December 3rd, 2013

The Big Book of Orgasms Virtual Book Tour and the Origin of “Payback”


Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Big Book of Orgasms! This smoking-hot anthology came out in October and has 69 flash stories that all clock in at 1,200 words or fewer. It also includes my story “Payback.”

I have invariably found it an honor when someone has appreciated my work enough to publish it. The Big Book of Orgasms is certainly no exception, and I will admit that seeing editor Rachel Kramer Bussel proclaim that it is her favorite anthology of the many she’s edited elicited a special delight in me that one of my stories is a part of it. As has also been common, it is downright flattering to have a story alongside the other work in the volume. In this case, I’m especially thrilled to share pages with several new authors being published for the first time, such as Lady Cheeky, Andreas Amsterdam (both of whom I know and love in person!), and Jade A. Waters. I’m excited for all of them and delighted to have a story amidst their virgin forays into erotica publication!

I had read a number of reviews of The Big Book of Orgasms before I actually started reading it myself, and it has been a real delight to discover that they are not exaggerating. I have been struck by the exceptional range and diversity of this collection, as well as the sharp writing and ingenuity of the authors in composing these beautiful, fascinating, sizzling slices of orgasmic life.

My own story in the collection, “Payback,” was partially inspired by an online piece I read a few years ago by the lovely Lana Fox. (I do wish I could link to the piece, but if I recall correctly, it was on the former Good Vibrations Magazine site, many of whose archives disappeared after the site was infected with malware and relaunched last year.) As I recall, I interpreted Lana’s lamenting the phenomenon of young (or perhaps any) women not understanding their own sexual desires and/or how to express them and rather focusing almost solely on how to please the other. (I’m sure I’m not doing justice to the eloquence and depth with which she actually wrote!)

When I read it, it reminded me of something. That something, I feel somewhat sorry to say, was myself. Myself many years before, when I had fit that mold, which seems so sadly common as to almost be a cliche, rather cleanly.

“Payback” is not entirely autobiographical, but it has definite autobiographical strains. It is about a particular relationship I experienced at a time before I understood or felt confident enough about my own sexual desires for it to even occur to me to express them. In the midst of that experience, there was actually a parking lot where I gave a number of nonreciprocal blow jobs one summer (though I will note the narrator’s love of giving blow jobs both then and now is also autobiographical :)). I was still living in the area when I saw the construction start for the new hotel that now covers it.

The story diverges from literal autobiographical experience in its reunion and correlative, more cerebral reminiscences and revelations. The narrator’s recognition of her own growth is, naturally, front and center, but one of the things I particularly appreciate about the story is the reminder she receives at the end of Phillip’s humanity, too. The reminder or recognition of humanity—everyone’s—is something it has often felt compelling to me to express in fiction, and in this case my personal experience, the particular opportunity to showcase personal growth, and that reminder came together to create this story. It was one of those that was in my consciousness for some time before it actually came out in words, and I’m so glad it did just in time for me to submit it to this sublime volume (and that Rachel and Cleis accepted it!).

The Big Book of Orgasms is on sale in print and e-book formats now at the following retailers:

If you feel so inclined to pick it up, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Thanks so much for visiting my stop on the virtual tour, and be sure to check out the rest of the tour here. You may also follow the book on Twitter to keep up on all news, updates, and tour stop links. Happy reading!


I felt a strange relief standing near Phillip, an absence of the needy pull I had experienced back then that had made me feel powerless whenever someone wanted something from me—even if it was something I was willing to give. I tossed the question back at him and noticed as he adjusted the crotch of his jeans. I couldn’t help a tiny smile as I wondered if it was because of me.
-from “Payback”

2 Responses “The Big Book of Orgasms Virtual Book Tour and the Origin of “Payback””

  1. Lana Fox says:

    Em, I couldn’t be more honored! Really! Thanks so much for this beautiful post – I own the Big Book of Orgasms and am so looking forward to reading Payback. As always, I’m sure I’ll really enjoy your writing! <3

  2. Emerald says:

    Hi Lana! Thank you so much. I really like how reading that piece of yours specifically connected with this vague idea I’d had about this potential story…and after that, it just seemed to gel. Thank you for all you do and for coming by! :) Xoxoxoxo

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