VALERIE ALEXANDER

  • Review: Best Women's Erotica of the Year vol. 2

    Any regular erotica reader has noticed that the number of anthologies has, well, dropped in recent years. Luckily CLeis Press has continued to regularly produce a few of their old standbys, namely Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Women's Erotica. Vol. 2 of the latter is now out and it's going to be of special interest this year.

    Why: a whole new crop of writers from last year. Anyone who appeared in vol. 1 (like me) was not allowed to submit for this collection, and the same applies for the upcoming vol. 3. So you're getting a fresh round of storiesand a higher likelihood of finding new scenes, new characters, new ideas - maybe that 1 story that seems like it sprang from your brain.

    That said, many of the authors are famililar to erotica fans: Corrine A. Silver, Annabeth Leong, Kay Jaybee and others popular writers have stories in this collection. The result is a book that's probably going to please almost anyone who reads it.

    My favorite stories:

    Silver's "Her Best" where a dominant woman takes on a drinking buddy and ropes him, making him "a caught thing in her web." While there are never enough femdom stories for my tastes, what makes this one especially good is its realism - there are no implausible bondage moves that will take a reader out of the story.

    T.C. Mill's "Phone Call, 3 AM" is incredible. Second person stories can be quite moving in erotica, done night, and Mill hits all the right notes in this eloquent, searing story.

    "At The End of the World" was another great tale - there's certainly a shortage of apocalyptic erotica in the world, and this MMF story of a woman and two men who find each other after a plague is pretty hot.

    Jaybee's "Brick Dust" is another great bondage story that is a master class in pacing. Hot, visceral and perfectly crafted to draw out the tension between the two characters.

    That's not to say the other stories weren't good, because not one was a snoozer. And with a range of situations - including cybersex, stranger sex, teacher & forrmer student sex - this volume of Best Women's Erotica has something for everyone.

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  • Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year is out

    Your favorite book of the year is here! Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year just came out, and it's fully of (presumably) great stories. I haven't read them all yet because I just got my author copy today - but I started with the first story by the always-captivating Tamsin Flowers, "Act Two," and it was fabulous.

    My story "Off Season" is about an affair betweent college soccer players. If you've played, you know the rush that comes from playing under the lights with a tribe of ferocious women around you; you know the tedium of long hot practices, the rivalries and victories, the groupies, and the occasional off-limits-but-still-happening sex. That's this story in a nutshell.

    I'll have more information on readings in a bit.

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  • My story Snow Globe is in Liquid Imagination

    Heroin, blizzards and the afterlife: my story "Snow Globe" is out in the new issue of Liquid Imagination.

    You can read it here.

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  • Best Lesbian Erotica 2017 TOC

    Is it autumn already? It must be, because the Table of Contents for the next Best Lesbian Erotica (2017) is out. The book comes out this December - and to celebrate the release, there will be a DCW (Drunken, Careening, Writers!) reading series at the KGB Bar in New York on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

    Without further ado...

    Act Two by Tamsin Flowers

    Fuckin' Nice by Deb Jannerson

    The Last Time by Annabeth Leong

    Pledge Night by Radclyffe

    Mother Tongue by Camille Duvall

    Peel by Jones

    Coyote Girl by Evey Brett

    Revenant by Vanessa de Sade

    Off Season by Valerie Alexander

    Taming May by Megan McFerren

    You Have the Right to Remain Naked by Samantha Luce

    Spa Day by Taylor C. Dunne

    Two Women Having Sex by Elna Holst

    Covert Affairs by V. Florian

    A Sense of Coming Home by P. A. Nox

    Crème Brûlée by Sacchi Green

    Ink and Canvas by Geonn Cannon

    Bush Garden by J. Belle Lamb

    A Cooking Egg by Roxy Katt

    Topping Down by C Selene

    My story "Off Season" is about a forbidden lust between 2 Division 1 soccer players. I'll post an exerpt as we get closer.

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  • My story "Alice" is out in Cafe Irreal

    Want a weird little piece of flash today? My story "Alice" came out in the May issue of Cafe Irreal. You can read it here.

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  • Interview with Avery Cassell

    Have you read Behrouz Gets Lucky yet? If not, go pick it up; I'll wait. The book is a love story, a kink story, a discovery story and a celebration of language. I really loved it, for reasons that will probably be clear in my questions below. Yes, author Avery Cassell was generous enough to talk to me about the book.

    Behrouz Gets Lucky is such a unique novel. Not just in its subject matter, but in its lushness of description which is at odds with the sparse language of so much modern lit. It often seems we're in the era of Rules Writing, where everyone aspires to have similar minimalist tones. Have you gotten any push back on that front from publishers or reviewers - in any project?

