Writer and photographer Lilith Wes talks about her rapturous tale of fantasy fulfilled
Sex is like death and fistfights: literature just can’t leave it alone. But how could you ever write about sex in a new way? It’s all been done before. Even as a specialised genre, erotic fiction’s nothing new; they teach Anaïs Nin to unshockable freshmen now. Writing about sex, however, can never become unfashionable. Sex exists both outside culture, in the sense that it resides timelessly in bodies, and inside culture, in the sense that we communicate about it so much that it defines entire art forms. We should not be surprised, therefore, at how incredibly fun it is to read New Lovers.
Badlands Unlimited, the publishing house founded by art darling Paul Chan (who provides the books’ special color endpaper artworks), has just released their first trilogy of brand-new erotic fiction. Gathering together Wednesday Black’s “How to Train Your Virgin”, Lilith Wes’s “We Love Lucy”, and “God, I Don’t Even Know Your Name” by Andrea McGinty, this first New Lovers offering is a fine thing indeed.
The middle story is, appropriately, a tale of getting caught between two good things. Wes’s novella is a first-person account from birthday girl Lucy, whose best friend Nicholas offers her a very special gift: a live show put on for her by him and his lovely boyfriend, James. What happens next is...sexy. We caught up with Wes to talk about her rapturous tale of fantasy fulfilled. You can hear extracts of the book alongside some music by Lana Del Rey, Alanis Morissette and Sinéad O'Connor, in an exclusive NSFW mix below, produced by Daniel Leyva (wordofcommand).
What's your personal history with written erotica?
Lilith Wes: I’ve read erotica for a long time and some traditional romance as well, but I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. “We Love Lucy” was the second story I wrote right after I’d finished writing my first book in June of 2014. I’m new at this (I’ve been writing seriously for two years, three books) and I started writing because I just couldn’t find much in the field of erotica that was “doing it for me.” So, I started writing for myself, writing the stories I wanted to read.
How do you feel about your story being collected with the other two? I guess it makes sense as a 'threesome' for yours to go in the middle!
Lilith Wes: I’m always a big fan of being in the middle, so I feel I’m perfectly placed. I love that all three stories are so different within the context and the styles that they are written. I think that’s one of the pleasures of writing erotica; there is so much to be written, so many stories to tell, and everyone who writes it does it in their own way. It’s always good to have new female voices in this genre as well. I also appreciate that Badlands is really working hard to publish a variety of erotic work and I feel honoured to have been included. I’m really looking forward to reading the new books they put out in the fall.
In a way, your story is the most traditionally written erotic piece in the book, but with the most transgressive content. Are there writers of erotic fiction that have particularly inspired you?
Lilith Wes: I agree with you. My story is the most traditionally written with the most untraditional content, in our society anyway, and both are honest representations of how I write and think. The story is not autobiographical but it has a lot of roots. The characters in the book are completely fictional, but the emotional basis and the concept for the story comes very much from the totality of my life. That being said, I feel the responsibility to write strong female characters, women who are comfortable with their desire and own it; to look into my characters, both male and female, and let them explore trust, honesty, and their desire in some way which makes them and me happy. That’s what I like to read so that’s what I write.
No, there is no particular writer of erotic fiction that I can point to and say, “that one, that’s the culprit who has inspired me to write up this hot sexy mess in my head.” The list of writers I love and admire is long; Kerouac, Morrison, Miller, Tolkien, Angelou, Kesey, Abbey, Kingsolver, Anaïs Nin, and so on. I’m inspired by many, and from many different forms of creative endeavors as well.
“Sexual fantasy + imagination + wordy goodness = erotica! My brain is wired for sexy time, and allowing myself the time and space to have that is important to me” – Lilith Wes
Is sexual fantasy an important part of your own inner life, or is this more of a creative outlet?
Lilith Wes: Yes, yes, yes! It’s both. Sexual fantasy + imagination + wordy goodness = erotica! My brain is wired for sexy time, and allowing myself the time and space to have that is important to me; it’s inherently part of the way I’m made.
My imagination fuels my desire and my desire gives me pleasure and connection, and not just within the context of my relationship with my husband. For me, it goes into other parts of our relationship that strengthen it, which in turn, promotes other positive aspects that go beyond “us” into “me.” Allowing myself to explore and be comfortable with this part of who I am; a sexual person who likes to fantasise and who loves to write erotica just seems to be part of my journey. I think sexual fantasy is a really important thing, not just for me, but for everybody.
How did you get involved with Badlands Unlimited and what was the publishing process like?
Lilith Wes: I got an email forward from my brother in law, Jonathan, with the information attached. His note to me said, “this looks to be right up your alley.” So, I read over what they were looking for and I said ‘hell yes’ and sat down that night and wrote the first chapter. I’d just finished writing my first book, 800 pages of epic fantasy erotica, and it was super fun and exciting to write something from a first person point of view and in the moment. Short and sweet. I had no idea if they would want to publish it and already knew if they didn’t, I would finish it for myself because I just can’t leave my characters unfulfilled (laughs). But they did, so I finished the story and sent it up for review. They had a couple of suggestions, so I went in and mucked about a bit, sent it back and they took care of the rest. The entirety of the process was awesome. Don’t tell them I said this, but they really are the sweetest, most enthusiastic people with a great sense of humor; just a pleasure to work with. I’d do it all over in a heartbeat.
10,000 Maniacs – “These Are Days”
K's Choice – “Not An Addict”
Sinead O'Connor – “Fire on Babylon”
Shawn Colvin – “Sunny Came Home”
Sam Phillips – “Gilmore Girls interlude”
k.d. lang – “Constant Craving”
Angie Stone – “Wish I Didn't Miss You”
*Golden Girls interlude
Dido – “Here With Me (chillin` with the family mix)”
Alanis Morissette – “Thank You (Rody remix)”
Jennifer Lawrence – “The Hanging Tree (Rebel Remix)”
Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner”
Lana Del Rey – “Shades of Cool”
Sophie B. Hawkins – “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover”
Sneaker Pimps – “Spin Spin Sugar”
Jewel – “Foolish Games (dj eko club mix edit)”
Sheryl Crow – “If It Makes You Happy”
Natalie Merchant – “Kind & Generous”
Erykah Badu vs Fugees – “Ready or Not Bag Lady”
Sixpence None The Richer – “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
Jhon Patterson – “Golden Girls Theme”
Des’ree – “You Gotta Be”
The New Lovers trilogy is out now from Badlands Unlimited