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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to "Seven Days in June" author Tia Williams about manifesting love, "Romeo and Juliet" what ifs, living with disabilities, the myth of having it all, the underappreciated skill it takes to write about sex sexily and the inappropriate shit we had no business doing as kids.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Kenrya: Hey good people. Before we get started, just a quick content warning, there may be some talk of trauma and self-harm so just be prepared and take care of y'all selves. Here we go.
Kenrya: So today we are talking to Tia Williams, pronouns she and her. Tia has a 15-year career as a beauty editor for magazines including Elle, Glamor, and Essence. In 2004, she pioneered the beauty blog industry with Shake Your Beauty, yes you did. She wrote the bestselling novel, “The Accidental Diva,” and penned two YA novels, “It Chicks” and “Sixteen Candles.” Her award-winning novel “The Perfect Find” will be adapted into a Netflix film starring Gabrielle Union. Tia is currently an editorial director at The Estée Lauder Companies and lives with her daughter and husband in Brooklyn. Hey Tia!
Tia: Hi. I'm so excited to be here.
Kenrya: Yay, we're happy to have you on.
Erica: Thank you for joining us.
Tia: Of course.
Erica: I finished the book last night and it was a lot in a good way.
Kenrya: In the very best way.
Tia: I love to hear that.
Erica: It took me through all of the feels. So thank you, yeah. We're going to talk about your book, but once we hang up I'm going to talk about it with the spoilers, because I've got some questions.
Tia: Oh yeah, right.
Kenrya: Yeah, we try not to spoil too much because we want folks to pick it up.
Erica: Yeah, but a beautiful book.
Tia: Right, right, right.
Erica: Okay, so, what did little Tia want to be when she was growing up?
Tia: A writer, there was no other option ever. Write, just a little reminder. Yeah, I always, I'm one of those sort of rare people who really, really always knew what I wanted to do. There was never any wavering, there was never any, “What should I major in, in college?” it was none of that. I was writing mini novels in my mom's Steno pads when I was seven. With an about the author section, I would write, “Tia Williams, comma, seven, comma, is probably the youngest writer you've ever heard of.” Yeah, I've always known I wanted to do that and when I was in college I went to UVA and I graduated in 1997 and I knew that I wanted to move to New York to do two things, because the other thing that I've been really interested in always is beauty and fashion.
Tia: So I wanted to move to New York to become a fashion magazine editor but at the same time I wanted to be a novelist. And so two weeks after I graduated from UVA I moved to Brooklyn, and this is three months after Biggie died and I'm living on St. James between Fulton and Greene.
Erica: You got stories.
Tia: Where he's from. Yeah, I have some stories and it is a very different neighborhood now, but then I was like, wow, you know coming from the suburbs of Virginia, I was like oh, this is what we're doing, okay. And I was very green. And I started working at YM magazine and then Elle, Glamor, all these fashion magazines and I wrote my first novel two years later. So my whole career I've been a beauty writer and then also a novelist.
Erica: All right [inaudible 00:03:46].
Tia: Per plan because I'm very type A.
Erica: Well that's good, I mean you're showing, you know you ask most young people what they want to be and they're like, I want a garden and also win an Oscar, and be an astronaut.
Erica: So you have like-
Kenrya: That's literally my kid.
Erica: ... combined and showed us that it can happen. What inspires you, who or what inspires you to write?
Tia: Well in terms of the plots and story lines and characters, I'm inspired by my life. Things that happen to me, things that happen to people I know, mostly things that happen to me. All of my protagonists I've taken a hefty percentage of their life from mine. But I think in terms of media and art that inspires me to write, this is very weird but Stephen King has always been a huge inspiration of mine just because of, I'm a huge horror buff and he's one of my favorite novelists and it's just because of the structure of his books. I mean he's like a great American storyteller, they're just no matter, it happens to be in a genre, but his books are like a masterclass on how to grab an audience quick and keep them there and have a little cliff hanger at the end of every chapter. So I learned how to write fiction from reading Stephen King, which is always a thing that people think is odd because-
Kenrya: But he wrote a literal book about writing, “On Writing,” so it makes sense.
Tia: And he wrote a literal book about writing. But you would think because I write in the sort of rom-com genre that I would look up to someone in that space, but it's always been Stephen King.
Kenrya: Good writing is good writing.
Tia: It's true.
Erica: Yeah, and it's, reading your book, I listened to it on audiobook, so I'm going to say listening a lot, but listening to your book you see how it all ties together. Yes, it is rom-com, it's romantic and erotica or whatever, but that ties in so easily with horror and your book, listening to how Eva really thought about how everything works together and lay that out in the book, really shows how it's actually not that far of a jump from romance to scary shit. But most of my romances were scary, to be completely honest.
Tia: Same, yeah. It actually, yeah, is the same genre for most of us.
Kenrya: That is true, Lord have mercy. So, as someone, it's so funny, so you and I never met but I think we have a lot of the same friends.
Kenrya: Yeah, because we've also worked in a lot of the same places.
Kenrya: We'll talk about that after the show.
Kenrya: Yeah, but so, but I also in reading the book and then reading about you, and we'll talk a bit about the parallels between you and your characters, but I feel like you and I have a lot of things in common and one of them, one of the big ones is starting in magazines and then also writing books because this is your sixth book, right?
Tia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: Yeah, even though folks have been calling it your second book, and I'm like, where?
Tia: Where? How, why, when? Six, yes, six.
Kenrya: Yeah. I'm writing my sixth book right now but also worked for magazines and started in magazines, all of that stuff. And so the question I'm always interested in with folks who are, who have careers and are also writing books, is how do you balance your writing with your day job?
Tia: Not well, I have to be completely honest. I mean I feel like this is a circle of trust and I get so annoyed when I hear, you know it's like a model saying, I don't work out really either.
Kenrya: Right, I just drink water.
Tia: I just drink water and grill chicken. I just want to tell the absolute truth. The way I approach it is not the healthiest and I don't really know, I always say, you really can have it all but you'll be struggling through.
Kenrya: I was about to say, not well.
Tia: You know, you're not going to do it well. And until four months ago I was a single mother as well, I have lifelong debilitating migraines, and I have a full-time job and I'm a novelist. So finding time to write is really, it's not going to be in the morning because every morning I wake up in pain and it takes me a couple of hours of cocktailing painkillers to feel normal enough to get up and start my day. So it's not going to be in the morning. Can't be during the day because I'm working, and then I have a 12 year old, so it's after she goes to bed is when I usually will work. And then because my head is so unpredictable I might have a bad migraine day and can't work. So if I ever have a day where I feel sort of okay I feel like I have to write until three in the morning because I'm not sure when it's going to come back. You know, when I'm going to have a good day again.
Tia: So it's really like get in where you fit in and I wish I had something more functional to reveal, but I really don't. The most important thing is the discipline piece of it because there's always something more interesting to be doing than writing.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), say that.
Tia: There's always something, I mean napping, dusting, talking on the phone, brunching, drinking, smoking, doing whatever. Reading, “Real Housewives of Potomac.” There's always something, so you really have to be hard on yourself and make yourself do it. Whatever schedule you set up, no excuses, you have to do it.
Kenrya: Yeah, okay, that might be something I need to hear.
Erica: You have just like described everything that's going on with the both of us, down to the migraines, not for me but for my lovely co-host.
Kenrya: For me.
Tia: I'm so sorry.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's not great.
Erica: There's so much that we're going to jump into. But let's first talk about sex. So we use erotica here on the show, much like Eva is kind of a jumping off point for conversations about lots of things. But we like to start with the beginning, what were the lessons you learned in your household growing up about sexuality and gender?
Tia: Well I had a very, my family is so funny. My mom was the mom that you went to, that my friends would go to, to talk about things that their own mommy wouldn't talk about. So she was very, very open, very vagina, penis, never baby talk. We knew all about sex very early. My parents had a very thriving sex life and so they would have this loud sex all the time, like we couldn't get away from it.
Kenrya: You was going to get that lesson whether you wanted it or not.
Erica: Good job mom and daddy, I like it.
Tia: Like they, I would have slumber parties and they would do it and my friends would be like, oh my God, what's that noise. And it was, oh, mommy's having a nightmare.
Kenrya: No, mommy's having an orgasm.
Tia: But I was so used to it, it was just, my mom would be topless, they were ’70s kids. They were ’60s, ’70s, hippy-ish kind of vibe. So nothing was really off limits. My father got a vasectomy when we were in elementary school and things were discussed so candidly at my house, my little sister went outside on the playground, my mom heard her through the window outside, our playground was right outside the house, and she was like, "My daddy got his dick cut off this morning."
Kenrya: Oh no.
Tia: And when she came back my mom busted her for saying dick. My dad was like, how about discussing my...
Kenrya: Right, that I was not cast...
Tia: Shit on the playground. Like dick isn't the problem. So, that's the house I grew up in. Sex was very normalized and because it was always so... It never felt like something that was taboo or weird. None of us did it until we were in college because it didn't seem, we weren't, we knew about it, it didn't seem like something, a rebellion or anything like that.
Kenrya: Yeah, like some preachers’ kids.
Erica: Yeah, it wasn't this mystery that we needed to figure out.
Tia: Yeah, no. Yeah, it was a really, really healthy introduction to sex, my family.
Kenrya: Do you think that that impacts the way that you write about sex now?
Tia: I think so, just because I'm really frank about it. I don't think, I mean everybody does it, everybody does it.
Kenrya: It's like pooping and eating.
Tia: It's the same thing. Well, not the same thing, but it just doesn't seem, like I said, it just never seemed taboo to me. And so also my mom was a big romance novel person and so my sisters and I would sneak her romance novels when we were growing up and they would always fall open to the sex scenes because obviously those were the ones that she was reading the most of.
Erica: That was most used.
Tia: Right. And so I just absorbed them and I knew how they were supposed to go. Yeah, so I couldn't wait to grow up and write my own.
Kenrya: That's what's up. Well speaking of writing your own, last week we read an excerpt from “Seven Days in June,” thanks again for that. And the book stars Eva and Shane, two writers who reconnect 15 years after they first fell in love. Where'd the idea for this book come from?
Tia: So I love a second chance romance and honestly I was watching “Romeo and Juliet” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and I got to the end and as if this was my first time watching Romeo and Juliet or knowing anything about Romeo and Juliet. I was an English major, but for the first time ever I had this thought, “What if they hadn't died?” Like what if these lust-fueled wild-ass teenagers went their separate way, like had this moment together and then went their separate ways and then found each other again as adults. Do soul mates have an expiration date? So, that's kind of where I started with “Seven Days in June.” Does true love expire? And in Eva and Shane's case it did not.
Kenrya: Yeah, that's what's up. I always remember just thinking that they were stupid, Romeo and Juliet as a kid.
Tia: They were. They were. But our frontal lobes aren't developed when we're teenagers.
Kenrya: Right. So of course you do dumb shit.
Tia: They were 15.
Erica: Oh my gosh, I was-
Kenrya: With daggers and poison.
Erica: ... I was just on Instagram or something and there was some gossip page and they were talking about how this kid, the son of a famous person, is dating some young kid, and they're like 19, 20. And it's like, I'll love you forever, and I'm like, you won't even know her fucking middle name in three weeks. Like what are you talking about.
Kenrya: You probably don't know it now.
Tia: Sir, no, but less. Like have a good time.
Erica: Yeah, have fun. Y'all doing the rich kid shit, but don't, let's not quite say that.
Tia: Right. But don't you always think that at that age, and that's what was interesting to me is like, even Shane, they really felt like they had found each other's soulmate when they were teenagers. And so I wanted to see when they met each other as adults, I wanted them to find out whether or not it was real. Was it just like a teenage hallucination, was it just hormones and madness, or was it real? And in some cases I think it is.
Kenrya: Yeah, did you have a teenage soulmate?
Kenrya: Me neither.
Tia: No, no. I mean...
Kenrya: That was so quick.
Tia: Definitely not like any love situations. I certainly thought, I mean you know when you're a teenager you have a boyfriend for the duration of a party.