    This is the first novel that I’ve written and it’s only been out for a little over a month, so I don’t have much experience with either rejection or acceptance of my writing style. People that listen to me read, comment extremely favorably on how visual my work is, how it invites them into a special world. Cleis Press has been fine with my style. Many of my reviewers have focused on the gender and age of the protagonists, rather then my style. I had one reviewer, however, that was insulted by what they called my

    pretentiousness, excessive use of adjectives, and obscure book or movie references.

    Have you found that people automatically expect erotic writing to be subpar in quality, that literary erotic fiction is an oxymoron?

    I think that people expect erotic fiction to get directly to the point in a fairly cheerless and nonsensual manner. They do not expect much in the way of ordinary life to intrude upon their erotica, whereas I think domesticity should mingle with erotica. We are a remarkably prudish country, compartmentalizing sex away from the rest of our lives, our “real” life. I dream of the day when comparing our weekends on Monday morning with our co-workers, we excitedly mention the great orgasm we had on Sunday night, along a movie we saw Saturday, and the terrific brunch that we cooked. I don’t think that we can have a rich culture of literary erotica until sex is incorporated into our domestic lives. Secrecy and shame are a creative buzz-kill.

    Who would you cite as your influences?

    I was directly influenced by the Swedish mystery writer, Henning Georg Mankell, while I was writing Behrouz Gets Lucky; I loved the attention to mundane domestic and natural details that Mankell included in his Wallander series, even having Kurt retire due to the most ordinary of reasons, early-onset Alzheimers. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes is another favorite book that I reread. I adore its overblown prose, the constant ruminating, the doctor’s beautiful rant about the nature of the night in the chapter “Watchman, What of the Night”, and the ending with Robin and the dog circling one another in an abandoned chapel. My favorite poet is Stevie Smith, for her dry wit, silliness, and her secrets. My favorite smut and sex writer is the ever brilliant, Pat Califia, whose books Macho Sluts and Public Sex helped me leave the farmhouse in the mid-80s. No, that was not a euphemism.

    Characters over a certain age are usually absent from erotic depictions. Have you gotten any appreciation, surprise or other reactions from readers? Do you think we're headed culturally for an expansion of recognition on that front - that we're moving (in literature or movies/TV) away from the equation of sex with youth?

    I do think we’re heading towards an expansion of recognition of the power that sexuality has in our lives, and believe that this will not only include middle-aged and older people, but that they will be instrumental in driving this cultural change. As we age, we become more outspoken, including becoming louder about the importance of desire and passion.

    I’ve gotten a ton of support and appreciation from middle-aged straight women for my depiction of lust and love between older people. One of my readers when I was writing Behrouz Gets Lucky was a pal who was 50-year- old gay man, and he was completely enamored with the romance and passion in my book. Middle-aged and older gay men seem to love my book. My aunt, a lesbian in her 80s who used to be a separatist in the 1970s, copy edited my book and wrote, “But my liking the story is about how good it is. And that is more valid because I'm not the ideal audience for this material. I know and practice only vanilla sex and read only vanilla erotica. My liking you made me want to read your work and the power of the story made me keep reading. I didn't find it distasteful or politically offensive as I might have.”

    Similarly, do you think readers are ready for an expansion of what we consider to be a successful relationship or love story? Used to be that characters had to follow a certain trajectory that ended in permanence and monogamy, - or it didn't count as a "healthy" relationship. Even as real-life people have begun shattering those limitations, many publishers seem to think readers need that kind of convention in their books. Have you found that to be the case or do you think readers are more open that they're given credit for?

    We need to break conventions in our books! I believe that many more people are practicing more diverse relationship configurations, than are talking about them publicly, although that is changing. There is so much cultural shame around not being in a stable monogamous relationship where your partner fills all your needs that folks prefer to remain closeted rather than have to defend unorthodox choices. Folks are hungry to read about other relationship styles and other gender expressions; reading about them gives readers permission to follow different relationship and gender paths, presents creative relationship choices, and gives them role models.

    I remember when Dykes to Watch Out For came out in 1983, and what an enormous relief it was to see the diversity of our community reflected publicly with love and humor. When I see the New York Times featuring US Senator Harris Wofford coming out in a bisexual intergenerational relationship with his male fiancé, Matthew Charlton, and Mollena Williams-Haas and Georg Friedrich Haas coming out as a couple in a D/s marriage, I have enormous hope that relationship models are expanding.

    It used to be that there was LGBT and then everyone else. As sexual and gender politics have become more complex, the community has become fractured along identity and ideological lines to the point where many question if there is still a cohesive LGBTQAI+ community or if that's no longer a useful category. What do you see as the future of what used to be called "gay" lit? Do you think there is still such a thing or that we're moving into a future where we need different publishing categories that are more intersectional - or just less of an emphasis on categories in general?

