JOINING ME FOR BRUNCH TODAY
E. K. SABINS
First and foremost, it is a pleasure to have you here. Welcome to Harper’s Sunday Brunch Interview!
Thank you for having me, Harper! I'm very excited about this interview.
So, can you tell us what makes E. K. Sabins tick? What got you started on the path to becoming an author?
I think I am one of those people who's always been a writer in some way. I have always been in love with words. As a child I was an avid reader. I read years above my grade level and figuratively devoured books. My parents used to ground me from my bookshelf—it was the only punishment they could think of that even seemed to affect me. I started reading and writing erotica in high school, and it is absolutely the genre of my heart.
What are you currently working on? Would you care to share a snippet?
I'm pretty scatterbrained about my writing, so generally I am always working on a few different things, and I skip around between projects. At the moment, I am working on two short stories and about four novel-length pieces.
Both short stories are early American. One involves puritans and one involves revolutionary era Boston. The last four short stories I put out were ancient Greek fantasy with witchcraft, sensual World War II erotica, a contemporary pony-play ménage, and a sci-fi horror story with tentacles.
Here's a bit from my last short story, Under Her Spell:
“You know as much as Nikandros has seen, he’s still not well initiated in the ways of women. I don’t think he’s ever seen a woman the way he’s seeing you now.”
“Can’t say that I have!” He piped up, all too eager to play along with where he saw this game was headed.
“Would you like to let him get to know you?” Demetrios was turning out all the charm he could muster. She nodded, with a slight whimper. He reached out his calloused hands to undo the small copper pin at her shoulder, letting one side of her shift flutter open and exposing one of her large, curvaceous, breasts.
“Demetrios!” Kosmas called out in a harsh, scolding tone.
“What? He doesn’t have a wife at home!” Demetrius scoffed in response. “Come over here, Nika. Our host wants to get to know you. Isn’t that right, sweetie?”
She nodded, mutely. Nikandros rose to his knees from where he’d been sitting on the hearth, crawling over to kneel in front of her. Demetrios reached down and pulled up the front of her shift, exposing the pale olive flesh of her thighs and the curly black wisp of hair on her mons.
“Spread your legs, girl, let him see your vulva.” The sailor whispered into her ear. His wine-scented breath was hot on her neck. Slowly she did as she was told. Demetrios smiled smugly and leaned back, shifting his body to make his growing erection even more apparent.
“Go on, Nika,” He chuckled, “Have your dessert.”
Of the novel length works, one is set in the 1920s and features a lot of fun fetish play and pent-up characters exploring and embracing their sexuality. Another is dark fantasy horror with magic and wizards and all kinds of crazy power dynamics and tricky situations for the heroine to overcome.
Here's an excerpt from the 1920s. This is straight from my rough draft, and hasn't been seen by anyone but me before:
“Lose the corset and brassiere. I wanna see your chassis.” The unknown woman grins cruelly at the demure model of femininity undressing uncomfortably in front of her. As the older woman undoes the ties at the sides of her bra and lets her breasts tumble out the stranger even let out a low wolf-whistle and said to her husband. “Quite a nice piece you got. I hope you don’t mind sharing.”
She glanced back at him, tied and helpless, and it took her no time to see exactly how he felt about the situation. The bulge growing in his pants was unmistakable. She can’t stifle the low, knowing laughter that results from her sudden realization.
“Oh, you don’t mind at all, do you?”
“Don’t touch her!”
“Or you’ll what?” She scoffed at his protests then spoke in a perfectly authoritarian tone, “Tell the truth, Hugh. I don’t like being lied to. And last I checked I was still the only one here with a heater. That still the case? Beatrice? You found your gun yet?” She starts to gesture around with her Smith & Wesson recklessly. Both of them flinch, afraid the gun will go off. Beatrice drops her corset to the floor in a panic, having just finished taking it off. Hugh starts to use his feet to edge his chair away from the woman seated on the desk.
“Alright, alright. I’ll share.”
You'll have to join my mailing list to find out more about that story.
Do you include some of your own personal experiences in your books or do you prefer to use your imagination?
