Interview: Harley LaRoux
This week we sat down with Harley Laroux, an erotica writer with a spooky twist. Join us as we talk about her inspiration for writing the stories she has, BDSM, and how that affects her writing, and the push for erotica writers to keep pumping (you see what I did there?) out new content quickly.
Harley: I’m 27 years old and I’ve lived in California all my life – I’ve got 3 cats: Gizmo, Luna, and the Baby (who’s named Azura, but she’s the Baby anyway). I’ve been married for just over a year and writing is my second full-time job, hopefully, to be my only full-time job someday. When I’m not writing I’m usually reading, playing video games, or at various music festivals – at least before our current Pandemic situation.
CJ: Yeah, the pandemic has really created a new way of life for everyone. Now, I’ve known you for a bit and have read 3 of your books so far (which I adored… even when they made me uncomfortable!). You don’t just do erotica though. Can you talk a little about what type of erotica you do?
Harley: I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed them, thank you! So my genre is perhaps a bit unusual, but I write erotic horror! That is essentially erotica that incorporates elements of traditional horror stories, and more obscure horrifying elements whether that be in the consensual kink play incorporated, or in an atmosphere of creepiness and foreboding. Such as in my novella, The Dare, there’s a scene with clowns that a lot of folks have found scary, or just really uncomfortable, haha. But I enjoy creating that juxtaposition of unease with sexiness. It’s exciting!
CJ: It really is. And there’s not much out there like it. What is it that inspired you to write these stories?
Harley: I really set out to write the stories I wanted to read, but couldn’t find. I loved horror movies and scary stories for the visceral reaction they create, and how building up an atmosphere can bring the reader so deep into the story. And erotica is surprisingly similar, at least in terms of trying to create a deep and physical reaction in the reader. So the combination of those two elements, the dark with the sexually exciting, or something romantic with something horrifying, is an adventure to write. I wanted to create stories that went beyond just good sexual excitement – and don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with “pure smut.” But having a bigger story around that sexual engagement, having a strong atmosphere, I think just makes it that much more enjoyable.
CJ: I love the way you bring the reader in. When I read His Sniper (which is my favorite of yours so far by the way), it started out with a sexual scenario, and then you learned about the current world situation which made it that much more exciting. Then with Paddled for Panties, you did the opposite and started with “normal” interaction before jumping into the sex. Do you find that you favor one or the other when you write a new story?
Harley: I think it really depends on the story, how long I intend it to be, etc. But in general, I favor the latter. I like to build an atmosphere first, set out the “normal,” and then move into the sex. That way I have time (even if it’s just a chapter) to show the characters and settle the reader into the atmosphere. It’s like the foreplay – I’m just getting them warmed up, haha.
CJ: You’ve got 10 books listed on Amazon at the moment. Which one of those was your favorite to write and which one gave you the most trouble?
Harley: I think my favorite to write was the first Dirty 1st Dates, Halloween Haunt. It was just really fun, and I got to just roll with it, trying out this fresh idea. Then I ended up liking the general set-up enough that I started the 1st dates series. That was also the story where I made the main character a Scene Queen, which just made my little emo heart so happy. The most troublesome one was probably Poolside Punishment. I think it was trying to maneuver four characters throughout a brief series of scenes just ended up being trickier than I thought it would be. But Riley’s Punishment was actually difficult as well – it was actually the first erotica short I wrote when I was starting out, and it was hard because I was just so nervous to publish it!
CJ: What is a Scene Queen?
Harley: So back in the “Myspace days,” probably around 2005-2008, Scene was a really unique style/fashion. A Scene Queen was essentially an early version of a social media influencer for the style – they’d have big teased brightly colored hair, skinny jeans, the whole early Hot Topic style. It was an interesting time, haha.
CJ: That sounds like fun. How did your family and friends react to your writing erotica?
Harley: The family is cautiously supportive – they don’t want to hear details, but they accept that it’s just what I do. Admittedly, not all family knows the entire story – they just know I write books they “probably won’t like.” Friends have been really supportive and accepting. Luckily I’m in a situation where it’s relatively safe for me to be open about what I do – so many have to keep what they write as secret as possible, at least with erotica.
