Tiffany Reisz is a favorite on Just Love, and her Original Sinners series has some of the most delightful–and delightfully kinky!– characters we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading! Now she’s back with her naughtiest book yet: The Red came out on July 11, and it’s “The most explicit, sexually decadent book I’ve ever written.” (Those are Tiffany’s own words, for the record!)
I had the opportunity to sit down with Tiffany at RT17, to chat about The Red, her penchant for writing queer priests, and whether “Kingsley-sexual” should count as an orientation. (Spoiler: it totally does.)
Hi Tiffany, thank you so much for joining me today! Congratulations on the release of The Red!
Since The Red just came, out, let’s start there. You wrote the novel as Nora Sutherland from your Original Sinners series. You, writing Nora, writing a book—it’s kind of a House of Leaves-slash-Inception style writing method. Did you have to change your writing style at all?
A little bit! It was very freeing, and I think that’s why a lot of people do you pennames for subgenres they write in, even though I can barely keep up with my own name, much less multiple pennames! But doing it as [Nora], I don’t have to—people have different expectations from a Tiffany Reisz book, and different expectations for a book written by someone else. So I didn’t feel the need to make it as funny. People like the witty banter and humor in the [Original Sinners] books, but I could be a little bit darker, a little more sinister and mysterious, and a little more artistic at some points. And there’s a ton more sex.
People are probably thinking, How does that happen? Well, it’s in every chapter, and the entire plot is sex-based. And it’s 63,000 words long, which is the same length as The Story of O. I wanted to write my own Story of O, my own erotica novel. The language I used is more explicit, the words I used are dirtier…
I can’t wait to read this one… it’s on my TBR!
I did just finish The Night Mark, though, and I’m not going to lie: my first thought when I finished reading it was, “Another queer priest!”
*laughs* Well if you look at the surveys, it’s about 50-50 in the States… 50% of priests in the US are gay.
That’s a survey result that came out a few years ago. So I have a gay priest, a bi priest, and there’s a straight priest [in the Original Sinners series] who is Søren’s confessor.
Would you consider Søren to be bisexual, then? Or something else—pansexual, queer, kink-oriented?
It’s difficult, because I don’t write from his perspective. He’s deeply attracted to masochists. So a male masochist like Kingsley is his catnip. But if I had to guess—and again, not writing from his point of view, and he never comes out and says it—
Actually, at one point he does say that he’s straight, to Kingsley. But he’s obviously doing it to needle Kingsley, and Kingsley needles him back.
“I’m straight, remember?”
“You told me that once before. I think it was after you’d fucked me so hard we broke a spring in the cot.”
And Kingsley is so good at that!
*laughs* So yeah, you can’t trust either of them with what they say!
But Søren is probably bisexual. If you had to shove him against the wall—which he would not like!—and demand he answer, he would probably say ‘bisexual’. Or Kingsley-sexual.
Aren’t we all Kingsley-sexual, though?
I knew I needed to marry my husband when he said, “Kingsley’s my favorite character.”
Speaking of your husband, he did the cover for The Red, right?
He did! I wouldn’t be doing any self-publishing if I didn’t have Andrew in my life. It is so much work, and I don’t want to do any of it. But Andrew is willing to do it, so I can write.
With mainstream romance, with Harlequin, I can either write Series romances that are 55,000 words long, or Mira [a Harlequin imprint] books, which are 100,000 words long. So when you do a book like The Red, which is 63,000, and it’s too erotic and not romantic enough for Series romance, and it’s too short for Mira—
I thought you were about to say it was too erotic for Harlequin, and I was like, Really?
It is too erotic for Series, but nobody who reads it would say it’s a romance novel. It’s erotica with a happy ending. So it has to be self-published.
I just saw an announcement that you have another traditionally published book out in 2018, with Mira. And now I know it’s a longer one, since you said Mira has to be 100,000 words. Can you tell us anything about it?
It’s called The Lucky Ones (out Feb. 6)
It’s loosely linked into the same world as The Bourbon Thief and The Night Mark. Cooper McQueen of The Bourbon Thief has a twenty five year old mistress, and when the book begins, she has learned that the family that almost adopted her when she was a child—she’s an orphan—the patriarch of that family is dying. And although she left them on bad terms, they want her to come back and see the father before he dies. It’s a last wish. “Will you do this for dad?”
So she goes back to her childhood almost-adoptive family, and starts to uncover dark secrets about the family that she didn’t know about when she was a kid there.
