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Monday, April 9, 2012

INTERVIEW: LOGAN BELLE

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Logan Belle, author of the erotic burlesque romance series Blue Angels, published by Kensington Publishers. Her third book in the trilogy, Naked Angel, has now been released.


Logan experimented with writing YA fiction and tried a few commercial women's novels before her boyfriend took her to her first burlesque show.


"I was so inspired that the Blue Angel series was born," she explained. "For me, there was no other way to tell it except through the lens of one woman’s emerging sexuality, and so I wrote something I never imagined I would write. I recently tried to write a novel without sex, and I can’t do it. For me, sexuality is the wizard behind the curtain: Freud wrote about Id and Ego – I think sex is our Oz. It pulls the strings, it makes us believe and want and risk. I can’t tell a story without it. I don’t know if I ever will."


For the Blue Angel series, Logan interviewed performers in New York, such as Gigi LaFemme, and in L.A., Courtney Cruz. She went to shows on both coasts and saw a wide variety of performances—sexy, political, old-school, neo-burlesque—in venues that ranged from ones held in basements that held only thirty people in the audience to stage-show extravaganzas that were like Broadway productions. She watched documentaries such as Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque, along with reading lots of nonfiction—books by Dita Von Teese and a great account of burlesque in a socio-historical context: The Happy Stripper: Pleasures and Politics of the New Burlesque by Jacki Willson.


"I am really into research – almost to my detriment. I can spend weeks on clothing alone," she admitted. "I’m going through the whole research process again for my next series set in the 1920s, and while I’m not interviewing anyone, I have a stack of books and a list of films to watch. By the time I start writing, I will see the dresses by Coco Chanel, hear the jazz, and taste the prohibition liquor!"


"What writers do you think write excellent erotic fiction?" I asked.


"It’s funny because I think I grew up reading excellent erotic fiction that wasn’t classified as 'erotica.' In my world, the original erotic novels that inspired me were written by Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. They had strong women and sizzling sex. But as far as modern day 'erotica,' my first introduction was through anthologies. Collections like Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories and Best Lesbian Erotica introduced me to Rachel Kramer Bussel, Portia Da Costa, and Bella Andre. They really deliver every time."


She considers the sexiest book she's ever read to be Mistral's Daughter by Judith Krantz, even though it's not technically erotica.


"It’s about a brilliant painter who seduces two generations of women. The novel is full of drama, intrigue, beautiful places, and great sex. As for my favorite 'Erotica' novel, I really enjoyed Life on Top by Clara Darla. There were just some crazy scenes in there that inspired me to be inventive with my own novels," she told me.


In her own writing, Logan tries to have an interesting setting, to keep the tension sustained throughout, and she likes to throw in surprises.


"I know my writing is very sexual, but honestly the sex is secondary to the emotional tension within the characters and between the characters. And I think that sex can be this really transformative thing, so I want to see people who change as a result of their physical encounters," she explained.


Logan admitted she gets a distinct disapproval from some people ("ahem, family members," she clarified) and even from romance blogs that won't feature an erotic book.


"I guess people think they have no plot, or they are “just” about sex, or maybe that they are in some way misogynist. I think some people think erotic novels are about fetishes, or about a sexuality that is exaggerated or somehow outside the norm," she said. "Of course, sometimes they are. But I think people underestimate the reading experience as a whole."


She told me that she thinks her family is impressed that she actually wrote three published novels, but that they are a little appalled at the graphic sex. Her father and brother won't read them, however she does have an uncle who read Blue Angel in one sitting on the beach. Her two young daughters are proud of her and love seeing her books in the stores, but they know that the books are "rated R" and not for them to read.


"One of the challenging things about writing erotica is that you can’t exactly tell your entire family and friends and neighbors to go out and buy your book!" she said.


" What is the most embarrassing sex scene you’ve ever written?" I wondered.


"Yeah, I’ve written some crazy scenes. I think I appalled the reviewer at Romantic Times with Fallen Angel (she wrote 'one character in particular forces issues that not all readers will be comfortable with.') But that’s what I mean by writing what is true for the characters, not for the readers," she said. "Okay, I digress: the most embarrassing scene is one in which a character who is a kinky dominatrix gives another character a gynecological exam. But I needed for the character to realize something was wrong with her, that she was maybe physically addicted to this person who wasn’t good for her."


