I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview one of my favourite authors, James Lusarde. I have reviewed several pieces of his work and have found his writing style unusual, sensual and enticing. I hope you enjoy finding out more about this under appreciated author….
Lady Pokingham: Your latest story I reviewed and enjoyed was ‘Naked on the Moon’ – a quite unusual story about the romantic and sexual yearnings of a female astronaut. So, let’s recap: what made you want to write erotica?
James: You know what it’s like when you come across a beautiful line of love poetry, soaked in a spiritual and sensual essence of desire, appreciation, of a man for a woman? That’s what I’m aiming for in erotica. It’s all about the resonance of the female soul, the female spirit. Women’s beauty. And mystery. It’s a burning need in me to write about how women move me, intoxicate me. How they entrance me.
Lady Pokingham: Your writing focuses a lot on women and I thoroughly enjoy the message that you bring to them.
James: Time and again, women are at the centre of my stories. This echoes my conclusion that love and sex are really all about women. They’re at the centre of love, the centre of sex; men are obviously still part of these, and equal partners, and yet we should recognise that women are meant to feel at the centre of these energies, worshipped, adored – but it doesn’t mean that men are somehow going to be short-changed or left out if they give that adoration, because here’s the important thing: men feel great pleasure when we give that adoration to women. We were meant to worship. It’s in our makeup. It ennobles us. And erotica is one of the ways I try to do that.
Lady Pokingham: In ‘The Lady Loves to Strip’ you go into great detail about how the man worships the woman.
James: Yes, he’s absolutely fascinated by the woman disrobing in the back of his taxi – she’s like a burning comet that has fallen from the sapphire sky and ripped into his grey world, and she’s goldenly naked, resonating, magical. That adoration as his lips slowly caress her skin is so natural for a man to give, just as it feels so natural when he says to her, “I love you for your power, I worship you for it,” and she smiles back at him and simply and gratefully says, “I know.”
Lady Pokingham: I don’t want to give away anything about that story, but I like how despite the hot and sensual passion there’s a sadness. That was a brave decision.
James: This is the point I keep making about erotica: does a writer only write about sexual fulfilment, or can he or she also write about sexual frustration? As well as writing about love, can he also be given permission to write about loneliness? I’d say the erotica writer can and must do both across the body of his work, because it’s all part of the human condition. Erotica should be powerful enough to handle both, I think – it makes erotica more exciting to think that it’s able and willing to handle the breathtaking, panoramic inner landscape of our hearts.
Lady Pokingham: If erotica is only about one thing, it will soon get boring?
James: Exactly. All of us have known sexual fulfilment, and all of us have known sexual frustration – and I think it’s an act of great respect from the writer to the reader to acknowledge that. For us to relate to each other and say, “You know what – at the end of the day, our lives are actually very similar”. So we’re sharing the joys and the pain of what it is to be human, and feeling closer, even if sometimes it’s in the acknowledgement of what sexual loneliness is.
Lady Pokingham: Is this why you chose erotica as your genre?
James: Yes, because it’s so powerful. No other genre – detective fiction, thrillers – can come close to the power that erotica has. They don’t come close. Because we’re writing about the incandescent beauty of love, sex, and women, after all. That’s why I think erotica – if handled well, and I’m still working really hard trying to work out how to handle it well – if handled well, it’s the highest literary art form. End of. And I’m being really serious here. It can be transcendent. It can move you like no other literature – moving not just your imagination, your heart, and your soul, but seducingly sliding an invisible fingertip across the skin of your neck as you read it, caressing a delicious physical arousal into your body to make you feel jubilantly alive. What other genre can do that?
Lady Pokingham: There’s often a poetic language in your stories, isn’t there? I mean in ‘Naked on the Moon’, I like how she speaks to the Moon, almost as a lover: “Oh Moon, sweet sweet Moon, I want to be naked on you. I want to be like a flower growing on your surface, unique and mysterious, at home in the wonder of you.” That feminine and poetic yearning.
