I have always been a movie nerd. More specifically, B-movies, exploitation movies, and porn movies and this is because they are free from the shackles of polite society. This allows for bold risks and completely unhinged creativity that mainstream entertainment would never endorse. Erotica fulfills this very same role in the literary world. It is fertile ground for our darkest fantasies and our weirdest, wildest ideas.
Speaking of wild ideas, I am honored to share an interview with an erotica author that has no shortage of them. If you like your erotica paired with humor, superheros, monsters, southern gothic, and occasional yet excessive cockslappings then there is someone I am dying to introduce you to. Callie Press is the creator of the #smutpunk genre and I am determined to help you, the readers, understand her methods, her inspirations, and maybe just a little about her personal life.
Callie, without revealing too much about your identity, what can you tell us about the real Callie? Where you are from, your day job, your quest, your favorite color, etc.?
I’m an escapee from Detroit, where I was born and lived off and on until I was about 15. These days I basically just write and edit, which I’ve done for a long time now, though I’ve cut out a lot of the freelance work. I’m good at editing and it pays better than creating, but it’s mind-numbing to me. I seek the grail! Blue! No…
When did you write your first piece of erotica and what compelled you to write it?
Oh lordie. Probably the first actual bit of sexual writing was when I was 15, if you don’t count the ‘curiosity’ things I wrote when I was young and sexually ignorant. Those equivalent of ‘dirty doodles’ sort of notebook/diary/journal scribblings. Don’t get me wrong though, most of that insanity still shows up, cocks didn’t turn out to be *quite* as magical as 10-year-old Callie imagined.
Have you always been a fiction writer or is this a recent development for you?
Always. When I was in elementary school I used to ‘rewrite’ books I liked with my own characters and ideas, except I would actually make them. Staple a bunch of paper together and rewrite it my own way, do all the drawing, so on. I was a really boring kid. Also a plagiarist kid. I’ve written and edited professionally for a long time.
Can you tell us about your writing process–how you go from concept to a published book? Also, because your editing is so impeccable, I have to ask if you do your own editing?
I don’t have ‘a process’ but I do have some…patterns, I guess? I get ideas much more quickly than I can keep track of them so the first pattern is, I let it stew. Rarely will I make a note, unless I’m actually writing and drawing a blank on the task at hand. If I don’t remember it tomorrow, why would you? So that’s kind of my yardstick of ‘that might be a good idea,’ at least for a story. Then, if something has simmered a while and is still coming to me or getting bigger, I’ll specifically give it some thought, watch the characters for a while, see what happens, get to know them. That’s my outline. Then I write it and rewrite it and rewrite it and rewrite it. My roughs come out fairly polished these days because I think them out so much before I start.
Publishing the books is really not a big deal to me, I’ve worked in publishing off and on since the offset days. Aside from Butterface and Tonguing Tromp, so far all my covers have just been stock pics I futzed with in Photoshop. I write in Word, run it through Calibre the required minimum of twenty-seven times until it looks right, and voila. I do edit my own stuff, but I also make sure my hubby goes over it at least once for a final copy edit. He’d do more if I asked him to but he’s got his own stuff going on. I’m very proud that you noticed the editing, I try hard to put out well-edited work.
Do you use erotica as an outlet for fulfilling your fantasies and as an expression of what truly turns you on or are you just having a laugh at our expense while we pour over your latest book with our pants at our ankles?
Your book, Butterface, is what really got my attention and made me a life-long member of the Callie fan club. For those who haven’t read it, Butterface is a Halloween-themed book with a simple enough premise (a hot girl, except for her [but her] face that seduces and kills men) but it goes far beyond the expectations of an erotica title. It is like reading Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O’Connor but with lots of raw, graphic sex and a supernatural element. Is this how you originally intended the book or did it evolve as you were writing it? Also, I’m just guessing at some of the literary influences, can you tell us more specifically what inspired you?
I do love Southern gothic and always have, Faulkner, O’Connor, Joe Lansdale. I actually haven’t read much McCarthy yet, but it’s on the list. The Road was great of course. So in any case I would hope that those lessons are part of my toolbox. My husband’s family is from the (American) South and I love it there, so the atmosphere felt fairly easy for me to capture.
I’d love to say I had some literary master plan that succeeded, but I just love those kind of B-horror movie stories. Brixton, when you read it, you got Joel and Ethan Coen (bless your heart), but as I wrote it I was thinking more like Ed Wood or, “hopefully,” Roger Corman. I really just wanted to do something for Halloween because it’s my favorite holiday. And when the Butterface concept (which was just the pun coinciding with some synapse firing that shouted “Nyarlathotep as a succubus!”) hit me it wouldn’t go away and grew and grew. Most of what I’m writing is or will be connected by the whole Butterface Pandora’s box.
You coined the term/genre/hashtag #smutpunk. Can you explain to the readers what you mean by smutpunk and provide some examples of what type of content is/isn’t included in this genre?
Well, I started using it because MJ and I were looking for some definition of what we were doing. Kat Crimson was involved in this brainstorming too, her stuff is wild and great. We never decided, so I just posted about smutpunk one day. As for what it is and isn’t, well…to me it’s like a Venn diagram mixing everything cool and funny, except the whole diagram is inside a circle labeled ‘porn’ and then you throw darts at it. So I guess smutpunk is a dartboard in my mind. It’s gonzo sexy crazy pulpy comic book fun with a story. I would hope smutpunk leaves the reader saying, “That was fucked up and I love it.” What isn’t included in smutpunk? Bad writing. Unimaginative writing. Unskillful writing. I hope.
