My interview with DeDe O'Connor, the "Queen of Christian Erotica"

MaryBeth: Hello everyone! I’m MaryBeth from, here with the Queen of Christian Erotica, DeDe O’Connor–

DeDe: [interrupts] Stop it!

MaryBeth: Oh, come on now. You know you love it. Anyway, it’s my pleasure to get to spend some time with DeDe this afternoon, and get her thoughts on the world of Christian Erotica.

DeDe: [waving] Hi folks!

MaryBeth: DeDe, you don’t have to wave – we’re not running video.

DeDe: Maybe I’m waving at you. [laughs] Is this the most unprofessional interview you’ve ever seen, guys?

MaryBeth: [sighing] Oh, boy. Well, my dear readers, if you can’t already tell, DeDe and I are good friends and go back a long way. We don’t live in the same area, so we’re doing this interview using a video conferencing package, and I’m running audio which I’ll go back and transcribe for the web page.

DeDe: Lotta trouble!

MaryBeth: No doubt, but like Superman, we have to protect your secret identity.

DeDe: Okay, there is that...

MaryBeth: And maybe that’s a great place to start – DeDe O’Connor is a pen name, right?

DeDe: [feigns shock] You just blew my cover!

MaryBeth: [laughs]

DeDe: Actually, many writers – if not most, at least at some point – use pen names. Steven King has done it, so has J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, Agatha Christie, Michael Crichton... and those are just off the top of my head. A long time ago Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clements. It’s not unusual at all. I met a couple at a writers conference that both make their livings writing books. They each write in many different genres, under just as many different names.

MaryBeth: Is there a particular reason that you have a pen name?

DeDe: Definitely – anonymity. If everyone at my church knew that I write Christian Erotica, well, face it, there are people who would look down on me and my family. I’d be barraged with people wanting to point out the sins and errors of my ways. Those that don’t agree with me, that is; I’m not ashamed of anything that I write, or do in the marriage bed, for that matter. But this way I’m anonymous – except for the things that I reveal in my writing.

MaryBeth: That’s one thing that I know people enjoy. You introduce each story personally, and it creates a bond between you and the reader.

DeDe: That’s true – I do feel a bond with my readers. I want the reader to feel like I’m writing the story just for them, and not for the masses. And that’s really how I look at it.

MaryBeth: Getting back to the pen name, do you think that it would be possible to find the real you?

DeDe: [stares at laptop camera silently for a minute] So, this isn’t fair at all. You and I have had personal conversations about this several times. [pounds on the desktop twice] Your honor, council is leading the witness!

MaryBeth: [laughs] You agreed to this interview.

DeDe: [shakes her head from side to side] What was I thinking? Okay, yes, at one point I noticed that there was actually a trail of breadcrumbs between real-life me and DeDe O’Connor. Name-wise, I mean. I am DeDe, and everything I put into my writing is me. There’s just a different name on the front of the book. To me it’s not a big deal. To quote Juliet, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

MaryBeth: Exactly. Okay, let’s dive right into it – what is Christian Erotica?

DeDe: Wow, nothing tough about that question! [laughs] Um, it’s different things for different people, which of course makes it tough to be a reader. There are writers of erotica who take their sex stories, add a conversation about going to church, and then put it out as Christian erotica with three-ways, swapping, etc., etc. I guess that everyone has their own rules, though.

MaryBeth: So what are your rules?

DeDe: Well, probably the number one thing is that all the sex takes place in the covenant of marriage. Everything is between a husband and wife. Period. [pauses] Which is why my first book is called “The Marriage Bed.”

MaryBeth: Specifically, “The Marriage Bed: Ten Tales of Christian Erotica.” Might as well get a full plug in there.

DeDe: Right – much appreciated, by the way. But anyway, there are other rules like the language I use. That’s a biggie.

MaryBeth: I can imagine. But that’s kind of limiting, isn’t it?

DeDe: Ummm... I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think about it. I mean, I do spend a lot of time on it, but it’s not about censoring myself. It’s one hundred percent about not making my reader uncomfortable. So for that reason, the f-word is out. At least, I don’t use it.

MaryBeth: Right, I got that. But what do you call the male organ?

DeDe: [laughs] Again, we’ve had this discussion before – you just want to get it in the interview!

MaryBeth: I can neither confirm nor deny that allegation. So what were you saying?

