Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twenty-ninth, is of Elizabeth Cage.
Elizabeth Cage is a writer, speaker and fundraiser. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Scarlet, Desire, Forum, For Women, In the Buff, The Hotspot, and the International Journal of Erotica, as well as The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 (Cleis) and her fiction regularly appears in the fiction anthologies and e-books from Xcite. Her collection, Kissing Velvet, was published in 2003 by Chimera. She also does guest blogs, author talks, interviews, events and workshops.
And now from the author herself:
I write what some people call erotica. I don’t label it myself. I can’t think of a label because whenever I do, it involves someone else’s value judgement, which in turn relates to how we perceive language. I write other stuff too. I’ve been a published writer for 35 years, but started writing erotica around 1999. I kind of stumbled into it, but that’s another story.
I’m one of those people who uses swear words in everyday life so it’s the norm for me. When folk debate the difference between erotica and porn, what are referred to as sexual swear words often seem to find a way into the argument. Does the language we use define the genre? Is it that simple? Do euphemisms make it erotica and swear words mean it’s porn? Does it actually matter?
When we write for publishers, some editorial briefs are very specific about what kind of language they want (or don’t want). Since I naturally tend to use certain expressions when I write about sex, it can be an interesting challenge for me to write an erotic story without using particular nouns. Language can be as subjective as any other art form and provoke a range of emotional reactions. The most exciting thing about it is choosing and arranging words to create imaginary landscapes.
I’ve always been fascinated by language, the fact that some words are banned, or frowned upon, yet it is the context they are used in, surely, that can create disharmony? And who decides which words are good or bad? How do you define a swear word? Like the rest of language, they change and evolve.
From a writer’s viewpoint, erotica is a particular challenge with regard to finding new and different ways of describing sex, and even if the sheer variety and scope of the encounters our characters experience is as infinite as the imagination, the actual craft of describing this without becoming hackneyed and repetitive is quite a feat. When I re-read some of my work, I find that I have sometimes over-used certain phrases to the detriment, perhaps, of the reader experience.
One of the great joys of being a writer is exploring language, playing with words and pushing boundaries. I never set out to offend. In the end it is about being true to oneself, writing with authenticity and integrity and hoping that we give pleasure in the process. Whatever kind of language that entails.
And now a taster of her books…
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with historical novelist Jenny Barden – the five hundred and twenty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.