Kristina Wright’s erotic fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies, including four editions of the Lambda award-winning series Best Lesbian Erotica, two editions of Best Women’s Erotica, two volumes of the Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and three editions of Ultimate Lesbian Erotica. Her work has also been featured in the nonfiction guide The Many Joys of Sex Toys and in e-zines such as Clean Sheets, Scarlet Letters, and Good Vibes Magazine. Kristina holds a BA in English and an MA in Humanities. For more information, visit her website, www.kristinawright.com.
Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.
Surprisingly — or not so surprisingly — I’ve been writing about sex since I was in high school. The title of my senior Psychology research paper was “Behind Closed Doors: Women’s Sexual Fantasies.” I got an A. Since then, I’ve written numerous academic papers on the topic of female sexuality.
I stumbled upon writing erotic fiction quite by accident. It was 1999 and I had just published my first romance novel with Silhouette Intimate Moments. I was sick of writing novel proposals, so I wrote this quirky story called “Service Entrance” about a woman who gives a man a blowjob and then pays him for the privilege. I had no idea what to do with the story. At the time, I subscribed to a newsletter called Jane’s ‘Net Sex Guide, put out by the fabulous Jane Duvall, who runs Jane’s Guide. The newsletter editor, Adrienne Benedicks, who runs the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, liked my story and sent me the sweetest, most flattering e-mail about it. “Service Entrance” was my very first erotica story ever and Adrienne bought it for Jane’s ‘Net Sex Guide within days– talk about validation!
After that first sale, I discovered Adrienne’s mailing list for erotica writers, which is a treasure trove of information for writers. A few months later, I sent “Service Entrance” to Marcy Sheiner for what would become a new series for Cleis — Best Women’s Erotica — and she published it in that inaugural 2000 edition. I haven’t looked back since. I give tons of credit and appreciation to Jane Duvall, Adrienne Benedicks and Marcy Sheiner for starting my career as an erotica writer.
(Just a note about “Service Entrance” — I received several e-mails telling me I must be a guy pretending to be a woman because women didn’t enjoy giving oral sex that much.)
Other things about me: I had a long distance, whirlwind relationship with a Navy sailor back in 1990 and this October we will have been happily married for18 years. I’m a coffee addict. The baristas at my local Starbucks often have my coffee ready before I even get to the counter. I have had the same car for almost 16 years — a blue 1992 Mazda Miata. I’ve known my best friend Sheri for almost 20 years, though we’ve only lived in the same state (Florida) for a year and a half. I believe in commitment and I’m very loyal: whether it’s to marriage, a coffee shop, a car or a friend.
Your story “Beautiful Creature” is told wonderfully from a male point of view. What was the inspiration for the story? What do you feel you bring to the form as a woman writing from a male POV?
It is unusual for me to write from the male POV. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have taking the male perspective in a story. It wasn’t a conscious thought on my part, really. “Beautiful Creature” just evolved as Jon’s observations.
The story was inspired by a trip I took with my husband Jay to St. Thomas in July 2006. Jay is a SCUBA diver and would get up quite early every morning to go diving. I’m not a diver or a morning person, so I would drag myself out of bed around 9 and head down to the beach. Each day, about the time I was heading back to my room for a nap before lunch, I would see this stunning woman sitting at the open air bar by the pool. She was always alone, she looked heartbreakingly sad and I couldn’t help but wonder about her story. She wore a wedding ring, but I never saw her husband (or anyone else, for that matter). Observing her this way, unable to get into her head, I started speculating on what the men who noticed her (there were many) might be thinking. Thus, Jon was created.
In the story, your narrator Jon zeroes in on a married woman and pursues her. He seems to see parts of her that she blocks off from the rest of the world:
The elevator had passed the fifth floor and was climbing.
“Take your top off, now, before the elevator door opens, or I won’t fuck you.”
She stared at him, blue eyes startled, a blush creeping into her cheeks. Despite her dismay, there was something in her expression that let him know she was aroused at the thought of exposing herself at his command.
How does he know or intuit what she will like sexually?
“Beautiful Creature” is all about stripping away — literally and figuratively — the superficial artifice that has become Pamela’s identity. Jon is that rare person who cannot only see beneath the surface of what she shows the world, he also has the nerve to follow up on it. There is also the fantasy world that is vacation– things can happen at an island resort that couldn’t possibly happen any place else. Pamela is able to let her guard down and allow Jon into her private world because she’s out of her element and he recognizes a crack in her carefully maintained facade.
In a sense, “Beautiful Creature” is bittersweet, because the lovers only have that one encounter to enjoy each other before parting ways. What emotions are you trying to evoke in readers with the story?
