Wonkomance Interview with Charlotte Stein

We have to talk about your book Control first, because I’m a wee bit obsessed with it. By which I mean I would totally fight you for Gabriel if he were real. He is deliciously awkward and handsome and quite good at following directions. His foil is the alpha male Andy, who fondly dubs the heroine a “slutty little bookworm”.

Maddie’s choice is between a submissive man or a dominant one. Do you think such a preference is inherent: is she actually discovering what she is (a dominant or submissive woman)? Or is Maddie’s sexual identity more fluid, and it’s her emotional attachment that dictates her D/s leanings?

LOL you wouldn’t win. I’d throw things. I’d snatch wigs. I’d fight so dirty you’d need a bath just from looking at me in my dirty fighting stance. If Gabriel were real, I’d take on all comers in a filthy arena like in Spartacus, only with even more cock flinging about the place.

As for the actual question I should have focused on, there…for me, it’s about her discovering who she really is. Of course, the emotional attachment does inform some of her choices, but I’m not sure she would have made those choices if the predilections were reversed. So if Andy was the sub and Gabe the dom…I don’t know if she would have fallen for him so hard.

Interesting question. Makes me consider how much I believe sexuality to be bound to love and vice versa.

Your recent release, Sheltered, has blown up erotic-romancelandia. Everyone is talking about it, which I think makes me a reading hipster since I bought and reviewed it as soon as it came out.

The classy Jill Sorenson gave it four stars (yay) and said, “Evie meets the hero, Van, after he buys pot from the dealer next door. They share her first kiss and first smoke. Aww?” That comment made me laugh and I was also surprised to see the inclusion of pot, particularly as a counterpoint to the strict religious (and abusive) upbringing. How do you deal with (or combat) self-censorship on these controversial issues? What do you think is the role of hard truths and moral ambiguity in escapist fiction like erotica?

LOL blown up. I haven’t blown up anything! Cara blows things up. I just…had a little fzzzzt, like a bulb expiring.

As for the pot thing…originally, Van was the dealer and the neighbor kid was the buyer, and my editor was like: NO WAY. And boy howdy, was she right! It’s a major problem for me, you see, in terms of knowing what people will find controversial. I didn’t think it was a big deal at all! And that’s the case with me a lot of the time. I don’t have to combat self-censorship, because I don’t even realize I’m writing something that might be seen as weird or different.

Of course I’m learning…and there are things that I would excise if I thought it would alienate a huge chunk of my audience. But I also think that the audience is much more open to unusual stuff than I might have first believed. I honestly thought Sheltered would go nowhere. And then when it started getting a bit of attention, I thought it would swiftly plummet when people realized it had a few weird elements/hard truths/whatever you want to call it.

But it hasn’t yet. I think maybe…emotional truth wins the day. Because of all my books, Sheltered is the most emotionally honest I’ve ever been. So even if you have these harder elements, these controversial elements, maybe people see the emotion through that and that’s what they respond to.

It seems that you write mostly contemporary, but I loved reading your recent paranormal/dystopian, Raw Heat. The song Body Electric will always make me think of werewolves now :) So that released right before Sheltered. And just before that was Doubled. And right on the heels of all that came your most recent release, which we’ll talk about later. Not that a fan such as I would complain, but whew! Do you write stories in tandem or was that a coincidence of the Publishing Gods? How do your ideas come to you and how do you decide which to work on?

I write in tandem – as many as five stories at once. I actually wrote Sheltered, Doubled and Raw Heat all together in one two month stretch, and subbed them all together, too. As for how my ideas come to me…for those three, the inspiration was Armie Hammer. It’s a simple as that. I crush on some hot dude, and a bunch of stories usually come to me. And the ideas force me to work on them.

Which is why I write more than one story at any given time – because I have to go with the idea that’s inspiring me the most. If I’m inspired, and I’ve got some dude’s voice or face or invented mannerism singing in my head, it’s easy. It’s the easiest thing in the world.

It drags, when I have no passion for the hero.

And that’s about it. Really wish I had some magical, fascinating process, full of staring out of windows and breathing in the muse, etc. But in truth, I write because I adore my heroes.

Ultimately, this is a blog about romance. Give us one piece of advice about love.

Live for it. Live for nothing but love. Life without love is nothing.

