Emmannuelle de Maupassant is the author of Cautionary Tales, which I loved. Now she has two new stories out – Highland Pursuits and Baby Love. I lured her onto my website where I had her at my mercy (muauhahahaha)… or rather, I persuaded her to let me interview her! So here she is.
Hi Emmanuelle, and welcome! It’s lovely to have you here. How did you first come to write erotica?
I’ve always enjoyed fiction set in the Victorian age, particularly novels written by women. It’s surprising how many of these explore themes of sexual constraint and our desire for freedom, as well as the hypocrisy of the age. It appealed to me to write ‘my own’, and let rip with the raunch! ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ was the result, set in 1898, in London. I played with notions of duality: that we wear more than one face, and that there are layers to our persona which we keep hidden.
You have two new releases this month, Highland Pursuits and Baby Love. Can you tell us a bit about them?
In ‘Highland Pursuits’, 1920s debutante Lady Ophelia Finchingfield is banished to wildest Scotland to come to her senses, having refused a proposal from the Earl of Woldershire. In the care of her eccentric grandmother, Ophelia is soon caught between rugged widower Hamish and the villainous Comte de Montefiore. It’s a very saucy romp, but also a wry comedy of manners, inspired by the work of Nancy Mitford and Stella Gibbons. I truly fell in love with my characters, and I hope my readers will too.
‘Baby Love’ is a modern day tale, written in diary form. The story is set in the run up to Valentine’s weekend: a time when we are bombarded with ‘expectations’ of what love should look like. In my bittersweet story, heavily pregnant Delphine finds her husband packing his bags, abandoning her for the charms of another woman. She’s left heartbroken and struggling to cope, experiencing denial, despair, the desire for revenge, and the pain of grief. Her sisters step in to support her, and we see Delphine gradually regaining her composure and sense of purpose. She realises her strength. There’s a dash of romance, and quite a bit of humour and sauce in there too. I hope readers will feel uplifted.
How did the two stories come about?
Both were born very much on the spur of the moment. An author friend, Alexis Alvarez, invited me to contribute to a charity anthology, ‘Because Beards’, with ALL proceeds going to the Movember Foundation (which focuses on men’s health). I couldn’t resist taking part. Everyone involved (from the authors to the cover designer and model, those formatting and the PR crew) gave their time freely. It’s an incredible project that’s raised thousands of dollars for a great cause. Of course, the theme of the anthology is ‘beards’ and my imagination took me to Scotland, creating Hamish, who is auburn bearded, with a fiery temper to match. I had so much fun writing the short story version of ‘Highland Pursuits’ that I decided to extend the idea and write a full novella. It’s a comedy of manners, which I hope readers will enjoy as much as I did writing it.
‘Baby Love’ I also wrote in response to an invitation: this time, taking part in a Valentine’s themed collection. It’s a great way for readers to discover new voices in erotic fiction. You can find the promotion here.
You can put one thing you’ve written into a time capsule for the future. What would you pick?
Spending time with your characters is very much like a love affair. The same can be true as a reader, of course. Think of how people respond to Heathcliff, Mr. Darcy and Rochester. We fall in love with strong characters; they become part of us. It’s an incredibly intimate relationship, allowing ourselves to ‘create’ a person in our imagination – which we do as readers and as authors.
Everything I write is special to me, changing me in some way. I’m always exploring some aspect of myself, delving my preoccupations.
However, I must admit to having a very soft spot for my ‘Highland Pursuits’, as it was such fun to write. I was fortunate in working with an amazing developmental editor, Adrea Kore. She really pushed me to explore the characters, with wonderful results.
You’re also the author of Cautionary Tales, which treads the line between erotica, folktale and horror. I loved it! Can you tell us a bit about this collection and how you came to write it?
I’d been writing travel and cultural articles and guides for some time and, about ten years ago, began researching Slavonic superstitions and customs. I was living at the time in one of the former Soviet states. I became drawn to creating my own folk tales based on those findings (which I later released as my ‘Cautionary Tales’). Each story pulled strongly towards sexual elements: some bawdy, some far darker. At the time, I didn’t recognise these as ‘erotic fiction’ but I began to realise how far sexual motivation fascinated me.
Is there any subject matter you’d love to write about but haven’t as yet?
Oh yes. I have folders and folders of ideas! I want to explore as many genres and narrative styles as I can. I love to experiment. This is what’s wonderful about writing as a creative pursuit. There are no limits to your imagination. Such freedom! It’s a massive thrill.
I’m interested in our motivations and the psychology behind our choices (particularly relating to sexual behaviour). Also, I’m pulled towards stories which show how the past haunts us.
From where do you draw inspiration?
Primarily, from reading. I love to read. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day! Sometimes, also, from film or TV drama, but I like to have time to mull over the written word. Another huge inspiration to me is my developmental editor, Adrea Kore, who began working with me on ‘Cautionary Tales’. She’s given me her creative consultancy on various short stories, as well as on ‘Highland Pursuits’. Her input makes all the difference. She’s incredibly insightful, showing me how to reach deeper into characters and plot. Her approach is completely individual, helping me strengthen my ‘voice’ and the impact of the stories I want to tell.
Is there anything else forthcoming that we should look out for?
I’ve been writing the sequel to ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’, called ‘Italian Sonata’. The first in the series received a far amount of acclaim, including being featured among Stylist Magazine’s recommended ‘sexy’ reads. Readers have messaged me asking for more, which is absolutely lovely. Now, I need not only to live up to those expectations but to surpass them!
I’ve several other projects sketched out for 2017 and 2018. I won’t give away too much, but I’ll be writing into the realm of the Gothic: ghosts, mysteries and the unexplained.
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