Jill Emerson’s Page
August 8, 2012
JILL’S COMPLETE WORKS @ $2.99 APIECE!
Open Road is running a major Jill Emerson promotion this month, so now’s a good time to stock up. Here’s a list of the books with links to Amazon and B&N; they’re available for other ePlatforms as well. (Getting Off is not an Open Road title, so its price is higher. Still worth it, though…)
WARM AND WILLING Amazon B&N
ENOUGH OF SORROW Amazon B&N
THIRTY Amazon B&N
THREESOME Amazon B&N
A MADWOMAN’S DIARY Amazon B&N
THE TROUBLE WITH EDEN Amazon B&N
A WEEK AS ANDREA BENSTOCK Amazon B&N
GETTING OFF Amazon B&N Audible
April 18, 2012
An outstanding review for Getting Off
by Elizabeth A. White
“She felt at home here, but she had the knack of feeling at home just about anywhere. And a girl didn’t want to overstay her welcome. – Kit Tolliver
“There’s a reason author Lawrence Block has received countless awards for his writing and been recognized as a Grand Master of his craft – the man is damn good at what he does.
“And what he does is write books that are a marvel of plotting and pacing, nearly always infused with a wickedly sly sense of humor, and which often strike a chord that resonates so strongly the characters and outcome echo in your mind long after you’ve finished reading…
“Getting Off is the story of young Kit Tolliver. At least that’s one of her names. She tends to change them quite frequently as she moves from town to town finding, seducing, fleecing, and killing a string of lovers.
“While reflecting on her black widow tendencies after one of her kills, Kit realizes there are actually five men whom she’s slept with without killing; five who were lucky enough to pass through her life before she dedicated herself to a series of ultimate one-night stands. Bothered by the idea those men are still alive, Kit decides to track each of them down for one last fling.
“Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well this is Lawrence Block we’re talking about, folks, so there’s more to it than that…As Kit travels the country she crosses paths with some of the worst dregs society has to offer, and along the way she begins to think of herself in a slightly different light. But it’s not until Kit finally encounters someone whom she not only doesn’t feel the need to kill, but with whom she actually tries to envision a future that Block really kicks things into a higher gear. Don’t worry, Kit doesn’t blossom overnight into Sandra Dee. Block does, however, use Kit’s dawning awareness of a life beyond impersonal sex and nomadic homicide to explore the dark connection between love and hate, as well as the question of whether one can ever truly overcome traumatic events which leave an imprint on them during formative years.
“Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out for the more delicate flowers that the book is subtitled ‘A Novel of Sex & Violence’ for a reason. There is a copious amount of both to be found amongst the pages of Getting Off, including sex of the sapphic variety. So, if detailed descriptions of sex bother you this is definitely not a book with which you’ll be comfortable. If, however, you appreciate strong female characters, wickedly dark humor and bold storytelling, you should definitely consider Getting Off with Lawrence Block.”
Read the full review, plus a great deal more in the way of reviews, interviews, and insight, at Musings of an All-Purpose Monkey
February 7, 2012
Great five-star Kindle review for Threesome
By Robin L. McLaughlin (Seattle, Wa.)
“As the punctuation in my review title indicates, I’m sure there’s some question as to whether erotic pulp fiction can qualify as excellent fiction. The novel Threesome, written by Lawrence Block and published in 1970 under the pen name Jill Emerson, helps to answer that question in the positive.
“I became interested in pulp fiction, more specifically, pulp fiction with lesbian content, a couple years ago. I’ve been aware since the 1980s that there was a lesbian pulp era in the 1950s-1960s, but I’d never really bothered to learn anything about it or read any of the books until relatively recently. As I was educating myself on the web, Jill Emerson’s name came up plenty, though not always positively. There’s that whole exploitation thing to deal with from the viewpoint of a lesbian and a feminist.
“But we all have our literary weaknesses and guilty pleasures, and lesbian pulp has become one of mine, even if only in small, occasional doses. So when the Block/Emerson novels went on sale for 99 cents this last November I snagged several to add to my pulp collection on my Kindle. (As an aside, I had already read two Block crime novels prior to this, so was already sold on his writing talent.)
