Pep Talk: Being Courageous Writers with Queer Author Jacob Louder
Courage deserves our encouragement. After all, when we are brave, our writing often grows stronger. Below, I interview queer erotic author Jacob Louder, who has published his erotic writing with Go Deeper Press. He is also the author of the forthcoming erotic novella, First, which features Nico — a queer teen — as he begins his journey of sexual self-discovery, and Robbie — a young trans person — who longs to escape from shame.
Jacob, how did you summon up the courage to first publish your erotic work?
I used to write dirty stories for my friends in high school, right around the time when they all started reading Jackie Collins and Fern Michaels novels. I have no idea how or why I decided to volunteer, but they loved them. So, I guess I didn't need courage so much in the beginning, just an eager audience, and I had that.
I've always used writing as an outlet, right? Like most writers do. And I never found a reason to censor myself, and I know that I'm writing from this very authentic place and with a very strong sense of self. I figure, if I'm doing that — if my heart's in it and I believe in what I'm writing — why not try and get it published? I've never felt shame because I don't think that sex is shameful in any way, and I'm writing stories and characters that are enjoying themselves, and I enjoy writing them. I'd like other people to enjoy them, too.
Why is taking risks in your writing important for you?
Because if we don't take risks, then where's the fun? For me, risks are important because they force us as writers to really know and understand our characters, to stretch them as far as they will go. I like scenes and situations that, you know, I'd never, ever find myself in, because I have that split brain, right? It'll take me two minutes to think of a sex scene I want to write, but ten to figure out what to write in a birthday card to a family member. I can sit in fantasy all day long, but I recognize the difference: this is fiction and this is what I think of. This is how I play and what I let roll round in my head until it turns me on, and then — over here — this is me and who I am, sitting in this chair right now, and this is what I won't do because I realize the potential for harm, and this harm can come from drug use or violence or sex with someone "under age," whatever that means. What I fantasize about and how I live my life are very split, but what a relief it is to actually live those fantasies on the page.
Is there activism in your writing? If so, does that help you to publish your work?
Yes, I'd say there is, especially in my sex writing. I'm queer and was a queer kid, having come out fairly young, although not by today's standards. I remember how hard it was to find fiction that really spoke to me. I sometimes write with these kids in mind — with younger adults and older adults, too, who are looking for something — anything — that even slightly resembles their lives. I want to give them that something, that, "Here! This is what I think and what I feel and, in some cases, what happened to me! You, too? Cool. Send me an email and we'll talk all about it, share stories, and somehow feel better and stronger about it all."
Writing scenes with characters that know that they're different, but either don't understand why or don't care why (because how are they supposed to change who they are, and why would they want to?) is so cathartic for this young queer kid I still seem to have inside me, even though I'm nearly 40 years old now. It's a total healing process. This is why I wrote First, which is written from the point of view of Nico — this kid who is just barely at the beginning of his life, and he's starting to feel different from everyone around him, except for his inner circle. He experiments with sex with boys and girls, but finds himself most captivated by Robbie, who's struggling with living in a boy's body because he knows he's not a boy — not by any stretch of the imagination — and so here's young Robbie realizing that he's trans at such an early age, and Nico is so taken with Robbie's strength, honesty, and beauty, and really values his friendship. This is a story I would have loved to read when I was, well, "of age," I guess (considering that First is a pretty explicit erotic story). It's one that I found hard to find back then.
But would you call this activism? I'm not much of a street marcher!
[Sue Williams: Yes, I would totally call this activism! I can’t think of much that’s more socially empowering than reading the works of a writer who gives voice to those who have been too often silenced … What do others think? Feel free to comment below!]
What advice would you give to a writer who is afraid to write what they want to write?
Number 1: Do your best to recognize that fear as false, because it really, really is. That fear is the worst internal bully. Don't you want to beat up bullies and prove them wrong? Me, too. Then do that.
Number 2: Write it only for yourself. When you're writing for you, I'd like to think there would be less reservation about what people will think, or whether or not Mom and Dad will find it. You don't have to share what you don't want to share. But I do think there's tremendous release and pride [in] writing what you feel, even if that's something that scares you or makes you feel uncomfortable for whatever. Actually, I believe that if it makes you feel uncomfortable, there's a very good chance you're doing it right, and there's an even better chance that there will be someone out there — if you decide to get it published — that will thank you for it.
Who are your writing heroes, and why?
Because they tell stories that make me catch my breath, forget everything else, and sometimes fall in love with their fake people: Dennis Cooper, Vladimir Nabokov, Andre Gide, Lana Fox, Darcey Steinke, and Heather Lewis.
Because they write queer in a way that makes me feel at home: Patrick Califia, Imogen Binnie, Amber Dawn, Kate Bornstein, Anna Joy Springer, and Kevin Killian.
Many thanks to Jacob Louder! And if you’d like to read his erotic work, including his forthcoming novella, First, keep an eye on the Go Deeper Press website, join the mailing list or follow Jacob on Twitter.
Sue Williams is co-founder of Here Booky Booky (herebookybooky.com) where authors' works are made into beautiful books. With a background in psychology, education, and online marketing, she is an instructor and confidence coach at Grub Street and has published her short stories at a variety of magazines and journals including Narrative (where she also worked as an editor), Salamander, the Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere. Under her pen name, Sue is agented, has published a novel and several collections, writes columns on sexuality and spirituality, and also runs an indie press. As Sue, she works as a marketing assistant for branding and marketing expert Dorie Clark, and also coaches writers who are looking to build their confidence and platforms. Find out more at www.herebookybooky.com and www.suewilliams.co.ukSee other articles by Susan Williams