Book of the Month - Virginia Crowley interview
Our Erotic Book Club choice for February, Longing for Toys sees Virginia Crowley turning away from the holy orders explored in Corruption in favour of a red-hot tale of sexual obsession in strip clubs. And with a title like that, you just know it isn't going to be long before the toys come out …
It's a very horny, very funny book, and we're proud to present an exclusive interview with the author, talking about Longing for Toys, sexual addiction and just why it pays to steer clear of strippers. Read on:
How did you first come to start writing erotic fiction?
I was recovering from surgery. It took several months and I was very much in need of some physical stimulation. I always enjoyed erotic stories and looked for some on-line that I had hoped would turn me on. I found some, but not very many, and not very well executed. As Hungary does not have any English language bookstores with an erotica section, I was forced to write my own.
Could you tell us a little about your influences?
I have gained a great deal from the books of Somerset Maugham, Terry Pratchett, Haruki Murakami, Bret Easton Ellis, and from fairy tales and myths of all kinds. My erotica influences are composed of a hodgepodge of hot scenes from hundreds of stories. Without striving for completeness, the list includes Little Red Ridinghood, the Piers Anthony novel 'For Love of Evil', classics like 'Pride and Prejudice' and many others. These were not necessarily overt scenes.
What inspired you to write Longing for Toys?
When I lived in DC I became friends with two girls who were dancers at a prominent gentlemen's club. They regaled me with stories. Once an old man tipped one a cheque for 5,000 dollars; although tempted, she refused to cash it. This was hardly an unusual occurrence. I watched them work. They made men beg to be allowed to give their money to them. It was milking at its purest. I also became interested in the story of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who sold information to the Russians, just so he could shower a stripper with gifts and cash. This was a married man and he bought this woman a Mercedes, a trip to Hong Kong and a gym membership. She never slept with him. She just milked him dry.
After Corruption I made a conscious effort to at least temporarily break with historical settings and magical devices (such as the aphrodisiac substance in Corruption). I love the Corruption story, but I wanted to show what I could do in a contemporary setting without resorting to extreme plot devices. The above setting and basic storyline was a natural choice.
The original idea was for a trilogy: Corruption, Addiction, Treason; the last book taking the Hanssen story to its ultimate evolution. In the end I chose Longing for Toys for the title of the second volume instead of the intended Addiction, although that would have been a good fit too.
Longing for Toys deals with an areas that Nexus normally steers clear of: the commercial sex trade. Was there any resistance to the idea with the publishers?
Not at all. My suspicion is that they knew I would be able to do it right. In addition, I don't pitch my publisher ideas in the conventional sense; I usually send them a completed manuscript. So they were able to tell it was done right from the very beginning.
All of the characters are motivated exclusively by status, money and sex: the strippers' desire for cash only mirrors what the 'classy' girls are looking for too. Do you really have such a bleak view of human nature?
Greed is simply the sexual trigger, the primary theme of the book. The 'victims' are fundamentally flawed people, they have an Achilles heel that the 'villains' exploit in the most sensual way possible.
Longing for Toys reads at times like an anti-stripper cautionary tale, with the men's descent into erotic addiction just like an anti-drugs screed: one gets hooked, then brings the others in so he can afford more, etc. Were you consciously using this model?
Absolutely. 'Addiction' was the title I originally contemplated for this book. It is my belief that any given thing can be addictive if it is pleasurable. Few things are more pleasurable than sex. How many men or women have become trapped in relationships where the only glue holding it together was sexual desire? How many marriages fall apart after one party loses sexual interest? I've seen men addicted to strip clubs. I've seen men who were trying but unable to break free. It can be like drug addiction.
There's also almost an element of class war to the novel: the strippers (who occupy a lowly social position) turn the tables on the upper classes. Again, was this a conscious decision?
Yes, it was. Being dominated by someone who is of the upper classes is not very humiliating. Let's take the case of an aristocrat disciplining a young woman who is entirely at his mercy. In what way is that domination and submission? Submission is in the nature of a servant and domination is in the nature of the aristocrat.
Submitting to a tawdry, low class, shallow woman – or man - is erotically compelling because it is a conscious choice by someone who should know better. This is why kind and agreeable mistresses are not in demand. Surrendering to a demanding, evil bitch is a humiliating act of submission that's a real turn on for any submissive.
This is a very different take on fem dom from the hoary old clichés. Do you think the Mistress Whiplash model has had its day?
I am more inclined to say that it has been well covered. There is a lot of good material out there already. Even more importantly, Mistress Whiplash doesn't turn me on, and to write good erotica, it must turn you on to the core of your being.
Do you have a personal favourite of the sex scenes?
Absolutely. Chapters 6-8 are my personal favourites – the first three Holly chapters. How her resistance wears away under the relentless goad of her addiction to the stripper's sex toy, until she becomes Trixie, heart and soul. The specific scene I am thinking of is when Michele just sits there with a strap-on and a sobbing Holly is incapable of breaking free and saving her wardrobe, and her old identity with it.
Longing for Toys is (naturally) full of toys, some of which are custom-made. Is there anything on the Lovehoney website you'd like to use in a future novel?
Good Lord. That would be a long list. I am looking at it now – if I get into it I won't get anything done tonight. I like a lot of the dresses and the black and pink two-toned court shoe. I may be able to get one of my best friends to rename herself Trixie if I got her exposed to that Waver Bunny Rabbit Vibrator.
Could you tell us a little bit about your last novel, Corruption?
Sure – let me hook all you innocents reading with some slivers of corruption: an evil harlot seduces a saintly monk inside a confessional; whores infiltrate a convent and corrupt the nuns; a principled Bishop is subjected to the ultimate of temptations. The corruption spreads like dark ripples in a pond. The taint infects everyone. It's a very hot, evil book.
Is there any other contemporary erotica you rate highly?
Lance Porter (author of Enthralled) is an exceptional writer. This is not to take anything away from the other Nexus authors - Nexus publishes good writing. But I prefer to read books from many genres and then derive erotic inspiration from individual scenes or characters.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors on how to write erotic fiction?
Write what turns you on. I can tell – and so can any editor worth his or her salt – if someone is faking it. And write at least a thousand words per day. It's simply a matter of discipline. Stephen King wrote a fantastic book that I recommend to any aspiring writer, erotic or otherwise, titled 'On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.'
What do you think of the concept of an online Erotic Book Club?
It's a great idea and I am 100 percent behind it. Many people get their first exposure to erotica on-line and this is a logical progression.
Any message for your fans?
I appreciate your appreciation. I am glad that I was able to share my lust with you. Every time I hear that someone was turned on by what I had written, it honours me. Your time is precious and for you to have selected my book for company is the highest of compliments. Thank you!