This evening we'll be talking about erotic noir, and I'll be interviewing Stacey Madden, author of Touching Strangers published by Now or Never Publishing Company. You may wonder, what's Listerine got to do with it? All shall be revealed!
So Stacey, you take two germaphobes, a husky, dusty construction worker, an apartment complex filled with drug dealers and other strange characters, a trip to a tropical vacation and a hookup with a local dancer who is later discovered to be covered in pustules with blood under her fingernails – and she’s the bearer of voodoo gifts – and you team them up with a Buzzard Flu pandemic and the result is a hilariously funny, highly entertaining and certainly, erotic noir novel!
Here are a couple of excerpts:
“He inhaled sharply through his teeth. Her tongue was icy from the mouthwash. The sensation was irritating and pleasing at the same time. He gave himself over to the sterilized wetness of Samantha’s mouth, to the comforting sensation of her palms on his freshly showered buttocks. … Typically she had a low sex drive and he was fine with that. Sex was exhausting and tedious, not to mention messy, but he still got horny from time to time despite himself. He was male after all.”
That was Aaron and Samantha. Then we have Samantha and Luca:
“She closed her eyes and let him do what he wanted. There was no time for a shower, no time for mouthwash or a pre-coital genital inspection. There was only his salty penis in her mouth, here and now, and she acted accordingly. She felt compelled by danger and death, by the vulnerability of her own flesh. … His skin was salty and rough on her tongue. His hands were like tree bark on her body. He pulled her hair and her shoulder hard. She gasped and scraped her nails down his back and dug them into his fuzzy ass cheeks. He grabbed her by the throat and held her against the wall. She reached out, clutched the shower curtain, and yanked it off its rings. Her knee bashed against the side of the tub as he lifted her into it and pressed her body against the cold tiles of the wall. … It hurt when she came—a blissful kind of pain, like alcohol poured over a fresh wound—and as she lay in the tub, her orgasm sparkling, she imagined her body putrefying and oozing down the drain like sour milk.”
Talk about the unexpected! These days, one generally thinks of erotic fiction in terms of Fifty Shades of Badly Written and Equally Boring Tedium but Stacey took two reclusive fear-ridden lovers who came together over a band aid and a conviction that death was imminent, and he wrote a truly original story and, a cliffhanger ending!
I have to ask him, how did you do it? And, how long did this book take to write, where did you get your ideas from and how did you make it so darn funny? The juxtapositions between frantic sanitization and ‘musky, bug-repellant’ filth is fantastic! like all the backstory on this one!
Stacey: Thanks, Lisa! The question of how long it took me to write the novel is an interesting one. I had written eighty or so pages in a matter of months, I was zipping along smoothly, and then something crushed my momentum like an asteroid hitting a freeway – my relationship of seven years came to an end. My life changed drastically and I became distracted. I put the novel aside and didn’t touch it for months. When I finally did return to it, I was rusty, and the characters were unfamiliar. Persistence ultimately paid off, however and I managed to write my way back into it over the next two years.
As for where I get my ideas, one thing I will say is that I rarely pull things from my own life. I let my imagination run riot. But the books I read and the movies/shows I watch definitely seep their way into my creative thinking. I tend to absorb things that are action packed and funny and bizarre, and I guess it comes out in my own work. I have, however, challenged myself to write about so-called “normal people” for a change for my next project. We’ll see how that goes!
Lisa: We’re compiling a playlist for 16 Shades of Noir, so can you tell us three songs you’d love to hear. You mention Marilyn Manson in the book, can you tell us which songs?
Stacey: I had two Marilyn Manson songs in mind while writing certain scenes in the book, both of which are covers. Manson’s version of “Tainted Love” (originally by Soft Cell) and his version of “Personal Jesus” (originally by Depeche Mode).
Other dark pop tracks that suit the feel of Touching Strangers are: “Madness” by Muse, “Gasoline” by Halsey, Orgy’s version of “Blue Monday”, and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. Anything sinister and sexy.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia, and Britain. She is the author of seven acclaimed novels, including her most recent novel, No Fury Like That (Inanna Publications). She has won the IPPY Gold Medal for Women's Issues Fiction and was long-listed for the ReLit Award. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness (2015), a short story in the anthology Thirteen O'Clock by the Mesdames of Mayhem, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House.