Monday, February 20, 2012

First Kiss and Giveaway with author Russell Bittner

Happy Monday my delightfully decadent subscribers.  Today I have Russell with me and we are going to be talking about his latest lavishly erotic book Trompe-l'oeil.  I'm also going to share with you  an excerpt from the book with includes the first f**k as well.  No, I haven't decided to change the theme just was just my way of warning you!!    So let's take a look at the book details and get ready to dive into the decadence :)

Why would a woman entering middle age--attractive, sexy, articulate, imaginative, intelligent, charming, charismatic, wealthy and successful in almost every aspect of her life--knowingly give up the only thing missing from that life: namely, love? And love with a younger man she meets serendipitously not once, but three times--and whose appreciation of her quickly grows from mere physical attraction to adoration and then to obsession? The riddle from start to finish is perhaps to be found in the word "knowingly." The answer to that riddle? Revealed only in the final chapter.

DANEKA SØRENSEN is a Danish transplant to NYC, where she manages her life from an Upper East Side apartment building by night and from the top floor of a mid-town skyscraper by day--ostensibly, all under tight control. KIT ADDISON is a fashion photographer with a sideline penchant for flora and poetry who lives on the Lower East Side. The distance between them, however, is about much more than a mere hundred city blocks.

In Chapter One, serendipity brings Daneka and Kit together for the first time as both are exiting the Columbia campus--she from a poetry class in which she dabbles once a week, he from Philosophy Hall in which he labors days and nights without respite. This first encounter is both poetic and philosophical--but too hot to be captured in a mere haiku, too impulsive to be squeezed into an imperative, moral or historical, for either of them. At the start of Chapter Two, already eleven years later, they--or rather his camera and the front bumper of her limousine--meet a second time on a zebra crossing. Her search for a photographer for a special project (too hot and too imperative for any of the more than competent staff of a major magazine of which she is the Managing Editor) leads to a third serendipitous meeting. What follows these three meetings is, in the coming weeks, a game of cat and mouse--until, that is, their affair becomes such that "it seemed as if they might engulf each other in this single, ferocious act, like tigers chasing their own tails and slowly churning, turning, burning into butter."

Their affair takes them from New York to Paris, to the coast of Portugal, to Rome and Positano, Italy, to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, then back to New York City. What they discover about each other in those few weeks is more than most people discover in a mate or lover over a lifetime. The exploration is an erotic Elysian field, but also a psychological inferno.
What gradually comes to light in the space of two continents and one return transatlantic flight is that, while love's bite may initially be sweet, the aftertaste may be exceedingly bitter--when not downright nauseating.
Teaser Exceprt:
As he started out from Philosophy Hall towards the subway entrance at 116th and Broadway, he was tired - of arguing, certainly, but also of the rules of argumentation. He heaved heavy eyes towards a logic-free heaven, then let them sink back down to earth - finding nothing of Quine's quiddities there to help, but suddenly seeing her as she exited from Lewisohn. He carried a well-thumbed Schopenhauer. She, he saw, carried only herself and a sheaf of papers - though both exceedingly well.

He continued walking towards the subway - watching, then sensing, that her footsteps might now be nudging the continents towards some sublime, quixotic shift. As the two of them emerged from under the arches, he saw a limo standing in a No Standing zone. Her driver also stood - holding open, with a servant's hand and salute, the back door.

She ducked down to enter and caught her mink on the handle; a few papers went flying. He came up quickly behind her; picked one up; recognized the comely shape of verse; read the header and the first two lines:

They Know I Did It

In turns, we're heir to nightmares;
and so, debauched of dreams.

He paused as he considered what he might've just stumbled upon: another Sappho-in-the-making; a masked poetess.

Masked, in-the-making, and in mink - hence, a minx, he thought as he gave the piece back with a single word of acknowledgment - "Provocative" - and accidentally touched her glove in the hand-off. She thanked him soundlessly with only a flicker of her lips, though eyes aided and abetted - and not just a little.

Nice mouth - she thought.

The quad lay behind him; the MTA in front. A turnstile to any torch show in Manhattan was his for the pushing - until, that is, he caught the scent of something like perfume; heard a sound on concrete no sneaker could make; glanced back and understood, in an instant, how easily even heathens could hallelujah when an angel heaved up on a pair of spike heels.

He pretended to fumble with his transit card - which, at his age, was first blush, second nature. Pretending? He still lacked the catechism for it. She, meanwhile, stood at the kiosk attempting to purchase a subway token. An opportunity, he thought - as purchasing subway tokens was clearly not her kind of shopping. But then it suddenly fell upon him like spring rain: perhaps she was no better at pretending than he was, even if one thing was now perfectly clear: fumbling was not her forte.