James: I always try to use the beauty of words to capture a sensuality, an erotic charge, an erotic sensibility. You know how poetry can move you, arouse you – a really beautiful phrase can even haunt you? And the energy of language, almost like a cascading wet river, is what I’m trying to soak into my erotica. I think of myself as part of that long male tradition of writers intoxicated by what women are – for example, think of the beautiful examples that have gone before us that raise the bar, that show just what can be achieved: I’m thinking now of that line by Shakespeare’s: “Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue’s sweet air more tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear, when wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear” (I know it’s spoken by Helena to Hermia, but bear with me – it’s still a man writing the words) – or consider that lovely line by Keats: “I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain” – you know, you can even taste it in your mouth, can’t you, the fascination and yearning of men’s souls on the bright blossoming curve of this slow-turning planet, trying to do justice to women with words. Beautiful, so tenderly beautiful – men moved by their intoxication and appreciation.
Lady Pokingham: Those quotes you just mentioned, it’s like love-making in words, isn’t it?
James: Exactly – men trying to make love to women not just with the glide of their hands, the caress of their fingertips, but with language, with their voices, with their words powered by the warm engine of their intoxicated and sensual imagination. My work is the work of a man similarly fascinated by the breathtaking mystery of what women are, and I’m trying to capture my response in words that show appreciation and adoration. I understand Keats fully when he said, “I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form… I want a brighter word than ‘bright’, a fairer word than ‘fair’,” – he’s absolutely right, it’s hard work searching for the best words, and it can be a daunting spiritual obligation to get language to flame like a firework to do women justice, to live up to what they are, and to capture the awe and delight us men have, for the romantic, wonderful, sensual, sexual, magical and mysterious gifts that women are to us and the world. My erotica is the search for those words, and my hope is that the female reader will feel energised, ennobled, for being reminded of the wonder of what she is.
Lady Pokingham: You’re unusual in erotica for choosing a poetic language why is that?
James: My point is this: a writer won’t have a chance of capturing the mystery of existence, that spiritual resonance, if he restricts himself to a realistic language. Poets understand this. If a writer just aims to reproduce the everyday nature of dialogue, he’s held back by the fact that everyday speech is functional but not necessarily beautiful. This is why we invented poetry years ago – we needed, and still need, a higher and more intense imaginative language to express the landscape of the soul.
Lady Pokingham: Some readers may feel your characters talk in ways that are unrealistic at times.
James: I feel the reader coming to my work needs to understand that if they feel the characters in my stories talk in a way that’s sometimes poetic and unrealistic, it’s only because I feel that it’s a necessary convention, like that of a poem, to hold the mysterious resonance of desire and existence. If I fall into the trap of confining myself to only writing realistic dialogue, just to be realistic for the sake of it, then I don’t believe the language will be able to fully serve the passions and the truth of the soul. And ultimately that choice will short-change the reader.
Lady Pokingham: You‘d say that realism doesn’t give you the same scope?
James: You know, it’s funny, I’ve recently been watching some classic Hollywood musicals, those beautiful Technicolor films with the likes of Cyd Charisse, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dancing – and they’re so beautiful: the saturated colours are baking with a joy on the screen, and it’s so touching seeing these men and women dance romantically together. But it’s not realistic for people to do that – in our world, people don’t suddenly break into song and dance to express their emotions. And yet these films were very popular – millions of people quite rightly loved and still love these gorgeous films – because when the characters sing and dance the emotions expressed feel very real. That’s the point. The fiction is necessary to reach a very real truth. The audience can feel the inner beauty of what’s going on – it’s the soul resonating into the world around it – and any objections about realism become totally irrelevant.
Lady Pokingham: I think people love the romantic and sensual charge that words can have. And words, if they’re not necessarily explicit, can still feel erotic.
