Where are you from, how old are you, and what's a fun fact about your hometown?
I was born in Saigon, Vietnam and we fled when Saigon fell. I remember the flight out and the fear of those around me. I was 3. I just turned 51! I don’t really have a hometown as we moved often due to my father working for Sikorsky Aircraft. I did attend high school in one spot. That’s where I am now. Moved here three months ago from L.A. I must confess, I don’t have fun facts about this area. That’s more my failing than the city’s, though. The girl I was when I was here was an angry young woman. I’ve mellowed out. So we’ll see what this city and I can do in the future.
Tell us about yourself, when did you start writing, and how did your love for writing evolve into a love for erotica?
I started writing when I was 10. But I began to really get into it when I was a teenager, mostly because I was trying to escape my home life and I was incredibly lonely. I gave it up after I moved out of the house but took it back up when I turned 27 after reading Michael Chabon’s The Wonder Boys. His writing is at times, ethereal. He had this one passage where the MC, who very much wanted his wife to have a baby, watched a young family at a crosswalk, and seeing a baby in the man’s arms made the inside of his elbow ache. I still remember being blown away by that moment Chabon created. A million worlds exist in every moment humans have as they go about their days. I appreciate a writer who can take us there and help us recognize them.
As for writing erotica, to be blunt, I have an overactive sensual imagination, coupled with a high sex drive. I was having some pretty standard sex, which, trust me, there’s nothing wrong with it but it left me wanting. I started writing erotica in my mid-20s to escape that disappointment. As one relationship fell away and I would start others, I would send them little passages inspired by the newness of our wanting one another. My lovers would tell me that I should seriously consider publishing it. I was always afraid to, though. I used to care deeply about what others thought. You have to let go of people judging you when you write about desire. I didn’t start publishing my erotic work until the fall of 2019.
You currently have an ongoing erotic story on Medium, 'The Next Task' that's currently on part 9. Tell us about it!
It’s based on a gentleman I met when we were both 25 and had no idea what BDSM was. And yes we met in a bookstore just like the characters do. He soon told me after a few dates that he was into bondage and impact play and I freaked out. But I was still drawn to him and visited him from time to time, trying to keep things light but milking him for information because I was intrigued. He eventually realized I wasn’t going to explore BSM with him and said I shouldn’t come around anymore as we both needed to get what we wanted and he wasn’t. He was incredibly mature for his age. So, ‘The Next Task’ is what I like to think would have happened if I had been more honest about my curiosity and if I had given it a chance. In the story, Ansel meets Leticia and soon convinces her to play with him, and every session, he introduces something new, awakening things in her she didn’t know existed. A good lover will do that, whether it’s sex or culture or an appreciation for well-crafted dishes. There should always be a sense of risk and exploration with your companions, within reason of course.
BDSM is a tough thing to tackle, due to its often aggressive nature. Sometimes the lines of consent get blurred. What do you think causes these issues in BDSM erotica?
In BDSM erotica as well as erotica in general, the issues can often be, and I have to word this carefully, with the limited experience of the reader as well as the writer. If you’re not sexually experienced, you’ll read about how after a few strokes, a woman will scream her orgasm as the man’s ginormous member tears her apart. You’ll read that he’s hard again after a few moments. There are no veins on her body but several on his cock. People kiss beautifully. No one bumps noses or bumps foreheads. A woman can take the cock all the way down her throat with glee. Her nose won’t get snotty and her eyes won’t water. You don’t have to gently work your way into someone’s ass. No one gets pregnant (unless that’s the kink) and no one wakes up with an STD.
So when it comes to BDSM, you have all those issues on top of someone not knowing what they’re writing about. Unfortunately, people use porn for education as well as titillation and this isn’t wise. If I’m in the mood to read about a Dom working their sub over, I’ve already got some understanding. I know that for all sakes and purposes their sub isn’t in danger. If they both know the word ‘No’ is part of the play, that can be hot. If dubious consent is part of their play and they’ve discussed how far that can go beforehand it’s hot to read in an erotic piece.
Sometimes reading that in erotica can be problematic to someone who isn’t informed. Whereas I won’t need to read chapter after chapter on how carefully they discuss expectations. And frankly, it would be difficult to make that hot. Isn’t that the point of erotica? It’s an escape and no one is really going to get hurt. BDSM erotica, when well written, can be exquisite. But you have to know what you’re doing. And if you haven’t experienced BDSM but want to write about it please read respected guides to being a Dom and a sub. Get some facts down, first.
Someone who hasn’t done their due diligence on this issue would think all sadism is, is going forth and beating someone and it’s all good. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It can be tough because so many things have to be in place in BDSM before the play starts. I’m a big fan of looking over a contract with one’s play partner and not only exploring limits but soft ones, as in you’re willing to explore it if the play winds up heading in that direction. Play sessions should always have an agreed-upon beginning and ending and of course a safe word. If you have those things in place, you can then treat it like a jazz session and go to town.
BDSM isn’t the Pain Olympics. I’ve read and seen some pretty disturbing stuff that has been put forth that paid no mind to safety issues. I mean I once read one about a sub’s mistress using a whip on their spine and back, ripping out bits of skin and blood. They screamed in pain and pleasure. I know that it was written to elicit a response but I could tell that it wasn’t written from experience or an exploration of impact play. And I think people can misunderstand sadism and mistake it for essentially tearing someone’s back apart and risking infection or worse. To an outsider or someone who is newly enamored with this corner of erotica, it can be problematic.
