Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Donna George Storey: A Truly Amorous Woman

Donna George Storey. Just the name alone should be enough to give you quivers of desire. If it doesn’t, then you haven’t read any of her erotica. Storey writes stories and novels that sizzle with sexuality, culture, characters and smarts. From her silky and sensual shorts like Blinded to her newest novel, Amorous Woman, Storey always delivers.

This week, she agreed to take a break from writing and have a little chat with us here at Lust Bites. Even better than that, she’s granted us a peek at something sexy from Amorous Woman--as well as the chance to win a copy of your very own. Your very own copy of the book, not of an amorous woman, of course. (Although, talk to us--we might be able to arrange it).

Welcome Donna. There are so many things we want to know about you, so let’s get right to the questions! You’re known for walking the line between literature and erotica. Can you talk a little about your processes? Are they different to write? The same?

When I write “literary” fiction, I know the editors are going to require that the sex be bad. Bittersweet at best. Seriously, check out the erotic scenes in most contemporary literature. Sex is either boring or neurotic, and can only be enjoyable if it’s adulterous. But when I write erotica I can let loose and celebrate the pleasure and humor and perversity of sex to the utmost. The hands-on research for erotica is also a lot more fun.

However, I’d say there are more similarities than differences between the two genres and they can blend very well. The principles of good storytelling apply to both. You need conflict, complex and interesting characters, vivid detail. A touch of humor doesn’t hurt. Although mainstream publishers assume explicit sexual writing only touches us below the waist, the best erotica--as illustrated by the work of the writers on this site!--arouses the mind as well as the libido. It challenges assumptions. It tells the truth.

That was my goal with my novel, Amorous Woman--tell my truth about a Western woman’s encounter with Japan, and show how her erotic yearnings interplay with the Japanese desire for things Western. The hands-on research for that was pretty enjoyable, too. I actually tried to write a “literary” version of the same story, but it was boring. And neurotic. I had a great time writing the “dirty” version, and I hope that comes through to the reader.

We’re always interested in a "typical day" for a writer. How much time do you spend writing? Do you outline your stories, or do they come to you in flashes of inspiration, or both? What is your favorite part of the writing process...and what part would you love to make disappear?

On a typical day I wake up at about 5:30 am and take a brisk walk. This is when my current set of characters talks to me and tells me what naughty things they’d like to try next. The shower is where I often get my inspiration for new stories, probably due to all that steam and nudity. Then I usually get about three to four hours of actual writing time at my computer. More than that tends to be counter-productive and for some reason I’m more likely to think I’m a no-talent hack in the evening, although I can work at night if I’m under a deadline.

I’m all for baring secrets, so here are my no-fail writing tricks. First I make an “ideas” file for each story, just typing in all the images, snippets of dialogue and a rough outline very freely, while I keep that internal editor bound and gagged in small dark room (he secretly enjoys this). Then I start the first draft by making a copy of a file of a story that did well. You know, one that made a “best of” anthology and was reprinted five times. Superstitious, yes, but can it hurt? At this point I give myself up to the flow of the prose and go where the feelings take me, rather like sex. For the next draft, I generally need some help with details of the erotic action, so I enlist my husband’s cooperation, and then I don’t care if the story gets published because good things have already come of it.

The part I love best about writing is when I’m in the “zone” and lose myself in the story. The part I’d make disappear is the formulaic rejections—“this isn’t for us.” And editors get so huffy when writers use clichés?

Who are some of your favorite contemporary Japanese authors? Which authors do you find most erotic among Japanese writers in the 20th-21st century?

Okay, more revealing confessions! Before writing erotica, I spent about ten years in academia studying mid-20th century Japanese literature, which meant plenty of appropriately depressing literary sex scenes. Although they can be dark and obsessive, I love Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s novels, especially The Makioka Sisters and Some Prefer Nettles. Nosaka Akiyuki has written some hilarious, if bittersweet sex tales—The Pornographers and “American Hijiki” are two favorites. I also enjoy perusing erotic manga, mainly to learn dirty Japanese words and get a sense of cultural turn-ons. I have a section in Amorous Woman where my protagonist is leafing through comics penned by her best friend and I use the opportunity to describe some common taboos. Nice girls always flush while they’re peeing so others can’t hear, for example. Other popular themes I borrowed are transgressive sex at the office and in the public bath at a hot spring.

S&M and bondage are big, too—a reasonable obsession given the importance of hierarchical relations in Japanese society. One of the many things I love about Japan is the whole-hearted acceptance of sexual fantasy, as long as it’s kept in its place. We seem to be more squeamish about such things in the West.

