Sunday Shorts – “Threesome” Q&A with N.S. Beranek

ThreesomeN.S. Beranek is another author I met through the incredible Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, and we’ve shared tables of contents a few times now (the first time, I think, was in one of the short fiction contests for the festival in question, come to think of it). I don’t think I could come up with a cohesive list of all the wonderful things Saints & Sinners has done for me, but top of that list would definitely be the readers and fellow authors I’ve met through the event. N.S. was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about the opening story in Threesome.

Few sexual fantasies are as potent or lasting as “the threesome” – as an adolescent, the first time you saw a hot couple walking hand in hand and you wanted to follow them back home and into their bed, as an adult when you discover that your partner has been fantasizing also about the bartender at your favorite club.

1+1+1 = sensual delight!
 
Editor Matthew Bright, no stranger to threesomes himself, has invited twelve authors to write stories that range from the sweet and romantic to erotic and playful and even a bit depraved.


 

NB: First off, your story in Threesome, “Call for Submission,” is the opening tale. This means congratulations are in order. I’ve been speaking with a lot of editors about selection and placement of tales in anthologies, and they’ve all mentioned how important the opening story is. What gave birth to the story?

NSB: Congratulations right back, ‘Nathan. Your story, “Vanilla,” is a terrific tale. I particularly loved your main character’s idea of luring customers in with sexy sculpture and rich chocolate. If you ever turn your love for baking into a real world enterprise, that would be a great tactic.

As for my story going first in the anthology, (Lethe Press publisher) Steve Berman said, “I’m going to hold you responsible if the book fails,” so it’s rather a Sword of Damocles, isn’t it? Seriously, I have faith in our fearless editor, Matt Bright. I think the decision to have three sections with three different types of stories is pretty clever. I’m certain there’s something here for everyone.

What gave form to the story was my being unnerved by the idea of writing something for an erotica collection. I’d never done that, or attempted it, or even considered it before that point.

NB: Been there. The first time I wrote erotica I swear I was blushing the entire time. My husband mocked me.

NSB: My fears, and the arguments I had with myself when I first decided to try it, informed the conversations between Eric and George. So did the fact that they took on a life of their own almost immediately. I didn’t write their dialogue as much as I eavesdropped on it. In quiet moments I’d realize they were talking, and I’d grab a pen. About seventy percent of the story was taken down in one session, but I didn’t know quite what to do with it after that, so I put it aside and tried other things. Seven other things, to be exact. “Call” was the second of the nine attempts I made to come up with a story for this. The one that I thought was going to be it hit a wall, and so at the eleventh hour I went back, gave this story a fresh look, and was able to see what had to happen in order for it to be finished.

NB: I am so glad to hear I’m not the only one who does that. You’ve beaten my record, though. I think my best was four story attempts where the fifth one worked (for Jerry L. Wheeler‘s Bears of Winter.) I love the idea of “eavesdropping,” and that makes sense to me when I read your prose. Your stories are always very character driven, alongside a sly humour and often a very “day to day” vibe of people just trying to live their lives. Where do your characters come from?

NSB: My characters are manifestations of my experiences. Probably the single biggest influence on my writing is the fact that when I was nine my mother became very good, albeit long distance, friends with actor/director/writer/gay rights activist Michael Kearns. I saw the way the world responded when he refused to hide his sexuality. The sanitized version is: It wasn’t pretty. Meanwhile, I was raised Catholic but we lived in a Jewish neighborhood; my classmates were, quite literally, from all over the globe; the principal of my grammar school was black; and the principal of my high school was a woman. It meant that I felt society was on the same sheet of music regarding diversity, in wanting to be inclusive… except where sexual orientation was concerned. I felt the hostility whenever I tried to broach the subject, but mostly I witnessed the prejudice. I feel like I’ve lived that Phil Collins song, “In the Air Tonight.” I was there and I saw what they did. What they still do.

As for humor, there’s a line from a Jimmy Buffett song that sums it up nicely: “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”

NB: No kidding. What projects are on the horizon for you? And, a question I’ve been asking a lot of the authors: what anthology theme would you love to see and contribute to that you haven’t seen yet?

NSB: The very next project is the Saints and Sinners 2016 anthology. Again, congratulations to you for having a story in that volume. My story for that is the last of the nine I started while trying to come up with an entry for Threesome. It’s the one that hit a wall at the last minute. I find that the “Saints and Sinners” theme is often the precise thing needed to kick a story over the finish line.

That’s March and April. In May a book that I edited, The Role, written by Richard Taylor Pearson, will be released, and then in October my debut novel, Angels Fall, will be out. Both are from Lethe Press.

NB: Angel’s Fall has a flipping gorgeous cover, by the way.

NSB: Thank you! It was designed by Matt from Inskpiral.

After that I’m editing another novel, but I’m not yet at liberty to give details, so….

An anthology theme I’d love to see, huh? Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you, and I reaaaaally don’t want to do that, especially considering what you wrote for Threesome.

Just sayin’.

NB: Well, I look forward to seeing all these projects come to light.

You can find Threesome: Him, Him and Me directly at Lethe Press here, or—as always—check Indiebound for your closest brick and mortar. It should also be available wherever fine quality LGBT books are sold.


Beranek photoBorn and raised in Chicago, N.S. Beranek holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theater and Design and for nineteen years was an Assistant Propmaster in regional theatre. Other stories she has written have appeared in Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press), Diverse Voices Quarterly, vol. 6 issue 21, and Saints & Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 (Bold Strokes Books). She is the editor of The Role by Richard Taylor Pearson (Lethe Press, May 2016), and the author of the gay speculative fiction novel, Angels Fall (Lethe Press), which will be released this October.

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