Friday, December 05, 2008

Writing that touches

Craig Sorensen

Today is a mixed emotional bag - sad because goodbyes are always difficult, and joyous because I have the pleasure of Craig's company! Read on to find out more about the 'high contrasts' that drive him on ...

Why do you write?

Stories have flowed in my mind for as long as I can remember, and for years I fitfully tried to harness these ideas. I lacked direction, like a musician unable to decide what instrument or even what type of music is his natural voice. Another malady that I have suffered from! During those times, I collected fragments and occasional completed works into a slew of notebooks. I loved the act of writing these ideas, but I always sensed that what I was doing was incomplete.

It took me years until I truly got a handle on it. During those years I guess I was working on what musicians call chops. Coming to understand what I wanted to say, how I could best express it. Through those fitful writing years, I wrote an awful lot of weak stuff. I guess it is like playing bad notes on a guitar, learning what notes sound right to the ear, or mind in the case of writing. A few years ago, it all sort of came together as I focused on and completed a book idea I had worked on for years, but never finished. But it was when I started pouring myself into short stories that it all truly came together.

Is there something in particular that you'd like to express?

It varies from story to story, but in general, I want to express emotions, desires and sensations, and how these ferment as people interact. Sometimes its as simple as illustrating that magic moment when a couple truly learns the depth of their love for each other. Sometimes it's how the power one has over another can mask a greater power beneath. Sometimes it is coming to terms with emotional impacts. In visual arts, I love high contrast. Deep dark colors against flashes of bright. I love to play the drums because of the contrast of the bass drum and a crash cymbal. I want to explore the same ideal as a writer. Pleasure juxtaposed with pain, joy with sorrow.

For years I toyed with erotica, but I suppose that little voice in my head pulled me away from it. Embarrassment, whatever. But as I delved deeper into the writing, I kept finding myself toying with erotic ideas, then trying to tone them down. Sexuality is such a powerful drive, and can encompass so many things. It is all senses, and it is ethereal. In French, orgasm is le petit mort: "the little death." This expresses it well. Sexuality touches a higher plane, and that is why many people fear it. It is an absolute expression of power, and like all power it can be good or evil. Benevolent or dictatorial. The draw of writing to me is the power of creation. In it's most pure form, that is the power of sex. What could be better than writing about sex!

What is the most successful piece or work you feel you've written, and why?

It's always hard for me to state a favorite music or style of art. I don't have a favorite food or even type of cuisine. So it's equally hard to look at a story measured against another. But of the pieces I've had published in, one story that sticks out is "Game Three" which was on Clean Sheets in 2007. It's one of the first stories I had published, and I had thought upon submitting it, that it would have little chance of being published because of the topic: a couple dealing with the loss of a young child, and how their sex life reflects their dealing with the tragedy. To explore their losses, then their pulling up from the ashes was an emotional roller coaster. The comments I received from readers that I touched them with this story was gratifying.

Physical pain is something we often explore in erotica. It felt right to express erotic pleasure and need in contrast with pain from the angle of loss.

Please name a recent thought, event, person or whatever that inspired you:

Inspiration comes from so many places or people. I have no idea how many stories either were born in or found their deeper purpose in the shower. There is a cemetery near my house that I pass on a frequent basis, and the way that evening light floods it, or seeing a solitary figure walking among the headstone can spark a story or a poem that just bubbles to be free. It can be an expression in a person's face while ringing up a sale at a cash register, or seeing two people hug when they meet in the airport. It can be a caption on a T-shirt, and superimposing this on a character that would find the salacious message embarrassing.

But there are two people that influence everything I write:

My wife DeDe has not only been a partner in my writing, but a muse. Though she is not a big fan of erotica, she supported my pressing deeper into this form of writing because it was something so wholly natural for me. She recognized this far before I did, and she nurtured me as I came to terms with my natural voice. She has helped me get my hand around the business of writing. Her contribution to my writing is immeasurable.

I don't know how he would react to the sort of writing I do, but my father, who passed away many years before I began to get my hands around my writing, remains a daily source of inspiration. He led a difficult life, and was a quiet but brilliant man. He wrote a book and got a fairly big name agent to work with him, but he never got the book published. It was much harder, and a longer time line, back in the sixties and seventies to finish a book, or even to get in touch with ones inner voice as a writer, and he simply didn't see that all through. He read a few of my early stories and poems, and was alway so encouraging.

Every time I get a story published, I think of him. I believe he's along on this ride with me in spirit.