James: If the reader wants realism, then it cuts down the options for making the language beautiful; if the reader wants beauty, I think it’s necessary to accept the convention of fiction that we can heighten the language, not to be floral for the sake of it, but to echo the soul. The soul expresses itself in imagination, which means an imaginative and poetic language. When Shakespeare and Keats wrote those lines I mentioned earlier, that was their souls, men’s souls expressing themselves in words; it wasn’t their rational minds, their intelligence, as such. As men they were resonating at a higher level than that. A rational, realistic language is the language of the intellect, the reason, as it expresses itself; the soul needs imagination and poetry to express itself.
Lady Pokingham: And would you say that at the centre of your use of language is the way you see women?
James: At heart, the language has to work to be a celebration of the mystery of what women are – I don’t think it’s putting women on a pedestal to say that: I think women are genuinely some strange and beautiful mystery unfolding into this dimension. It’s supernatural. Seriously. That’s just how it is. It’s just something woven into the essentially supernatural fabric of this existence. That’s why body language can be so movingly poetic – as a woman raises a cup to her lips, or leafs through the pages of a book or newspaper, or turns the handle on a door, or, you know, that questioning grace of her fingertips on a key as it turns in a lock – it’s there, the mystery is there, it’s intoxicating, it’s almost as if you’re seeing not just flesh in motion, but a beautifully otherworldly soul in motion, as it expresses itself through her flesh. That’s the point. There’s a mystery revealed by their bodies, unfolding, here and now, in daily life, as women go through their lives – but I’m still working hard to pin down what exactly that mystery is, and getting the words to do their work.
Lady Pokingham: Can you refer to one of your stories to illustrate this?
James: I’m thinking now of The Train of Arousal where the man is blown away as he looks at the woman – he’s trying to define where her world and the outer world begin and end, as the light from the sky and the surrounding fields rushes in through the window of the carriage to caress her – and he can’t separate them, wondering if women are really some strangely beautiful collapse of time and space. Can you understand therefore why women intoxicate me so much? There’s some supernatural resonance held in a woman’s eyes, in her forehead, in her cheek, in her lips, in her neck, in her shoulders, in her wrists, in her voice – and when I as a man look at and listen to a woman, I feel as if some supernatural event is taking place in that act of perception: something ethereal is communicated to me, but what that is, is still mysterious and not explicitly clear. It’s on the tip of my tongue, on the edge of my mind – like when you wake up and try to recall a dream, but the more you try to recall it, the more the dream, having announced itself, feels it is necessary to retreat back into the shadows away from you. And I think it’s so exciting, that some non-physical supernatural dimension – some dimension where the soul comes from – is announcing itself into this physical dimension, in everyday life, through the design of women’s bodies, and their body language. You don’t have to go on some expensive and exotic trip, riding round a jungle in South America on the back of a donkey to find and experience this supernatural resonance – it’s here already, in our daily lives, where we live. And if you’re a woman – then it’s in your hands, your palms, your fingertips. You’re a walking miracle to us men! As for what the information is, what the mystery is – if it was easy to define the mystery, then I guess it wouldn’t be a mystery any more.
Lady P: So what you’re saying is that as far as you’re concerned, a woman’s body is essentially a supernatural event – a supernatural experience?
James: Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m saying. And that’s why women are so important.
Lady P: You’re talking about the soul – would you describe yourself as religious?
James: I have no time for religion because of it’s oppressive obsession with a self-denying morality, particularly sexuality, although clearly some kind of morality still needs to inform our lives if we are to love and treat one another with respect. We can’t have a moral anarchy. But I don’t see religion as the answer. However, I do believe in the soul, and I do believe in some supernatural dimension to existence – I think we’re more than just flesh and blood and chemicals. When I see a beautiful sunset, like a celebration of flames in the sky, or I see the stars sprinkled like a hot white sugar across the black arctic of the night, or I see a woman, her brown eyes the warm relish of chocolate, or her full inviting lips the sensual and burning dash of fire – then the intoxicating poetic resonance inside me that I get in response can’t just be the result of me being merely flesh and blood. I must be more than that, to be so moved. I feel I have a soul invigorated by body language and by the flesh. A spiritual resonance.
