We are most fortunate to be a part of a resoundingly talented and intelligent erotica community, working with and also enjoying the works of writers who are committed to story-telling, world-building, character development, risk-taking, and—maybe most importantly—turning us on by writing their fantasies, their dirtiest thoughts.
Annabeth Leong is one of those writers. Her latest novel, Untouched, which was published by Sweatmeats Press this past fall, had us in a tizzy over its explicitness, its lush narrative, and its bravery. Lana decided to interview Annabeth about the book, its compelling characters, and the way it shatters solo-sex shame.
Annabeth, Untouched is gorgeous! Not only is it incredibly hot, but it also does a wonderful job of exploring Celia’s vulnerability as she faces what she decides to face for her relationship with Eli. What was it like to write Untouched?
I’m so glad you found it gorgeous! This book more, than any other, has forced me to confront lingering issues of shame. A part of me thinks it’s way too filthy to be gorgeous, and I’m grateful every time someone reminds me that it can be both.
Writing it was hot. I believe in writing erotica that turns me on—I’m never coming at it from an intellectual perspective. Usually, though, I’m protecting myself a bit at the same time, shielding and camouflaging the parts that represent my personal desires. I am not Celia, but Untouched is way, way closer to home than usual for me, and sometimes I would get myself too aroused to write.
At the same time, writing it was hard and painful. I thought I invented Celia out of whole cloth, but pretty soon spending time in her head was causing a personal crisis for me. Celia is so courageous that she sort of dragged me along with her. I found myself asking difficult questions about my own life and desires, and I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know before—including a lot of things I didn’t entirely want to know. Once I got into all that, it became very difficult to write the book. I wanted to do right by Celia, but her journey wound up taking me into uncharted territory. I wandered around in there for a while without a map, feeling like I needed wisdom I didn’t possess when I sat down to make an outline.
It’s been radical and important for me to see my sex life with myself as a source of rich fulfillment and confidence.
Celia feels so innocent to me, and yet she really knows her body, her rights, and what gives her pleasure—so she’s very wise, too. How do you feel about the silencing/shaming of solo sex in our society?
If my work does one thing, I want it to make people think about solo sex. I grew up with the idea that masturbation was either sinful or pathetic. I still see things in books or movies all the time that label it that way. For a long, long time, I felt ashamed of how often I did it or how I did it or what I thought about while I did it.
When Joe from Sweetmeats Press got in touch with me about writing a book for him, he asked me to submit an idea I felt passionate about, and the first thing that came to mind was masturbation. It’s been radical and important for me to see my sex life with myself as a source of rich fulfillment and confidence, and Celia was conceived as a character with that at the core. I think her innocence and vulnerability come in part because that’s right upfront with her, where, for most of us, that part of our lives is more hidden. At the same time, I see this quality as the center of her wisdom and strength.
We talk so often as if saying no is easy (that whole phrase—Just Say No), but in my experience, it’s very difficult to value myself enough to do it. I’ve often been made to feel that I didn’t have the right to refuse something, or that I was weird for refusing something—especially if what I’m trying to refuse is something “normal.”
Some of the most powerful scenes for me to write were the ones in which people respond to Celia’s masturbation with awe and admiration. I don’t like the idea that we don’t have sex lives until other people bestow them on us. Celia presents a different view—her sex belongs to her, and she can choose to share that world with a lover. I think it would be much healthier for us as a society if we saw masturbation as a powerful affirmation of self rather than as a sign of selfishness or “loserdom,” as all too often seems to be the case.
I was inspired by the strengths that Celia develops because of her wish to not be touched. What impresses you most about her as a character?
I’m so glad—so was I! Ultimately, I’m most impressed by her ability to say no to what she does not want. We talk so often as if saying no is easy (that whole phrase—Just Say No), but in my experience, it’s very difficult to value myself enough to do it. I’ve often been made to feel that I didn’t have the right to refuse something, or that I was weird for refusing something—especially if what I’m trying to refuse is something “normal.” She spends a long time in the book trying to say yes to things she can’t really say yes to, and I just feel triumphant as hell when she gets the ability to say a strong, self-affirming no.