Oh, and I love shunga, or erotica prints. Here’s one of my favorites--“Autumn Moon of the Mirror Stand” by my favorite artist Suzuki Harunobu. No huge genitals here, just elegance and subtlety. Check out what the samurai is doing with his hands.

Is your fabulous last name a nom de plume or were you destined to be a writer from the day you were born?

I don’t use a pseudonym. It’s part of my lifelong mission to make erotica a respectable endeavor for a nice girl like me. (Well, not too respectable). “Storey” is my husband’s last name and I added it because I was tired of having a boy’s first name as my last name. But I think it was destiny. He’s a wonderful partner and an inspiration. And very cool about enduring those crème de menthe blow jobs for my latest story.

What do you read for inspiration?

I’ll pick up the latest Cleis anthology or peruse the latest on Clean Sheets. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll dig back into the past for some Diane di Prima or a naughty Victorian tale. Those always get the juices flowing.

What's next for you?

I’m currently plotting out my second novel, an erotic romance that is a peek through the bedroom keyhole of American history in the 20th century. There’s something sexy about those more repressed times and I’ll pay homage to Sally Rand, the famous 1930s burlesque dancer, Bettie Page and camera clubs in the 1950s, John Updike’s spouse-swapping suburbia and lots more. The research for this one should be fun, too.

Out of all your work, you have a favorite character or story that you've written? Can you talk about how it came about or the inspiration behind it?

The heroine of Amorous Woman, Lydia, is definitely my favorite character because I’ve spent so much time with her. She’s wilder than I am, but we have more in common than I’d planned. Her story is borrowed from a Japanese classic about a sexually insatiable woman who experienced every type of pleasure 17th-century Japan had to offer, but a lot of my experiences in Japan—the texture, if you will--found their way into the final draft. Amusingly enough, by the end of the novel-writing process, Lydia and a few other characters were telling me what they were and weren’t going to do next. I like cheeky characters who don’t follow the rules!

You promised us a look at that cheeky character of yours, so upcoming is an excerpt from Amorous Woman. Anything we should know beforehand?

The following scene takes place in a traditional hot spring bath in the mountains of Gunma prefecture—a real inn I’ve visited several times where I really feel in touch with the heart of old Japan. In the midst of this beauty and purity, Lydia is unfaithful to her husband for the first time with an anthropology professor. Naughty professors often appear in my stories. This one is very naughty and he turns the tables nicely—instead of having his student lick his ass, he licks hers!

Thanks Donna. It’s been great having you. Now, on to a sexy bit from Amorous Woman!

I suppose you could call it sorcery, the way my flesh suddenly seemed to soften and flow, transforming me from a good wife—although was I ever truly a “good” wife to Yuji?—into a silky, sinuous seductress. With a provocative smile, I inched the bathing towel slowly over my chest, rising up just far enough that my breasts floated like white lilies on the surface of the water. My nipples immediately tightened in the cool air.

The professor stared, as if his eyes were bound to the movement of my hands with steel cable. I’d forgotten how much I loved to have a man in my power.

I took my breasts in both hands, lifting them in offering.

He swallowed visibly.

At first, I was just showing off for him, rolling my nipples between my fingers, licking my thumbs to stroke them over the sensitive tips. But soon enough, I let one hand creep between my legs beneath the cover of the water, just as if he’d never come to interrupt me. Except, of course, there was a real man sitting across from me, his face suspended in the ghostly vapors hovering over the bath. From his hooded eyes and faint grimace, I knew he was touching himself, too, lost in his own dream.

“Will you touch me?” I asked in English, the language of selfishness.

The professor’s face twisted into a frown. He wanted to touch me, I could tell, but something held him back. Was it professional ethics or some less lofty obligation like a wife? I decided not to ask.

“It is best….” He swallowed again. “…If I do not.”

But I thought it best he did.

I rose to my feet, the water gliding from my body like a silk robe. My skin tingled from mild sting of the wintry air, but inside I was still warm from the long soak, my flesh plumped, glowing, hungry.

The professor’s eyes widened and leapt toward me, but his body remained frozen in place.

On impulse, I turned and bent over the edge of the bath, doggy-style, a primal position most men found irresistible.
I glanced back over my shoulder. As if drawn by leash, he moved closer.

I had, finally, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.