"Fuck it," he pretended to say as he turned away from the turnstile and started out towards the stairway on the opposite side of Broadway.

"Fandens også!" was the collision of consonants and odd vowels he heard her whisper as he saw a hand slip back through mink and drop the two bills - though he would've known nothing of the syllables, much less of the sexy little accent. Lights on this scene in any case went to dark as he hit the exit.

When he came back up and turned the corner, it was to a set of sun's rays retiring over Riverside. She came up after him and immediately claimed her turf with a single stiletto heel while perusing the panorama - real lighthouse-like. Sending a beacon out in search of lost sailors, however, was not a couch this Siren could get cozy on, as she was more accustomed to being the shoal on which they crashed. And the clean-up? Somebody else's problem.

She finally saw him walking much too cavalierly down 116th in the direction of the park; studied his walk; then mimicked it - staying a frivolous fifty paces behind. He leaned up against the wall of a building, fumbled with a cigarette. She leaned up against her own piece of wall, took out her own cigarette. He flicked at something frantically. She slipped out a Dunhill 18-carat gold-enameled; pressed down gently on the lever; let the electrons do the heavy lifting.

She inhaled, then let the smoke flow back out. Charming as a bounty of church bells chiming 'Glory Borealis' he thought as he caught her exhalation out of the corner of his eye.

He, she noticed, was still flicking. She advanced and extended the Dunhill. He looked briefly into a pair of cool emerald greens, then back at the lighter; cupped his hands 'round while letting one thumb rest an instant upon her glove; took the fire and inhaled.

"Thanks," he said.

"Pas de quoi," she answered.

He lost the momentum of the exchange - though only for an instant. "Vous êtes-?"

"Just teasing," she sniffed as she put the cigarette between her lips and inhaled, then let the smoke stream back out through flared nostrils. Gentle as a riptide, he thought, his brain now just a commotion of molecules. Beautiful and Baudelairian - he also thought, but couldn't say, as he was now just a bashful mass of feet and no mouth.

She, in the meantime, grew bored - and glanced down at his carry-on luggage: The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Perhaps - she thought - I could throw him a starter kit. "How many squares would a square root wreck if a square root wrecked for a reason?"

Not only beautiful, he thought as he looked up, but -.

They both exhaled simultaneously. Perfect timing, she thought. Much better than sufficient reason.

For the next minute, they exchanged only smoke and stares. He then dropped his cigarette and stamped it out. She dropped hers, kicked it in his direction. He looked down; got a fix on its location; looked back up as he squashed it. Lids dropped like a last curtain call on a pair of prominent cheekbones, Danish-cut. The time for dallying, he thought, is done.

"Wanna chuck wood?"

"Sure," she said. "Let's chuck."

He grabbed her hand and moved. The sun, now a mere palimpsest over the Palisades, drew them in the direction of Jersey, just across the Hudson - and about a million miles away.

At Riverside, he sought a shady spot. Moonbeams can be murder on a mink, he thought. He found a maple, looked for moths - spotted a pair and told 'em to scram - then probed for rough spots before leaning her back against the bark. The curtsy of her coat suggested that rough spots - like moths - were now on the run. Her own sigh confirmed it.

"Te-tell me-" he stuttered.

"Show me," she countered. The stop, he thought, was drop-dead glottal.

He reached under her coat, then let his hand rise slow as sizzle on a hotplate along the inside of her thigh as she rotated. Like a pirate on a picnic, he felt a tremor, paused, waited till it had subsided; then eased his hand on up until it met with an impasse of pure silk.

He was now Marco Polo, but also Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo. He'd found the road to China - but was about to blow it off for a date with the Milky Way.
Like a lonely reverend, he pulled the silk aside, unzipped and slipped in. He'd surely fry - but he had the rest of his life and then some to contemplate how hot the coals. Now, however, he bowed his head to the nape of her neck, inhaled, found tiny hairs with his lips, and touched the salt of her skin with the tip of his tongue.

The sight, feel, smell and taste of her sent his synapses into overdrive, while his cortex collapsed in a smooth smolder. She'd burned her way in - and the memory would forever after stick to him like a brand.
So how can you score a copy of this book?  Just answer Russell's question:  "What defines an 'erotic novel' (versus a novel with erotic content, but which is really about much more than erotica)?"  and fill out the rafflecopter form!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


menina.iscrazy said...

An erotic novel to me is something that isn't quite PWP but, is a series of encounters (or even just one) but, it focuses more of the sex versus the plot. The plot doesn't necessarily carry the story forward. The sex is what carries it forward.

menina.iscrazy said...