Tia: Like, I met this boy at this house party, we go together hard, like it was a whole thing, and then we never see each other again, but that was my man. I'm aging myself.
Erica: Not at all.
Tia: But no, I had like some lusty relationships that I thought was love, but I was an idiot.
Tia: I didn't know anything about myself or boys or men or anything that would lend itself to a true love situation I think.
Kenrya: So we learned fairly early in the book, I don't think this is giving anything away, that Eva and Shane are writing about each other in some really key ways. And it made us wonder about who you write about, what characters are based on folks, and I know in some ways that Eva is based on you and can we talk a bit about the folks who have crept in.
Tia: Yeah, I mean, yes, Eva, the skeleton of Eva is definitely me. I mean I got married in December, but before that I was a single mom for a long time, divorced, Creole mom with Louisiana roots, chronic migraines, Black writer in Brooklyn. So we had quite a lot, you know write sex scenes for a living. So yeah, we had a lot in common. Her sort of, her very traumatic past and her relationship with her mom and all of that is totally made up, but Shane was the first male character that truly came from my head. Because I usually with “The Accidental Diva” and “The Perfect Find,” which are my other two adult books, other than that I wrote YA, those were based on relationships I had just had that didn't work out. And so it was me as therapy rewriting it in fiction so that it did work out.
Tia: And you know, it takes its own life once you start writing it, but that, those came from the kernel of truth. The fact that I had a relationship that sort of mirrored that. But this one, Shane really came out of nowhere, he was like a composite of all of the sexy, grouchy, writer boys I've known. And then about halfway through I met my now husband, I swiped on him.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:20:51].
Erica: So there is hope.
Kenrya: There is.
Tia: Girl. You know I don't want to say that because it sounds like, look, it took me four years. So it's like a happy ending but also, “God, why did it take so long?” It's hard. And it was like appointment dating. I was like, “Okay, I don't have my daughter on Thursday, I'll go on a date every Thursday.” It's a numbers game, keep going. I had to do that.
Kenrya: Oh my God, you and I have the same life.
Kenrya: And I met my partner online too.
Tia: See. Because if you're a single mom, like honestly, how else are you going to meet anybody. And I work in beauty and fashion, there are barely any men-
Erica: So you're not running into any men.
Tia: ... and the men that are... No, and they're gay. So it's, it's so hard. But anyway, what was I saying. Oh, so I met him and he's Danish, like he grew up an hour from Copenhagen and has lived all over the world and has like this restless spirit, speaks all these languages. Went on a surfing excursion in Vietnam and went on a motorcycle trek through Brazil. He just had, and you'll be talking to him and he'll drop these things and it's like, your life sounds made up. And I infused that into Shane a little bit. This whole idea that he's like not even from anywhere, he's a citizen of the world. He doesn't have a home, he just likes to be near water and you can't tie him down. So yeah, I put a lot of my husband into him.
Kenrya: So it tracks really well with Shane's upbringing in terms of him not really ever really feeling like he had a home from seven on, right. To then turn into this person who's like, “I don't need that, I'll make my home wherever I am” kind of a deal. It totally feels super realistic.
Tia: Yeah, I mean when you factor in what his childhood was like, yeah.
Erica: I mean the first chapter of this book I called Kenrya, I don't know if I called her laughing, but I definitely was like, “Kenrya, this is you. Tia has written you down to the snarky child that's giving therapy at school.” I was like, girl, and then she said the migraines, I was like this bitch know who, she was literally all up in Kenrya's business. So I mean it was...
Tia: Oh my God.
Kenrya: Yeah, uncanny.
Erica: It was very...
Erica: What'd you say?
Kenrya: It's uncanny.
Tia: How old is your daughter or son.
Kenrya: She just turned 10, son, I mean daughter. She just turned 10 and she's...
Erica: A lot of person.
Kenrya: Yep. Gemini, she has strong opinions.
Tia: Whoa. Best of luck to you.
Tia: Wow, okay.
Kenrya: Yeah, she's lovely. She's lovely. I didn't know, I didn't know that all of this would start so early.
Erica: So, kind of off topic and I don't want to get too much into it because we have to address it, we're going to address it, we'll have addressed it in the full show. But I like how you wrote Eva and Audre's relationship and how Eva really did see it as an opportunity to get it right and do right by her baby so that her daughter had a better chance at just kind of being a little less, having to deal with less trauma growing up. That was really beautiful, and like I said, it really struck true with... I have a son, he's 12, I have a son, but I'm trying to do that with him, but girl, again, you wrote Kenrya.
Tia: No, it's like a deliberate choice to raise your kids differently. I think you can go one of two ways, you either emulate what you saw growing up and hopefully that was a good thing, or you go all the way left and rebel against what your parents did to you so you can give your kid a fair shot.
Erica: So therapy is the thing we talk about constantly on this show, and so without having some insight into who you are and what makes you tick, it's just really easy to pass on the more negative or less positive parts of that.
Tia: And no shade but you see it so, I'm going to get slammed for this, but you see if so often with men, because they don't address their emotional lives the same way that we do and they're so much less likely to get themselves in therapy.
Kenrya: Yeah, do not tell me [crosstalk 00:25:46].
Tia: And so they repeat what they saw, what their dads did and what their dad's dad did, and then here we are.
Kenrya: You're not wrong. I think that that is-
Erica: And you won't get slammed by anyone listening to this podcast because-
Tia: Okay, good.
Erica: ... you're preaching what we preach.
Kenrya: Yeah, I mean I try never to say “all or always,” but I do think that in general that tends to be true. A lot of cishet men are not necessarily open to delving into their shit because it's hard, it's hard for all of us. And when you've been socialized to think that that is a negative thing, that to feel feelings is a weakness--
Tia: Soft, yep.
Kenrya: Especially as Black men, exactly, then it can be really easy to be swept up in that socialization and to not feel like you want to push up against it, because who wants to be different?
Tia: Yep, it's true.
Kenrya: So then we get repeated patterns and intergenerational trauma.
Erica: So, you talk about invisible disability, I don't know why I did air quotes, but you talk about invisible disabilities in this book and it was notable. It was definitely something different and it was good to see in the sense of like, this is something she's dealing with but it's a part of her, it's not all that she is and this is how she manages it. Why did you opt to tackle this?
Tia: Well, I've had this since I was nine. It's an intractable migraine diagnosis which means that it's incurable and things work for me for a couple of months, maybe a year, and then they stop working and no one can figure it out. I've been everywhere and it's been like the defining issue of my life and it gets in the middle of relationships, it fucks up work, it's a life ruiner if you let it be. I mean chronic pain is no, you have to, if it's bad enough you have to choose to even stay here, kind of a thing, because how worth it is life if your every breath is a nightmare, literally.
Tia: And so because of how serious and un-sexy and un-cute and unfunny it is, I never knew how to write about it within the genre that I write. And it wasn't until I was in my forties that I felt like I was brave enough to try to do that. And so I don't know, I just kind of wanted to see specifically myself reflected in a sexy love story. Like, can this women with this horrible pain and being a single mom and being busy and being too tired or too drugged or too anything to even participate in dating, can she find love and sex and happiness? And she did, and then I did too. It was almost like I wrote it, I manifested it, I certainly was not expecting to meet my husband as I was writing this because there was nothing on the horizon. So, that was a surprise too.
Erica: That's beautiful.
Kenrya: Yes, your manifestation.
Erica: So next book we're writing is about a million-dollar lottery winner and her two million dollar podcast co-host friends that also won the lottery.
Tia: Right. Yeah. I mean who knew, that manifestation stuff works.
Kenrya: It does work.
Tia: I never really thought-
Kenrya: I really and truly believe that.
Tia: ... I mean I had never really believed it, despite the fact that I had a friend, I'm not a super spiritual person and I have a friend who super is and she was like, “Bitch just make this vision board, just do it for ‘The Perfect Find.’” Because I was having trouble finishing it, “I can't do this, fuck it, I'm not going to be a writer, I'll just go to...” I remember seeing commercials for, to learn how to operate x-ray machines and I was like, “I'll do that, I can do that. I'll just get certified and be a x-ray technician.”
Erica: That was literally you throwing some shit at a wall, being like “It'll stick.”
Tia: That's it. I can do that. So she was like, “Let's take a step back.”
Kenrya: I mean is that ripping yourself up to write so why not.
Tia: Right. She was like, okay, do this vision board, and before I'd even finished “The Perfect Find,” there was no cover, there was no nothing, I made the board, I did a physical board and I made it yellow, which is what the cover of “The Perfect Find” ended up being and for some reason I put Gabrielle Union on there. I thought maybe she looked like my character or I honestly don't even know why I put it there. And look at where we are.
Kenrya: Look at where you are.
Erica: Look at that. Look at God!
Tia: I hadn't even finished writing it.
Tia: And I'm not even a believer. So it's going to work for you whether you believe in it or not.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I agree. I think manifestation is incredible powerful and I'm really excited for what you manifested. So dope. So, Eva has major anxiety around doing an event with other Black writers who produce more, quote unquote “serious work.” Have you ever been in a situation where you worry that folks wouldn't take your work seriously because it centers women and if so can you tell us about it and why that is bullshit?
Tia: Yeah, I'm in that situation all the time and I actually took that scene, so it came from real life. So Eva's freaking out about being on this panel and she's talking about, the panel is about the lives of Black authors in 2019, which is the year it takes place. And she writes a vampire erotica series and she's on a panel with like the equivalent of Ta-Nehisi Coates and really sort of, people who are thought to be the spokespeople for racial relations in American. They win awards for this, they have big fancy critically acclaimed books and then there she is. And especially when you're on a panel with a lot of men that are in these fields, because they want to mansplain, like they talk in all caps, it can be very male centered, Black male centered to the exclusion of Black women. The Black male struggle. But yeah, I definitely, I've never really been included in a conversation about, let me not say that, because I don't want to sound like I'm pouting or anything.
Kenrya: You don't sound like you're pouting. I think, well anyway, go ahead.
Tia: I just think that because romance and erotica and love stories are beloved by women, they aren't taken as seriously. I mean historically any sort of media that is woman centered is thought to be silly. It's like, the Beatles were a boy band that girls loved and were a joke until guys discovered them. It's like that kind of a thing. Men don't read it so it's not serious, men don't have migraines so we don't have a cure, you know. Men don't have babies so the question of whether or not abortion is a natural right is still a question. So it has never been taken seriously and it is total bullshit and it's because like everything else, the book industry is a patriarchal system. Like we're not going to, you know, a love story will not win the National Book Award.
Tia: And it's nuts because the implication that it's harder or better or more valuable to write literary fiction versus commercial fiction is ridiculous because it's the same conversation in music. Who is a real musician, a person who writes a pop song that appeals to the entire world or someone who writes a song appealing to a very small demo in Red Hook? I feel like Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best when he was like, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” To write something that's so widely appealing, that so many people can grasp and feel good about is really, really difficult, I have to say. That's why comedies don't win Oscars, if it's not serious-
Kenrya: It feels effortless.
Tia: ... Yeah, exactly. Pretty much.
Kenrya: Yeah, which is, I always get caught up on this distinction between literary and commercial. It's all commercial, it's a literal fucking business. You won't get a book deal if they don't think that it's going to make money regardless of what it is that you're writing. So what are we even talking about. Also, those are the books that get the biggest deals, the Ta-Nehisi Coates of the world and what not.
Tia: Exactly. So what are we really talking about here. I know.
Kenrya: Yeah, wow.
Tia: And it's so easy to make, like in the wrong hands a love story is ridiculous.
Tia: In the wrong hands a sex scene is mortifying or comedy.
Erica: Ugh, yeah.
Tia: Or a cringe fest, like try it. It's tough to do correctly.
Erica: However when done correctly, it's so easy. What'd you say?
Tia: Right, right.
Kenrya: Nah, I was going to say, I mean we have a whole show that uses erotica and romance as a jumping off point for having conversations because it is so universal and also it's just so fucking good.