I learnt that at age eleven, when the movie Dracula came out and I heard him say “I have crossed oceans of time to find you.” And my first thought was: I would too.

A Wonkomance is a romance that is a bit off-kilter, whether that’s a beta hero with a unique job, a quirky heroine or an unusual setting. What is the favorite Wonkomance that you’ve written? Also, what is the favorite Wonkomance that you’ve read?

Control. I wrote it in such a haze of passion that it’s all I can remember, from those few months. And it’s incredibly, probably disastrously wonky. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a nerdy erotic romance hero as the one I wrote in that.

And my favourite Wonkomance is probably Taking Care of Business, by Megan Hart. Her half of that book is just…it’s perfection. It’s everything I want in erotica – slightly aloof and kind of messed up heroine; boyish, gorgeous, masculine hero. Who just so happens to enjoy being dominated.

And the sex is electric.

Mischief is HarperCollins’ new digital erotica imprint, and you were in on the ground floor. How did you land that opportunity and what has it been like working with them? Also, tell us about your book with them, Power Play, and where we may buy it now, now, now.

I landed the opportunity because the editor for the line, Adam Nevill, was the editor for Black Lace – which I wrote for, before it closed. When he began working on Mischief he emailed authors he liked (and the lesson is: don’t be a jerk to your editor!) and asked if we’d like to sub. And of course I said HOMG YES PLZ AND THANK YOU. I subbed four proposals to him, and he accepted all four. Which probably tells you a little bit about how I found working with him.

Adam’s a fantastic editor. Thoughtful, dedicated, supportive. He’s always made me feel as though my writing is worth something, which is fantastic because usually I refuse to believe it is on a daily basis.

As for Power Play…well, it’s a bit of femsub, a lot of femdom. It’s got a big, sly, sexy hero, who finagles the heroine into doing all sorts of things she wouldn’t usually. It’s got a bit of MM. A bit of MMF. Something for everyone, hopefully!

Here’s the blurb:

Power Play

When Eleanor Harding is abruptly promoted, she loses two very important things: the heated relationship she had with her boss, and control over her own desires. Without a restraining hand on her she finds herself suddenly craving something very different – and the office lackey, Benjamin, seems like just the sort of man to fulfil her needs. He’s eager, lustful and willing to show her all of the things she’s been missing – namely, what it’s like to be the one in charge, for a change. Now all Eleanor has to do is decide… is Ben calling the kinky shots, or is she?

And an excerpt:

When he tells me to lift my skirt and bend over his desk, there’s a moment where I hesitate. There’s always a moment. It’s like the feeling just before the lock springs under the pressure of the correct key you’ve somehow chosen. My body goes completely still and the word no makes a fist in my throat, and then I just do it.

I wriggle my tight skirt up over my thighs and expose my backside to his waiting gaze.

In fact, I do much more than that. Mainly because I’ve started anticipating these little trips up to the thirtieth floor, and this morning I went without knickers. Plus, when I bend over my legs somehow automatically spread, so he doesn’t just get a view of the dark seam between the lush curves of my ass cheeks.

He gets to see the slippery pink flesh between, as flushed and swollen as ever I’ve felt it. Of course I like to pretend I hate these little excursions up to the thirtieth floor, and that what Mr Woods does to me is degrading and disgusting and oh, isn’t it awful. But the fact remains that the moment he tells me to bend over in that silvery voice of his, my clit swells. My sex plumps. Wetness trickles from the clenching hole between my legs, down over my quite possibly quivering thighs.

I quiver, for Mr Woods. I bend over, for Mr Woods. I forget that I was ever Ms Harding, Executive Editor of Barrett and Bates, and I become this other creature.

I don’t even know her name, to be honest. She looks like me and talks like me and even acts like me in some respects – I still lay my hands on the desk so that they’re apart but parallel to each other – but she can never have that little buzz of respect before her name the way I so often do: Ms.

And she could never let herself be used the way I’m going to let Mr Woods use me right now. I turn over in my mind each way he could possibly debase me as he stands behind me in his crisp grey suit with his crisp grey face and his mouth in that mean line it so often falls into.

He could push something into my cunt. He’s never done it before, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it now if he wanted to. I’m as slick as I’ve ever been, but more than that I feel greedy down there, as though I could take anything he wanted to offer. That award he got, for excellence in business or something like it? That big, thick, curved one, with the little nubs all around its length like a thing just made for stirring the nerves inside someone’s body?

