Author Interview: Pam Rosenthal

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Pam Rosenthal, author of The Edge of Impropriety which was recently named one of the 5 best romances of 2008 by Library Journal and, writing as Molly Weatherfield, Carrie’s Story, Playboy.com called one of the 25 sexiest novels ever written.

I asked Pam how she personally distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.

“Just to be snarky, I sometimes call what I do ‘pornography,’” she admitted. “Well, actually, I don’t do it to be snarky or in-your-face – but more because I haven’t ever been able to figure out a line of demarcation that works in all cases and I find that situation fascinating, provocative, even hot.

“Still, I do have to admit that with the ascendancy of the internet, ‘pornography’ has taken on a more particular set of meanings, having to do with images looked at in private, for money, along with huge numbers of other folks at the same time. It’s come to be more about looking than reading, and so mostly I settle for ‘erotica’ and ‘erotic romance’ as descriptions of what I write.”

She sees the line between erotica and erotic romance as more clear, however. The line has to do with reader expectations about what Pam called “eventual achieved permanent relationships.” She continued, “I don’t agree with some folks who think this rules out sex with multiple characters, though. And in my Molly Weatherfield books I think I straddled the line between erotica and erotic romance, episodic and character-driven plot, and gave the reader a more complicated view of the matter.”

One erotic fiction author who Pam admires is Stephen Elliot. “He knocks my socks off,” she told me. “His linked story collection My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up is challengingly, mysteriously wonderful (even if it’s not pretty).

“Another hot writer readers of this blog might not know about is Steve Almond. I don’t pick up his short stories for the sex, but when it’s there it’s truly and hotly rendered, often from the POV of a female character.”

Other authors she recommends are Mary Gaitskill, whose short story “Secretary” became the BDSM movie “Secretary” with Maggie Gyllenhaal; Colette, who Pam told me didn’t write very explicit stuff, but is not to be missed irregardless; and her “pal and partner in crime” Janet Mullany.

Her favorite erotic book of all time is by yet another author, Dominique Aury (writing as Pauline Réage), Story of O. “I wrote about the book and its author on Salon.com on the occasion of Aury’s death in 1998.” The article can be found here.

“And anybody who knows my Molly Weatherfield erotica knows that both Carrie’s Story and Safe Word are passionate homages to Aury and Story Of O,” she said.

Pam told me that writing good erotica is its own reward. “In all the best possible ways,” she added. “It makes me wiggle my butt in my desk chair; it makes me think and gives me permission simply to marvel at my own human strangeness. I consider myself blessed when I’m able to pull it off; I grieve when it’s not coming off well.”

She believes that one of the most prevalent misconceptions about erotica romance is “that it’s merely episodic or that it’s unable to tell a story or engage the reader’s intelligence. But your readers know better than that, don’t they?”

I asked Pam who she would be, if she could be anyone she wanted.

“In order to answer that question,” she replied, “I’ll first have to tell you a Jewish joke.

A little Jewish teacher sighs. ‘Oy, if only I was as rich as Rothschild.’ To which he adds, ‘And you know, if I was as rich as Rothschild, I’d be RICHER than Rothschild, because I…I’D do a little teaching on the side.’

“And so, with that object lesson from my ancestors about the vanity of human desire in mind, let me wish to be a vastly successful, New York Times best-selling romance author — oh, and while I’m wishing, make me tall, okay?

“But you know… if I were that vastly successful New York Times etc etc, I’d be even more successful, since I… I’d still be doing Pam Rosenthal / Molly Weatherfield writing on the side.

“Because writing one’s own erotic fantasy life is always its own reward, and one I wouldn’t give up for anything.”

On a personal note, her favorite food is kumamoto oysters—raw, on ice, with lime juice, Tabasco sauce and very cold, sparkling white wine. Sushi (with one crucial exception) is an everyday close second.”

That one crucial exception is sushi made from sea urchin. She told me she just can’t bring herself to eat it.

She has a strange habit which doesn’t seem very romantic to her, but so far her husband hasn’t objected. She’ll get story ideas (as well as solve story problems) directly after having sex. Not only that, but she insists on telling her husband about it. “It’s sort of embarrassing,” she confessed. You can keep up with Pam on her blog, http://pamrosenthal.com/blog.

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