Monday, October 26, 2015

Dying in Pleasure by Lady Ristretto Excerpt & Interview

Dying in Pleasure
Lady Ristretto

Genre:  paranormal/historical erotica

Publisher: Lady Ristretto

Date of Publication: April 1, 2015


Number of pages:  385
Word Count: 102,000

Cover Artist:  Ebooks Covers Design  

Book Description:

Lucia, the daughter of the richest family in Pompeii, disappears one night. The mystery goes unsolved and life moves on. The lives of Pompeii's citizens intertwine: Ibis, a prostitute running the whorehouse owned by the Aedile, a city official, gets murdered by his wife Lucy. Lucy falls in love with Narcissus, the most treasured gladiator in Pompeii. The Aedile's daughter, Julia, marries Rust, the man suspected to have murdered Lucia. Maro, Lucia's slave, holds the families together and eventually discovers Lucia when she reappears in Pompeii twenty years later, and as a witch.

The events in Pompeii converged and lead to its ultimate, inevitable destruction. Only Lucia can help the city and save lives. In a ceremony requiring possession by a god, murder, and necromancy, Lucia discovers what is going to happen. But not everyone manages to get away.

Dying in Pleasure brings to life the long dead city of Pompeii, showing its citizens as vibrant, eccentric pleasure seekers. History, pain, violence and ritual blend in a pansexual orgy that is both exciting and extreme from beginning to end.

Available for Nook and Kindle


LUCIA REFERRED to her patron goddess as Father.  It was more respectful, a gesture insisted upon to mirror and mock Lucia’s upbringing: the Roman father is the family’s absolute authority.  His power is unquestioned.  The lives of his family are to do with as he wishes.  In essence, he is the god of the family.

About the Author:

Lady Ristretto spent the beginning of her career writing under her real name and as a playwright. She has a BA in English from UCLA and an MFA in playwriting from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  Her plays were produced in Illinois and Texas, and her most popular work, Wonderland in Alice: The Uncertainty Principle was produced in New York off off off Broadway. 

Her first book, Dying in Pleasure, had been a full length play that was rejected as her thesis play: the professors on her committee felt it was too misogynistic and violent for undergraduates to stage. Always stubborn and obsessed, Lady Ristretto spent years rewriting the play into a novel and has recently published it as an ebook on Amazon and Nook. Lady has recently become obsessed with cricket and deeply wishes America would form a formidable team which is worthy to compete in the World Cup.

Where are you from?
Originally, I'm from Whittier, in Southern California. Richard Nixon used to campaign for senate there. We were also named after a Quaker poet and had a massive earthquake in 1987 which was pretty destructive. That's about all there is to Whittier. I've also lived in Illinois and Texas. Neither are as appealing to me as California.

Tell us your latest news?
Currently, I don't have a permanent home. My boyfriend (Lord Ristretto) and I have been traveling between three countries. He's British and I'm American, so neither of us can stay in each other's country for long. Right now we're in Vancouver, BC and it's lovely.

When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in high school. I believe at first I did it because it was fun, but it was more than that. I had been greatly encouraged/pushed to write by an English teacher (Stark Hunter). I kept with it though because it became a form of self medication. I was undiagnosed bipolar and suffered deep depression. I didn't even know I was depressed. When I started writing I did it to an extreme. I'd write thousands of words a week, sometimes staying up all night. It kept me focused a bit more balanced. Even today, diagnosed and medicated, I'm unusually prolific and work late at night.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in grad school getting my MFA in playwriting. Up to that point I didn't think myself worthy to have the title, despite having been produced and a couple magazine publications. Many people I've known have considered output to be the scale of being a writer. I've always been prolific. So I judged my writer's status by quality. I never felt good enough and I wanted to be great. In grad school, in a place where I was directly contrasted with other writers at a high level of ability, I could see my own talent. I decided I needed to be less harsh on myself and officially adopted the designation of a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?
That would be Dying in Pleasure. The inspiration for it goes back so far that I don't remember where it came from. A couple of years after I graduated high school I became interested in Pompeii. For months and months I sat in the Whittier College library, and then the UCLA library and finally the SIUC library doing research, making note cards and reading every book about Pompeii. It wasn't like I went to Pompeii and then found inspiration. Maybe I saw a museum exhibit or a documentary on TV. I don't remember. Whatever it was it was so insignificant that it seemed like nothing. I do know that the book which brought everything together is Eros in Pompeii. It's an overview of all the erotic art in Pompeii. The graphic art which the citizens had painted on their walls and the graphic statues they had said to me that not only were these people comfortably with sexuality, but they were incredibly focused on pleasure. That was mind candy for me. Even if they hadn't been destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius, I would've written about them.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I think I have eccentric punctuation and sentence structure. I love semicolons and colons and dashes. I prefer to write in first person, thought I think it's a much more complicated perspective. But I think in dialogue, so when I write third person, as in Dying in Pleasure, I think of it as a long monologue. Dialogue can have eccentric punctuation; sometimes it's the best way to describe a voice or personality.

