Emmanuelle De Maupassant kindly agreed to be interviewed. She has written ‘Cautionary Tales’, a story for the Movember anthology and ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’
What inspired you to begin writing on sexual themes, and what drew you to set The Gentlemen’s Club in the Victorian era?
I’d been writing for many years: mostly culture and travel articles, published in print magazines/newspapers, and some travel guides. I’d been long researching Slavonic superstitions and customs (living around 13 years ago in one of the former Soviet states) and had become drawn to creating my own folk tales (these I later released as my Cautionary Tales). Each story pulled strongly towards sexual elements, though, at the time, I didn’t recognise these as ‘erotic fiction’.
I began to realise how far sexual motivation fascinated me. I was drawn to creating an erotic tale within the Victorian period due to there being such sexual repression of women. I wanted to explore themes of sexual constraint and women’s desire for freedom. Having read a great many 19th century novels, it appealed to me to write ‘my own’ featuring a whole lot of raunch!
Do you conduct extensive research for your historical works?
I studied Victorian literature and history, among other subjects, many years ago, so I have a foundation to build upon. I love squirreling away titbits of information, so the research element is pure pleasure for me. My latest novella, Highland Pursuits, is set in the 1920s. I spent several months dipping into historical sources, and into original 1920s fiction, to find the ‘voice’.
Who are your favourite writers?
When I’m reading other authors, I’m looking for originality: in concept or style. At the moment, my favourite authors, those who open up new avenues of thought for me, include Sarah Waters, Jeanette Winterson, Angela Carter, Fay Weldon and AS Byatt. I adore Fay Weldon’s no-nonsense narration; she always makes me smile.
Among more ‘traditionally’ labeled authors of erotic fiction, I have huge admiration for Jonathan Kemp. His Twenty-six is a triumph of originality: in form and use of language. For those new to the genre and wishing to experiment with reading short stories, I recommend visiting the websites of Remittance Girl, Malin James and Adrea Kore. Their writing is not only innovative and insightful but beautifully crafted. They use prose artfully.
Other than writing, what are you passionate about?
I adore our little terrier. My husband and I have lots of fun playing with her. She’s a total madam, very energetic, and makes us laugh endlessly.
I love wild landscapes and have been hugely fortunate in travelling. City life is thrilling (from Barcelona, to Quito, to Sydney and San Francisco) – but my heart is in the Highlands of Scotland.
I spend much time reading, and I dabble a little in photography.
I do love watching a film or a good drama: something a little eerie, in which the audience isn’t sure what’s going on. I like unravelling mysteries. I’ve recently enjoyed ‘Penny Dreadful’, ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘The Frankenstein Chronicles’ and ‘American Horror Story’.
You recently had a story published in the charity anthology Because Beards, how did you become involved?
Alexis Alvarez co-ordinated this wonderful project, with all proceeds going to the Movember Foundation (raising funds for men’s health initiatives, including the treatment of prostate/testicular cancer). Alexis had read my work and approached me to contribute. It was such a pleasure, and an honour, to be asked.
What are your future ambitions for your writing?
I’ve been writing the sequel to The Gentlemen’s Club, called “Italian Sonata’
The first in the series received a fair amount of acclaim, including being featured among Stylist Magazine’s recommended ‘sexy’ reads. So many readers have messaged me asking for more, which is absolutely lovely. I’m hoping not only to live up to those expectations but to surpass them: rather nerve-wracking!
I have several other projects sketched out for 2017 and 2018. I won’t give away too much, but I’ll be writing into the realm of the Gothic: ghosts, mysteries and the unexplained.
Do you find writing a solitary activity or do you prefer input?
When I’m writing, nothing exists but the characters, and the story they want me to tell for them. At this stage of writing, I don’t feel the need for external input. However, once I have my manuscript polished, and feel that I’ve wrung out everything I possibly can, I turn to my incredible developmental editor, Adrea Kore (find her at www.koredesires.wordpress.com).
Adrea began working with me on Cautionary Tales, and has given me her creative consultancy on various short stories, as well as on Highland Pursuits. Her input makes all the difference. She’s incredibly insightful, showing me how to reach deeper into the characters and plot. Her approach is completely individual, helping me strengthen my ‘voice’ and the impact of the stories I want to tell.
Words of advice (or caution) for other writers?
Seek out themes that interest you but keep an open mind regarding your plot. As you begin exploring, you’ll be led in other directions, and there the fun begins. I often think that writing is like constructing a giant puzzle: all the small pieces coming gradually together. It’s been a revelation to me that stories (and their characters) seem to take on a life of their own. It’s intriguing, having no firm idea of where the writing may take you. I like this approach, where anything remains possible. I think it’s more likely to lead to creativity, and originality.
In my own work, I enjoy looking at what discomforts us: moral ambiguities, as characters struggle with their inner sanctions.
Find Emmanuelle on Amazon
See what she’s been reading, on Goodreads
Follow her on Twitter @EmmanuelledeM