“I just now got around to reading one and chose Threesome as my first. (Though this is bisexual polyamorous pulp, rather than lesbian pulp.) There’s no denying that the intention of this sort of novel was to shock and titillate, to appeal to the prurient side of the reading masses. And there’s no denying that Threesome delivers on that promise. But to dismiss the novel as merely a piece of salacious pulp would be to miss the forest for the trees.
“Threesome has an unusual structure in that the chapters rotate between the three characters, and all are supposedly chapters that each character contributes to a manuscript for what they initially intend to be an erotic bestseller. These fictional book chapters even include asides, notes to the others, and comments on word and grammar usage. Yet far from being distracting, these add to the humor. The structure not only works, but it works very well as the story is revealed in layers from the past and present.
“I count twenty-five passages that I underlined on my Kindle while reading. Some because they were laugh-out-loud funny, some because of clever wording, and some because they were insightful. Yes, I said insightful, and I meant it. It feels really odd (embarrassing?) to admit that one of my most highlighted books on my Kindle is an erotic pulp novel, but there you are. The funny is what surprised me the most. Threesome is downright hilarious, not because of the subject matter, but because of how witty Block is. His writing style is wonderful.
“I guess I’ll finish with a comment on my 5 star rating. Most of us who review using the entire scale, not just 1 and 5 stars, have a personal system for what each rating means. On my personal scale 5 stars means the book was excellent, or possibly extraordinary, *for what it is*. I don’t read a Sue Grafton mystery and only give it 3 or 4 stars because it in no way attains the lofty literary heights of To Kill a Mockingbird. So with that in mind, I simply had no choice but to assign 5 stars to Threesome in order to be true to my rating scale.”
October 8, 2011
Professor Mondo on Getting Off
“In a way, the novel is a picaresque, with our heroine having a series of darkly funny encounters and gradually coming to a series of realizations about herself. Of course, it’s also a crime novel, and an erotic novel. But what it mainly is, is wildly, perversely funny…
“So, is Getting Off for everyone? Nope. But from the pulpy cover to the aforementioned subtitle, nobody is pretending otherwise. I can say, however, that if you like your sex and violence with a dose of nitrous oxide, this may very well be the best book you read this year. Congratulations and thanks to Mr. Block, and to publisher Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime for bringing it out.”
October 4, 2011
Todd Martin gets off on Getting Off in HorrorNews.net:
“I was pretty much hooked from the opening sentence to the last page, and to be honest I was a bit sad that I finished reading it in such a short period of time and I couldn’t help but want more. It has been quite a while since I could say such a thing about a novel…I was so into it that there were many times when I picked it up and intended to only read a chapter or two but ended up reading it for hours on end.
“I also loved the character of Katherine. I can see her becoming a cult figure eventually, and if there is ever a movie version of this novel produced (hopefully by someone like Tarantino), I can see Sherry Moon Zombie playing the part…
“I had a great time reading “Getting Off.” There is enough sex and murder to make anyone happy…”
Read the full review at horrornews.net
September 29, 2011
Getting Off gets Cullen Gallagher blushing
“…Get ready for a wild ride. I have never blushed this much reading a book in public ever before, and I relished every shameless second…
“Despite the graphic content of some of the scenes, when you step back and let your cheeks revert to their natural color, you’ll notice how impeccably crafted the prose is, and how much restraint Block shows in his descriptions…Getting Off is not only erotic and suspenseful, but smartly written and cleverly plotted, too, with a fiendishly funny finale waiting for readers in the very last line.
“And I can’t finish the post without mentioning that great cover art by Gregory Manchess. Hard Case Crime has given readers some of the best cover art of the past few years, and Getting Off stands tall among the best of the best.”
Read the full review in Pulp Serenade. And, in case you’ve forgotten what that great Gregory Manchess cover looks like, here it is again:
September 28, 2011
David J. Montgomery gets Getting Off
“In over 50 years of publishing, Lawrence Block has written more great words than almost any writer you can think of. Terms like “master” and “legend” get thrown around to often — but if you wanted to throw a couple of them Block’s way, I wouldn’t argue with you. Yes, he really is that good…
“Getting Off is a shocking book, for those of us who still have that capacity. (I’m not too sure about myself.) It is certainly not for every taste, but it is brilliantly written. It’s a sexy, violent (there goes that subtitle again), disturbing, darkly humorous, and immensely entertaining novel that prompts some interesting questions about the dichotomy between love (lust?) and hate, fidelity, and how one’s personality (and pathology) are shaped by the things that happen to us.”
