Hey folks! Today I’m happy to introduce you to Katie de Long and her story Queen of Clubs: Cora!
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Katie de Long lives in the Pacific northwest, realizing her dream of being a crazy cat-lady. As a kid, Katie flagged the fade-to-blacks in every adult book she encountered, and when she began writing, she vowed to use cutaways sparingly. After all, that’s when the good stuff happens. And on a kindle, no one asks why there’s so many bookmarks in her library.
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~ * ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR and BOOK ~ * ~
What inspired you to write the story you are promoting?
Queen of Clubs was inspired by a lot of things. Some of it was a dare from my man-beast, a writer who wanted to see me try my hand at it. We’re both Frank Miller nerds, and Sin City is our favorite, despite some of its misogynistic overtones. He dared me to write a series of standalone stories that tied together, like Sin City, and after a few of these stories, we found ourselves building other settings around them, too. Not just strippers, but thieves, investigators, etc. There’s a lot of easter eggs throughout the books, where one character has a very minor appearance in someone else’s book. (Each book is written from a different point of view, to offer a different character’s arc.) And a lot of the stories are pushed forward in other books. Cora, for instance, ends on an upbeat note, but we’ll see her place in some other girls’ drama before her return in Season 2, handling the fallout and hopefully reaching a more long-term happy ending. The club is as much a character as any of the people working in it, and it’s a great setting to wallow in.
Did you do any interesting research for this book? If so, please share the process and what you learned. If not, why did you feel the story didn’t warrant research?
Truthfully, it’s not so much that I researched this project, so much as this project was well suited to me because I was already well researched. I’ve got more than my fair share of history with the strip club scene, and brought all that to bear in creating a pretty realistic framework for the club, and recognition of the larger scene. It’s a pet peeve of mine reading strippers in fiction where the work encompasses things that are so very far from industry practice, they’re only used to titillate, sensationalize, or provide a “gritty” patina. I’ve had to compromise on a handful of those things, but I’m happy with how the overall setting came out.
I’ve got a particular interest in the portrayal of sex work in its myriad forms (Professional domination, nude modeling, porn, pinup/glamour photography, stripping, selling sexual services, phone sex, etc. It’s a really diverse industry). It’s a field that I’ve got a pretty intimate awareness of– I’ve got many friends in varying aspects of the field, and have dabbled in a few of the facets, myself. And it’s one that often is not written by people who have that insight, though I wouldn’t consider myself an authority in all facets of it. There’s something fantastical about the setting in fiction, but a lot of that fantasy comes from the shorthand narratives associated with it– drugs, childhood abuse, absent daddy figures, exploitation, lack of self-esteem, deceptive “feminists” encouraging girls to devalue themselves while exploitatively reaping the profits, etc. And while these stories do exist in that industry– as they do everywhere else, in every other industry– they are often used to justify the practices in this one that actually are exploitative, or the crimes of those who believe that those working in the sex industry deserve whatever they get. Or even the legal framework that denies sex workers basic workers’ rights, and allows discrimination and harassment.
So some of my interest in writing Queen of Clubs was a desire to do better– to write a strip club scene that neither marginalized or exploited the women participating in it, but that didn’t whitewash the issues of women who actually do work in strip clubs to make it an ultra-glamorous feminist beacon of liberation. The individual romances, as fun as they are to write, are balanced by the fact that they exist in a pretty wide context.
What was your process for coming up with the title and character names in the story you are promoting?
Stripper names are easier to come up with than real character names. Often, you can find inspiration for those in commonplace concepts, like food, drink, or spices- (Honey, Krystalle, Hennessey, Cinnamon, Saffron), cities- (Berlin, Vegas, London), ancient gods or goddesses (Athena, Ares), even plain old girl-next-door names- (Krissy, Shauna, Lexi).
The Queen of Clubs titles are pretty utilitarian- they’re named for their heroines, simply with the girl’s name. There’s enough of them that it didn’t make sense to brand the stories individually, only the overall setting, as it far outweighs any one character’s contributions to the main shape. And this way, it’s easier to remember.
What is your favorite line, or scene, that you wrote in the story you are promoting? Why is it?
