Interview with Alison Tyler
by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Over the last decade, Alison Tyler has built up a name for herself as an extremely prolific writer of sizzling hot erotica. In over a dozen books for publishers such as Masquerade and Black Lace, Tyler has written lesbian, heterosexual and bisexual stories, many of them sadly now out of print.
Thankfully, there's always more to look forward to from this prolific California author, whose stories appear in numerous recent anthologies including Wicked Words 6, where she contributes a steamy tale about a women who's fantasy is fulfilled as part of her acting job, Guilty Pleasures, Best Fetish Erotica and Erotic Travel Tales, among others.
I was curious about how Tyler manages to create such a prodigious output of consistently sexy and creative stories, along with her work editing anthologies such as Batteries Not Included. Here Tyler shares with us the secrets of her successes and her upcoming plans. You can find out more about her Pretty Things Press.
RKB (Rachel Kramer Bussel): When and how did you get started reading, and then writing, erotica?
AT (Alison Tyler): I started writing naughty stories in high school. Rather than pay attention to Latin, Chemistry, or Algebra, I'd create detailed fantasies for my friends featuring my buddies in tight clinches with whichever rock star or movie star they most favored. I wrote a lot of stories about one of my friends sleeping with Sting and another getting bent over by Billy Idol.
About 10 years ago, I began writing XXX-rated letters while engaging in a long-distance relationship. My boyfriend liked the stories so much, I submitted a piece to Playgirl...and sold on my second try. I've been writing ever since, and I've been lucky enough to have worked with some fabulous, encouraging editors including Judy Cole, VK McCarty, Kerri Sharp, and Barbara Pizio.
Since early on, I've been a huge fan of the letters in Variations—they were one of my first introductions to assorted sexual appetites and the first place I ever read stories about spanking, role-playing, and bondage. Before reading Variations, I'd just look up words in the dictionary to get an extra naughty thrill. "Spanking." "Discipline." "Punishment." I can't remember not being interested in those concepts.
RKB: You're quite prolific, having published over a dozen novels and other books of your own work, as well as numerous short stories. Your stories appear in many recent anthologies, from Best S/M Erotica to Wicked Words 6. How many stories have you published and what's your writing schedule like that you are able to produce so many stories?
AT: I write all the time, often late at night or early in the morning. I always have several different pieces in progress so that if I get stuck on one, I can move to something else. (At least, that's the goal.) Some stories come very quickly, but others can take years to finish. What's funny about that is that some of my most memorable sexual encounters have been the same way...years of flirtatious foreplay before anything erotic actually happens.
I don't know exactly how many stories I've written—but my short stories have appeared in Best Lesbian Erotica 1996, Sex Toy Tales, Batteries NotIncluded, Guilty Pleasures, Best S/M Erotica, Erotic Travel Tales, Wicked Words 4, 5, & 6, Noirotica 3, Sweet Life, Best Women's Erotica 2002 & 2003, Best Fetish Erotica, Midsummer Night's Dreams, A Century of Lesbian Erotica, Bondage, Gone Is the Shame, The Unmade Bed, Best of Black Lace II, the upcoming Erotic Travel Tales II, on web sites including CleanSheets.com, TinyNibbles.com, GoodVibes.com, and in Playgirl Magazine. One of my stories was a runner-up in Penthouse Variations' Baudelaire contest. I was thrilled about that!
RKB: How do you continue to make your plots fresh after having written so many stories?
AT: I'm trying to put the Rolling Stones philosophy of song writing into sex writing. You always know you're listening to a Stones' song, but the band keeps coming out with cool new albums. I'd like it if people always knew they were reading a story by Alison Tyler....and I could keep creating new, sexy pieces for years to come.
As I get older, different concepts interest me. When I started out, I think my stories were more romantic. Not that I'm jaded now, but I have a different perspective at 32 than I did at 22. Truthfully, I think sexual encounters are always creatively charged even if the partners have been together for years. The exchanges can differ depending on the moods, power-plays, role-playing, environments, etc. I try to work concepts out in my stories—ideas from both past and present. One of my friends once fucked a French soldier who had the goal to always have a unique sexual experience—I think that meant he never did the same girl twice—but I try to bring that concept to my stories. Sure, the actual in-and-out motions are the same, but the surrounding stories and feelings shift and change.
RKB: You contributed fictional stories to Violet Blue's The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus and the forthcoming The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio. How did that come about and what was it like having to write on a specific sexual topic?
