[This issue, we sit down with Erzabet Bishop, author of several current and forthcoming erotic Pagan titles. Here, Bishop discusses her entry into the genre, and offers advice for other authors hoping to write Pagan erotica themselves. Please note that while the interview itself is work-safe, there are several embedded links which may not be work-appropriate. So read at home!]
Eternal Haunted Summer: If you could correct one common misconception about modern Paganism, what would it be?
Erzabet Bishop: Thanks for having me today. I would have to say the mistaken belief that Pagans are all spiritually bereft people with no faith to guide them. People make assumptions about anything that is different for their status quo and very often, it is completely wrong.
EHS: Considering the many genres that exist in fiction, what in particular draws you to “naughty stories”?
EB: *laughs* An excellent question. When I first started out writing, it was YA under another name. I got lost in the quagmire of a novel length book and shelved it on the backburner for years. After the advent of the Fifty Shades phenomenon, I had the urge to write again. Purchasing a book on the craft of erotica by M. Christian, I learned a great many things that proved useful. The first was the link to the author resources page on ERWA. This site holds many submission calls, writing tips and research tools. After so many years out of the loop, getting my feet wet with a short story made sense. Short stories have a finite beginning and end and you have to contain the story within the word count of the submission call. Was I going to like the genre? Would I be published? Yes, to both.
The naughty side of fiction writing is very freeing. Under my pen name, I can explore topics and genres I could never do under my “real ” name. Something that holds true for many in the Pagan path as well. Erotica has a diverse community with many doors that are waiting to be opened. You also have a lot of publishers out there who are willing to work with new authors and help them hone their craft. It has proved invaluable to say the least.
Do I plan on writing in other genres? Absolutely. Under my “real name” I write YA, horror, general fiction and children’s stories. Erotica is one of many genres I am interested in, and so far, one of the easiest markets to break into with the most support from editors. I have also been working on a young adult LGBT story line that may end up with some Pagan elements to it.
EHS: And, building on the previous question, what common misconceptions about erotica would you love to dispel?
EB: This is a question close to my heart. When people ask me what I write and I tell them, sometimes I get looks. “Oh, you write porn?” My answer is to first suck in my breath so I don’t say what is really on my mind, and then to politely answer “No. Erotica is not porn.” I have read both. There is a difference. Porn is sex for sex’s sake. No plot. Just raw action and reaction. There is no art to it at all. No story line. Erotica, or rather, good erotica, should have a story and then have sex as part of that story. That is the key. If it is just there for a shock factor or is nothing but a lot of grinding and groaning, you aren’t going to connect with your reader at all. When I read, I want a character I can learn something from or identify with. Maybe to pretend for a moment that I am that person and escape for a while.
EHS: What is the Erotic Pagans series?
EB: The Erotic Pagan series is a new line at Naughty Nights Press. It is based on traditions and holidays in the Pagan community. The idea was to share some of the beauty of Pagan traditions with an erotic slant.
For anyone wishing to learn more about the submission call here is the link.
EHS: The Erotic Pagans series consists of Beltane Fires and Samhain Shadows (so far). Why those particular holidays, and are you planning more books centered around other sacred days?
EB: I plan to write many more books in the series. Those two holidays were ones that the publisher was interested in. I had written Beltane first and that is what began the line in the first place. I was very excited.
Blurb for Beltane Fires: The first book in the new line “The Erotic World Of Paganism” by Naughty Nights Press. A recent breakup has left Ceri alone on her birthday. Her friends, Alex and Fiona, spirit her away to a Beltane festival guaranteed to light up her night. When everyone at the event seems to be a couple, Ceri ventures out for a walk along a wooded path. In the darkness, the Forest Lord has come to find his May Queen. He is everything she ever dreamed of in a lover, but is she willing to take the leap?
[Editor’s Note: to read naughty excerpts from Beltane Fires, click here. These are probably not work safe!]
EHS: The Erotic Pagans series is released through Naughty Nights Press. How did you come to publish through NNP? And how did the folks at NNP react to the idea of a Pagan-oriented line of erotica?
EB: When I wrote the first story, it had no home. In fact, it had been rejected from an anthology call previously. I loved the story so much that I knew I had to keep pursuing it. But who would buy a Pagan erotica story? I had been working with NNP as a blogger and beta reader and I decided to submit it as a short story just to see what they would say. There was already an author at the publishing house that did Pagan themed witch stories and I hoped my little book would find where it belonged. It did. I was overjoyed. My first single title short piece. I was over the moon with happiness.