Erica: Yep. And, yeah, the amount of trash, I say the amount of shit we sort through to get good books, it ain't easy. It is not easy.
Tia: I can imagine.
Erica: So, in the scene that we read for the show, Eva and Shane have sex in a semi-public place. Why did you choose to have them have this, such an intimate moment in a public place, well in a semi public place? In a place that's not their personal sphere?
Kenrya: With them also being really public people too.
Tia: Right, why'd I do that? It's risky, right, what'd I do that for? I think, I love the tension of they felt safe being that flirtatious with each other because they were in public. It's like “What, we can't fuck in here?” So there was that, they started going there with each other and she's like, show me your scar, take your shirt off, get all flirty. And it felt like, okay, it can't go further than that, but then sort of their passion and their feeling and their energy took them past that, that boundary and to me that's always really sexy when all signs point to this is ridiculous but then you just can't help it. And that's what was happening there. It's also funny because if you think of it in real life, especially now that we're in COVID times, the idea of fucking in a public space, the idea of going there, touching anything.
Tia: Breathing, that whole situation, I'm just like, oh my God. It can't happen again.
Kenrya: I was going to say [crosstalk 00:39:06]. Yes.
Tia: It's truly fantasy.
Kenrya: We supposed to just trust that y'all really washed these blankets and these pillows? Y'all didn't just push and pull them back out and give them to somebody else? Spray some Febreze on that joint?
Tia: And where is your mask? Like it's just too much, but that was a real thing. I was working in, my last job I was the head of copy at Bumble and Bumble which is a haircare brand and the offices were in Meatpacking, and one of the Dream House popped, because it was a pop up that was, would happen all over the city. And so one of them was right near Meatpacking and so I'd go out and grab my lunch and see people in line for this sleepy house, and it's all purple and shit. Like these crazy lights, what is going on in there, what is really going on in there. And so that's where it came from. I bet people could really be raunchy in there, if you can close the door.
Kenrya: Listen, it is not a thing that I would not have done pre COVID, I ain't going to front, not [inaudible 00:40:13].
Kenrya: I can see myself getting caught up in that space.
Tia: Right. And all the lights and everything. If you google it and look it up, it's really trippy. I don't know, but yeah, so it was like the idea that they couldn't not do it. It didn't matter where they were.
Kenrya: So, as we were talking about a little bit earlier, “Perfect Find” is in development at Netflix which is dope and it's starting filming this month, right?
Tia: Yes, yeah. The director, Numa Perrier, was just in town doing location scouting. Of course this was all supposed to happen before, but it was held up because of the pandemic, so I'm so excited that it's all happening now. It's surreal.
Kenrya: And then, I would imagine, and then to have that on top of the fact that it was just announced that “Seven Days in June” is also being adapted, which is fucking dope. Congratulations!
Tia: Thank you.
Erica: Yes, congratulations.
Tia: It's crazy, thank you. I'm over the moon.
Kenrya: That's what's up. So reading that news of course made us think about the convo that Eva had with the director.
Kenrya: Yes. Why was it important for you to show that aspect of the business?
Tia: So what happened was, she finally, Eva finally got a director that wanted to adapt her movie, I mean her series for film and so Eva writes vampire erotica, and her two main characters, it's a vampire guy and a witch woman. And so the directors point was that they're already other, they're not like real people, it's a vampire and a witch, so why would we make them other, other, and have them be Black on top of that. And Eva's whole point is well because they are, why can't, who decides what race speculative fiction characters are? Like they're not even real, it's fantasy.
Tia: Exactly. And so the director says, "I mean that's like trying to sell a move about a Taiwanese unicorn and an African mermaid." And Eva's like, "I would watch that."
Tia: Let's make that movie. Yeah. And I wanted to kind of comment on that because as Black writers, filmmakers, whatever, we're always put in a very specific category of what we can be and what we can do. J.K. Rowling added a Black kid to Hogwarts because people were mad, but she had never thought of it. We can be magicians and unicorns and aliens and everything, why is white the default? And then she had to make a choice, how badly do I want to get this movie made, am I going to compromise everything I stand for because I feel like every Black writer is doing revolutionary work from their own chair. And Eva's brand of it was writing about a Black vampire and a Black witch, in love, in a total fantasy world. And you don't see that every day and putting us in places where we're not quote unquote allowed to be, is a revolutionary act. And so having to lose that, and whitewash that to make it a movie would've hurt her soul. So it's a big conundrum for her.
Erica: So, what does the process of developing your work for a streamer look like for you as like the author and executive producer? And, what's your dream cast?
Tia: So I don't really know what it's going to entail yet because I don't, I'm not executive producer for “The Perfect Find,” so this will be my first time in this role. For “The Perfect Find” it was very much, “I'm scared of Hollywood, I don't know how to write a script, I don't know, take it, be good to my baby.” So this is my first time doing any of this, so we shall see how it goes. I'm talking to some of my friends who have had their books developed into film or TV and they've been very involved, so I'm hoping to get some mentorship. But in terms of a cast for Shane I'm obsessed with Aldis Hodge, for years everything that I see him in, and he's always a supporting, he steals the scene for me. He just, he's so charismatic and he has that broody intensity and intelligence that I feel like Shane has, that you could also imagine him being a bad boy.
Kenrya: A tortured writer and a bad boy.
Tia: A tortured writer, like all of it. So, I love him. And for Eva I'm seeing like a quirky girl, sort of edgy that you feel might have some darkness in her. Like Zazie Beetz from Atlanta, I love her. What is the name, Teyonah Parris, did you guys watch “Wandavision”?
Tia: I think she's so good. And then for Eva's mom was that I keep coming back to Vanessa Williams because she was a pageant queen and she played evil really well.
Tia: The perfect fit.
Erica: I can see that. I totally can see that.
Tia: And she looks Creole, even though, and she looks Creole.
Kenrya: Yeah, she could pass as Creole for sure. Word, okay. What did you learn from writing this book?
Tia: I learned that I could write about what I didn't know, because it was the first time that I actually had to research something. I've never researched anything before, so both Eva and Shane have very traumatic pasts and I did not, and so I had to talk to a lot of people, I had to represent it correctly, I did not want to get into trauma porn because it's gross and ugly and disrespectful. I didn't know about alcoholism and what it's like to be in recovery and seeing the world, it's like being a newborn suddenly. Seeing the world with brand new eyes and having to adjust to things you never learned to adjust to. So I did a lot of research when it comes to that.
Tia: And then Ty which is the teenage boy that Shane mentors, it's like 10 years, a long time ago, I remember it was the first time I had ever heard the word, I mean the term “school to prison pipeline.” I think it was like a New Yorker article that I read and I was just horrified, and it's one of those things that as Black people we just know intuitively but it was the first time it was laid out for me, like how institutionalized it is and how systemic it is. And so I'd always wanted to touch on that in fiction, and so I did a lot of research on that as well.
Tia: So, I've always been nervous to write about things that I don't comfortably know, because I'd never done it before. But I think I learned that I can step outside of my bubble of stuff and with the next book I'm writing it's all brand new, like it's all researched. So I feel like “Seven Days in June” was the bridge to this next one that I'm going to do.
Kenrya: And it all rang really true.
Erica: I was about to say, it felt very, you did a good job on that.
Tia: You know what, thank you. I was being interviewed the other day and the interviewer was like, as someone who obviously sort of grew up in an impoverished, disenfranchised school system. I'm like, “Wow, I'm from Fairfax.”
Erica: My momma's going to kick my ass if she thinks that, this is how I grew up.
Kenrya: That sounds like a white reporter making an assumption.
Tia: Because, come on, of course it was.
Kenrya: Of course it was.
Tia: None of us would be like, “Okay, I peg you as someone [crosstalk 00:50:03].”
Kenrya: “Tell me about your hood life. Tell me more.”
Erica: “What was it like growing up in the projects of Fairfax?”
Tia: So funny.
Erica: So, do you have a favorite line or passage in this book?
Tia: Yes, when Eva says, "Stop writing about me." And Shane says, "You first."
Kenrya: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read that in the middle of the night, I couldn't sleep and I was like, “Fuck it, let's read,” and I was like, “Oh, okay, yep!”
Tia: I love that and it just shows that they're combative and that they've also secretly been one upping each other this whole time without ever actually communicating. I love it.
Kenrya: And then like, how you reveal the little bits of things. I don't want to say too much because I don't want folks, but like, yeah, you did that.
Erica: It was, yeah, snap, snap, snaps.
Tia: Aww, thanks guys.
Erica: Okay, so, one of the things that I noticed the most, one of the things that stand out about this book is that both Shane and Eva were in very adult situations as young people. So, we're going to lighten this up and we're going to play a little game called “I Ain't Have No Business Doing That.” It's a short game. So, I'm going to throw out a category and you're going to tell me what you had no business doing. For example, as a six year old I had no business singing Karen White “Superwoman,” like my husband said that the juice used to be so sweet but it's now sour.
Tia: Listen, I am not your super woman.
Kenrya: We used to sing that song with our whole souls. All of it.
Erica: So, Tia.
Kenrya: You put breakfast on the table.
Erica: What did you have no business watching?
Tia: I was so inappropriate. I had no business watching “Body and Soul,” which is a deep cut. It is a movie with Jane Kennedy and her husband, and he was a boxer in the movie or something and Jane Kennedy for the millennials in the house was a pageant queen and a model, and she was one of the first sportscasters on TV, Black woman, but there were all sorts of, there was all sorts of sex and nudity in that movie. And we were one of the first houses in the neighborhood to have HBO and so it would come on all the time and I would just be like, staring. And speaking of like early cable, this is like ’81, ’82, if you could get your, like your TV, what do you call this, a TV...
Kenrya: A dial.
Erica: Yeah, yeah, back when you had to turn that joint.
Tia: Yeah, when you had to turn it and you would get it in between two channels you could pick up porn. And it would be like super grainy.
Erica: Static and wavy. But you could see it.
Tia: Yeah, it'd be wavy, it'd be super weird, but you could see some titties. You could see something. You'd have to squint, this is why my eyes are bad today.
Kenrya: I love it. I too used to watch the TV when I wasn't supposed to.
Tia: Yes. And then there was Skinemax, Cinemax after midnight would show soft core porn.
Kenrya: After dark, yep.
Tia: They don't do that anymore.
Erica: Yeah, I was definitely a-
Kenrya: Sure did, then we got “Real Sex.”
Erica: Yeah, I was definitely watching it.
Tia: “Real Sex.” “Real Sex”. Important.
Kenrya: It was great. Groundbreaking cultural touchstone there.
Erica: I too was watching-
Erica: ... Soft porn as a child, okay. I had no business reading...
Tia: There was a book called “Slow Heat in Heaven.” Let me run that back to you, “Slow Heat in Heaven” by Sandra Brown. I have to say again, my mom was a major romance lady and this one was on top of her pile in the bathroom. It was about, I say was like it's past tense, it's right here on my bookshelf, I'm looking at it. It's about a white woman in Louisiana who lives in the big house and there's this po' Cajun family who lives on these, I say po' like with an apostrophe, po'. Because, that's how they're described in the book. Cajuns, and they live like on the property and the mom is the maid and stuff, and she has a son who works in the fields or something. So the girl and the son grow up together and they have all this friction when they're kids because she's rich and fancy and he's just like the po' Cajun that's working. But they grow up, fucks the shit out of her.
Erica: I literally, I googled “Slow Heat in Heaven,” it autocorrect, it auto completed.
Tia: [inaudible 00:56:06] in Heaven.
Tia: And this is why. If you both don't order this book the second this podcast is over.
Kenrya: Ok I'm going to get it.
Tia: Listen, it's some of the best sex scenes ever written. So good.
Erica: Don't worry, I got it up, I already got it up. Don't you, don't you worry. I'm going to get the Kindle, the Kindle edition so it's just right there.
Kenrya: It's like have that shit now.
Erica: Exactly. Okay, last one. I had no business singing...
Tia: “Nasty Girl,” Vanity 6. Seven years old.
