|Lustfully Ever After|
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Cleis Press
Editor: Kristina Wright
Cover artist: Scott Idleman/Blink and Carlos Emilio
Length: The book is 216 pages; my story is 14.
Heat rating: Varies among stories; "The Beast Within" is pretty explicit.
Tagline: Live out your ultimate romantic fantasy!
Even grown-ups need bedtime stories, and this delightful collection of fairy tales will lead you down a magical path into forbidden romance and erotic love. In Michelle Augello-Page's naughty "Wolf Moon," Little Red Riding Hood herself is the big, bad wolf, while Kristina Lloyd reimagines "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" with a scorching hot threesome in "The Last Dance." Shanna Germain's "Mirror Mirror" reveals the Sapphic side of Snow White's stepmother and Lisabet Sarai's Rapunzel captivates us with her wanton ways in "Shorn." As editor Kristina Wright notes in her introduction, "the authors of Lustfully Ever After know your heart's most wicked and secret desires."
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lustfully-ever-after-kristina-wright/1110790805?ean=9781573447874
Cleis Press: http://www.cleispress.com/bookpage.php?bookid=463
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
The female protagonist, Julie, is in her early- to mid-30s and works with her father in his consulting business providing conflict resolution counseling for businesses and organizations. Heath, the male protagonist, is the 38-year-old CEO of a large and lucrative jewelry company that has been in his family for years. While this anthology actually came out about a year ago (there have been more recent releases with my work in them), "The Beast Within" remains one of my favorites of the stories I've published.
Monday morning of the second week, Julie entered the office in a bright yellow power suit with a lavish bouquet of red roses in her hands. Vivian looked up from her desk as Julie passed by with the large vase. "Ooh!" the receptionist said, her eyes lighting up. "Who gave you flowers?"
Julie gave a tinkling laugh as she paused. "No one, Viv darling. I bought them myself."
Vivian's brow crinkled. "You bought a dozen red roses for yourself?"
Julie laughed again. "They're for my father. Red is his favorite color. I'm taking them to him later to cheer him as he heals."
With a little wave she turned and continued down the row of cubicles to the elevators, and a smiling Vivian went back to the work at her desk. Though Julie had been headed to Heath's office carrying a bouquet of flowers, it never occurred to Vivian or any of the workers at any of the cubicles that the roses might be for him, as no one liked him enough to even consider that anyone would take such interest in him.
Heath didn't look up as Julie sailed into his office, and she accepted this slight with her usual grace. At the soft sound of the glass vase as she lowered it onto a shelf, his head lifted. He did a double take as his gaze landed on the flowers.
"What the hell are those?" he demanded, his gaze darkening even more than usual.
"Roses," Julie said, stating the obvious. "I'm taking them to my father's house on my way home."
Heath's glare had grown more pronounced as she spoke, even as it didn't leave the blooms now set atop the shelf. "I don't want them in here. Get rid of them!"
Julie looked at him evenly. "Heath, a little brightness in this room while I'm here is not going to hurt you."
Heath looked enraged, and he stood up, slamming his palms on the desk in front of him. "If you don't get them out of here, I'll do it myself!"
He made a move from behind the desk, and Julie stepped calmly in front of him. Neither spoke for a moment as they stood toe to toe, Heath breathing heavily, Julie meeting his gaze with the silent strength she had always shown in the face of Heath's hostility. It was this time that she saw, as she looked into his stormy gaze, the flicker of sadness she suspected he didn't even consciously register. His aggression, his maleness, stood inches from her, and while she felt the stirring of arousal in her gut at the challenge, she took a deep breath and tempered it in the face of her immediate duty.
"What do you have against roses?" she ventured in a quiet voice.
The flicker grew then, but was quickly replaced by an even stronger fury. "I hate them!" he snarled, moving to push past her, but Julie stayed rooted, and her steadfastness made Heath back up.
The progress Julie had made working with Heath over the last week began to show when Heath actually chose to offer more information. In a low, furious voice, he muttered through clenched teeth, "They remind me of my mother."
"What?" Julie was surprised by the disclosure, and she stepped closer to him.
