I am really trying my best not to go all fan girl here, but I am a HUGE fan of Kristina Lloyd! I enjoyed Asking For Trouble followed by Darker Than Love so much, I trolled bookstores looking for her latest offerings. She is a superior writer, and writes the type of dark erotica I adore. Ironically enough, she is going to explore that dark decadence as part of her blog tour here. I am delighted to be a leg on her tour, in support of Undone…so without further ado, let’s come undone with Kristina!
Undone and dark erotica
The word “dark” is often applied to my erotica, both by others and myself. I like it, but sometimes I wonder what it means. Does it refer to boundary-pushing sex? Politically or morally problematic desires? Characters who are damaged? Troubled? In danger?
I’ve never written a character whose predilection for BDSM is a consequence of past abuses, and if I ever do, please revoke my writing privileges. Nor do I write about genuine trauma of the sort where Social Services should intervene. My characters however are frequently troubled by the relationship they’re developing, or the kind of sex they’re having. They’re anxious, conflicted, and they’re going to continue along the same dangerous path because they’re in the grip of an erotic compulsion.
“Dark” in the context of erotica suggests, I think, a book which allows readers to luxuriate in a story they might not want to fully experience in real life. To me, dark has a velvety quality. Interpretations are always going to be subjective and my second book, Asking for Trouble, is the one most likely to be rejected as “too dark” by some people. My third book, Split, is set in a puppet museum on the Yorkshire moors. I describe it as “Wuthering Heights with bondage”, and an eerie Gothicism informs the darkness in that book. The setting isn’t the most obvious choice for an erotic novel but I loved creating that disquieting, off-kilter atmosphere.
My fifth book, Undone, hits the shelves tomorrow, 11th September, and opens with the discovery of a body in a swimming pool. The dead man is Misha Morozov, one of two men my protagonist, Lana Greenwood, has just spent the night with. Lana owns a cocktail bar, The Blue Bar, and I had a great time building this bar in my imagination. Last week, I wrote about the inspiration behind Lana’s bar, and how I took the history of a small building in my town, Brighton, and gave it to my fictional bar. The building which inspired me was, I discovered, a funeral parlour in the nineteenth century. I couldn’t leave such a detail out, especially in a narrative where my central character is haunted by a man’s death.
Here’s a short excerpt:
My vision for The Blue Bar came together when I learned the building had been a funeral parlour in the nineteenth century. Inspired by that fact, I chose a Victorian Gothic aesthetic with a muted, background colour scheme of black, silver and cream. I wanted the room to look like a fucked-up fairy tale, an antechamber in a palace of seductive dangers forever under threat of forest vines encroaching from outside. I think I achieved my goal.
The walls are cream satin with a faint shimmer of fleur-de-lys, and a sleek, stuffed crow in a tall, glass dome watches over events with black, unseeing eyes. A row of booths opposite the bar in dark oak and upholstered black leather are customised church pews, now reminiscent of open compartments on a macabre pleasure train. I like to imagine they once carried satanic day trippers to and fro along the blasted wastelands of an apocalyptic beach.
I don’t make a big deal of the fact the bar is housed in a former chapel of rest. Sometimes, however, people enquire about the architectural features. Paradoxically, perhaps, given its potential for historic morbidity, the chapel’s stained-glass windows provide a sense of respite and tranquility. They were my starting point when I conceived of the bar’s design. The main windows, at the head of an alcove with a wooden, barrel-vault ceiling, are actually casement doors opening onto a small ironwork balcony. Directly above the two wings of the glass door is a matching stained-glass semi-circle, and the combined effect is of a saintly arch. The glass is formed of small leaded panes, a tiling of coloured squares. Daylight shines through the delicate blues, lilacs and the pale sea-greens, creating a hazy island of beatific calm that would have once fallen onto a gleaming casket or pasty-faced corpse.
That pool of soft, subaquatic light inspired the actual bar, a cubed LED counter inset with blue luminosity. The combination of enchanted gothic and industrial minimalism could have clashed horribly. Instead, the counter seems to hover like an uncertain mirage, echoing the stained-glass balcony doors and complementing the weird magic of the place.
I’d hoped to create a sense of the bar being a hub leading to other worlds. My table tops are clear glass while the chairs are reproduction Rococo in black velour and silver. I have an oval vintage mirror framed in cream and fixed at a wonky angle. It’s a looking glass Snow White might have peered into after one gin gimlet too many. ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the drunkest of them all?
Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.
When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand. One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?