Thursday, September 19, 2013
Please give a warm and friendly welcome to my special guest: author/blogger/cover designer JL Stratton. You'll find my review for his novel LOVE STRUCK SUCCUBUS below JL's post.
Of course, I could’ve come here in disguise—feigning the personality of someone more interesting—but what would be the fun in that? But seriously, have you ever thought of pretending you were someone else? Imagine reserving a table at a new restaurant and then forming an entire personality around the completely fictitious name you chose. Come on, I know you must have had this thought during some time in your life when you were feeling just a little devious.
Well, even if you have not, I know I am not alone in this. Many others that I know of have felt such an urge and even taken action on their cerebration.
I know of people such as Alisa Zinovyevna Rosembaum, Paul French, Anne Rampling, and even Jim Grant, that have taken such an action.
You might know Alisa as Ayn Rand. I’m fairly certain she chose to use her pen name out of necessity as I’m sure most publishers would cringe at the thought of trying to fit her entire name onto a book cover.
Paul French was a pen name chosen by Isaac Asimov when writing things that did not fit into the Science fiction genre. I’m sure you must all recognize Anne Rampling as the author of the popular book made into a movie, Exit to Eden. What? I can almost sense your grumbling from across the cosmos as you shout, “You liar! That book was written by Anne Rice.” To that I will say that you are correct, but she originally wrote the story using the pen name of Anne Rampling. It was not until the story gained popularity and was made into a movie that she re-published using her real name. Sound familiar? Most of you must have heard of the new best-selling story titled. The Cookoo’s Calling. Now we all know that this book was written by the powerhouse author that is J. K. Rowling. Most readers do not know, however, that this book sat on the proverbial shelves for nearly a year with few sales under the author name of Robert Galbraith. It was not until the true author’s name was “leaked” that sales went through the roof.
Many authors choose to use pen names, or pseudonyms for more reasons than I could list in one blog post. Some write in numerous genres, writing under their real name along with a pen name on the side. Other writers choose to write exclusively under a pen name, never making their real name known. Jim Grant has written more than twenty suspense and mystery novels, and short stories over the years but most only know him by his pen name of Lee Child. He’s had much success with the “Jack Reacher” series.
So, this brings us to the heart of this post. Surely, you must be wondering (well, maybe not anymore) why Donna has coupled the review of a book by Ellison James with a guest post by JL Stratton? By now, you've probably put all the pieces together from the opening, and realized that we are the same person. But the question remains, Am I really JL Stratton, or is Ellison James my true name and I simply maintain a front with the first pen name?
Actually, JL Stratton is a real person. You can find me on facebook or on my blog True Life and Fiction. If you search far enough back in the archives, you might even find some speculative fiction I've written. Some have classified my writing as ‘weird’ with stories such as The Sentient Soldier and My Mind’s Eye published way back in 2010 (Electric Flash Literary Journal). But hey, don’t knock it. The Sentient Soldier was selected for publishing in Eclectic Flash’s Best of 2010 anthology. You can listen to the audio version of the story here.
I’ve also had some poetry published but that’s not really the writing others classify as weird. The work reviewed along with this post is classified as paranormal erotic romantic suspense. This story, and others I write like it, were so far out of the norm (even for me) that I chose to write them using the pen name of Ellison James.
Problem is, I've become much more prolific under my pen name than my real name. While one might find speculative fiction, mystery, or suspense by JL Stratton, most of the works of Ellison James cater exclusively to adults. Nearly all of these stories have paranormal elements, and nearly all are classified as erotica.
My reasons for choosing to write stories of general and paranormal erotica, and choosing to write using the specific pen name of Ellison James, are varied and personal. Of course, in full disclosure, I will explain my reasoning for both in the remaining portion of this post.
I've written as JL Stratton nearly all my life, that being my name and all. I started writing in junior high school after taking a typing class and discovering there was a machine out there that could make my left-handed scribble actually readable. At first, I just wrote little quips and dirty limericks in an attempt to impress my equally immature friends. In high school I had the opportunity to take a creative writing class, and wrote my first short story. My über-religious teacher saw my writing as blasphemous and gave an average grade. Of course, my story was about a man and woman name Adam and Evek escaping their home planet of Mars as it became unlivable, only to crash land onto Earth as the first inhabitants of their kind. Hey, give me a break, I was, like, thirteen. I did not come into possession of my mind-expanding creativity until the next year when I saw the life-changing movie called Star Wars. Her grade did not stop me. To the contrary, her spurn, although negative, only served to cement my love for writing.
Now, back to my explanation for writing with a pen name. It all started with a simple request. I was working on an amateur sleuth story (still in progress) and having some difficulty. My wife, bless her heart, told me I was lacking a romantic element. She went on to say I need sexual tension between my main character and her new boyfriend. Of course, I listen to my wife (I know. Weird, right?) so I got to work. Before long, I was churning out prose so purple it could be used as candy coloring by Oompa Loompas at the chocolate factory. I began to enjoy finding ways to incorporate sexual elements into my stories. Finally, I tested my abilities by entering a contest to write a “sexy story” sponsored by an adult novelties company. I won second place, and boy was my wife surprised when she had to sign for the clearly marked box of marital aids delivered by UPS without prior notice.
