by Alison Tyler
We, at LustBites, are all atwitter. Today, we’re featuring an interview with editrix extraordinaire Susie Bright! Ms. Bright is the cofounder and editor of the first women's sex magazine, On Our Backs, the founder of the first women's erotica book series, "Herotica," and the editor of the excellent "Best American Erotica" series, which she began in 1993. BAE 2007 is the 15th collection in the series. Basically, Susie rocks!
Susie, you are an inspiration. One who's made such an impact to all of us: readers and writers alike. We’re truly excited you’re here.
Lust Bites: One lustbiter recalls picking up a Best American antho, "And it was like I'd been given treasure. All the erotica I was reading tended to be very romantic, health spa-ish, full of adverbs.
Susie Bright: LOL! who of you said that? Please tell me! I have never heard the "health-spa-ish" appellation before, that is too perfect. And just ask me about the Adverb Diet!
LB: And suddenly here was good stylish writing with contemporary characters I could relate to, wit, intelligence, relevance ... oh, I was so happy it existed."
SB: I must quote this. You must reveal.
LB: It was Kristina Lloyd who said that. (You don't mind that I've outed you, Kristina, do you?) Another Lustbiter remembers reading a quote from you. It was so powerful, she posted it on the wall: "Close your eyes for a moment, and remember the last time you had an orgasm. At the moment of climax, how many of you were thinking about a lovely walk on the beach, or a bouquet of balloons?" God, that was freeing.
SB: Yes, I remember writing it, and it liberated me to just blurt it out. I was taking a chance, but it really does seem to speak for the multitudes! Who among you had this memory?
LB: Um, that was me. It's still one of my favorite quotes! You know, we wish we could sit around a roaring fire with you, drinking bubbly and painting our nails while we slip sultry questions into the conversation.
SB: Well, why not? Why do we never have a group retreat, get-together, something?
LB: As we're an international crew, that's not going to happen unless one of us rakes in the lottery. So instead, we've managed to come up with a variety of questions. Pick and choose your favorites, or go off on another tangent altogether. (We'd all love to hear more about the delicious Best American Erotica 2007 which features one of our crew, the ever so talented Shanna Germain.)
SB: I have an interview with Shanna on my blog...
LB: What do you think of the romance genre's trend toward erotic romance?
SB: I wrote a piece answering this very question, which I'm really proud of.
LB: What do you look for in an erotic story? What do you hate to see?
SB: The erotic story has a built-in expectation: Person A Meets Person B (Maybe a C and D, etc) and They Get It On, After a Brief Conflict.
That expectation is deadly. Predictability is the torture of literature. So, a great erotic story for me is one that makes me completely forget that I think I know what's going to happen, that makes me really wonder how the conflict will be overcome, that captures me with suspense of some kind. That makes me innocent.
Well, you hit on my "hates" in your comments above. Mushy, cornball, bigoted crap-cakes. With lots of adverb frosting.
LB: What shocks you? Has this changed over the years?
SB: Not really. My sensitivities are pretty consistent. Cruelty and callousness, the real kind, not the erotic variety, are what push my buttons. But I will publish these very things, these kind of characterizations, if they're not gratuitous, because of course, if it REALLY shocks you then it means the author knows what they're doing, with their craft and imagination. In other words, to take an example from mainstream literature, of course "Hannibal Lecter" frightened me. He's supposed to. The Marquis de Sade IS shocking, he'd better be. An erotic story can have shocking, anti-erotic content and still be wildly successful as writing and as erotica, if it finds its own divine conclusion.
On a more political note, what really shocks me is the tenacity of Anglo-American puritanism. I am so fucking sick of it, and it never lets up, never stops ruining people's lives, never lets go of its hold on democracy.
LB: Who or what are your heroes/inspirations?
SB: I'm one of those people who just goes wild over a new bud opening, a new person I just met on the bus, an intact sea urchin shell on the beach... I don’t meant to sound like a ditzy ingenue, but I would be crushed if I didn’t find something new that's beautiful or intriguing or contemplative to get into, day to day. I'm impulsive that way.
LB: Has there ever been a story that you wished you'd written yourself?
SB: That is the essence of BAE... I wish I wrote virtually all of those stories! That's exactly my criteria!
LB: Have you ever considered starting your own Susie Bright imprint or publishing empire?
SB: Yes, certainly. Stay tuned...
LB: What is your feeling about ebooks? Do you think people will ever make the full transition to online reading, leaving paper books behind?
SB: I have. I mean, I'm bi-readable now. I enjoy ebooks all the time, because I read on my computer ALL THE TIME. But I love my books, always will. It's like loving movies and loving books and loving music.
Thank you for your time, Susie. We can't wait to see what you have waiting for us in the wings...
Be sure to check out the BAE editions featuring Lustbiters -
Alana Noel in BAE 2005
Gwen Masters in BAE 2006
Shanna Germain in BAE 2007
And visit Susie's journal for more.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
by Alison Tyler