I can't even handle how excited I am to have a story being published in the new lesbian erotica collection edited by Sacchi Green. I had the pleasure of meeting Sacchi this year in New York City, as well as getting to hear her read some of her incredibly steamy and evocative writing. This collection, like all of her collections, is going to knock everyone's socks off and I can't wait to read it.
My story "Where There's Smoke" was based on an idea I've had for a long time - I've just been trying to work out the knots in it. I knew I wanted to write a romantic encounter between a drug dealer (only marijuana and I'm from Canada, everyone be cool) and a person with some sort of chronic illness; in my mind there was a lot more of a focus on how pain/illness/health affect one's sexuality, something which would have required many more chapters to really do justice. So the actual medical condition of one of my leading ladies took a back seat to character building generally - which was good, and so much fun to write. I'd love to continue writing these characters and have a bit of a slower-burn novella to show off, but I'll just add that to the long list of plans for queer romance novels. SO MANY QUEER ROMANCE NOVELS. Anyway, here's just a taste of it; first one's free.
“I suppose you should come in.” Miriam stood aside, gesturing with one thin arm through the doorway.
June slid out of her wet boots, hung her coat on the hook by the doorway. She didn’t even try to pretend she wasn’t looking around. She’d never been inside Frank’s cabin, had no idea he’d spruced it up so nice for tourists. It had high ceilings and shiny hardwood floors. A fire was going in the grate in front of a vintage-looking leather couch, artfully draped with a bright wool blanket, and most of the flat surfaces had jarred beeswax candles flickering. June whistled low - then immediately blushed. Christ, this woman probably thought she was some bumpkin who’d never seen fire before.
“It’s nice,” she said to cover her embarrassment.
“It suits my purposes.” Miriam followed her in, looking uncertain. “Do you want - tea or water or anything?”
“I’m good.” June sat down on the couch, laying her messenger bag across her lap. “So what is it? Arthritis? Just your hands or -”
Miriam crossed the room to the small attached kitchen, busying herself with a kettle that needed filling. She looked a bit furtive, like someone used to hiding things.
“Rheumatoid in my hands, chronic pain everywhere else,” she answered, not looking at June. “Gets worse when I’m under stress. The end of my marriage didn’t help.”
“I’m sorry.” June felt suddenly out of her depth. “Is that why you’re here then? Getting away from it all?”
“I suppose so.” Miriam set the kettle boiling, taking two large pottery mugs out of the cupboard. It looked like June was getting tea whether she needed it or not. “Trying to do some work as well. I teach English at VIU.”
Of course she does, June thought. This polished, articulate woman screamed ‘English professor” from the tips of her blonde hair to the toes of her expensive boots.
“The thought of staying in my house, the house where we - it was simply untenable. I had to go somewhere.” Miriam pulled at the sleeves of her sweater. June watched the movements of her hands, nails short but manicured. “So how do we do this?”
Oh, right - business. June had almost forgotten. “Well. I can tell you a little bit about what I’ve got. Or you can tell me what you’re looking for. Have you done this before?”
“In college.” Miriam laughed shyly. It changed her whole face, that laugh. June hadn’t even realized she was pretty until that moment, and now she felt like someone had punched her in the heart.
Confession: I had to ask my partner about lots of pot-smoking details when I was writing this. Even though I'm from Vancouver, Canada where people are basically pelting the stuff at you as you walk down the sidewalk.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out the other blog posts (schedule below) if you're interested in the stories behind the stories. Also be sure to check out the link to the actual Leave a comment, ask a question, tell me about all the queer romance novels on YOUR writing list. Commenters on any of these posts below (and this one!) will be entered in a draw to win an ebook copy of the anthology. Nothing to lose but your innocence.
Blog Tour List and Links
The Night Shift
R. D. Miller
Sweet of My Heart
Emily L. Byrne
Yin and Yang
Where There’s Smoke
Fuck Me Like a Canadian
BITCH MEDIA'S (AND BITCH MAGAZINE'S) MIX TAPES
MC Sweet Tee
The glorious and incomparable Bitch Magazine compiles weekly feminist mix tapes such as this one from Dope Folks Records, a record label that specializes in rare and unreleased limited-edition vinyl releases. The mix features female hip-hop artists “from big names to virtual unknowns from the Golden Era to the mid-’90s”—all from the personal vinyl collection of the Dope Folks team.
Can you ask for anything better than this? You can't. There's no Cardi B or Nicki but godDAMN this is an excellent bunch of ladies.
Check it out here.
