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Blog Tour: Carnal Machines, Smut and the life of a writing mom. May 7, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in author chat, Carnal Machines, children, writing-mom.
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Welcome! Pull up a chair! Have a cookie! Tea, anyone? Welcome to my place. It’s not home, but it’s much.

Today, I’ll be adding my contribution to the blog tour for Carnal Machines, my latest anthology appearance.

Here, have an excerpt from The Succubus:

The fourth floor is usually quiet, with only the hum of machinery and the distant voices from the floors below. The men do not return to the fourth floor after their initial encounter with me. They desire something more familiar, more in keeping with their personal fantasies. More safe. So I wait, alone, and the silent servants tend to my needs. This evening will be different. I know it already. I can hear Madame’s familiar step on the stair, and another, heavier step with her.

She enters first, the train of her evening gown sweeping the floor as she moves to the table and lights the lamp. The man lingers in the door, peering into the gloom. He wears pristine evening dress, and the lamplight picking out the gold links in his watch-chain and the gleam of the ruby on his left hand. The walls have already whispered his secrets to me: the second son of a Duke, one who was never expected to take the reins of power. One who came, all unexpected, into an inheritance that was never meant to be his. His older brother was dead of typhoid, gone without a son to succeed him, and so the younger son was now Earl Hathaway. It was no surprise to us that the late, lamented Reginald Warwick, Earl Hathaway had died without issue―he had also borne the collar and lock in this house, and had shown a definite preference for the third floor. It will be interesting to see what the new Lord Hathaway prefers. His name, the walls have told me, is Nigel.

“You can come in,” Madame says. “She won’t bite you.” She laughs, and leaves the lamp to go to the far wall, and the switches there. She throws them, one at the time, and light floods the room.

I hear him gasp, and I know what he sees. The ceilings in this room are high, and although they try to hide it with draperies, you can still see the machines that tower overhead, disappearing into the shadows above the lights. The machines hum and churn, gears half the size of a man moving in the eternal dance that gives me life. Occasionally they release puffs of fragrant steam into the air, making the entire room warmer than would normally be considered comfortable. There is very little furniture in the room, most of it covered with drapery against dust and future need. And then there is me. Shining silver and chrome, gleaming brass and copper, I lie in wait, reclined on the wide couch as might a goddess whilst she awaited her worshipers.

“But… it’s clockwork!” he blurts out, stepping into the room. He looks around, expecting to see a living woman. But, of course, there is no one else in the room.

Madame sniffs slightly, “Of course she is. I did explain that to you, did I not?”

Lord Hathaway has the grace to look embarrassed, “You did, but… the others all look… alive. This one…” he gestures wildly.

“She was the first, created by my late husband,” Madame says, walking over to my couch. She brushes her nails over my shoulder and continues, “The others came later, and I refined the forms to make them more… approachable. Despite her form, the Succubus is the most complex of all the automatons.”

“How can that be? It looks like a statue!” He takes a step toward the couch and points at me. “It is a statue!”

Madame runs her fingers over my gleaming silver skull, “Oh, this is just the focal point, Your Lordship. The Succubus encompasses this room.”

He looks around, his eyes wide, “The whole room?”

“The whole of this floor, actually. As I said, she is very complex.” Madame makes her way back to the wall and stands near the bell-rope. “Now, it is customary for the first appointment to be with the Succubus. Did your brother not tell you this?”

Lord Hathaway shakes his head. “All Reg told me was that I would not believe what I found here. He wouldn’t say more.” He swallows, looking nervously at the figure on the couch, and then back at Madame, “Is it safe?”

Madame laughs, “My dear sir, you’ll be as safe here as in your own mother’s arms, if that is your desire.”

He looks at her sharply, “What does that mean?”

Madame just smiles, “You’ve seen what we offer. Surely it’s no surprise to you that there are some who prefer an element of risk. Don’t you agree?”

He does, although I doubt that any would see it but me. His breathing quickens, ever so slightly. The flush in his cheeks heightens, just a touch. He looks at me again, studying me, silent. After a long moment, he turns back to Madame, “What do I have to do?”

