1. Laila, we’re thrilled to have published you in Shameless Behavior: Brazen Stories of Overcoming Shame. Why do you enjoy writing erotic stories?
Most of my day-to-day writing isn’t erotic, in fact, I’ve spent the last few months working on a very tame, contemporary YA manuscript. My other novels usually contain erotic content to some degree, but the pacing of most of them simply doesn’t allow for more than one or two graphic scenes in the entire book. And it wouldn’t be completely true to say that this makes me sad – I like them the way they are, but I do sometimes feel like I’m leaving something out that is important to me and to the characters, but that really isn’t important in the story arc.
Erotic stories are the opposite – for a few thousand words, I don’t have to care about a broader plot. I get to compress two whole lives into usually a single scene centered on a sexual experience, and that is a lot of fun and a great way to unwind from the occassional drudgery of working through novels.
I also find it empowering. As a woman, I grew up in a culture that led to me to believe for most of my adolescence and early adult years that my sexuality was very narrowly defined by the sexual identities of the men I was with. I couldn’t express what I liked, what I fantasized about, I couldn’t even really fathom that I was really allowed to dislike something a guy liked, or like it in a different way.
By writing erotic stories, I get to do just that – I get to write what turns me on, or speculate about stuff that does it for others. I get to play around with concepts and practices, and reclaim my connection to not just my personal sexuality, but to connect with so many wonderful women who read and write erotic stories, too.
2. Who are some of your writing and erotic inspirations?
A few months after my first novel was published, I got a phone call from my ex-boxfriend. This had become a rarity, and I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, until in his rambling way he asked whether our experiences together ended up in the book.
I wanted to say: “Well, buy it and effing read the book it you really want to know!” But instead I blushed, then I laughed and told him to check his ego. That was a lie, though–of course it was. Most of my ideas come from the people around me and the experiences I share with them, however filtered and removed the eventual story will be. My wonderful writing partner Lorrie is one of them, too. I know we both have played around with specifically writing stories to push the other’s buttons.
Just working with some of these wonderful editors inspires me to no end, as well as all these women who have been paving the way for us newer writers with such grace, dignity, and intelligence, women who show that writing erotica does not have to go along with a loss in quality.
3. Can you tell us a little about your story in Shameless Behavior: Brazen Stories of Overcoming Shame?
Of course, I’m happy to! “Doll-faced Demons” is the story of a lesbian couple visiting one of the women’s homophobic parents. Upset by their bigotry, the women trash her old room; they cut open plush toys, jump on the bed and fuck there in utter defiance of the juvenile, innocent image her family is trying to maintain of their daughter.
I tell it from the perspective of the visitor, shocked as she is when confronted in real life by what she has only ever heard about. That was my main inspiration for the piece, actually– that I, as a bisexual woman in the demographic in which I grew up, have never once faced any kind of discrimination for it. But I am still part of a community whose essential struggle I can only sympathize with, aid in, but never truly understand.
The second half of this interview will be published tomorrow!
Her social media haunts are pinterest and goodreads, but she also hangs out on twitter and she has a facebook page. For updates on new publications, there is also her newsletter, which she promises will be very sparing and unspammy.