I have had some acting training in my life, and I feel like that helps me find a very good balance between following my imagination and writing what I know. The human experience, internally, is a fairly universal thing. We all want dignity, acceptance, validation. Our experiences guide our emotional responses, but we all have them. So when it comes to those things, I absolutely write from my own experience. I also am one of those people who is very accepting and listens well, so people have discussed a lot of very personal subjects with me, and I write from those experiences as well.
As you can probably tell from my answer to the last question, my favorite genres are historical or speculative. From the list of historical/vintage, horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, everything I write probably falls into one of those categories. So I do huge amounts of research and try to learn as much as I can about anything I don't know, whether it's a historical time period, a foreign culture, a different gender, another species, different circumstances
What genre do you typically write in and why did you choose this over others?
I am a huge history nerd, so writing in a historical time period or something that emulates history, like fantasy genre stuff, is just endlessly interesting to me. I'm enough of a geek about cultural anthropology and sociology that sci-fi fulfills the same kind of nerdly passion. I really love world building. I love bringing in a darker edge, putting my characters in really dire circumstances and seeing if they can make it out alive, so lots of things have a horror aspect as well. And pretty much everything that I write is kinky in some way. I'm not the kinkiest person in the world, but I am open-minded, so I have tried a lot of different things in the sack. I definitely write about things that aren't necessarily my cup of tea, but that suit the characters or the situation. I love writing about the sex because I love being able to be true to my characters as complete beings, with their sexualities not hidden behind closed doors.
Do you have a specific process or a ritual you go through when sitting down to write?
It's not a ritual, per se, because I do a not insignificant amount of writing on my iPod when I am out and about running errands or sitting around waiting for a ride. When I am at my most productive, I usually sit down at my computer, I turn on one of my many, many playlists I have that cater to different genres, time periods, even different stories. I go over where I am at in my google docs, and then fire up a program called FocusWriter to do my actual writing. It let's me set themes, and again, I have them for most of the genres I like to write in. It also hides all the formatting options and my windows taskbar so I stay focused on my story. The music and the background pictures of my themes do that, too. I think of it as a submersion approach. It keeps me in the zone, and hiding the taskbar, means I write until I need a break, because I can't see the time.
When I get writer's block, I have pinspiration boards and collections on We Heart It that help me keep track of my imagery. Sometimes, I fool around and make polyvore collages. I feel like creativity can't be confined to one art form, so I bounce to another when I get stuck with one. I've thought about researching things like historical dances that my characters might have done. Every time I do something like that I find the rewards pay off exponentially.
Where do you find your inspiration for your plots? Do you have any tricks of the trade you would care to share?
I feel like life is inspiration and I feel like the biggest cause of writer's block for me is when I stop going out and doing things. When I get too stuck in my head, I feel like I get stale because I am stuck in a loop. I don't necessarily mean contact with other people, because like a lot of writers, I can be a bit of a hermit, but doing stuff, having new experiences, people watching. That stuff really tops up my inspiration reserves.
My best advice is twofold: Don't dismiss your planning time, so long as you keep in mind that you must write and not stop. Before I started writing as an adult I would plan and plan and never actually write. Then I started and I felt like all my planning time had been a waste. Eventually I got to the end of the things I'd planned out and realized that planning is absolutely part of my process. Time I spend making those playlists isn't a waste because having them keeps me writing longer and writing more words then I would be writing otherwise. When you are doing something creative, a collage can be a productivity tool. Figure out the things that spur your thought process and incorporate them. Never be afraid to discard what isn't working, even if it used to work great.
What is the oddest place/situation where an idea for a book/plot has come to you?
Has to be church. Dead serious here. I haven't passed my notorious three chapter sticking point with that story, so I won't get into it too much, but I totally have a novel idea based on the Bible. It's pretty hot.
What makes a book stand out and perk your interest?
