***At the risk of sounding dramatic, Niagara Falls simply calls me. Funnily enough, what first really drew me to them was my reading of a novel years ago that was set there. It was a historical novel, based in Niagara Falls, Canada, just after the turn of the twentieth century during the start of World War I. To be frank, I didn’t particularly care for the novel overall, but I found myself enchanted by the description of the setting. I interpreted a thematic undertone perceiving Niagara Falls as a natural phenomenon that was being, as has seemed not uncommon, overtaken or at least influenced by human construction and interference.
I felt fascinated that this was the perception of (some of) the characters even then, more than 100 years ago—how at the time, there were heated debates about the Falls: was it justifiable to divert the flow of water to generate electricity, for example, and if so, where does the line get drawn? At what point is it inappropriate for the human species to manipulate the natural world to suit its desires? (A salient question right now indeed, it seems…)
Now, of course, Niagara Falls seems as much a place for casinos and entertainment as it does a natural wonder around which such decadence has been built. I find this also interesting to observe, particularly in the context of its relative debate counterpart in the novel. Is everything we build and develop “progress”? What, if anything, do we owe the natural systems and formations of the planet on which we live?
These questions do not have easy answers, as I see it. I myself demonstrated the tension between them during my solo writing retreat to Niagara Falls in 2013. It was unquestionably the earth-based, natural phenomenon of the Falls that I went to see—the vast tourism that surrounds it didn’t and doesn’t interest me in the slightest. And yet, I simultaneously benefited from the contemporary convenience of a Canadian-side Fallsview hotel, which offered me a room with a stunning view of the Falls (the recollection of which literally makes me yearn to be there right now) and unquestionably represents human interruption of the environment.
I embarked upon this writing retreat in February of 2013 (much cheaper during the off-season!) with the intention of partaking in and focusing solely on writing. I went by myself, for three days, booked a room with a pristine view of both the American and Canadian Falls—and stayed in that room virtually the entire time I was there. At the time, I was finishing the short stories in what would become my two single-author story collections, If… Then: a collection of erotic romance stories and Safe: a collection of erotic stories.
I had all the more motivation to locate this writing retreat at Niagara Falls because one of the stories in If… Then is partially set there. Protagonist Shelley also feels tension around the Falls, though for quite different reasons from those described above. Shelley adores Niagara Falls, a favorite vacation spot of her family’s while she was growing up, and she much looks forward to her and her husband’s five-year anniversary trip to visit them. She also experiences, however, an involuntarily association between visiting the Falls and memories of her sister, who befell a tragedy five years prior only days after the wedding anniversary she and her husband are celebrating.
I thus found being there, looking out at the same view my characters had, doubly exhilarating. The inspiration was even more successful than I had hoped and expected, and I accomplished more writing-wise in that three days than I had in an embarrassing length of time prior. The simultaneous predictability and wonder of Niagara Falls entranced me even as it seemed to propel forth a well of creativity and focus that had previously been slightly blocked.
To be truthful, I don’t know exactly what draws me to the Falls. Their extraordinary combination of mystery, beauty, consistency, and power both beckon and captivate me…and in appreciating that, it occurs to me I don’t really need to know why. It is just the case. My enchantment with them supported me in finishing the short story collections I had long planned and wanted to write, and for that tiny personal offering amidst their universal appeal, I revere them all the more.
Title: If… Then: a collection of erotic stories
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: 1001 Nights Press
Date of Publication: September 16, 2014
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 38,740
In these tales of sizzling erotic romance, deep affection and the warmth of familiarity underlie the erotic connection between longtime lovers. “The Plant on the Mantel” explores the unexpected implications of a generations-past affair on a young married couple. “Honey Changes Everything” finds Kim wondering how to lead her husband out of his state of despair upon losing his job; inspiration comes when breakfast in bed serves up more than just pancakes. And “If…” and “…Then” examine what happens when Valerie finds herself intensely attracted to someone other than her boyfriend—and what he does when he finds out.
With two original stories (“Soft and Gray” and “Shattered Angels”) joining the eight previously published tales in this collection, If…Then is a testament to the scorching eroticism that can so seamlessly subsist with long-term romance.
Amazon US: http://amzn.com/B00NN6L5U2
Excerpt from “Shattered Angels” in If… Then:
“I’m sorry again about dinner,” Shelley murmured finally, pulling away as she sat up. Automatically she reached to straighten her hair.
“Stop apologizing,” Kenny said, reaching for her wrist, “and stop messing with your hair. It looks amazing.”
Shelley smiled weakly as she dropped her hands. Her husband went to the phone on the table in the corner, and she breathed a sigh of relief as she heard the low murmur of his voice and knew he was canceling their dinner reservation.
Her gaze landed on the huge white tub as he passed the bathroom on the way back. “Maybe we should try out the whirlpool.”
Kenny switched directions and turned on the faucet, launching a miniature version of the thundering phenomenon out the window. As he reached to check the water temperature, Shelley felt a familiar stirring inside her at the sight of his lean figure encased in jet-black dress slacks and white shirt. His tie was still immaculate. The strength of the attraction made her blink as Kenny straightened and came back toward her. Her eyes dropped to the crotch of his trousers to see if his own arousal was still present.
He saw her looking. When she looked back to meet his eyes, she knew what she was feeling was obvious in hers. And her desire felt different this time; this was not the desperate yearning for distraction and grounding that had been piling up in her so much for the past few weeks.
She simply wanted him. She wanted her husband.
The awareness made Shelley smile involuntarily, and Kenny looked like he wanted to leap at her. He took a step forward, and she put up her hand.
“Stop,” she whispered. She wanted to look at him. She almost said the words out loud, but as she drank in his appearance, the view of the Niagara Falls to her right suddenly taking a distant second, no words came.
“Strip,” she finally said. Though it was a command, it came out as a simple word, almost an observation, the softness of a request with no power play in its agenda.
Kenny held her gaze as he lifted his hands to his tie, and she felt herself grow wet as he began to pull it loose, the weight of his eyes like the press of his body against her. Those eyes said more than the visible hardness of his cock how much he wanted her, how precisely he felt the same thing she did as he pulled the tie from around his collar and unbuttoned his top button. She could feel the measured restraint in his slowness, the steadiness that kept him from ripping everything off and pouncing on her. It was the same energy, the same patience, that allowed him the groundedness and perceptivity that so attuned him to knowing what she needed.
Emerald is an award-winning author of erotic fiction whose short stories have been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, Logical-Lust, and Sweetmeats Press. She is an advocate for sexual freedom, reproductive justice, and the rights of sex workers, and she serves as a Facebook group moderator and newsletter editor for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW). Her first solo short story collection, If…Then: a collection of erotic romance stories, was released in late 2014, and her second collection, Safe: a collection of erotic stories, won the bronze IPPY in the Erotica category of the 2016 Independent Publisher Awards. Find her online at her website, The Green Light District: TheGreenLightDistrict.org.
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Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/emerald