Kenrya: Yeah, wholly inappropriate.
Tia: You couldn't tell me I wasn't nasty. I actually had purple lace fingerless gloves and I really did think I was [crosstalk 00:56:58].
Erica: You were a bad bitch, I love it. I was singing nasty girl like literally this weekend.
Tia: I was.
Erica: So, yeah, it's a song for the ages. Okay.
Tia: It truly is, it's a timeless banger. Yes.
Erica: Because we all a little nasty. Okay, so, in the story Eva has lots of tattoos and you showed us your “write” tattoo. How many tattoos do you have in total and what is your favorite one?
Tia: I have one, two, three, four, five, six. I have six tattoos. I don't have a favorite but I have a funniest. So when I got, so obviously I'm a massive Prince fan and when I first got my divorce I went out and I got drunk with my girlfriends and we were walking around [inaudible 00:58:00] and there was a 24-hour tattoo parlor.
Erica: That just sounds like bad decisions.
Tia: And I was like, you know what, I need to... Bad, bad, I regret this. So since 1984 I'd been carrying in every wallet I ever had this Rolling Stone illustration of a purple dove wearing Prince's purple rain jacket with his hair, because Prince, curly hair. It's a dove with hair and a jacket on, okay. I tore it out of a Rolling Stone when I was in third grade. And it was just like my good luck thing and I was like, you know what, I think I need to commit, this has to be on my body. New woman, new life, new tattoo. So I take it to the place, the guy's like, it's too small, you won't get any of the detail, we need to blow it up. I was like, great. So it's like this big, it's on my hip, it is indeed a dove with a hairstyle and a jacket. My sister looked at it and she was like, that looks like Thomas Jefferson but a chicken. She was like that looks like, so my sister called it my colonial chicken. So I have a colonial chicken on my hip. And that's why you shouldn't get a tattoo after you've been drinking.
Erica: That's a complete set up.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:59:26] enjoy your shit.
Erica: Like who needs a tattoo at 3:00 a.m.? Why are y'all open 24/7?
Erica: That ain't right.
Tia: Exactly. It's a racket, it's a racket, it's a racket.
Kenrya: And then she picked like the worst founding father, she could at least, I don't know, [crosstalk 00:59:43] terrible but he's a shit.
Tia: I went to UVA, I know.
Erica: Ugh, yeah.
Kenrya: What are you reading right now?
Tia: Right now I am reading “The Other Black Girl.”
Kenrya: I am too! I always read three books at a time, but that's one of the ones I'm reading.
Tia: And it's funny because we had the same pub date on June 1st and we were on a panel recently and we're both like halfway through each other's books because your pub week is so insane you don't have time to, but I am just loving it. And the other thing is, bookstores are merchandising our books together because they're both blue, they look like they're dating. They look really good together.
Kenrya: That's what's up.
Tia: I'm really enjoying it, it is such a, it's so original.
Kenrya: It is, and it also, as someone who works in publishing...
Tia: On the nose.
Kenrya: Yep, little triggering.
Tia: Oh gosh, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, but really, really good.
Erica: So what's turning you on today?
Tia: Today, today? Like in this moment?
Erica: Or in these days? Yes, whatever comes to mind, what's turning you on?
Tia: Can it be a fragrance, a perfume?
Erica: It can be whatever's turning you, whatever. Put us onto some new shit.
Tia: Okay, because I've, I put on this perfume to go to bed, I'm obsessed with it. It's Tom Ford Soleil Neige, N-E-I-G-E, which means sun snow. So it's supposed to like emulate the way, like if you're on a snowy mountain and the sun reflects off of the snow, that incandescence. It smells so good. I have it on right now for you guys and you're not here. I mean, I wish there was a candle, and there's also a shimmering body oil, so I put that on sometimes and it's just, I don't really have enough time to do, that's a cop out, like to do self care.
Kenrya: It's hard.
Tia: I really haven't been able to find the time. It's hard to find the time. But just that one sort of indulgence does it for me. It's so good. So yeah, that is turning me on. And my husband over here as well.
Kenrya: He's probably like, “What about me?”
Tia: He's so cute, oh my God.
Kenrya: Oh, yay, I'm so happy you found someone.
Tia: Thank God, I was tired of looking.
Kenrya: It's exhausting.
Erica: Now you both can turn your attention to me and put some energy into...
Tia: Keep swiping, you have to just keep those appointments.
Kenrya: Yeah, it really does. Like you said, it's a numbers game and we talk a lot about being super intentional with it. Like I had a very specific things that I was looking for and I didn't waste time.
Kenrya: As soon as I saw a red flag I moved the fuck on.
Tia: Get off the app as soon as you can. Like some of these guys want you to be pen pals forever because they have 15 other girls they're talking to. They're weighing their options, whatever. If a guy doesn't want to get off the app and meet you ASAP, it’s not him.
Kenrya: Got to keep them moving. Yeah.
Tia: It's not him.
Kenrya: Good advice. Y'all pay attention. And if you want to follow Tia to find more advice, find out more about her books, what she's got going on, find out about the projects that are in development for TV and Netflix, girl, y'all can find her at TiaWilliams.net, and on Twitter you are @TiaW_Writes, and on Instagram you're @TiaWilliamsWrites. That it?
Kenrya: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on today.
Tia: Thank you, it was my pleasure.
Erica: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Tia: You girls are fantastic. I wish we all lived in the same place so we could have coffee.
Erica: Next time you're down here holla at us.
Tia: Yes, I would love that.
Kenrya: Well thank you for coming on and thank all of you for joining us this week and we'll see y'all next week, take care.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now on your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. And you can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at the turn on podcast.com.
Kenrya: And don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions.
Erica: And you can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read Tia William's "Seven Days in June" and talk invisible disabilities, shifting identities, taking up space, generational trauma, parenting kids with more privilege than you, the beauty of Korean spas and the benefits of being young and unattached.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Erica: Hey y'all. Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. Just a little note before we get started, today's book handles some pretty intense issues, so this is our official trigger warning. Be good to yourself and your spirit and mind, so if this gets too tough, cut it off, I promise we'll be back kicking it next week as well. With that, we are reading “Seven Days in June,” by the lovely Tia Williams. It was just released in June 2021. Sit back, relax, get your wine, your weed, whatever you need and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Seven Days in June” by Tia Williams.
Kenrya: “Go to sleep.” “Can't sleep,” she murmured. “I'm distracted.” “Why?” He turned his head to face her and then their eyes locked in silent conversation. It was also dreamlike. Minutes were melting into each other. Their blinks became slower, the two of them wearing syrupy, satisfied smiles.
Kenrya: Finally, Eva delivered an answer that neither of them believed. “I'm trying to memorize this room, it's good material, maybe it'll show up in a book,” she said yawning full drowsy. “Honestly, as stressful as writing is, I can't imagine not doing it.” “It’s heady, right?” he muttered, eyes focused on her mouth. “Yeah, the power is so good. Making complete strangers laugh, cry, get turned on. It's better than sex.” “Is it though?” “I wouldn't remember actually,” she admitted. “I met the sexual equivalent of rock bottom. It's been ages. You?” “But you're such a filthy writer.” “I have a filthy imagination”, she corrected, and sometimes it's enough she thought, but mostly it's lonely.
Kenrya: CeCe had once diagnosed Eva as touch starved, one of her authors wrote a self-help book about it. When someone went too long without touch, they became hypersensitive to the slightest graze. There was truth to it. Last weekend, Eva had almost had an orgasm when our hairstylist shampooed her and her hairstylist was the grandmother of six. Eva had been consciously avoiding Shane's touch all day. If he so much as brushed up against her, she might explode.
Kenrya: “I'm at rock bottom too,” said Shane, “I've never had sober sex.” Eva gasped, “That long? Why?” Shane didn't know how to answer this. He'd had a lot of sex with too many women in increasingly depraved ways. A lot of it good, most of it a blur, and it was a relief to stop. “Normal, healthy people didn't use sex as opposed to vodka chaser, I just never got around to it,” he said. “I don't miss it,” Eva said with a dismissive flick of her wrist. “Honestly, I'm practically a virgin again, it'll probably hurt.” “I'm so backed up, it'll be over in two seconds.” “Good thing we're not having sex.” “I for one, am relieved,” says Shane with the wolfish smile. Eva giggled into her palm despite herself.
Kenrya: “Why is it still so easy to talk to you?” Shane gazed at her until the glint in his eye faded a bit. “It always was, it's just who we are.” “Do you remember everything,” she whispered, “about us?” It took him a while to answer. “It's funny, the past decade is a blur, but I remember every detail of that week.” “I was hoping I'd romanticized it over the years that we weren't real.” Her words sounded delicate, breakable. There was a quietly hypnotic faint sound of a piano and the incense swirled softly, and then Eva felt a familiar pull. Just like when they were 17, there was no space between them. There was an overwhelming need to get closer, always. Unthinking, Eva slipped her hand into his. Shane squeezed it and then brought her hand to his mouth, pressing a lingering kiss into her palm. She gasped, electricity tearing through her. It was the slightest touch, but she felt it everywhere. Eva had been imprisoned in pain for so long, she'd forgotten how good feeling good was. Her entire body roused and suddenly, she was aware of everything. Her skin, her cells, the bones under her skin. Heart fluttering, core throbbing. Touch-starved.
Kenrya: Shane watched her reaction with lidded eyes. Then he lightly ran his lips along the inside of her wrist. She let out the tiniest whimper, her back arching. It was electric. Breathless and embarrassed by our reaction, she sat up, burying her face in her hands. No. They were in a public space behind an unlocked door. She was a mother! And Shane was a bold-faced name. Where they really fated to get caught dry-humping at an art world pop-up? A welcome sign said no touching. If they got caught, Book Twitter would implode. Audre would fling herself into the East River.
Kenrya: But then she opened her eyes. There was Shane, gazing up at her, looking for all the world like the reckless, irresistible boy he'd once been, but now with experience and grow-man gravitas and a rugged North African surfing scar, and the most fuckable crinkles around his eyes. And nothing mattered. There was no hell she wouldn't risk for this man and he knew it. Come here, he said. Eva straddled him, her hair falling in his face. Shane ran his hands up the back of her thighs and over her ass, and then not gently, he gripped her hips and pulled her down against him. Their lips were inches away from each other. “20 questions,” he whispered. “Go.” “Why'd you really come to see me?” “To ask for the favor.” “Liar.” Shane tossed her over onto her back, pinning her wrists above her head with one hand. Instinctively, her legs drew up, wrapping around his waist. “Why'd you come?” “For you.” Her hips stuttered against his, desperate for friction. “Wanted you.” “You got me,” he rasped, leaving hot, sucking kisses down her throat. “Your turn.”
Kenrya: Eva trembled beneath him. His mouth scrambling her brain. She couldn't ask Shane the obvious questions. Where did you go? Why'd you leave? How could you? Over the years she trained herself not to care about these answers. Besides, this one that wasn't about him, it was about her, so she went for something easier. “Do you ever think of me?” Lightly, he ran his tongue along her neck, up to her ear, nibbling on her lobe. “I never learned how to stop.” “Oh,” she said, and then shakily added, “your turn.” “So did you? Romanticize us?” asked Shane, eyes catching hers. “Or were we real?” “We were real,” she whispered, almost inaudibly. “Then?” He ground himself against her and she moaned. “Yes,” she gasped. “Then, and now.”
Kenrya: Abruptly, Shane freed her wrists and cradled her face. She slid her hands up as back, gripping his shoulders. Slowly, he lowered his face toward hers, then stopped. He dipped down, then paused. He'd been waiting a lifetime to have her like this, buzzing for him, craving him, desperate, and he wanted to savor it. But she let out an impatient groan, digging her nails into his shoulders, and Shane caved. He crashed his mouth into hers, drawing her into a luscious, searing kiss. The delicious shock of it was enough to make Eva freeze, but then she melted into him, lost in the heat of his mouth, the slide of his tongue, the teasing nip of his teeth until she was unable to form a coherent thought beyond, yes and want and Shane, Shane, Shane. He kept at it, kissing her senseless. It went backward in intensity, slowing down to a soft, searing smolder, almost too hot to take. They stopped only to catch their breath.
