D. L. King

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Interview By: Tamazon

Date: June 30, 2011

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Title: Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica | Publisher: Cleis Press | Genre: Erotica | Release Date: April 12, 2011

The Victorians wrote some of the best and most enduring erotica. For such a tightly-laced age, people spent a lot of time thinking about things carnal. Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, et al enthralled us with their visions of new possibilities. The rich and slightly decadent visuals of the steam age lend themselves perfectly to the new carnality of post-punk era. And, of course, what is repressed will be even more exciting once the corset is unlaced. Steampunk, even without sex, is erotic; with sex, it's over-the-top hot. A widowed lady engineer invents a small device that can store the energy from sexual frustration and convert it to electricity to help power a home. Teresa Noelle Roberts shows us what it can do, confronted with sexual fulfillment. What volume of steampunk would be complete without a tale of sailing ships and the men who sail them? If your taste runs to sexy pirates in space, Poe Von Page will delight you with the mutinous crew of the Danika Blue and their new captain. Then there's the very special room on the top floor in the House of the Sable Locks, a brothel where sexually discriminating men go to have their fantasies fulfilled. Even if a man daren't put those fantasies into words, Elizabeth Schechter's "Succubus" will give the madam all the information she needs with which to make her clients happy. There are brothels, flying machines, steam-powered conveyances, manor houses, spiritualist societies. The following stories afford intelligently written, beautifully crafted glimpses into other worlds, where the Carnal Machines won't fail to seduce you, get you wet or make you hard so, lie back, relax; a happy ending is guaranteed.

Please tell us your latest news!

Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica was released April 12, 2011 by Cleis Press and I'm over the moon about it! This book contains some of the most intelligently written erotica I've ever had the pleasure to read, not to mention it's really hot!

I've completed work on my forthcoming anthology, Daddy's Little Girl: Butch/Femme Erotica, also for Cleis Press and am patiently awaiting its release and I'm also terribly excited to announce that I've recently gotten the green light to edit an anthology of succubus erotica, also for Cleis Press. I'm currently taking submissions. The call is listed in all the usual places, as well as on my blog.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Probably, if a poll was taken, Stephen King would be the clear winner. I hate to follow the pack and I do have lots of authors I absolutely love, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to go along with the majority here and cast my vote for King, as well. I picked up Carrie as soon as it hit the book carrousel in the drugstore and never looked back.

A life-long fan, I've read everything the man's written. I lived through the period of his being considered a hack and unimportant by the critics and saw him published in the New Yorker many times over. Not only can the man tell a great story but, he can do it in the most accessible way. Reading Stephen King is like relaxing in a hammock on a summer afternoon, without mosquitoes. I wish I could write like that. I keep trying.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I'm not sure, but I do know I became interested in writing when I was about eight or nine. My interest may have been spurred by reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster or The 13 Clocks by James Thurber. Both books made a huge impression on me. In any case, I remember making sure that the aptitude test I took in third grade would show that I had talent in the area and might want to consider a career in writing. I also wanted to be a brain surgeon at the time and the test also recommended a career in the science or medical fields. (Don't ask me how I did that. Suffice it to say, manipulating those tests was pretty easy.)

I didn't become a brain surgeon and it's a good thing writing isn't my only career, but I do write medical fetish stories from time to time.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read lots! You've most likely heard that before but it can't be said enough. And, by the way, read outside your genre. The more you read, the better your writing gets, not to mention, you learn things, and learning things helps you write better stories.

Write a lot. I'm not going to say, "Write everyday," because everyone's different. But write often, because the more you write, the better your writing becomes.

So, that's it, in a nutshell: read a lot and write a lot. It really is the best advice I can give.

What main genre do you write in?


Please describe your writing environment.

I live in New York, so space is at a premium. I have a large and long living room and have built an office of sorts at the end of it. My living room furniture is positioned in a kind of conversation area with the back of the couch blocking off about the final third of the room. My desk backs up to the couch and there are two floor to ceiling bookcases behind it. The wall to my left is covered in black framed copies of my book covers.

The space is very open but still has the feel of dedicated office space. I like modern, clean lines and my L-shaped desk is glass and black steel. As I write this, it's an utter mess! I'll clean it up before I take a picture.

Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?

My biggest supporter was my former partner. I don't think anyone has ever been as supportive of me, in fact, I know they haven't. My mother was supportive of my art and I'd like to think that if she were still alive, she'd be as supportive of my writing (although I don't think I'd want her to read it.). But S's support was a revelation. Actually, he believed in me, and in my writing, unconditionally, something I couldn't do for myself.

He read everything I wrote and critiqued it. He continuously told me I was good and got angry when I didn't believe him. It took several years of beating me over the head with the notion that I was actually good at writing for it to sink in. And none too soon, since we are no longer together. I miss relying on someone to read everything before I send it out, but at least I can do it now with confidence.

What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?

I'm in the middle of Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I love Preston and Child and this book, like everything else I've read from them, is wonderful. Fever Dream is a Pendergast book. Aloysius Pendergast is a rather odd FBI agent, sort of a modern Sherlock Holmes. He's a wonderful character, as are all the characters in this particular universe.

I've read books by Preston and Child writing separately, but I think they write best as a team. They write in one voice, a very recognizable, intelligent voice. I'm very curious as to how that works. I might like to try it at some point.

What inspires your writing?

Keeping in mind that I write erotica, I'd have to say my own fantasies and experiences do. I usually write for specific calls for submission and I'll often sit, thinking about a call until an idea pops into my head. That idea is usually based in some part on a real occurrence. But before you jump to any conclusions about just how kinky I am, let me explain that it's often based on something someone said as we were walking through the park or a piece of clothing I wore to a party or watching people interact in a bar. When I say I'm inspired by reality, I don't necessarily mean the reality of a specific sexual encounter-although that might be the case on occasion. Writers steal everything. If you say something to a writer, in passing, be prepared to see it in a story or book a bit later down the road. I've been known to use conversations I've had in bed with a lover, verbatim. I also have a very fertile imagination.

Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?

I don't have any pets just now. I'm very seriously considering getting a cat. I like cats and my landlord won't allow a dog, but he relented on a cat. And people always talk about the requisite writer's cats. I'm not at all sure how this requisite cat is supposed to help me write. In fact, I suspect he may hinder my writing to some degree, but cats are soft and cuddly-when they want to be-like me-when I want to be-and so it seems like a good idea.

If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

Actually, I think I'd really like to have dinner with Stephen King. I'd like to have dinner with Neil Gaiman, too, but I think I would be able to talk to Stephen King whereas I might feel too self-conscious with Neil Gaiman, although I can listen to him talk for hours.

But, rather than dinner, I always used to dream about sitting on the porch with Stephen King, discussing rock and roll and the psychology of horror. I always felt that we had a lot in common and would have a great conversation. It's probably due to his accessible style of writing-either that, or we really would get along great. Who knows?

Don't ask me what we'd have for dinner; I'm still thinking about hanging out on the porch with him. Maybe we'd barbecue.

Thanks so much for the challenging questions and being interested!

D. L. King

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