DeDe: [still laughing] Okay, okay, fair enough. It’s definitely something to think about. If you only call it a “penis” then it all sounds so clinical... medical, even. It just doesn’t have a natural feel. No one talks like that. The other extreme – and this is a mistake made by rookie writers – they give it ridiculous names. Remember the great comedian Robin Williams?

MaryBeth: Of course. What a loss.

DeDe: Terrible loss for the world – he was a genius. Anyway, in his stand-up comedy act he had a routine where he’d make fun of the weird things that men call their penises. I remember one was “the incredible heat-seeking moisture missile”...

MaryBeth: Oh my! [laughs]

DeDe: Right? Another was the “throbbing python of love.” Of course, he was making fun of the ridiculous names, but in reality, a lot of writers try to come up with things like that. Those just getting started in erotica, mostly.

MaryBeth: So what do you call it?

DeDe: Oh, “penis” on rare occasions, “member” sometimes, “rod,” “cock,” things like that.

MaryBeth: How about the ever-popular “dick”?

DeDe: All right, I’m going to sound a little psycho, but that one bothers me. “Dick” is short for “Richard,” and I know guys with that name. It’s just weird to call a penis a “dick” and then call a guy I know the same name. It gets complicated because “dick” is also another word for “jerk” – as in, “Hey, don’t be such a dick.” That has a bad connotation, and so I won’t use it for the wonderful organ that God put on my husband’s body.

MaryBeth: Wow, this does get complicated.

DeDe: And there are no absolute right or wrong answers. “Rod” might offend some readers, but not others.

MaryBeth: But “cock” is okay?

DeDe: It is with me. I’ve never thought that was an offensive word. And it’s another name for a rooster. Nothing offensive there. It also sound very masculine.. Kind of the opposite of “pussy,” which I see as an extremely feminine word, kind of playful. And it’s another word for a cat, a creature that I simply love. I hope that we haven’t lost half your readers at this point.

MaryBeth: [laughs] But this is an interview about Christian erotica, so the body parts have to be called something.

DeDe: Exactly.

MaryBeth: How about the c-word for vagina?

DeDe: [smiling] You mean you can’t even say it?

MaryBeth: I prefer not to.

DeDe: Same here, actually. That word is used in hate and anger to say something bad about a woman... as in, “Wow, that bitch is such a c-word,” that I don’t feel right using it to describe something as feminine and beautiful as a vagina. So that’s off the table for me.

MaryBeth: Agreed – me, too. So what about breasts?

DeDe: [pausing] I really don’t have any restrictions there. “Tits,” “boobs,” “breasts,” all are okay with me. I avoid any weird names, though – “fun bags,” “snuggle puppies,” nothing ridiculous like that.

MaryBeth: But you’re fine with “tits”?

DeDe: Sure, although I don’t use it a lot. A woman’s breasts are special – we nurse our children with them, and with our husband, they can be very erogenous. So nothing campy or weird. But “tits” is okay. The great comedian George Carlin did a routine on how mild and inoffensive the word “tits” is. He said that it sounds like a snack food or something. [In a deep, announcer voice] “The evening news is brought to you tonight by the new snack sensation ‘Tater Tits’!”

MaryBeth: [laughs] I remember that.

DeDe: Anyway, the whole language thing is like walking a tightrope.

MaryBeth: Any other rules?

DeDe: Ummm... [pauses] I guess another rule is that I never, ever describe the bodies of the husbands and wives in my stories.

MaryBeth: You know, it’s strange, but I’ve never noticed that, and I think that I’ve read everything that you’ve ever written.

DeDe: Right – and that is one of the reasons why!

MaryBeth: Because I’m a fan of yours? [laughs]

DeDe: No, because you never noticed it. If you don’t describe a character, people tend to plug themselves into the role, and that’s perfect for Christian Erotica. I want my readers to identify with the characters. There’s another reason, though. I want my readers to focus on their spouse, so if I described a husband as having sleeve tattoos, massive, rock-hard pecs, and a six-pack stomach, that would be describing very few of my actual readers. Most of the husbands who read my erotica are average guys, but suddenly I’ve got their wives fantasizing about these romance-novel hunks.

MaryBeth: I see what you mean.

DeDe: Same thing with hair color and length, boob size, penis size, etc. I don’t want to create fantasy people who don’t exist in my reader’s lives. I want to inspire husbands and wives to have a full, active sex life together. That’s also why I don’t have the people in my story doing weird, acrobatic things that aren’t realistic to my readers.