I think consciously trying to evoke emotion can be a tricky thing because readers bring to the story their own history and experiences. When I finished writing “Beautiful Creature,” I felt happy for Pamela. She had finally found what she craved — not Jon, he was only a conduit for the emotions she had kept bottled up– but all of those desires “good girls” aren’t supposed to have. She had fallen into that trap of the pretty girl, the untouchable beauty, the trophy wife, and Jon pulled her free. Yes, their time together is bittersweet, but I think there is a sense of hope, as well, for Pamela’s future happiness.
You’ve written dozens of erotic stories over the years. How do you keep your erotica exciting for you as an author? What do you do if/when you get writer’s block?
To be honest, it’s tough sometimes to keep it exciting for myself. When I find myself yawning over what should be a hot sex scene, I know it’s time to work on something different. I know I’m onto something good when a story or writing project scares me — my best writing usually comes out of challenging myself to do something different.
I don’t really believe in Writer’s Block, but I do have times when I will procrastinate from writing. There are times when I’d rather clean (and who likes to clean?) rather than write. Then I’ll read a book, watch a movie or listen to music that I find sensual or arousing. It doesn’t have to be porn or erotica — Motown can get me going — it just has to get the creative juices flowing. I’m also a big believer in people-watching for inspiration, obviously. Several of my stories, including “Beautiful Creature,” have been inspired by watching interesting people in public. We all go about our lives as if we’re in a private bubble, never realizing that others are watching us…and speculating about who we are. I carry my camera everywhere and will take pictures of things that inspire me, whether it’s a little girl picking a flower growing out of a concrete sidewalk or the Emo teen reading The New York Times or an elderly couple holding hands and giggling. These images have a way of working themselves into my writing.
What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?
I try to write on a loose schedule of six days a week/ five to six hours a day, with about half of that time devoted to erotica writing. The rest of my work time goes to other writing projects, administrative stuff (which includes reading guidelines, research, blogging, answering e-mail, etc.) and editing stories in progress. When it’s crunch time, that changes to seven days a week and as many hours as I can write. I don’t think I’m particularly disciplined, but non-writer friends tell me otherwise, so I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.
My favorite quote about writing, which I’ve seen attributed to the amazing Dorothy Parker, is: “I hate writing– but I love having written.” It’s been my experience that if I wait for inspiration to strike before I start writing, I’ll have a very clean house, be caught up on my e-mail and have watched all my Netflix movies — but won’t have written more than a few hundred words.
What do you see as the connection (if any) between feminism and erotica? Are there feminist elements in your work?
Erotica, like feminism, is about empowerment. Erotica anthologies such as Dirty Girls are not only entertaining and arousing, they let women explore their fantasies and reassure them that it’s all right to enjoy sex on their own terms. When I write a story like “Beautiful Creature” and a woman identifies with the emotions and desires of the female character, hopefully she feels validated. And aroused, of course. Likewise, I think it’s important to stop excluding men from the feminist discussion. Dirty Girls is sure to have many male readers and, hopefully, they will come away from the collection understanding that female sexuality is a powerful force of nature — certainly as strong and meaningful as male sexuality — and something they should respect and cherish.
Several years ago, Rebecca Walker (Alice Waker’s daughter) edited a book of essays by young feminists called To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism.This collection of essays by a broad spectrum of feminists dispelled the myth of feminists as suit-wearing, sex-loathing, man-hating women. There have been other essays and books since then that have expounded on the notion of what it means to be a feminist, but mainstream culture still perpetuates the message that in order to be a feminist you cannot admit you are a sexual being. Likewise, Dirty Girls offers a wide variety of voices on the topic of what it means to be a “dirty girl.” Every story, every opinion, every experience is valid– and “dirty” is not a dirty word.
What do you think makes a good erotica story work?
What makes a good erotica story work are the same things that makes any good story work — character development, attention to detail, a twist that catches the reader off guard. If the sex flows naturally out of the characters’ relationships and personalities– whether it’s traditional sex, kinky sex, alien sex or sex that is only suggested — the reader will believe in the characters. And the writer.
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I’m frantically trying to finish my first screenplay. I’m taking a graduate screenwriting class for fun and I have spent the past sixteen weeks being scared out of my mind. It’s a good thing. I’m taking the summer off from teaching (I’m a college adjunct, teaching English and Humanities) and plan to spend the summer writing a novel length erotic romance, working on some nonfiction pieces and, as always, writing short erotic fiction for upcoming anthology deadlines. (Like I said, I’m committed.)