Whipped Cream is very pleased to welcome Angela Caperton, whose first novel Woman of the Mountain won the 2008 EPPIE award for Best Erotica. Angela loves to travel and considers herself a citizen of the world. She has a dark erotic short story published at Thaneros Online Magazine entitled “Caveat Emptor” and an erotic vampire story, “Understudy” in Lust at First Bite, which will be released by Black Lace in November.
I asked Angela how she distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography. “That is a very hard question to answer,” she said, “and I think the lines between those three ‘genres’ are inevitably blurry, depending on who you ask. I think many readers might find some of my work pornographic, though I obviously don’t consider it so. I had one reviewer (who specializes in erotica) say that Woman of the Mountain had too much sex in it!”
She told me she believes nearly all art and writing has some erotic content and that some of the appeal of art is always erotic. “I believe,” she told me, “that the essence of attraction and appreciation is always at least lightly tinged with eros. Obviously, some art is deliberately erotic, and it may be more useful to limit my answer to those stories that are deliberately written to arouse, either physically or emotionally.”
She went on to say, “For me, pure erotica is the creation and appreciation for the physical acts of love in all their variety, both with and without romantic love, in the context of a story. It is here that ecstasy can be independent of emotional engagement.
“Erotic romance, on the other hand, is all about the relationship of the protagonist and the more explicit descriptions of that protagonist’s sexual experiences. In the end, though, the story should end in relationship—happiness forever or for now. I am a romantic at heart and I will always prefer having my stories end happily (though sometimes the stories have other ideas!), and that happiness usually involves emotional binding between two people.”
She admitted that she doesn’t really like the word ‘pornography’ very much, because of its pejorative sense and the legal issues it creates. “My own definition, admittedly biased,” she said, “is that porn is eroticism without imaginative content, a simple, often artless, depiction of physical acts of love.”
For Angela’s own erotic reading, she confesses she’s not read a lot of contemporary erotica, but adds “I have enjoyed all that I have read. I really love classic erotica, especially the few surviving pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries. Fanny Hill, in particular, delights me every time I read a passage from it. I love the language and the artful turn of phrase that, when you work through its metaphors, is astonishingly erotic. The joyfulness of the story is wonderful and reflective of its age but also of a timeless acceptance of sexuality.”
Her favorite erotic author is John Cleland. She said, “I have been working (slowly) on an erotic novel that is partly set in the late 1700s and Cleland’s book is a constant inspiration.”
Angela does a lot of research for her books. She has recently sold a story called “Understudy,” for a Black Lace vampire anthology. It’s set in the 1920s and she used the Internet to get a feel for where specific theaters were located on Broadway and other historical accounts, both online and in print, to determine what a speakeasy during prohibition might have been like. “For all my stories that have historical settings in the 19th and 20th centuries,” she said, “I have found NewspaperArchive.com an essential source. There is no substitute for getting the feel of a time and place like reading the news.”
Of course, if the story is set in a fantasy world, like Woman of the Mountain, the research would be different. Angela said, “I did a lot of reading about historical religions that were centered around sexual rites so that my Zenthean religion would be believable.”
She shared with me that she finds intelligence the ultimate aphrodisiac, plus she often finds villains sexier than heroes (although she was quick to point out that it’s the “bad boy allure,” since she doesn’t generally approve of criminality in the real world.) So, it should come as no surprise that, if she had to choose one fictional character to spend the evening with it would be Professor James Moriarity, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis. “To be fair,” she told me, “the Moriarity I would want to entertain has more in common with the popular idea of the Napoleon of Crime than with the character as he actually appears in the two Conan Doyle stories that feature him. I love the idea of a man so brilliant he can convincingly redefine morality and then extend that amorality out in acts of world-shaking effect. The evening would be spent in pleasant conversation, with a meal of seafood scampi, and a bottle or two of Schloss Vollrad Riesling. My goal would be to find out what would motivate the Professor to pursue villainy. Then we might move to a game of chess, perhaps with interesting penalties – a game that I would certainly lose!
“From there, well … Maybe I’ll write the story someday!”
Angela has always loved to tell stories and she told me she’s a voracious consumer of books and films. “I hope I have a good appreciation for what makes a solid narrative. I tried writing straight romance a few years back and just never got a feel for them. A little later, I spent a lot of time on an epic fantasy that I will eventually dust off and finish. Although it was generally dark fantasy, there were definite erotic elements in it,” she told me. “I wrote my first piece of erotica, Inspiration, really as an exercise to see if I could and I had a lot of fun with it. When I sold it almost immediately, I was encouraged to try something more ambitious and wrote Woman of the Mountain. My third book, The Passions of Pearl, was written for eXtasy Books Tarot series, but I think I took some surprising turns with it, and it is, in the some ways, the story that has most entertained me while I was writing it.
“Since Pearl, while working on my cross-time fantasy novel, I’ve been experimenting with writing short stories for specific markets, and have sold “Understudy” to Black Lace, “Caveat Emptor” to Thaneros, and I just had another erotic short story accepted for a forthcoming Cleis erotica anthology. I have several more short stories out with other publishers and am aiming to finish my new novel by year end.”
I asked Angela if she had to pierce a body part, what she would pierce and what about body piercing made it sexy. “While I have my ears pierced, I think if I had any other body piercing done, it would be at my belly button,” she shared with me. “I have seen some woman with beautiful belly rings and studs. I think piercing can be provocative, and there is a definite sexuality to the concept of piercing – let’s face it, we’re inserting something through our flesh – and I think it would be very arousing to have my lover playing with that ring or stud during sex.”
Our discussion turned to food and I was curious as to what her favorite (and not so favorite) food was. “Okay,” she said, “chocolate is essential to body and soul (and sanity), so besides that, I would have to say strawberries. I love strawberries. I love their sweetness, their texture, their tartness and their color! They’re wonderful with champagne and the aforementioned chocolate, they brighten up salads, and add a sexy freshness to cakes and desserts. This message brought to you by the Strawberry Growers of America…”
And her least favorite? “Any kind of brains. While unusual texture is my usual disqualifying factor in a food, there is something about the idea of eating a creature’s brains that just turns my stomach. I’ve eaten some odd things in my life, including raw conch, whole fried fish, and mountain oysters, but brains? Sorry, that’s one plate that won't be cleaned!”
She has also known someone who can tie a cherry stem with their tongue. “A few years back I knew a lady named Ginger,” Angela said. “Ginger was middle aged and heavyset, but she was one of the liveliest and sexiest women I’ve ever known. She was a classic study in not judging a book by its cover and I suspect that any man who got to know her completely forgot the first impression she probably made on him. She had a lively wit and a playful spirit that touched everything she did. She could do the cherry stem trick sober but was far more adept at it when she had a few glasses of wine.”
And, in case you were wondering, Angela’s toenails were painted Iridescent Golden Rose. She explained to me, “I live in Florida where open-toed shoe and sandals are practically state mandated attire, thus making painted toenails are an essential expression of one’s personality!”
You can read more about Angela and her works at her website, http:/www.angelacaperton.com