    I love “gay lit!”, but then I also have a great deal of affection for cataloguing and a dusty degree in library science. I don’t think there has ever been a cohesive LGB community, let alone a cohesive LGBTQAI+ community. Here in San Francisco, the Castro is becoming a more diverse neighborhood, no longer the bastion of gay culture. Some sociologists think that gayborhoods are disappearing, and if so, does this mean that there will also be less of a need for LGBTQ literature too? Will assimilation and acceptance homogenize LGBTQ culture? Marriage equality is happening at the same time that we’re

    fighting public bathroom wars and hate crimes against transgender people are rising.

    What does this mean for living as LGBTQ people in this country? What does it mean for publishing? Damned if I know. We need to stand together, but I don’t think we stand a chance of creating a strong cohesive community unless we stop emphasizing our differences and start emphasizing our similarities. This needs to happen on all levels, including how we categorize our culture and our literature. Having said all this, I’m a Libra and I waffle. Not like breakfast, but like changing my mind. We need to be cognizant of inclusion, and it may be that the only way we can do this is by becoming

    more intersectional. As a postscript, perhaps we need a variation of the Bechdel Test for queers in literature.

    What can you tell us about your next book?

    I’m actively working on another book of Behrouz and Lucky’s adventures, with their friends and family playing much stronger parts, and have joked that I should write a dystopian science fiction novel starring my favorite crafty flâneurs, Behrouz and Lucky; I think they’d be handy to have around during an apocalypse. I have a few other projects at various stages of incompletion including an illustrated early reader children’s book about a young transboy and the transcription of an archive of aerograms that my parents mailed from Iran to their parents in Virginia in the early 1960s. You can keep in touch with me

    at averycassell.com.

    Thanks, Avery!

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  • Excerpt from "Grindhouse"

    Today I'm up in the Best Lesbian Erotica blog tour. And that means traveling back in time to 1955 Times Square, where my story "Grindhouse" is set.

    I've always been fascinated by the world of pin-up girls and burlesque dancers from the 1940's-1960's, especially those years when mass-produced pornography was first being - very carefully - created. The "fighting girl" films of Irving Klaw and his obscenity trial are especially interesting, given that we now live in a world where people can schedule bondage dates through FetLife and buy leather dog masks on Amazon. Was it a more innocent time back then or was it actually naughtier, since so much was still taboo? Hard to say.

    My story "Grindhouse" centers around a burlesque dancer taking her first steps into the world of BDSM, courtesy of forbidden magazines, Times Square theatres and eventually, acting in bondage films herself.

    Back on the street, the Elysium Theatre entrance waits like an open, grinning mouth. Cat Fight Confidential! the marquee promises. Pyromania! The Elysium is one of the sleaziest theatres on the Deuce, crawling with hustlers and their scores in the balcony and plainclothes vice prowling the rows of seats. Supposedly a man got mugged in the restroom last week. But that doesn't stop me from handing my money to the girl behind the ticket booth glass.

    I settle in near the back. A black and white film set on a beach is playing, what they call a low-budget roughie. But just a few minutes later, a new film starts – these seems to be mostly brief film clips - and a flickering, black and white screen spells out Cat Fight Confidential.

    This film has no dialogue, just a merry instrumental tune. A blonde society girl is brushing her hair at the mirror. A maid sweeps in and they argue. The hairbrush is snatched back and forth a few times, and then the girls are pushing each other and wrestling all over the floor.

    I lean forward in my seat, scarcely able to breathe. The girls tumble energetically around the room until the maid gets fed up and pins the society girl on the bed, pulling off her dress while the society girls kicks and screams. I wait for them to grind against each other, for the maid to strip her naked. But she only brings the blonde down to the floor and pulls off her slip. The society girl twists and pouts in her bra and panties.

    The door flies open and a tall black-haired woman strolls into the scene. She moves with a swagger, a jungle cat with a menacing smile. She scolds them both with much finger wagging, then holds up a length of clothesline. I cross my legs, flushed and excited. She's going to strip them naked and tie them up. All my life I’ve burned with dreams like this, secret shameful fever dreams of naked girls in bondage, women who knew how to take charge.

    But the tall black-haired actress doesn’t pull off their clothes. Instead she swiftly bends the maid over the table - still in her uniform - and ties her hands to its legs, so the maid is stuck with her bottom sticking out. She ties the society girl to the other end of the table in the same position, then takes the hairbrush and begins spanking both of them with a smirk.

    A shivery thrill snakes down my spine. She's so dominant. So authoritative. My cunt feels hot and wet and swollen under my skirt.

    Best Lesbian Erotica is out now - and it's the 20th anniversary edition. Don't miss it.

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