I was honored to interview Paul Herron, editor of Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947–1955, which launches on May 15th.
You can read the interview in full at Go Deeper Press.
Lana Fox: Why is the unexpurgated diary of this time in Nin’s life called Trapeze?
Paul Herron: The diary begins in 1947, just after Anaïs Nin has met the young out-of-work actor and aspiring forest ranger Rupert Pole. Although Nin was in a 24-year-long marriage with the banker/engraver Hugo Guiler, she fell hard for Pole and accepted his astounding invitation to drive from New York to Los Angeles alone with him. At the time, Nin had been involved with many, many failed side relationships, vainly seeking the “One” who would answer her love fully, and she felt had met her match in Pole. But she did love her husband, in a fraternal way, and as he offered her love, care, comfort and security, she felt she could not divorce him. So, the first trip to California is the metaphorical first swing on a bicoastal trapeze, a term she herself uses several times in the diary. She lived the trapeze life for the rest of her life, doing her best to keep each man unaware of the other.
Lana Fox: I can only imagine how exciting it must be to have already read about Anaïs Nin’s “trapeze” life in the unexpurgated diary! What was it like to be the editor of Trapeze?
There is no question that there are so many treasures in the original diary, and many of them are completely unknown to the public. We hear about them second-hand in biographies and certain studies, but we don’t get to actually read what Nin herself wrote. It is an amazing privilege to edit her work, and I do it for one simple reason: it is valuable to other human beings. Of course, it is a massive undertaking—several thousand pages of mostly handwritten pages, some of which are out of order, all have to be transcribed. Nin’s handwriting is impeccable, but when one tries to decipher Rupert’s handwritten letters, or even Hugo’s sometimes, one needs to develop a system, almost like the one used to interpret hieroglyphics—this swiggle means this letter, that scratch means another. The biggest challenge is to find the story buried in this mountain of diary pages, and to devise a way to let Anaïs Nin tell it stunningly. This means a lot of detective work and, in the end, cutting and rearranging in a way that will thrill the reader. Despite the time and effort, it’s all worth it in the end, because it is a compelling diary, and, I feel, a very important addition to Nin’s overall canon.
Okay, so Oleander Plume and Dario Dalla Lasta, both of whom feature in our ACLU-fundraising erotic anthology Alternative Fucks, are organizing a cool blog trot … So I’m going to answer their questions, but not necessarily in the order they asked them — after all, that would mean leaving Little Death until last. (And folks, you can have a little death anytime you like! Just think of all those oxytocins.)
What is right by your side while you are writing?
Whatever else is sitting on my rather messy desk, Little Death is always there. Little Death (aka Le Petit Mort) is not only the French for ‘orgasm’ but is also a small, stuffed toy that Jake bought me at CVS when I was feeling low. Little Death sits by my side with his axe — he is death, after all — and looks cute as all heck. His axe, I like to think, reminds me to “kill my darlings” and basically not take any shit from my hugely critical inner writing voice. Also, seeing as I’m in erotic writing and publishing, it is pretty cool to have an orgasm on my desk. And yes, you can take that any way you like, cutie.
This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.
So, I’ve been having some difficulties with calling myself “woman”, recently. It’s not that I’m not a feminist or that I’m ashamed of being female. Far from it. Having been on a journey with my partner who came out as transgender almost two years ago now, I’m just finding it hard to know who I am in terms of gender. Jake’s transition was so courageous and deep that it made me view myself from a new angle.
That angle made me gasp.
In a recent post on a beautiful story called “On Some Maps, But Not on Others” by Annabeth Leong (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel), I said that “gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.”
Yes, in terms of gender, I’m an ocean. But I think my female identity is part of that ocean. Perhaps I am a woman … and someone else. As folks who read my #BOAW16 post know, I have worn a mustache during sex, not to mention a rather studly tie — oh, and lipstick, as it happens, at the same time. I also love wearing a slinky nightdress. I love to don a silicone cock. All these expressions feel like me.
So perhaps I am a woman in the middle of an ocean. I always did call myself a mermaid. And you can’t take a mermaid from her ocean, can you?
In Mirages, my hero Anaïs Nin, who was also a mermaid, writes, “I am not writing for the elite, but for the confused ones. I would like to have the Encyclopedia Britannica. I need it now. I want facts and concrete images, earth, science, body. Everything made flesh, everything a story, everything animated and dramatized.” Beautiful! I am one of the confused ones. And like so many of her fans, her children, I always did feel Anais Nin was writing for me.
