Squawk Radio

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Elizabeth Squawks about Group Sex

Ha! That caught your attention even better than Eloisa's sex blog, didn't it? But I'm not going to blog about those arcane Fijian rituals, either. Mostly 'cause I don't know what they are. (Eloisa's sex life is obviously more adventurous than my own.) However, I am going to talk about doing it in groups. Writing, I mean. Novellas, I mean. Anthologies, I mean.

I just finished my eighth novella, for an anthology whose publication will coincide with Valentine's Day next year. This one was a bit different from my others, because not just the theme, but the situation and some of the characters were also editor-generated. Three women working together for a JANE-like magazine are researching different alternative dating practices. Each of the writers was assigned a heroine and her respective dating practice, then we were asked to write a story to go with. Not too restricting, so it was a lot of fun.

Anthologies always have pre-set themes, though, around which the stories are written. My first anthology's theme was fairies. Loved that one. My second's theme was chocolate. Loved that one, too. A lot. The third was Christmas ghosts. Very Dickensian. I killed off a department store Santa for that story (for which a friend of mine swears I will forever get nothing but lumps of coal for Christmas, not to mention I'm going straight to hell).

I also had a theme of "Cupid comes to Earth disguised as something else to bring two people together." I turned Cupid into a cat. More fun. Then there was opposites attracting, perhaps one of my favorite things to write about. And another for single moms. A less favorite topic, but I still wrote a story for the collection that I liked very much. But I think my fave novella was for an anthology that marked the anniversary of Silhouette Desire's MAN OF THE MONTH, where I had totally free rein to write whatever I wanted. I did a Caribbean adventure. Oh, yeah.

Eloisa had a story in an anthology recently, and Christina is in a new collection out this month. (Perhaps if we ask her nicely, she'll post her cover for us.) And Lisa Kleypas and Connie "Cruising-through-Europe-or-maybe-Terre-Haute" Brockway have also taken dips in the novella pool. Maybe they can chime in with a comment or two about their experiences.

Me, I like anthologies. But how do readers feel about them? They must do reasonably well because publishers keep publishing them. Are the themes too contrived? Do the stories in most collections actually complement each other? And the big question, at least for those of us who contribute to anthologies: Has anyone bought an anthology because they liked one author, then discovered new-to-them authors among the others in the collection whose books they had to rush out and buy?

Anthologies. Safe group sex. Life just doesn't get much better than that. Unless there are chocolate chip cookies in the afterglow...
Elizabeth Bevarly, 9:34 AM
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