Series: Best Women's Erotica of the Year #2
Published by Cleis Press on December 13, 2016
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Best Women's Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 gives us fierce female passion, timeless love, and lustful encounters that are guaranteed to fill you with utter delight. Edited by the award winning Rachel Kramer Bussel, these sexy stories about women on the prowl span the globe, traveling from Peru to the Bahamas and beyond in pursuit of pleasure. Learn why "Teacher Appreciation" is so special, what sex is like "At the End of the World," and explore some very explosive "Volcano Nights." These unforgettable erotic tales by the top authors in the genre as well as newcomers will arouse and thrill readers looking for a hot time between the pages.
Things are pretty cray-cray these days for me, as I’m moving to a new city, opening a new business, and launching a new book (under my steamy romance-writing pen name Kate Sebastian). But here’s something I’ve been meaning to post and am determined to do so before the month is out: an interview with the editor of another anthology I’ve been honored to be a part of—the amazing Rachel Kramer Bussel, erotica writer extraordinaire and editor of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, which released in December 2016!
On a personal note, I will say Rachel was amazing throughout the process, and I learned so much from her, even with her half a world away and even though I was only one of many contributing authors. I’m using her example to guide how I promote my own first attempt at editing an anthology, and I’m overwhelmingly grateful. I hope one day I’ll get to meet her in person and maybe even attend some of her classes!
That being said, just take my word for it that she’s awesome—read the interview and find out for yourself. And if you read all the way through to the end, you’ll find out how you can win a print copy of the book to help steam up your personal library!
An interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2
Will Read for Feels (WRFF): Congratulations on the release of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2! Can you share a few highlights from the anthology?
Rachel Kramer Bussel (RKB): Thank you! I love all the stories in the book, though I have a special fondness for “Performance” by Jordan Monroe, the opening story, because it’s a kinky opera story and has such a specific setting that really spoke to me. I’m always on the lookout for stories I could never write even if I sat in front of my computer for 365 days in a row, and one of those is “At the End of the World” by Winter Blair, an apocalyptic story that blew me away. I love traveling, and have had a few flings with people I’ve met while on trips, so the circumstances of “Volcano Nights,” where a travel delay forces strangers to share a hotel room, spoke to me as well.
WRFF: Did you have any goals when you set out to edit this anthology in terms of themes, styles, heat level, or anything else? If so, what were they, and do you feel these were achieved?
RKB: I always try to include a wide range of authors, and this time I’m especially proud that the large majority of them in Volume 2 are women who I’ve never published before. That’s something important to me personally, as I want the series to help boost the writers’ careers, and I think readers crave new voices. I didn’t set out to do this, but the theme of travel emerged as I was selecting stories, and I really like how the different travel stories and locations speak to one another. I also am always on the lookout for women in their forties and up; I don’t get as many submissions starring “older” women as I would like (hint to authors submitting to Volume 4!) but I especially liked how Stella Watts Kelley played with age in her story “Teacher Appreciation,” about a woman who plays spin the bottle for the first time with her former students, and the sexy cigar play with the 49-year-old protagonist of “Cigarro Tarde” by Abigail Ekue.
WRFF: An anthology like this one is likely to attract an audience of both newbies and long-time erotica fans. Which stories would you particularly recommend for newbies? What about for readers who’ve more experience in erotic reads?
RKB: Making the stories accessible to people who might pick it up from a bookstore shelf because they’re intrigued by the cover or online because it caught their eye, whether or not they’ve read erotica before, is certainly important to me and something I strive for with every story I publish in the series. I think most of the Volume 2 stories are excellent for newbies, especially the humorous “Taste” by Jocelyn Bringas, “A Hint of Lime” by Vierra Lai and ”On the Calendar” by Kate Sebastian, all of which are relatable and revelatory. For those who’ve read more erotica, I recommend “On Some Maps, But Not on Others” by Annabeth Leong and “Phone Call, Three A.M.” by T.C. Mill.
WRFF: Were there particular scenarios or elements you found especially interesting or surprising while editing the anthology, such as a new viewpoint or kink you were unfamiliar with?
