Naomi Williams. Our relationship is in itself an interesting story. We first met in my senior year of college in Japanese 101. Because Naomi was a freshman at the time, we didn’t get to know each other well, but we certainly did when we met again several years later as graduate students in Japanese literature at Stanford.
Fate would have it that after Stanford, we both turned our focus to creative writing. While I’ve been a very bad girl and shamelessly penned over a 150 erotic stories with lots of filthy words, Naomi’s work has won a Pushcart Prize and appeared in first-rate literary journals such as One Story and The Gettysburg Review. One of my very favorite of her stories is the humorous and experimental and irreverent “Sunday School,” which was recorded for KQED’s Writer’s Block radio literary archive. You can listen to it here. It’s brilliant!
Last week as part of the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, Naomi described her fascinating story collection-in-progress, Landfalls, which re-imagines events in and around the La Pérouse expedition, an 18th-century voyage of exploration that started in France in 1785 and ended with shipwreck in the South Seas in 1788. I’ve read some of the stories, and it’s literary fiction at its best, so know you have a treat coming.
I’m taking this blog-hop-stop opportunity to talk about my work-in-progress, a novella set in early twentieth-century London. This is a bit of an impulse project, but since 13 is my lucky number, I figured 2013 is a great year to indulge myself in a just-for-fun story. Here goes:
What is the working title of your novella?
“The Downton Abbey Dirty Story.” Or possibly an "X-rated Upstairs, Downstairs," but that first title always makes me smile, and a happy writer is a productive writer.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A fresh-faced village girl goes into service in a grand London townhouse and learns a lot about the surprising intimate needs of her employers.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Decades of watching PBS.
What genre does your book fall under?
You’ll find my book under these labels in your local e-store: Erotic Anglophilia, Social Class Pornography, Vintage Underwear Studies
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Lawrence Olivier and Julie Christie. Okay, we’re talking 50 years ago, but the imagination knows no boundaries, does it?
Will your book be self-published or sold through a publisher?
I’m not sure. I probably should check out the wonderful world of self-publishing, but publishers do provide more exposure, so to speak, and my book is all about exposing things. I’ll probably try a publisher first.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The short story that inspired the longer work took about a week to finish, but the ideas kept flowing until I just knew I had to keep going with this project. I expect a few months for the novella. Yet in another a sense, I’ve been writing this in my head since I first started watching Masterpiece Theatre on Channel 13 back in my Washington, D.C. youth.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Fanny Hill. Tipping the Velvet. Autobiography of a Flea.
What inspired you to write this book?
Victorian porn and Downton Abbey. Or rather what they don’t show on Downton Abbey.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Have you ever wondered what those starchy English empire-makers really did when they retired to their bedrooms in the evening? The lessons the gentleman brought back from Paris to gently instruct their wives in exotic pleasures? The perverted ways pampered ladies kept their jaded husbands satisfied within the hearth and home? Read this novella and discover the possibilities!
While you’re waiting for my new novella, check out Amorous Woman and Ageless Erotica.