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Saturday, August 21, 2010
Author Interview: Alexis D. Craig
Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Alexis D. Craig, whose book Imminent Danger was released last month by Sinful Moments Press.
Alexis has been a storyteller since school—telling stories at sleepovers on the weekend about favorite bands, TV shows, and other goofy stuff. She wrote a novel-length story while she was in high school, well before Buffy or Twilight, about a set of high school vampires who consorted with demons. In college, she picked up a serious fan-fiction habit with the advent of X-files and, occasionally, Star Trek:TNG/DS9.
"I went back to my own stuff after working for the police department for a little while, because if any place needs its story told, it’s the police dispatch," she told me. "Imminent Danger is pretty much a glorified love letter to my day job in a fictional format."
Dani Watson is a hard-edged, fiercely independent control operator for the Indianapolis Police Department. After breaking up with a detective on the force she's sworn off dating cops. That is, until she is assaulted and the responding officer is one of the sexiest men she had ever laid eyes on.
Jacen Fuessler is unprepared for the chaos that is Dani Watson. Instantly attracted, he's dazzled by her great rack, her lethal right hook, and her quirky sense of humor.
Through their jobs they share a life that is like two sides of the same coin. As far as Dani is concerned, that's already too close a connection. But work and circumstance keep throwing them together and Dani is having a hard time keeping her distance from the super hot Jacen. As she begins to fall for him, things are complicated by a terrifying stalker and Dani finds out quickly that her heart and sanity aren’t the only things in imminent danger.
"How do you personally distinguish between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography?" I asked.
"Porn lacks plot, plain and simple. Whether you’re using the Supreme Court decision in 1964 where the infamous phrase ‘I know it when I see it’ was coined, or using the Miller test (community standards, patently offensive, lacking in artistic or scientific value), the fact is, porn has no plot and serves no purpose except to sexually stimulate the reader or observer (in the case of film)… and subject them to dreadful synthesizer music.
"Erotica, while falling under the umbrella of titillation, has the distinction of having a plot and aspirations of higher artist expression than just getting one’s rocks off. It’s actually a lot of work to write a sex scene that’s more than just having the pizza guy show up while you’re naked. In your living room. In the middle of the afternoon. (Cue cheesy music here)
"Erotic romance, finally, is romance with highly sensual and graphically sexual elements. Those elements are germane to the story, and not just placed there gratuitously. They advance the overall plot and character development as it relates to the relationship between the protagonists (whatever number or gender they may be).
"It’s kind of like differentiating between Nude, Naked, and Nekkid: Nude is artistic, Naked is clinical, and Nekkid is a damn good time."
Alexis shared with me that two authors she thinks write excellent erotic fiction are Lori Foster and Opal Carew. In fact, her favorite erotic book is Too Much Temptation by Lori Foster. "It’s romance but it has some very hot and sensual scenes in it that are highly erotic," she explained.
Part of the public's misconception about erotica is that it equals porn and is full of "throbbing members" or other poorly disguised and easily mocked euphemisms.
"They completely overlook the plot and story as well as the work that goes into constructing a truly hot scene," Alexis said. "Another misconception is that it's entirely about depicting graphic sex. I would argue that the last fifty or so lines of James Joyce's Ulysses are highly erotic, in that they are the words of a woman having an orgasm after taking her husband to bed."
Alexis knows, in her own writing, if it has to be hot for her in order for it to be hot for her readers.
"I have to have an emotional connection to the work or I get bored," she said. "If the writer gets bored, the reader most definitely follows."
"Is there a boundary between porn and erotic romance that you personally would never cross?" I wondered.
"The adage ‘erotic is using a feather and pornographic is using the whole chicken’ applies here. I think there are very few hard and fast lines in terms of what can be erotica. Obvious the ones with legal and moral ramifications (kids, animals, blood/breathplay), but other than that, if you like it, chances are good that someone else will, too."
Alexis didn't set out to write erotica, especially, nor does she think it evolved from anything else. When she was in high school, she wrote straight fiction, even though she dabbled in erotica, but she wasn't very comfortable with her own sexuality at the time.
"I just set out to write the kind of stuff I like to read and it happened to be super spicy," she said.
Her mother read the first sex scene in Imminent Danger and asked Alexis if she wrote porn.
"I replied ‘no’. She then didn’t want to read any more of the sex scenes, which was fine," Alexis told me. "My dad and stepdad have read it, and my husband will read it when it comes out in paperback. I’m not ashamed of what I write, so the rule is, if you want to read it, you can. That rule, however, does not apply to my grandmothers, for obvious reasons."
On a personal note, I asked Alexis, "If you had to pierce a body part, what would you pierce and why?" "I have my nose and ears pierced, and I’ve often given thought to piercing my nipples, for the overall aesthetic value. On a woman, I like a belly piercing, though I wouldn’t be doing that myself. On a man, I’m super pedestrian: a nipple ring (small gage) and maybe some ear piercing."
For eating off another's tummy, she would choose sushi. Why?
"Keep the mess to a minimum and very small likelihood of getting burnt if you’re the serving platter," she explained. "I’m generally not an advocate of eating during sex, but if I was going to, then California rolls off of Jason Statham’s belly sound just about right."
Other favorite foods include Navajo fry bread, tortillas and frijoles, cannoli, and bruschetta caprese. Don't give her bell peppers, however.
"The flavor (regardless of the color) just kills the meal for me," she said.
She can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, assuring me, "Pepsi is sweeter and Coke has more of a bite. It’s harder to detect a difference when liquor is present, however."
When she's not writing, she can usually be found hanging with her family, friends, and dogs; reading books; catching up on her DVR ; and ghost hunting.
Finally, I asked Alexis, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"
"Write the words they feel comfortable using," she said. "Write the stuff that you’d want to read. There’s no list of words that are unavailable or euphemisms you simply must use. Just write it the way that feels most organic to you and it will work out well."
You can keep up with Alexis on her website, http://www.alexisdcraig.net