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Helen Moffett interviews Jassy Mackenzie

Welcome to another Sunday Morning Pajama Flash Festival. For the next hour, Helen Moffett will be chatting to Jassy Mackenzie about writing erotica, publishing internationally and her latest projects. If you have any questions for Jassy, Helen will open up to the floor at about 10:15. Over to you Helen…

all three

‪Helen Moffett without further ado… Jassy, you had a solid rep as a writer of hard-boiled thrillers, often quite terrifying. Tell us why you made the, er, switch to erotica.

‪Jassy Mackenzie I’ve always been intrigued and amused by the idea of BDSM – in fact, I wrote a short story on the topic which was one of the first short stories I ever wrote. When 50 Shades started becoming such a talking point, I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at the genre again – I wanted to do something different, and erotica is such fun.

Helen Moffett It IS, isn’t it? You were brave to tackle BDSM — we battled a bit with that (well, I certainly did). To recap for readers, yr 1st 2 erotica titles, Folly and Switch, star Emma Caine. I found her a very appealing heroine – an exhausted broke sad 40-something housewife, rather different from the 20-something wide-eyed gal looking for adventure.

The premise is that desperate to pay the bills after her husband’s accident leaves him essentially a vegetable with hideous medical costs, Emma converts the cottage on her grounds into a sex dungeon where powerful men pay her wodges of cash to beat and humiliate them.

What I LOVED about the dungeon scenes is that you have clearly done yr homework and you don’t mock the “scene” — but many of the encounters Emma has with her clients are cryingly funny…

‪Jassy Mackenzie Exactly. I realised quite early on when I started writing Folly that there was no way this could be a serious book. How on earth do you make the picture of a CEO crawling round on the floor with a pair of frilly panties and a ball gag, sound serious? It was an impossible task.

‪Helen Moffett Yes! This is what we found writing the Girl books too. Sex is so many things, but it’s also funny. I think you did an amazing job of balancing HOT sex scenes with the dungeon merriment.

*draws Jassy closer* Now then girlfriend. How did you manage to write all those sex scenes? Spill your trade secrets. I’m taking notes

‪Jassy Mackenzie From reading the first Girl book, I can appreciate that you had the same challenges, and handled them with aplomb! The most difficult part was getting a balance between the more amusing scenes, and the serious red-hot love scenes where of course no snigger can pass the reader’s lips.

Hmmm…. well, I also want to hear this from you! The most difficult part of writing the sex scenes for me, which I think you’ll sympathise with, is that there are just not enough words in the English language to describe erotic activities without becoming repetitive.
 I mean… if you start using “thrust” more than twice in a paragraph, your editor starts getting all passive-aggressive!

‪Helen Moffett AHAHAHAAA!!! I confess I read yr sex scenes with great collegial interest: “OOH, there’s a word we can use… hmm, so that’s how she gets around the tricky words ‘crotch’ and ‘groin’… etc”. As everyone knows, I used to wish for a sex thesaurus…

And tell us about the editing, if you like! Some of the straight-faced mails between our US editor and us were hysterical (“the fabric of her bra can’t rub against her nipple, it means the bra is too big…”)

‪Jassy Mackenzie There needs to be one (sex thesaurus), and when one is published, I will invest in several signed copies of it. I also got a great piece of advice on writing sex scenes from an interview with Sylvia Day of the “Bared to You” series fame. She said that every sex scene has to move the characters forward, and give the reader more insight into them from one angle or another. They can’t just be gratuitous. I found that very helpful.

‪Jassy Mackenzie Love the fabric of the bra comment!

My South African editor gets very, very angry with me if I use the same word multiple times. By the end of the manuscript, she’s seething and WRITING IN CAPITALS and highlighting the offending word in BRIGHT RED!

(and accusing me of driving her to drink!)

‪Helen Moffett That is hysterical, Jassy. We called them word echoes, and mostly dealt with them ourselves (they drove ME to drink, I was forever mailing the others begging them to find a word, any other word, and then we would, and it would IMMEDIATELY pop up three times in the next para!). Re moving characters forward, I think in yr Folly novels, you manage that incredibly well in ALL your scenes. I got the feeling that yr sense of plot, as a thriller writer, really made yr erotica gallop along, things were always HAPPENING. We were lucky because we had Sarah (also a thriller/horror writer) constantly kicking our plots along, Paige giving the human touch, and me nagging everyone about finding a synonym for “gasp”.

‪Helen Moffett It was SUCH fun writing as a threesome — did you share your erotic writing process with anyone? Did you have cheerleaders, beta readers, and so on?

‪Jassy Mackenzie A helpful tip that I got from my American editor was to make the non-erotic activities in the book more sensual, so that the heroine doesn’t just cut up an avocado, but cups it in her hand and softly slices through its rounded form…!

‪ As far as beta-readers go, my beta-reader is Dion and he, luckily, enjoys reading my erotic romances. In fact, I think he prefers them to my thrillers. I also email the books to my sister Sophie in the UK. She is a writer as well – she writes chick-lit – so it’s reciprocal.
 (for all those who don’t know, Dion is my amazing partner.)

‪Helen Moffett Great, so you have a family business going there… and kudos to Dion! And yr US editor sounds ace! That’s actually EXCELLENT advice she gets — I got similar advice from a writing friend — to include lots of delicious sensual non-sexual activities: which is why we have what the three of us call “food porn”, “scenery porn”, “shopping porn” etc. I LOVE writing that stuff, esp the food… I LOVED the food in all yr erotica books…

‪Jassy Mackenzie But I envy you writing as a threesome. I think that must have created a lot of synergy and helped to avoid those days when a plot glitch feels like an unclimbable mountain.

Food, cooking and eating are such sensory activities and they seem to go really well with erotic romances. Every heroine in my books will have to have a healthy appetite – no picking at salads and diet shakes.

‪Helen Moffett Writing as a threesome was such such such fun. Someone else always has yr back. It can be cumbersome (we have to OK all decisions and the mails go back and forth), but I LOVED it. But I’m SO GLAD you mentioned the diet thing — I can NEVER believe heroines who claim they’ve lost their appetites, but who are then sexually ravenous.

‪Jassy Mackenzie And I love the phrases “scenery porn” and “shopping porn” – I’m thinking softly rolling hills and jutting rocky outcrops…

To read the rest of this titilating interview, join The Good Book Appreciation Society by emailing or by friending Bea Reader on Facebook.

Enormous throbbing thanks to both Helen and Jassy for joining us this morning, to chat all things erotic.
Both these authors have so many books available, it’s hard to know which to link to, but let’s start here.
Jassy is the author of a series of crime thrillers, as well as Folly and Switch, and Breathless which is due out in September. Click here to take a closer look at her titles:

And Helen Moffett is not only the editor of books like Lauren Beukes’ Shining Girls and Broken Monsters, and Sarah Lotz’ ground breaking, The Three. But she’s also an author in her own right of both poetry (Strange Fruit is available here) and erotica (As Helena S. Paige).
You can check out those titles here:


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