To me, that scene is filthy and gorgeous the way we talked about. It’s one of the places where Celia (and I) rise fully above the sense of shame.
Eli is also a most enjoyable character. Can you give us an example of why he is so drawn to Celia?
Eli is a strange character for me. He’s a lot of things I find charming, sexy, and desirable, mixed with a lot of things that make me very, very angry. I think what really draws him to Celia is her self-knowledge. He finds it unbearably hot that she’s so devoted to her own pleasure. He wants to be part of that.
As an author, what was one of the hottest scenes to write? What made it so sexy?
There’s a scene where Eli and Celia create a fantasy bar scene to counteract a bad memory she has from the past. In real life, she’d been humiliated and upset by customers touching her while she worked as a waitress. In the fantasy, they transform that to Celia displaying herself to an admiring and grateful audience.
To me, that scene is filthy and gorgeous the way we talked about. It’s one of the places where Celia (and I) rise fully above the sense of shame. That scene is liftoff to me, and in that place above shame, I can really enjoy the heat.
Would you share a small excerpt from Untouched with us? We’d love to show our readers what’s in store for them.
This is a piece of that bar scene:
Eli propped the redhead open wider and swiped a finger through her pussy lips. “She’s wet.” He pushed two fingers roughly inside her. “Wet.”
“I think I saw a flinch. If she was really wet, those fingers would have slid right in.”
“Woman, I think your standards are too high.”
The air between Celia and Eli crackled. Celia turned to the man sitting across the table from Eli. “Would you let me borrow your chair, please, sir?”
Eli raised an eyebrow at Celia. Their encounter was going off script, but Celia was feeling exhilarated by the wildness of it. She shrugged at him. Eli gave an imperceptible nod to the man Celia had addressed, and he hurried to get out of his chair.
Celia approached his vacated seat. She could smell the man who had been in it, ice and wintermint. If Eli hadn’t been in the room, he would have commanded the lion’s share of attention. Tall, thickly muscled, and shockingly fair, his bright blue eyes stood out in his face like tropical ocean water in the midst of a snow-covered plain. He smiled at Celia, pale lips spreading to reveal adorably crooked teeth.
“Stand back,” Celia said. “I doubt any of you people can handle this up close.” She thrust her tray at him to emphasize her point, and he took it and fell away from her. Celia jumped onto the chair with confidence, too energized to worry about balancing on her heels. She felt proud as she stretched tall, as if she really were the queen that Eli had challenged her to be.
The room burst into another round of cheering. Celia shivered with excitement at being on display for this appreciative audience. The plan that had been forming in her mind gelled. Celia knew she was more than wet enough to put the redhead’s meager arousal to shame.
Without a trace of hesitation, Celia dropped her skirt and pushed down her fishnets. “This is what a wet pussy looks like,” she said. She didn’t begin by going for her pussy. Instead, she swiped her finger through the sticky damp that had leaked onto her inner thigh. Then she spread her cunt open, knowing that the arousal that had been gathering between her lips would drip out as soon as she separated them. Thick, white fluid dripped onto her fingertips. She pulled her hand away from her cunt, letting the strands stretch until they fell.
“Jesus,” said Eli’s pale friend. The redhead stared with open awe.
Eli just grinned. “How do I know that’s all from your cunt? Maybe you spilled something on yourself.
Celia squatted on the chair, allowing the position to expose her clit and opening to the room. She pulled off her shoes and dropped them on the floor, then freed herself of the fishnets entirely. Her cunt had soaked the crotch threads of the stockings, and wetness had spread almost down to her knees. She balled up the flimsy garment and tossed it to Eli. “See for yourself. I believe you’ll smell that it’s the real thing.”
Huge thanks go out to Annabeth for taking time to answer our questions. Pick up Untouched, or any of Annabeth’s books, including Dirty Little Numbers (which features her damn tight flash fiction piece, “Too Much to Give”), at your favorite online indie bookshop or at Amazon. Don’t forget to check out her website and truly effin’ amazing blog. While you’re at it, why not follow her on Twitter?