The following guest article by Laurie Laliberte. She’s just released her first short story collection and I heartily recommend it. Look for my review next week.
***Warning, this article contains spoilers***
I have to admit that Strange Kisses was completely unplanned. It started out as an offhand comment made by a friend and suddenly blossomed into a collection of stories that just sort of came out.
One of my Kindle All-Stars pals emailed me one evening and asked whether “Fear of the Dark,” my contribution to the first KAS anthology, was originally written as erotica. Honestly, the whole idea sounded preposterous to me. It’s not that I’m any stranger to writing (or reading) erotica, but the thought of writing it for an audience larger than one scared the daylights out of me.
Still, I dusted off the old file that I had sworn I would never even read again, and read it one more time. I swear, I was fifty shades of pink by the time I finished. I guess I never realized how…sensual the story appeared. I decided he was right. The story still felt incomplete. So I set to work, writing and rewriting a short that had already seen so many versions it was ridiculous.
You see, the original “Fear of the Dark” left our main character, now known as “Bella” (in quotes because that’s a nickname, not her name; she has no name) dead on her front porch at the hands of a serial killer. In fact, the intent with the erotic version was for her newfound love to bump her off after seducing her. The original title of the collection was to be Eros and Thanatos. I liked the idea of the connection between desire and death. Each story was to be linked by the killer. The anthology was to be his story.
The problem was that I grew to like “Bella” too much and found I couldn’t kill her. She had been part of my life far too long. (I wrote the first draft of FOTD around 1995.)
That presented another problem. The remaining stories I planned for this group weren’t working out as quickly as I had hoped, but other story ideas kept flowing. “Dawn” was one of those things that was meant to be a simple writing exercise. It was so short: Wake up. Have a little fun. Go back to sleep. I had no intention of publishing it.
I was terrified, not of writing this stuff, but of having people actually read it. Okay, not people, men. Specifically, the men of the KAS. So, to sort of break the ice and increase my comfort level with the material, I started sending “Dawn” to the boys of the KAS. Much to my surprise, they were incredibly supportive. Supportive to the point that more than one offered suggestions that led me to polish “Dawn” and include it in the antho.
I wrote “Red Lipstick” in my head years ago because someone told me to “go put on that red lipstick you always wear.” I did as I was told. Then he asked me, “How does that make you feel?”
I laughed and said, “Like I’m ready to leave for work.”
To which he replied, “Okay, so maybe the lipstick’s just for me.”
That’s really all you need to know about that. The rest of the story is fiction, sort of.
The main character in “Red Lipstick” is by far my favorite of the bunch. Why? Because she’s the strong one. She’s the one who’s always in control. She’s the one who’s confident enough to relinquish that control, but by doing so, accepts all the power. She’s the superheroine executive, wife, lover. The woman we believe society expects us to be. The one who doesn’t exist.
The only one I haven’t talked about is “Avalon.” This is the one that makes me the most nervous. But I wrote it anyway. And I included it anyway. Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little fear stop me.
There’s some truth to every piece in the collection. This book is sort of a mosaic of the past 20 years of my life. Bits and pieces cut and pasted to form short works of fiction. Take out the naughty bits and you’ll see me standing there. As for the naughty bits themselves? Well, that’s none of your damn business.
Together these four stories form the collection I’ve named Strange Kisses. The title is a nod to Stephen King and the first King book I read, about 25 years ago, Skeleton Crew. The book still holds a special place in my heart because of the introduction in which he says, “…a short story is like a quick kiss in the dark from a stranger.”
How true. X
You can purchase STRANGE KISSES here: Strange Kisses
You can purchase FEAR OF THE DARK here: Fear of the Dark