If Madeleine L’Engle and V.C. Andrews had a book baby that group up and moved to Oregon, it would be this book.
And in November we’re releasing Michael’s Wings, which is a short story collection—
Ooh, I know!
When it got announced, a few of the reviewers on our blog went Oh, oh yes please!
It’s a collection of several short stories, some already released. There’s a brand new novella, and it also collects some of Nora, Griffin, and Michael’s baseball outings, which I’ve posted twitter, and those will be interludes between chapters.
Can you talk about anything else you might have coming up? You mentioned some exciting projects on the horizon.
Oh yeah! I’m currently editing a book called The Chateau. Like I said before, I’m a huge fan of The Story of O, and I’ve always wanted to write a sequel to that book. Someone wrote one before, but it wasn’t very good. But I want to write a sequel that’s fun, and spiritual.
We know Kingsley was in France in his 20s, undercover and doing spy stuff… naughty stuff like that. So the premise is that there were a group of people, who all love The Story of O as much as I do, and were attempting to recreate that story. So it’s like a sex cult, but The Story of O is their bible. They have their own chateau and their own kinky world.
And it’s a femdom cult.
So Kingsley has to go undercover to find a missing man, who’s young and his family wants to know if he’s being held prisoner in this cult. So Kingsley goes to the chateau, and at age twenty four he ends up having… interesting erotic adventures.
Interesting, you say…
Do you ever hit the point where you’re like, “I’ve already done this kink, I need a new kink. What haven’t I done before?
Yeah! Sometimes I just look at stockroom.com to see what the toys are, or I’ll go to a club or talk to a dominatrix, and they’ll tell me a funny story. There are lots of things that end up in the Original Sinners books that are straight gossip from dominatrixes I know.
I’ve actually had a disturbing number of people ask me to write the scene from The Mistress, where Nora, at some point in the middle of a scene with Søren, has to pee. And he kicks a bucket into the middle of the room and tells her to go. Very sadistic! A dominatrix told me about that one, and I have been shocked by the number of people who come to me on twitter and ask, “Are you ever going to write that?”
I would love to see that one, too! Mostly because I feel like Nora would be torn between saying Fuck you and Goddammit, I need to pee and I want to get laid.
She’s pretty shameless, though, she’d do it.
So yeah, there’s Michael’s Wings this fall, and then The Chateau will either be this fall or early next spring.
I’m not going to lie, the fact that you’re still writing in The Original Sinners universe makes me so happy!
They’re my babies!
I did eight full-length books for Harlequin, and that’s massive. So when I wrote The Bourbon Thief they were like, “Yes, more of this.”
But eight books in a series is massive! Can you think of any other eight book series?
Especially in romance.
Even Harry Potter is only seven.
And in romance most series have a different couple for each book. So having the same characters, and being able to keep the story fresh over eight books, is amazing.
It’s a soap opera.
A kinky soap opera.
So that’s the fun of self-publishing. We can keep the series going, and we can do different things with them. So I don’t have to write a direct sequel, I can go back and write Kingsley at age twenty four, or one of Nora’s books.
Okay, last question. Have you ever, in your head, thought of alternate universes for your books? Like what if Nora ended up with Wesley after all, or maybe Nora and Søren don’t meet until she’s older.
There were two. There were two moments were I thought, Why didn’t I write it that way to start with?
The first is in The King, Søren goes to Kingsley and asks for help. He has a girl from his church, he needs to keep her from going to juvie. And Kingsley is able to help sixteen-year-old Eleanor and get her community service. But Kingsley says to Søren, “What would you do if wasn’t able to help her?” And Søren says, “I think she and my mother would get along well.” In other words, Søren would have kidnapped her and taken her to Denmark to live with his mother. He knows she’s the true love of his life! And that would be such a great dark and twisty book that I could have written.
So that was one. The other comes up in The Queen, when she tells Kingsley, “Did you know that my father almost got joint custody of me, which means I would have been growing up like a mile from your house. Which meant I could have stolen one of your cars.” So it could have been that it was Kingsley who met and got involved with sixteen-year-old Eleanor, not Søren.
That would have changed everything.
If one little thing had changed, Kingsley would have seen her first, not Søren.
I’m very glad that I wrote everything the way I did, but every so often I’m like, “Yeah, that would have been fun to write, too.
When I’m sixty years old and sitting around with nothing else to do, I’ll go back and re-write my own books.
I’m looking forward to this in a few decades!
Thank you so much for meeting with me today, I really appreciate it.
You’re very welcome, thank you for having me!