She draws from the reticule that hangs from her wrist one of the shining silver collars, the black lock dangling from the end. She smiles at my soon-to-be paramour, “Take off your clothes.”

Still with me? Oh, good.

A little about me, now. I’m a former English teacher, and now SAHM (Stay-at-home-mom) to an active little boy. I can say honestly that he is one of the reasons that I don’t write as quickly as I would like to. (The other reasons are Facebook and Sherlock. Mostly Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch….yum…)

Sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes. My son. He’s a very bright little boy. Wherein lies my problem…

NOTHING kills momentum on a sex scene faster then having a small child (he was three years old when this happened) crawl into your lap, look at the laptop screen and say “Mommy, what are you writing?” Writing while he was around was always dicey, and not a lot got done. However, I could sometimes get a couple hundred words out while he played with Legos or trains. He was and is an unusually focused little boy, and actually enjoys playing by himself. Until he doesn’t, and then Mommy has to come play.

And then he taught himself to read. This wasn’t unexpected. I was reading at three, and so was my husband. Our son definitely inherited our love of words, and he reads anything (the grocery store is always great fun for him).

Think about that for a moment… See my problem?

This is why I can’t write when he is awake or at home. My writing time is restricted to the three hours in the morning when he is off being bored out of his mind (otherwise known as Pre-K), and the two hours between his bed-time and mine (times enforced by the husband, who gives me a little leeway, but can’t sleep if I’m not in the room, and won’t let me take my laptop to bed). I might squeeze a few more hours of writing out during the week if we go to the toddler play place (good for another year!), and I am looking forward with great glee to August, when school starts and someone starts full-day kindergarten. But that is three months from now… and summer vacation starts at the end of the month.

This is what I anticipate my day to look like once June starts (based on the fact that I’ve had a small boy home with a GI bug for three days now):

7:30 Out of bed. Into the shower.
7:45 – 8:30  Power up the laptop and eat breakfast while reading email and checking out the blogs. Maybe get some writing done before someone wakes up.

(This, of course, assumes that he hasn’t pulled his usual trick of waking up before dawn and coming down to find us.  Ever seen The Lion in Winter? “When the King’s off his ass, nobody sleeps!” Yeah, King Henry II had nothing on a pre-schooler…)

8:30 – 10:00 Breakfast and Playhouse Disney. Maybe writing in here!
10:00 – 5:00 Whatever else we’re doing the rest of the day.
5:00 – 7:00 Dinner prep and dinner.
7:00 – 8:00 Bedtime  Routine.

Then I get to write until 10:00. At which point I fall over and am unconscious until it all starts over again the next morning.

Such is the life of the writing Mommy. Words are squeezed in in dribs and drabs around the rest of my life. It’s amazing I get anything done at all! (In truth, this post here? Was written four days ago while he was at school, and edited last night after he went to bed because I forgot to put the picture in).

Right at this moment, I’m very close to the end of House of Sable Locks, the novel that comes after The Succubus. (Yes, we’re going back to the House! We’ll see outside the fourth floor! And we’ll find out Madame’s real name…) However, there is no way I’ll be finishing before Memorial Day. Add to that the fact that I will probably get the initial edits over the summer for my upcoming novel (Princes of Air, coming from Circlet Press!), and I foresee a lot of time spent at the play place this summer.

So, that’s where I am. Plugging away at the new manuscript, waiting for the edits on the novel I just sold, and trying not to let the boy learn any  words that will make for interesting parent-teacher conferences in the fall. (and won’t THAT be an interesting conversation?)

Oh, and my son calls me a story-maker.

You know what? I wouldn’t change a minute of it!

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Comments»

1. Wynter Daniels - May 7, 2011

I hear you, but my kids were a little older when I started writing smut, old enough that I must put my document down if they come in the room!
Good luck on your new WIP and congrats on the novel!

2. Elizabeth Schechter - May 7, 2011

Thanks! I missed seeing you this morning.


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