Rachel Kramer Bussel is presenting How to Become a Successful Erotic Writer and The Fifty Shades Phenomenon and Its Effect on Our Social Sexual Behavior. Check out Rachel’s bio here.
How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I don’t necessarily see myself as a catalyst for change per se, but I do hope that I am encouraging people who are interested in writing erotica to get out a pen or computer and start writing. I truly believe that because there are so many anthologies out there and now, many publishers, of ebooks and print, looking for new voices, it’s an easier field than some others to break in. There’s something, to me, so gratifying about seeing your name in a book, and getting to read the work of other writers, and feel part of a community.
My biggest message about erotica is there’s no one right way to do it. There’s no minimum number of sex scenes or acts, no specific words or settings. There’s no secret code. The heart of a good erotic story is the desire of it, the passion and the emotion and the humanity and the intensity. I believe everyone has something to draw from in that regard, and I hope that my work as an editor and author and event organizer lets people see that. One of the reasons I love editing other people’s work is that I learn that as vast an erotic imagination as I think I have, I’m only ever going to skim the tip of the iceberg, and that’s a good thing! We all have a lot to learn about storytelling, sexuality and perspective from each other’s work. So if you’re reading this and have been contemplating trying your hand at erotica, I encourage you to! Erotica thrives on fresh voices and perspectives. Check out www.erotica-readers.com for a wealth of resources.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Writers like Susie Bright, Lisa Palac, Sallie Tisdale, Carol Queen and Tristan Taormino helped show me the world out there in terms of sex writing. Seeing the call for stoires for Shar Rednour’s anthology Starf*cker in Tristan Taormino’s long-running Double T Newsletter, which I strongly encourage you to sign up for, helped prompt me to write my very first erotica story.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
It seems like we’re so often one step forward, two steps back when it comes to basic sexual awareness, especially in the U.S. While Fifty Shades of Grey opened a lot of doors regarding BDSM (see my next answer), we are still debating basic things like contraception coverage and sex education. That is very sad to me, though I think we are moving forward in terms of public discussions about sexuality, sexuality orientation, consent and exploration.
What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
I think Fifty Shades of Grey has brought the concepts of erotica and BDSM into the mainstream. It’s no longer considered an oddity to read erotica, and I think people are getting the idea that just because you read or write about something, doesn’t necessarily mean you practice it in the bedroom (or wherever else). It’s been such a breakthrough, and it’s reached so many levels of publishing in terms of expanding the market for erotica. I hope too that it’s shown writers that they have the means to make their dreams come true. That doesn’t mean everyone, or even anyone, is going to be the next E.L. James, but that there are untapped markets out there and unknown possibilities and that you should write the story that speaks the most strongly to you, not just try to follow in someone else’s footsteps.
Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, How to Become a Successful Erotic Writer, to CatalystCon East?
It’s important to see the various ways people approach their erotic writing, what motivates them, how they come up with story ideas, etc. Hopefully our panel will shed some light on the world of erotic writing and publishing for those who are curious about it. Sometimes the things we unlock when we are writing fiction are very different from what we’d ever consciously say or think, but they are just as important, and hearing about how authors reconcile and grapple with putting fictional fantasies on paper, will hopefully give greater insight when you’re reading erotica or writing it.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I am a little bit addicted to Words with Friends.