Yeah, he could fill me with that, if he so chose. In my normal life, the life outside the strange, still unspoken relationship we’ve struck up, I would never let someone choose something like that for me.

But here it’s different. Here he doesn’t have to say a word, and my mind floods with a million options, each more disgusting than the last. In fact, I suspect that my mind is actually far more disgusting than his. After all, he’s never actually fucked me. Most of the time he doesn’t touch me between my legs, and he hardly ever pushes me into touching him.

It’s just this, it’s just him behind me with the thought of what he could do buzzing through my body. He could order me to oil my own ass and let him slip his cock inside. He could cane me until my flesh sang red-hot songs, until I bled and wept and begged him not to.

And though I’m sure I’ve never wanted any of those things, there’s something about him that makes me give in anyway. Something about his eyes, as calm and colourless as a midwinter day. And his tone, his perfect, metallic tone.

No order is ever barked; his voice is never raised. His orders don’t seem like orders, to be honest. One day he just said to me, quite matter-of-factly: I’d like to see your cunt now, Ms Harding. In the same way one might ask to see the quarterly reports or the latest projections or something of that nature.

And then a sort of haze had descended over me, as though his words had thrown a veil over my head. The veil is with me right now as he murmurs that I should spread my legs wider, wider. He wants to see just how wet I am, just how bad I’ve been, before he progresses to anything further.

And oh God, how I’m longing for anything further. Use the award, I think at him frantically, while my cheeks turn crimson and my body shudders over the idea. Force me to take your cock, I think at him, though somehow I know he never will.

I’m not allowed.

‘I see you’re very wet, Ms Harding,’ he says, then follows it with more disapproving words that I don’t want to hear. ‘Yes, very wet indeed. Would you care to explain to me how you got into such a disgusting state?’

No, I would not care to explain. My entire body sizzles with embarrassment and I have to force my hands to remain flat. And yet I find my mouth opening and words that aren’t my own come out, as though I have a talk-string on my back and he just pulled it.

‘I’ve been thinking about fucking,’ I say, which at least has the virtue of being honest, if not the virtue of being what I actually wanted to say.

‘Fucking who?’ he asks, just as I knew he would. Only this time I find the wherewithal to lie. I have to find the wherewithal to lie. He always asks me this and I always answer the same way – with something that affirms him as the one who controls me – but this time, it’s not true.

And I can’t possibly explain to him why it isn’t. I can’t. It’s more embarrassing than the long, slow throb between my legs.

‘You,’ I say, and then I think of the new guy in the hallway, spilling his armful of papers everywhere. The way his shirt had been untucked at the back. The look on his face, like someone lost inside a maze created by a superior race that hates him.

‘You thought about my cock inside you?’ he asks, and oh that delicious deliberation in his voice still gets me. I have to rub my stiff and aching nipples against the desk just to take the edge off – though I know he will punish me for it soon.

Any transgression, he punishes me for it. Once, I rubbed the toe of my shoe over the back of my opposite ankle to scratch an itch there. And in return for this minor slip he had made me bend double and grasp that said same place while he paddled my ass with a ping-pong bat.

To this day I have no idea where the ping-pong bat came from.


‘You think about it often?’

‘All the time.’

‘Describe how you imagine it would feel, sliding in.’

God, why does he always have to make me describe? I’m terrible at it. I’m the worst.

‘Mmmm, so good,’ I say, limply, and for my crimes I get a hard slap to the ass. Of course I do. I should have said solid or satisfying or what I’m really thinking: not as good as that new guy’s cock.

The one I could practically see through his pathetic trousers, as he bent and stretched and reached for all his fallen papers, face red, everything about him so awkward and appalling. He should be taken out of his misery, he really should. He should be planted over a desk and made to see the error of his ways, just as I am now.

And then maybe he’d beg like me too.

‘Oh please, please just fill me with something. Please,’ I blurt out, but it’s the strangest thing. I don’t know if I’m saying it for Mr Woods, or for the other thoughts that are pushing their way through my addled mind.

