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.
Read an excerpt:
I steeled myself, and tapped his shoulder. He jumped, his elbow knocking me back against the wall as he tumbled off the stool into me. In my platforms, I barely kept my footing. I had practiced walking in them for two hours after I bought them, and I had to guess that practice was the only reason I was still on my feet.
“Shit, shit, sorry. Are you okay?” He looked up at me as he got his feet back under him, and prepared to stand. His head was entirely too close to my hips in the tiny space, and I chuckled, imagining him as a giant spider preparing to tie me up. I loved awkward guys. Guys with rough edges, who were interesting to look at not because they were beautiful, but because they were unique. Under other circumstances, Kirk would have been right up my alley. Maybe literally in an alley.
Hello and thanks for stopping by and visiting.
What do you do when you are not writing?
At this point, writing is my life. My hulking man-beast is a writer, too, and I do developmental work for other authors. So when I’m not writing, I’m reading someone else’s writing, flagging plotholes or pacing issues. Other than that, I’m a cat wrangler, cook, crafter, and gamer.
Where do you get your ideas?
Queen of Clubs arose entirely from a shared love of Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novels. Sin City is a lot of fun, despite its… problematic elements. The man-beast and I were talking one day, and he suggested that I work on something like Sin City, but something that didn’t focus on the masculine film-noir stuff, and Frank Miller’s views on women. The strip club scene and many ins and outs of the sex industry are very familiar to me, so that seemed like a good unifying thread to tie things together. And it’s a perspective you don’t always see in genre romance. Often, stripper or sex worker stories in genre romance are disproportionately skewed toward the Pretty Woman, or they are tragedy-porn, or they are ‘she’s not like the rest’ stories. Using a different character for each story, but having them be able to interact, it was a way to write about many couples’ experiences with this work, and this club. Some characters may have aspects of those more common narratives, but it’s far from the only ones you’ll see.
Recently, I’ve begun to branch out into other genres, though. We’ll see Queen of Clubs’ shared world expand drastically with season 2 and season 3 of Queen of Clubs. They both include characters and ideas that were so much fun to work on I had to spin them off into similar things– Honeypot, a dark erotic serialized thriller, and Exposure, Queen of Clubs’ sister series focusing around the modeling industry. I don’t want to spoil too much of those, since they’re tied into QoC with a particular chronology.
Also, a few characters we’ll meet at the end of Queen of Clubs Season 1 are going on to have their own stories told- Rex Roderick, Sex Detective, following a private investigator who gets the most salacious cases— and clients— and Princess of Thieves, following a young woman surviving as a professional thief. Both of these are still romances, though a bit more thriller-y than Queen of Clubs. Rex is a joint endeavor with my man-beast, who specializes in thrillers, noir, and detective-type stories. That idea entirely came from joking about his favorite character type- the noir-ish emotionally damaged or manipulated investigator- and how very very much would be needed to form that kind of person into a strong love interest. Anna was a joint brainstorming thing, working in his style of thriller concepts with my preference for emotionally damaged or stunted characters who frankly have a lot of growing up to do to become who they need to be. We collaborated brainstorming the plot, and then I went over that with a fine-toothed comb, got the final outline together, and fell into Anna’s isolated, dangerous world.
Under K. de Long, I’ll be publishing a series of dark erotic fantasies centered around incubi- demons who manifest through sex. It’s not straightforward paranormal romance, and is quite different from Queen of Clubs, but it’s been a lot of fun to work on. I’m also working on some very dark dystopian fantasies for K. de Long, but those are probably a year or so out, so not worth expanding on. Those ideas are very surreal, largely just ‘what if’ conversations when I’m half asleep, that result in one scene being written. I write a sample scene to get the tone, and put forth some kind of conflict, and then work to build the story from that scene. Mainly, if I can get into the characters enough to write that sample scene, I can get enough ideas for reactions to plot a story.
Do you ever write in your PJ’s?
All. The. Time. Weekends in my house see the man in a Batman or Superman onesie pajama, and me in a Wonder Woman version of the same. I never write in public, so I’m usually in whatever state of dress is most comfortable.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Anna Nicole Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, Yoko Ono, Courtney Love, and Theodora. Anna, Yoko and Courtney, because I think they’ve largely been misunderstood and villainized, but could still have some interesting things to say. Also, because if you put them in a room with Hunter S. Thompson I’m sure the sheer overwhelming crazy would be a thrill to behold. Theodora, because I imagine her account of being a sex worker turned empress would be pretty fascinating. We still wrestle with our ideas about womens’ sexualities today, so it’s fun remembering how very far back this aspect of human nature goes. And I would be curious to compare her experience with going from sex work to fame with Anna Nicole Smith’s, Amber Rose’s, Diablo Cody’s. At any rate, I think there could be interesting discussions and intersections of experience to be had at that dinner party—- though given the way many of them reacted to those experiences, I know it’s not likely all participants would be sober enough to have that talk.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Uh, you don’t want to know. There’ve been a lot of them. I was kinda a risktaker in my younger years, before five animals and a man-beast settled me down. I’ve faced packs of coyotes at 3 AM, moved cross country several times, fallen twenty feet off aerial silks, been photographed naked, danced naked, been a unicorn, lit my tits on fire, decided to move in with a guy after a month of dating– hey we’re coming up on six years now, so don’t knock it– and survived several abusive relationships.
