Whether Lana Fox is better known as an author, or an editor and publisher, I cannot know. My first encounter with Lana’s work was when I read their story “Good British Steel” in Best Bondage Erotica 2012, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel—and I was mightily impressed, not to mention turned on.
But it was not until I heard Lana’s interview with Rose Caraway on Rose’s Sexy Librarian’s Erotica Blog-Cast, in 2015, that I realized what an interesting person this was. Lana is founder of Go Deeper Press, an erotica publisher that is not afraid to take chances that other publishers will shy away from.
Lana and partner Jacob Louder are relentlessly sex-positive, activist, supportive and promotional. As their Mission Statement says:
We have no bans. We’re anti-shame. We aren’t fans of binaries, either. Call our work erotica. Call it porn. We don’t mind.
Oh. And did we mention we love turning you on?
I am an admirer. Lana has found erotica to be liberating, a tool to fight shame, not cause it.
I invited Lana to discuss their own favorite erotica, the work that prompted them to get into this business, this creative endeavor, this calling of ours. I knew I would get some interesting answers:
My erotica journey began decades ago in a UK bookstore. Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus was just lying on one of the display tables, and I happened to pick it up. I was young at the time and almost constantly ashamed, having been abused as a child and taught that sex was disgraceful. But when I opened the first few pages of Delta of Venus and read of the dark Baron with his unassailable hunger for flouting sexual rules, I realized that the rule-breaking fantasies that I’d kept locked inside me had finally burst into a reality outside of my skin.
It was terrifying and beautiful and it changed me.
From there, my relationship with Anaïs Nin grew deeper still. Many years later, when I’d left the life I’d inhabited back then and moved to the USA, I read Anaïs Nin’s unexpurgated diary, Incest, and was changed yet again. The passage in which Nin writes about having sex with her father was one of the most dangerous, beautiful, devastating, and powerful pieces of writing I’d ever seen. As an incest survivor myself, I felt freed by it. Nin was the only writer I’d encountered who seemed to acknowledge that the terrible things that happen to us, sexually and erotically, can sometimes feel as hot and alive as they do painful. I can never thank her enough for that. She even inspired me to write her an erotic tribute called Cathedral of Furs.
Nin’s works, especially her diaries, have had more influence on my writing and my life than any others. The unexpurgated diaries continue to publish, thanks to editor Paul Herron, and I’m currently being profoundly influenced by the latest, Trapeze. But these books and films have also affected me in a big way:
- Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet, in which Nancy dresses up as a boy in Victorian England in order to earn pennies as a sex worker, then keeps the aspects of that identity that make her feel most comfortable. Nancy was my huge crush—she helped me to come out as queer. The BBC adaptation starring Rachael Stirling is delectable.
- Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, which haunted me. Her language is beyond incredible.
- Secretary, the movie, which has a beautiful, tender heart, and through which I found BDSM and began to understand my love of pain.
- To Have and Have Not, starring Bogart and Bacall, because I adore the aesthetic and how it shows that broken people can have the biggest, kindest hearts.
- And Sin City—in fact, I’ll go so far as to say that the movie Sin City II: A Dame to Kill For is actually all I need. It isn’t P.C. It isn’t very inclusive. It’s all shadows and dimness and stark, sloping light, and bruises and razors and smoky swears. Why does it affect me? In my dreams, I want to see people who have harmed themselves pointing guns at those who caused their wish to die. Sin City gives me that. It’s a story I’ve always longed for.
I’ll also mention Donna Tart’s The Secret History. It isn’t erotic, but it’s one of the most gripping books I’ve ever read. It taught me a lot about keeping a reader on the edge of their seats.
But my tastes are evolving. My partner Jake came out a couple of years ago as transgender, and I am currently coming out as non-binary (preferred pronouns: they/them). That in mind, here’s a pretty amazing accolade: Jake, who co-runs Go Deeper Press with me, signed Xan West’s queer kink collection, Show Yourself to Me over almost two years ago now. It contains a story called “The Tender Sweet Young Thing,” which pulled me into its heart and held me there. (You can read it for free here, thanks to Sinclair Sexsmith). West’s understanding of gender, their sense of found family, and the brightness of the story’s fantasy affected me quite deeply. Now, I’m beginning to find further works containing non-binary, trans, and GNC characters with whom I can identify. It is the beginning of a new journey.
Thank you, LN Bey, for asking me along!