You can buy Amorous Woman in the UK at Amazon, Blackwell and some Waterstones bookstores. It will be released in the US in June 2008, but Donna has copies available through her web site. To enter to win a copy, leave a comment in the post. Who knows? You might end up with your very own Amorous Woman!

35 comments:

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Lovely, spicy excerpt! Want more! :-)

Isabel Kerr said...

Enthralling...

Janine Ashbless said...

Oh Donna - I read the review of Amorous Woman over at Erotica Revealed a few weeks back and thought "Wow - this sounds amazing!" I love thoughtful stuff set in cultures I'm unfamiliar with. This is definitely on my list.

Olivia Knight said...

A fabulous interview on both sides - thank you so much.

I agree entirely on the "literary-novel sex" (I'd hesitate to call it "literary sex"). One of the first compendiums of "erotica" I bought was compiled entirely of that style, with sex scenes that inspired, variously, revulsion, disgust, ennui, grief, squeamishness, despair, and hopelessness. I know a number of writers who think these are the key features of truely literary writing, and I like to carry a frying pan around with me so I can bash them on the heads.

Oh - and I love these lines:
“It is best….” He swallowed again. “…If I do not.”
But I thought it best he did.

She cuts so nicely through his pretence of distance and respectability.

Just Craig said...

Wonderful excerpt and an enlightening interview.

I've become increasingly fascinated by far eastern influences, especially the ancient. T'ang China and Edo Period Japan. The poetry of these cultures and their times is sublime.

Speaking of sublime:

From his hooded eyes and faint grimace, I knew he was touching himself, too, lost in his own dream.
“Will you touch me?” I asked in English, the language of selfishness.


Elegant.

Thank you for a great interview Shanna and Donna!

Crystal Adkins said...

Amazing! I think this book would be highly addictive! Great job and wonderful interview!!

Madeline Moore said...

O'm not sure it's good for me to read an excerpt like the one from 'Amorous Woman' included in this excellent interview of Donna Storey, when I am two days away from my deadline with Black Lace.

Suddenly I want to change everything.
But I'll get over that. I can be a grateful reader as well as an envious writer, and I'm grateful for the excerpt, the interview, the information, and the knowledge that your sensibilities and abundant talent, Donna Storey, are being applied to the erotica genre. Aren't we the lucky ones?

Actually, that can be said for Shanna as well, but more about that tomorrow...

Shanna Germain said...

Yes, I have to admit that I too read Donna's work with that sense of "oh my god, I must write better..."

Especially lines like "...the language of selfishness..."

As a reader, it gives me the shivers. As a writer, it gives me serious anxiety!

Best, s.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Loved the interview, and the excerpt is dazzling! Your exquisite imagery, and your gift for seamlessly flowing eros into wit (and vice versa), are striking indeed.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Well I'm hopeless for anything with a Japanese influence, so of course this caught my attention. Lovely.

Janine Ashbless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janine Ashbless said...

One of the first compendiums of "erotica" I bought was compiled entirely of that style, with sex scenes that inspired, variously, revulsion, disgust, ennui, grief, squeamishness, despair, and hopelessness

It wasn't The Mammoth Book of International Erotica (ed. Jakubowski), was it? Should the time come when I need to kill myself, I shall just read that first and then in a fit of despair let it fall on my head and dash my brains out.

Olivia Knight said...

Oh my god, Janine, got it in one! If ever I want to put myself right off sex, forever, all I need to do is flick through its dreary pages.

I was quite impressed with the editing, though, I must admit. To be faced with the amazing variety of erotica that's actually available, ranging from the dazzlingly erudite to the just-plain-damn-horny, Ed. Jakubowski achieved the astonishing feat of not including a single appealing or arousing scene.

However, once you've glued the pages together, it makes an excellent doorstop.

Olivia Knight said...

P.S. Ed., if you're out there, here's a helpful tip:

e·rot·i·ca (ĭ-rŏt'ĭ-kə)
pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.

Or you could just scan up, read Ms Storey's splendid excerpt, and then fall honourably on your sword.

Kate Pearce said...

What a gorgeous excerpt! Can't wait for June :)
I loved your concept that most of the sex in literary works is of the negative kind-I absolutely agree.

Thanks so much for visiting!

Madeline Moore said...

'Then I start the first draft by making a copy of a file of a story that did well. You know, one that made a “best of” anthology and was reprinted five times.'

Verrrry interesting. I'd like to know if Donna reads it or just keeps it nearby to remind her she's successful...

Donna said...

Thanks so much for the support, everyone! I LOVE Lust Bites, it's like all my favorite erotica writers! To answer Madeline's question, I don't read the story, I just use it to remind myself good things are possible. It helps me face that blank screen.

