Interview: Rachel Kramer Bussel

Jen: Today we welcome Rachel Kramer Bussel as she celebrates the release of Best Women’s Erotica which she edited for Cleis Press. Rachel, will you share a short bio with us?
Rachel: I’m a New Jersey-based freelance writer, erotica author and editor of over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica and The Big Book of Orgasms. My writing has been published inThe New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Elle.com, Salon, and numerous other publications. I teach erotica writing workshops at colleges, conferences, sex toy stores and online at LitReactor.com

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Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Rachel: Cleis Press asked me to become the third editor of their Best Women’s Erotica series. I have been published in the series before and was honored and challenged by taking on this project. I wanted to have a diverse, smart and sexy book featuring the kind of characters who leap off the page and make you want to reread their stories over and over again. I also wanted to include authors from around the world. One book can’t cover all aspects of women’s sexuality, but I tried my best to surprise readers and include a range of storytelling and sexually creative tales.

Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Rachel: I’m mainly a pantser. I love the rush of writing something new, where I start with the germ of an idea but watch it grow and blossom in new directions. I also like to push myself to try new ways of telling s story, such as using the second person in “Flying Solo,” my story in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. I don’t formally plot for short stories, but I do make notes to remind myself what I want to include and any major points I don’t want to forget.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Rachel: I wish I had a writing routine, but I tend to write as ideas come to me. Sometimes that’s in the middle of the night, but most often it’s first thing in the morning. I try to block out everything else I might be thinking about and write as much and as fast as I can, and push myself past the parts where I tend to want to give up.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Rachel: I usually have my phone on me, so I put notes in there, occasionally recording my thoughts if an entire stream of writing comes to my mind fully formed. I also jot down notes throughout the day, wherever I am. I have to make sure my notes are legible and that I remember what a seemingly random word might mean when I look at it later in the day.

Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Rachel: Aside from being published in The New York Times, getting to edit this series has been a career highlight, because I’ve been reading it since it debuted, and had my fair share of rejections when I was first submitting stories. I’m especially proud of including work by many authors who are new or relatively new to the erotica genre. I make room in all of my books for authors I’ve never worked with before, and I especially like getting to know my authors via social media. Editing an anthology can feel lonely, because I do most of the work by myself, so social media gives me a chance to be social and help boost the profile of my wonderful contributors and expose their work to a wider audience.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Rachel: I have somewhat nerdy pastimes. I love playing trivia, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune and reading. One of my bucket list goals is to go on a game show. That would be a dream come true.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Rachel: I’m teaching two workshops in Los Angeles Sunday, January 17th: writing about your sex life and erotica at Sexual Health Expo (SHE) at noon and erotica writing 101 at Pleasure Chest at 7 pm, and I’m hosting a free Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 reading January 19th at Good Vibrations in San Francisco (details on all of those are at http://lustylady.blogspot.com/2016/01/see-you-soon-for-erotica-and-sex.html). I’m also gearing up to teach a 4-week online erotica writing class for LitReactor.com (https://litreactor.com/classes/between-the-sheets-with-rachel-kramer-bussel). I’m also taking submissions for Volume 2 of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, so please send me your stories: http://www.bweoftheyear.com/#!call-for-submissions/x9v7c