An Interview about Erotica with Su Orwell
It is a pleasure to welcome American author, Jennifer Worrell to the blog today to discuss the novel she has written in the erotica genre.
Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m a book nerd from Chicago (IL, USA), working at a university library in order to support my cat’s catnip habit. I once was as a pastry cook, work boot retailer, trivia question writer, and student nurse, though not all at the same time. All I really wanted to do was write books, so I figured, time to shit or get off the pot.
What inspired you to become an author?
Since I was a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on. My parents didn’t censor my choices, so I went outside my grade level and picked up anything that sounded interesting. My kindergarten teacher assigned us story prompts and I couldn’t get enough of them. I wanted to be an author ever since.
What is the best thing about being an author?
I can murder without criminal repercussions. I also quite like diving deep into a character’s psyche and finding what they’re about. I’m very glad there are thousands of other people who don’t question the insanity of that remark.
What is your writing routine like?
I have great intentions to wake up early and sit right down and type. My brain has other ideas. After much coaxing with coffee, it decides to play nice around 2pm. Despite the stereotype, I almost never drink liquor while writing. I just make up for it after.
How much time do you spend on research?
Probably too much. In my latest book, an erotic chapbook titled Escape Artists, there’s a scene involving frites. I wanted to be sure I remembered their texture, size, etc. accurately, so I visited the website of a stall I visited in Brussels. I used Google Maps to paint a clearer picture of a particular neighborhood and its landmarks. Who knows—maybe a Belgian will read it!
How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I tend to write a synopsis, then key scenes. Next I put the scenes in some sort of sensible order, then write all the interstitial stuff to knit everything together. Though my next book is non-linear, so I guess I throw everything into a tin can and give it a good shake?
What do you think is most important when writing a book?
It’s hard to choose, since they’re all connected. But I’ll tip the scales in favor of character. Writing erotica started as an exercise while drafting my novel, Edge of Sundown. I decided with all the torture I was heaping on my poor protagonist, the least I could do was get him laid. But it’s impossible to write a decent sex scene (or any conflict, really) until you have characters you care about. Whenever I felt no impact in the story, I knew I needed to bolster the characters more than anything.
What is your latest book about? What inspired it?
Black Scat Press (publisher of my short story, “Filling Pies with Cream”) contacted me to write for their chapbook series. I’d never been invited to write for a press before, so I was honored and excited to take on the challenge.
Escape Artists tells the story of a married woman, Susann, who encounters the charismatic Arjan online. What begins as an internet flirtation soon evolves into an unusual affair—a fantasy escape becomes a reality of intense pleasure, taking Susann far from her suburban comfort zone.
I originally had an idea that was close to novel length, which appeared more like a contemporary romance to the publisher’s eyes. But when I realized I misread the word count, I told him I’d focus solely on Susann’s trip to Belgium, because “I have a filthy Magritte joke I don’t want to lose.”
Although I had fun injecting humor into this story and thwarting some tropes, it took a great deal of effort to wrangle the sex scenes into place. Pandemics tend to kill the mood. But the most difficult part came later when friends started reading it. (I’m writing this from inside a cave in a remote Martian village.)
Any new books or plans for the future?
I’m currently working on a werewolf story for an anthology, very slowly drafting a sci-fi novel that deals with time travel and memory, and working on a collection of dark picture books. None of which are smutty.
What genres do you read most often?
A little of everything, but I realized I haven’t read much horror in a long time. I need to fix that.
Is there anything else you would like my readers to know?
Su Orwell is my pen name. Why ruin a co-worker or family member’s good time? But because I’m lazy, I didn’t bother creating new online personas. You can find all my contact information on Linktree, including a link to subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter.
Su Orwell is like a raccoon in a dark alley; you don’t have to search too hard to find her, and she’s easily bribed with pie, but then again, aren’t we all? She writes multi-genre fiction and occasional essays, and is much more shy in person than on paper. Unlike raccoons.