Kristina Lloyd writes the kind of fiction that unearths something raw inside you, something you – most likely – didn’t even realize was there. She does so in her trademark no-holds-barred style and she’s been doing so for over fifteen years. Her new novel, Undone, is out now and as I promised she’s here to answer my burning questions.
Undone is a rich, sensual and terrifying book, which will pull you in and refuse to let you go until you know what happens in the end. Go and buy it, because you need it in your life. And for that matter, you need all of Kristina’s books in your life.
Right! Now, I believe there was a Q&A planned…
What made you want to start writing erotic fiction?
For a long time, I knew I wanted to write fiction but didn’t know how or where to begin. I kept hearing advice to write genre fiction if you want to be published, so I decided to give it a whirl. Erotica was the genre which appealed the most because I’m very interested in sex and desire. I guess my motivations were initially quite pragmatic but once I began to explore, I was hooked.
What draws you to writing erotic thrillers? Are there any other erotic thrillers you can recommend reading?
I love creating narratives of heightened tension and leading my characters into danger. For me, that dark, uncertain, threatening space has a compelling erotic charge. One of my favourite books is Susanna Moore’s In the Cut. There are no sex scenes of the type you’d expect to find in erotica but it’s a thriller shot through with dark, dangerous desire, and there are some brief, powerful horny encounters. It’s beautifully written. Alas, no HEA. Well, actually, hurrah for that! The current expectation for erotic narratives to conclude with a joyful coupling restricts both readers and writers.
What was the inspiration behind Undone?
An exchange of ideas at a writing workshop prompted me to consider applying a classic murder-mystery opening to erotica.
You are one of the most honest authors I know, in the sense that your writing doesn’t shy away from the gritty bits. Do you think this is something that’s missing from the current erotica market – stories with a real life, down-to-earth honesty to them?
Thank you! I find the gritty bits hot so that aspect comes naturally to me. Today’s market Is very commercially driven, with publishing houses pushing the currently popular model of softcore, aspirational romance. Escapism has long been part of women’s popular fiction but I think we’re lacking a counterpoint to that right now. Which isn’t to say I’d like to see more fiction featuring people with office jobs worrying about their gas bill. I think we can depict ordinary lives and longings in extraordinary, imaginative ways. I’d like to see rich inner lives, I guess, rather than rich outer lives.
I have to say, the obsession with billionaires leaves me cold. For me, vast wealth goes hand in hand with a limited social conscience. I’d be more inclined to write about a Marxist revolutionary rather than someone who’s comfortable and minted.
You’ve been an erotica writer for over fifteen years. What are some of the changes to the landscape of erotica you’ve seen happen?
The main change is positive: the shift from women’s erotica being deemed unacceptable and unnecessary to its current broadscale acceptance. The popularity of FSOG, for all the book’s flaws, did demonstrate that women have sexual desire, a fact our culture has ignored for centuries. But the pay off is, because this cultural shift has been very located in the realm of popular fiction, we have a retail and publishing industry who are effectively policing the parameters of female sexuality. Only certain types of books are “allowed” through. We need representations of female desire in other areas, in film, TV, art, porn, popular culture.
Do you have a set-in-stone writing process for writing your novels?
I wish! I’d be a lot more prolific if I had. The idea for a novel is usually triggered by something small and intriguing, then I start weaving other possibilities around that. I usually start writing from the beginning, with a sense of where the story is going, and I sketch out the plot as I’m writing the early pages. I can’t write a plot cold, without those early pages. I need to “feel” the book – where it’s located, its mood, its characters – before I can build the rest of the story.
Your second and most notorious novel Asking For Trouble turned 15 years old this year. What are your memories of when you were writing it, and when it first came out? What was the immediate reaction?
There was no reaction because the internet hadn’t fully arrived. I don’t think I even knew what my publication date was. I did zero marketing. I used to go online for an hour or two at the weekend, and was massively surprised to find Asking for Trouble was regularly ranking high on Amazon’s charts. I think erotica was generally doing well on Amazon, as most people were still buying ordinary books on the high street. But as reviews started to appear, I realised I’d done something different. My editor at the time was hugely supportive. She saw the feminist potential of the genre and was more than happy to have a book on her list which challenged the cultural expectations of female desire. And I was happy to be writing it, to be given a chance to write whatever I wanted, no matter how filthy or shocking people might find it.
Do you think a novel like Asking For Trouble could be written and published today? What do you reckon the reaction would be?
Well, the big publishers are targeting the FSOG crowd, most of whom would be horrified by Asking for Trouble! So no, they wouldn’t touch it. I don’t think Black Lace, in its current incarnation, would publish it either. It’s odd. Asking for Trouble outsells all my other novels combined, and is still selling after all this time. It’s by far the dirtiest, and is also the most commercially successful of my books, but it doesn’t fit the current mould.
In Undone, Lana buys a vintage handcuff collection after her divorce. Did you have fun researching vintage handcuffs? What’s the prettiest pair you found?
Handcuffs are a wonderful thing to research! Strictly speaking, Lana’s is a vintage and military-issue collection but I shorten it to vintage. I spent a lot of time exploring sites dealing in antique militaria and law enforcement supplies. Wow, there are some incredible restraints out there! Undone starts at a party and Lana has with her a pair of Clejuso 15s, the heaviest cuffs ever manufactured. Those were the prettiest I discovered. But I do have a soft spot for nasty, ugly, vicious cuffs as well!
If you had to pick between Thrill Seeker’s Baxter Logan or Undone’s Sol Miller, who would you most like to spend a night with?
Haha! Baxter Logan! He’s permanently randy and so out of control. Then Sol can step in when Baxter’s exhausted.
What are your plans for the future?
Pass! Well, I want to put out a couple of digital anthologies. And I’m toying with a couple of novel and novella ideas. I’d love to be able to develop myself as a writer of erotic thrillers but romance is so in vogue, and it’s a struggle to get heard. I’m not aiming for fame and fortune. Never have done. But, right now, I’m low on the stamina required to write for love. On the personal front, I have a busy year ahead of me so I may use it to take stock. Or I may be gripped by an idea which won’t let go of me, and start writing a new novel next weekend!
Have you got any words of advice for your fellow erotica authors?
Don’t be a hack. Write about what turns you on.
And finally, if you have one, share with us the recipe of your favourite cocktail.
My favourite recipe is:
1. Put on a nice frock
2. Fix a flower in your hair
3. Walk to Valentinos in Brighton/your bar of choice
4. Order a Margarita
5. Order another
Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.
When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand.
One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?