Confused as I am, I can see everything is indeed a story, just like Anaïs Nin says. Even the parts of us that we believe are simply facts — leg, belly, cunt, cock — are part of a story, a bigger, wider story. We tell those stories when we say, “This is female,” or “This is not sexual,” or “This is only sexual,” or “This looks female,” or “This does not look female.”
There’s always magic when we remove the either/or.
In Mirages, Anaïs Nin also writes, “Stories, stories, the only enchantment possible, for when we begin to see our suffering as a story, we are saved.”
Yes, yes, yes! From confusion and lostness, I will make stories. (In Maddie Aflame! I write about a giant, swallowing mansion that is sentient and sexual, and has no gender. What a comfort that story has been!) And I’ll make stories of my gender too. I’ll say my gender is a butterfly, a flying saucer, a stream of laughing bubbles, a spreading oak. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? And sometimes I will wear a cock and call myself a woman. And sometimes I’ll wear nothing and choose a different word.
But always, always, I will call myself an ocean.
And I think that, as an ocean, I’m beautiful.
What is the story of your own gender? If, like an ocean, it had no constraints, what would it be? Feel free to tweet me your thoughts at @foxlana tagging #BOAW2017 — I’d love to hear them!
A new column in which I wax lyrical about Twitter and other social media.
As an editor and author, typos drive me nuts. That said, in some contexts they bug me far less. I see (and I fear, make) more typos on Twitter than anywhere else, and that’s usually because of the bigmouthed autocheck! (Word has big issues there too, right? Microsoft, Microsoft, “polyamory” is very much a word.) But the truth is, I sometimes find a typo adorable. Today, for instance, I found myself smiling because a profile said its owner had a sexy partner who they loved to do things too.
“Sweet,” I said to myself.
That’s right. Sweet!
Why did I find it so? Perhaps because of the romance of it all. Yes, I do think there’s a romance in putting yourself out there sexually and saying that you like it when your partner does whatever with you. For my own part, I’m actually quite erotically introverted about personal stuff on Twitter, but I enjoy seeing a more extroverted route and the language that goes with it. Yes, perhaps I think it’s sweet when you exchange “to” for “too” on your Twitter profile … at least, when I’m in the right mood. I mean, if you’re the tweep in question, I doubt I’ll be reading your e-book, but if you’re casually passing my notice on Twitter, perhaps I’ll think your sweet little typo says something about your enthusiasm and humanness. Maybe you’re so enticed by the partner about whom you’re tweeting that you want your “to” to go on too long. You might even write “toooooo” if autocheck would let you.
Why not keep those O’s coming, cutie?
Follow me on Twitter: @foxlana
Pic from the Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck – click the image to view on Amazon.
Sex can be hard to define if you look at it deeply. I first became aware of this thanks to Greta Christina’s wonderful post “Are We Having Sex Now or What?” in which Christina elegantly shows us that what is sex for one person might not be for the next. I have a theory that one reason sex seems so easy to shame in our society is because many of us have a twisted idea of what it is — and what it “should” be.
So what would a building do if it was sexual?
It’s an honest question and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In Maddie Aflame!, my forthcoming erotic fantasy series, a group of polyamorous, queer British teenagers are swallowed by a mysterious mansion that turns out to be conscious and alive, and capable of creation. It transpires that the Mansion is being used to cruelly research and control queer folks in a society where queerness is illegal. But as the friends soon find out, the Mansion can be communicated with from within — more with feelings than words.
This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”
Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.
When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”
“He churned, thrashing sensually as if he would make love once and forever, with his whole force. The candles burned away. Tristan and Isolde sand sadly. But Rupert and I twice were shaken by such tremors of desire and pleasure that I thought we would die, like people who touched a third rail in the subway tunnel.” —Anaïs Nin on her first lovemaking with Rupert Pole, excerpted in A Cafe in Space (ed. Paul Herron) vol. 13 from the forthcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1947-1955
As a writer, I love it when sentences roll, gathering speed like an ocean’s white horses. Such flow and momentum are particularly important in my erotic work, where, whether the desire I communicate is thirstily romantic or burly, and bestial, I want nothing more than to feel on the page.
I’m an erotica author and publisher, but I wasn’t always this brazen. I was brought up in England in one of the country’s biggest religious cults. That’s why I was taught that sex was disgusting and that good women should only have it for their husband’s physical health. I learned that sex was painful for a good, honest woman, and that if you had sex before marriage, you’d be used and shunned.