Success begets success, so I naturally moved onto writing a story that brought the erotic element to the forefront. This first story was, of course, Lovestruck Succubus, the very story reviewed here. I think one will find that this story does not fly around the purple-hued edge of erotica. Rather, it dives straight to the core of it without apology. I chose to not only open the door to the bedroom but invite the reader in and allow them to participate without remorse or moral judgement. I’ve written several short stories since then, all classified as erotica. Most have a paranormal element. A few, such as Window Treatment, All the Right Places, and Center Stage, featuring Wendy Parker, a graphic artist turned exhibitionist, or Pleasure Doing Business, about a trio of friends brought together (in more ways than one) to help with a business venture, are considered general erotica or erotic romance.
Writing erotic stories is a risky proposition and a writer can easily become typecast into this genre. I had already written other genres under my real name, so a pen name was in order for this venture. There remains a large readership for the erotica genre. Stories can be shorter and priced accordingly. From a writer’s perspective, the erotica genre allows me to experiment and write anonymously, while taking on all the business aspects associated with writing and publishing independently. I believe it is a good experience for both writer and reader. For me (and my readers) the only downside to publishing independently, is finding good editors. As some might know, writers make the worst editors of their own work. The story review here went through three different editors and numerous updates (most updates are still not posted on all channels) and I still find errors when reading back through the material. Still, writing under a pen name allows me a freedom not found while using my own name.
I chose Ellison James because it is a kind of anagram of my real name. James is my first name. I simply took the ‘L’ and Stratton portion of my name to form the first part of my pen name. Thus, it sounds like “L S, and James.” I wanted the first name to be rather unambiguous since my stories are almost all written from a woman’s point of view. Also, some women readers of erotica and erotic romance will simply not read something if they think it was written by a man.
I’m not the first to do this. Lawrence Block wrote lesbian pulp fiction under the name Jill Emerson in the 1960’s and the novel The Trouble with Eden became a bestseller. The book became a kind of manifesto for the GLBT community as many thought it was written by a woman as a lesbian confessional.
While I wanted to remain anonymous, I felt it important to remain honest. If confronted, I will never deny my true identity but sometimes it helps to let readers make their own assumptions of my gender. So, there it is. I’m out—discovered and uncovered—and I’m okay with it. One can keep up with my alter-ego on the Ellison James website.
Thank you for guesting with me today JL/EJ. It has been a pleasure to host you.
Azra wants nothing more than a loving relationship, But her kind of love kills. Ousted from her world. Pursued by a Police Detective for crimes against men, her prospects of mortal love look bleak. That is, until she finds the one man strong enough to survive her. But he's the one chasing her, and he harbors a dark secret of his own. Can they survive each other or will their secrets destroy them both?
Love Struck Succubus by Ellison James is an intriguing and sensual read. It is a paranormal erotic written in a category romance style. A kind of Danielle Steele/Charlaine Harris mix.
In true erotic fashion, there are no closed door scenes through any of Azra’s sexual encounters. The scenes are provocative, sensual, tastefully written without the use of flowery or crass terms, and are the main focus of the novel. The story plot is simple:
Azra is a Succubus, a demon that feeds on humans through sexual fulfillment. She attracts her victim by mentally tapping into his thoughts and physically becoming the woman of his sexual fantasies.
Despite her demonic nature, Azra desires a love relationship with a human and this, instead of basic sustenance, is how she chooses her victims. Her clan leader, Tarmin, has taken note of her peculiar habit of keeping a victim alive longer than necessary, and has brought her before the council for punishment. The council’s unanimous decree for her crime of seeking a love relationship among the humans, and the potential to expose the demon world to mortals: banishment to the Earthly realm for 30 days.
With all her powers and natural inclinations intact – except the need to “walk” around the city to tune into a vibrant male fantasy instead of hone in mentally from her clan home – Azra begins to roam the city in search of a romantic love interest that can sustain both her demonic hunger, and the need for emotional intimacy.
The series of bodies puts her directly in the path of Detective Raif Lundgren. The fear of exposure, and basic sexual attraction, marks Raif as Azra’s next victim. But Raif has his own secret to hide, one that Azra discovers as she makes the change to his fantasy lover.
I liked the pace used in adding character and plot development to the sexual encounters. The author used a prolific “telling” style of describing the thoughts, emotions, and erotic sensations, which made the characters of Azra and Raif slightly flat. However, the secondary plots of Raif’s secret identity, the inclusion of two mysterious beings that are “stalking” Raif, and Azra’s unexpected allies that assist her in defeating Tarmin’s eternal plans for Azra, consistently move the story forward, adding tension and intrigue to the erotic scenes. The characters and world building are true to contemporary erotic and paranormal formula.
While the writing style of long paragraphs that span pages, and the basic plot premise is simplistic for my personal tastes, the eroticism was well written and satisfying. This novel could be a quick and naughty foray into the paranormal, or sensuously lingered over for days in the erotic fantasy. Fans of erotica will find Love Struck Succubus well written and satisfying; and I think this would be a good starter for paranormal romance readers wishing to indulge in a taste of erotica.
I give Love Struck Succubus 4 stars overall.