Ashley Lister said...

Donna & Shanna:
Excellent interview (on both sides) and I have to agree that Amorous Woman is a brilliant novel. Now that I've retrieved my copy from a family member who had borrowed it, it's taking pride of place on my shelf.

Best wishes,

Ashley

dennis mahagin said...

Allo.

My name is Dennis, I'm a Certified Internal Editor, and I find the posted excerpt of Donna Storey's "Amorous Woman" to be nothing short of immaculate. In fact, the thought of replacing even one sweet comma with a semi-colon forces me to envision all the bad things that are bound to befall me, as a consequence.


My Best to U,

DM

Smut Girl said...

Wonderful excerpt. Every time I see that cover I do a double take. Something about it grabs and then regrabs my attention.

I can assume it's okay to say that Fezziwig's Balls was one of my favorite Christmas tales this year...Right? ;)

Great interview, Shanna!

xoxo
Sommer

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, Donna! I am in awe! I have been a fan of yours for years, and am really honored that you're in so many of my collections. Your story in "E is for Exotic" is one of my all-time favorites.

Thanks very much for letting us sneak a peek into your process as a writer. (You all know how nosy I am by now.)

XXX,
AT

P.S. Olivia—maybe you were joking here
Ed., if you're out there, here's a helpful tip:

e·rot·i·ca (ĭ-rŏt'ĭ-kə)
pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire.

Or you could just scan up, read Ms Storey's splendid excerpt, and then fall honourably on your sword.


But I believe Ed. Jakubowski does know Donna's work. I might be mistaken, but I thought he was in charge of Neon, which pubbed Amorous Woman.

EllaRegina said...

What a terrific interview! Great Qs and great As! Loved the excerpt -- Miss Olivia beat me to it with the quoted lines. Those stood out to me, too, as exemplary of your wry wit.

I have this vivid image of a home "research" laboratory where you perform delicious experiments on your conjugal guinea pig! All in the name of Erotic Science of course! Your gift to humanity, and much more fun than growing mold in a petri dish, for both scientist, test subject (one would imagine), and ultimate consumer, i.e. me, your reader.

Ally said...

Oh that was so yummy. Thank you for sharing.

Olivia Knight said...

Guess that's me shafted at Neon...

Falls on own sword

Nikki Magennis said...

Lovely interview, Donna, and gorgeous excerpt! Another writer to hold in awe and covet the books off of ...

Shanna Germain said...

Thanks so much, Donna. It's been such a treat to have you here today! I loved hearing all the ways that you write, and all of your influences. It makes me want to do nothing but write and travel.

Best, s.

Deanna Ashford said...

Thanks for visiting Donna. Fascinating interview and what a great excerpt.

industrial spy said...

Don't worry Olivia, Neon's dead.

Zen of Writing said...

Your comment about the research made me smile -- surely the most fun part of writing erotica.

Much luck to you.

Ann

Emerald said...

Sorry I'm late, but I did just want to say that I love your stuff, Donna. Your story "Therapy" in Best Women's Erotica 2006 was one of my favorites; I remember thinking what an honor it was to be in BWE '06 with it!

Also, this:

"For the next draft, I generally need some help with details of the erotic action, so I enlist my husband’s cooperation, and then I don’t care if the story gets published because good things have already come of it."

...made me laugh out loud. Awesome! ;)

Thanks Shanna and Donna. :)

Xoxoxo,
Emerald

Kat said...

I think the novel sounds really interesting! I've become enamored with Japanese culture in the last few years, especially the visual arts. I love how she's inspired by traditional art like shunga, but also contemporary work like erotic manga.

Donna said...

Thank you so much everyone! It's been great being here and I'm so glad you enjoyed the excerpt and the "spring picture." Making connections with other writers has been THE best part of this experience and I'll definitely be dropping by the comment salon to hang with ya.

xox,

Donna

Lisabet Sarai said...

Wonderful post, Donna! Your husband is lucky to be the subject of your research.

If anyone is interested in another, perhaps more "literary" (grin) review of Amorous Woman, check out my recent post at
Erotica Readers and Writers Association
.

angell said...

Can't wait to read this one - it's getting me hot and ready right now.

It sounds like a must read.

rlr260 said...

OK, I'm late to the thread again. I can't surf this site at work anymore, so most of my reading is on the weekend.

Congratulations on a great interview, and a HOT excerpt. I will definitely watch for your novel at my bookstore.