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!
JE: 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?
JE: 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.
JE: 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?
JE: 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?
JE: 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.
JE: 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!)
Thank 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!