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Monday, February 23, 2015

#Interview with Katie de Long for Queen of Clubs: Cora @delongkatie

Katie de Long lives in the Pacific northwest, realizing her dream of being a crazy cat-lady. As a kid, Katie flagged the fade-to-blacks in every adult book she encountered, and when she began writing, she vowed to use cutaways sparingly. After all, that's when the good stuff happens. And on a kindle, no one asks why there's so many bookmarks in her library.

Stay in touch with Katie:
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What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?
Most of my stories are pretty steamy. I don't really buy into the “fade to black” thing. That said, some are steamier than others, and all of them are more in the vein of erotic romance than hardcore erotica. I've even done some stuff that didn't have actual sex scenes- just a lot of hot teasing. It shocked me at the time.
 
Our sex lives are a part of who we are, and not standalone from anything else. So in that sense, I try to write sex that needs to be in the story for some part of those characters' journeys. The most difficult sex scenes to write are the ones where that core is either repetitive with earlier ones, or where they just don't have the emotional core. Even a character deciding to go home with a stranger in a bar needs the same care in building it up that the unrequited love finally requited has. Know why we laugh at the “you tripped and fell on his ****” excuse? Because sex doesn't just happen.

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?
To be honest, I'm not a great person for this question. I write full time, and have some health issues that restrict my activities. I'm an avid poledancing lover, and former classical dancer, so most of my activity is stretches, or dancing related. I can't stand gyms, can't stand feeling like a hamster running in a wheel. Suffice to say, I'm not a good example of a healthy work/exercise balance.

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
Cora and Kirk are free spirits. They both decided to go into a line of work with huge effects on their life. Not very many women are thrilled about their boyfriend working at a topless bar, and being around so many other scantily clad women. And conversely, even fewer men are okay with their girl strutting her stuff onstage, and in private dances. Both of them are brave, in their own ways. Plus, I'm a sucker for a guy who can talk music.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
I'm not an intuitive writer- still kind of figuring this out as I go. I've definitely decided I prefer 1st person PoV. So long as I'm writing that style, I can write almost any genre. I love noir-ish overtones, underworld elements, and I have a lot of empathy for sex workers, survivors, those coping with mental illness or poverty. And I definitely have a character type that I identify with more strongly. I jokingly call them “lost boys”, even though many of them are girls. They're broken, oftentimes barely likeable, and generally have a lot of work to do on themselves to earn a happily-ever-after.
I'm also a sucker for awkwardly sexual moments. One of my first published stories, as part of Michelle Browne's “Cult Classics For The Modern Cult”, was a noir sendoff of Cthulhu as a mobster, and featured a sex scene between the private investigator, and Cthulhu's femme fatale wife. Not tentacle sex in the hentai way, but definitely a strange thing to write. And the inspiration for that one was almost entirely  the sentence “She had tentacles in all the right places.” I still snicker at it, just repeating it.
As far as my favorite part of the story to write? Beginnings. I love crafting the first few paragraphs, trying to find something that can communicate the story's themes and intentions from the very beginning.
Here's a few of my favorites.
Every time I wore stripper heels, I thought of my pointe shoes, and the weightless feeling that came poised at the tip of an arabesque, bound to the Earth by the edge of a toenail and some paste-stiffened fabric. Every time I put on heels, I felt disappointment and betrayal.
I couldn't even talk to my family anymore. My mom hadn't treated me the same since my injury cost me my spot. For my part, I couldn't help but resent her. When the depression took hold, I wished that I had grown up normally. My entire life had been ballet, with a little jazz and modern thrown in 'to show my versatility.' Nothing else—not sex, not love, not teaching, not book-learning—had ever given me the same pride of achievement I felt onstage. I’d had steps in my head and the narrative in my heart, and my only true friend was the soreness in my limbs, or the danseur steadying me into a penchee.
I was twenty-four, but for all intents, my life was over.
I must have seen fifty new dancers in the Queen of Clubs all grow and preen under the kind of glowing attention that few women are offered. I must have seen fifty new dancers become confident, powerful women.
But I wasn't one of them.”
Queen of Clubs: Malia, now available.
 