RKB: One story that truly captivated me was “Wordless Surrender” by Janelle Reston, about a lesbian BDSM relationship in which the dominant woman is Deaf. This meant the author had to find ways other than the typically verbally spoken safeword for them to communicate, and she did so beautifully and truly got into the world of their kinky dynamic in a way that was highly specific and very hot. Those are the kinds of stories I hope to see more of in my inbox, because they really make the reader think and feel, while still being extremely arousing, and I especially welcome more stories that seamlessly weave in disability into their plotlines.
WRFF: This is far from your first erotic book or even anthology. Can you share a little about how you got started writing and editing erotica?
RKB: I started writing erotica while feeling disenchanted with law school, which I never finished. My first story “Monica and Me” got selected for two anthologies, Starf*cker and Best Lesbian Erotica 2001, and I’ve been writing sexy stories ever since. I got asked to co-edit an anthology a few years later, then to edit my own, and now I’ve edited over 60 of them. There was never a master plan for me; I joke that I fell into this, but I think that publishing short stories is a great way to learn about the genre and how anthologies work if you’re thinking of moving on to edit your own.
WRFF: You actually teach erotica writing classes—would you have any advice for newbie writers in the genre?
RKB: The best advice I can give is to bring yourself in all your uniqueness into your writing. If you care deeply about a specific aspect of eroticism, whether that’s certain types of characters or sexual practices or fetishes or hobbies or what have you, use that to your best advantage. If you know a certain subculture intimately, write about that. I’ve written chess erotica that was based in my many years of playing competitive chess, though that’s not something I was actively thinking about when I was playing. I’ve written dishwashing erotica inspired by my own take on the subject, that people still remember many years after the fact. That’s not to say you can’t research (and you should, especially with so many resources at your fingertips online), but if you want to write erotica that will stand out and be remembered by readers for years to come, you want to give it as much individuality as you can. Don’t worry too much about what other people are writing; focus on what unique elements you can add to the genre.
WRFF: Has your work in erotica taught you any life lessons you would care to share?
RKB: Writing, editing and teaching erotica have all taught me to be much more open minded, and to never pigeonhole either myself or anyone else. It’s taught me that for many people, myself included, sexuality is constantly changing and what turns us on one day may change, subtly or greatly, the next day. It’s also shown me how varied sexuality can be; it’s not just about what we do or don’t do, or even what we want to do, but encompasses so many elements of our lives.
WRFF: I suspect many readers of this blog will be fairly new to erotica. Is there anything you would suggest they keep in mind when dipping their toes into the world of erotic fiction?
RKB: Just like any genre, there’s a huge range in erotica, which is part of why I like editing anthologies, because I get to offer readers a little taste of a variety of types of writing. But there’s all sorts of subgenres and you can pick amongst different interests or fetishes. If you only want to read male/female, or female/female, or male/male, or dinosaur erotica, or humor erotica, etc., you can.
WRFF: Are there particular books of yours or books by other authors you would recommend for readers of erotica? Perhaps you can recommend a few for newbies and a few for long-time fans of the genre.
RKB: Two of the authors I published in Volume 1 are particular favorites: Tiffany Reisz and her Original Sinners series, and L. Marie Adeline and her S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy. For kinky erotic romance, I recommend The Boss series by Abigail Barnette and The Elite Doms of Washington series by Elizabeth SaFleur. I also really like the work publisher Sexy Little Pages is doing, especially their tattoo themed collection, Inked.
WRFF: I know you’re currently working on Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3. What can readers look forward to with regard to this project? And can you share details on other projects or classes you’ll be teaching?
RKB: The table of contents for Volume 3 won’t be finalized for a few months (it comes out in December), but I can tell you it’s going to be extremely exciting and will have some familiar names for readers of the genre. Every story is action-packed and the characters get into some fetishes I was very happy to see included, because so often as a culture we think of men as the ones with deep-seated fetishes.
I don’t have any classes planned at the moment, but may teach a few in person ones here and there, and hopefully an online offering later this year. I just wrapped up the book tour for Volume 2 and am going to be focusing on my erotic writing consulting via Eroticawriting101.com and editing two new anthologies for Cleis Press and planning the book tour for Volume 3 in 2018, so stay tuned! The best way to keep up with what I’m doing (and enter to win my book giveaways) is via my newsletter, which you can subscribe to at rachelkramerbussel.com, and by following me on Twitter and Facebook.
Rachel, apart from being awesome, is generous as well. She’s giving away a copy of this book to three readers of this blog—and the giveaway is open internationally! Join the raffle below.