This interview first appeared on the the New Smut Project blog on April 12th, 2022. See the original post here. NSP’s fourth anthology, Cunning Linguists: Language, Literature and Lechery, comes out May 18th (less than a month to go!). Paperback and ebook editions are available for pre-order now.
My first official interview as an author was thrilling in every sense; releasing a photo of myself (see below), including a potentially-identifiable shard of my face, was a scary leap. And the content of my response was so personal, I’m still unsure whether I told too much truth in it. It was the heaviness of my answer to the question of “What inspired you to write this story?” that led me to keep the interview brief. (For new readers of this blog, in short: the story’s about my wife, and she dumped me just after I submitted it.) Out of a menu of 7 questions on topics of erotic writing and sexy language, I responded only to the first.
And it wasn’t just the bummer breakup talk that gave me pause. The events surrounding the story’s birth and publication leave me more convinced than ever of divine fiddling in my tiny human affairs. Still, I’m not used to claiming those convictions publicly, and it feels funny to proclaim that THE BENEVOLENT UNIVERSE DID THIS FOR ME when speaking on my life and its recent turns. That’s why the offerings of gratitude at the end of the interview are phrased in the vaguest possible suggestions of faith.
But hey. Better too revealing than not revealing enough, right? As a smut writer, I’ll have to believe that, in baring my secrets, I’m doing something right.
Below is the full text of my interview, including a story excerpt and my author bio from the anthology.
“Real dykes don’t scissor. That’s just a porn thing. For men.”
That does it. She snaps the bond between her eyes and the screen, turning to me with those hawk-sharp eyes of hers blazing.
“Yeah? So now you’re the arbiter of ‘real’ lesbian sex?”
I thrust my chin out. “Yup. Sure am.”
I could banter about this for hours, but she isn’t in the mood. When she falls silent I sputter out, too. We sit there looking at each other.
But then, something flickers. I blink, and a new presence sits before me in the TV light. When she wraps a hand around my foot, I surrender to the tug. Before I can register our bodies’ rearrangement, our legs are intertwined, my housedress bunched around my waist, the faded cotton of my panties flush against the faded cotton of her sweats.
“Not a thing, huh?” she growls, digging fingers deep into the fat above my knee. Playful, but menacing. Is this the old Kiara, coming back to me?
I go on teasing. Maybe I can get a reaction I like.
“Not a thing.” I grab her foot for leverage and grind into her, mouth gaping in a pornstar parody. “You like this? Rubbing pussies, that’s what turns you on?”
She shoots me a look, like you really wanna play with me? I stare right back and pop my tongue out, flush with courage. I do want to play with her. I want her to play with me.
-from “Planet Rolling Over” in Cunning Linguists
Peach Berman is a funky queer Jew who lives in wild hills of Northern New Hampshire. A lifelong scribbler and poet, Planet Rolling Over is her first work of fiction and first publication.
As an experiment in language-play smut, Planet Rolling Over winds around the imagery and themes of the book Kohelet (also known as Ecclesiastes) of the Hebrew bible. While most translations read “havel”, the book’s refrain, as “vanity”, and interpret Kohelet’s message as one of hopelessness, Peach draws upon a 2010 translation by Rabbi Rami Shapiro in which “havel” means “emptying”, and liberation replaces the futility of clinging. The story is a tribute to Peach’s first wife, the incomparable Plum Noir.
To stay on top of Peach’s writings you can check out peachberman.com, where she posts free samples of her dirty imaginings. And if you’re in the mood for some provocative (but not X-rated) nonfiction, check out her blog at trueloveforsale.com, where she dissects the intimate work she does for money. You can reach her by email at email@example.com. She’s also on Twitter as @PeachBerman, but she doesn’t recommend the place.
What inspired you to write this story?
“Planet Rolling Over” is a celebration of my love for my then-wife, Plum Noir. The only named character in the story, Kiara, is a portrait of her. Many of the scenes are autobiographical, pulling real moments from our married life into a fictional backdrop. The state in which we first encounter Kiara and her wife, the unnamed narrator, mirrors the state of my marriage at its lowest points – sexless, resentful, drowning in depression. But the rebirth of the love bond that forms the story’s arc turned out to be pure fiction. Between the story’s submission and its acceptance in the anthology, our marriage ended.
At the time, I thought I was writing “Planet Rolling Over” as a vision of our future. As I worked, I saw us finding our way back to one another, passion bending our timeline into a circle. I didn’t know it then, but when this story left me it carried those possibilities away with it. In that moment of transformation, Plum and I both found the way to release ourselves from clinging to the husk of what we’d been together. We both got to walk away free.
This story was always bigger than me. The plan was never mine. I was always just a vessel.
I am forever grateful.
And there you have it. Thanks for reading my big first interview. I’m so excited for the book to drop next month!
As a reward for your attentions, here are a few outtakes from that semi-anonymous author portrait photoshoot. Credit, thanks and limitless adoration to VPBRB for the camera work.
And yes, it was as cold as it looks!