Kenrya: “One more question,” he said. “We're still playing?” She wet her lips with her tongue. “Yeah,” Shane glanced toward the door, then back down at her. Eyes glinting in the dark wickedly. “Are you still bad?” “Yes,” she said, without thinking, reaching down to palm his dick, huge and hard in his jeans. She rubbed along the length of him, teasing out a low groan. “Are you?” “Yeah,” he said, pushing her dress up and slipping off her strapless bra. Dipping down, he ran his soft, hot mouth along the swell of her breast, his teeth catching on her nipple. He swirled his tongue around it, sucking deliciously. And then his stubble scraping your skin, he dragged his mouth to the other. Her helpless, shuddery gasps were making him so hard, he wondered how he survived this.
Kenrya: “Yeah,” he growled against her breasts. “I'm still there.” “Why? Tell me.” Shane lifted his head, taking her in. Eva looked radiant, so slutty, with her dress pulled up under her arms, showing off sheer panties, curls everywhere, panting, trembling, lips raw and swollen from kissing. She had a bruise blossoming on her hip where he gripped her. “'Cause I'm old enough to know better,” said Shane, drawing her into a quick, dirty tongue kiss. “But I'm going to do it anyway.” “Do what?” “Fuck you. Here.” And then they tore into each other. Frantically, Shane managed to get our soaked panties off one leg and Eva pushed down his jeans and boxes, but there was no time to get all the way naked. He dug into his wallet for an ancient condom, offering a silent prayer to several deities that it still worked, and slipped it on. Then, covering her with his tall, strong body, Shane sank into Eva with excruciating slowness, careful not to hurt her.
Kenrya: It did hurt, but the burn was exquisite. Wanting more, Eva cupped his ass and pushed him deeper. She gasped, and Shane kissed her quiet, driving into her was steady, deep strokes, and all she could do was take it, wave after wave of pleasure. When he felt her whole body begin to shudder against his, he slid his hand down between their sweat-slick, half-clothed bodies and dipped his middle finger over her clit. He rubbed her slowly but fucked her hard, and it was so good, so intense, that it sent her over the edge, shattering her to stillness. And when Shane followed seconds later, he put his mouth to her ear and finally said it. Eva, he rasped, voice wrecked. Eva, Eva. He uttered it like an incantation. The only name that ever mattered, and Eva, heart slamming into her ribs, clung to him in the violet-tinged darkness. Feeling both lost and found.
Erica: Okay, so welcome back. Thank you, Kenrya, for that lovely reading. This one was a lot. Do you want to give the... You give the synopsis, because if I do it, I'm going to tell too much.
Kenrya: Okay. This book stars... Crap, how am I blanking on her name? And I literally just read it.
Kenrya: Oh, Eva.
Erica: Also known as Genevieve.
Kenrya: Yes. She is an erotica writer, which was really the first thing I think that drew us into this one, who suffers with chronic pain and tries very hard to balance writing with taking care of her daughter as a single parent. She doesn't really make much time for herself to do anything else, like fall in love. And she finds herself through a series of events that reunited with, I guess, her first love, and this book follows their reunion. The scene that we just read is the first day that they spent together.
Erica: Yes, so you said... Do you really think that it was that she hadn't fallen in love, because of time or because of other situations?
Kenrya: I think she wasn't necessarily open to it, but I also think she's someone who has been divorced. And there was something that was really striking that she at some point asked her husband, her ex-husband, was it hard to love her? And he was like, “No, I thought that you were a problem to be taken care of instead of someone to just be loved.” I think even before he said that, she had internalized that, and that it kept her from being able to feel like she could be close to people or reveal what she saw as a weakness, because she worried that she would be a burden on folks. And that kept her from being able to put herself into a position to be able to fall in love with anyone.
Erica: Yeah. I agree. I just wanted to call out the time thing because I don't think it was time. I think [crosstalk 00:17:10].
Kenrya: Yeah, you're right. That's the story she told herself and everybody else.
Erica: [crosstalk 00:17:12] yes, time was an excuse.
Kenrya: Yes, for sure.
Erica: Yeah. There were a lot of things that just were striking about this story. One of the things that we know is that she's an erotica writer, which let me say it, we were like ding, ding, ding. But also she is a single mom of this child that is a lot.
Erica: Dynamic, that's the best way to put it. She is a spitfire and it was interesting to me because I feel like parenting and being a person, they are two vast, very different roles. Parenting and being an adult are two very different things, both of which you were fucking clueless, but you got to make it look like you got your shit together to a point. And then you layer on top of each other and I think this book really showed how you can be a parent, you can swear you have all your shit together, you parent your kid. And then you put your kids in bed after you just lay down the law and you're texting some boy, because you aren't sure if he likes you. It was just, yeah.
Erica: I think one of the biggest things that I had to deal with through therapy was recognizing that my mom was just a person, my dad was just a person. They had parenting and parenthood, grown-up added to who they were, but at the end of the day, they're still people trying to figure shit out. And this showed that, because I feel like also when I'm dating now, it's like, he doesn't like me. And I'm like, bitch, you over here managing a household budget, and you're doing all this other stuff. But at the end of the day, we're people that are trying to figure this shit out.
Kenrya: It's true.
Erica: You feel that way as a, or now that you're on the other side?
Kenrya: Yeah. I still feel that way. Yes. Yesterday our AC was out and it got to be like 92 degrees in here.
Erica: Which is hot for you, because you still keep your house warm, but anyway.
Kenrya: Yeah, so it was hot and it was humid and it was literally unbearable for people with asthma, trying to sit in here. And I had a meeting with a client starting in two minutes when I was just like, we can't stay here, but also didn't have time to... And it was on Zoom, so we ran down to the car. I had to do my calls on video from the car, but at least we got some relief from the air. And then I was like, we'll go get gas. We'll go get dinner.
Erica: You know me and I live below you, right?
Kenrya: I know that, but I also know that I was at your house on Sunday and my allergies were so bad, even with taking an extra pill, that I woke up in the middle of the night all fucked up and had to use my saline and shit, so I wouldn't get a sinus infection. This is the part that I'm getting to. My anxiety makes it really hard for me to person, to adult, and to parent. I was trying to explain to my partner, because we ended up going to his place cause he doesn't have pets, it was just too fucking hot here. At first, we were going to try to stay and we're going to just sleep in the living room and make it a sleepover. And I'm trying to make it fun for the kid, because I'm trying to parent while also trying to figure it out. But I would have had to come all the way downstairs and look through the basement to try to find the air mattress. I know that for people who don't have brains that are broken, that doesn't seem like a difficult task.
Erica: Your brain is not broken. It's just a little special.
Kenrya: I'm okay with it, it’s got some fucked up parts and that's okay. It's just part of who I am, it don't bother me, it's just hard sometimes. So I have to repeat what's going on more than once in order to get down there to get it. I got to look for it. I got to do that while my kid doesn't freak out that I had to leave her. The house is dark, because we're not turning on lights because we're trying to keep it cool.
Kenrya: All of these things are going through my broken brain and feeling completely overwhelming. I'm sweating fucking buckets. I can barely breathe. And all I'm trying to think about is how do I manage just the logistics of this? How do I manage the anxiety that is coming up around having to deal with the logistics and having to ask for help with that? And how do I manage her and her anxiety? And I'm trying to do all of this at the same fucking time. And only one time that I... It was something that she asked me and I didn't snap. I was just like, "Hey, could you just do what I asked you to do?" Because that was all I could manage to keep from losing my shit. To me, yesterday perfectly encapsulated what it is like to try to do all the little things at one time and to feel like you're failing on every front all at the same fucking time. It was not great. It was not great.
Erica: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
Kenrya: It is what it is. And part of my issue was that it's hard for me to ask for help when I'm in the middle of stuff. So it just the thing. If my partner hadn't said, "Hey, get your shit and come over here," I would have been trying to figure it out on the floor, or on the couch in my living room.
Erica: Yeah, when you sent me a text saying, I was like, "Wait, she ain't say nothing, but all right." You ain't have ice up there. You can at least come down for some ice.
Kenrya: Everything felt so hard.
Erica: I'm messing with you. Well, yeah, parenting, being... Parenting and personing are... The clash between the two, it's just... And dating and relationships and all of that. And this showed all of that. Also with how you can have... Everything could be blowing up at the same time. Eva was dealing with her health, she was dealing with the kid, she was dealing with... And also-
Kenrya: She had a book due.
Erica: The book due. She was dealing with-
Kenrya: And this nigga pop up.
Erica: The nigga and the show, and a movie. It was just a lot going on. And on top of that... I guess we'll go into it. So Eva suffers with really bad migraines, and to not only have all of this happening, but then something that... I don't want to turn this into the Oppression Olympics. You said that before. But to have something that can truly take you out, that you just have to shut everything down, no matter, just layered even more on top of it. So Eva struggled with her migraines, and for a really long time, damn near towards the end of the book, where she recognized it as a disability. And it was more just out of frustration, like, "You know what, goddamn it, I do have a disability. I have an invisible disability and this is what it is."
Kenrya: It's not a shortcoming, and it's not something that she's not doing right, or something that she has to hide. So what was really interesting to me is that I did not realize how much this book paralleled my life until you called me and was like, "Hey bitch, this your life." Like the mom raising a kid, really. I mean, at least her co-parent lives in Dadifornia, but I... Whatever. But writer, invisible disability, all of that. And it was interesting because this is something that I have really been dealing with over the last year, just as a person and also in therapy, because that's what therapy is for. So folks who listen to the show regularly will know that... And I don't really talk much, because again, you don't want to delve into your stuff, but I have been battling who the fuck knows what with my health for the last year, and it has been like dominoes falling. Or no, more like whack-a-mole. Every time we figure out one thing that's wrong with me, some more pop up, or the treatment for one thing creates another thing.
Erica: Cause something else, yeah.
Kenrya: So where we are right now... The main thing is that I have fatigue that just fucking puts me out, where I have days where it is very difficult for me to get out of bed. And that was really what started it and led to a whole bunch of other stuff, including a liver disease diagnosis. Yo, one thing that they never tell you... They always tell you when you go on a birth control pill that they can cause blood clots. No one ever tells you that you can end up with something called drug induced liver injury, which is what I was diagnosed with last year. So for any of you who have weird numbers on your liver enzymes when you get your complete metabolic tests at your annual physicals, and nobody knows what's going on, if you are on birth control pill, it is rare, but it is a thing that happens, and it's a thing that has happened to me and turned into a whole bunch of other stuff.
Kenrya: My liver is fine now after two surgeries and a whole bunch of stuff, but fatigue still remains. So now we're at a point where I am seeing a neurologist all the time to try to diagnose what we think it is, and if I get a diagnosis, I'll share, but essentially it makes it so that it is really hard for me to do a lot of the things. I've always been a person who could work out like it was nothing. I have to walk, really, which is great, because it's my favorite form of exercise, but I used to be able to walk for an hour and then go to the gym and lift weights for 45 minutes and get on the treadmill for another 30. I just am unable in this body to do those things at this point.
Kenrya: Hopefully medication will get me there again, but I'm not there now, and it's been difficult for me to adjust and also to have these conversations around... And I have migraines which have started back over, yeah, that part, to the point where I am now getting monthly injections to try to quell them. They're not as bad as Eva's in the book, but they put a bitch down. They're not great. Besides just the physical aspects of what I've been dealing with over this last year, there's also the exhaustion that comes with dealing with the medical industrial complex, which ironically, I guess, now I'm writing about. My next book is about Black women, racism, and health. And it's been interesting how my own shit has been unfolding as I have been researching and writing. And at one point it was... My health had gotten so bad that I had to put aside the book because it was quite frankly triggering to deal with that-
Erica: This will have a memoir aspect to it.