Craig J. Sorensen is a senior computer geek by day, a writer before early morning light, and a wannabe musician by night. He has lived on both coasts of the United States and was stationed in Germany. Blessed and cursed with insomnia, he pursues his passions all the while juggling time with his talented artist wife DeDe and his amazing kids.

Be sure to visit Craig's blog

Evermore thanks, Craig! I believe next week's guest - the jewel Janine will enjoy the goatee pic in particular ...


Emerald said...

What a beautiful interview. Your enthusiasm and sincerity, both about writing and in general, really came through to me here, Craig; this was a pleasure to read.

Thanks so much again for this lovely series, Nikki, and for sharing, Craig!


Craig Sorensen said...

Thank you so much for joining in, Emerald.

Nikki Magennis said...

What I really admire about both your work and your presence, Craig, is exactly that sincerity. I just hopped over and read 'Game 3' at cleansheets, and I wanted to say that the central scene blew me away.

I think you can get away with exploring something that seems, on first glance, quite shocking, precisely because of the thoughtful and sensitive approach you take. It's writing like that that can really provoke a change in the reader's thoughts. Bravo!

Craig Sorensen said...

Thank you so much, Nikki. What beautiful things to say.

Smut Girl said...

Gooood Morning (here). Am working on coffee number two and reading this weeks' fabulous writer.

*Ahem* *Clears throat*

I think my favorite stories of Craig's are "Never a Rookie" (in Hurts So Good, ed AT) and the one I just read yesterday "Photo Finish" (in Frenzy edited AT). In fact, I think Photo Finish is one of the best shorts I have read in a long, long time.

Craig's writing is always such a nice blend of poetic, real, and sexy. And that can be a hard thing to pull off. Poetic can tend to stray into stilted. But not here. Here the shift from realistic to poetic to sexy is fluid. So, yay, Craig!

And truly, the sexiest thing about Craig is his love for his wife and how it glows in his words every time he mentions her. She is very, very lucky. And since I know her, as well, I'll go ahead and say he is very, very lucky too. But of course, he'd be the first to tell you that!

Thanks again, Nikki. I'm liking these Friday get to know yous for fellow writers. ;)

Craig Sorensen said...

Yes, Sommer, I know how very, very lucky I am.

I'm very blessed for many things in this life, not the least of which is to have my work so warmly complimented by people I admire.

Thank you.

Janine Ashbless said...

I love Craig's lyricism, and the way that his writing feels inspirational. They come across as the words not just of a writer but an artist - as if he sees the world in brighter colours or more dimensions.

Janine Ashbless said...


"Jewel"?? LOL!
Although coincidentally I am working on a story called "Bejewelled" right now. That is, if I can stop surfing and DO SOME WORK for a change...

Nikki Magennis said...

Sommer - noooooo don't tell me about stories in Frenzy! It's somewhere in a box that is all taped up and I can't get to it yet!

I second the applause for fluid, poetic, yet grounded prose, though.

Nikki Magennis said...

- And Janine, I know 'jewel' is a bit of an odd descriptor, but really, there are so few adjectives that begin with J, and I've got a bit obsessed with finding an alliterative for each writer. I thought 'Jewel' mebbe expressed something precious and mysterious, so it seemed appropriate!

I was very happy to find 'consummate' for Craig:

\ˈkän(t)-sə-mət, kən-ˈsə-mət\
Middle English consummat fulfilled, from Latin consummatus, past participle of consummare to sum up, finish, from com- + summa sum

Date: 1527

1 : complete in every detail : perfect
2 : extremely skilled and accomplished
3 : of the highest degree

Craig Sorensen said...

Janine, thanks for taking time from "Bejeweled" to surf by!

I think Nikki's choice of "Jewel" sums you up nicely.

Neve Black said...

Craig is one of the many talented writers that has befriended me this year. He's amazingly talented and I'm not embellishing when I say he's been an abosulte joy to have in my writing world. He's a gift to us all.

Craig and I have traded some e-mail messages back and forth after discovering our mutual love of music, and writing, I wondered if he and I were separated at birth.

Anyway, in one e-mail conversation, Craig sent me a beautiful, touching story about one young man and one young woman's road trip (journey) to a concert. The dialogue between the two characters was beautiful and touching. Craig managed to eloquently strip down the facade that each character was hiding behind. The sensitivity that was deeply hidden; suppressed below blossomed along with their relationship. Craig's overall description of the story, not only made feel like I was right there with them, but in the end he had teary-eyed-

Please keep writing, C. You're so very talented and amazing.

p.s. I'm heading over to Clean Sheets now.
p.s.s. Nice job Nikki!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Craig, you are the compleat storyteller, a gifted chef of narrative, character, emotion, and sensuality. Even your blog posts—such fine examples of perfectly crafted, introspective prose—would be worthy of book-club discussions.