"Nothing!" Just as quickly Heath retracted, and Julie felt his energy draw back in as his nostrils flared with anger.
"Would you like to tell me about your mother?" Julie's voice was quiet, the invitation like a feather floating through the air between them.
"My mother was an evil witch! It's because of her that I'm the way I am." With this furious outburst Heath stood and stalked to the window, sending his rolling chair flying back to bang against the wall.
Julie looked at him, sensing the importance of his words. "What way is that?"
Heath whirled on her and glared. "Do you think I don't know what people think about me? What they say? That no one wants me around? Why the fuck do you think I stay locked in my office all damn day? Because I like it so much?" He gave a dry laugh that scraped like metal against concrete. "Not quite, sweetheart. It's because I know people don't want me around. Which is fine, because I don't want to be around them either."
Julie didn't answer, sensing, despite his anger, that she should let him continue. The young woman was surprised to find that his use of the word "sweetheart" had given the undeniable arousal in her a jolt. She took a deep breath, however, and released the distraction, focusing again on her present responsibility. She stood still and remained quiet, holding a place of safety for him to speak if he wanted to.
What inspired you to write this story?
First, I love the editor of Lustfully Ever After and really wanted to work with her again. I had never written a fairy tale adaptation and wasn't even sure how or where to start. In mulling over them in my head wondering which one to even work on adapting, I was struck by the idea of a reverse "beast" from "Beauty and the Beast" who is actually quite good-looking on the outside but exhibits a very unbecoming disposition. Since I truly feel that when people act in such a way there are reasons for it that are usually unconscious, it occurred to me to explore that phenomenon in a reverse adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast."
Which character in your story do you think readers will like the most? Why?
I would guess Julie, the female protagonist, because she is sympathetic from the beginning—as well as smart, kind, and very competent. All this contributes to her understanding of how to eventually work with Heath to help him release his demons, as it were. As it says in the story, "The pain, like a spell, needed to be broken."
Why do you write?
I've been writing since I was a child, and I think it was always rooted in a desire to be heard. I suspect that when I was small, I felt my voice was often drowned out by the grownups around me, and writing became a place where what I had to say was expressed without interruption or dismissal. I also found myself thinking things exactly the way I would write them if I were observing them and describing them in writing (if that makes sense). I didn't do this on purpose—it just showed up in my consciousness. It seems to me things all just came together to make writing something to which I felt oriented, and so far that hasn't changed.
When you write, what things do you want close at hand? (Coffee, water, chocolate... pictures of gorgeous hunks for inspiration...?)
I really like to get things all organized and comfortable before I start writing so I don't feel distracted by wanting something and/or so I don't have to interrupt myself to go get something. My water bottle is almost always nearby, and I like to have my phone within reach—basically so I can ignore it if it does ring but still not feel distracted wondering if someone is trying to reach me about something important. And as odd as it sounds, I like to have a notebook and pen close by too, because every once in a while I might want to jot something down or make a table or draw a picture or something that just seems easier to do on paper than on the screen. That pictures of gorgeous hunks thing is a great idea, though!
When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?
I love to dance and look for opportunities to as often as I can find them—even if that means just doing so during a short break in my office! I also adore baseball and often spend time during the season watching my favorite team either on TV or in person when they come through town. Lastly, I do a lot of inner consciousness Work, so I'm often doing things many people might find odd or esoteric like practicing silence, studying the Enneagram, partaking in some spiritually-oriented practice, etc.
Are you a plotter, or do you prefer to make it up on the spur of the moment?
I wouldn't necessarily say I prefer to make things up spur-of-the-moment, but that's often the way it's seemed to happen. Even if I do plot ahead of time, the story and/or characters have often gone off their own way regardless of what I thought might happen or how I thought they might be. I respect that and generally go with what comes through me rather than what my mind thought in advance.
|Best Erotic Romance|
What aspect of your life do you write into your books?
