Good morning, all! I am very pleased to introduce you all to Debra Hyde, author of Story of L, a lesbian retelling of The Story of O that I reviewed a few months back. You can check out my rather glowing review here.
Well, I'm delighted to have Debra stop by today for an interview, as a follow-up to my review.
Before we get into the interview, let's take a quick look at Story of L:
Liv called her hunger The Void. She thought she knew it - and herself. Until a night with Cassandra silenced it. And brought out something in Liv she didn't think possible: submission. One taste of that, and Liv wanted more. But Cassandra isn't an easy dominant. She expects Liv to earn her way into her good graces. And her demands aren't simple. How many hurdles will Liv need to jump before she can kneel before Cassandra? Before Cassandra chooses to claim her? Just what will it take to become Cassandra's "L?" And will the outcome be all she hopes for - and needs? Find out in a timeless tale, retold. Find out in Story of L.
And now, without further ado, please welcome Debra!
♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?
I began writing professionally right out of college when I was a much younger woman, starting in the IT field (way back when it was called data processing!), then corporate communications and eventually freelancing. Totally different worlds than fiction writing, but I really cut my teeth on those jobs, having to write all kinds of material under all kinds of deadlines. Invaluable!
I didn't pursue erotic fiction until I discovered women-written erotic in the mid-1990s. I had encountered a fair amount of erotic fiction growing up (shout out to all those girls who knew where their dads stashed their dirty books and porn!), but to see fiction written by women for women was energizing – and I had to be part of it.
I had enough of a tough skin, thanks to all those corporate years, that I started sending short erotic fiction to every print publisher out there. Surprisingly, almost everything I wrote got published and I've had the good fortune to work with Cleis Press, Alyson Books, Thunder's Mouth Book, Blue Moon Books, and countless other book publishers.
When the Sony Reader came out, I slowly left print publishers for e-books. Today, I've four novels in e-book, working mostly with Ravenous Romance. And I've become one of their acquiring editors. My current novel with them, Story of L, is a lesbian retelling of the Story of O and it's up for a Lambda Literary Award!
♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?
My favorite erotic genre is BDSM because, personally, it's my favorite and most constant form of sexual expression and satisfaction. I prefer bondage, sensation play, and other deliciously wicked thrill rides – have for many, many years. So I most often gravitate in that direction.
However, I'm also dedicated to the sex-positive notion that sex is good for the soul, heart, and body. I've written many erotic short stories that have nothing to do with BDSM – but everything to do with the rewards of sexual pleasure and intimacy. My recent anthology, Back Door Lover: Erotic Tales of Anal Sex, is one such example. While it contains a couple of BDSM stories, its stories run the gamut of practices and it's pretty pansexual. I wanted to reach as many people with a sex-positive message as possible!
♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?
Human experience – mine and other's – clear informs my writing but not always in the ways you might imagine. Story of L's key secondary characters, Cassandra, is a woman much like me: older and assessing what it means to be an aging individual, moving through the BDSM world. She deals with issues of invisibility, relevance, and the kind of aging life decisions one must make about love and longevity.
However, let's not make this sound all doom and gloom! Liv, our eventual L, steps into Cassandra's life and both women wind through a choreography of shared experiences to creat something meaningful and lasting. Which made for a n exciting literary journey in its writing!
♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?
Story of L's received a number of amazing reviews and one reviewer was particularly moved by my authorial claim, in L's voice that "...without personage, submission is nothing more than obliteration." Because that resonated with that individual, that'll have to stand as my favorite quote!
♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?
Early in my BDSM leather experiences, I was drawn to radical sex authors like Pat Califia and BDSM authors like Laura Antoniou. They still inform me and I'm happy to say that Laura has become a good friend through the years. Her perseverance as an author is incredible, especially in striving to keep her venerable The Marketplace books in circulation.
But I'm also a devoted admirer of Mary Renault's work, not because of her classic Persian Boy and other historical works, but for her less-known, quietly queer domestic novels. Especially The Charioteer and The Friendly Young Ladies. And for a very special reason.
When stationed in England as a young married couple, my parents were adopted by a neighborly group of queer friends. Aunt May, Aunt Rosmund, and Uncle Norman were key loved ones in my extended family as I grew up, and they themselves had met during WWII in the ambulance corp – not an unusual place for gay people to meet and form lasting ties. Renault's early works captured the world that my aunts and uncle knew as young adults.
The same goes for Sarah Waters. I love all her books, but The Night Watch will always be my favorite for the very same reason.
♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?
You know, I'd have to pick a dead celebrity: Mark Twain. I live near Hartford, Connecticut, where his Victorian crazy-ass house stands today, and you can't live in the Connecticut River Valley and not be Mark Twain aware!
As far as what to do with him? Well, I think I'd like to butch it up with him – drag king my way into his men-only billiards room, smoke a couple of cigars and play snookers, pet a cat or two, then find out if he's top or bottom!
Yeah, that would do it for me!
♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?
Two things in life are worth striving for: enduring love and engaging, intimate sex.