MaryBeth: [pauses] I’m thinking of calling you out on this one.

DeDe: What do you mean?

MaryBeth: I’m struggling between leaving this one alone since you’re a good friend, or going for a good interview point for the readers.

DeDe: Okay, now I’m curious. Hit me with it.

MaryBeth: You do write about a form of sex that–

DeDe: [interrupting] Anal. Okay, I see where you’re going with this.

MaryBeth: Well, it’s true. That’s off-limits for many couples, but you do write about it.

DeDe: I do, but not without a lot of thought and consideration. The topic of anal sex is extremely complicated. First of all, some women find it uncomfortable and even painful; you know that I’m pretty much okay between anything consensual that happens in the marriage bed – but the consensual part is paramount. Also, there are hygienic issues. Nothing should ever go from the butt to the vagina – and I’m not a doctor, nor am I giving medical advice here, this is simply what I’ve read in my research. Please do your own research or consult your licensed physician. Your mileage may vary. This is a professional driver on a closed course. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. It is unlawful to remove this tag from this mattress. And any and every other disclaimer that I can imagine.

MaryBeth: [laughing] Wow, where did that come from?

DeDe: My editor constantly lectures me on not giving anything that can be construed to be medical advice in the litigious society in which we live.

MaryBeth: Litigious?

DeDe: It’s cool being a writer. Litigious means that people sue each other at the drop of a hat. Anyway, nasty health things can happen if anything from your butt gets into your vagina, so once a vibrator goes in the back door, it shouldn’t go up front until it’s been washed and sanitized. Same thing with fingers, penises, or whatever else.

MaryBeth: That’s pretty much common knowledge, though, right?

DeDe: I would think, but still, because of that people see the butt as off-limits. Also, you don’t want to tear the delicate walls with a fingernail or something.

MaryBeth: I always hear the argument “It’s an exit only.”

DeDe: Yeah, me too, but sometimes doctors prescribe suppositories that you insert up there. And before some medical procedures you have to get an enema. Some folks even do colonics for health and cleansing. The ‘exit only’ argument doesn’t completely hold water. No pun intended.

MaryBeth: Of course not! [laughs] Right.

DeDe: But a simple visit to Wikipedia for “human anus” will tell you that it has a high concentration of nerve endings and can therefore be an “erogenous zone.” Also, if I’m not mistaken, one of the nerves of the anus also goes to the clitoris in ladies, and the penis in guys. Again, all disclaimers apply.

MaryBeth: But you don’t limit it to the ladies. I seem to recall a rather steamy story about a wife, a finger, and her husband’s butt.

DeDe: Oh, right “The Exam” I called it. So the guys have something else up there – the prostate gland, which is just outside of the passageway. When hubby goes for a physical, he always complains about the doctor giving him “the finger,” as he calls it.

MaryBeth: No sympathy here. He should go through what we do.

DeDe: Exactly what I tell him. But as clinical and scary as it might be at the doctor’s office, in the marriage bed it can be kind of interesting. I looked it up while researching the story you mentioned, and for guys who can’t ejaculate, there is a procedure where the prostate is hit with an electrical charge, and it causes the guy to cum. This is something that only a doctor should do, of course–

MaryBeth: All disclaimers apply again.

DeDe: Right; you’re getting the hang of this. So never, ever try anything like that, but it just shows how sensitive the prostate can be. A lot of guys won’t consider it, though, because they think that it’s a homosexual thing.

MaryBeth: Gay guys do it, so they shouldn’t.

DeDe: But you can say the same thing about kissing, holding hands, or any number of other things. [pauses] Okay, I’ve lost the point. How did we get off on this anal sex tangent?

MaryBeth: I brought it up because you write about it, but if a guy reads one of your stories featuring it and his wife isn’t into that particular act, it could possibly make him fantasize about another woman who would do it.

DeDe: That’s a fair statement, but you could say the same thing about cunnilingus or fellatio. It comes down to where I draw boundaries, and I have to come back to the fact that I believe any consensual act in the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife is okay.

MaryBeth: We’ve been talking for a while now, so we’d better close. Maybe we can do a follow-up in the near future. I do have a few last questions, though.

DeDe: Keep going – I’m having a good time.