Thoughts such as: if it was the new guy behind me, would he fill me now? I don’t think I’d have to beg with him, but somehow that doesn’t seem like a negative. Instead, my body flushes with the thought of how eager he’d probably be – cock so stiff and swollen it’s almost touching his belly, pre-come welling at the tip like a promise of all the copious slickness he’s about to spill.

And he’d spill it inside me. Of course he would. Two thrusts and he’d be done, cock spurting thickly in my waiting cunt, hands all sweaty on my hips and oh God maybe he’d moan too. He wouldn’t be like Mr Woods – silent, implacable, unmoveable. He’d actually say something as he touches me, and if he didn’t want to, if he couldn’t …

I’d make him.

The realisation shoves its way through me, as hard as those first words from Mr Woods did. I’d like to see your cunt now, Ms Harding, I think, and then hot on its heels:

I’d like to see your cock now, new guy.

Benjamin, I think his name is. Benjamin, I think, as Mr Woods rubs something too cold and unyielding against the slippery lips of my cunt. And then when I moan to feel it, and squirm against it, he eases it down, down until the smooth tip is rubbing against my swollen clit.

I don’t mind admitting that I forget about Benjamin then. Hell, I forget my own name. Pleasure whites out all of my higher thought processes and leaves behind this: this shame-riddled, wriggling mess. This thing, that can only plead:

‘Uhhhh, yes – more. More.’

I try to angle my hips to catch whatever he’s using – the award, my mind screams, the award, even though I know it’s not – and get it inside me, but naturally he’s too good for that. He just pulls back further, until the thing is barely touching me at all. In fact, I’m sure I can only feel it because my clit is so sensitive, so ready for any little touch that stirring the air over its surface makes me liquid between my legs.

Makes me moan, too loud and too long. Outside his doors, hundreds of people are working away, oblivious – but they won’t be oblivious if I carry on like this. If I buck and pant and tell him to just fuck me with it, fuck my cunt with it.

‘Such a filthy mouth, Ms Harding,’ he says, and then he does something worse than all the rest of this nonsense combined.

He slides the tip of whatever this is up, up, past my ready and waiting pussy to a place I’m completely not prepared for. I’m so not prepared for it that I lurch forward against the desk, and actually almost say something weak and pathetic, like:

Please don’t. I’ve never had anything there before.

Luckily, my perfectly perpendicular hands save me. The thought of that Ms at the start of my name saves me. The idea of Benjamin stumbling and fumbling and just being such a mess saves me.

And I don’t break. I don’t say anything at all as he offers me one tiny, amused sort of sound. He never laughs, Mr Woods – of course he doesn’t – but sometimes I’m sure my struggles and my boundaries entertain him.

And this is such a petty boundary to have. Who hasn’t had something in their ass? Yet the fact remains that I haven’t, and the more he pushes and twists and makes that amused sound, the harder I clench and flame red with mortification.

I don’t know what’s worse, either – the fact that he’s doing this with something impossibly thick and still achingly cold, or that I can feel how slick its surface is. As though he didn’t just coat it in my liquid before he decided to rub it over my arse.

He oiled it in advance, for this specific purpose. He knew he was going to penetrate me there before I even walked into this office, and no amount of my squirming and whimpering is going to change that.

I just have to squeeze my eyes tight shut and let him ease it slowly in.

And oh God he does, he does. He braces one hand on my tense ass cheek, and then twists this thick and slippery thing until my body starts to yield to it. The tight ring of muscle there clenches and tries to deny the intrusion, but then everything just seems to give and I feel it slide all the way in to the hilt.

Worse than the hilt, in fact, because once the thing is lodged firmly inside me I can make out the press of his fingers where he’s gripping it at the base. Somehow it’s the most intimate touch he’s offered me since this whole thing began.

‘I think I would like you to rub your clit as I fuck you. What do you think, Ms Harding?’

I think nothing. I’m made of nothing. All I can feel or respond to is the slow slide of this fake cock as he pushes it in and out of my ass. As it stirs all of these little nerve-endings that I didn’t know existed, everything so glossy and slick that the feeling is almost unbearable.

‘I think you’d like that. Now reach between your legs and find your clit.’

I flop around for a moment, trying my best to do as I’m told. My arms feel rubbery and unresponsive, and with this fake cock working back and forth inside me it’s hard to lift my body to get at what he’s asking for.

