Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Spark Your Moment with Jeremy Edwards!

With the nights growing chillier, and the soccer season over, I suddenly find myself with a lot more time to write--and read--the kind of books they never (unfortunately) assigned in any of my classes. You know what I’m talking about: red-hot erotica, of course! I don’t have to look far for this week’s indulgence as I sit by the fire and watch the logs crackle. My friend Jeremy Edwards, author of Rock My Socks Off, a madcap erotic novel set in my very own Bay Area, has recently published his first short story collection with Xcite, Spark My Moment.

I’ve long been a fan of Jeremy’s humor and effervescent prose. His upbeat stories should be required reading for a sex-positive approach to the sensual life. Curious about the experience of publishing a collection of short stories, Jeremy has agreed to stop by to chat about writing, story collections, and other sparkly things over cinnamon tea and Parmesan crackers with homemade chipotle salsa dip.

So welcome, Jeremy, and congratulations on publishing your first story collection!

: Thanks, Donna! [Pauses to indulge in another mouthful of deliciously savory and spicy crackers with salsa.] You sure know how to host.

You begin the collection with “Mom-and-Pop Enterprise,” the story of two magazine store owners who take the ideal of doing what you love in your work to a new level.
Any particular reason why you chose this story to start things off?

: I thought the pace of this story made it a good candidate for the opener. Some of my pieces begin quietly, drawing the reader in gently with reflection or introspection, whereas this one feels more “high energy” from the outset—even though there’s a chunk of backstory to set the scene. And because the protagonists are an established couple, they can hit the ground running. All of my stories are upbeat, in one way or another; but this is one of the especially bouncy ones, and I thought it would kick things off with good momentum.

The reader will soon notice that interspersed among your longer stories are “moments” of flash fiction.
These short pieces provide an intense dose of spice like the relishes and chutneys on a delicious buffet table. Tell us more about these amuse-bouches.

: I love writing flash pieces, but there’s not always a lot of opportunity to do much with them, publicationwise. So I welcomed the possibility of including some of these in this collection, and I was very gratified to find not only that they could fit in here, but that they might augment the structure and rhythm of the book as a whole. And sometimes I was able to specifically match certain flash pieces with the longer pieces that immediately followed them, in terms of tone or (loosely speaking) subject matter.

I was struck by the arrangement of the stories, which to me have a musical flow.
Did your background as a musician influence the “composition.” Or indeed your writing in general?

: I do think similar concerns with structure, rhythm, pacing, and dynamics come into play in my various artistic pursuits—from composing a song to writing an erotic story to scripting a stage comedy. Most specifically here, I remember noticing while doing it that arranging the Spark My Moment stories was very similar to “programming” an album (the music-world term for deciding the song order), or the song-ordering stage of finalizing a set list for a live performance. For instance, what I was saying above about opening with a high-energy story is analogous to how I would usually begin an album or a live set with a high-energy number.

As the author of dozens of erotic stories, did assembling a collection like this give you a new perspective on your voice, your characters, the type of conflicts that intrigue you?

: It was indeed interesting to observe the similarities and the differences that occur across my own work, reading so many of my pieces back to back. And I think the collection represents me quite effectively, in that it offers a pretty full range of the types of pieces I write, while also allowing the constants and recurring elements that define my voice to assert themselves. I think the last line of the summary I wrote for the book largely came out of those observations about what makes me me, as a writer (if you’ll pardon my quoting myself): “These stories are united by the author’s emphasis on joyful sensuality, libidinous urgency, offbeat romanticism, and the pleasures of language and laughter.”

Would you share a favorite passage from the book and tell us why it sparks your moment? (Warning: Sparks ahead!)

Pink smiled at me after the bartender had slammed my $2 club soda down and skulked away. ‘He really wasn’t into getting you that club soda,’ she said sympathetically. Her voice was higher than I’d expected, more sweet than sultry.

‘I don’t even like club soda,’ I said peevishly. Then I laughed idiotically and explained: ‘It was the first beverage that came to mind.’

‘You’re a goofball,’ she pronounced, making it sound like it was half compliment. ‘Do you like G&Ts?’

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I do.’