Of course, if you read my work, the men always know their way around a woman’s clitoris and they get a second erection within moments, no one gets pregnant, etc. But that’s fantasy, right? When I write about the moments involving BDSM, I try to be responsible. At the same time, I think it’s really hot when a Dom is concerned with the safety of their sub and at the same time, wanting very much to do very bad, delicious things to them and their sub is dying for it too. I love that. But ultimately, everyone is safe and most importantly, respected.
Erotica comes with a lot of negative stigmas in the writing and reading community. How do you think we can continue to combat/overcome these stigmas?
I know this sounds silly but honestly, if authors would take their work seriously, it would go a long way towards lending credibility to erotica. I’m the queen of typos on Twitter (please god, an edit button already) but I’ve seen work go up on Medium or in published books on Amazon with some really glaring errors, typos, and otherwise. I have friends who have dyslexia who manage to put together some beautiful work with very few to no errors, so there’s really no excuse. It might take longer and require more than one set of eyes, but it can be done.
But I think when you put something up that has several errors or doesn’t have any well-crafted paragraphs, it just seems more like you’re someone trying to make money and banking on someone needing to get off and buy your work. There’s nothing wrong with someone wanting to pay you money to read your material and utilize it as a sexual component but at least give them something well-worded and indent your paragraphs.
I think that people as a whole, are pretty open-minded about sex and love, despite our puritan history in this country. But if your erotica is poorly executed, it shows no respect for the reader. If it wasn’t erotica you’d take care with how it was written. Why aren’t authors doing that with erotica? If you respect your work, it will be respected. I’ve seen some really awful covers too. In fact, my very first book had a rather unfortunate cover. Fortunately, I had friends who cared enough to tell me the truth. And I understand everyone’s trying to build their brand etc., but it’s best to not look like you just threw something together. It comes across as a bit greedy and cheap. If you put care into your work, it will show. Readers will respect that. If you’ve ever read Tom Robbins, his work is insanely erotic. He cares about his craft though. And it shows.
What are some of your favorite erotic books? And I have to ask, are you a fan of 50 Shades?
I’m going to say I love my own work. I know, I know I sound like an ass, but I’m a sentimental fan of my characters so I love my work. I probably write because I miss them. I love Story Of O, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, and anything by Tom Robbins. I picked up a copy of 50 Shades and it wasn’t my cup of tea. But that doesn’t mean anything. I also didn’t like Catcher In The Rye or On The Road. I know those aren’t erotic works but what I mean is something can sell like crazy but it doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I’m glad, however, that a book with BDSM as a component did so well. But again, touching on what I wrote above, one hopes the reader knows it’s fiction and to do some healthy research if by any chance the book made them want to find the nearest dungeon and grab a whip.
There are lines some writers don't cross while writing erotica. For me, I don't do Stockholm syndrome storylines or mafia/gang stories. What about you?
I don’t write about vore or snuff. I can’t and won’t.
You have an upcoming memoir titled "You'll Miss Me" coming soon. Tell us about it.
Last year, I got a phone call from my mother’s neighbor that Mom’s belly was distended and she had lost a lot of weight. Two days later, I was on a plane with the knowledge that she had metastatic cancer which was crazy because we had no knowledge of cancer on her side of the family. I went in thinking she had two years and I would be at her side in the hospital for a few weeks but 26 days later she was gone and I watched her die. My mother and I didn’t have a healthy relationship. Far from it. I had to deal with flashbacks and rage while showing tenderness to someone who clearly was in a lot of pain. As you know pain doesn’t bring out the best in people so some old things came up between us. My memoir is for children who have survived abusive parents and it’s also a warning of all the unexpected stuff that comes up when a parent’s life comes to an end and they might need you. It’s a tough time. I wish a book like this had crossed my path before Mom got sick. It would have saved me a lot of pain.
It’s being published by Winding Road Stories which was founded by Michael Dolan. I couldn’t have found a better publisher. Normally I publish my own work but this book felt like it needed someone else to guide me along. Michael Dolan fit that bill.
Do you have any other previously published books? If so, where can we find them?
I have quite a few erotica books, some in a series. There’s The Sabine Daybook Series, The Will Series, and The Big Ben Series, all of which will have more added to them in time. I also have The Lena Series which is noir fiction and although there is sex, they’re not erotic pieces. Lena is a global assassin and it’s about her grappling with her morality. My erotic work can be found in ebook form under Sabine M. and my noir fiction is under Sabine Marlowe. My upcoming memoir about my mother dying is under Sabine Marlowe. I’m updating my social media to include a link tree to make it easier to find me. But yeah, Amazon, Barnes and Noble… the usual suspects.
Any last words of advice for those interested in writing naughty stories? Where can we follow you on social media?
Yes, if you’re writing erotica, please treat your writing seriously regardless of its subject. You’re offering something to a reader who will spend money to read it. Be respectful of that. Also, because it’s erotica, remember that is, in itself, an action story. Whether it involves the building of suspense or yearning, make certain not to spend too much time in exposition. Your reader wants to sense and feel. To be honest, many readers are looking for an erotic outlet from their own life. They don’t care what a tree outside the hotel your illicit lovers are meeting at looks like, unless of course, they take shelter under that tree later. Also, don’t be afraid to make your writing vulnerable. I understand that maybe you want to make sure your books find their market, but if you’re not into most of the stuff you’re writing, it will show. And that will be appreciated by your reader who, most likely is into that too and wants a book that helps them enjoy that. I have a TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. All of them are under Sabine Marlowe. I probably spend way too much time on them instead of writing!