Kenrya: And I think a lot of it's going to end up coming through in this book, which already is shot through with personal stories that some people are not going to want to see, but that are really fucking relevant and grounded in the work. But the other part of it is dealing with the fact that this has become a disability and it's an invisible one, and which... I don't know that a lot of folks are necessarily... That it's a concept that they understand, that there can be things wrong with people that we don't know. I think it's come up a bit over this last year in dealing with COVID, with the assholes who are upset with people, for whatever reason, who choose to wear a mask. I am one of them. I've always had a compromised immune system.
Kenrya: But you never know what the fuck folks are going through, and I think that folks have thought about that a little bit when they've wanted to over the past year with COVID, but it's made me think about my own internalized ableism and what it meant to call myself a disabled person and also to think about... I have some issues around what it meant, what felt taking up a space that didn't belong to me. Because, again, that's where the ableism comes in. So “who am I to say that I'm disabled when this person is going through this thing that I deemed to be worse than when I'm going through” and how does your ableism make it so that you can think that someone's... You know what I mean? It's worse than yours.
Erica: I totally get it. I totally get it.
Kenrya: So that's work that I've been doing. But also realizing that my therapist is like, "Well, you do a lot of advocacy work in a lot of areas, and some of them are areas that you are a member of the community, and some of them are areas where you're not." She's like, "So how do you balance that?" And I was like, "Well, my work is about lifting up the voices of other people and centering folks who are pushed to the margins. That's what I do." And I was like, "So I guess this is not really any different. I already try to do that with folks in the disabled community. It doesn't mean that I'm pushing myself out here as some fucking organizer or anything that. It's just another part of my identity that informs the work that I do." And she was like, "Well then what you worried about bitch?" But it's been something that I have been wrestling with, the ways that I look at myself and the ways that I relate to the world. And I recognize that in Eva in reading this book.
Erica: That was a word. Related unrelated, I was talking to this guy and he was like, "Are you bisexual?" And I'm like, "No, I have sex with women, but I'm not." He was like umm.. That's the same thing. I feel too... Me having sex with women, one, it's a new thing. Actually doing it is a new thing. And it's always in the context of a threesome, and I generally present and live as a straight woman. So it feels like I... To say that, "Yes, I'm bisexual. Yes, I'm queer." It feels like I'm stealing someone else's... What gives me the right to say this. What give me the right to say this when I am... I am a Black woman, but I don't have the shit that bisexual, lesbian women have to go through. So I totally get it. I think we see that among our mixed friends that present as white, even if they want, willingly, you know?
Kenrya: Well, and I think what we have to, what it comes down to is one, realizing that, just like how we say that other folks can identify in the ways that make the most sense to them, we have zero problem extending that same grace to other folks, but we don't do it to ourselves. And I think it's really important that we find our way to that space for ourselves. And lots of things can be true at the same time. We can do that while also holding the fact that we have privilege. I have privilege in the fact that my disability is invisible. So unless I let you into what is going on... I mean, yeah, you may see me and be like, "Why did she just say she needed to move from this table to this couch because she can't sit up no more," you know what I'm saying?
Kenrya: But I have the privilege of being able to not be identified in that way and not be discriminated against in that way, unless somebody is around me long enough to get to the end of the day and be like, "Holy fuck." And you have the privilege of being able to present as straight and folks to outwardly only see you engaging with men, so you're not dealing with the phobia that can be attached to that. And that's the privilege. We can recognize the privilege that we hold as cis women over our trans siblings. It's the same thing. And we can use that privilege in ways like talking about it on this show that help us to advocate for everybody in the community without feeling like we're taking up a space that doesn't belong to us. And who's to say that it doesn't?
Erica: Yeah. So in the vein of Eva living your life, or you living Eva's life, whichever way.
Kenrya: I'm older than her.
Erica: She broke down the whole relationship with her daughter, Audre's dad. Wait, what was her daughter's full name? I loved it. It was Audre-
Kenrya: Oh my God, she was named after everybody.
Erica: Something Toni.
Kenrya: Toni, yeah. She was named for like four-
Erica: I know she was Audre Lorde Toni Morrison. There was somebody else. We'll find it. But the co-parenting relationship, how she... And I think that so many women deal with this. A lot of them don't... I'm sorry. I am breaking out, having some sort of allergic reaction, so my entire body itches. That's why you keep seeing me scratching myself. Sorry about...
Kenrya: I didn't notice, but are you okay? Do you need to...
Erica: I don't fall out, it's just... Girl, I am my mama's daughter. We used to laugh at my mom because she would look at anything too hard and break out in rashes and welts. The older I get, the more I get like her, so that's why y'all see me scratching all the time.
Kenrya: I'm sorry. Oh, her daughter's name was Audre Zora Toni Mercy Moore. Named after Zora Neale Hurston.
Erica: I loved it. So she was talking about how... Breaking down the relationship with her dad, her ex-husband and her daughter's dad. And it was like, look, he's a good guy. He's her dad. But he literally is the fun dude that shows up every every year.
Kenrya: She gets to go hang out in Dadifornia for the summer and that's what that is
Erica: I'm sorry y'all, I just realized my mic was backwards. However, I'm loud, so I don't think that'll be a problem.
Kenrya: You did just get loud on us, buddy.
Erica: Sorry, y'all. Hopefully our engineer can make those changes.
Kenrya: You got this.
Erica: Yeah, so I thought that was really... It was real like, "Damn, you know this." Tia wrote her ass off in this book, because it was just like, damn. You just explained so many women's lives. I think we both represent that to various degrees. I mean, my co-parenting relationship, he's a little more involved, primarily because it's like a, "Hey, this needs to happen today at this time." And he's like, "Okay." But other ends of the spectrum is like, "Now what's your teacher's name? What grade you're going to?" So yeah. Anyway. Dog, this story had so much fucking trauma to it. There was lots of drug use, drug abuse, alcoholism... Was there? Yeah, alcoholism. It was pretty tough. It was pretty tough. Because the way that they tell the story, you know that... What's the guy's name? Shane.
Erica: You know that Shane was significant, but you don't really know it all, so by the time you get to the end of the story, you have a full picture of their relationship, the entire relationship. But even in the beginning, the bits and pieces you see, you're just like, "Fuck, this is just tough." And it shows how a parent's unresolved trauma gets dumped on the kid, and then it also shows how just life trauma, the shit has to get out. It's got to come out of you. And either going to come out of you and dump into drugs and alcohol. It might come out of you dump into drugs, alcohol, and kid, but the shit's got to come out of you. Sorry.
Kenrya: We saw the impact with Eva of generational trauma. We see how that was just handed down like a ring. And we saw in Shane how... His shit was already fucked up, but then an event just kind of changed the course of his life.
Erica: So two things. One, an event can change the course of your life. So things could have went one way or another way. Because it seemed like everything was really... I mean, you never know. Something else could have happened. But it really felt things were okay and good with him until this event happened, and it just completely changed the course of a situation.
Kenrya: It was interesting because while my childhood was not Eva's, it for damn sure was the way that my childhood could have been, and my custody situation... Had I not, had my dad gotten custody of me... I think about this all the time, honestly. That felt like... You know those choose your own adventure books. Those were my shit.
Erica: Yes. And that's how I look at it. And that's also why it's difficult for me to pass judgment on people. I hate... And not saying that I haven't in the past, but I hate when people take videos of somebody on drugs on the street and they laughing at them. It's like, "Look at her doing that." And it's like, if it weren't for a stroke of chance, that could have been you, that could've been your mama-
Kenrya: There but for the grace of God.
Erica: Exactly. It could have been anybody. So it's really difficult for me to even... That stuff seems real just like... Because I have had so many situations in my life where I look back and I'm like, "If it weren't for this one thing, shit could've went completely left." And also as a parent, and I want to ask you about this, you could see how Eva was super intentional to raise her daughter and not pass on that trauma. I actually see it a lot with people that I've grown up with. We all grew up in like really not so great situations, and then we have kids, and our kids are fucking assholes. I want to give my kid the world, and it's like... So then you're trying to balance the...
Kenrya: That balance. And not making them assholes, yo. You got to know how to fucking clean a tub. You ain't got to take a bath by heating the water on the stove like I did, but she you got to know how to clean this tub.
Erica: Exactly. I catch myself all... I was talking to someone last Sunday night, because he was talking about his son and he was like... And he started saying, "When I was his..."
Erica: He said, "I ain't going to do that." I'm like, "Yep. I totally get it," because you work so that your kids can have it easier. You work and try to be your best, so that you're not passing down that trauma. But it's also very hard to be ... My kid has no street smarts. I don't want to say common sense. And I can't help, but think, "Damn! When I was your age, I had all the streets smarts and common sense," because I was in a fucked-up position Exactly. And so-
Kenrya: At what cost? You had to— it probably kept your ass alive.
Erica: Exactly. And it's so sad, but you could see how she was raising a really cool kid.
Kenrya: Yeah. And she was working hard to do that. This weekend, we finally watched “Widows.” And Daniel Kaluuya is in it. It's Viola Davis. Really? He played Fred Hampton, Chairman Hampton.
Erica: I know who that is. I'm taking about this movie.
Kenrya: It's good. It's-
Erica: I'm not that bad.
Kenrya: Oh, okay. Well, it's about some women who are widowed, because their husbands are criminals and some shit happens and they come together to pull off a heist.
Erica: Is this the ... Oh, no. Okay, so I saw this one on a plane and it had Tiffany Haddish-
Erica: Melissa McCarthy.
Erica: And the girl from Mad Men, Elizabeth Olsen.
Kenrya: Oh no, this is not that at all. That's a whole different vibe. But so anyway, there's ... Daniel Kaluuya's character's ... So there's a meme that shows him and he like looking at this nigga like this. And I remember on Twitter, somebody was like, "Parents who say they want to give their kids a better opportunity. And then those same parents when they see their kids thriving, like ... " And I'm like, [inaudible 00:46:14] you want these niggas to do well, but it's also like, "Yo, you can't be a trash person."
Erica: You want them to have an easy life-
Kenrya: Yeah, but you also need to be able to take care of yourself and to have empathy. And I remember our therapist asked me once. She was like, "If you could do it all again, knowing what you know and what you've learned about yourself and all of this stuff, would you want to go through your trauma again to become this person?" I was like, "Fuck, nah!" I would much rather have these lessons and have not gone through that.
Erica: Read them in a book.
Erica: Let somebody else tell you about it.
Kenrya: Right. And so I feel like a lot of what parenting means to me is trying to impart these lessons in a way that is not harmful. So, how we were talking about having a discussion about gaslighting. like I learned about gaslighting, because it was done to me by my family. My kid is learning about it, because we're having conversations, exactly, about what it means. And talking about definitions and examples, and ways to combat it and how to draw boundaries. And we can teach our kids these things without traumatizing them, ultimately, is where I'm going with this. And it's one of the reasons it's ... I'm not just in therapy for me, I'm in therapy for her.
Erica: You know, I was in therapy?
Erica: Right. But the work work of my therapy was being a parent, bringing out all of this-
Kenrya: This triggering-
Erica: Yeah, and ... That's the word. I had to deal with this, or I was going to have my kid out there really messed up. It was just ... Yeah, dog. The-
Kenrya: It's hard.
Erica: Yeah. That shit is hard. Also, I thought it was really interesting how it showed Eva's abuse, or Eva's addictions. It came out of undiagnosed medical issues. Right? Or, maybe it was diagnosed, but-
Kenrya: It wasn't well treated-
Kenrya: She didn't have adequate care.
Erica: And that is just like, oh!
Kenrya: Well, so many people self-medicate. And I think that was one of the breakthroughs I had in therapy as a younger person, when trying to understand the motivations of people around me and my family, and things like that, was that a lot of folks ... People are just trying to fucking get by.
Erica: Yeah, they're just trying to get through it.