My question is: As a erotic writer do you find it difficult to get anyone to view your novels as being accepted beyond the fans of erotic novels? :)

Unknown said...

To me I think and erotic novel is something where the sex scenes are graphic and long lasting and lots in a book. While erotic content is something where they do have sex scenes but not all that graphic.

mimirose41209 said...

an erotic novel can be more then just the physical ... I love when the characters are emotionally involved as well physical ... I have to believe that this story could happen IRL (unless of course it is paranormal)

mimirose41209 said...

Russell: my question is ... Did you start out as a writer of erotica or did you write another genre first?

WildAboutBones said...

This is a very interesting question and one my reviewer buddies and I have been tossing around a lot lately as the lines between just hot and steamy novels and erotic novels are getting very blurry -- especially in the paranormal romance genre.

I'm not sure I have a satisfactory answer because several books I've recently labeled "erotic" haven't been in my mind.

So this is what I'm going with: erotic novels are those where the sex is kicked up a notch in both a more explicit nature and frequency. And the sex itself is very much a part of the story so much so it almost becomes a character itself. Whereas a novel with erotic content may have very graphic and explicit sex scenes but they are unnecessary to the plot (LOL but much appreciated) and there is definitely more story than sex.

desitheblonde said...

erotic is when the fictional and
factional are spiced up and then they get the person attention and then look more real

question for you
do you do the book in such dept all
the time i love book cover accuse
they work in new york
desi the blonde at msn dot com

Pam said...

I'm probably going to sound stupid here but I'm not entirely sure how to answer that question. I've only been reading erotic novels for a short time now, probably about a year at most. What got me interested in erotic novels was what I thought were just paranormal romance novels that had really great sex scenes in them. So maybe the different is that erotic novels focus more on the sex than on the story?

Pam said...

Do you enjoy incorporating other languages into your books? I personally love it when a book has a little bit of another language in them. Sure, most of the time I have no clue what is being said but I'm not above looking it up on the internet if it isn't explained within the story! :)


Savannah Chase said...

An erotic novel is one that you get lost in and feel along with the character. One that engages your senses and feelings...

Sara Kovach / Dare to be Different - Teach! said...

To me, an erotic novel is all about the erotic scenes. A novel with erotic scenes is a novel that has some scenes that are erotic but has a lot more content to it.

Gena Robertson said...

A well written erotic novel draws me into the story that is a build up to the sex. As a woman, for me, it's the seduction of the mind, the words describing the mood, the setting, the feel of the room, sheets, the hairs on the mans calves against the arches of her feet - the tease, the build up of tension and desire leading up the actual act. And any introduction of anything on the lines of BDSM or kinky requires explaining in a sexy and graphically exciting way.

Gena Robertson

Gena Robertson said...

Ah - a question for Russell:

Have you written erotic material for men as well as women, and do you find that you have to write in a different style for the different sexes?

Thank you for the giveaway chance!

Gena Robertson

Russell Bittner said...


Thanks for your question (and sorry I'm so late in getting back to you with an answer).

I don't really consider myself to be an "erotic writer." As you'll see if and when you get a chance to read this novel, the erotica isn't what drives the story - Daneka's character does that.

However, you pretty much hit the nail on the head: many people get bogged down in the erotica and don't realize what the story's really all about until the very end. By that time, they've already made up their minds as to what particular "genre" this novel is representative of.


Russell Bittner said...


Thanks for your question!

No, I didn't start out as a writer of erotica -- and, in fact, I don't think of myself that way even today. Most of what I write (apart from formal poetry) is character-driven literary fiction. This novel was really the only instance in which I used erotica as a driving force in the story (the conclusion of which, by the way, is anything BUT erotic).


Russell Bittner said...

Dear WildAboutBones,

Thanks for your definitions. This helps (me, at least) to clarify the issue in the minds of readers and writers alike.

I would honestly have to say that TROMPE-l'OEIL probably falls somewhere in between the two definitions you've provided.


Russell Bittner said...

Dear Desi the blonde,

Thanks for your question, but I'm afraid I don't really understand it. (There may be a letter or two lacking here in: "do you do the book in such dept all
the time i love book cover accuse).

Could you please try again?


Russell Bittner said...

Dear VanillaOrchids,

"So maybe the different is that erotic novels focus more on the sex than on the story?"

I think you're probably right -- which is why TROMPE-l'OEIL isn't really an erotic novel. There are plenty of erotic scenes in it -- don't get me wrong -- but they serve another end entirely.


Russell Bittner said...

Dear Vanilla Orchids (once again),

I wouldn't say that I particularly enjoy using other languages in my stories -- unless, of course, they have a specific purpose.