The cool thing about it was the publisher also loved the topic and wanted to craft an entire line around Pagan themed erotica. They asked me to write more stories about Pagan holidays. Since the first was about Beltane, they were interested in Samhain and Yule next. So, off I went and started writing. I am currently in the outlining stage of the Yule piece. There will be many more to come. I also have a longer piece in mind. All I need are a few more hours in a day and I’ll be all set.
EHS: Your short story “Holidays in Hell” features a … sex demon? At Christmas time? How did that story come about?
EB: *laughs* It is funny, isn’t it? The anthology call was for holiday stories with kink and I had to noodle about it for the longest time. Stories centered on characters with weird quirks appeal to me and what would be better than an incubus with a thing for Christmas ornaments? You can do some naughty things with candy canes and garlands … just saying. *cheeky grin* So, I sat down for my second erotic short story ever (my first one was zombies) and got it down. Looking back at it today, there are tons of things I would love to add to the piece to flesh it out more, but overall I love the idea of an incubus who has to find his final conquest, but instead finds love amidst the scent of cinnamon and cloves.
Things that fall beneath the surface are always going to trip my trigger. Whether it is demon with a sexy kink for girls wrapped in red ribbons or a zombie upset with her digestive issues, foiling a killer that works out of singles adverts, I love to explore that hint of the unusual. In my story “Hooked” in Anything She Wants I have a story about a crochet class that has a lot more going for it than a few doilies.
EHS: Where can curious readers find your books?
EHS: Books which combine both a sensual storyline and Paganism are few and far between. Can you recommend any favorites?
EB: Siobhan Muir has a book called The Beltane Witch that I really enjoyed. It has a fantasy feel to it that was just delightful. Slave Nano also has several Pagan themed books, but his book about Samhain was absolutely amazing. Kiki Howell has several books out and is part of the NNP family. You can also find Pagan erotica through Storm Moon Press and there are several books and anthologies from Pagan Writers Press. I just subbed to an anthology with the latter and will be waiting to see how that goes. Tara Chevrestt is also absolutely amazing with Pagan romance.
EHS: What advice can you offer writers who want to try their hand at erotic Pagan tales?
EB: *Research, research, research. If you are interested in something, chances are you can find people with like minds. You just have to search a little longer, that’s all. If I had given up when I got the first rejection, I never would have found this wonderful genre.
*Read and be willing to review. The more you learn, the more you will be able to craft interesting stories that readers will connect with.
*Don’t give up. Just because you get that first, second or third rejection slip doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Look at the work you have done and see where it can be tweaked and resubmitted elsewhere.
*Write often. Don’t let anyone else tell you when and how much to write. That is all up to you. The point is to just do it. A million books will tell you a magic bullet for how to succeed as a writer. There really is only one answer. You write. You get better. You get published. Start process over again.
*Join networks like EHS, Pagan Writers, ERWA, Witches and Pagans (just to name a few) and look around for submission calls. There are plenty of ways to find them if you search hard enough. Duotrope is a paid service that has many listings that can help guide you. Horror Tree is also a great resource if you are inclined to write erotic or general horror.
EHS: What other projects are you currently working on?
EB: I am currently working on a Yule piece for NNP, a lesbian holiday story for Ladylit, a mad scientist story that is almost done, a choose your own erotic adventure, various edits on a couple of other stories – primarily “Wolf Moon” that will be released this October. I am about to start edits on Sigil Fire, my new novella that will be out through Ylva next year. I also have a YA LGBT story that is wandering around my head, a paranormal YA and many others. There are not enough hours in the day.
EHS: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events will you be attending in the foreseeable future?
EB: Working full time and writing under two names doesn’t give me a lot of time for travel. I have been on The Liz McMullen Show once this year and will be on again in October for “Wolf Moon.”
Being that I work at a bookstore … every day is a bookfair for me!
Thanks for having me! I look forward to contributing some fun fiction for the magazine and hope to see you all on Facebook and the blogs!
Author information: Erzabet Bishop has been crafting stories since she could pound keys on her parent’s old typewriter. She has only just learned that it is a whole lot more fun writing naughty books. She is a contributing author to Sweat, When the Clock Strikes Thirteen (upcoming), Unbound Box, Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs, Corset Magazine: Sex Around the World Issue, Smut by the Sea Volume 2, Hell Whore Volume 2, Slave Girls (upcoming) Anything She Wants, Dirty Little Numbers, Kink-E magazine, Coming Together: Girl on Girl, Shifters and Coming Together: Hungry for Love. She is the author of the Erotic Pagans Series: Beltane Fires and Samhain Shadows (upcoming). She lives in Texas with her husband, furry children and can often be found lurking in local bookstores. She loves to bake, make naughty crochet projects, and watch monster movies.
Follow her reviews and posts on Twitter @erzabetbishop.
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