And it doesn’t get any easier when I finally reach my stiff little bud. Just skimming the pad of one finger over its tense surface is like a punch to the gut. It feels immense, and every touch of it burns too hotly, and then he actually makes a sound as he forces the thing into me and oh God I can’t take it, I can’t.

I can accept something fucking my ass. I can take being bent over his desk. I can’t endure him grunting like that, as though maybe this whole thing affects him a little more than he usually lets on. Him grunting makes me imagine torrid, glorious things, like his cock all stiff and solid against the material of his impeccable trousers.

And though I daren’t look to check, I can almost picture him stroking himself as he does this to me. One hand on his hard cock, one hand on the fake one he’s pumping in and out of my willing body, until finally he gives in and lets himself spurt all over –

‘Oh fuck, Mr Woods,’ I moan, because everything is just too much. The heated pulse between my finger and my clit, the feel of the fake cock fucking into me, raggedly, the idea of him coming on my upturned ass … I can’t take it.

Instead, I press down hard on my clit and let the first trembling waves ebb through me, pushing back against the pounding he’s now doling out until said waves become a great wash of pleasure.

‘Yes, keep doing that, keep doing it, I’m coming – ohhhhh,’ I tell him, because by this point I’m beyond all good sense. I don’t know who I am or where I might be, and all I care about is the orgasm that’s shoving rudely through my body.

And God, it goes on and on and on. By the time it’s finished I’m a wet, trembling mess on the desk. Perpendicular hands forgotten. Perfect clothes sweated through. Ass so sore I’ll barely be able to walk for the rest of the day.

Though that’s not unusual, for our cold little relationship. At the very least I’m usually sitting on some red handprints in any afternoon meetings I then have – meetings that are actually going to start very soon.

In fact, they’re going to start so soon that my real self comes back to me far quicker than usual, and I go to straighten before he’s given me permission. I try to stand, but before I can get anywhere near said position that tented hand is back on my ass. His metallic voice is back in my ear.

‘Stay still, Ms Harding,’ he says, only he sounds different for just a second. That metallic tone peels away and reveals something rusted and old beneath, and then I actually feel it on my skin, just as I had imagined.

A searing stripe of something slick. And then another. And another.

Though that’s not the shocking thing. I mean, I’ve often imagined him losing some of his control. Sometimes I’ve hungered for it, with my hand between my legs and orgasm just one wretched inch away.

But in all of these fantasies of him breaking, I’ll confess: I never imagined him moaning something heated. The Benjamins of this world moan heated things. They let themselves go and can’t control themselves – not people like Mr Woods.

And finally, if you’re still here, the buy links!




About Amber Lin

Amber Lin writes sexy romance about messed up people, because everyone deserves a happy ending. Find her books or sign up for the newsletter at her website authoramberlin.com.
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6 Responses to Wonkomance Interview with Charlotte Stein

  1. Yay for Charlotte! You rock and it’s cute that you don’t think you’re a big deal ;) Congrats on your success. I heard the advice once “write like your hair is on fire” and I think this is what you do. Job well done.

    • LOL I’m cute? I guess it just seems like everyone else is a far, far bigger deal than me. I always feel small and hopeless, by comparison. But yeah, that’s definitely true – I write like my hair is on fire!

  2. Ruthie Knox says:

    Yay for Charlotte! It’s been such fun for me, watching you get more of the acclaim you deserve. :)

    “It’s a major problem for me, you see, in terms of knowing what people will find controversial.” — This made me smile. I do this too, to a more limited extent. I saw one or two reviews of Sheltered that referred to Van as a “drug user” or a “drug addict” or something, and I was like, “Really? Pot?” Mostly that scene just made me want to burrow my head in Van’s jacket and sigh. And then ask for a little toke, just for old times’ sake.

    • Aww has it really, boo? I feel like I’m talking about it way too much. But I’m just so stunned and excited!

      And LOL, exactly! It meant nothing to me. The equivalent of handing someone a light beer.

  3. Karla Doyle says:

    Even in interviews, Charlotte’s voice makes me laugh out loud. I read this sentence to my hubby, “I’d fight so dirty you’d need a bath just from looking at me in my dirty fighting stance,” and he said, “That’s awesome–I wouldn’t mind borrowing that line.”

    I just bought Sheltered yesterday. Can’t wait to read it this weekend. :)