JOHN KENN MORTENSEN
This artist draws images that look like the inside of my mind (not all the time, don't make it weird, sometimes the inside of my mind has a lot more sexy fan art). A Danish artist sometimes known by the name Don Kenn, Mortensen somehow mixes magic and innocence and horror to evoke that intense feeling of being a child, alone in a dark forest, or a wide ocean, or a grim city street. I don't know why I find the drawings whimsical and almost charming sometimes... not all of Mortensen's monsters are as horrifying as others. Some are pretty adorable. But it's the sense of possibility that they inspire that make me want to fill my house with them. They seem like something out of a fairytale or a nightmare (and most old fairytales are pretty nightmarish.)
His book is available on Amazon and I just realized this while looking up pictures for this post! So BLOG OVER, goodbye, I'm off to spend money.
I am so thrilled to be featured in this new anthology of erotic lesbian fairytales (the best combination of three words I can think of) edited by Sacchi "My Fave" Green and published by Cleis Press. I have read the published anthology and can attest to there being a story that will appeal to everyone. You want action and plot with swords and dragons? Gotcha. How about lyrical writing and slow-burning love? No problem. Pure, decadent smut? But of course! Comedy and sexy banter? Sure thing. Whatever sort of tone or mood you’re looking for, you’ll find it in this delicious collection of brilliant writers. It’s super flattering to be a part of it.
My story is called “Woodwitch,” and it was probably the fastest short story I’ve ever written. Over the course of two evenings the words flew off the page. Even though I’ve never written a similar story before, I think that ‘fairytale voice’ was already in my hands and fingers. I just had to uncurl them, and it was free. I was raised on old dusty books of fairytales, where the princesses were always fair, the witches always hideous, and the endings always wet with blood and justice. “Woodwitch” tells a familiar story: a princess disguises herself as a man and goes off to war. However, the story diverges a bit on the battlefield, where the princess meets a truly uncommon witch. I tried to capture a little of that old fairytale darkness: the threat of violence that lies at the edge of the woods, or in the witch’s cottage, or behind the keen eyes of the wolf. There’s definitely a bit of “Game of Thrones” inspiration as well; my world is vaguely magical and medieval, but with a healthy dose of modern day sexism and war-mongering. (One day I SWEAR I’m going to write a fairytale where women don’t have to disguise themselves as men to go to war, and are free to live the lives they please without fear. It seems sad that I could imagine a world of magic and witchcraft, but gender equality just seemed a little too much of a stretch…)
Anyway. Wanna take a peak?
* * *
The battle raged for the rise and fall of two moons, and when at last the enemy ran staggering from their sight, the princess found herself slick with sweat and blood. She had cut down two men, she knew that much. Maybe more. One had his throat slit open, wet red roses blooming over the dry earth. One had her sword buried in his belly, opened up around her blade like rotten meat. The princess had been sick after that, but the ground was so mired in filth, the air so ripe with smoke, that no one had taken any notice of her.
There were fewer of her number than before, and as she stood amidst the thinned crowd of the injured and the dying, she realized that her leg was bleeding.
Cursing, she tore a strip from her tunic. The cut was high and deep, rending both skin and muscle. Even as she bound it, blood spilled from the bandage like dark fingers, the pain enough to make her dizzy. She had felt numb before, fueled only by pure and terrified survival, but in the aftermath of battle all her injuries were making themselves known. Her muscles screamed with exhaustion, her ribs throbbed where she had been kicked. She took a hesitant step, and felt bile at the back of her throat.
She wondered if her brothers had felt like this after battle. She wondered if she was a true knight now, now that she had stopped a man’s heart.
“That wound needs seeing to.”
The princess did not know who spoke until she noticed the dark-haired witch a few yards away, moving like a dancer between the crows and carrion. The princess ignored her, pulling the binding tighter. The witch was not looking at her, crouched and peering into the mouth of a fallen soldier. When she jerked her arm, the princess realized she was pulling teeth from the corpse, strange pinching tools clutched in one hand and a rattling bag in the other.
“It is ungodly to desecrate the dead,” the princess said, despite the heartbeat of pain running from her leg to her throat.
“The dead don’t need their teeth.” The witch stood, brushing off her skirts. “And the eyetooth of one killed in violence can be used as a charm against drowning.”
“That is ridiculous.”
“Not if a sailor believes it.” The witch looked at the princess then, bird-black eyes narrowed in suspicion.
At last, the princess thought, and then felt alarmed. Those words meant nothing. She had been waiting for nothing.