Kenrya: Yeah. And self-medicating is a way that that happens. Folks, again, don't have the tools, don't get the tools, don't have support systems that help them to them. I had my first fucking anxiety attack in the eighth grade, and nobody had no conversation with me about what that meant. They said I had a breakdown and then I went to school the next fucking day. Right? I cried for, I don't know how many hours straight. There was no discussion of mental health. Nobody was trying to find me a therapist. We didn't have any fucking health insurance. So who the fuck was going to pay for it?
Kenrya: And I did not turn to drugs or anything, but that's because I have seen so much addictive behavior in my family that I've always been afraid to do anything other than smoke weed, because I'm afraid that a switch is going to flick.
Erica: Yeah. But you're also aware of the fact that it could have been completely different. That first anxiety attack could have sent you someplace else. You know?
Kenrya: Exactly. People self-medicate, because they're just trying to get through. And shit is hard and everybody doesn't have the resources. Again, privilege, yo.
Erica: Privilege. After high school, both Eva and Shane went their separate ways and Eva pretty much reinvented herself. Right? She went to a whole new city and just started over.
Kenrya: Changed her name-
Erica: But to me, I was like, "Girl, who your friends? We are too fucking noisy. He just like, "I want to know you better." And so, after a while, we're going to ... Yeah. After a while, I'm going to know a little bit more about you. You ain't going to be able to just have a whole life in the background and-
Kenrya: But, here's the thing, man. It's not easy to keep things hidden, but I ... My best friend growing up, who you know very well, I didn't let her in on my situation growing up, until I was good and grown and living in New York and she came to visit me. And I don't know why or how, but I ended up telling her about my ... And I saw this bitch five days a week. And she didn't know anything, because I kept it to myself, because I was embarrassed. And I took ownership of things that didn't belong to me, because I was a child who had been put upon. And it is very easy or not easy, but it was the thing that you do, because it is self protective. And so I 100% understand how her people didn't know. And shit, even as an adult, when I was in really bad situations, y'all ain't know shit.
Erica: Yeah, you're right. Okay.
Kenrya: If it's in your nature to be a secret squirrel about your shit then you will.
Erica: Yeah. Well, I'm going to need one good Erica, because I'm going to be squirreling shit away. Okay. So we've talked about all the other stuff. But let's get to why we're here. The sex. Oh, you know what? The people that are having sex. Okay. Shane and Eva, their relationship. So essentially they were ... I don't know if I'm going to be giving too much away. So, the seven days in June are literally just seven days in June. And it was amazing to me. Once I read it and it all came together, I was like, "Wait, All this in a week?" What'd you say?
Kenrya: Also, Tia—just the structure of this book is fantastic.
Kenrya: And I love how it goes back and forth in time. And sometimes you don't know where you are in time. But the way that she weaves the story. Yeah, not only is this just like a sexy book, and not only does it tell a really important story, but it's just-
Erica: It's a good-
Kenrya: ... really well-written [crosstalk 00:53:13] and it's just a great story.
Erica: I listened to it on Audiobook and it was ... Yeah, I couldn't put it down or couldn't stop listening.
Kenrya: Stop listening.
Kenrya: Yeah. I found myself in the middle of the night not sleeping, because that's what I do sometimes, just reading, running through chapters. It's just so good. And we read a lot of stuff to find things for this show and everything ain't great. But this, yeah. This is a fantastic book.
Erica: I'm thinking, because when I was reading and it all came together that these seven days in June were literally seven days. And these seven days ... Again, just one small thing can change the course of your life. These seven days left such an impact on these two people. And they were teens. But that's also the part that got me. They were like little Tater Tots, little doodle bops. And, it just stuck. That relationship, well, what they went through. And I guess the relationship itself just stuck and became ... I don't know if it was a gold standard for other relationships, but it definitely was just one of those-
Kenrya: Yeah, that feels unhealthy.
Erica: Oh, no. When I say the seven, I mean the feeling, the connection between the two of them. The relationship, unhealthier than a motherfucker. But, the connection between the two of them became the gold standard that ... It seemed like-
Kenrya: That they were both-
Erica: They were chasing
Kenrya: ... reaching for.
Erica: Yeah. They were both chasing that in subsequent relationships.
Kenrya: For sure.
Erica: You didn't have a profound high school love, did you?
Kenrya: Bitch, I was fucking around with. Terrible. No.
Erica: Well, Shane could have been looked at as terrible.
Kenrya: It's true, but I don't think I ever really felt ... We've talked a lot on this show about how I would reach a point and be done and I'd be like "I-
Erica: Got to go!
Kenrya: So I never, especially not at that age, was anybody where I felt like ... I think that they, and we won't really delve into whether or not they are, because I don't want to spoil anything. I think that they think they are soulmates from really when they first met. And I never felt that way until now, at my big age.
Erica: And it wasn't an instant, like "We're soulmates."
Erica: Exactly [inaudible 00:56:10] in a bottle.
Kenrya: Yeah, I did not. And I think even when I was in high school, I think I was pretty clear that like all this shit was temporary. And I didn't even have the illusions of this shit.
Erica: Oh, we'll be in Disney forever. Sorry!
Erica: .. say he wants to get rubs. Sorry. But yeah, I didn't have any illusions whatsoever that any of these relationships in college were, I mean at high school were going to stick.
Kenrya: Yeah. I don't know. Yeah, I definitely never thought that. I think I always felt that they were for the time that they were for. It didn't mean that they didn't feel intense, or that they didn't feel like they were really necessary. And in the moment-
Kenrya: Yeah. And I'm also never a person, who pictured their wedding or any of that. I ain't never found myself drifting into that fantasy with anybody back then.
Erica: I don't think I've ever pictured a wedding with anyone. I've definitely pictured married life with people. Like, oh, this is what we'll look like when we're old and gray together. But not like ... What you say?
Kenrya: I don't think I ever did that. Even when I got married, I just was like, "All right."
Erica: "Okay. We'll just evaluate this at the end of the year." Well, yeah. But as a parent, I can only imagine how scary it is to watch your child be serious with someone, or believe that this is who they're going to be with.
Kenrya: I had a dream last night, that my kid was putting her name beside the name of a kid who I think she has a crush on, but she won't admit it. Yeah, I forgot about that-- she was trying out her name next to his last name in my dream. And I was like, "That's cute." I wasn't freaking out, surprisingly, in the dream. I think he's a cute little boy. He's very sweet.
Erica: Yeah. He probably don't brush his teeth.
Kenrya: But they're 10.
Erica: But, anyway, so. Right. They're 10, so they don't brush their teeth. But yeah, as a parent, I think that I would definitely be freaked out if my kid was trying to get serious, be too serious or too intense with anyone at a young age.
Kenrya: I 100% would trot out all of my stories and be like, "Here's why this is not a good idea."
Erica: But you know, we do have a few friends that have been with their ... Well, one person comes to mind. She's not like super in the circle, but she's a friend of ours.
Kenrya: She probably a friend of yours.
Erica: No, she's actually more your friend than mine.
Kenrya: Oh, okay.
Erica: And she's a friend, But yes. And she came to Howard with her boyfriend. Didn't come with him, but she came to Howard. Everybody knew his name. So then when she left and they got married, it was like, "Oh shit! This shit was for real." Our friend, she's from Detroit.
Kenrya: Oh, yeah.
Erica: Because to me, I feel like I'm afraid for my kid to miss out on life, being caught up in a relationship. And maybe that's unfair. But I just feel like you get in a relationship and you nest. And even if it's a healthy one, you start spending more time with one another. And then it's like, but you missing out on life. You young. Do that boo'd up shit when you old and your knees don't work.
Kenrya: That's real. And I also think about the fact that the person who you are at 17 is not the person who you are at 27. It's not the person who you are at 37. And there is a really great chance that y'all are going to grow in different directions. And the idea of binding yourself to someone who may be a completely different person in a year, in five years, in 10 years, is frightening to me, to do anything that feels hard to reverse. You know what I mean? Like marrying, having children, things that you can't just be like, "All right. I'm out," is a little too much. My partner and I were just talking about how I envy one of my exes, because, only for one reason, which is because when he got a divorce, that was it.
Erica: It was done. Yeah.
Kenrya: He's never seen his ex-wife again. He never has to. They had no kids. They owned no property. They just... got a divorce via the mail. Sent the paperwork and signed it and then never had to see each other again.
Kenrya: That's how you do it.
Erica: I will agree, that it is how you do it.
Kenrya: Yeah. But I don't want them to get, yours or mine, to get into some shit that's hard, that we got to call an attorney in to get them out of.
Erica: Or just like, I don't know.
Kenrya: Or that stunts their growth, and keeps them from becoming the person that they're supposed to be.
Erica: Exactly. And I guess that's my biggest concern. There's so much that you're not going to experience, because just if you're just being a good partner and respectful and all that. I was a disrespectful motherfucker, to my own body sometimes. And I think all of that helped me grow and become more of who I am. And those experiences shaped me. And yeah, even when we're all reminiscing and talking about stuff, I can tell what the periods where I'm like, "Oh, I must've been up under that nigga." And I feel like I missed out, especially for some shit that didn't pan out.
Kenrya: Yes. I have a lot of those moments, where I was absolutely boo'd up and y'all was in Miami somewhere shaking ass. And I was with somebody who did not deserve my ...
Kenrya: Yeah, I missed out for sure. And, even if it's a good person and even if it is, like you said, a healthy relationship, I feel like there's some shit that you're not doing, that there's opportunity costs that come with tying yourself to somebody super early.
Erica: Yeah. Well said, like a business major. Okay. So then Shane shows back up in Eva's life. They had such an effect on one another. And we find out ... I'm giving all types of spoilers. But we find out that Shane's and Eva's relationship is the source material for Eva's huge erotica series. So she has a series, I guess, that can best be described as Twilight. Right? For adults.
Kenrya: This surface. It is a vampire their situation. It's a supernatural erotica series, which we've covered quite a bit on the show, actually, those kinds of series.
Erica: But it's massive, like [inaudible 01:04:21].
Kenrya: Like a big fucking deal.
Erica: Yeah. And we find out that Shane is the source material-
Kenrya: The prototype.
Erica: And Shane is this massive author. And we find out that Genevieve/Eva is his source material, which is so oddly romantic that they were writing to one-
Kenrya: Yeah. Writing to and about each other and dropping little hints in-
Erica: And these are massive books. So everybody knows him. Did he win a National Book Award or something?
Kenrya: I think so.
Erica: Yeah. His shit was...
Kenrya: He's definitely one of those folks.
Erica: Yeah. But he's like one of those huge names. And they're just writing about each other. And, they also both have success in the same arena, but in very different ways. And I feel like, also there's a bit of ... And we will address this when we talk to Tia about this, but I think there's also a sense of "erotica's play play." But she's probably outsold-
Erica: You know? And so it's just like, "Man!" Oh, also I found lots of points in the book where there were lots of "womanist" manifestos being said-
Kenrya: Especially by her daughter.
Erica: Yes. I was listening on audiobook, but I was like, "Okay, this part would have been highlighted a million times on the Kindle."
Kenrya: I can assure you that it was, yes. I bookmarked so much stuff in this book too, probably more than any other that we've done for the show.
Erica: Yes. Again, really good book. Okay. You know what I want to talk about? The sex.
Kenrya: The sex. Yes.
Erica: So, Shane and Eva, they meet up. Shane drops in Eva's life. This might be too specific. You might've been with your man when this happened, but do you remember the step show at Howard, where the Que, I'm not going to name him by name, but the Que walks through the crowd singing, (singing)? The lights were dark.
Kenrya: Was this the proposal?
Erica: No, not the proposal. It was a couple of years after that. But this person did marry one of our chapter's sorors. He walked through, sweaty with no shirt on. Everyone was like, "Oh," and the spotlight was on him and he was singing Omega type shit.
Kenrya: That's what you saw when Shane was coming from the back of the room?
Erica: Yes. They was like... And he sauntered up on stage and did a step. No. Okay, did some donkey kicks. But yeah, Shane literally drops into her life and the next day-
Kenrya: ... accidentally.
Erica: Yeah, he was not trying to do that, but he did.
Kenrya: In such big fashion.
