Greetings! I'm Lisabet Sarai, author of erotica and erotic romance. This is my maiden post on the Phaze blog, so I thought I’d tell you about my upcoming release (February 2009), Exposure. This erotic thriller has had a long and somewhat painful trip to publication. I’m jazzed that the novel is finally going to be available in eBook and print.
Exposure is narrated in the first person present by Stella Xanathakeos, a street-smart working class gal from Pittsburgh. Stella is just minding her own business and having a bit of fun, working as an exotic dancer at the Peacock Lounge. Through no fault of her own, she witnesses a double murder and gets pulled into a shady dance of deceit with political bigwigs, mob bosses, dirty cops and scheming widows. Now she’s everyone’s target. Her only chance at survival is to sift through the lies and expose the truth.
The novel began as a short story written for an “Erotic Noir” theme weekend on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association Storytime email list. I love classic noir—hard-boiled PIs, femme fatales, corrupt cops, double-crosses and dirty deals—but I’d never tried writing any. My short story, “Private Dance”, had all the right ingredients: sex, blood and betrayal. Stella accepts a commission to do a private performance for a charismatic local politician. She gets more than she bargained for when the boss and his trusted second-in-command manage to shoot each other. Shocked but still sharp, she extracts her money—only what was agreed—from a dead man’s pocket and flees the scene. End of story.
Only it wasn’t the end. Readers wanted to know what happened next. Hey, I had no idea! I wrote another chapter, in which the politician’s widow shows up, interrogates and then seduces Stella. The plot was still anything but clear. There was nothing to do but extend the story into a novel so that I could find out what was really going on in that hotel room in Chapter 1!
I wrote four chapters and sold the book on spec to a fairly major publisher who was inaugurating an imprint edited by one of the luminaries of literary erotica. I finished the book, turned in the manuscript and then I waited. A year. Two years. Several of the books in the series came into print (with horribly inappropriate covers, but I wasn’t going to complain!), but not mine. Every few months I would send a query, which would be answered by yet another editorial assistant. Finally, the publishers decided to cancel the imprint and release the rights to the novel. I wasn’t entirely unhappy, as I had not been hugely impressed by their competence.
So, I decided to try and sell the book to a New York house. I had a few contacts, or so I thought. I sent the requisite letter and three chapters to editors, to agents, to anyone I could think of. I didn’t even receive a courtesy reply acknowledging receipt. Oh well. I was starting to feel that the traditional publishers were somewhat clueless in any case. So I turned to Phaze, whom I knew was one of the top electronic publishers in erotica/romance.
The rest is history. Well, I guess since the book isn’t out yet, that isn’t completely appropriate, but it will be history!
Exposure is my fourth full-length novel and was the most difficult to write. Partly this was due to the POV and tense. To increase the emotional intensity, I wrote from Stella’s perspective, as the action was occurring. The story unrolls in real time, so any gaps had to be filled by her retrospection. I worked hard to avoid temporal inconsistencies. Furthermore, I had to keep careful track of what she did and did not know at each point in the story.
My other problem was deciding who was really the villain. Everyone was suspect; who was really responsible for the evil deeds? I knew how I wanted the story to end, in terms of the emotional effects on Stella, but I kept getting new ideas as I moved deeper into the plot.
Anyway, Stella is finally going to see the light of day. She is possibly my favorite character, a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners type of woman who turns out to be more vulnerable than she thinks.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt. You can draw your own conclusions.
Oh, and of course I do hope you’ll buy yourself a copy! And please visit me at Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory (http://www.lisabetsarai.com), or on MySpace (http://www.MySpace.com/lisabetsarai).
==== Excerpt == Rated X ====
I strip for the fun of it. Don't let anyone tell you different. It's not the money. I could make nearly as much working at the mill and keep my clothes on, but then I'd have to suck up to the bosses. Here at the Peacock, I'm the one in charge, and I like it that way.
Sometimes I think it's a sort of revenge, for all the times I heard those nasty calls trailing after me: Honey Jugs, Monster Boobs, Bouncer. Not to mention those sweaty, awkward clinches in back seats, trying to please. Trying to be popular. Now they can't take their eyes off my breasts, swinging back and forth in time to the music. Their tongues are hanging out. I can see the tents in their laps. They all want me; I know how to make them want me. I'm an expert. But I'm off limits. They can look, they can drool, they can beg me. But my job's to turn them on and bring them to the bursting point, then send them home unsatisfied.
That's my view, anyway. Some of the other girls think different. All in all, though, the Peacock Lounge is a pretty classy joint, not like some of sleaze pits down near the railroad.
I love the moment when the lights come down, and the DJ introduces me. There's this strange pause, as if I was floating. I can feel them out there, the audience, holding their breath. Then, I hear the first notes of my routine. Energy surges through me. I'm one hundred percent alive. My nipples get hard and my sex tingles when I step out onto the stage and meet their eyes.
That's my secret weapon: eye contact. Up close and personal. I can bump and grind, shake my tits in their faces, bend over so they get a good look at the G-string settled in my ass-crack. It doesn't do any good without my stare. I try to see their darkest fantasies. This one pictures me sitting on him, his mouth burrowing in my bush. That one wants me to hold his dick while he pees. That guy in the back, oh, he's bad news. He aches to tie me up and beat me with his belt. Tough luck, feller. Dream on.
I don't know whether what I see is real or just my imagination, but it has a real effect. They feel my eyes; they think I know them. They get all flustered and embarrassed, wave to me, stick their tens and twenties into my G-string. Watching me, anxious-like, all the time.
Meanwhile, it turns me on. I dance a lot better when I'm horny. Sometimes I play with myself a bit before my set, to get myself into the mood. Then I hold my fingers under their noses, and watch their reactions.
I feed off their desire. The more they want me, the hotter I get, the better I dance. The more outrageous I become. So, it's particularly annoying tonight that this one guy in the front row doesn't react at all.