Tell me about your stories and the monsters they feature!
Our stories are set in a sort of dystopian future where monsters and extinct beasts have repopulated the earth after a mass extinction event and the exodus of the wealthy. We’re building the world piece-meal as we go, but imagine the camp of Waterworld or Mad Max delivered in a tone that sounds like George R.R. Martin fan fiction, then graft on some seriously horny beasts, and you’re starting to get the picture.
As for the monsters themselves, so far we’ve published three stories. The first, Snowed in with the Yeti, is about a girl who accompanies her father on an expedition to find the yeti, only to end up lusting after the forbidden creature. The second, Taken by the Megalodon, features a woman out to revenge the death of her master at the hands of a Megalodon shifter, who proves to have a taste for heavy BDSM by the tale’s end. Our latest, Slaking the Giant Ground Sloth, is our first M/M story. It’s about a young man who must pass his village’s rite of passage, which involves “slaking” their guardian Megatherium. On the way his childhood friend gives him some lessons in loving. It’s Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” crossed with Christie Sims and Alara Branwen’s “Taken by the T-Rex,” but sleepier.
We have a lot more stories in the works, all of them in various stages of editing undress. Shauna’s currently drafting four tales that continue the story of Abigail and Haroon that began in Snowed in, and John is editing a story featuring a Kraken. Simmering in the files are stories involving all sorts of other beasts, including a snake-men novella and an epic bit of dragon erotica. Who knows when any of these will be done, though. Sometimes we think we’re too slow for the once-a-week pace of some of the highest selling monster-rutters. We both have day jobs and we both write other things, so the going’s slow. We do these stories for the pure fun thrill of it.
What do you like to call your category? “Monster erotica”, “beast porn”, something else?
“Monster erotica” suits us just fine. “Cryptozoological erotica” sounds like you’re trying way too hard to be professional and serious and forgetting the fun inherent in the genre. “Beast porn” sounds like it involves a camera or graphics program in some way. Unfortunately, a lot of the monster erotica we read for Monstertantra.com reads like it would have been better off as a video. Erotica to us should accomplish something else besides penetration. It should delve into characters and provide the sort of language play and imagery that grasp the reader’s imagination. There will be sex, of course, and hopefully it turns you on, but that’s not the only thing that should be happening in erotica.
If there was no such category as monster erotica, what would you call your work?
It would vary per story, probably, depending on the monster. Fantasy for dragons, horror for the Jersey Devil, Sci-fi for Grays. Often our stories, even those the two of us write outside of monster erotica, turn on premises, and those premises decide the stories’ shape, genre, and content. Categories’ main purpose seems to be marketing, and we try not to let it enter our drafting process. We try to just follow the story where it will go. Of course, that’s not entirely possible, because when you enter a story knowing it’s going to be “monster erotica” you know you’ve got to get some smut and some humor and some terror in there, or it just won’t fit the bill. We don’t truck in non-explicit monster erotica, so at some point there has to be an abnormally sized, throbbing sex organ.
Why do you write and read monster erotica? What’s the appeal?
We started because the articles that made the viral rounds in the winter made the genre sound so profitable and fun. Maybe we haven’t written and published enough of it yet, or maybe we’re too slow, or maybe it’s just us, but it seems like there’s actually more money to be made in non-monster erotica, or even non-explicit indie publishing, especially with all the hidden filters that have been put in place. At least, we haven’t seen a ton of money yet. Some, but not a lot. It makes sense though. When you write monster erotica you set yourself two steps outside general fiction. First, the reader has to be interested in explicit erotica, and second, that reader has to be willing to read monster smut. If you’re writing strictly horror or sci-fi, where the dirty bits usually get glided over, you appeal to a larger fraction of the reading public. But who knows, maybe it will really take off for us at some point.
That’s just why we started though. Why do we keep doing it? One part stubbornness and seven parts enjoyment. We find the genre hilarious and thrilling, and it actually serves as a great testing ground for plotting, voices, and story shapes. The pressure always seems so low that when we go into one of these stories, we feel completely free and playful. That’s always a nice feeling, and if you can make a little money while doing it, well, hey, giddy-up alien cowboy.
Favorite sexy beast?
There’s so many to choose from, it hardly seems fair to pick just one. Gotta fuck ‘em all. At the moment it’s the giant ground sloth, the yeti, and the kraken, since those are the ones that we’re promoting, drafting, and editing stories about. But there are many more monsters we want to explore, and they’ll be our favorites next.
What else do you write?
It’s a secret! Our secret dream is to write and publish this our whole lives, and also write and publish other things, and then when we die have whoever has to execute our paltry estates discover we’ve been penning monster smut the whole time. Although, heaven help any children we may have.
But, in general, John veers more toward horror and sci-fi, and I veer more toward the “literary.” But we’re all over the place, and generally just try to work on whatever obsesses and enthralls us.
Kiss/kill/marry: Bigfoot, a Grey alien, the Loch Ness Monster
Kill the Loch Ness, kiss the Grey, and marry the Bigfoot.
The Loch Ness would make a terrible husband or wife, always lurking around blurry in photos, hiding out underwater, shirking its share of chores, being non-humanoid. A Grey’s a wanderer, a traveler, a space-vagabond. Rolling stones honor no wedding vows, but it sure feels nice to be rolled over one every now and again. Bigfoot though? He’s a misunderstood romantic, a great ape-man lumberjack with a full-body beard, and I bet he mates for life.
What’s the best writing advice you ever heard?
Not to listen to writing advice. When you’re writing you’re learning to channel a vision, to carry yourself and the reader from the first word to the last, and to make it pleasurable for the both of you in some way. There are best practices, things to keep in mind, and it’s good to learn some rules and think about them, but you must be willing to break them, especially once you’ve been writing for ten years like each of us has.
For example: lots of freshmen writing instructors tell you to avoid “to be” verbs. This is a great thing to try out as a writing exercise, and you certainly don’t want them in each and every sentence, and if they’re redundant you might want to cut them, but if you exclude them entirely from your fiction you’ll probably end up with stilted awkward nonsense. A plain and simple “is” or “was” or “are” here and there has a declarative authority to it that serves a real purpose. Denying yourself that tool is like saying you’re going to build a house but you refuse to use a hammer.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Only write in this genre, or in any genre, if you truly find it enjoyable in some way to do so. If you’re writing something solely to try to make money, it will show, and your stories will be lackluster. People might buy them, but your writing soul will slowly but surely shrivel.
About the Author
Shauna Michaels is ½ of an erotica writing duo with her husband John, and the co-creator of Monstertantra, an online home for monster erotica reviews, releases, and news. She’s the author of such illustrious tales as Snowed in with the Yeti, Taken by the Megalodon, and Slaking the Giant Ground Sloth, which you can find at your friendly neighborhood ebook retailer. If you’d like to receive news of her latest releases and sales via e-mail, you can sign up for her list-serve here, and if you’d like to pitch a story for review at Monstertantra, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.