Name D. L. King
Where are you from
I’m a New Yorker. I was born in South Texas but I’ve lived in Brooklyn half my life–which is a considerable amount of time.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
My mother was from Manhattan and my father from Brooklyn, but they found themselves in South Texas at the time I was born. Being raised by “Yankees” did not make me the typical Texan but I have felt at home all the places I’ve lived. I have a BA in Media and an MFA in photography, as well as a MA in teaching. I’ve been a chemical analyst, sold concessions in a movie theater, worked in a photo lab, taught both preschool and high school, and worked in social work. I have a cat called Batgirl (because all writers must have a cat, or so I’m told) and I enjoy grilling and gardening in my postage-stamp-sized garden in Brooklyn. I work a full-time job because the vast majority of writers, despite popular belief, don’t make a living wage.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’ve a new anthology, coming out later this year, titled “Unspeakably Erotic: Lesbian Kink” from Cleis Press. I don’t have the release date yet but the manuscript was sent to the publisher the beginning of January, so maybe late summer or early fall? Keep an eye out for it! I was also thrilled to have been asked to edit this past year’s edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, not titled Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Vol. 1. The iconic book was released in December of 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’d always wanted to write a book but had never actually given it a try before. I think it was after reading a book by G C Scott that I thought, “hey, I think I could do that,” that I first sat down to write. I remember it was the Friday after Thanksgiving. My guests had all left and I didn’t have anything else pressing so I decided to write a novel. I sat down at the computer and began writing The Melinoe Project. It was a good time to start writing because of all of the holidays from work. I wrote for 12 hours a day every day I wasn’t working and three or four hours on the days I was. The book just flowed out of me, basically writing itself. (I think that’s often the case with first novels. It gets harder after that.)
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I joined an online writer’s group, The Erotica Readers and Writers Association, better known as ERWA, to get some feedback and learn about how to get published. This was about fifteen years ago. Rather than put random chapters of the novel up for critique, I decided to write a short story to get an idea of what people thought of my writing and that was the birth of my short story career. At this point, I’ve had over 100 of my short stories published in various anthologies, as well as been the editor of fifteen anthologies. Once The Melinoe Project was published, I figured I could call myself a writer. I celebrated its publication with a bottle of Dom Perignon, which is labeled with the title and date and still sits on the top of one of my bookcases.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write short stories in first person and novels and novellas in third person, though I use a lot of dialogue, so even third person can feel pretty personal. Let’s be clear: I don’t write romance; I write erotica. I don’t see erotica as all that serious and so my style is on the comedic side with a bit of snark (okay, maybe more than a bit). It matches my personality.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Melinoe Project actually has a pretty cool story behind it. The book is femdom, or female domination/male submission (which is my primary erotic genre). The story is about a man who answers an ad for a research project on male sexuality run by this group of women. I needed a name for the group and the project and began researching Greek mythology. Melinoe was a minor goddess in the pantheon who may have been the daughter of Persephone and Zeus, comingling light and darkness or the darker aspect of Aphrodite. Anyway, she’s pretty scary and not well-known, so perfect for my title!
Another title I’m really proud of is for my anthology, Carnal Machines: Steampunk Erotica. It isn’t often I get to title my books on my own (without help from the publisher), but that one’s all mine. It says exactly what it is: a book of stories about Victoria Age erotic devices—Carnal Machines.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think the message in all my stories and novels is that sex is natural and should be enjoyed, in whatever permutations it takes. As long as it’s consensual and makes you happy, it should be celebrated.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
People always ask me if I’ve done all the things in my stories. The answer is no, I haven’t. I’ve done many of them and researched others. Others are pure fantasy and border on science fiction. I can tell you that every story or book has a kernel of truth to it. It may be as simple as the location being one I know very well, or the protagonist being based on a real person, or the clothes being clothes I’ve seen or own. I may have watched or participated in a scene like the one in the book or story, or I may have heard someone talking about something similar. But that’s just a jumping off point. The story takes wings from there and becomes a piece of fiction.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t know if books have influenced my life as much as jut been a huge part of it. I read a lot. When I was a child, I loved Norton Juster’s The Phantom Toll Booth and James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks. I love Arthur C. Clarke, Anne Rice, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and Cassandra Clare, to name just a tiny number of fave authors. As far as influences on my writing, I’d say Stephen King’s book, On Writing and Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace Series were big influences.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I was blown away by Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy and am a big fan of Cassandra Clare’s Shadow Hunters. Currently I’m enthralled by Samantha Shannon’s books, The Bone Season, The Mime Order and soon to be released, The Song Rising.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I had a boyfriend, around the time I began writing short stories in earnest, who believed in me and kept me writing at a time I needed the support. His criticism was also instrumental in learning to write good, naturalistic dialogue.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
As I mentioned earlier, most people can’t make a living as a writer. The vast majority of us need “day jobs” to pay the rent and bills. Writing has always been a supplement to my day job, but not my full-time career.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I remember taking an aptitude test in the third grade. The test showed I was most suited to being a doctor or a writer—because those were the professions I was most interested in at that time. So I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until much, much later that I actually worked at becoming one.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My most recent novella, A Scarlet Christmas, was published last Christmas. It’s an erotic version of A Christmas Carol. Here’s a short, non-erotic excerpt:
“Eb, are you in there? I don’t want to frighten you. Do you mind if I come in?”