‘Here.’ She brought it to my lips. She must have put fragrance on her wrists, because I smelled a luscious mixture of skin and design. Taking a sip of her drink was the sexiest thing that had happened to me in a long time.

I got a lot of lime juice in the gulp I took, and my mouth tingled. I passed the drink back to her, and she took a substantially bigger gulp than I had, seriously depleting the ice-heavy glass. She looked blissfully refreshed – her cheeks, for some reason, became rosier as she cooled down after her dancing. Her breasts, though they weren’t large ones, were tight against the opaque top. The snap of her jeans was seductive as it flirted with her belly button; I wanted to thrust one hand into the waistband, rub the other over her nipples, and make her come in her panties.

Gin and lime juice reverberated in the back of my throat.

: This bit of “Being Myself” represents a type of situation that scores very highly on my personal scale of what’s erotic: to wit, a brief but critical interaction that expresses sexual attraction; mutual recognition, appreciation, and understanding; interpersonal chemistry; compassionate teasing; and incipient intimacy.

Any new projects or readings ahead?

I’ll be appearing in another batch of anthologies in the new year, including M. Christian’s Sex in San Francisco, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Gotta Have It, an Xcite anthology called Sex at Work, and the Oysters & Chocolate collection Nice Girls, Naughty Sex.

Thank you again, Donna! Conversing with you is always a delight. (And I’m not just saying that because we’ve been talking about me!)

you for stopping by Jeremy. And now in celebration of all solstice holidays and your many spark-ling publications this year, I thought we could open a bottle of bubbly (some Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, a local Napa favorite). Or would you prefer gin and lime? Salut!


Emerald said...

This was such a great, informative, and delightful interview (no surprise there given who was involved), and a marvelous idea! Thanks so much to both of you for providing such pertinent information on this topic and on Jeremy' collection particularly.

Incidentally, I much enjoyed Jeremy's description of composition and story order (I have informally made mixed CDs for friends and acquaintances, and I found the process of ordering the songs quite particular and involved—I enjoyed it) as well as the paragraph about the scene that "represents a type of situation that scores very highly on [his] personal scale of what’s erotic" and why—that strikes me as a very cool thing to know about one's self as a writer...it has (had) never occurred to me to see if I was aware of or knew how to articulate so concisely and informatively what constitutes "erotic" for me in a story (or in general I guess!).

Very cool; thank you both so much again!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you for hosting me, plugging me, and drawing me out with your thoughtful and thought-provoking questions, Donna! (And I'm impressed that you managed to transcribe my half of the conversation so clearly, despite the fact that my mouth was full of the delicious treats you served.)

Spamword: pantomen

I'm not sure if that's a mime troupe, an anthropomorphized set of paint chips, or something that foretells trousers.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Emerald, I appreciate your feedback so very, very much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the discussion. And it's neat to hear how the mix-disc process ties into part of what I was talking about. That cross-person experience resonance (or C.P.E.R., as we say) is always very interesting to me.

SusanD said...

What a great interview you guys. I loved the thought you put into the order of the collection, Jeremy, but also how you describe your writing as having " joyful sensuality, libidinous urgency, offbeat romanticism, and the pleasures of language and laughter." That is fabulous, and fitting. Congrats on this collection. Can't wait to read it! And your teaser scene is hot!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you, thank you, Susan! What a heartwarming comment to wake up to this morning! : )

Donna said...

It was my pleasure, Jeremy! I always find it so illuminating to learn more about other writers' processes as we're all part of the Great River of Creativity--or should I say, the Great Cave of Sparkling Wine? The story behind the story is always a treat for me, thanks so much for sharing and teaching :-).

Nikki Magennis said...

Jeremy, lovely to read this interview. I'm such an admirer of your work, and I can't wait to read Spark my Moment - are there plans for a paper release? What do you call it when it's not an ebook? I should know this, shouldn't I?!

(I know, I'm a dinosaur. But I like books I can hold onto. Especially ones I know I'm going to love.)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Aw, thanks a thousandfold for your kind words, dear Nikki! I'm sure you know the admiration is mutual!

are there plans for a paper release?

I would love that, but thus far the publisher has not scheduled this. (Moving from the specific to the general... they were talking at one point about giving all their e-books print-on-demand capability. Not sure what the status of that program is.)