On a more personal note, Logan's favorite ingredient is sugar and her favorite food is either apple pie or butter cookies.


"I’ve gone periods of not drinking coffee, I’ve gone periods without drinking alcohol, but I can’t go a day without sugar," she admitted. "This means if I ever have to rely on the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet I’m in trouble, so fingers crossed it won’t ever come to that."


On the other hand, one food she will not eat is mushrooms.


"I’m just eternally suspicious of them. I don’t think they are meant to be eaten. And I’m not even talking about the poisonous ones," she said. "And the texture is just gross to me. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to remove the mushrooms from Chinese food, but I will get every one of those suckers out before I eat the Moo Shu chicken. I like a project."


"If you could be anyone you wanted, who would it be?" I wondered.


"This question is really a quagmire for me. First, it brings me to a question I come back to sometimes: Would I rather be effortlessly gorgeous, or brilliant? I’ll admit, I used to think the answer was gorgeous. I mean, imagine how much less there is to think about when you just look perfect all the time. And the world just hands you stuff when you’re hot. So if I go with that scenario, I’d pick any model du jour and go there (not an actress because that would mean having to deal with Hollywood and trust that place will crush your soul.) but-- now that I am older and somewhat wiser, I realize how amazing it is to actually accomplish something and be able to share just a teeny bit of wisdom with others… so I’d pick someone like Margaret Atwood, who can write books that I still think about a decade after I read them. But then I start thinking, but what if she’s unhappy? I mean, how I can pick someone else without knowing if their talent or money or whatever actually makes them happy? So then I think I can’t think of anyone to be."


Body piercing is something that Logan would have to have a gun to her head to do and then, it would be a very small stud in the nostril.


"One of those tiny diamond chips that looks like an errant piece of glitter. Because piercing really skeeves me out," she assured me. "When I see people with those giant bars through their ears or the super wide circles in their earlobe – I can’t take it. And the whole idea of nipple piercing just makes my stomach ball up. And the naval piercing thing is played out. It’s just all bad for me."


Logan's favorite letter is J. Why? It's the first letter of the name she was born with, the name of her mother, childhood best friend, and her first boss and mentor in the publishing industry. Plus it's the first letter of the summer months as well as the first letter of jewelry.


"Clearly, the best letter in the alphabet," she declared.


"Can you tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi?" I asked.


"No, and yet I routinely act indignant when I order Coke at a restaurant and they say 'Is Pepsi okay?'"


Finally, I asked, "What advice do you give authors wanting to write erotica?"


"I feel strange giving advice because more than any other fiction-writing, erotica is such a personal genre. It’s personal in what the writer chooses to explore, and it’s so subjective in terms of what the readership enjoys. I think it’s important to write the plot with the readers in mind, and the sex without anyone in mind but the characters. Even when reviewers suggest I go too far with sex scenes or they are too kinky, I know the scenes are right for the characters and I would never second-guess them. And I never think about family members reading the books – I assume they never will."


About the Author:
Logan Belle is the author of the erotic burlesque romance series Blue Angel, published by Kensington Publishers. Her short fiction is featured in the anthology Obsessed: Erotic Romance for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and published by Cleis. She lives in New York City. Her website is www.LoganBelle.com.


Naked Angel


It's the biggest night of Mallory Dale's life. She's unveiling her sexy new burlesque club, The Painted Lady, and her boyfriend has a thrilling surprise for her. After four wild years, Alec is ready to propose, and he does it in her favourite place - onstage. Life is sweet - until Alec asks her to retire her pasties for good. But can she give up her boas in the name of happily ever after? Mallory isn't the only one torn between bliss onstage and off. An injury forced ballerina Nadia Grant to hang up her toe shoes, so now she's perfecting the art of the striptease and whipping the crowd at The Painted Lady into a frenzy. But one man is outraged - the man Nadia loves. Meanwhile, the club's financial benefactor is endangering his marriage - and the business - when he begins a sizzling affair with a young costume designer. Just when they're so close to having it all, will the stars of The Painted Lady lose everything?

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