Rachel Kramer Bussel Shares the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year

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Interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel

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Nerdy Girl Express described this book: "In this anthology there are stories for everyone. There are slow burns and there are quick sexual connections." When a reader approaches this anthology like this for the first time, how do you recommend they find the stories that will speak to them?

Rachel Kramer Bussel:

I’ve set up the anthology in an order I think is inviting for readers of all experience levels with erotica, from none to having read more than I have.

But I think the great thing about anthologies generally, and this one in particular, is that you can really jump in anywhere.

The last few stories are some of the more intense ones, including Joanna Angel’s true-life erotic tale, “One Last Gang Bang,” so some readers may want to work up to that. I suggest reading the first few sentences or paragraph and seeing if that draws you in, and if not, moving on to one that does.

The book has everything from erotic role-play to a phone sex worker to mermaid sex to a historical story set in 1669 and closes with two women aerialists having sex in the air during a performance, so it’s quite varied.

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How many submissions did you read to create this final list? How much erotica do you personally read to curate these amazing lists?

Rachel Kramer Bussel:

I received around 150 submissions to create the final book, and generally receive between 100-300 per anthology I edit. I read pretty widely in the erotica and erotic romance genres and am always on the lookout for new authors.

I looked for stories that fit the theme of outrageous, whether in obvious or more subtle ways, and that were different enough from each other not to feel repetitive.

I love when authors can surprise me and take me somewhere with their story I’m not expecting, or add a twist I haven’t seen before, such as with the aerialist story, “Spin,” by Lauren Emily.

Those are always my favorite types of stories to encounter as an editor, the kind I know readers will be talking about long after they close the book.

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Could you tell us a bit about Cleis Press? What other books are coming this year? What makes this press special?

Rachel Kramer Bussel:

I’ve been editing anthologies for Cleis Press for over a decade.

They’ve been around since 1980, publishing feminist and erotic works and many essential sexuality nonfiction books such as the groundbreaking The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and polyamory book Opening Up: A Guide To Creating And Sustaining Open Relationships, both by Tristan Taormino.

They’re one of the few print publishers that I know of still putting out erotic short story collections, among their other titles, and those have been such a great way for authors like me and many others to break into the genre.

Many have gone on to write full-length novels and/or edit their own collections.

In addition to this series, they also publish the Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year and Best Gay Erotica of the Year series, and my next anthology with them is the start of the Best Bondage Erotica of the Year series (Volume 1 of that will be published March 10).

Cleis creates beautiful books that I think really showcase a wide range of sexualities when it comes to both fiction and nonfiction.

At a time when tech companies are very skittish about sexual content online, despite the clear need for it, I feel very proud to work with a publisher that’s stayed on the cutting edge of sex positive content that’s both entertaining when it comes to fiction and erotica and educational when it comes to nonfiction.

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    Interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel

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