A t Ease with Elana

An ENE interview with author Elana White.

Ms. White has recently been published in the erotic anthology DESIRES, and her poetry is featured here on ENE. To follow is an interview with Elana White and her thoughts on writing.

ENE: I thought we would start out with an introduction, stating places
you have been published on the web, your web site URL, the listserv
and chat you host etc. Then you can answer some questions and we'd
use your "ponderance on writing" at the end. So tell us a bit about yourself.

EW: I was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada and after about 20 years away
I'm living near there again, working as a graphic artist for a small weekly
newspaper. So far, I've only had one story actually published - a piece called
"A Wee Sunny Garrett" in an erotic anthology called "Desires" put out by
AmarMira Press. At the moment I have two other stories and two poems in the
lineup to be published at two American erotica magazines, and I'm very excited
about that.

I host a web site at
The Sybarite's Bed. Most of my erotic stories and poems are there,
so have a read and let me know if you like it! On Friday nights I host an IRC chat on the ShadowWorld.Net network in a channel called #chatterlings. Anyone over 19 is welcome
to join us. We generally just chat about whatever comes up, but we also focus on writing
issues now and then, and are always willing to discuss whatever someone might want to

ENE: Why do you write?

EW: I get this urge. I've always called it "The Itch," and I've been
getting it for as long as I can remember. I basically feel a need to
create. I used to do it by drawing. These days I do it by writing. It's
quite undeniable...once it starts I have to scratch it or it will drive
me crazy. I like to see the little inspirations I get develop into
full-fledged stories. I also just enjoy the simple pleasure I get from
putting together a really good sentence...one that makes me sit back
and smile. It's really rewarding.

ENE: When did you start writing? What did you write?

EW: I wrote in school, essays and such, like most people. I always
enjoyed that, and did well at it. English was my best subject. And like
most teenagers I used to write lots of angst-ridden poems. After school
I didn't write much other than journal entries for many years until, sometime
in my mid-30s I started thinking I wanted to write a novel. I figured I could
do it, I thought it was something I'd like to do in my life, and once I got an
idea I thought was worthwhile, I started doing it. I got about a third of
the way through a first draft and then my life threw me a sucker punch
and I haven't done much with it since. Maybe someday I'll finish it.

ENE: When did you start writing romance? Erotica?

EW: I don't think I've written any of what you'd label "romance." My novel
has a romantic subtext in it, but it's not what I'd call "a romance novel."
I started writing erotica not long after I left my husband, in 1997. It was
quite literally a substitute for sex, and was never intended to be shared
with anyone. It was a kind of substitute for that mindspace you go into
during lovemaking...that aspect of it that's not really physical, but mental
and emotional. That was before I got on the internet. Once I got an
internet account, I quickly found the Erotica Readers Association, and
started sharing my stories with them. I never would have been published

ENE: Who are your favorite authors of fiction?

EW: I love the way John Steinbeck wrote and I consider him my main literary
influence. His prose is so lyrical and poetic that you can't help savour every
word, and often when I read him I find my heart beating faster just because his
sentences are so gorgeous. But Anne Rice was the writer who made me actually
want to sit down and write. Her earlier novels are beautifully written and lush and
I found them very inspiring. I constantly thought, while reading them, "I want to
do that...I want to make people feel the way she makes me feel with her words."
I also love the writing of Elizabeth Burg, Anne Tyler and Wally Lamb. Any writer
who is able to make me feel, like they do, that they're peering into my heart and
mind and writing what they see, making me feel connected with them, will always
win my admiration.

ENE: What stimulates your muse?

EW: Oh, almost anything. Often it's a stray thought that calves off of
a conversation, or the particular way somebody says something. It can
be something I glance at and start musing about - for instance, "Foxfire"
was inspired by the sight of a swampy area off the highway I used to pass
every day when I was commuting. It's always a "what if" kind of thing. What
if someone happened to do this, or what if you put these two disparate
elements together or... Sometimes it's as simple as me trying to work
out something personal that I'm dealing with by playing with possibilities.

ENE: Do you ever get writer's block? How do you deal with it?

EW: I guess I do, and fairly regularly too, but it doesn't bother me
because I don't have to write to a deadline or fulfill any kind of
promise to anyone. If I don't feel like writing, I don't write. When I do
feel like writing, I'm able to write. I'll occasionally come up against
something in a story that I can't seem to work out, but I'll just put it
aside for a while and it will eventually work itself out in my head so
that I can go back and finish it. I'll work on something else in the
meantime. Or not. I follow my urges, I guess.

ENE: Is erotica porn?

EW: No, absolutely not. Porn does not celebrate humanity and sexuality,
it exploits it. Porn drives wedges between people, where erotica creates
bridges. Porn is solitary toilet reading, orgasm-fuel. Erotica is something
you use to enhance your life, alone or with a lover, to induce euphoria
and pleasure - fuel for your mind and your libido.

ENE: Do you allow others to read your work while it is being written?

EW: Not usually for the first draft. I write my stories without help or
advice and then post them, when I feel they are complete, to one or
more of the writing listservs I belong to. I would never submit a story
to be published in print without posting it first to one of the lists. I take
the feedback I receive and selectively use it to polish my story and then
I will consider submitting it to a publisher.