CJ: I can think of a handful of people I know who have to do that. From following you on Twitter, I know that you are part of the BDSM scene as well. Do you find that helps or hinders your story ideas and how you write them?
Harley: So I would say it’s a combination of both. It definitely helps my writing in that I feel familiar with so many elements of the lifestyle that writing it feels natural – but at the same time, not all of my stories represent a 100% “realistic” version of BDSM. Some of them present a fantasy version, but the last thing I want to do is make a 50 Shades level mistake and misrepresent the community in a disrespectful or misleading way. I try to be sure to warn folks I’m writing from a fantasy perspective – the stories have a lot of elements of BDSM, but they center on the fantasy, rather than a realistic representation of how one could expect it to go in real life.
Harley: I don’t consider myself an expert, but I try to at least promote messages of safety with BDSM, and encourage people to really look into things realistically before they try it themselves. I think one of the biggest problems with 50 Shades was that it seemed to present folks who are “into” BDSM as being broken people, something that needed fixing – and that’s something that I would hope folks unfamiliar with the scene won’t take as fact. At the end of the day, of course, that book is a fantasy as well – folks can enjoy it as long as there is the understanding that it’s a fantasy, and that fantasy is not the reality of what goes on.
CJ: I agree. Too many people read something in a particular genre, erotica for example, and if they’re unaware of how something is in reality, they take the book they just read as gospel which can be so harmful not just to the community being represented but to the person believing it.
Harley: Oh, absolutely! Folks need to keep in mind that they’re reading fiction – especially with things like BDSM and sex in general, if they’re looking for genuine information, I highly encourage them to look into nonfictional resources from educators.
CJ: Do you have any advice for a new writer who would like to write erotica?
Harley: I would say to write scenarios they like first – the writing will flow most naturally that way if you’re feeling the scene yourself, and you think it’s hot, that will translate to your writing. And read! Read lots! Sometimes writing erotica can feel redundant, especially if you write a lot of short stories in a small amount of time, and reading keeps the imagination fresh with new ideas.
CJ: I find that a lot, even in romances. Anytime an author has written multiple short stories, I always find multiple uses of the same phrase or even the same formula – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is something the reader picks up quickly and if that is something that puts them off they won’t keep reading.
Harley: Oh absolutely! It’s an easy trap to fall into. There’s a big push, especially amongst erotica writers, that you have to write as much as you can, as quickly as possible. That means that stories get pushed out so quickly, you end up seeing those repetitive phrases or repetitive formulas. Now, I think formulas can work – I use one with the Dirty 1st Dates series, but it has to be kept fresh. Thinking of new scenarios, themes, and atmospheres can make an enormous difference. And taking your time where you can, is honestly helpful. I know the stress of that push to write “more, more, more!” is huge.
CJ: It’s stressful no matter what genre you write, that’s for sure. Now, is there anything you would warn new (or existing) writers about?
Harley: I would caution them to remember that when you put your writing out into the world, you will encounter folks who don’t like it – and that’s okay. It may come in the form of a negative review, or perhaps a negative comment, and I know those sting. We all want people to love our writing! But remaining civil and professional is important. Not everyone will like your story, just as you don’t like everything you read yourself! Take what constructive criticism you can and just keep moving forward.
CJ: Fantastic advice. To wrap up, is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Harley: Well, if they’d like to check out any of my work, they can find me both on Twitter and Instagram! Facebook will come soon once I stop being lazy about creating it, haha. But they should just remain aware that my Twitter is intended for 18+! They can also find me over on Wattpad and they can get a free taste of my writing over there!
CJ: I’ll definitely have all of your links available for anyone who is interested. I have one more question that I just thought of. Are there any resources out there that you can recommend to either a writer or reader?
Harley: If they’re looking for authentic resources on BDSM, I’d highly recommend kinkacademy.com. They’re a fantastic resource with lots of videos and experienced educators. So whether one is interested in writing or trying it out in real life, they’re just wonderful. Perhaps it will even spark some writing inspiration!
CJ: Awesome! Thank you so much for spending time with me tonight. I always enjoy talking with you.
Harley: Thank you so much for having me! This was a lot of fun!