the gym. It starts out, “Kyle still wasn’t sure, two years in, if he liked punching or being punched better, on or off the ring.” It was a stretch for me in a few ways, but I find that when I write characters who are different from myself, the most illuminating things are usually the places were we actually intersect, where I can bring some small part of my own sexuality into the story.
- Do your nearest and dearest know what you do, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
Yes, I use my real name so pretty much everyone I’m related to knows. I don’t know what other people think and honestly try my best to stay focused on how I feel about my writing and keeping it fresh. The more I start to worry about what other people think the tougher writing gets.
- What was your ideal career when you were a child?
I wanted to be a geneticist!
- How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I’m usually in the mood to write by the time I sit down to write; it’s getting myself to get there. I am always thinking of things I want to write and my biggest challenge is just getting there already. If I really can’t think of anything, I’ll look at lingerie or shoes or sex toys online, or the news, and try to see if something jogs my imagination.
- What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever been given?
I think to start writing and go for five or ten minutes—Natalie Goldberg talks about this in Writing Down the Bones. I don’t always follow this advice, but I do think it’s excellent for forcing you to stop overthinking.
- If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
Well, often I just start a new file or go to another story, but I also sometimes skip to the middle or end of a story, try to write that, or part of that, and then go back to the part that’s bothering me. Sometimes these extra parts wind up demanding their own story. Thankfully I usually have a few stories going at once so I can skip around.
- Which author, erotic or otherwise would you love to meet and why?
Good question! I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to meet so many of my favorite writers.
- What’s your favourite genre within erotica and why?
I don’t have a specific genre; I do tend to prefer contemporary pieces.
- What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on what I’m calling a “mini memoir” that I hope to sell in e-book form and cover how I came to be a sex columnist and erotica writer, plus assorted short stories and articles, and I have a few other longer ideas I’m trying to put together. I’m always happy when I can get into the zone and get immersed in a story…and then be gentle enough with it to be able to let go of it and finish it. Word limits help me in this regard.
- What’s your biggest writing achievement? Why?
Selling that first story was pretty momentous. I hope my biggest writing achievement hasn’t happened yet – there’s lots I want to do!