Read the full review at Crime Fiction Dossier
September 23, 2011
Best. Review. Ever. By Tom Callahan @ BookReporter
“Fans of Hard Case have come to expect quality entertainment, both reprints of the greatest of past crime fiction and terrific original stories that prove that hardboiled writing is still very much alive and well in the early years of the new, all-too-bloody-so-far, century. Now this is saying something, but GETTING OFF just might be the best book HCC has ever published. Lawrence Block (writing as Jill Emerson) does not just push the boundaries of fiction, he blows them away. This is a book you are never going to forget reading…
“First, the obvious: the sex. There is a lot of explicit sex here, just about in every chapter. Indeed, this might be the most sexually explicit book ever published by a mainstream American publisher. And it is plenty violent as well. But it is also a noir masterpiece. Block has written a book equal to anything ever written by noir masters like James M. Cain or Jim Thompson. His work now resides among the giants of the genre. GETTING OFF is a heck of a wild ride and loads of fun. Once you pick it up, you are not putting it down. Just remember to pay for it first in the bookstore…
“Block takes us deep into the noir world. And one of the rules of noir is that the ordinary world is turned right on its head. The book is as chilling as it is sexually prurient. And Block has created not a killer we fear and loathe, but a strong, independent, attractive woman. This is a tale not of vengeance or mayhem ultimately, but of self-discovery. Block gets us rooting for this killer because we can understand her fully; we see the world from her perspective.
“Block writes, ‘And then — bingo! — he was dead, and that was the best of all. Oh, she had been with plenty of dead men, but her interest in them had always ended with the sweet delight of their dying. Once they were dead, once she absorbed the sense of accomplishment and completion their deaths afforded her, she was ready to move on. They were off the list, out of her life even as they were out of their own.’
“In true noir tradition, bad has now become good. And people who get hung up on the sex will miss entirely the greatness of the story. There is no black or white here. Kimmie is not a monster, but a badly damaged human being trying to survive as best she can. In the process, she explodes the small cruelties and major arrogance at the heart of many casual sexual relationships.
“And we see her humanity in a few beautifully written chapters where she interacts with an ex-one night stand: a soldier who came back from Iraq a living vegetable trapped in a body that is now mostly gone. And in a few pages, Block has written a powerful anti-war story, showing us the picture of war the media rarely reveals, exposing the lies behind words like glory and honor.
“Block then goes on to write some of the most terrifying chapters in recent noir fiction, like when Kimmie encounters a male serial killer who has chosen her to be his next victim. In the noir world, nothing is as it seems, and a simple walk at night can turn instantly into an out-of-control nightmare. And then she is picked up by a couple, and we learn the husband — a rapist — wants to get a taste of what it is like to kill. We delight in watching the battle of killers. And Block is so much in control of his narrative that the outcome is always in doubt, and we keep turning the pages.
“The tension builds relentlessly throughout. And the closer to the ending we get, the more absorbing the story becomes. Will she slip up? Will she accomplish her mission? Will she get caught and brought to justice? But what is justice in the world of noir? Is any such thing even possible if everybody is guilty on some level?
“This is the book Cain or Thompson could have written if they had not lived in the age of the Hollywood Production Code and strict censorship of all printed matter dealing with sex. Think of Phyllis Dietrichson, the ultimate noir femme fatale. Block has created a character here who is her equal, if not better. And this is ultimately a great novel because the story is true to Kimmie’s character. It is authentic, with a perfect ending.
“Lawrence Block gives us a peek into the darkness — darkness that exists all around us, even in broad daylight — without giving in to despair. GETTING OFF is one of the best books of this or any year…”
September 21, 2011
From Christopher Bahn’s review of Getting Off in A. V. Club:
“With the same skill he’s shown in his more mainstream work, Block slowly ratchets up the intensity and violence, using each successive murder either to give a deeper glimpse into Kit’s twisted psyche, or push her one step further toward her psychotic but somehow distortedly logical goal. He also accomplishes the same trick Jim Thompson often pulled of planting readers inside his killer’s mind just enough to understand her without sympathy, as well as Richard Stark’s trick of treating criminal behavior as just a job to be worked. And as with Thompson’s books, there’s a thick layer of dark humor bubbling throughout the swamp of Kit’s messed-up psychology…John Waters would love this book, and would be perfect to direct any future film version.”