Erica: So then shows up there. Him and Eva are like, "What the fuck?" No one knows about their past, so they kind of try to play it cool. But the next day... Was it the next day?
Erica: The day they meet up for coffee and fucking.
Kenrya: No, that's not how it happened.
Kenrya: First, they met in the diner and--
Erica: Oh, you know what? Yeah. And then was it when she needed help that she went to him?
Kenrya: Yes. Let's not go to deep into that. But yeah, she comes back to him because she needs help. Yes.
Erica: And they ended up-
Kenrya: And then it was coffee and fucking.
Erica: And you know what? That whole... What is it, the dream house idea?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: That's so New York. That's some New York shit.
Erica: That's some New York shit that would've got spread to DC.
Kenrya: Like a year later.
Erica: Yeah. But you know they used to do that at Spa World, right?
Kenrya: Like sleep?
Erica: Yeah, they had a sleep room, and they had to close it because Spa World kept having massive bedbug outbreaks.
Erica: Because people would bring their own stuff from home. It was a soft place for people to sleep, but people would bring their own their own pillows and blankies and stuff, and then it was bedbugs.
Kenrya: Oh no. I'm glad you never told me that before.
Erica: No, but this was in a whole other area that you would have never been in. Quit scratching your head. You're literally scratching.
Kenrya: Because I'm thinking about how many times I slept on that heated floor.
Erica: Well, it wasn't on the heated floor.
Kenrya: It wasn't. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Erica: Did you ever get a massage with me at Spa World?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: It's up that area, you know how you go up there.
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: So it's not...
Kenrya: So for folks who do not know what Spa World is, it's a Korean spa and bath. So there's pools-
Erica: ... the blade pool.
Kenrya: ... and all different temperatures. So you come in, you strip, everybody is just fucking naked and you take a shower.
Erica: Bucky naked.
Kenrya: It's separated, it's very much a binary situation. It's separated by male and female.
Erica: Pens and vag.
Kenrya: Yes, which it's problematic all on its own. But you go from pool to pool. They've got pools that have jets, that if you want to massage your legs with the jets, you sit in this one little area. You can go over here if you need some jets on your back. There's freezing pools. There's super hot pools. There's wet saunas. There's dry saunas. There's some of everything. And then-
Erica: So you know what's interesting?
Erica: I really have a problem with swimming pools. Right?
Kenrya: In general?
Erica: Yeah, it's hard for me to enjoy a swimming pool, because I just think about...
Erica: All them bodies. Right? Like people peeing. I'd much rather be in the ocean. Yes, fish pee in the ocean, people pee in the ocean.
Kenrya: As Moana said, "Fish pee in you."
Erica: Look, I pee in the ocean.
Erica: If we're at the ocean and I just kind of walk off, and like, "Hey," don't follow me. There's something about the nature of it all. But I really get uncomfortable in swimming pools. But I fucks with Spa World.
Erica: I be in that little dirt bath, like, "Hey, hey, hey. We all boiling together."
Kenrya: Yeah. We have gotten high and gone there many times, overnight, always overnight. They got a good ass food, authentic Korean food. Yeah. So you go, you eat, you do all the pools. They've got these ladies that will scrub you down, scrub all the skin off of your body.
Erica: It's like a body detail, they do...
Kenrya: Yeah, that's under anything. And then there's this room. It's just this heated floor and you lay--
Erica: And it's so sparse, it's like floor, and a little hard pillow.
Kenrya: And you lay down.
Erica: And you're knocked out.
Kenrya: Yo, I done got some of that best sleep of my life on that floor.
Erica: And I am not the type of person to just be sleeping on random floors, except at Spa World.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's so good.
Erica: Because usually you have been in water for a couple of hours, then you eat a really good meal, and then you just fall asleep. And then at night, when they turn the lights off-
Kenrya: Yeah, and it's a 24-hour pass. But now, is this a post-COVID...
Erica: They're probably doing well. Because I went to H Mart, and when I tell you H Mart was like, I was like, "Yo, I should have been shopping here all the time." Because all them little old Asian grannies, all of them wear their most of the time, any damn way.
Kenrya: I was going to say what does H Mart have to do, besides being Korean, but I see what you're saying, because they're actually enforcing. Gotcha.
Erica: Yeah. Actually, I was reading this article about how COVID spread slower in Asian communities, because one, they have-
Kenrya: Well, because they fucking take care of business and take care of each other.
Erica: Well, I mean, even in Chinatown. And it's because they said, they already have a culture... I feel really weird saying, "They," but the people that live in these communities already have a culture of wearing masks a lot. And they heard about it from family members abroad, and so they were able to really...
Kenrya: Act quickly instead of this bullshit, so that's what's up.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So if anything, I'd be more than happy, because, girl, I went into H Mart-
Kenrya: But I'm just thinking about it being that many people in close proximity and if folks are going to wear masks in the pool, and that kind of thing. That's what I'm thinking about. Right? And it's indoors.
Erica: But anyway. So dream bed, dream spa, dream mart, whatever the name of it is.
Kenrya: Dream House.
Erica: Dream House, yeah. But that's some total New York shit. They were not supposed to be having sex. Of course, they did. And can you imagine had they got there caught? Not even have they got caught, but Shane and Eva got caught fucking. It would be like when that dude got caught jerking his meat on his own.
Kenrya: Jeffrey Toobin.
Erica: His last name was Toobin?
Erica: That definitely sounds like Toobin. I don't know.
Kenrya: Oh my God. Yes. Yeah, it would have been a big deal because they both have these massive fandoms and whatnot. So it would have been-
Erica: Because even when they were spotted together-
Kenrya: It was a big thing.
Erica: There was a whole Pottermore, the Harry Potter fan site, folks was putting shit together quick. It was like, he's this. I know, we don't like J.K. Rowling. It's so sad that she fucked it up for us.
Kenrya: Fuckin TERF.
Erica: Yeah, she fucked it up for us.
Kenrya: It's hard. My kid is part way through the series. I mean, the books are bought now, so it is what it is. But then that has to be accompanied by a conversation of why we don't fuck with this white woman.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, do you have anything else to add?
Kenrya: I don't think so. I think this is awesome and y'all should read it.
Erica: You all should read this. You all really need to read it.
Kenrya: Yeah, and Tia's coming on next week, so we get to dig into it some more with her.
Kenrya: Yeah, no, read this book.
Erica: Okay, and sorry. It's when I first started reading and I think I told Kenrya, "This is a lot. I wasn't ready for all of this." But it's so good and it's not tragic.
Erica: And so it felt good to read it, so you don't get discouraged. Oh, sorry.
Kenrya: It shows that you can talk about things like generational trauma, and PTSD, and all of the things that we warned about at the top of the show, but it doesn't have to be-
Erica: “12 Years a Slave.”
Kenrya: Right. It's not trauma porn. So, this morning I didn't even get to look at the trailer, but I saw that there's some movie called “Karen” that came out, with old girl from... What's that movie? You know what I'm talking about. Pennsatucky, who also played-
Erica: Oh, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah. So anyway, but everybody's like, "Oh, this is a fucking 'Get Out' knockoff." It's trying to deal the trauma and the horrible, but it ends up being is just making entertainment out of Black suffering basically.
Erica: Lena Waithe. Sorry.
Kenrya: Yes. 100%, don't fuck with her. Don't like her work. Done. Yes, that. And this book is not that.
Erica: No, it's great. Yeah. There's so much to dig into about this, and so I had to kind of... But there's a lot so y'all need to really, really get on this one.
Kenrya: And tell us what you all think about it.
Erica: Please do. So, what's next?
Kenrya: It's time for us to talk about what's turning us on. We going to pay some bills and we'll be right back.
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Erica: Okay. So what do you got, Kenrya?
Kenrya: Okay. So let me preface this by saying-
Erica: Have you used it?
Kenrya: I have.
Erica: Oh, okay.
Kenrya: So I don't feel like I have a lot of toys, but I feel like I've tried a whole lot of stuff. And so I went specifically for this season looking for things that I had never heard of before to try them out so then we can talk about them and see if they work for our listeners. So the thing that I found that I had never heard of and didn't know was a thing, so you know how they have penis pumps that folks use to enlarge?
Erica: Yes. Austin Powers had one in his bag.
Kenrya: Yes. And there are tons them on sex toy sites, a million different ones, because I think that's cis men's egos are fragile and very much tied to their penises, so they have a million options.
Erica: And you talk to any woman and she's like, "I don't care about size. It's about how you use it. How you wield that thing."
Kenrya: Exactly. 100%.
Erica: Any person that has sex, they will say.
Kenrya: Yeah, with penises. But so this, is a pussy pump.
Erica: Why did it have to make noise?
Kenrya: It fell apart, but I just put it back together. So this is the part that goes over your labia. And then this is what you pump up. So, I'm looking at it on the site, and I'm looking at reviews and I'm like, "Huh. Okay."
Erica: How do you use it?
Kenrya: So you lie down. For me, it absolutely required a partner. You put this over your labia, and you put some lube around it so that it releases and so that it doesn't hurt. An important key.
Erica: That should be like the suction in my bathroom.
Kenrya: And it's got a quick-release valve on it or whatever. And so you form a seal, and then you pump. And so it helped with my partner because he could actually see if it was on there the right way. And it took us a couple of tries to get it on the right way, and then he pumped it. Start slow, one pump at a time and check to make sure your partner's doing okay. And what happens is it literally expands into the cup. And so I was looking at the reviews, okay, why do people do this? So I found that there's a whole fetish around fat pussies, and that this increases the size. So you had a lot of people in the comments like, "Yeah, I use this on my partner because I like to get a fat plump pussy, and this does that for me."
Erica: But it don't make your clit feel funny, or I mean, feel good?
Kenrya: Yeah. So wat it does is-
Erica: Because I'm not doing this if you just like a fat pussy.
Kenrya: Right. But so that is what I kept seeing in the comments. But then I was like, "Well, what could this do for me?" So what it does is it brings all the blood to your labia.
Erica: Ding, ding, ding, ding.
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it makes everything super sensitive.
Erica: So then did he eat after that?
Kenrya: No, we went to the penetration.
Erica: Yeah, you mean no. You need to do that next. Okay?
Kenrya: Oh, maybe that'll help me because I never get there that way.
Erica: Homework. Yeah, I was about to say homework. Homework.
Kenrya: Okay, cool. Yeah, but we went the rest of the way. But it just made everything extra sensitive, everything, and it was fantastic. Not something that I would have honestly gone looking for if it weren't for the fact that I was just looking for something different that I hadn't tried before, but pleasantly surprised.
Erica: I like.
Kenrya: Easy cleanup, you just wash this little thing, easy-peasy. Just go slow, one pump at a time.
Erica: Something tells me you all didn't.
Kenrya: No, no.
Erica: This is experience.
Kenrya: We went slowly, but at first, it wasn't seated right, and you got a lot of bones, your pelvic bones down there, so your body will tell you if it's not quite seated right because it'll be pushing up against your bones. So then we released it and repositioned it and started again. It was nice, unexpected. So that is what turned us on this week.
Erica: All right.
Kenrya: We'll put a link.
Erica: I think what scares most people, what makes most people shy away from sex toys are just the look of them, right?
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, this is a bit of a contraption.
Erica: Yeah, it looks little those--
Kenrya: Yes. For folks who are not watching us on YouTube or in the various places, it is like a little cup and it is hard plastic, and it's got a length of tubing, maybe, I don't know, a foot, 14 inches long and a purple little hand pump on it, that you squeeze, like a little ball pump.
Erica: I like it. I'm going to have to get myself one. We will include a link in the show notes.
Kenrya: We will. Yeah. So check it out, or don't, but it was fun.
Erica: All right. Well, I like, I like. Okay, well, that wraps up this week's episode of the Turn On.
Kenrya: It does.
Erica: This is Erica, Kenrya, two hoe-hosts, making it clap.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now, in your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast, so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then, follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and you can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com.
Kenrya: And don't forget to email us at the TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions.
Erica: And you can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.