“I loved awkward guys. Guys with rough edges, who were interesting to look at not because they were beautiful, but because they were unique.”
In general, I like openings and endings the most, but this line made me happy, because it’s pretty close to my own philosophy. Give me a guy with a strong voice over a guy with those weird pelvic V muscles any day. You ask me my celebrity crush list, and you’re as likely to find someone like Ron Perlman on it as you are the dude who plays Thor. Sacrilege, I know.
Did you have a favorite drink and/or snack on hand while writing the story you are promoting? If so, what was it? If not, did you have something else that was special going on, like listening to music or where you wrote the story?
Snack or drink? No. I don’t usually eat while I write. Music? Absolutely. I keep playlists for all my girls- these can be found on my website. Everyone has their own personality that contributes to their distinctive sound. Cora’s is often quirky or downtempo, but fairly cheerful and upbeat in tone, Malia’s is slow, often nostalgic or tragic, Tori’s is upbeat, a little rock-y and punk, but also with a lot of attitude and edges, since so much of her hustle is built around her persona as a dominatrix. These’re just a few of my setting scores.
I keep really thorough images in my head of the characters. Everything from their costumes, to their hustles, to the types of men who become their regulars, to their preferred makeup style. Some of this can be translated to offer as tidbits for readers, but the rest of it just stays in my head as background.
What is something readers might not know about you and would be surprised to learn?
When I’m upset, I like to make caramel. I do a lot of other cooking and candymaking, despite my decided lack of sweet tooth, but caramel hits my mad-scientist spot. You heat up the sugar and water, taking pains to keep the sugar from crystallizing, heat it to the burning point, and right before it burns, you remove it from the heat, add any thinners you might want, like milk or cream, and stir it to prevent the cooked sugar from cooling and hardening. Or you just pour it to let it chill and set, like hard candy. But I love watching it turn brown, love the smell of it caramelizing, and love the speed needed to prevent it from burning or setting. Creme Caramel is another dish that soothes me to cook, for similar mad-scientist reasons. You pour the straight caramel into the bottom of the ramekin, where it will harden completely. Then, you pour the custard over top, bake it, and in the process, the caramel pulls the water from the custard into itself to change its texture. You run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, flip it upside down over a plate, and your hard caramel is now a creamy syrup, on top of the solid custard. SCIENCE! And also a damn sexy treat.
Worst thing about caramelmaking? Said caramelizing creates a lot of smoke. I had a lot of friction with my neighbors before I learned to disconnect my smoke detector before I started cooking. 3 AM insomniac caramel candymaking? Great for me. Less so for the guy in the apartment next to me.
~ * ~ BLURB ~ * ~
The exotic dancers and employees of the Queen of Clubs walk a fine line, with only wits, beauty, and market savvy to keep them from toppling into the shark pit. Ride shotgun through lapdances, romance, and sexual awakenings. Don’t worry, these girls won’t ask what your hands are doing under the tip rail.
Cora, an adventurous student, finds herself auditioning for a stripping gig…and it comes with more than the asking price, including a very attractive DJ.
Queen of Clubs contains adult content, and is intended for mature readers. Each Queen of Clubs title is a standalone novella length work.
~ * ~ EXCERPT ~ * ~
I prayed the song wouldn’t end. Would the next one jar me out of this rhythm? Would I wake up and discover it was a dream, that I was still the awkward college student I had to be the rest of the time? I slid the straps of my bra off my shoulders and undid the catch, but hesitated to let it fall away from me.
I looked toward Kirk and met his eyes. Fuck. He’d been staring, a combination of lust, pride, and approval in the small smile on his face. It reassured me, and against my better judgment, I grinned back.
~ * ~ BUY ~ * ~
Queen of Clubs is currently published monthly. Visit delongkatie.com for preorder and purchase links, or sign up for the mailing list, to be notified when new titles are available.
~ * ~ GIVEAWAY ~ * ~
Katie de Long will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a swag pendant to one randomly selected commenter. CLICK HERE to enter to win! Readers, follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates and places can be found here: Tour Schedule
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Katie de Long, thank you for stopping by today!
Love & blessings to all! ❤