Monday, June 27, 2011

What Do You Feel?

By Kathleen Braden

Call me a curmudgeon, but I have angst fatigue, so I picked a topic this week that I hoped would lead the Grippers to talk about something other than woe. Lisabet led off with a great piece that highlights how erotica uses heightened sensory input to draw in the reader. But now I'm going to loop back around to woe and talk about the writer LA Banks.

Rather than infringe on copyright for her bio, I'll just include a link to her Wikipage.

I met LA Banks at a writer's con soon after reading one of her books. She taught a class about using the senses in your writing. I still tap into the things she talked about. She mostly spoke in terms of writing horror, not erotica, but it's my belief that horror and erotica are closely related genres. Horror uses heightened sensory input to manipulate the reader into a primal reaction, as does erotica. Both pay close attention to small details, the texture of the scene. I remember her asking the class to be quiet and listen to the air conditioner. As I felt the skin up my spine tightening, she said, "Have you ever noticed how creepy quiet can be?" The rest of her examples were just as effective. No grandiose scenarios, just using what was at hand, which made a huge impression on me. After the class, we spoke in the hallway, and she was gracious, generous with her time, and supportive. Soon after that class, I wrote Red By Any Other Name (Sweetest Kiss, Cleis Press) a story with strong elements of horror as well as eroticism that remains one of my favorites.

Last week, as I prepped to write on this topic, I found out that LA Banks is critically ill. What do I feel? Woe. Serendipity should never be this sad. Here's the woman who taught me how to add texture to my scenes to give them the spark of life, and she and her family are suffering. She's a successful writer, but success in writing doesn't equate to a living wage, health insurance, or any of the basic needs for a writer to live. So her friends and many in the publishing industry have put up some great items for auction to help pay some of her medical bills. Now, I won't often help publicize something like this so don't send me links to your fund raiser, and I know that there are many writers out there in terrible circumstances, but LA Banks made, and still makes, an impact on my writing, so I'm making the exception for this exceptional person.

LA Banks auction

Even if you don't know her or haven't read her work, the items up for auction are incredible.


  1. Kathleen,

    I've never met L.A.Banks, but I have certainly heard of her, always described in terms of respect. I'd also read about her illness. I hope the auction is some help - thanks for sharing.

  2. I feel bad that I enjoyed her book but never got around to reading more. She's a good writer, and leads a damn fine class.


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