What is your favorite theme park?
The man-beast will get very hurt for me saying this, but Cedar Point. I’m a thrill-seeker, so it’s more my speed than his favorite– Disneyland.
What are you scared of? Bugs, Snakes?
Spiders, and tunnels or caves. Obviously, the one is much more disruptive. ‘Spider Season’, that delightful time in late fall when they move indoors to stay warm, is the subject of many of my nightmares, and much annoyance for the man-beast, since if there’s a spider there, I will see it, and if I see it, I will start crying or collapse.
Do you have a green thumb for plants?
Yes. The man-beast jokes that I can stick a dead twig in the ground and it’ll revive itself. To be fair, that has happened. It was a broken branch that I harvested cuttings from, to try to make its loss less sad. I shoved the remainder of the branch back in the pot, and two months later, it had sprouted roots just like the cuttings I got from the rest of it.
The prize of my garden is my potted fuchsias- you know how they’re usually trailing and fluffy in hanging baskets? I grow them into trees. If you prune them and stake them, you can train them to grow upright, and then let the top fill out like a pom-pom shrub. It’s not something you see very often, but I’ve put hours into pruning and training them, and more than a year into letting them grow.
What do you collect? Trinkets? Books? Gadgets?
Crazy Quilts, vintage jewelry and clothing, sheet music, and animals. And plants.
Do you play an instrument? If so what?
Piano. I learned guitar, and I sing, some. I even had a short-lived and unfortunate affair with the flute. But piano is my primary. I don’t do it so much nowadays, because I have bad joints, including the joints in my hands.
Besides writing what other artistic talents, do you have?
I paint, create jewelry, paper flowers, do graphic design and photomanipulation, dye psanky eggs, weave baskets, and I used to work as a professional makeup artist for photography. In the past, I’ve done embroidery and needlework, sewn clothes, beaded, knitted and crocheted. Unfortunately, the above mentioned note about bad joints still applies, so I can’t actually do those anymore.
Please tell the readers a bit more about you.
What types of books do you write?
I write romance, with a twist. My characters are often in some gray area— be they thieves, spies, sex workers, stalker-y PIs, people who live by deception in some form or another, or people who are otherwise isolated from modern life, or unable to connect with modern life. I like examining different boundaries, different kinds of intimacy, different brands of emotional trauma…
How many books have you written?
Let’s not get into that. In the the past year I’ve written probably 700k words, across several projects. The book count is a little more difficult to determine, since many of them are novellas or serials, with a shorter wordcount.
How many are published?
To date, I think there’s four QoC episodes out, although I have twenty or so written and in the cue. Those publish monthly during the season, with a little break for me to get stuff lined up in between seasons. Everything else comes out as it comes out, so a lot of it has been held back until its chronological place comes up. In the next year, you can probably expect to see 10-15 more titles published, both in QoC, and in Anna’s series, and Rex’s, and Exposure and Honeypot.
Are you self published or traditionally published?
Self. A lot of the themes I deal with don’t fit with traditional romance or erotica publishers. They clash with a lot of traditional ideas about monogamy. Many people still consider strip clubs, lapdances, exotic dancing, sex work, to be outside the domain of a monogamous relationship, or even the type of polygamous romance some publishers distribute. So writing characters who partake in that, even in the context of the overarcing romance plotline, still makes them a little outside of the norm. I felt it was better to self publish it and make sure it could have the scope and tone that felt the truest to me. The Queen of Clubs series encompasses a lot of different types of sexuality and relationships- some stories have bisexual or lesbian main characters, others have polyamorous relationships, and others are straight and monogamous and do end with our intrepid heroine retiring from the pole. It’s varied enough that it would be difficult to put under one line of branding, the way many publishing houses do.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
That’s hard to say, overall, but I definitely have a type that I bond better with. I usually call them ‘Lost Boys’. Nevermind that most of them are women. Anna, from Princess of Thieves, Anjoli, Lucas, and even to an extent Seth from Honeypot, Malia, Candy, Petaline from Queen of Clubs, all of them are people who never grew up all the way. Maybe it was family trauma, or being abandoned, or falling in with the wrong crowd. But rather than setting into life as grown-ups, they do crazy things, fall into unhealthy patterns, stall out with subsistence living. They’re often unlikeable or unsympathetic, or aggressive, but most of it is a reflex from continually having to defend who they are to the world. Most of the QoC characters have aspects of this in them, simply because of the way their choice of work is perceived by many. Even the more normal and tame characters in QoC are fighters.
They’re more complex to identify with than the tropes you usually see guiding the MC’s in fiction— particularly romance fiction. You won’t always agree with their choices, or like what they do, but I hope you can see exactly why every one of these people is worth the happy endings that I eventually intend to give them.
Where can your followers find you?
I blog there, post reviews and news, as well as some of my own ramblings on romance and specfic.
I’m also on facebook, twitter, and goodreads. I engage most on facebook, though.
Any last words?
Thank you for having me, and letting me brag about my fuchsias.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today, Jen. It’s been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
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.
Stay in touch with Katie:
Mailing list: http://eepurl.com/CSk3n
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.