me”. What kind of nonfiction writing do you like to engage with, then, and what motivates you to do so? And what is there about the “academic headspace” that you don’t like, even though you’ve had a toe in that water as well with your contribution to the academic journal, Sites?
MJL: I prefer writing about things that have an immediate emotional relevance for me. Maybe something that’s going on in a relationship I’m having, or something I’ve discovered about myself (this holds true for both my fiction and nonfiction). Academic writing, to me, has always felt removed from an immediate emotional relevance to my daily life. Regarding Sites, though, that was an acceptance I worked really hard at getting because of the journal’s connection to France, to French literature, and because of my passion for the erotic literature that came out of France in the mid-twentieth century – the publishers Maurice Girodias and his father, Jack Kahane (who I think may have been British), and also the editor Jean-Jacques Pauvert. An incredibly rich history in erotica. My contribution to Sites was small but it made me really excited when it came out in print.
SDk: Perhaps “chick lit” is at the other end of the spectrum, and you’ve written that in the past, as well. SDk’s previous literature writer, Anne Tourney, said it nearly destroyed her as a creative writer. What was your experience with this sub-genre?
MJL: I didn’t stick with it as long as Anne did, plus I didn’t really write much chick lit, I wrote erotic romances – extremely formulaic, vanilla erotic fiction. However, my experiences with it were similar to Anne’s. I ultimately found it extremely depressing – trying to cram my creative ideas into tidy, upbeat little boxes that had happy endings. Plus, in those early days of the genre, it was strictly male/female, and you could only write about fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, or traditional intercourse. It was deadening to me. I enjoyed my characters and the stories themselves, but the sex felt completely contrived – which it was! My erotic romances were written expressly for distribution by Barnes & Noble, so periodically I had to turn in chapters for their approval and most of the time the comment they sent back to my publisher was: “She needs to add more sex!” So I would always have to arbitrarily stick more sex scenes in and the scenes were meaningless to the story and to the characters. I think those particular novels would have worked better without any sex at all but I don’t think the readers would necessarily agree.
SDk: You’ve also pushed beyond traditional media: you were an internet pioneer with Dadahouse, and with Other-rooms in the late ’90s – both award-winning ventures. Can you please tell us what these and your other new media projects meant at the time, what you wanted to achieve, and how you feel about them now.
MJL: I have always loved those projects passionately and still do. Dadahouse was a brilliant concept; just brilliant and so exciting to me – mixing the Dada art movement with bisexual sex, a film and a mystery and making it all into a CD-ROM game with a companion website that kept a running soap opera and showed the film. This was 1997. The internet and multi-media were brand new. Everyone was experimenting. There was so much freedom. I was thrilled to get the job as staff writer on that project, even though I had no TV or film writing experience at the time – but I had sex-writing experience and that’s the element the producers really needed. Someone on the writing staff who could write comfortably about sex. So I learned the screenwriting format from seasoned TV writers – soap opera writers in New York. I sat next to them in a room for hours and just tried to keep up. Eventually the other writers all quit, one by one, and I wound up the head writer. Even though the Dadahouse CD-ROM game won awards and got me experience with HBO [Home Box Office, America’s most popular premium cable TV channel] and into Entertainment Weekly, the finished product didn’t quite match the original concept, but I still loved it. It was a very hard job – a lot of it was like a job from Hell with so many extreme re-writes needed, always at the last minute, until I practically had a nervous breakdown – but overall, I loved the concept. My heart was really in it. It was all very “Dada.”
Other-Rooms.com was my true labour of love. I did that for free, out of my bedroom in New York for, I don’t remember now – two years? I launched it in the fall of ’97, when underground zines were disappearing and the internet had not yet taken their place. Writers of literary erotica – my friends, colleagues – were running out of venues in which to get published so I decided to publish them myself. Other-rooms.com was enormously respected and very popular. And except for Raven Touchstone’s photographs from the porn world, the site had no erotic images on it (Raven wrote screenplays for Vivid and was one of the more successful writers in adult movies – Vivid was the most popular producer of adult videos in the USA before the