It's unsettling, seeing through the eyes of a corpse. I've never been to Ann Arbor, Michigan before, but the body I'm in must have lived here his whole life. It's burned into his DNA, along with a few scattered remnants of his grandmother's childhood abuse.
I take a deep breath, try to clear the new corpse smell from my lungs. My mouth still tastes like vomit; my meatsuit died of an overdose. The waitress has been great about keeping my glass full, but the water can't wash away the aftertaste, and she keeps shooting me anxious glances. I can't blame her- I don't doubt I look like I've gone to hell and back.
Mind you, that's not terribly far off. I just call there 'home' now.”
That's the opening for Reaper, Inkubus book 3, coming soon. I'm publishing this series as K. de Long, since it's pretty significantly different than my contemporary romances and romantic thrillers. Dark, steamy urban fantasy, but not really romance.
I know they call me 'steamroller Barbie' behind my back. Lia, and some of the other oldtimers, think I'm too focused and pushy, that I take any personal connection out of my work. But they forget that not everyone wants that connection, and if they did, they wouldn't find it in a strip club anyways, no matter how personal the attention offered. Some men genuinely do want the closest a person can get to a living sex doll, rather than the 'hippie sex goddess' image that lets the girls sleep at night. Or even the 'trained sexual athlete' ego boost the pole dancers use. Fucking waste of time, that. Why risk injury the way they do, praying they don't fall through a hole as they jump into in their safety net- assuming they wove one ahead of time- between those expensive luxuries they carry into the clubs like a sign of success, and their give-em-everything-for-free hustles? At least professional athletes get well paid for the lack of job security, and the short term career.
It's a career, and not a great one at that. But I promised myself young that I'd come out ahead, and so far, a series of rotating CDs and investments have borne me out. Each long work week now is another month closer to a well-paid retirement. And it's hard not to smirk, imagining the girls whispering about my car salesman tactics thirty years from now, likely with not a damn thing to show for their lives, and no way to pay for their futures.
No matter how long they dance, this industry is shifting, and it's only a matter of time before they know it, too. So many more girls, willing to dance, but not willing to hustle for it, giving customers their time for free, competing with an abundance of porn, webcam, other sexual entertainments that can offer so much more than a real life club with drink minimums, and real life girls with boundaries and hangups. The money's already begun drying up from the economy being in the toilet for a decade, and I have to get every last bit I can out of it, before it burns itself out. Fairly soon even the backwater clubs won't bring in enough money to pay for their talent. As it is, they've already started slashing the base pay they used to offer traveling dancers, to get them out to the bumfuck oil fields.
I'm malleable. All my life, I've been drop dead gorgeous, but never had any actual connection to my body. So now, it's an investment. The boost my e-cups gave me has already paid them off tenfold, and is more than worth the shitty comments from lingerie salespeople. Really, people aren't any more shitty now than they were before. Being pretty is always a double edged sword, and I choose to wield it, not just be cut by it.”
Queen of Clubs: Marina, coming soon- this April, according to plan. Not a final edit of the text, but still an opening I love.

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not
I hang out on Facebook. I tweet sometimes, review on my site and/or GoodReads sometimes- though only things that caught my attention anyways. I don't take requests. I try to be active, to reach out to people, but I wouldn't call myself savvy. I'm a bit introverted. In general, I dislike Twitter's reporting mechanisms for harassment, FB's convoluted treatment of privacy settings, villainization of businesses, as well as individuals who can't use their birth names. I hope Ello and Tsu can get a foothold, or that Twitter's buy options can present alternate purchasing methods to Amazon. But I don't really pin hopes on that, or suggest it to people. And, knowing the nature of the internet, I don't doubt we will see a new FB emerge. I just dislike social media's current fragmentation. I don't want to neglect people, but I can only be so many places at once.
My best advice is to try to pick at least one channel you do well. If you love blogging, focus on interacting there and creating new content. If you get Facebook intuitively, and can't write a compelling tweet to save your life, don't let your Twitter time cut into your FB time.

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?
A lot, actually. It's very fragmented since I split my time between so many characters. But I've been lucky- or cursed- enough to have a lot of interesting experiences, and be befriended by a lot of interesting people. I've lived several places, had some fairly harrowing experiences, and learned a lot of random skills. I'm an almost unhealthily empathetic person, so I've internalized quite a lot from the world around me. Queen of Clubs draws heavily from my time in Portland's strip club scene, and even the scene in a few other areas, as needed. It's fictionalized in some ways- for instance, the QoC is a topless bar rather than full nude- to accommodate for some other aspects of the setting. Since the series is largely set in LA, I had to make that tweak to adjust for the local laws in LA, and their local scene. But it already differs from that scene significantly, too.
There's one blanket dedication for the entire Queen of Clubs series: For all the whores, sluts, and bad girls I've known who turned those names into compliments. I think that sums up what I wanted to bring to my work: realistic but romantic and erotic stories about the kinds of women who I've seen largely left out of the genre.

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?
LA, obviously, since that's where the Queen of Clubs is located, and is the epicenter of some of the other settings or industries I write about. Also, it's warm. I like warm. I think I'm mostly lizard. I mean, I love travel, and would visit wherever a story might take me, but LA kind of sounds like heaven right now, faced with Portland rain and an extra long winter that started early.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?
To be honest, the best you could say is I researched Queen of Clubs backwards. I learned everything that would eventually be helpful in crafting the club and stories long before I even considered myself a writer, let alone conceived the series. By the time I got to the point of writing Queen of Clubs, I had years of experiences to draw on. The extent of my research is generally doublechecking the spelling on an album name or movie reference.
Okay, I take that back. I research the music quite heavily. Most of it never makes it into the scene, copyright law related to lyrics being what it is, and title/artist names largely just weigh things down. But I do put together dancer playlists, figure out what each of my main characters would have going in the background. These usually get posted to my website when the story goes live, in case readers want to follow along.

Cora, for instance, likes somewhat slower music- a blend between R&B, downtempo electronic music, acoustic or bluesy rock, and trip hop. Malia, the star of the next episode, likes classic rock ballads, music with orchestral hooks in the arrangement, and wants her music as slow as the club will allow. You're not gonna catch either of them onstage to Nickelback. Not ever.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!
Well, I'm easily distracted, and produce a lot. I don't hold myself to a firm release schedule, aside from a skeleton. February 16th, the fourth Queen of Clubs novella will be out- Queen of Clubs: Krissy & Athena. It's a bit different, as it follows a lesbian romance, rather than a straight one. After that, in March, Queen of Clubs: Crystal will go up.
But it's also highly possible that I'll have some new shorts available in between all that. Maybe even a new standalone novel, depending on when I can walk away from the revisions. I've been working on a handful of pieces following our male leads before they enter the main story. They're fun to write, and I hope they add something to the Queen of Clubs shared world for readers, too.

When Queen of Clubs, Season One winds down around May, I'll also be launching two series following a few side characters introduced in that season. No release date for those, as yet, and their updates will go out in between more regular Queen of Clubs releases. I've got up through Queen of Clubs Season 3 well on the way toward finished, so those releases will be my most regimented. I aim to release things frequently enough that it's an ongoing conversation, not gathering for a holiday.

Blurb:
The exotic dancers and employees of the Queen of Clubs walk a fine line, with only wits, beauty, and market savvy to keep them from toppling into the shark pit. Ride shotgun through lapdances, romance, and sexual awakenings. Don't worry, these girls won't ask what your hands are doing under the tip rail. 
Cora, an adventurous student, finds herself auditioning for a stripping gig...and it comes with more than the asking price, including a very attractive DJ.
Queen of Clubs contains adult content, and is intended for mature readers. Each Queen of Clubs title is a standalone novella length work.

Buy Cora:
Amazon
Queen of Clubs is currently published monthly. Visit delongkatie.com for preorder and purchase links, or sign up for the mailing list, to be notified when new titles are available.

Excerpt: 
I prayed the song wouldn't end. Would the next one jar me out of this rhythm? Would I wake up and discover it was a dream, that I was still the awkward college student I had to be the rest of the time? I slid the straps of my bra off my shoulders and undid the catch, but hesitated to let it fall away from me.
I looked toward Kirk and met his eyes. Fuck. He'd been staring, a combination of lust, pride, and approval in the small smile on his face. It reassured me, and against my better judgment, I grinned back.
Katie de Long will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a pair of swag earrings to one randomly selected commenter and will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a pair of swag earrings to a randomly drawn host (US only) during the tour.
 

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for talking to me! It was a fun conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.

    ReplyDelete