Strong characters, realistic writing for the characters, and the interactions. Everybody acting like teenagers constantly is a big turn-off for me, the same as characters with not enough depth to them. I like to discover them as I read the story and see them interact with the plot. I like an interesting world, the more original, the better, but it has to be consistent. I am absolutely one of those readers who notices those little details, and they can make or break a story for me. Also, to really, really, win my heart, don't leave any of those initial 'promises' made to me as a reader unfulfilled. Don't give it to me all at once, but by the time you're finished, tie up all the loose ends and make it all a cohesive whole. If you can do all that I will be in love.
We all have our favorite authors. Can you share some of yours and tell us why you like them?
My favorite authors and my biggest influences are, roughly in order, Ray Bradbury, Anais Nin, Margaret Atwood, and Anne McCaffrey. I'm also a big fan of Frank Herbert, Sylvia Plath, and H. P. Lovecraft. Pretty much an insane mixture of influences, particularly for a smutsmith like myself.
I'm not certain I could say for certain why I like them. I like the way they describe the world, and the stories they have to tell. For my top two influences, Ray Bradbury and Anais Nin, I think they both share a very lush, evocative way of writing. It brings you into a beautiful kind of alignment with the characters. Also, I think it's a damn good thing that Ray Bradbury was born male, because with his writing style, in the time when he was really gaining popularity, I think people would label everything he did as some kind of romance if he wrote under a female pen name. The way he describes things is so sensual! But I love that outside of the romance genre. I think it brings a lot to the sci-fi and horror tales that he's known for. Some of his short stories (like The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair) really are romances, and they are absolutely some of my favorite examples of that genre.
We all have a pet peeve, care to share yours?
Probably my favorite thing is when something is appropriate. Clothes appropriate for the time period, words appropriate for the emotional tone, actions appropriate for the character's development. So my biggest pet peeve is when something is inappropriate. The best example I can think of, is that I was reading a heavily researched novel set in late Republican era Rome. At one point the writer used the phrase 'pile driver' or some such, referring to a wrestling move. To my mind it stuck out like a sore thumb. I finished the book, but it took me awhile before I was ready/interested in going on to read the other books in the series. And this was a mainstream author, with loads of books and great reviews and all that. I knew the books would be good, but that one line nearly ruined the whole series for me.
When you’re not writing, what are the things you enjoy doing to relax?
I'm one of those crazy people who doesn't really do the laying around relaxing thing. I watch TV to help me fall asleep. For actual fun I like to do historical dances and participate in a couple different historical recreation and re-enactment societies. I am a gamer from way back, and I play in a couple different table top role-playing games with my friends, including one that we play over Skype. I also really love supporting my fellow writers, particularly erotica writers, and participate in a few forums where we do challenges and help each other out.
Thank you so much for joining me here today, E.K. I know my followers will enjoy this spotlight as much as I have conducting it. Good luck on all your future endeavors.
The same to you! I had a blast answering your questions. Thank you so much for having me!
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT E. K.
I write smutty stories in several genres: historical fiction, horror, fantasy, supernatural, and sci-fi; but they all have intense situations, perilous journeys and harrowing experiences, all with sexual exploration and expression at their core. Expect unique characters, diverse casts, BDSM themes, high emotion (not romance by any means), and situations that just might blow your mind.
I love giving you exactly what you want as a reader, so I pay close attention to what my followers are doing. If my short stories get high ratings and lots of great reviews they will get sequels. If the sequels do great they will become serials. A serial that does well will become a series…I think you get the picture. I love writing sexy stories almost as much as I love sharing them with you!
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E. K.'s LATEST RELEASE
In the isles of ancient Greece, Kosmas and his men have been shipwrecked and washed ashore on a mysterious island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. They are desperately in need of some comfort and a place to sleep. Luckily for them, the seemingly uninhabited island has one lonely woman living on it. But Kosmas is having a hard time keeping his crew in order.
The crude sailors try to take advantage of a young woman’s assumed naivete, only to discover that she is much more powerful than she seems. Will the crew incur their mysterious host’s wrath? What sort of retribution does she have in mind for punishing the men’s sexual misconduct? And once the full power of their host’s sorcery is revealed, will any of them make it out alive?
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UNDER HER SPELL