It may seem somewhat ironic given that I write erotica, but the most autobiographical things in my stories tend to be the non-sexual things. Since it seems to me almost anything can be a backdrop for sex, I've often used non-sexual aspects of life with which I have experience or feel I know something about and combined them with sexual tension and/or interaction. Sometimes the impetus has already been there—for example, in my story "Power over Power" that Cleis Press published in Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthology Please, Sir (later reprinted in her anthology Surrender), the storyline takes place around a Krav Maga class. I did indeed take such a class, but I had a crush on my instructor too—so both autobiographical aspects are there! My story "City Girl," found in the Cleis Press anthology One Night Only (edited by Violet Blue) is set at a state fair in the Midwest; I grew up in
and the state fair was a prominent part of my summers before I moved away. Iowa
When an idea hits you, what do you do to capture it?
I like to keep a notebook or at least a pen with me almost everywhere I go. Both are within reach on my nightstand, in my car, in my purse, and of course all over my desk. The first thing I tend to want to do when an idea occurs to me is write it down! If my handwriting were more legible, this would be even more helpful. Modern technology has come into play too—in the unusual circumstance that I don't have a pen handy, I've been known to record a voice memo on my iPhone.
What other jobs have you held besides writing?
My professional background is fairly eclectic. My academic degrees are in politics, and I used to work in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser, researcher, and writer. Prior to my finishing college, I worked as a lifeguard, children's nursery supervisor, and newspaper copyeditor, and more recently I've worked part-time as a nanny. After I left the day-job world several years ago, I entered the sex industry and have worked as a stripper, webcam model, and amateur porn performer. Currently, in addition to writing fiction, I work as a freelance writer/editor/proofreader. I also volunteer as a docent and tour guide at a local seasonal butterfly exhibit.
What's the best gift you ever received?
That would be a tie between two gifts with the same theme—the first would be my first cat, which I got for my seventh birthday, and the second my current cat, with which my ex-boyfriend presented me nearly 14 years ago (when said kitty was five weeks and five days old).
If you could time travel what era would be your first stop?
The late sixteenth century in
, partly because I love the wardrobe, but
mostly so I could meet Veronica Franco, infamous Venetian courtesan of the time,
and see the environment in which she lived. Venice
What kind of music do you listen to while driving? Same question when writing?
While driving, mostly alternative rock and country, with a few variations here and there. I'm constantly downloading new songs I like and making random CDs to put in the car. I don't listen to music anymore while I'm writing. When I was younger, background noise didn't bother me—in fact, I usually preferred it—but in the last several years, my preference has shifted to the opposite, so that I tend to find almost any noise distracting if I'm concentrating on something else.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I played the French horn when I was in school. Not sure how much I'd still remember! I also played the piano when I was quite young, but I stopped that somewhere just before my teenage years, if I remember correctly. There was one song I memorized though that for some reason stayed with me, and I've been able to play it flawlessly ever since. Odd! I do still know how to read music in the treble clef.
What's your favorite movie?
Dangerous Beauty, which is adapted from Margaret Rosenthal's biography of Veronica Franco, previously-mentioned 16th-century courtesan of
. I've not finished the
(very dense) biography yet, though so far it seems the movie takes considerable
liberties. However, in and of itself, the movie remains my favorite (followed closely
by The Dark Knight, Shakespeare in Love, and League of Their Own). Venice
Are you the eldest, middle, baby, or only child?
I'm in the middle of three girls, so I have an older and a younger sister.
Please complete the sentences
I love pizza with sauerkraut.
I'm always ready for time in a hot tub!
When I'm alone, I spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other websites I tend to find astonishingly time-sucking.
You'd never be able to tell, but I used to be a Police Explorer and for several years planned to be a cop.
If I had a halo it would be glittery, undoubtedly, and multi-colored—much like a prism!
If I could pass the coordination test that is part of the audition, I'd love to work at Walt Disney World dressing up as Belle. :)
I can never enjoy cruises very much because I just feel too much fear of the ocean.
Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Women's Erotica
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Anything for You: Erotica for Kinky Couples
One Night Only
Best Erotic Romance
Please, Sir: Erotic Stories of Female Submission
Best Bondage Erotica 2011
The Cougar Book
Best Women's Erotica 2010
Books Coming Soon
Baby Got Back: Anal Erotica
The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories
Find Me Here
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/emerald