As the editor of over 60 erotica short story anthologies, I’m often asked what I look for in the stories I select. It’s a good question, but a challenging one to answer. I don’t want to sound flip by saying “I know it when I see it,” as the famous Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart quote about pornography goes, but that’s pretty accurate. I have a sense of when a story will suit the vision I had in my head when I was simply staring at a blank page.
When it came to making selections for my latest book, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 5, I knew I wanted every story to not just touch on the anthology’s theme of “Outrageous,” but to embody it. I wanted stories that were over-the-top and daring and challenging. I wanted stories that might make readers want to try what they were reading at home, and others where readers would likely think, Good for them—but I’d never be so bold as to try that. After all, why be outrageous without an edge?
When I issue a call for submissions, I never know how my ideas will spark writers’ creativity. That’s the beauty of what I get to do—sift through hundreds of find ones that are super sexy on their own but also pair well with others. I found that in some authors I’d never read before, and others whose books line my bookshelves. What they all have in common is a willingness to push the envelope—some with a hard shove, some with a light nudge.
I’ll highlight three stories that have totally stood out to me, the ones I’ve told friends, “Read these first.” Of course, I love all 21 stories I chose for the book, and hope you’ll like them all too, but these especially stood out.
“At the Pleasure of the President” by Sabrina Sol is about Olivia Vargas, the first Latina U.S. President, a refreshing scenario for reasons I hope I don’t have to detail amidst current events. What impressed me the most is that this is actually a very tender story. Olivia is a widow and is both navigating the waters of politics and of desire again after the death of her husband. It made me think about the hardships of being under the scrutiny of the whole world and still wanting and needing to touch and be touched.
“Dancing with Myself” by Quinn LeStrange stood out to me because it’s about a woman who finds herself sexually through exhibitionism with the help of a lover, Jackson. She learns to literally take up space, to claim her place, to relish being observed and taking her clothes off in front of strangers. Often I think we have a sense that in our society, men want the more “outrageous” sexual acts and women go along with them to please them. But in this story, the narrator wants them too, but she’s not quite certain about her own exhibitionistic tendencies. Jackson helps her feel at ease and reach that place of comfort in her own time—not for him, but with him until, LeStrange writes, “It’s impossible not to touch myself. It’s impossible not to watch myself touch myself.” It’s not just her dancing with herself that makes this story sexy, it’s her transformation into a woman who yearns to do so that spoke to me.
“Spin” by Lauren Emily closes out the book, and I think you really only need to know two words about it: aerialist sex. Yes, sex between two very dexterous, talented, sensual women while suspended in the air. I don’t think a writer who wasn’t familiar with the intricacies of aerialist performance could have pulled this off, but Lauren Emily is and her story not only more than fit the theme, it spun (pun intended) it on its head. I can’t even try to encapsulate what happens between them; you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
My favorite thing about editing short story collections is that everyone has their own favorites, the ones that touch some personal part of them, that are unforgettable. Whether yours are the same as mine or not, I hope you enjoy getting outrageous with these 21 authors!
In Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 5, (Available now) award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel takes readers on an outrageous journey into the world of female fantasy and desire. These sexy stories offer up wild, hot and steamy tales from today’s top authors. You’ll be swept away by the sexiest business deal ever, break the rules in a future world where skin on skin contact is forbidden, and discover the art of getting off by phone sex.
From threesomes to mermaid sex, fetishes, sex parties and much more, these authors steam up the pages with tales of trysts, love, and lust where nothing is held back. If you’re looking to escape from the everyday and discover what happens when women are ready to get totally outrageous, this book is for you.
With new stories by beloved authors including Joanna Angel, Balli Kaur Jaswal, CD Reiss, Sierra Simone, and Sabrina Sol, along with newcomers to the genre, you’ll savor every sizzling page.