“Who are you? What do you want?” Ebenezer barked, though his voice wavered a bit.
“Eb, it’s me, Sherman. Look, do you mind if I come in? It’s really cold out here.”
“Sherman? Sherman Tindall? Sherman Tindall’s dead. I’m calling the police!”
“Look, Eb, I’m really sorry, but I’m on a tight schedule, you know. I don’t have time and it really is cold in your hallway.” As Ebenezer watched, a gray mist issued from under the door, eventually coalescing into a somewhat transparent, 3D image of his old friend, Sherman Tindall.
“Sherman, it is you. What the devil are you doing here?” Ebenezer asked. “I mean, how did you… what did you do to… I mean, you’re dead—aren’t you?”
“My god, man, don’t you heat this house? Well, this room’s a little warmer than the hall, but really. You’ll catch your death. Mark my words. And I know what I’m talking about,” and he put his semi-solid index finger against the side of his semi-solid nose and tapped twice.
“Heat costs money, Sherman, and why am I arguing with a ghost? You’re not even here. I’m still asleep and having a nightmare—probably from that substandard Chinese food I had for dinner. That’s the last time I order from those guys.”
“You’re not having a nightmare,” Sherman said, “and you have more money than God. Spend a little. That’s what it’s for. You can’t take it with you and don’t I know it? And actually, that’s why I’m here. I can’t stay long.”
“Pity,” Ebenezer said.
Sherman’s ghost huffed and mumbled something about drawing the short straw. “Look, you’ve got to change your ways before it’s too late. I learned too late and look what my afterlife is like. I counted you as a friend in life and I don’t want to see you follow in my footsteps.”
“Why, what’s so bad about your afterlife? You’re out, visiting friends—whether they want you to, or not—what do you expect?”
A high-pitched scream issued from the ghost and then a low moan. He opened his coat and Ebenezer could see a host of tiny creatures pulling and tearing at Sherman’s insides. His organs were ripped to shreds and the walls of his stomach were torn and bleeding. “An eternity of pain, that’s what awaits you.”
Ebenezer shrank back. “Sherman, that’s terrible. Let me call someone, a doctor or something.”
“There’s nothing that can be done. Not for me. I’m dead, remember? I’m only here to warn you.”
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do get to travel some. I did a West Coast book tour several years ago, where I gave readings in LA, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. I attend events in the Washington DC area and the Providence, RI area each year to sell and sign books. A few years ago I was able to travel to the UK where I guest lectured at a creative writing class in a college in Lancashire and attended a gathering and held a reading in London. I wish I could do more of that, but my publishers don’t pay for those kinds of jaunts so I can only do what I can afford to do.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My favorite cover of all time is Carnal Machines, with my second favorite being Under Her Thumb. Both are Cleis Press books and I had no input on the cover design. On occasion, a publisher will show me a few mock ups and ask for my opinion, but that’s as far as it goes. Usually the publisher hires a designer and handles the cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing takes discipline. You have to stick to it. It wasn’t a problem with the first novel, but the second definitely illustrated “the mess in the middle.” That’s a common problem with novels. You can write the beginning just fine, and you know what the end will be, but you tend to get bogged down in the middle. The only thing you can do is stick to it and keep going. Perseverance gets the job done!
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I think one of my stories might make a really good movie. It’s been published in both an anthology titled Appetites and in Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition. The story is called “Hot Blood” and is a lesbian werewolf story. I think Adria Arjona, who plays Dorothy in Emerald City would be great for the lead.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read everything you can get your hands on. You really can’t learn to write without being a reader first. Writing is a skill that anyone can master but it takes practice. Being a good storyteller is something else, though.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If you’re a fan, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much it means to know there are folks out there who like what I do! And if you’ve never read me before and you think you might like what I write, I hope you’ll give me a try.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently re-reading The Mime Order in anticipation of The Song Rising, which will be released on March 7.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I do, however, remember the first book that made an impression on me. I think I was maybe eight years old. The Phantom Toll Booth, by Norton Juster.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry at most sappy movies. Lots of parts of the Harry Potter books made me cry. Lately, I find myself cracking up when I watch The Graham Norton Show. The one with Will Smith practically had me rolling on the floor, as did the one with Woopie Goldberg.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Probably Stephen King. I’d like to sit on the porch and chat with him. I think we’d get along.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I’ve no idea. Probably something cryptic to keep people guessing.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love to travel. I also like to cook and entertain.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oh, there are a bunch of them. Here are some shows I’m currently DVRing: Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The Black List, Madam Secretary, Blind Spot, The Magicians, The Walking Dead, Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, Elementary, Face Off, Big Bang Theory, and Mozart in the Jungle. Favorite movies include all the Harry Potter films, all the Star Trek films, The Lord of the Rings, Dead Pool, all the Avengers films, all the Iron Man movies and yes, even the Twilight movies.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My blog address is http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com. I am d_l_king on twitter and dlkingerotica on Face Book. My Amazon author page is https://www.amazon.com/D.L.-King/e/B002BRF172/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1488155136&sr=1-2-ent
My website is not currently up to date but it can be found at http://dlkingerotica.com.
Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, Vol 1: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Lesbian-Erotica-Year-Anthology/dp/1627782168/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8