ENE: What advice would you give romance and erotica fiction writers
about getting published?

EW: Aside from honing the mechanical and creative aspects of your craft
the old fashioned way by just *doing* it - a lot - the only advice there is
to give is to submit your stories. You can't get published if you don't
submit. I believe any half-decent writer will eventually get published,
and regularly, if they persist in submitting.

ENE: Here are some questions from our readers:
Are your stories reality-based or strictly from your imagination?

EW: My stories often begin with inspirations from real events. For
instance, "Prabha's Art" was inspired by a very brief encounter with a
good-looking man who was sitting having a Mendhi tattoo applied to his
arm in a little boutique in downtown Toronto. I just watched for a couple
of minutes and made idle chatter with the fellow, but couldn't get him out
of my mind for days afterwards. The story that resulted was my "what if"
of that experience. On the other hand, a story like "Raven's Dance" was
complete fabrication and all I put in it of my real life was my knowledge
of and love of the temperate rainforest of British Columbia.

ENE: Do you write about things you have experienced, things you'd like

EW: I've never written an erotic story about something that actually
happened to me, meaning that I've never turned a real sexual encounter
into a story. But almost every story I write has something of me in it,
whether it's a desire to do something or have something done to me,
a feeling I have about something that I want to express, or some snippet
of an experience or a desire that I build upon to create a story or poem.
My poems actually reflect much more of my real self than my stories do,
for the most part.

ENE: Do you ever write about practices that you personally find
repugnant or unexciting?

EW: Interesting question! I guess the few macabre erotic stories I've
written would qualify for "things I'd never do in this lifetime." But
generally I stick to writing about practices that I enjoy because they
turn me on, and that's the name of the game in erotica...at least mostly.
I wouldn't write an erotic story about something that I didn't find exciting
because it sort of defeats the purpose. I think, aside from scratching
that itch I spoke about earlier, that I still write my erotica mainly to please
myself, so it wouldn't occur to me to put in something I wouldn't enjoy.
Then again, I do believe that erotica does not have to be happy, and I
have written one or two not-happy erotic stories.

ENE: Do you imagine yourself as the heroine of your stories?

EW: To one extent or another all my heroines are me. I think that's
only natural, especially when writing erotica. Sometimes I'm only a
shadow, bringing no more than a certain attitude to the story, sometimes
I'm much more of a real presence, and I picture myself in the action as I
write. My earlier stories especially were like that, but not so much nowadays.
I think now I'm more able to invent a character wholesale and write about
them convincingly than I used to be. I especially enjoy writing from the male
POV. That's quite challenging and rewarding when it works out.


Eating Your Words © 2000 Elana White


Did you ever stop to think how much like chefs we writers are? I was just pondering this and the more I pondered, the more perfect the analogy became.

As writers we produce a product called writing, and our consumers are our readers. They consume what we create, just like diners consume the work of a chef. They take it in and savour it, each bite or paragraph a chance to get the full flavour of what is before them.

They may enjoy the experience of it because it's so skillfully prepared, each word or spice used to its utmost effect. Or perhaps the dish or story is not so lofty in its presentation or flavour, but it reminds you of something pleasant...perhaps a soup your mother used to prepare, or maybe it has the rhythm of a favourite childhood verse that you used to enjoy on your father's knee. Even the most mundane offerings of chefs and writers can have intensely positive associations.

They can have equally disastrous associations too. The most talented chef can't feed even the best-tasting dish to someone who has had a negative experience of it in the past. Likewise, the author, innocently writing about something or in a style that brings back negative emotions will have a difficult time keeping that reader at the table.

But in spite of how consumers will respond, the best practitioners delight in using the tools of their trades with skill, creativity and flair, picking exactly the right word, or poring over the vegetable stand for those perfect snow peas. There's an intense pride in knowing you did your best, and the feeling is the same for both writer and chef when they present their work...flushed with pride, tense with expectation...will they like it?

Eating Your Words © 2000 Elana White. All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce or distribute without the expressed written consent of the author. Poems used here are reprinted by permission of the author, Elana White.

Desires Cover

Buy It Now!

DESIRES is an anthology of erotic stories written by talented authors from America, Canada, England and India. In DESIRES, writers from diverse occupations and cultures share their fiction infused with sexual content...explosive and playful sex.

DESIRES is an ideal collection for lovers of high quality erotic literature. Editors Adrienne Benedicks, founder of the Erotica Readers Association, and Shivaji Sengupta, Professor of English and talented author in his own right, present an eclectic collection of erotic fiction that range from toe-curling sex driven stories, to tales of sexually charged romantic love and stories of ribald humor and wit. In

DESIRES readers will find stories of heterosexual desires as well as homoerotic and lesbian love. Read about the many ways people of all genders and orientations share their sexuality and their fantasies. The twenty-four stories that make up DESIRES are a celebration of life, love and passion in all its many exciting varieties presented in intelligent and well-written explicit fiction.

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All Text, Codes, Graphics © 2000 ENE. All Rights Reserved.