Saskia Vogel on her erotic story "Cream"
Today’s interview is with Saskia Vogel, author of the novel Permission, about her short story “Cream” in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6. The story centers around Jacinda, who explores her own sexual interests and fantasies via masturbation, and then welcomes her partner to share in those explorations. Keep reading to find out more about how Vogel got started writing erotica, the inspiration behind her story, and what she’s working on next.
How long have you been writing erotica? How and why did you get started?
This is my first piece of erotica! It’s brand new territory. I’m also a writer and a translator of Swedish literature, and much of my work circles around gender and sexuality. In my debut novel Permission-- a story about love, loss, and BDSM set in LA--desire and identity are at the heart of the book, but genre-wise it’s literary fiction. While I was working on that novel a few summers ago, I took Rachel Kramer Bussel’s erotica writing workshop at Other Nature in Berlin, and she inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone. She was really encouraging and her writing exercises sparked my imagination in unexpected ways. Not least, she got me thinking about the erotics of a well-worn-in relationship. What’s sex like seven years in? Come to think of it, an alternate title for my story “Cream” could be “The Seven-Year Itch.”
What was the inspiration for your story, “Cream,” in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6?
It’s quite personal... I believe that the erotic has a lot to teach us about ourselves, and I wanted to write a story where the character learns something about herself through her fantasies. Jacinda’s quite in touch with herself, which I like and which made it really fun to throw her a curveball. The personal part came from me wanting to know what it might feel like to be sure about wanting to have a child. I was going through a hard time in relation to my fertility, and I wanted to write a story set in a world that was clearer, brighter, and more straightforward.
How does your story relate to the book’s outrageous theme?
Adventure throws the door wide open, and for Jacinda, the main character, her doors are thrown wide open when she notices that she has started obsessing about a part of her husband that until then she hasn’t paid much attention to. “Why not?,” she wonders. A whole new world is opening up for her. I’m interested in finding the fireworks in the everyday, especially when the fireworks come from a place deep inside.
What’s your favorite line or paragraph from your story?
“Just the tip, just the tip. The sentence made her giggle. Just the tip could be so wonderful, no compromise at all. ”
What were the most enjoyable and most challenging parts of writing your story?
I don’t write many short stories. This is only my second, I think. So there’s the new form, and as I mentioned writing in a new genre. Writing erotica was both a challenge and what was most enjoyable. I liked having the opportunity to focus so much Jacinda and her relationship to her sexuality in a matter-of-fact sense: where she keeps her sex toys, how she likes to masturbate. I really enjoyed the sexual dialogue between her and Ben. By the same turn, writing sex is a challenge! I kept repeating myself in places. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I write sex scenes that turn me on, the writing is really poor: just the bare bones of some sort of fantasy I’m working through. I had to put a different kind of editorial hat on to make sure that I was always writing for an audience of more than just me.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a proposal for a new book about pornography, power and the patriarchy. It’s about desire and the stories we tell about sex.
Anything else to add?
I’ve been a huge fan of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s work for a long time. Getting to be part of her anthology is such an honor.
Saskia Vogel (saskiavogel.com) is a writer and literary translator from Los Angeles and based in Berlin. Her debut novel, Permission (Coach House Books, 2019), is a story of love, loss, and BDSM set between Hollywood and the crumbling LA coastline.