MaryBeth: Your last statement made me think of it, and it’s getting back to semantics. What do you call cunnilingus or fellatio in your stories?

DeDe: [laughs] Well, to begin with, I never call them cunnilingus and fellatio. Too scientific and clinical. “Giving head” is okay by me, I’m not a big fan of calling cunnilingus “eating out,” although you’ll see that used by a number of writers. “Going down” is probably my favorite, because it describes both acts, and is very literal. When someone does that, they are going “down there” with their mouth. For the most part in my writing, those acts just happen, and I don’t give them a name. But I do think “going down” is a great way to talk about it.

MaryBeth: What about writing rituals? Do you have any in particular? Do you light candles, put on a negligee, and turn down the lights?

DeDe: [laughs] You know, it would probably be better for my reputation if I said that I did! Actually, it’s more of a mood thing for me. My stories aren’t just about sex, they’re about love, and I need to be in the right frame of mind. For example, if my husband was watching a football game, hooting and hollering, yelling at the television, it would be impossible for me to sit on the couch next to him and create a story filled with love and passion. I usually write in a dark room with soft music in the background, and sometimes I burn incense or a scented candle. Your olfactory sense is very powerful – much more than people realize. That’s about the extent of my writing rituals.

MaryBeth: One final question – any advice for folks who want to be a writer?

DeDe: Definitely – write every day. Every single day of your life. Even if it’s a throw-away short story. Flex your writing muscles like an athlete works his physical muscles. I’m a big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” rule.

MaryBeth: I don’t think I’m familiar with that one.

DeDe: The writer Malcolm Gladwell put forth the theory that to master something – anything – you have to put in ten thousand hours of deliberate practice.

MaryBeth: Have you done that?

DeDe: Well, first of all I’m not saying that I’m a master of writing or anything else, but it is how I make my living. It’s all that I do. I’ve been writing for most of my life, and I’ve had over thirty books published in different genres under different names. But as Michelangelo said, “I am still learning.”

MaryBeth: Well said! Okay, DeDe O’Connor, thank you so much for your time. I’ve really enjoyed the interview, and I hope the readers have as well.

DeDe: Thank. I really do appreciate the opportunity.

MaryBeth: I have to admit, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. It’s been fun looking into the mind and the world of the “Queen of Christian Erotica”!

DeDe: Again, stop it.

MaryBeth: I wonder, have you ever started a story that you couldn’t – or wouldn’t – finish because of the subject matter.

DeDe: [laughs] Funny that you should mention that. I have just such a story that I’m struggling with for a new book. And by the way, I thought we were wrapping up.

MaryBeth: Well, now you have to spill. You can’t just tease the readers like that. Give us a hint about this new story.

DeDe: I can’t. Or at least, I won’t. The subject matter is in an area that I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with.

MaryBeth: Oh, come on! [grinning] Let me and the readers decide!

DeDe: [pausing] I’ll make a deal with you. Turn off the recorder, and I’ll tell you. Then I think you’ll understand my hesitation.

MaryBeth: Sorry, folks, but I’ve got to hear this one. We’ll be back in a minute – stay with us.

DeDe: Actually, since you’re transcribing this, it’ll be instantaneous to them.

MaryBeth: Of course. Here we go...

[a break in the interview for about six minutes]

MaryBeth: We’re back, and... oh my.

DeDe: [laughs] I told you so!

MaryBeth: [silent for a moment] Oh my.

DeDe: But it meets all my criteria – it is a situation in the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife, there’s no sexual act that I haven’t written about many times before, no rude or crude language, so...

MaryBeth: Right, but... I mean... [shakes her head] I don’t know what to think of what you just told me. Oh my.

DeDe: [laughs loudly] So, do you see my predicament?

MaryBeth: I don’t know what to say. Ummm, I don’t know how the Queen is going to handle this one. I honestly don’t know what to say.

DeDe: Think about it, and I’ll call you next week. We can talk.

MaryBeth: I don’t know that I actually should think about it, but now I don’t see how I can keep from thinking about it. I... oh my.

DeDe: [laughing again] Folks, thanks for following this interview. I’m happy to end it by leaving one of my good friends absolutely speechless. When we do this again, maybe I’ll have worked it out so that I can share it. Thanks for reading, and I hope that you have a great time in your own marriage bed.

MaryBeth: [laughs, shakes her head]

Click on the book cover to check out DeDe's latest book!