I think your inspiring self-awareness and the sense of honesty and freedom in your fiction go hand in hand. You are so in touch and so attuned, with an ear for description to match your eye for human complexity, and the result is a heap o' fine storymakin'. Two of my favorites are the upliftingly delectable "Tolling"; and the incomparable "Suspension" (from Tasting Her), which I found to be an instant erotic classic, one of those short-story masterpieces with a real "epic" quality.

You're also a heckuva nice guy, and I'm proud to be Pennsylvania smut buddies with you. [For those who don't know, Craig and I once had a public tug-of-war over a Kristina Lloyd book ... and if that's not a bonding experience, I don't know what is.]

And my spamword is demixed. (Don't you hate it when all the vermouth floats to the top?)

Jeremy Edwards said...

P.S. Thank, Nikki, for Craig Day! You rock!!

[New spamword: psycie. I think that's a mind-reader born between February 19 and March 18.]

Craig Sorensen said...

Neve, thank you for such warm words. One of the things I love most about writing is to be inspire emotions, an I'm so glad that my story did that.

Craig Sorensen said...


Wow. What can I say? You've been supportive since I was first getting published. You have also been an inspiration.

Your thoughts are more touching to me than you can possibly know.

I can't even think of anything clever or witty to say, so I'll just say thank you.

Nikki Magennis said...

Aha! I love it when an interviewee gets struck speechless! That's the ticket, Jeremy!


(I know, I'm shit at the laugh, I know.)

Anonymous said...

Usually, I’m reluctant to leave comments because in a way I feel like I’m overstepping my bounds. As Craig’s wife, my statements have very little clout as wives are supposed to be supportive of their husbands' endeavors. However, in this instance, I have to weigh in because I’m a book lover from way back (I learned to read at the age of 3 and have had my nose in some sort of book ever since) and I just happen to be a major fan of Craig Sorensen, the author.

Craig writes with honesty and passion. His characters live and breathe far beyond the confines of the page upon which they are written because they resonate with the reader. He is fearless! He dares to take life’s seemingly ordinary moments and through skillful manipulation elevate the mundane into the extraordinary. He’s balanced and judicious with his word choice like a master chef with his spices. Craig’s work is as deliciously satisfying as a fine meal at a Michelin star restaurant!

Smut Girl said...

*I second the applause for fluid, poetic, yet grounded prose, though.*

Much better than what I said, Nikki. It was supposed to say "realistic" and I typed real. I should never comment before I'm done the second cup, but the intent was good!

my word is pericat. hmm. pussy in trouble??

Donna said...

Everything said here is so true! It's hard to know where to begin in praise of Craig's work. His stories always transport me and move me. The characters are vulnerable, honest, believable and ultimately stay with me--I've got a long list of CS scenes I often flash on, and they're not ALL the sexiest moments. I'd say it's the human moments that give his work such power. Not to mention the humor and damn good prose.

This interview, too, shows a depth of creative and artistic sensibility. We are so lucky to have you in the erotica genre, Craig. I'm glad you found us!

Craig Sorensen said...

Thank you so much Donna. I admire your writing, and I am so honored by your comments.

Alana said...

Fucking beautiful responses, Craig. Your artistic vision rocks me. Keep writing, please. Peace, A

Kirsten Monroe said...

What a treat to find this wonderful interview waiting at the end of a long day. Craig, your insight is so refreshing and interesting -- and your writing so brilliant and lush. Thanks so much Nikki for giving us this window into the writer's mind -- and you, Craig, for your inspiration (and of course the gifts of your writing).


I will have sweet dreams tonight :)

Craig Sorensen said...

Hi Alana,

Thank you for joining in. I'll keep writing for sure.

Hi Kirsten,

Thank you for your warm thoughts. I'm glad you stopped by.

Craig Sorensen said...

To my host Nikki, and to all who were kind enough to take the time and join in:

Working back to the title of this series: "Writing That Touches," I can say for sure that everyone who posted here has inspired, influenced and indeed touched me.

I thank you all for your encouragement.

Alana said...

Nikki, I forgot to thank you for the interview here. Thank you. You're generous to offer your personal space to other writers. I like the ongoing column. Very cool.


Nikki Magennis said...

Hi all, thanks so much for coming by. It's lovely to see your wife here too Craig!

Really, there's nothing in the world more fun than letting people hear the praise they fully deserve, and I *love* hearing people talk about their writing practice.

EllaRegina said...

Beautiful words, Craig!

Craig Sorensen said...

I thank you, EllaRegina!