Lady P: What are you working on at the moment?
James: I’m busy with a story called Skyscrapers – it’s about a photographer struggling to make a living, and he’s forced to take passport and portrait photos to pay the bills. His latest customer is a rude and arrogant woman, but he comes across a magic potion that he applies to her photo, and she comes to life as a more tender and loving version.
Lady P: Her photo becomes flesh and blood?
James: Yes, she becomes real. And he applies the potion to the glossy photographs of advertisements in magazines, and they become real three-dimensional worlds, and he takes her into these worlds to romance her – for example, into a picture of a Caribbean beach that’s advertising holidays. And eventually the photographer takes her into a photograph taken at the top of a skyscraper in New York – it’s an advertisement for perfume – and it’s a delicious photograph of the New York skyline on an August summer’s night, as the light falls softly, as the burning sun sets like an ecstatic cascade of fire across the sky.
Lady P: So although a photograph is static, the world they move into is fluid, and moving?
James: Yes, moving, vibrant, just as real as our world. So the sun still moves through the sky, and the cars are moving like pinpoints on the distant streets below. Just as they were when the original picture was taken. And the two of them are looking out over the skyline, the wide city resplendent beneath them, the air a hot caress against their skin, and he’s looking at the soft silhouettes of the gigantic skyscrapers surrounding them, burning proudly, still burning proudly their many, many windows in a defiance against the summer light as it fades, as the sky gets dark tenderly, and as the photographer and the woman begin to undress and make love, he thinks how a person’s body is like a skyscraper – we all have our complex personalities with thousands of rooms inside us, our many wants and dreams and desires, which can be explored through love and sex.
Lady P: What else are you working on?
James: When you reviewed Naked on the Moon I was happy you said you’d like to read more about Jo, and her sexual explorations.
Lady P: I really liked her – with her complete acceptance of herself and her sexuality.
James: Well I was glad of that because what I didn’t tell you at the time was that it was the first instalment of a series I had in mind called Sensual Starship. We’ve had soap opera, and space opera, and I was keen on the idea of a series of episodes making up a long-running erotic narrative centred around love and sex – a kind of sex opera, if you will.
Lady P: Sex opera?
James: Yes! I loved the idea of a long running saga set across time and space, with the same set of characters meeting new sexual situations, and ‘sex opera’ seemed to be the best way of summing it up.
Lady P: What have you got in mind for the series?
James: Well I’ve got at least four episodes planned so far. And as you know, in the first episode in the year 2120, Jo aches for the beauty of the Moon, becomes an astronaut, takes the shuttle to mankind’s first base there, disrobes in front of a huge panoramic window, and enjoys letting the starlight that has travelled over billions of light years caress her naked body as she caresses herself to a climax; she’s allowing the eternity inside her body to make love to the eternity of space, to the eternity of existence.
Lady P: I thought it worked well, to have an erotic story with no sex in it – just the beauty of a woman pleasuring herself.
James: I was trying to capture the sanctity of the act – what intrigues me as an erotica writer is not just how people make love to one another, but also how they make love to themselves. And there’s a holiness about women pleasuring themselves because I feel they’re often more emotionally in contact with their bodies than us men are. In the second episode, Arousal on the Moon, we find out that Jo didn’t know that while she was celebrating her act of ecstasy, there was a video security camera routinely monitoring the room. And the Commander of the Moonbase, Kate, was at that point going through the video feeds trying to track down the source of a mysterious power loss that has affected the base since it was built. Kate, an English woman in her forties, is both shocked and intrigued by what she sees: she’s fascinated by this uninhibited connection a younger woman has between her body and the starlight; she’s not come across anything like this before. So she summons Jo to her office to be reprimanded, but Jo finds Kate attractive, and in the course of the story seduces her. And Kate has until now been strictly heterosexual, and has never had a lesbian experience before. So we’ve got the dynamic of a younger woman in her twenties seducing an older woman in her forties; and a dynamic of two different personalities, because Jo is a kind of blonde, suntanned West-Coast kind of beach babe, you know, young and fun-loving and uninhibited, and Kate is this English, reserved, porcelain-skinned, rather posh and elegant, black-haired Commander, who is struggling to make this choice between her sexuality and her duty; and her love of sensual experience wins the day.
