Sakura von Sternberg
B.J. Taylor- What are you working on now? Tell us all a little bit about it.
Sakura von Sternberg – I took a long hiatus after my father’s recent passing, so I’m still shaking off the proverbial cobwebs and flexing my writerly muscles. I’m currently in the earliest stages of two new erotic novellas. One of them is a real doozy: a post-apocalyptic and unapologetically queer novelette about two transgender revolutionaries (a trans man and a trans woman, respectively) burning rubber on the metaphorical highways to hell. The other is far less ambitious: a femdom story about a mall employee getting involved with a closet kinkster at a neighboring store. Work on both is progressing slowly, as I am also teaching a ridiculously huge course load this semester. Those students eat away at all my free time, damn it! I also have about a million ideas stewing in my brain: gender-bending magical girls, amorous giant robots, dystopian shoe fetish stories… and so on.
B.J. Taylor- What is one bit of advice you would like to share with other writers?
Sakura von Sternberg – Be yourself. Be authentic. Don’t try to cater to the tastes or fantasies of others. This is a mistake I might have made when I first started: trying to second guess what the reader wants instead of being true to yourself. If your writing doesn’t (in some way or another) feel like a natural extension or reflection of yourself, then… well, perhaps you should consider a career in advertising.
B.J. Taylor- What separates your style from other writers? Why should readers pick up your book over someone else’s?
Sakura von Sternberg – I’m a total SFF junkie, and my erotica definitely reflects that. My sexy stuff tends to be a tad dorkier than most, spanning the gamut from space operas to horror tales to dystopian thrillers to anime pastiches I’ll occasionally write a “realistic” erotica short, but I typically try to chart my own weirdo path… which, obviously, is paved with all of my personal obsessions and peccadilloes. I’ve also noticed that my stories tend to come in two flavors—super-duper despairing and dark and light-hearted and farcical. Very little in-between.
B.J. Taylor- How much does your own sexuality come into play when you are writing a book?
Sakura von Sternberg – I make no apologies for being queer with a capital Q… and I suspect that has played into all of my books, in one way or another. I try to approach my erotic fiction from a perspective outside the default cis-het norm. My stories might sometimes oscillate between the forbiddingly dark and supremely goofy, but I always try to remain sex-positive, kink-friendly, and inclusive to all gender and sexual identities.
B.J. Taylor- Is writing a therapeutic process for you? If so, why? If not, why? If you do pour your emotions into it how much to you let out. Do you hold any back? Save some emotions for your personal life.
Sakura von Sternberg – I don’t know if I’d call it “therapeutic,” per se. It’s fun and often makes me unbelievably happy, especially when I know there are little kinksters out there reading my stories and “enjoying” them, in one way or another. So perhaps that in itself is a kind of therapy.
B.J. Taylor- What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?
Sakura von Sternberg – How about a “big mistake” I still have trouble with? I tend to be fairly persnickety about my prose—perhaps to a fault. I’ll obsess about the rhythm, phrasing, and cadence of a single sentence for hours… if not longer. Even now, I have trouble moving away from a sentence or paragraph that I don’t like… even at the earliest drafting stage! It makes the writing process somewhat laborious and slow. I really need to get better at not picking at my sentences like old scabs.
B.J. Taylor- What motivates you to write the genre you write? Do you branch out? Or stick to what you know and what you like.
Sakura von Sternberg – Erotica is fun—and it sells! But beyond that… erotica is a broad, all-consuming genre that contains an entire galaxy of niches and subcategories. There’s so much to explore and experience in erotic fiction, and I feel we’ve only scratched at the surface. The genre allows for the sort of versatility and experimentation lacking in other types of fiction.
B.J. Taylor- When you complete a story, do you let it go? Or do you like to stop and think about what your characters might be up to, what they might be doing?
Sakura von Sternberg – Sometimes I find myself thinking about the fate of one character or another, sure. But I always bristle at the suggestion that I should continue their stories past the end point I created for them. I’m not the sort of person who ever wants to revisit their characters—even the ones I love—if the sequels are unnecessary.
B.J. Taylor- Not everyone likes this genre we write in. The landscape seems to be changing however to a more accepting attitude. Is this something you see as well? Does it worry you? Do you thank acceptance will lead to a watering down of your genre. Will it change the way you write?
Sakura von Sternberg – It doesn’t bother me at all. Popular literary genres—especially those with a substantial and very vocal female fanbase—have been denigrated and ridiculed since time immemorial. Gatekeepers have existed far longer than erotica has been around, from Nathaniel Hawthorne grumbling about that “damned mob of scribbling women” to Internet trolls telling women, queers, and POC that they don’t belong in SFF fandom. I refuse to adapt or appeal to the personal biases and prejudices of my worst critics… and I think any self-respecting author of erotica should do likewise.
B.J. Taylor- Name the erotica author’s who’ve changed the way you write. The ones that have inspired you the most.
Sakura von Sternberg –I love erotica and read it all the time; it would be impossible to list all of my favorite authors. But I’ll be honest: as a writer, I mostly gravitate toward the weirdos and oddballs, the kinky dorks and closet SFF fanatics who don’t follow the genre’s norms and standards. I like to write erotica that stretches the boundaries of genre itself, that skirts away from meat-and-potatoes realism and charts its own bizarro path to parts unknown. I’m a woman of… peculiar tastes, I suppose. So I tend to lump myself with other authors who write similar types of stories: Alana Melos, Bryce Calderwood, Roxy Katt, Aurora Sparks, and (of course) Chuck Tingle. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Isabella Belucci, who has become something of a kindred spirit. Her books provided me with a necessary blueprint for writing erotica that concentrated on the desires and erotic experiences of trans women… without resorting to the sort of gross objectification and exploitation I’ve too often seen in this subgenre. There’s so much casual transmisogyny in the erotic marketplace, and I feel like Isabella and I are both, in our own little ways, trying to combat that.
B.J. Taylor- What is your favorite scene you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?
Sakura von Sternberg – I once wrote a sex scene written from the POV of an anime hug pillow. That was fun.
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