In TROMPE-l'OEIL, the two principal characters spend a couple of weeks in Europe. They're first in France, then in Portugal, then in Italy, and finally in Denmark. Well, the truth is, people speak French in France, Portuguese in Portugal, etc. I wanted this story to sound authentic.

In any case, I was careful to paraphrase or somehow indicate what was going on with gestures or action whenever I had one of them speaking in a language other than English. I think that's the LEAST you can do for your reader.


Russell Bittner said...

Dear Gena,

"As a woman, for me, it's the seduction of the mind, the words describing the mood, the setting, the feel of the room, sheets...".

I couldn't agree more. Sex is always there lurking in the background, but a competent writer tries to provide just enough detail to let the READER use his or her imagination to fill in the blanks.


Russell Bittner said...

Gena (once again),

I wouldn't say that I write with either women or men directly in mind when I'm trying to reach a reader.

My suspicion is that women, in principle, are more avid readers of erotica, while men are more visually (read: pornographically) oriented -- hence, wouldn't even be reading erotica to begin with.

By the time I'd finished this novel, I was fairly convinced that no man would ever buy it ... unless to give it to his wife or girlfriend ... at which point, I'd become his new best friend.


VampedChik said...

Hm.. thats a tough question. I don't think I can give a really satisfactory answer either. I have to pretty much agree with everyone else on it. :) thanks!

searching4princecharming said...

I think erotic novels focus more on the actual sex. Just my two cents. I loved reading all of the other comments. Very interesting, indeed!


Russell Bittner said...

I thank all of you for your thoughtful comments and questions.

I can only hope I've answered your questions sufficiently well to give you some insight into how this novel came about, what makes it "tick," and why it might be worth your while to take a peak between the covers.

Reading is an experience and a privilege all of us -- here at least -- have in common and don't hesitate to share with those who're less fortunate, who aren't privileged enough to have learned how to read. And sharing our experience of reading a PARTICULAR book is a gift some of us even choose to share with others. Readers -- at least in MY experience -- are usually more generous than non-readers, but they can afford to be: they've got the kind of wealth non-readers can only aspire to.

I wish I could be as magnanimous in my evaluation of writers. Most of 'em, unfortunately, are a sorry, self-centered lot. They need to read more.


msmjb65 said...

First let me say that I love that the setting is in New York, in fact, Columbia University is about uptown 30 blocks from, so I was able to visualize exactly where they were in the excerpt!

It's hard for me to define erocitca v. ertoci content and I apologize if I'm repeating what other commenters have aid. I think that in erotica, the sex scenes are more extensive, longer and there are many more of them. Like someone else said, sexual tension can be enough in some scenes where actual sex doesn't occur. A really good writer can get me seriously hot and bothered by creating intense sexual tension. I think stories with erotic content have some very hot sex scenes, but not nearly as many.

msmjb65 said...

Oops didn;t sign my last post!

Why did you set the story in New York?
msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

Russell Bittner said...


The first (and possibly only GOLDEN) rule for writers is WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!

I'm from NYC/Brooklyn and a Columbia grad who happened to have majored in Philosophy. I do NOT have an MFA -- which many see as a handicap, others as an advantage.

The story opens and closes in NYC, but a good portion of the novel takes place in EUR. I spent a decade-plus of work and studies in Europe. Consequently, I feel "entitled" (if that's the right word here) to write a bit about it.

This story is about a fictional Danish transplant to NYC who -- as Kit finds out over time -- has escaped (though ultimately, not successfully) some deep, dark secret. Hence, one aspect of the title.

The erotica in TROMPE-l'OEIL is plentiful -- and at times rather graphic -- but isn't the entire message of the book. It's merely a symptom, and not the "disease" itself.

If you can spare the time to read some of the reviews at Amazon-Kindle, perhaps you'll find that others have made this point more succinctly than I'm able to do.

You can find those reviews here:

In the meantime, MJB, many thanks for checking in and asking the question.


Laurie said...

To me erotic content is the actual acts of sex, while an erotic novel includes seduction, emotions and the feeling of being in the scene itself. Thanks for the giveway.

Rachel V said...

I think an erotic novel puts sex first if you remove the sex from the book it wouldn't have a story line. A book with erotic content is more about the plot or storyline and the erotic content is just a bonus. If you took all the sex out you would still have a story just maybe not as exciting one.

I think my main questions have been already answered. I was going to ask if you had been to the places that you wrote about it this book but it looks like that was answered. Thanks!

nayjf said...

an erotic novel to me has its main focus on the sex, less on plot progression

Disqus for Close Encounters with the NIght Kind


Copyright Text