Lady P: As so often happens in erotica…!
Lady P: Thank goodness for erotica!
James: That’s why we love it! A world where the soul and its passions are always allowed the space to blossom! And I have in mind this scene where Jo and Kate are making love in Kate’s quarters, the tender candlelight soft, and as Jo lies on top of her, Kate sees Jo’s breast blocking her view of the window; and as Jo moves seducingly back and forward, her body a warm whisper in the candlelight, her breast moves back and forward to reveal a view of the our planet, and then obscures it again. And I like the image, the idea, of a woman’s breast being powerful enough to block out this tiny Earth. And then Kate says, “Wait,” and they sit up and wrap their slow arms around each other in the room’s warmth and look out through the window, over the Moon’s cold dusty grey surface and at the ball of our blue and white planet, a small thing hanging so distant and vulnerable in space; and Kate turns to Jo and kisses her naked shoulder and whispers tenderly into her ear, “Look how far we’ve come. Millions of years ago we were in caves down there. Our lives brutal, desperate. Now look at us. Leaving our cramped planet. Flowering with our technology. Building a base on the Moon, a slow leap into space – but most importantly, we’ve brought the hot spark that burns inside us. Our constant searing need for romance, love, and sex. Look at us. Two women making love on this soft edge of eternity.”
Lady P: And the series is called ‘Sensual Starship’ because…?
James: Ah, that would be telling! All I can say is that the story develops in Episode Three – Seduction on the Moon, Episode Four – Ecstasy on the Moon – and beyond. And it seemed apt to me to start this series of sexual voyages with a woman’s solo and ecstatic act of pleasuring herself – that holy female pulse at the start of things, a point of origin – almost like the source of the Nile, if you will. Another thing I want is to use a different narrator in each episode – so Jo narrated Episode One, Kate narrates Episode Two, and Vince, the pilot we saw briefly in Episode One, he’s back to narrate Episode Three – and with Episode Four we come back to Jo. So we get this long-running narrative told from different peoples’ point of view, which may agree and disagree with each other over time.
Lady P: How would you sum up the writing of erotica, and what it is for you?
James: You know, I ask myself, what counts, at the end of the day? It’s the reader’s fingertips on her ebook reader, answering the call of her soul that yearns for the words and stories that help her explore her relish of love and sex; and my fingertips on this keyboard, the man in me softly punching in the erotic imagination that yearns to uncoil from my soul. Thanks to technology, my erotic imagination mingles with the reader’s erotic imagination – we come towards each other and we aim to create an intimate connection. In the story I’m writing at the moment, Skyscrapers, the narrator points out he’s about a foot away from his computer screen as he types in his story to you, and you the reader are about a foot away from your ebook reader as you read his words – and the words that the writer and reader are looking at are quite identical – little shaped dances of light on the glass, but which hold so very, very much. So in a sense, writer and reader are only two feet apart as they look at these identical words. Even though he’s typing in England, and you could be reading in America, or Australia. Through ebook erotica we connect, and fold up the seas between us. We’re just two feet away. And it’s all part of this holy pulse inside us to want to explore and make the most of our lives before we’re in a box six feet under, and the cold damp earth fills our mouths. It’s here, it’s here, this hot pulse to feel intensely, and to live our lives before they’re stolen away from us. That might sound depressing, but let’s look at it in another positive way: it’s all the more reason for us to burn, burn, burn – while we can, while we have the chance, while today is ours – it’s all part of our wider need, our deeper hunger to reach for our ecstatic fulfilment and burn incandescently like comets on the surface of this Earth, before the cold damp darkness that is waiting in the distance has the chance to take it all away.