September 20, 2011
At Long Last: GETTING OFF Published!
Lawrence Block: You’re all smiles today.
Jill Emerson: And you’re surprised? I haven’t felt this good in 35 years.
LB: Has it really been that long since you had your name on a book?
JE: A Week As Andrea Benstock in 1975. And I didn’t have to share the spotlight with you back then. Mine was the only name on the cover.
LB: Yours and Andrea’s. Never mind. I’m just glad you’re enjoying yourself. This very morning, Nicholas Pell at Made Man called Getting Off “the dirtiest book in America.”
JE: Oh, right. Nicky.
LB: Is something wrong?
JE: I gave him a hot interview and he went and called me a beastess.
JE: The kind of creature you keep on a leash. Which can be fun under the right circumstances, but still. Look, read it yourself:
“Fortunately, for those of us who like our literature dark, dirty and way over the top, Lawrence unleashed the beastess for this gripping tale, which follows the ruthless and sexy Kit on her mission to become a psychic virgin by sleeping with, then killing off all extant ex-lovers. This is the type of book that will have you sporting wood one moment and freaking out about who you take home from a dive bar the next.”
LB: That’s a really strong review, Jill.
JE: Nobody ever called me a beastess before. And isn’t that a sexist term? Where does Nicky live, do you happen to know?
LB: Uh, LA, I think. Why?
JE: Oh, no reason. Never mind. I’ll stay here. I’d probably never get my toys through airport security, anyway.
September 19, 2011
John Kenyon and LB discuss hot writing
JK: I was angry with you after reading Small Town, because I feared that the explicit sex in the book would torpedo any chance it had of being the large, important post-9/11 book it otherwise was, and I felt like you deserved that at that point in your career. Maybe it was the warning in the subtitle, or the fact that thanks to your eBooks I’ve now read more of your back catalog and can put this kind of work in better context, but I wasn’t put off in the slightest by the sex in Getting Off. What are your thoughts about writing explicitly, and what has the reaction been to it over the years?
LB: Well, I’d have liked for Small Town to reach a larger audience, but I’ve never felt Susan Pomerance held it back. The only people she rubbed the wrong way, so to speak, were Bernie Rhodenbarr fans who felt they’d been ambushed by what was not their kind of book. Thus the subtitle and open pen name for Getting Off; I really don’t want to sell books to people who aren’t going to enjoy them.
For many years I tended to tack to the prim side, perhaps as a reaction to all those years writing erotica. Scudder may lead an active sexual life, but he could hardly be more circumspect in reporting it. And that seems of a piece with the man’s character.
Have to say, though, that I loved writing Susan Pomerance, and I fell in love with Kit Tolliver and Ree Perrin. And I truly enjoyed writing hot scenes, not least of all because the hottest are pretty much all dialogue. “Show, don’t tell?” Fuck that. When it works, there’s nothing more erotic than overheard conversation.
Click to read the full interview in Grift.
September 13, 2011
Patti Abbott hosts LB on the origins of Getting Off:
“…So a few years ago I was editing an Akashic anthology, Manhattan Noir, and was expected to write a story for it myself. So I did: older guy picks up younger woman in Hell’s Kitchen bar, hinting that it’s a dangerous neighborhood, that she has to be careful out there, and he takes her home, and we know he’s gonna kill her…
“A while later my friend S. J. Rozan’s editing Bronx Noir, and I owe her a favor in the form of a story. So I wrote one. Same girl, different story, and set in the Bronx. (Well, Riverdale. That’s in the Bronx, though some of its inhabitants seem to think otherwise.)
“Then came Indian Country Noir. By now the young lady, who still doesn’t have a name she can call her own, has left New York for the greener pastures of Michigan, and an Indian-owned casino. She’s become my default heroine; ask me for a short story, and she’s what you’re going to get.
“See, I’m getting so I really like this girl. And the next invitational anthology (Warriors, by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin) took her story to a new level, as we find out who she is and what she’s about, and why she’s acting out so furiously.
