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Four Questions for Rachel Kramer Bussel, Erotica Writer

Feb. 16, 2012
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Rachel Kramer Bussel was in town last week to promote her twin passions: erotic writing and cupcakes (which go quite well together, when you stop to think about it). Rachel has been writing erotica since 1999 and has edited more than 40 anthologies. Wisconsinites should be especially pleased to know that one of her recent books is titled Bedding Down: A Collection of Winter Erotica. That's right: Snow is sexy. I chatted with Rachel about her tips for authors, upcoming projects and what she enjoyed most about Milwaukee.

: What's the most important piece of advice you can give to an aspiring writer who would like to be published in one of your anthologies?

Write about sex in the kind of language you think and use in your life. Don't try to sound like what you think "erotica" or "porn" should be like, and that also goes for sex scenes. You can write a perfectly hot, fabulous story where there's no intercourse or even nudity; it's all about the tease. When writing, explore every sense and draw out the sexual tension for as long as possible. I want to know why the characters are there, not just what they're doing.

: Have you noticed any trends in the submissions that you receive? Do certain topics, themes or styles seem to be more or less prevalent?

: It's up and down; some anthologies garner more stories from a female submissive perspective, some the opposite. I just love the surprise of seeing what people come up with, like a story called "Chemistry" by Velvet Moore in my anthology Orgasmic, about a woman who's turned on by science!

: I am an Eats, Shoots and Leaves type of person who is driven mad by incorrect punctuation and spelling. Is that a deal-breaker for you as an editor, or have you found great writers whose mistakes you can overlook for the sake of a good story?

: I will give people some leeway with punctuation and spelling, but repeated typos show a story hasn't been proofread. Respect your editor enough to read and follow their guidelines, and ask if you have a question.

: This was your first visit to Milwaukee. What was your favorite thing about our city?

: I loved the food! I ate very well here, everything from salt and pepper shrimp and tofu scrambler at Kil@wat to gooey nachos at Elsa's. I also like that there's so much theater; I saw The Sisters Rosensweig at Off the Wall Theatre, which is my kind of theater! I'm already planning my next visit, in warmer weather.

If you missed Rachel while she was in town, you can catch her in March during her virtual book tour  for Best Sex Writing 2012, her annual collection of nonfiction about sex. Later this year, Rachel will publish three new anthologies: Curvy Girls, about plus-size and "curvy" women, including butches and women with runner's calves; Going Down: Oral Sex Stories; and Suite Encounters, a book of hotel erotica.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.


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