Ashley Lister talks with Emerald


EmeraldEmerald is a prolific erotic author, known for her stylish blend of credible characters, realistic situations and detailed, delightful erotic encounters.  Her work has appeared in a range of celebrated anthologies including Swing!, K Is for Kinky and Best Women’s Erotica (2006 and 2010).  Emerald took time from her busy schedule to discuss her fiction with us here at ERWA.

Ashley Lister: Many of your stories balance the realism of everyday life with the unrealism of chance encounters and super-satisfying sex. Do you get the ideas for your fiction by thinking, ‘What if…?’

Emerald: First, thank you so much for having me here today, Ashley. It is a pleasure and honor to be here!

In answer to your question, I would say the “What if” element has indeed been there, but I also think tendencies from my personal experience contribute to what you mentioned. I have frequently found myself attracted to strangers and have seemed fairly straightforward about expressing this, so the kind of sexual encounters to which you allude have actually been a significant part of my experience. Reflections of forthrightness in initiating sexual interaction and the seeming unlikelihood of resulting encounters in my stories are likely autobiographically based, in spirit if not in actual circumstances. (An aspect of this, for example, may be that my female characters often seem to conveniently have condoms in their purses, which some may find unrealistic. I, however, have been carrying condoms in my purse since I started having sex, so I do not.)

That being said, since I am in a monogamous relationship now, the “What if” has indeed entered the process more. In situations where I have recognized that I probably would have initiated a sexual encounter in the past, I have been known to follow via a story the “What if” process of what may have thus unfolded.

Ashley Lister: One of my favourite stories is ‘Wings and All’ from K Is for Kinky. For those unfamiliar with this piece, the anthology focused on kinky practices. Your story stood out because the particular kink involved was something incredibly outrageous and unusual. Where on earth did you get the idea of sexualising a bumblebee costume? And how did you go about making the idea erotic for those of us who haven’t indulged in the buzz of bumblebeesex?

Emerald: “The buzz of bumblebee sex”—ha! That story is actually fairly autobiographical. The invitation to write it came from a conversation in the comments of the now-defunct Lust Bites blog when editor Alison Tyler was one of the contributors there. In response to one of her posts, I gave a brief recount of an escapade I’d had in my Halloween bee costume, mentioning that the costume had stayed on “wings and all.” She replied that “Wings and All” sounded like a great title for a story! I was delighted when she invited me to write it and submit it to K is for Kinky, which of course I did.

There was embellishment since it is a fiction story, and it was actually the unusualness of a bee costume seeming particularly sexy to someone that led me to the angle of its serving as a pivotal point in the couple’s sexual relationship, in that it brings something out of one of the characters that the narrator hadn’t seen before. I felt like I wasn’t so much showing how the character found the bee costume erotic, but just that he obviously did. Who knows what may set someone off, you know?

Ashley Lister: In the forthcoming anthology Please, Sir, you have a story called ‘Power over Power’. This is clever writing, and balances the central character’s desire to be dominated with an unspoken need for control. Was it difficult getting into the mindset of such conflicting emotions?

Emerald: That is an example of a tactic I’ve found myself utilizing a number of times, which is writing different characters who seem to display contrasting perspectives and propensities that are actually all things I have seen in myself at different times in my life. In the course of the psycho-spiritual inner work that has been a primary focus in my life for several years, I have seen more clearly some of the historical propensities in me as well as experienced an expanded perspective. So within the same story one character may display a lot of the perspectives and propensities I recognize that I demonstrated in the past alongside a different character who embodies some understanding I didn’t have then but may see more now. “Power over Power,” incidentally, may be one of the most prominent examples of this in my body of writing. It is a story I probably couldn’t have or wouldn’t have known to write years ago because I wouldn’t have been aware of or understood Dominic’s (the teacher’s) perspective. Dominic can see the apparent conflict in the central character and understands why it is there, while she does not possess this awareness yet.

Ashley Lister: I know you’ve read your work at Rachel Kramer Bussel’s In the Flesh reading series. What’s the experience like reading your work to a live audience? Would you recommend reading erotica in public?

Emerald: I have been delighted by the two chances I’ve had to read at Rachel’s In The Flesh and consider it an honor that she offered me the opportunity. Overall I found it considerably different from and much more comfortable than “public speaking” in general because what I was going to say was already composed and I was simply reading it. (That’s not to say I didn’t feel nervous!) Since when I write I have tended to “hear” how what I’m writing is being expressed, I found it enjoyable to have the opportunity to present it that way in this medium different from the written word. It also happened that I experienced the audiences at In The Flesh as exceptionally gracious and enthusiastic.

If one feels at all comfortable with it, I would recommend the experience of reading one’s work in public. Some audiences seem to really like the idea of hearing fiction (or nonfiction) in this form, and authors may find it a gratifying experience for the reason I mentioned above as well as in the connecting with an audience in a different and more immediate or perhaps even intimate way.

Ashley Lister: When you’re writing erotic fiction, which comes first for you? Do you find yourself thinking about a particular character – and how they are going to respond in a situation? Or do you think of the situation and then try to work out what sort of character would be there? Or is it some other approach?

Emerald: What an interesting question. It seems to me the genre is relevant in that area, which has never really occurred to me until you just asked. In general, I have always felt character-driven in writing. Yet with erotica, the action/plot/scenario, so to speak, seems an elemental factor. So I think in erotica it has been more common for me than with any other writing for scenarios or plot points to occur to me before character development. Still, I would say I have experienced both approaches, as there are stories in which the character is still the starting point and main focus for me. In some cases it even seems both may occur simultaneously. The character and the potential situation spontaneously arise as one package—such as perhaps in cases of the “What if” question above.

Ashley Lister: Can you tell us a little about your current projects and your future publications?

Emerald: My story “The Plant on the Mantel” was recently published at The Erotic Woman, and I just found out a few days ago that I will have a story in the forthcoming erotic romance anthology Passion: Erotic Romance for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and published by Cleis Press. It doesn’t come out until November 2010, but I am very excited about that. I have two other preliminary anthology acceptances from the editor, but they’re still pending publishing approval so I don’t want to mention them yet. I do, however, announce such things at my website,

Though I don’t have a story in the anthology, I’m also planning to participate in the August blog tour for Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology Fast Girls, which I look forward to reading. Other than that, I am working on several short stories, as usual, and have a number of potential blog topics piled up waiting for me to go through. Thank you again for inviting me to be interviewed here at ERWA, Ashley! It’s been a delight.

Ashley Lister
July 2010

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