Book of the Month - Kristina Lloyd Interview
Her new book Split will be on sale as of 8 November 2007 and Lust Bites - a vampire erotica trilogy also featuring contributions from Mathilde Madden and Portia Da Costa - is out on the same date.
How did you first come to start writing erotic fiction?
I'd just finished a Masters in 20th Century Literature and was wondering what to do next. I like writing and I like sex so thought I'd try my hand at erotica. I started off with short stories then moved on to novels a couple of years later.
Why should people read erotica?
Because it's great! You can get your rocks off and be entertained by an exciting story. You can learn about your own sexuality, discover new ideas, expand your imagination. You can get lost in a world of filthiness and fun. Plus, erotica writers need the money for sex toys and whisky. Or maybe I mean I do.
What inspired you to write 'Asking for Trouble'?
A couple of things. Like Beth, I'd just moved into a new flat in Brighton and there was a guy living across the road who seemed to keep staring into my home. It was quite unnerving. That sparked the idea for the story. But the real catalyst was my editor telling me she wanted Black Lace to move away from traditional romantic narratives and become edgier and more contemporary.
I felt I'd been let off the leash. Prior to that, women's erotica seemed to be saying we preferred lovey-dovey sex and we needed to be seduced into it. What rubbish. Asking for Trouble is a book that says it's OK for women to want rough, dirty, seedy sex. It's OK to assert your desires, whatever they are, and to ask for it.
Which characters do you like or dislike in the book?
Oh, good question! There are some real villains in Asking for Trouble. In one sense, I like them all. They're unpleasant characters but I had a great time creating them. I guess that's the writerly part of me speaking. Outside of that, I can view them as people I wouldn't want to spend much time with in real life. I dislike Pete, the guy involved in the threesome with Beth and Ilya. He's coarse and stupid and has no understanding of Beth's sexuality.
I like Beth a lot. She's brave and honest - not just about her sexuality but about the discomfort she sometimes feels. Ilya, hmmm. He's sexy as hell! I like him. I think he and Beth relate to each other as equals and while he might be a sod at times, he doesn't patronise as so many dominant men seem to in erotica. A reader once told me that she liked Ilya because although he was a bastard, he was never a wanker. I was pleased with that.
Do relationships such as the one between Beth and Ilya exist in 'real life'?
It's tricky. Beth and Ilya embark on a relationship that's supposed to be about sexual exploration rather than emotional involvement. I don't have a problem with recreational sex, it's cool. But I think most people would struggle to sustain a purely sexual relationship.
Emotions are part of being human. I guess the issue is what are the emotions that might threaten the arrangement? Will they destroy or develop it? Is there a tipping point at which, say, the affection and respect two people share nudges towards love? That aside, I know plenty of people do have relationships which are centred around kinky sex and power play. But they probably know more about each other than Beth and Ilya do. Ilya gives very little away about himself and Beth certainly takes some risks.
Is anything in the book based on your own experiences?
Well, it's set in Brighton which is where I've lived for almost 15 years but you don't mean that, do you? You want to know about me and hot, dirty sex! Erotica writers are often asked if they've done everything they've written about and the answer's usually no, much as crime writers haven't necessarily committed murder.
Some of Asking for Trouble is based on my own experiences, some is pure invention. However, even in the invented parts, there's a lot of emotional and sexual truth for me.
Did you find any parts of the book more challenging to write than others?
Hell, yes! It's quite a dark, intense story. Beth fantasises about rape, erotic degradation, sleazy sex, submission, being used by several men - and that doesn't sit easily with who she is: an independent, intelligent woman who believes in sexual equality. Beth and I are very similar - or at least, we've been on a similar journey, that of trying to reconcile getting off on sexual submission with a political perspective that rejects male power.
But I was determined not to shy away from stuff I felt might offend or repulse. The humiliation in the threesome scene was a toughie and so was the near-rape in the antiques warehouse. But to be honest, a lot of the difficulty there was about Beth and Ilya's relationship. Ilya is close to betraying Beth, or to betraying the understanding they have about what they're involved in. Perhaps he crosses a line. I don't know. I think readers have to make up their own mind on that one.
What do you think of the concept on an online Erotic Book Club?
It's fantastic! I love it. It's not easy trying to find out about erotic fiction. Smutty books don't get reviewed very often and you're not likely to get a water-cooler recommendation from a work colleague either. Well, not unless you work in a very exciting office.
Do you have any messages for the members of the Erotic Book Club?
Don't sleep with anyone who has more problems than you. Read Asking for Trouble instead.