AT: I adore Violet! She's just amazing, and writing an assignment for her was extremely enjoyable. She told me exactly what she wanted, coached me through every part, and was a fierce yet friendly editor. I would work with her on anything. I think the how-to books she created are so rich with information, a sense of humor, and intensely erotic pictures that anyone could benefit from reading them. New lovers. Experienced lovers. Men. Women.
RKB: You have two new books coming out from your own Pretty Things Press: a reprint of Bondage on a Budget (written with Dante Davidson) as well as your own Naughty Stories from A to Z. Both feature very short stories, and the stories in Bondage are written with folks at home in mind in terms of testing out plots that are used in your stories. Can you tell me about the genesis of these anthologies and what else Pretty Things Press is going to release?
AT: PTP is the silent imprint of a well-established publishing house that has been in business for over 20 years. I brought the idea to the publisher of starting up an erotic imprint. My goal was to begin with sexy anthologies and then move into racy novels. We are in production with several new titles, so you'll be seeing an assortment of erotic anthologies and novels very soon. We chose Bondage on a Budget to start with because it was successful while in print for Masquerade and Dante and I are proud of this book. It's not really a how-to book at all, but a collection of 69 short stories featuring at-home items used in sexual ways. Naughty Stories is something I've always wanted to do. I think being "naughty" is just the sexiest concept. Dressing naughty. Talking naughty. Acting naughty...
RKB: One of your most recent books, The ESP Affair, is a slight departure from your other erotic novels because it has a mysterious element. It tells the story of happily married Connie, who is visited by a dream lover who seduces her, winds up wrecking her marriage and haunts her mind. Connie learns about ESP and has to mentally battle it out with her dream lover. I found it very intriguing and enjoyed the ESP plot as much as I did the hot sex scenes. Did you do research into ESP to write the book? Do you believe in ESP? And was there a specific inspiration for this novel?
AT: Although I've done mysteries in the past (Strictly Confidential and Dark Room), this novel definitely more plot-driven. I did research a bit...I always do. But I was really most interested in the concept of using ESP to uncover someone's private fantasies. What if someone knew exactly what you wanted, every thing you'd every fantasized about, and then made each fantasy come true? You'd think that would be the best thing that could ever happen, except if your dream lover had an ulterior motive....
RKB: In describing your muse (eroticauthorsassociation.com), you write "I see sex everywhere I go." How much of your fiction is inspired by things you've seen and done?
AT: Some times, I've tried something in real life and then described the situation in print. (Like the first time I had a lover tell me he wanted to spank me....) Other times, I've created a fantasy so extreme on paper that I've needed to own it for myself. (Oh, god, like a tickling scene I wrote for Strictly Confidential.) I tend to take things that have happened to me and twist and turn them to fit my stories, episodes from years ago, or from yesterday. Sure, when I write, I lie, cheat, steal, just like all writers do. But there has to be some truth to a piece in order for it to interest me. Pure make-believe doesn't take me where I need to go.
RKB: Your bios sometimes read that you're a "shy girl with a dirty mind"—is that true? Are you able to be more explicit on the page than you are in real life?
AT: I'm pale-skinned and I blush incredibly easily. One of my most embarrassing moments was when a friend of a friend quoted a line back from one of my early books to me. I didn't immediately recognize the passage, and I had no idea what he was talking about. Then he said, "You wrote that." And I just turned crimson and downed my shot of tequila as quickly as I could. It's much easier for me to write what goes on in my head then talk to someone about it. That said, even shy girls get around...we just blush as we do all those dirty, deviant things... outdoors, in sex clubs, over some strong dominant's lap, with whip in hand, while bound and gagged....
RKB: Is there a goal or purpose you have with your erotic stories and novels? Is there something you're trying to say about sex and sexuality, in addition to telling a hot and steamy story?
AT: I'd like people to read my stories, get turned on, and feel that it's okay to play however they want to play. Between consenting adults anything goes...
RKB: What do you have in store for your fans next?
AT: My next Black Lace Book, Sticky Fingers, is about a sexy jewel thief. It has a February 2003 release date. Now, I'm hard at work with Thomas Roche on a set of two new books. I think they're really cutting edge. Also, I'm working on Naughty Stories, Volume II, a book of extremely short stories called Short and Sweet, and an anthology for Cleis called Best Bondage Erotica. A collection of my "best" stories will be out on Venus Book Club in November. It's called Bad Girl, which is the name of a story I had in M. Christian's Guilty Pleasures. And Dante Davidson and I have been batting an erotic spy novel around for a couple of years. I'd love to finish that.
© 2002 Rachel Kramer Bussel.