Your latest book is titled Erotic Pulp Volume 1: Smutpunk Reader. This is a collection of short stories, all of which I loved and all of which seem to subvert any traditional erotica categories. Did you write all of the stories in this book or did you take submissions?
Lord no, that’s all me. I’m glad you liked it! All that stuff about other people writing what I was going to be publishing was a failed marketing plan. See, I was going to come in and write with all my various voices and under these different personalities who for the most part are just characters I invented. I was going to be my own Mr. Blackthorne, and all the ‘stable of authors’ were going to be just me using different voices and pen names. Then I was asked to join the Mr. Blackthorne group, so I had to reconsider, because why bother when he was doing it with real authors? And I realized also that it would be waaaay too much work. The truth is, I’ve written everything I’ve ever published. Even the Yvette stuff, though Yvette actually is a real person.
Regarding the Erotic Pulp story titled “A Romantic Hurdle!”, I guessed that it is somewhat autobiographical, is that true?
Only in some little details, like my penchant for dating musicians back in the day. Well, and I was, shall we say, promiscuous. The rest of it is just based on those girl/romance comic books from the old days, like before my time. They’re hysterically chauvinistic, so I tried to write Candy as one of those shallow, vapid ‘heroines’ in the romance comics. And it goes amazingly well with how it ties into all the other stories, but that’s the kind of thing I doubt anyone will realize until more of the pieces click together. There’s probably a little Candy in every girl, and a little Danny in every boy.
How many additional Erotic Pulp Volumes do you plan to release?
No idea, but I started work on the second one the same day #1 went live on Amazon. I’m hoping for a long run, I’m thinking of each volume as equivalent to an anthology comic book, like some of the ‘annuals’ used to be. My brother got me into comics when I was little, so they influenced my sense of story in a big way. I’d be happy with a dozen or more volumes, but as flaky as I am, expect three.
Do you have any other books on the way that you can tell us about?
I’ve got a few that must come out, though I don’t know the scheduling. The Book of Daniel, Tithe of Souls, and Son of Butterface are all in progress and nowhere near done. Those are part of the ‘cycle’ or whatever, the huge interlocking story. The Intraworld I introduced in Erotic Pulp Volume 1 is going to get a book, maybe even an actual 100k+ novel. I also had a couple hot ideas for little porny releases that are just wank stuff, so I might sploosh them out here at any given time depending on my mood and energy level.
As a female Erotica author I can only imagine that you get many unsolicited propositions via the internet. Do you regularly get private messages, dick pics, etc. from people other than Brixton Atwood? Do you take offense or do you consider it just a normal part of the fanfare?
Ohhhh yes I do. It doesn’t offend me, but it can be frustrating. Aggravating at times, even. I try to acknowledge everyone who goes out of their way to say something to me, but I can’t really carry on a conversation with 10,000+ people. But no, I actually like dick pics most of the time, as long as the owner of said dick realizes I’m not available in real life and that I probably can’t spend an hour to chat with him. And yes, I’m good with words, and yes, I could cyber you into a huge mess, and no, I almost certainly won’t, read my books if you want to see my dirty words. (You exceptions know who you are.)
Would you be willing to tell readers what your ultimate sexual fantasy is, and if you have written it up in some form or another, where they can go to buy it?
I would be willing to if I were able, but I don’t think I have one. They change a lot. I can’t keep up with them. My fantasies and experiences are all over my work though, so if it cranks your knob to think one thing or another is my biggie, pick one you like the best! It was surely true for a minute, at least. They’re either situational (like in whose dick should I not be getting) or, well, logistical (like in how many dicks should I not be getting).
Last question and the most important one. Can you tell us some of your favorite authors and/or books?
I love Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Frank Miller, Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard. Bradbury. The great storytellers. I could go on all day. Moctezuma Johnson is one of my favorites, and was before I really even knew him, and that’s not hype. He flows and takes you on a ride nobody else could take you on. And I love fantasy stuff of course, Tolkien and Martin and those Gor books (well, the first five were sound, then they just got boring and preachy).
Remember when I said that would be the last question? I lied. Can you tell us some of your favorite movies? Please include both serious films and the fun stuff like comedy, horror, porn, etc.
Well any given WWII documentary will cover all that stuff. (Kidding! They’re not usually that funny. Or hot) Barbara the Barbarian was important in my life, I’ll say that up front. The Arnie Conan is great but I love Jason Momoa, he’s more how Howard wrote Conan. Both of those movies have botched stories though. I love kung fu movies, the original Drunken Master is perfect, and Crouching Tiger and all those wuxia type movies. All the Star Wars movies of course, and Clone Wars. Deadpool is the best. Darkman. Cemetary Man (it’s misspelled in the titles) is one of the most brilliant horror movies I’ve ever seen. Happy Gilmore is hilarious, no matter how bad Adam Sandler is nowadays. Life of Brian. Princess Bride. The Green Mile is amazing. Oldboy (now there’s a smutpunk flick if anything is). High Plains Drifter. Seriously, just pick some pulpy kind of movie and I’ll probably love it if there aren’t too many glaring errors. Then I’ll watch Hallmark channel when I want to turn my brain off.