“By the time I finished that story (“Clean Slate”), I was in love with the girl. And I could see that I was writing a novel, and I could also see that it was probably going to be way over the top in terms of sex and violence. I figured I’d just let it be whatever it wanted to be, and over the succeeding months I completed it. Charles Ardai, who’d reprinted some of my early noir novels at Hard Case Crime, was hugely helpful with this one, as I engaged in the twin tasks of telling the rest of Kit Tolliver’s’s story (that’s her name, although she’s usually calling herself something else) and getting the early part into consistent shape.
“I can’t recall ever having so much sheer joy writing anything in my life…”
Click here to read the full post at Patti’s blog.
September 3, 2011
Nottingham’s David Belbin hosts an LB/JE dialogue:
Lawrence Block: It’s so nice to be working together again.
Jill Emerson: Oh, is that how you see it?
LB: Well, don’t you? We’ve got a book coming out together from Titan. Getting Off, by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson. It’s Hard Case Crime’s first book since they hooked up with Titan, and their first hardcover book ever.
JE: Blah blah blah.
LB: You know, I don’t get your reaction at all. I thought you’d be excited.
JE: You always think women are going to be excited. And then you think it’s their fault when they aren’t.
JE: I’m not even going to mention the fact that your name is like HUGE on the cover, and you need a magnifying glass to read mine. LAWRENCE BLOCK writing as jill emerson.
LB: I thought you weren’t going to mention that.
JE: I’m not. What I will mention is a book that’s coming out September 1. A Drop of the Hard Stuff.
LB: Oh, right. Well, it’s nice of you to mention it, actually. It’s the seventeenth Matthew Scudder novel, and Orion’s bringing it out in the UK.
JE: On the first of September.
LB: Right. Oh, I think I see what you’re getting at.
JE: Oh, do you?
LB: It’s just three weeks before Getting Off comes out.
JE: Two weeks and six days, actually.
LB: Well, that’s almost three weeks.
JE: When did it come out in the States?
LB: Uh, that would be May 12.
JE: That was three and a half months ago. Or, as you might put it, almost four. Why should it take them so long?
LB: The book got exceptionally good reviews in the U.S. I suppose Orion wanted to be able to splash them all over the cover.
JE: I saw the cover. There’s an old generic Scudder blurb by Elmore Leonard and an even older one from Jonathan Kellerman. They haven’t used the new reviews at all.
LB: Well, they could have.
JE: Right. So there are four names on A Drop of the Hard Stuff, aren’t there? Yours, of course, Mr. Famous Writer. And Elmore Leonard’s and Jonathan Kellerman’s. And, of course, Matthew Scudder.
LB: I think I see where this is going.
JE: Oh, do you? I don’t see my name on the cover, Larry. You don’t mind if I call you Larry, do you?
LB: No, that’s okay.
JE: Oh, that’s a relief. I was afraid you might insist on being called Mr. Block…
Click here to read the rest of the post.
August 31, 2011
Paul Bishop reviews Getting Off:
“But here’s the deal – this is Block writing as Emerson, but with a wealth of writing history now behind ‘her.’ This places Getting Off on a whole different level than the original Jill Emerson novels. In fact, the writing in Getting Off is as crisp, complex, and hard-hitting as anything Block has written as Block – and that’s saying a lot.
“Getting Off is eminently readable, but it is also very dark, perverted, and as noir as noir gets. This isn’t a bad thing, but when you find yourself rooting for female sociopath Kit Tolliver you almost need a reality/morality check after turning the final pages. It is Block/Emerson’s total non-judgment of Tolliver that makes the character so compelling – yes, she is sick, but those she targets are in many ways even more morally corrupt and conscienceless.
“Getting Off may have been born of a style and pen name from another time, but it is as riveting and relevant a tale as Block has ever produced.”
Click to read the full review at Bish’s Beat
August 27, 2011
Trent at The Violent World of Parker reviews Getting Off:
“Some will think it’s genius. Some will enjoy it for the spectacle without necessarily thinking it’s great art…Some will think it’s trash…Only a writer of Block’s skill could have pulled off (so to speak) this parade of red and white bodily fluids. Depending on what he wants to do with a scene, it can be erotic, disturbing, hilarious, terrifying, or any combination thereof…I do know that Getting Off is destined for cult status, just like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”
Click to read the full review
August 23, 2011
The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society Gets Off on Getting Off:
“Our first meeting last Friday in Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park was a success. Everyone started reading Getting Off, a new novel by Lawrence Block that hasn’t hit the shelves yet. When you’re topless, even book publishers will make special allowances…”
Click here to read more about Jill’s ardent readers, naked and unashamed. ..
August 19, 2011
from Bill Crider’s review of GETTING OFF:
“This book is about exactly what the subtitle says, and the sex is plentiful and explicit. The main character is a serial killer who makes Lou Ford look like a pussycat. That being said, the book is both savage and funny, engrossing and scary. It’s a heck of a ride. Check it out.”
Click to read the full review.
August 15, 2011
from Vince Keenan’s review of GETTING OFF:
“Getting Off is frequently very funny, with a sharp satirical edge that cuts into sexual mores and the notion of healing through closure. But it also has real insight into Kit’s state of mind. The prose is smooth – no surprise there; this is Lawrence Block, after all – which lends an added kick to the plentiful sex and equally plentiful violence. And above all it’s a non-judgmental book, which for some may be the biggest shock of all. Compelling and fascinating, it’s a welcome return for both Hard Case and Jill Emerson.”
Click to read the full review.
from James Reasoner’s review of GETTING OFF:
“GETTING OFF is a very well-written novel (no surprise there) with a compelling protagonist. It’s a rare book that will get me to stay up late to finish it these days, but this one did. If you’re already a Lawrence Block fan, you’re probably going to read it anyway. If you’re not, you should give it a try. Highly recommended.”
Click to read the full review
Click to pre-order GETTING OFF
August 12, 2011
An eBook price break for GETTING OFF!
Lawrence Block: There’s some interesting news about the price of Getting Off.
Jill Emerson: Ah, the high cost of getting off. Always a problem…
LB: That’s Getting Off, with capital letters.
JE: Ah, my mistake. Capital letters. I have a problem with them, but then so did e. e. cummings. You know what they say about helping your Uncle Jack off a horse. Instead of holding your breath and turning purple, why don’t you tell me the interesting news?
LB: Well, as you know, Getting Off’s available for pre-order, and Titan’s hardcover edition has a list price of $25. Online booksellers are discounting it to $16 or $17.
JE: Sounds like a bargain. But didn’t we already know that?
LB: We did. But the eBook edition was priced at $14.29, and that’s where the news comes in. The publisher has reduced the eBook price, and you can pre-order it now for only $9.99.
JE: Now that’s good news.
LB: I thought you’d think so.
JE: Because you know what it means, Larry? Say, is it still okay to call you Larry?
JE: What it means, Larry, is that people can buy them both.
JE: Hey, gotta have Getting Off in hardcover, right? With that great cover? That’s an objet d’art if I ever saw one. A well-made hardcover book with a cover like that, you want a copy on your shelf.
LB: But if you own the hardcover, why would you want the eBook as well?
JE: You’re such an innocent.
JE: Moi? Yes, you. What’s the best thing about the eBook experience?
LB: Uh, convenience? Low cost? Portability? Storage capacity?
JE: Not when it comes to Getting Off, with or without capital letters. With an eBook reader, you silly man, you get to turn the pages with one hand. Oh, look at you! I do believe you’re blushing.
LB: Nonsense. It’s warm in here. That’s all.
August 7, 2011
FLASH! Prices drop, reviews pour in, and Jill gets a page all her own.
With Getting Off already drawing raves well in advance of its September 20 pub date, my backlist publishers at Open Road have responded by slashing prices of all seven Jill Emerson titles to $2.99. The least I can do is devote one page of this blog to Jill and her works, and for openers I’ll list those seven books and provide enough of a description so you’ll know where to begin. They’re in chronological order, but there’s no real reason to read them that way.
Warm and Willing. Jill’s debut for Midwood, a blind over-the-transom submission that drew a contract by return mail. It takes place in lesbian circles in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, and is essentially a coming-of-age novel.
Enough of Sorrow. A second sensitive novel of the lesbian experience, also published by Midwood, and dealing as well with relationship difficulties and depression.
Thirty. The first of three Jill Emerson novels for Berkley. The publisher’s request for candidly erotic fiction with literary merit came at a time when I found myself discontented with the traditional form of the novel and more interested in fiction in the guise of something else—in this case a diary. The keeper of the diary is just marking her thirtieth birthday, which she sees as a watershed moment in a woman’s life.
Threesome. Jill’s second book for Berkley, and a tour de force. The titular trio, a man and two women, inspired by the real-world success of Naked Came the Stranger, decide to make a novel of their own shared experience; writing it, they find out things they didn’t know about each other, and, well, the story evolves accordingly. A richly erotic romp, but intricately wrought in the bargain (Jill said modestly).
A Madwoman’s Diary. Third and last of the Berkley novels, and a return to diary form. Wearing a different hat, I wrote collections of sexological case histories as John Warren Wells. Most of these were fabricated, and I liked one enough to let Jill steal it as the plot of a novel. (She dedicated it to Jack Wells. He in turn has dedicated several books to her. It’s remarkable I’ve never been institutionalized. Yet, anyway.)
The Trouble With Eden. Berkley liked Jill enough to commission a big Peyton Place-type book as a Berkley/Putnam hardcover novel, and this is what they got. At the time I lived across the Delaware from New Hope PA, where I actually owned an art gallery for a year. (Note to self: Never do that again.) Some of my New Hope acquaintances found their way into the book, as did many creatures of the imagination. Jill has been known to describe The Trouble With Eden as the sort of thing John O’Hara might have written if he’d had less talent and no scruples. (Though I have to admit I rather like it.)
A Week as Andrea Benstock. I once read a book by Simenon called Four Days in a Lifetime, which told a character’s story through four representative days many years apart. That inspired this novel, which examines a dozen years in the title character’s life through seven distinct days. It’s set in New York City and in the Jewish community of Buffalo, and begins on Andrea’s wedding day in 1963. Arbor House published it, Redbook serialized it, and, the online blurb notwithstanding, it’s more a mainstream literary novel than the kind of hot book you might expect from Jill. (She’s almost embarrassingly proud of it.)
The above links are for Kindle; all of Jill’s titles are available for all other platforms as well, and here are links to Nook:
July 5, 2011
LB interviews Jill on Alison Kent’s Blah Blog
Lawrence Block: Well, where to begin? Let me say I understand you have a book coming out in September, and—
Jill Emerson: We.
LB: I beg your pardon?
JE: We have a book coming out in September. Getting Off, published by Hard Case Crime. By Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson. That’s what it says, right there on the cover.
LB: Yes, of course.
JE: Your name’s bigger.
LB: Uh. . .
JE: Lots bigger. My name’s in small type, the same size as the subtitle. You remember the subtitle?
LB: I believe it’s “A Novel of Sex & Violence.”
JE: There you go. Lawrence Block, big as a house, and then Jill Emerson and Sex and Violence, all in teensy weensy letters.
LB: You seem the slightest bit resentful.
JE: Oh, does it show?
LB: It was the publisher’s idea. In fact I had to fight to get your name on the cover at all.
JE: What’s the problem? Your publisher doesn’t like girls?
LB: Look, it’s a purely commercial consideration. I wasn’t going to bring this up, but you haven’t been very active lately.
JE: I’ve published seven novels. I started in 1965 with Warm & Willing and Enough of Sorrow, two sensitive fictional treatments of the lesbian experience. Then came Thirty and Threesome and A Madwoman’s Diary, three works of literary experimentation in the field of innovative erotica. Next I wrote The Trouble With Eden—
LB: A road-company Peyton Place set in Bucks County.
JE: It had its moments. And I followed it with A Week as Andrea Benstock, a literary mainstream novel that got serialized in Redbook. Not bad, huh?
LB: That was in 1975. What have you done since then?
JE: Okay, I’ve kept a low profile. But whose fault is that? “Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson.” But after 1975, you never put my name on anything. I mean, this interview is cute and all, but when you come right down to it, what am I?
LB: You tell me.
JE: An aspect of self, wouldn’t you say?
LB: You think?
JE: What else?
LB: (musing) An aspect of myself. My inner lesbian.
LB: Bye? What’s that about? Where are you going? Was it something I said?
JE: Bi, you idiot. As in sexual.
LB: What, suddenly you’re into guys?
JE: Sometimes. (beat) Well, one guy. And no, I’m not telling.
LB: I bet I can guess.
JE: Can’t you just pulleeze leave it alone?
LB: John Warren Wells.
JE: You think you’re smart, don’t you? So fucking smart.
LB: If you wanted to keep it a secret why did you dedicate a book to him? A Madwoman’s Diary. “To John Warren Wells, a Jack of all trades and master of me.”
JE: Why do you have to be so cruel?
LB: It’s a guy thing, you wouldn’t understand.
JE: He’d dedicated books to me, you know. He wrote a book about bisexuality.
LB: Women Who Swing Both Ways. Real classy title.
JE: He wanted to call it Versatile Ladies.
LB: Actually, that’s not so bad.
JE: “This is for Jill Emerson, unquestionably versatile and every inch a lady.”
LB: Sweet. And that wasn’t the only book he dedicated to you, either. So I guess you owed him one.
JE: This one in particular. You know the kind of books he wrote. Psychosexual case histories, groups of cases on one theme or another.
LB: He made them up.
JE: I suppose you can believe that if you want to. But in one book there was a chapter about this woman, and she’s involved in this therapy group, and she has a pretty active sex life and a really interesting inner life, and I thought, hell, she could be the subject of a novel. So I more or less stole her story, and what I wrote turned out to be A Madwoman’s Diary. Some halfwit at Berkley changed the title to Sensuous, but screw that. It’s A Madwoman’s Diary again.
LB: Thanks to the Open Road eBook. But you just swiped the story and turned it into a novel?
JE: You think I should have been afraid of a libel suit?
LB: I guess not, if it was one of Wells’s case histories. He made it up out of the whole cloth, and then you fictionalized it, if you want to call it that.
JE: Novelized it. Better?
LB: A little. Let me get this straight, Jill. You’re an aspect of self. My inner lesbian or inner bi woman or—
JE: Your inner hot number, Larry. Is it okay to call you Larry?
LB: If you feel you must. And John Warren Wells is—
JE: Another aspect of self. What else could he be?
LB: And you two aspects of me are—
JE: Enjoying each other’s company, and what’s so bad about that? It’s not as if Sybil went and sat on the Three Faces of Eve. But we are so totally off point here. You said I haven’t done anything since 1975, and that’s crap. I’ve been writing. I’ve just had to do it anonymously.
JE: You’re a great one at grabbing the credit, you know. Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man was supposed to be my book. You were writing it for Berkley, and all your friends liked it so much you yanked it away from me and published it in hardcover with Bernie Geis.
LB: Well, it was written from a male viewpoint, and—
JE: So fucking what? You can be a girl and I can’t be a guy? You just wanted the glory. Anyway, I wrote other things, even if you stuck your name on them.
JE: Like your big New York novel, Small Town. Oh, not all the post-9/11 urban terrorist stuff, you get the credit for that part, but where do you think Susan Pomerance came from? With her pierced nipples and her Brazilian landscaping? When she ducked under the table in the fancy restaurant and had her lawyer for dessert—
LB: All right, point taken.
JE: That was pure Jill Emerson. And when she got the two Wall Street suits to do each other—
LB: Drop it, will you?
JE: What choice do I have? You get to decide what I do or don’t say. Are you going to let Jack Wells back into print? He wrote 21 books. Don’t you figure the eWorld’s ready for him?
LB: I’ve been thinking about it.
JE: You know what your problem is, Larry? You’ve got this yearning to be respectable. I say give it up and get real. Lawrence Block writing as John Warren Wells.
LB: Maybe. We’ll see. But about Getting Off. You like the book, don’t you?
JE: What’s not to like?
LB: And the cover? Except for the fact that your name’s not as big as mine.
JE: Now you’re making me sound like a size queen. I fucking LOVE the cover, okay? I love the cover model, too. I’d like to do her until the knife blade melts.
LB: God, you’re naughty.
JE: I can’t help it. Can we write some more books like this? Not right away I know you’ve got other things to do, but, well, fairly soon?
LB: I hope so.
JE: Me too. And let our readers have a chance to check out JWW. Some of those books are dedicated to me, Larry Boy. People ought to be able to read them. It’s only fair.