How did you come up with the title?
I'm horrible with titles. I think I made a list of five or six and then chose the one that wasn't completely silly.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Pleasure is complicated and important. Rejecting it can lead to awful consequences. A kind of death, I think.

How much of the book is realistic?
The places in Pompeii and major events mentioned are based on fact. The locations are real. I did much research about Pompeii. Before I ever visited the city I knew it well enough that I didn't need a map to navigate it.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
This is a dangerous question. The benefit of writing a story sent in ancient Pompeii is that it's easy to hide contemporary inspirations. There are characters based on people I've known. But there are no events in the book that are direct translations of events I've gone through.

I'm half afraid to say which characters, but there is one I can talk about. It's the character Rust, the son of a former slave, married to Julia, and blamed for Lucia's disappearance. He's active in the cult of Bacchus and participates in secret orgies in the woods at night. He's based on a former boyfriend, one way way back in my past. I didn't set out to write about him, but while Rust was forming he reminded me of my ex and so I started taking what I needed from my ex to construct him. Though the relationship ended badly, it didn't impact the character. This wasn't some sort of revenge creation. Rust embodies the things I admire most in my ex.

It's also fair to say that all the characters are based upon some aspect of me.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet. It's an avant garde novel about adultery that blew my mind wide open about the possibilities of what a novel could be. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (now available free). A collection of short stories that join to form a novel. Its elegant and simple language really excited me. And the only collection of Sara Kane's plays. She was a misunderstood playwright who wrote incredibly difficult, graphic and imaginative plays that comforted me when I felt crazy. Again, they're very avant garde.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Gore Vidal. He was a brilliant writer and I feel strongly that I could learn much about craft from him. He was never solely an historian or a novelist or a commentator. He had many roles, one of which was being a very dazzling pervert. Myra Breckinridge should be required reading.

What book are you reading now?
I've returned to my past and I'm rereading Summer by Edith Wharton. It's my third or fourth time reading it. It's a smart romance and the ending always hurts. Each time I read it I partially hope the characters will make different choices. Alas, characters never do. Yet that doesn't stop us from hoping.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Isabelle Arden. Her work is smart, she has a firm fluency with prose and her sex scenes are really hot. I HIGHLY recommend Laid to Ruin and Bound By the Barbarians.

What are your current projects?
I'm developing Action Figure Erotica. The idea is that the main characters have to have been made into an action figure. For example, I'm writing a novel on Tablo (which is free) and it's about Medusa and the goddess Kali driving to California to have her snakes removed. So far she's met Cthulhu and H. P. Lovecraft. I have a short story coming out at the end of November called Abraham Lincoln Eats Pie At The Kali Cafe. At the beginning of 2016, I have a novella coming about about Marie Curie on the Titanic.

What would you like my readers to know?
I'm grateful. Having had plays produced, I'm used to being present with an audience and hearing their reactions. With novels, that experience doesn't really exist. So I want everyone to know I'm grateful: if you buy my book, download a sample, go to my website, read anything I've done, even reading this interview.  I'm grateful for your attention and I hope I have given you something to think about, no matter how little.

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