If you like your romance and erotica a little on the darker side, Philly’s own Karie Adair has your next summer read! Her debut novel, A Lady’s Delights, tells the twisted tale of a an aristocrat who literally finds pleasure in the little things. Writing became an escape for Karie, who talks below about how writing through her personal acceptance as a transgender woman. Read on as Karie dishes about imposter syndrome, her plans for her next novel, and why her dream of breaking out is a breakthrough for her!
In a few sentences, tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in pretty easy-going circumstances, I suppose. I had a loving family, two parents, one sister. But then, you step outside of that, outside of the appearances of a pretty ordinary life, and then things get more complicated.
I grew up first in Catholic school, and then in the public school system in a suburban town in Tennessee. Neither of those places really had the vocabulary to help a young transgender woman cope with trying just to grow up and understand why this body of hers didn’t fit her. It took me forever to really figure it out and actually make some sense of myself.
I came to writing, I guess, first as an escape from all of that complication, and then as a way to express the complicatedness, once I knew who I was and what I was about.
What do you love most about the craft of writing?
I love the capability of writing to perfectly convey exactly what I see going on in my head. For a while, I tried my hand at being a visual artist. I wasn’t much good at that. But when I sat down to write, I could take this experience happening in my head and project it more vividly than I could otherwise into the minds of others. It’s like a superpower! I absolutely adore it, and always wait to see how people are going to react to what I’ve written.
Tell us about your latest project.
Right now, I’m in the process of writing my next novel, A Secretary’s Duty. I wanted to play with the fantasy of a woman – especially a woman like me, a transgender woman – caught up in the exhilarating space of a Dominant/submissive relationship with her employer. Things get complex very quickly, and tangled up both in the power structure between my protagonist, Lexi, and the antagonist, her sensual boss, Sana. Throw in the additional complication of Lexi trying to feel at home inside her own skin, and things get thorny, very quickly.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
See, here’s the funny thing: I still don’t. I see authors out there with dozens of novels and novellas under their belts, and I feel like it’s a struggle to get a single tale down on paper. It took over a year to fully finish my first novel, A Lady’s Delights. I know it’s not healthy to compare yourself to others in your medium, but I feel like I pale in comparison to other writers out there.
What drew you to writing romance/erotica?
Erotica has always really captivated me, and – as ridiculous as it sounds – I often found myself in the sensual novels and stories I read by others. It was wild to read other people’s erotic fiction online about transforming from male to female and seeing myself in that!
So erotica to me is all about power and transformation. About letting yourself step back from the constraints of what you are and what others expect you to be, and letting yourself explore what you could be if you were in charge of the circumstances. It’s fun, and it’s deeply personal, and I love getting to explore that space.
Which book(s) have influenced your writing style the most?
Honestly, I feel like I keep trying to live up to Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the authors of Welcome to Night Vale and It Devours! I like my writing to play in that weird, liminal space between what’s real and what really shouldn’t be real.
At the same time, though, the writing feels sincere. Authentic to the characters and authentic to read in your own voice. There’s an everyday-ness to their writing that I constantly try to capture in my own. I don’t think I’ve quite accomplished it yet, but I’d still like to get there.
Share a piece of your work that showcases our writing style best.
Sure. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of A Lady’s Delights:
She brought the chocolate-flavored delight to Estelle’s lips, slowly easing him into her mouth. The girl’s mouth opened to accept the snack, blush still covering her face beneath her closed eyes. Estelle’s tongue caught hold of the treat, dragging him inside, pulling him out of Cassandra’s fingers, bit by bit.
Cassandra’s fingers brushed against the girl’s lips; for the briefest moment, she felt the slightest pang of envy for the boy resting against her tongue. He was gaining a more intimate knowledge of this woman than she ever could, would know her in ways impossible to her. Her fingertips hesitated to pull away from those lips, their soft, cushioning flesh keeping her digits close like a magnet.
She was not one of those ladies, she told herself as she watched Estelle suckling on the boy within her mouth, cheeks shifting each time as the tongue hidden inside squeezed at the body it held. Men were handsome, men were attractive, and the thought of one filling her made her think sensual, improper things when she fell asleep at night. That heat that could split her open and surge deep into her body, the feeling of capturing part of her lover within herself forever, was spine tingling. What woman, she scolded herself, could ever provide her with such a feeling?
~”Erotica has always really captivated me, and…I often found myself in the sensual novels and stories I read by others.”~
Name three of your best writing tips.
- Plan ahead! Honestly, I struggle the most with “keeping the thread” of my stories, following through on them from start to finish. Create a rough outline of events that must unfold in your story, even if you want to pants everything else.
- Never discount the value of a good friend to serve as your sounding board. Some of my favorite ideas evolved out of conversations that I’ve had with others. Whether I actually work those stories to completion, the playfulness of that back-and-forth can be deeply satisfying.
- Which brings me to my third tip: play! Never let yourself be single-mindedly absorbed by a project. You’ll get bogged down in the mud sooner or later, and it can be a relief and a chance to step back and rethink things to let yourself play with a different idea for a little while.
Dead or alive, name the writer you wish were your mentor and why.
Janina Matthewson. Her work on the podcast Within the Wires shakes me to the core every single time. The story in season one of the show had me utterly on edge, and season two sucked me down deeper into this strange, stark world that she and Jeffrey Cranor had built.
What would you say is your own interesting writing quirk?
I’m not really sure! I have a hard time seeing my own work as curious or quirky. It’s hard to see that, I think, not being able to step out of my own head and all. I’ve been told I have a way of creating an atmosphere that sets the stage beautifully for my stories.
Shout out an indie writer whose work you love.
I owe a deep, deep debt of gratitude to Melanie Brown, author of the Reluctant Girlfriend stories. Brown’s stories steered me in the right direction to create appealing niche/fetish writing. They were transformative for me to read as a young trans woman. Imagine: I could just up and be a girl!
Do you have any specific writing goals in your radar?
I’m really still trying to have a breakthrough. I want to pub A Lady’s Delights, or finding success in publishing one of my future works. I feel like I struggle up a shear wall trying to share what I do with the world. If I can get one person to see my work, I can reach an audience that will appreciate the worlds of strangeness and charm that I love to create.
Karie, thanks for joining us today. Readers, feel free to stalk this sexy author at the following links: