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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read from Alyssa Cole's "Can't Escape Love" and talk about asking for help and not making current partners pay for the sins of past partners.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: Hey, y'all. Welcome back. This week we are reading "Can't Escape Love," which is a Reluctant Royals Novella by Alyssa Cole. This was published in 2019 and we're just going to jump in. Sit back, relax, get your wine, get your weed, get you whatever you need and enjoy.
Kenrya: "Can't Escape Love," (a Reluctant Royals Novella) by Alyssa Cole. "You know what I've been thinking about all week?" "Maybe the same thing I've been thinking about?" Her voice was husky and she was hot to the touch where their skin brushed. "If it's my head between your thighs, then yep, it's the same thing." "Oh, my God," she laughed and leaned back in her chair eyes wide, cheeks flushed.
Kenrya: She shook her head and then looked down at him like she was an evil queen and he was her minion. "You're absolutely right. I've been thinking about that a lot and I may or may not have touched myself while I did." She arched a brow in challenge. Gus leaned up and forward on his knees catching her lush mouth with his before she could say anything else. His cock was already so hard and he just wanted to taste her. She held him by the front of his shirt as their tongues clashed and he regretted having worn the button-up instead of a polo for casual Friday.
Kenrya: He needed her hands on his body, but he didn't want to take his hands off her. He readjusted himself as he moved closer to her spreading his legs so that her footrest didn't press into his shins. "Pull it open," he said against her lips. "Just rip it." She leaned her head back by just an inch, but too far for Gus' liking. "But I know how to sew buttons back on. Do it." Then he closed the distance between their lips again thrusting his tongue into her mouth and sliding his hands up her thighs so both of his thumbs pressed gently into the heat at her juncture.
Kenrya: She gasped a muffled curse into his mouth and tugged at his shirt hard. Buttons went flying as she laughed triumphantly and then her palms finally spread over his chest. He groaned as her index finger brushed his nipple and she did it again. He used both of his hands to spread her thighs and one of his thumbs found the nub of her clit through the thin cotton of her underwear. He pressed slowly until her lips lifted slightly from the seat, and then he began to rub, slow back and forth motions, varying pressure depended on how she gasped and moaned into his mouth. He moved his other hand up and down her thigh dragging the rough palm over her sensitive skin.
Kenrya: Reggie's mouth ripped away from his on a moan, but she held on to him. She tugged at the lapels of his shirt sometimes soft, sometimes hard as if directing him, and the hard tugs were growing more frequent. She made a sound that was something like a frustrated squeal and threw her head back. Gus hadn't thought he could get any harder, but his jeans were painfully tight at the groin. He rocked back onto his heels and looked up at her. "You're so sexy." Her response was to press her feet against the footrest of her chair and lever her hips forward so that her ass was along the edge of the seat. Her knees were spread, her dress hiked up exposing her black underwear.
Kenrya: "Gus." She was a woman used to getting what she wanted and he was a man who knew what to give her. He knelt forward again, his hands sliding up and around her thighs to hold her in place as he tugged her a bit closer to the edge of her seat. He stretched the fingers of his right hand out over her mound and then curled them pulling her underwear to the side to reveal neatly trimmed dark reddish-brown curls and a slick brownish-pink nub between her folds. He ran his thumb over her one more time and then he nestled his mouth over her and licked.
Kenrya: "Fuck." One of her hands went to his collar and the other grabbed an armrest of her chair. "Fuck, Gustav." Gus swirled his tongue over her, then sucked gently, then sucked not so gently loving the way she cried out his name wanting to give her more pleasure. His own desire had overtaken him so that all he could think of was the scent of her, the taste of her, how she bucked up against his face and how she would feel clamping around his cock. He groaned against her clit, and Reggie bucked so sharply that he reached out to press down on her stomach and hold her in place.
Kenrya: Her ab muscles convulsed under his palm as she ground against his face riding out her orgasm, and then she collapsed back breathing heavily. "Oh, my God." Her chest rose and fell and then she allowed her head forward to look down at him. Her glasses were askew and her smile was sated that we're definitely going to have to do that again, but now she gripped his shoulders and slipped her feet from the footrest to the floor, then levered herself to a standing position.
Kenrya: He didn't move as she stood over him bent at the waist. She took two shaky, but definitive steps around him to drop into a seated position on her bed. She shimmied out of the beautiful emerald green dress she wore and tossed it across the room onto the laundry pile, then sat with her arms behind her to support her weight and her chin raised. "Now, you join me on the bed." Her breasts were encased in some kind of crinkled lacy bra that reminded Gus of the wrapper around a cupcake. Taking off that wrapper was his favorite part. "I can do that."
Kenrya: He wiped his sleeve over his mouth before standing and shucking his shirt, jeans, and socks so that he only wear his tinted boxer briefs, then closed the space between them. His mouth connected with hers and she wrapped her arms around him, pulling his weight down onto her, she lay back on the bed. His elbows dug into the mattress on either side of her as he caught her weight, but his body pressed up along hers skin to skin.
Kenrya: He settled between her legs, the length of his cock notching against her slit and her moans when she circled her hips to rub against him. "Condoms?" he asked. "Bedside table." He leaned away from her to tug the drawer open accidentally pulling it out of the nightstand completely. He grabbed a condom from a pink organizational tray and dropped the drawer to the floor with a clatter. "Sorry," he said returning his mouth to hers. Her rough exhalations caressed his lips. "Put it on. I want you."
Kenrya: Her words magnified whatever the feeling was in his chest, and then she reached between them to stroke them first through the fabric of his boxers and then sliding her hand under the elastic waistband and grip his erection. She ran her loosely circled fingers up and down his shaft, her thumb caressing the sensitive spot under the head of his cock as she did so.
Kenrya: Her hips rocked up against him and the desire in her eyes sent an arc of pleasure through him so strong that he bit his lip against the desire to pump into her hand and ride it to completion. "I want you," she said again, her voice an insistent whisper. "Don't say that again for a while," he said hoarsely. "I can only withstand so much." He stood, shucked his boxers and carefully rolled on the condom. He crouched between her legs to kiss her thighs and slide off her underwear before crawling into the center of the bed beside her as she clambered back. "Wait." He unlatched the hook on the front of her bra with one hand revealing the perfect dark brown tipped mounds of her breasts.
Kenrya: He teased her with his thumb and forefinger and she groaned. "Gus, I'm trying not to be demanding, but I really need you to fuck me or I seriously might explode." He laughed rolling on top of her and settling between her legs again. "I like it when you're demanding." "Lucky you." When she kissed him, a soft, sweet contrast to her words, Gus groaned and thrust into her. He sucked in a breath at the almost overwhelming pleasure, the clamp of her inner walls around his cock, the way her eyes slammed shut and she cried out. "Fuck," he breathed. "You feel good. You smell good. You taste good. You ...," but Gus couldn't talk anymore.
Kenrya: He lost his words to the sensation running down his spine squeezing balls, squeezing his heart. He wouldn't tell her what he was feeling. He would show her. He thrust into her hard not minding the burn in his scalp as she tugged as his hair and the crescents of pleasure pain as she left in his shoulders as she gripped him. She threw one leg over his hip spreading herself wider taking him in deeper and holding him closer. Gus buried his face in her neck, the sweat from his breath and her temple pulling where their skin touched, their moans mingling in the air between the four posts of her bed. "Yes. Yes. Please."
Kenrya: That one word urged him to slide her other leg up around his waist and lean forward so that his thrust hit her at a new angle. Reggie didn't like asking for things. If she said please, he would make sure not to disappoint. He looked down into her wide brown eyes and saw the moment just before her climax hit her just before her body went taut and her pussy clamped him so tight that he couldn't hold back anymore. He tried to say her name as the pleasure walloped him from all sides, but he thought maybe he only emitted a series of grunts.
Kenrya: Heat and light and pure ectasy exploded in him and somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew what he'd seen in Reggie's eyes. It had turned the last piece of the Rubik's Cube in his chest amplifying his orgasm so that he had to clench his teeth against the force of it. He collapsed on top of her and then rolled them to their sides pulling her close so that he could feel her racing heartbeat against his just for a moment. She didn't pull away despite their sweatiness. "That was ..." Her leg twitched between his. "Damn, Gus." She kissed him on the ear, a quick peck because she seemed to jelly-boned and satiated to hold her head up for longer, and he felt like it signaled some new intimacy in their relationship.
Kenrya: He finally opened his eyes feeling that sunlight on his face sensation again. She was grinning at him, eyes bright, and oh, God, he would have to be very careful because that impulsive feeling welled up in him with purpose. It'd only been a week since they met in person and he had to take this slow, not get ahead of himself, not dive headlong like she was a newly unwrapped puzzle. "What?" She kissed him again. "You're staring." Slow. Gus opened his mouth and that feeling that been building in his chest jumped out without his permission. "I love you."
Kenrya: Her brows rose in the warm lazy light in her eyes was gone in a blink replaced by an alert weariness. "What?"
Erica: Welcome back. Kenrya, that was a lovely excerpt.
Kenrya: Was it?
Erica: Will you give us a synopsis of the story before we delve on in?
Kenrya: Is that the word you wanted?
Erica: Dive. You know I be making shit up. Is delve a word?
Kenrya: No, delve is a word. I think it's maybe past tense-
Erica: For chocolate?
Kenrya: ... of something. Chocolate?
Erica: I don't know. I think about like a cookie dunking into chocolate, but whatever. This is so random. Kenrya, give us a synopsis.
Kenrya: It's okay. You reminded me I need to order those Girl Scout cookies. Yeah, I forgot.
Kenrya: I need to order girl scout cookies.
Erica: Oh, yeah. Nope. I'm still dealing with Christmas cookies, so I have so many Christmas cookies.
Kenrya: It's reminding me of what I have left to go get into.
Erica: Oh, my God. I have so many Christmas cookies.
Kenrya: Because y'all had gingerbread and stuff, too.
Erica: Oh, I just threw those out.
Kenrya: Oh, gave us a lot.
Erica: Because yeah. No, get these out of my house.
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah. I dig it. Okay, so “Can't Escape Love” is part of the Reluctant Royals series that Alyssa Cole does, so in the main books, it's like people who find out that they're royalty or all these relationships and one of the people in each of those relationships is always some kind of royalty. In the novellas, it's usually somebody who is related to in some way and maybe they work for one of those people or it's their family or whatever.
Kenrya: In this particular story, we are following Reggie who runs a ... It's like a nerd culture site for women, and her whole thing is women won't be treated like shit like they are in the mainstream world and it's supposed to be really friendly for people of color and folks with disabilities to make them feel and be included in nerd culture, so comic books and movies-
Kenrya: Yes, but not necessarily just Black, but yeah. Reggie is Black. She lives in Queens.
Erica: New York!
Kenrya: Yes. You had it for like...
Erica: That's my New York accent. Where'd you go? Eat a pizza pie.
Kenrya: That was awful.
Kenrya: But at least you tried. I don't even try accents. I'm terrible. At the beginning of the book, Reggie has a problem. She's having trouble sleeping and her insomnia is making her make mistakes at work and is feeding her anxiety, so she has decided that the very best way for her to deal with her insomnia is to write to this man whose videos she used to listen to fall asleep.
Erica: See, now if I can't fall asleep, I masturbate.
Kenrya: Well, we all have our things.
Erica: That's how I know if I'm having insomnia is-
Kenrya: Because your masturbation count goes up?
Erica: Yeah. Geez. You've been tapping that button a lot. Okay.
Kenrya: Yes, so she reaches out.
Erica: Her's is more wholesome.
Kenrya: Yes, but it's also a little strange, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: To ask somebody. She's like, "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be creepy, but your voice helps me sleep. Can you make some recordings for me?" He's like, "Nah, I don't know how you going to use my voice. Don't trust you, but I'll talk to you on the phone," because secretly they both kind of like each other. When she was first listening to his voice, he was streaming. He had like a stream where he would do puzzles, so he is Gus. He is Vietnamese American. At the time, he was living in California, but we find out that he now lives very close to Reggie.
Erica: Dun, dun, dun.
Kenrya: Dun, dun, dun. He had this channel where he streamed and did puzzles. He's like-
Erica: She didn't care. She just needed the voice.
Kenrya: Well, she found it because she likes puzzles, too, but the voice kept her there, and she just thought he was interesting. She was the only person who ever watched his stream, so they got to be friends.
Erica: That makes me feel so much better about The Turn On.
Kenrya: She would be like-
Erica: Someone's going to find us.
Kenrya: Seriously. She would be chatting and putting things in the chat and he would answer her questions and tell stories, so it was just the two of them for months just doing this, so she was plotting out her business during this time when she was working while watching him and it gave him ideas of cool things to do. He's an architect by trade, but is branching out to some other stuff, so eventually they end up coming into the same space and falling in love.
Erica: Oh, wow.
Erica: And sexy hijinks ensue.
Kenrya: They do.
Erica: Dot, dot, dot.
Erica: Okay, so I will start with just Reggie is dope.
Kenrya: Yeah, she is.
Erica: She has a lot going on and she has so many balls that she's juggling, and she seems to make sure that everything is covered. I hate using the strong Black woman thing.
Kenrya: Yeah, but it's what she's-
Erica: Oh, because Reggie is ... I mean, it's clear from the text that Reggie's in a wheelchair.
Kenrya: Yes, Reggie has ataxia, which is basically it impedes her. It makes it difficult for her to control her motor ... Her motor skills are difficult. She's kind of jerky sometimes. It's safer and easier for her to move around in a wheelchair, although she can move with a walker, and sometimes she takes it to the park, but none of that has anything to do with the work that she does except for that she wants to make the space more inclusive for everybody and not be made to feel like she can't cosplay because she's in a chair, that kind of thing.
Erica: Yeah, so I brought that up because it's one of those things of the strong Black woman. You look at her and people ... Reading her story, people probably look at it like, "Oh, she's strong. You're doing everything in spite of," and it's like, "Girl."
Kenrya: Bitch, that ain't got nothing to do with that.
Erica: I got shit I need to do and I get it done, but yeah. She really has it all, all of her ducks in a row-
Kenrya: She does.
Erica: ... and everything covered.
Kenrya: Except she can't sleep.
Erica: Except she can't sleep, but I think that could ... This is me being a therapist. Do you think that her not being able to sleep is maybe kind of a ...
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: You know how you try to keep everything under wraps, I mean keep everything under control, and then something leaks and that's-
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: ... the leak in the damn, her inability to sleep.
Kenrya: Yeah, I think it is. Well, she says that her insomnia feeds her anxiety, and then she also says at some point that she had been watching these videos that were helping with that were made for ADHD and that they were helping her, so I think she's just like all of us, has a lot of stuff going on and your brain finds ways to pop it up on you, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: That has been my experience, especially my anxiety and my insomnia. My shit was so bad last year that my therapist threatened to put me on medication because I wasn't sleeping. She was like, "You're going to crash and fucking burning if you don't sleep," because it's just this vicious cycle where the insomnia makes the anxiety worse, the anxiety makes the insomnia worse, and then you're just up wide-eyed in the middle of the fucking night.
Erica: Yeah, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's terrible.
Erica: Reggie, well, I said that Reggie has a lot, has everything covered, and I think I see this a lot in Black women where we feel like we have to take care of everything. It all has to be done.
Erica: It all has to be done correctly and perfectly and right. Do you think Reggie feels that?
Kenrya: Is that?
Erica: Yeah. Is that woman.
Kenrya: She has. She talks about having a hard time delegating. She has people on her team, but she don't trust nobody to do it quite the way that she can do it.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Why you so loud?
Erica: Well, you know what? I'm less of that person.
Kenrya: Yeah, you are.
Erica: I am like, "Girl, y'all do it. If it get done, it get done. Figure that shit out."
Kenrya: Really? Well, but that came with what? Therapy and time,
Erica: Lots of time and lots of therapy.
Kenrya: She goes to therapy.
Kenrya: She does do that, and you can see her progress over the course of the book, but I think that's absolutely one of the things that she's dealing with and it's one of the things that I could relate to. Yeah.
Erica: Girl, as being your partner on this project, this project called The Turn On, I so see it so much more now.
Erica: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: But I trust you on ... I don't ever-
Erica: No. Oh, I'm not saying-
Kenrya: I'm never over your shoulder or anything like that.
Erica: No, no, no. I'm not saying in the sense of ... because I think we do do a really great job of this is your job-
Kenrya: We just trust each other to do-
Erica: ... this is my job, that kind of thing, but I feel like you definitely have it in you to be like, "We got to do more. We got to do more," because let me tell y'all. If this was a Erica-produced situation, there would've been some weeks where y'all would've just been waiting for an upload and I would've been like, "Y'all know we coming back." I'm like Jesus. He came back. I will, too.
Kenrya: It is definitely that perfectionism.
Erica: He didn't come back.
Kenrya: He rose. He rose.
Erica: He rose and he going to come back.
Erica: I know that, but oh, shit, that was bad. Anyway, yeah.
Kenrya: That was funny.
Erica: I see that in you, and-
Kenrya: Because to me, there's never a reason to not do what you say you're going to do.
Erica: A bitch motherfucking tied.
Kenrya: I know, but I ... No, but that's the perfectionism in me and that's something I'm working on.
Erica: I think that it's great that we both do this together, and we had this conversation towards the end of the year, and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to let you go on this one because there will be a week where we going to be like-"
Kenrya: I'm like, "Fuck it."
Erica: I'm going to be like, "No," and y'all going to hear Kenrya by herself, which won't happen-
Erica: ... because Kenrya will not half-ass produce anything, or we just going to have to take a break.
Kenrya: Hopefully by then we'll have enough episodes to carry us or we can take a break.
Erica: Yeah, and if not--
Kenrya: You don't care.
Erica: I don't give a shit. I do, but at the same time, I have really, really learned to prioritize-
Kenrya: You have healthy work boundaries.
Kenrya: You have healthy boundaries around work and I don't.
Erica: But I think it's part of it is ... We going to keep going. I think part of it is because you are a freelancer, so you really have to push.
Kenrya: Eat what you kill, yeah.
Erica: You kill what you eat.
Kenrya: Same thing.
Erica: Eat, kill, whatever. You got to bring that, the bacon, to the table.
Kenrya: Yeah, if I don't work, I don't get paid.
Erica: The veggie bacon. So I-
Kenrya: I've never had veggie bacon. Sounds disgusting.
Erica: It sounds disgusting. I literally felt chalk in my mouth when I said that. Yeah, so I think that that is it. We have very different situations which allow us to have very different attitudes towards it. However, this 9:00 to 5:00 mentality is going to affect you one way or the other.
Kenrya: I don't know.
Erica: Now, as I transition to my outside ... I have made it the a point to say that this is my last 9:00 to 5:00 and I will be doing some shit on my own in the near future.
Erica: Now, I'm definitely going to have to take a page, front page or two, from Killa's book, but right now until then, nah, dog. Y'all niggas going to get what the fuck y'all going to get when y'all going to get it, but yeah.
Kenrya: Meanwhile, Reggie is definitely a perfectionist and she struggles with that.
Erica: Which is one of the symptoms of what?
Erica: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kenrya: Yes, ma'am.
Erica: Yeah, she's codependent as hell, and you see it in this scene because she says to Gus ... Well, no, Gus says like, "Look, I can feel that she doesn't want to meet me," and I think that ... Well, let's go back. Codependency, can you define it well?
Kenrya: Sure. Well, I can try. In general, it means meeting the needs of others without meeting your own needs and it can show up in a lot of different ways, and one of the ways that it shows up is being needless and want-less, so that is how it comes through with Reggie. She's needless. She don't need nobody to do nothing for her. She got everything motherfucking thing covered. Get out of my face, and that's how she treats Gus at times. God, I could absolutely see myself in her sometimes.
Erica: Alyssa, you wrote the hell out of this character.
Kenrya: For real for real, but I think I'm a lot better at it. I have been working at it, but there was a time when-
Erica: The part of the reason that you know you're better at it is because you're able to see it.
Kenrya: Because I can see it. Yeah, because if someone had told me that before, I wouldn't have even understood what they were talking about, but yeah. It definitely come. That's how I saw it coming through in her was the fact that she was "needless."
Erica: Yeah. Going back to this strong Black woman, I think that she is just leaning into being a strong Black woman, and this is what I do because I have to. This codependency thing, not only does it get in the way of good relationships, but it gets in the way of good sex.
Kenrya: It does because if you don't have boundaries, but you have walls, which is one of the ways that codependency shows up-
Erica: Yeah, and we like getting our walls torn down-
Kenrya: In all the ways.
Erica: ... but not like that.
Kenrya: Yes. If you've built, rather than having strong boundaries which you can adjust to the situation and the person, but you've built walls which are immovable then hard to get past-
Erica: Boundaries are like fences, whereas walls are walls.
Kenrya: They got a gate. Yeah, exactly. She got some walls and they spend the book knocking them shits down and all the way she can think of.
Erica: Knocking down them walls.
Erica: Yeah. I think it's really cool that Alyssa wrote this character like this and was able to demonstrate it in this character, because I identify with her so much. Yeah, it's like I can do it all. I don't need nobody's help. I'm a strong Black woman.
Kenrya: Yeah, and then I think for her, there's this other element and she talks about it. Reggie, she says that in her past ... Well, she says in her head, right, because she wouldn't tell anybody this.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: But in her past relationships, she's been with men who have made her feel like she had to meet them like she couldn't do things, so part of her strong Black woman thing is a reaction to that like don't treat me like I can't fucking take care of myself. I've been taking care of myself. I'm not waiting for some man to come so that I can fall apart and now he can put me back to-fucking-gether. I'm good, but she said that she had men who wanted to coddle her or wanted to fix her or wanted to ... What was the other thing? Coddle her, fix her, or tell her how to run her life in general and her business and all of that shit, and she's like, "I don't need that shit."
Erica: Yeah, you overconfident. Now she's overcompensating.
Erica: You put on this I have it all together, everything is perfect, so you don't even have an opportunity to come in and say-
Kenrya: That's right.
Erica: ... you need to fix or do, because I think it's a fine line in relationships with being open to criticism and critique and help and having someone thinking that they can fix you.
Erica: Especially with me dating older men, yeah, I find it happens and I ...
Kenrya: How do you handle that?
Erica: Well, one, I'm better at picking older men now, because sometimes older men are like, "Let me tell you how to do everything," but now I'm better at just ... My picker is better, but yeah. That is always a source, a sense of a source of contention in relationships with me, because even to this day, and maybe this is the vestiges of the codependency ... Is that the right word?
Erica: I think it is. Y'all know I be making shit up. I didn't take the SAT, so I be using them words.
Kenrya: Y'all took the ACT?
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah.
Erica: Midwest. Midwest.
Kenrya: Yeah, see, I took both, but yeah.
Erica: No. Mm-mm (negative).
Kenrya: Most people in the Midwest take ACT.
Erica: I took the bare minimum. Oh, the school let me in with an ACT? Bet, cool. I think there's vestiges of the codependency still in me where I don't ... I'm always open to critique and criticism from my girlfriends.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), you are. Yeah, you're really good at taking it.
Erica: I am really good at taking it from my girlfriends. From a man, it takes a little bit more for me to get it.
Kenrya: Why do you think that is?
Erica: Because you a nigga and you in here trying to fix me and change me and tell me what the fuck to do. It's just that simple, and I wish it was better than that, and I find that with some guys, one is about how you say it. I was dating this guy and he was at my house and it was something about feeding a dog, and he was like, "Yeah, you feeding him too much," or something about how-
Kenrya: What'd that nigga just say? It's your dog. Fuck out of here.
Erica: That was my complete and exact response like, "Nigga, fuck you. This is my fat ass dog," but then I was thinking like-
Kenrya: Do I feed him?
Erica: This nigga fat than a motherfucker. Not only is he fat, but he eats good twice a day and he eats anything anybody else has.
Kenrya: Yes, he does.
Erica: It was one of them things where it was like, "You know what? Maybe he was right," and my response a lot of times when men tell me something, it's immediately like a ... like, "Nigga, don't tell me that," but then I have to take a step back and be like, "You know what? I heard you. I got it. Thank you for sharing," because I don't want to be one of them know-it-all chicks, which I do know everything.
Erica: But yeah, it's like a knee-jerk reaction like, "Nigga, this my life. I will come ..." because I do feel like the guys that I date, they bring more than just dick to the table. Now, they do bring dick, good dick-
Kenrya: First and foremost.
Erica: ... but they're smart and doing well in their own right in their own space, so I do think that there's value in bouncing things off of people and that kind of thing, but I guess for me, my girlfriends I look at like you love me. You care about me.
Kenrya: Yeah, they get more of the benefit of the doubt.
Erica: Yeah. We got one girlfriend, Detroit Princess.
Kenrya: Yep, I knew that's who you was about to say.
Erica: When I tell you this bitch is opinionated-
Kenrya: She is, but she always has really good insight.
Erica: Yes. If you don't know her or don't get her, you are just like, "This bitch got something to say about everything." However, she is like, next to Kenrya, one of the people that I bounce just about everything off of because she has such good insight, but if you don't know her or understand her, you can definitely get the like-
Kenrya: She argues about everything [crosstalk 00:32:56] or whatever, but yeah. No, it's just that she really does have opinions and really good ideas.
Erica: And great ways of things looking at things, coming outside of herself to look at things. She can say things to me unsolicited and I'd be like, "Okay, cool. I'm going to take that into ..." Whereas, a nigga could probably come say the same thing unsolicited and I'd be like, "Who the fuck you think you know? You don't know me. You ain't shit," but yeah. I think that's the codependency in me, so I need to get better at ...
Kenrya: Or it could just be that you don't trust niggas.
Erica: Yeah, but I don't want to not trust niggas. I just want to be better at-
Kenrya: Calibrating that?
Erica: Calibrating my trust ... Well, I don't even want to stay trust in niggas. Trust in niggas' advice, because I were ... I were? I were in relationships. I was in relationships with guys that turned me into somebody that I allowed to turn me into somebody.
Kenrya: Because their advice was self-serving.
Erica: Exactly. So yeah-
Kenrya: Narcissist nigga.
Erica: Narcissist niggas. You're telling me I'm feeding my dog and making him fat.
Kenrya: There ain't much. Right. It's not benefiting him any.
Erica: My doggy is fat.
Kenrya: That's okay. He's a cutie pie. This is something that I've been actively working on. You tell me this all time. Sometimes I am defensive when people tell me things, and sometimes I just sound defensive because my general way of being is like, "What?" I've been working to better reflect how I actually feel about things with the way that it comes out of my mouth.
Kenrya: Yeah, and literally working with my therapist, so for me, that means taking a deep breath before I respond, smiling, because I had issues with this. I was like, "I don't want to be fake." I'm trying to make a fake face or whatever, and she was like, "But you don't feel defensive or upset, do you?" I was like, "No." She was like, "Well, the fact that your face and your voice makes it come across that way is the fake thing, so match up the way that you come across-
Erica: That's a good one.
Kenrya: ... with the way that you actually feel."
Erica: Your therapist is good.
Kenrya: Ain't she, though? That was a really good way for me to think about it because trying to smile through it and make my voice a little softer and all of those things just felt like I was shrinking myself because I had been in situations where I had to shrink to get by.
Erica: Where you were shrinking yourself.
Kenrya: Exactly. I had been working hard to, one, not be defensive, and then two, to not come across as defensive when I really am not, because sometimes I think I just come across that way because my voice is like, "What? What you want?"
Erica: I think in your mind it does, but it's not.
Kenrya: What do you mean?
Erica: In your mind, it comes off as, "What? What you want?" but it never [crosstalk 00:36:01].
Kenrya: Well, no, I think ... I've been told.
Erica: Well, I'm your friend and not a nigga, so I will-
Kenrya: This is true, so maybe it's a different ... Yeah. Yeah, it's not that way to me. Well, I do it sometimes in therapy and she be like, "Girl, all right. Just take a breath," so you know.
Erica: All right, so we punish niggas for the sins of other niggas, current niggas for the sins of past niggas.
Kenrya: Which is difficult and it's something Reggie does.
Erica: Yes. Yes. What do you think it is about Gus that cracks that shell for her? Because you can tell even in that scene, she wants it, but she wants to give you just enough, but not ... She wants to give Gus just enough, but not all.
Kenrya: I think she appreciates that he's direct, and I think she appreciates the way that he thinks and the way that he lets her in on the way that he thinks. Gus has autism and like I was saying earlier, he does puzzles and he looks at the world as a puzzle. That's his way of processing things and emotions because he feels like otherwise he may not actually see what everybody else can see in terms of how people react to things emotionally.
Erica: He touches on that in this excerpt where he refers to her as a puzzle and-
Kenrya: When he hears her speak, he literally will make that a piece of the puzzle, think back on other things that she said, select the thing that he feel ... Yeah, but then he talks through it, so I think so ... First of all, there's no real such thing as a typical brain.
Erica: Information helps.
Erica: Information helps reduce anxiety.
Kenrya: yes, exactly.
Erica: Let me know what you thinking. That's a lot of times what women are fighting in relationships like-
Kenrya: Things [crosstalk 00:38:05].
Erica: ... what are you thinking? Tell me what's going on. Tell me what you're thinking.
Kenrya: The basis of emotional intelligence is so much of it just opening up your fucking mouth and saying what's going on in your head, and he has no problem doing that, which seems counterintuitive because he says that he's difficult with emotional stuff, but she says it to him. She was like, "From where I sit, you're really good."
Erica: He's better the most.
Kenrya: She's like, "I'm not trying to discount what you're saying about the way that your brain works, but do a great job of overcoming that, so to speak, in the way that you communicate."
Erica: That's like a superhero power.
Kenrya: Yes, and I think that that's what ultimately, because she doesn't have to guess and because she sees him being so open and honest and direct about the way he feels, it pushes her to access her own emotions and communicate them better. Yeah.
Erica: Fuck giving out puzzle classes.
Kenrya: Yeah, it don't hurt that their sex is really good.
Erica: Pussy class.
Kenrya: They enjoy each other, so yeah. His voice already had her open. She just didn't want to admit it. Have you ever been opened just from somebody's voice?
Erica: Maybe not from the voice, but I am simple, so it could. Let me think about this, because maybe not from the voice, but I'm simple, so it's like-
Kenrya: I was in middle school and high school when a lot of what I was doing was just talking on the phone anyway.
Erica: Oh, you know what? Yep. Yep.
Kenrya: You just remembered a specific instance.
Erica: Yep. Yeah. Even now, because these days we don't talk on the phone, especially me, because I am not a phone talker.
Kenrya: Except with me.
Erica: I know. It's so fucked up because I would sit on the phone with Kenrya for hours and be like, "Girl, this third toe of mine. These green panties I wore." That is literally verbatim... But generally I'm not a phone talker, especially with men because it's like we ain't the fucking third grade. If you want to see me, let's make time to be in one another's company, and then we'll be in each other's company and we get to do love, kiss on each other, all of that, but outside of that, no.
Erica: For me, phone conversations now are getting letters in the mail. It's like a great treat like, "Huh, I actually enjoy sitting on the phone with you," so yeah. I definitely could see myself being open just off some voice, some phone conversations, because again, I'm simple.
Kenrya: I don't think that makes you simple.
Erica: You know how they be like, "Just give us shiny shit and she'll follow it"? That's me like, "Oh."
Kenrya: A magpie.
Erica: Oh, yeah. Oh, okay, that's great. All right, we going to be here.
Kenrya: That's funny.
Erica: I'm definitely a magpie when it comes to stuff like that, but I'm also thinking like I have ... Something in my shango, my shungo, my spirit-
Erica: Something in my spirit is telling me that I've been open for a nigga over some simple shit like he's got great hands or a watch or something like that, because something about some nice hands on a man, some clean nice hands and well-manicured-
Kenrya: That does it for?
Erica: I just be thinking like, "This nigga fingering my pussy." Again, I'm simple.
Kenrya: I like nice teeth.
Erica: I love good teeth.
Erica: Yeah, I'm so into teeth. My teeth are big.
Kenrya: Are they?
Erica: They're big, so teeth are very important to me because they're just so ... My teeth are big, so I'm always into everybody's mouth.
Kenrya: I got little tiny gremlin teeth. I just like nice smiles.
Erica: You got little baby teeth.
Kenrya: They some little baby teeth.
Erica: My sister has baby teeth, too, but yeah. I do like good teeth and not like Instagram teeth because everybody got good teeth these days.
Kenrya: Like real teeth like your teeth, but yeah.
Erica: Yeah, I did Invisalign this summer and I actually really love my ... They closed my gap just a smidge too much, but whatever. We'll deal, but I really like good natural teeth. Give me a bit of scruff to them.
Kenrya: Little variance?
Erica: Little variance. Don't give me those Instagram teeth. Now, I'm telling y'all when we blow up and we get the money and some doctor from Miami wants to come and give us some teeth, I'm not going to take them. Now, I might force them on somebody else just because it's some free shit-
Kenrya: I'm not. I'm good.
Erica: ... but yeah.
Kenrya: They may be something on the timeline.
Erica: Yeah, you know? Just you know?
Kenrya: You're not counting anything out. I like a nice smile and nice skin, but just like dark.
Erica: I don't want to say it's a fetish. I love dark skin just like beautiful ... Dark-skinned women-
Kenrya: Oh, my God. It's everything.
Erica: I'll be like, "Put some oil on." You know what I think did it for me?
Erica: “Belly.” Oh, my God.
Erica: What is that chick's name, girl?
Kenrya: Tamara, ain't that her name?
Kenrya: Well, that's her name in the movie, yes.
Erica: Oh. Yeah, just like-
Kenrya: Baby oil with that blue light. Best part of the whole fucking movie.
Erica: The thing is I feel like women are beautiful. I feel like God was in His bag when He made-
Kenrya: When He made Black women.
Erica: He was like, "We made a Black one." He was like, "Throw some hips on that bitch or not."
Kenrya: Good either way.
Erica: I was talking to this guy because we were talking about doing a threesome, and he was like, "What kind of woman do you like?" I was like, "I like women that look like me." I like just a-
Kenrya: A Black ass woman.
Erica: First, logistics. I'm not against a weave. However, I want to be able to touch and feel and pull and all that, so I don't want to feel like...
Kenrya: Or her shit just need to be extra secure.
Erica: Because as a woman, I know the-
Kenrya: Anxiety of it?
Erica: ... the logistics in obtaining a weave, and so I be like ... I just like great skin. Oh. Dark skin, oh. We went somewhere and there was this dark-skinned. I literally followed her around like a puppy like, "Hey."
Erica: It wasn't like a sex club. It was like we were at a bar or something and I was just like, "Hey, girl. You want to be my friend? You just real pretty." Kenrya, I'm sorry, you are not a fetish.
Kenrya: I know. As I sit here with my gorgeous skin.
Erica: Yeah, I'm looking at her like, "Oh, she probably thinks I picked her as a best friend as a fetish." You are fucking gorgeous and I did not, and I don't have dreams about doing it to you.
Kenrya: That's good. Appreciate it.
Erica: Whatever. Our homeboy, Gus, scared the shit out of our homegirl, Reggie.
Erica: When he said, "I love you."
Kenrya: Oh. Oh. What are you doing, Erica?
Erica: Because he said it and it was just like ...
Kenrya: He said the light in her eyes changed.
Erica: It was like, "Wait, what? What the fuck?" We touched on this recently about saying I love you. It is well established that I will say that shit if I'm feeling it. It comes out like a fart like, "I love you," because to me, there's no like ... I do, so I'm going to tell you so you have that information. What about you, Kenrya?
Kenrya: As we've already established, that is more difficult for me.
Erica: Has it always been difficult?
Erica: Or it is more difficult now that you're more aware and a thinker and with someone that you do love and-
Kenrya: It's always been more difficult.
Erica: But is it more difficult with him? Was it more difficult? Did you feel like it was more higher stakes or-
Erica: ... it was more genuine or something like that?
Kenrya: It definitely felt like higher stakes because the love feels different, so you know? I finally I have said those words.
Erica: Da, da, da.
Kenrya: Yes, and it's just a different situation. If somebody were to ask me if I had ever been in love before, I would say yes, but I would also make the analogy of it's like if you only ever had soy, ice milk, something that-
Kenrya: ... you thought was ice cream. You know what I mean? All these years, you was eating it and it was fine. It was soy milk ice cream. It's the only thing you ever had. It's what you had in your family.
Erica: It's like when people go to France. Niggas drink wine here and then they go to France to drink wine and be like-
Kenrya: I don't like wine, but yes. Then one day you have full fat ... fucking the best ice cream anybody has ever had-
Erica: All the lactose-
Kenrya: ... with all the lactose-
Erica: ... to lock up your guts.
Kenrya: ... whole milk, all of that, and then you're like, "Oh, that's what love feels like."
Erica: It's like, "I only thought love was ROYGBIV, but now it is the whole Panettone wheel."
Kenrya: Pantone, yes.
Erica: I'm thinking of the bread.
Kenrya: No, isn't it-
Erica: Isn't there an Italian bread that's a Panettone?
Kenrya: I don't know.
Erica: Panna cotta. The big bread with all the ... Whatever. Anyway.
Kenrya: I thought panna cotta was more like a gushy-
Kenrya: ... like a dessert situation like a flan.
Erica: Hey, Siri, what's that Italian bread name?
Kenrya: That's not going to do it. She don't know.
Siri: Here's what I found.
Kenrya: What's that voice on your Siri?
Erica: I have a man because I need a man to be doing the labor for me.
Kenrya: I love it. Siri is disabled on my phone. I don't fuck with her.
Erica: I don't do the, “Hey Siri,” only because I know too many Sarahs and Sherrys and that kind of shit.
Kenrya: We talking about somebody and then they called them?
Erica: Panettone, P-A-N-E-T-T-O-N-E, Italian Christmas bread. My child don't do shit with his phone. Everything is through Siri.
Kenrya: Oh, wow.
Erica: I said, "Hey, kid." It's the holidays and weekends, so I'm like, "Hey, kid, you can stay up till midnight."
Kenrya: Oh, shit.
Erica: Set an alarm, because then he sleep later in the day. I'm like, "Hey, kid, set an alarm so you go to bed at midnight because my ass going to be asleep at 9:00."
Kenrya: Long asleep.
Erica: He's like, "Okay," and then he was like, "Hey, Siri, set an alarm."
Kenrya: Mine does the same thing.
Erica: Okay, so that was before they got it from one another.
Kenrya: I just have it on my phone as one of the things you can flip up so I can press it and be here real quick. I thought I was doing something, but she be like, "Yeah, hey, Siri. Set a timer for 30 minutes." Like if she's got 30 minutes of reading time that she has to do, she just tells Siri to set it for her. She don't touch it.
Kenrya: Must be cool.
Erica: They living lives that we couldn't, but-
Kenrya: Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Erica: Well, yeah. He's gotten better at it because I do like you got 30 minutes of reading time, so then he'll come and be like, "I've been reading for 30 minutes."
Kenrya: Did you not set a fucking timer?
Erica: Well, I can tell you that right now you need to start reading and 30 minutes from now, you know what? I'll give you five minute credit.
Kenrya: Set a motherfucking timer next time.
Erica: Then he be in there enjoying for like an hour. That's not my thing.
Erica: It's your responsibility to keep up with that joint.
Kenrya: That's right.
Erica: They living wild. Okay, we got all off.
Kenrya: We did. It's fine.
Erica: All off. We've established that it's difficult, but you're seeing full range of color.
Kenrya: Spectrum, yes. It's pretty cool.
Erica: Have you ever been surprised by someone telling you that they love you?
Kenrya: Yes. Well, kind of.
Erica: Story time, story time, story time.
Kenrya: It's a very short story. There was this dude who I was seeing years ago when I was seeing him. He was my boyfriend, and I got waxed for the first time, so it was sugaring. In hindsight, I don't do that shit no more.
Erica: Sugaring is very different. Sugaring is the equivalent of taking-
Kenrya: That shit hurt.
Erica: ... a ball of tape-
Kenrya: And just sticking it.
Erica: ... and just over and over.
Kenrya: I ain't know and that shit hurt like hell, but anyway, I got sugar. I think it was my birthday and I was going to introduce him to some newly shorn pussy. Go over there, we having sex, he sees it, he's super surprised. He says, "Oh, I fucking love you," and I was like ... On one hand, I'm like, "Does he actually love me and this is just when he said it, or does he just love the-"
Erica: The fact that I gave some fresh pussy?
Kenrya: Right, right. I wasn't quite sure, so then I said it ... Maybe a few weeks later, I said it back because I didn't say anything in that moment. I just kept fucking and it just was awkward, and yeah. I don't know what this means. I don't know what to do. Yeah, so that was surprising.
Erica: I'm trying to think if I had anyone tell me and it surprised me. No, I don't think so.
Kenrya: Have you always felt it already?
Erica: Yeah, and I mean how could you not love a bitch?
Kenrya: In that situation, I did love him, but again, it's hard for me to say it, so I hadn't said it anyway. Saying it first is not my bag.
Erica: I don't think I'm always the first one to say it, or you know what? I probably am, but I definitely don't say it with the expectation that-
Kenrya: Right, which makes all the difference.
Erica: ... I don't do it like, "I love you."
Kenrya: Right. I'm going to sit here and stare at you with crazy eyes until you say it back.
Erica: Yeah, so you tell me. Sorry, that's what I was doing, but y'all can't see.
Kenrya: Yes, I figured I'd narrate a little.
Erica: At one point, we'll put some cameras down here.
Kenrya: Well, we are definitely in our pajamas and this is how we prefer to record.
Erica: I can do the luchador mask. Yes, or something. I might have a mask like that.
Kenrya: But I don't want to put on any clothes.
Kenrya: I don't want to put on clothes.
Erica: I mean shit. We might get more views without them. Yeah, every time it's been said to me, I feel like it's on its way.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's not willy nilly like you're just handing it out.
Erica: Yeah, I don't just be slanging them out willy nilly, but at the same time, if I feel it, I'm going to tell you, and you probably have felt it because at some point, I've probably shown it in some respect. Again, this is Erica. You going to love all of this. I had somebody tell me, "I love you." I'm like, "About fucking time you realized that I was the best thing in your life."
Kenrya: Or like my kid when you tell them that something she did was cool, "I know."
Erica: I know.
Kenrya: I'm like, "All right. Keep that confidence."
Erica: Please do.
Kenrya: I like it.
Erica: Okay. Well, this wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On.
Kenrya: It does.
Erica: This is your host, Erica, and your host ...
Erica: Two hoes making it clap.
Kenrya: Making it clap.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all. Send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com, and please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. Follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and find links to our books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at theturnonpodcast.com. Remember, The Turn On is now part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more shows you'll love at Frolic.media/podcast. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to Sondi Warner about non-traditional publishing, making consent sexy and the trio at the center of her book, "Lead Me Astray."
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Our guest today is Sondi Warner, pronouns she and her. Sondi writes LGBTQ+ polyamorous romance under the pen name, Lesserknown1. When this cis-lesbian writer isn't shipping triads, she enjoys playing video games, critiquing internet pics of other people's gumbo and spending family time with her life partner and four kids. Sondi, we're so glad that you're here with us today. Thanks for coming through.
Sondi: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.
Erica: Kenrya just read your official bio. I feel a little judged because I am someone from St. Louis that loves to make gumbo. I will never post it for people like you. But tell us in just regular-ass words what you do.
Sondi: What I do is, I basically use my platform of writing to share diverse narratives, so that people can get exposure to different types of relationships, polyamorous relationships, consensual non-monogamy. And I also like to place an emphasis on LGBTQ-plus characters. Because I think that it builds empathy when someone is able to stand in the shoes of someone else and to kind of say, "Well, this isn't too different. This isn't too unbelievable." So I write queer polyamorous romance so that I can share those diverse narratives, as kind of a form of creative activism.
Kenrya: Wow. So what's your writer origin story? Did you always know you're a writer? Were you the six-year-old writing stories on the back of everything?
Sondi: Yes, I was. I was in the second grade. I was about seven years old, actually. And my second grade teacher came up with this competition. She's like, "Hey, I want everyone in class to write this story." And I did, she entered it into a regional writing contest and I won first place. And then I went on to win first place every year for the next five years. And so, winning definitely made me feel like, "Okay, yeah. This is what I'm supposed to do. I'm a writer. I'm the writer of my parish." Clearly, I was a pretentious kid, but I was also full of myself. I kid you not. It took growing up, becoming an adult, getting into the world of ghost writing to realize, "Well, maybe I'm not quite a writer yet. But I'm going to be." So yeah, I always knew this is what I wanted to do.
Erica: I love the idea of a little Black girl being full of herself. We need more Sondis in the world. So we learned that you worked as a ghost writer for years. What made you make the leap from working on books for other people to creating your own?
Sondi: That one was an easier leap than I wanted it to be. I had been working with a client for a very long time and we had built a great rapport. We had a great relationship, a very well-paying client. Unfortunately, he decided to close his publishing company unexpectedly. Which put me back into the gig economy. Relying on finding new clients and I was having trouble with it at the time. I went through a little phase of depression behind it. And my daughter says, "Well, get away from that stuff. Get away from the sales figures, the marketing, the chasing behind clients and writing to someone else's specifications. If this is what you love doing, do this thing." It may sound like I'm making this up, but I kid you not. My 14-year-old is probably a 23-year-old trapped in a 14-year-old's body.
Sondi: And so, she sat me down with Ava DuVernay's TED talk. She's like, "Watch this." And she's like, "Listen to what she's saying. If this is what you want to do, do it because you love it. Don't do it because you have to do it. Don't do it because it's a job." That really kind of sparked it. It made me feel like there is something else that I can be doing with this. It can still be my career. But for now, I can embrace this writing for myself, just writing for leisure. Even if it doesn't necessarily go anywhere. I think I've found the most success when I got away from that model of, "This is my job. I clock in, I write, I turn it into a client." And I got into the mode of, "This is what I love to do. I get up and I write and then I post it. And I share with people and I see how they like it."
Kenrya: Wow. Look at that baby changing your life in all the ways.
Erica: I was going to say, that full of herself six-year-old later on went to birth an amazing 14-year-old. Jeez, that is so dope. So you kind of touched on this a little bit towards the end of that last answer. But the book we read last week, Lead Me Astray, was published in a nontraditional way. So why did you make that choice and can you tell us a little bit more about that process?
Sondi: Yes. So, as I pointed out, my daughter tells me, "Hey, do this thing because you love it." And at the time, she was a huge fan of this platform called Wattpad. And I had heard about Wattpad. It's been around for forever. But I really thought of it as this place for teenagers to spew their hormonal stories. But when I saw how much she was on there and enjoying it. And I knew what her interests and tastes were, which weren't really kind of those traditional teenager tastes, I was like, "Well, let me see what this is." And I decided to follow her advice and post my stories on to the Wattpad platform. So to clarify what Wattpad actually is, it is a story sharing platform where anyone can write and post their story for others to read. But in the past five to two... Three to five years, they've kind of expanded their roles into a talent agency.
Sondi: And so you see movies like “After.” You see shows like “Light As A Feather” on Hulu. These are things that kind of started at Wattpad, that kind of got an international market and expanded. They became much bigger than just a story on a free writer's platform. And so yeah, by me posting “Lead Me Astray” onto Wattpad, it actually ended up becoming really beneficial for me. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me. It was nontraditional. But I think that the publishing industry is evolving in such a way, that you're going to see a lot more authors coming out with a different way of doing things and finding success with that.
Kenrya: That's awesome.
Erica: So where did the inspiration for this story come from? We opened this call with me gushing about how unique and layered the story was, but where did the inspiration come from?
Sondi: Well, when I sat down, and it was really rapid fire, I wish that there was a way to fully put you in that moment. But if you can imagine a woman walking around her living room, just kind of in this angsty period of, "What am I going to do? I'm a writer. I don't feel like I'm sharing my work. I don't feel like I'm getting exposure that I need. I don't feel like it's going anywhere." And then if you can imagine someone saying, "Hey, sit down. If this is what you like to do, just do the thing." It transitioned so quickly from there to me grabbing a notebook and jotting down ideas and saying, "Okay, if I was going to read this book, what type of character would I want to see?" And I wanted to see a character like me, like my daughter.
Sondi: I wanted to see someone who wasn't a generic African American character. I wanted to see someone who was a Black girl in her own space, a space of success, a space of aspirations. And I wanted to see what would happen if she encountered all of these trials and tribulations that had to make her stronger. Because obviously that's all of our life stories, it doesn't matter what your background is. Aurie Edison is the daughter of a celebrity, but she still have her hardships. And so, the inspiration for her and the rest of the characters was really just kind of looking at my life and saying, "What do I want to see? What type of story do I need to tell myself to get out of this moment?"
Kenrya: So my next question was going to be, which one of the characters do you most identify with? So I think what I would just ask now is why? Because you just told us.
Sondi: Yeah. I actually identify with each of the main characters. There are three. We've got Aurie, Mys and Zyr. She wants to live her best life. But if I had to say who I related to the most, you would have to take different character traits from each of them. Because let's be clear, Aurie Edison's character is to me, this kid who is just going and getting it, just doing it, following all the rules, making all these smart choices. And then something unfortunate happens to her. I was kind of like Aurie's sister Haley. I was the one who was, when I was younger, I was the one who was like, "I want to sneak into the parties. I want to hop in the car with strangers. I want to do all the wild things." And it was my sister who was like Aurie in terms of just her temperament.
Sondi: She was like, "No, Sondi. You can't lean out over a high rise and take pictures. Because it's dangerous." But in terms of the other characters, from Aurie I take kind of that desire to live her best life. From Haley, I take that devil may care attitude. And from Mys, Mys has this kind of mysterious enigmatic type of feel. I am just as much a loner as Mys. I very rarely leave my house. And so the whole time I was writing that character, they really kind of reflected my own desire to be in this bubble, to close myself off from the world. Because the emotions of the world can sometimes be so overwhelming. And from Zyr, he's a total workaholic and I think that I probably am a workaholic too. So a little bit from everybody, definitely.
Kenrya: Love it. One of the many things we love about this book, because we love this book, is that it makes consent a natural, sexy part of the story. Why was that important to you?
Sondi: At the end of the day, what I've seen happening in pop culture is just an awareness that consent is a necessary part of relationships, of sex, of every interaction. If I go in to hug you, I'm going to ask you first, "Is it okay if I hug you?" And the reason it was important for me is because I want to take this next generation of young readers. I wrote this book really kind of geared toward older Gen Z readers. And I want it to be normal and sexy. I don't want them to think, "Okay, this is the awkward moment where I have to say whether or not I consent." I want it to be like, "You know what? This is the natural part of interacting with other people."
Sondi: Because if you care about someone, then you don't just impose, you don't just make assumptions. And if we start to amplify that message, I think that we can kind of see a change across the culture when it comes down to how we discuss sex and how we interact with other people. It should be natural, it should just be a natural part of the process.
Kenrya: Absolutely. If readers can take just one thing away with them after they read Lead Me Astray, what would you want that to be?
Sondi: The most important aspect of the story to me, is that sometimes you can do everything right, you can make all the smart decisions, and things can still go drastically wrong. But that the caveat is you go through these things, it's not a test to stop you or to bring you down, but it's kind of a test to prepare you for the next level. And if readers can take in Aurie, Mys and Zyr's story and kind of walk away from it thinking they went through a lot of stuff. But in the end they were able to accomplish their goals. Aurie was able to live her best life. Mys was able to figure out that they deserved love. Zyr was able to understand that if you care about someone, it can't be all work and 'you guys got to understand I'm working.' And if readers come away from the story understanding that you're going to go through something, but you're going to be okay, that would really make me happy.
Sondi: Because I said to you before, that when I sat down to write this book, I asked myself, "What is the story I need to hear right now? What story is it? What's going to speak to me and take me out of this dark moment that I'm in? Because I'm not working, I'm not doing the thing that I love. I'm not receiving the accolades that I want at this point in my life." The story wrote itself. And the message that I needed to hear was that you're going to go through this thing, but you're going to be okay. You're going to come out okay. So I hope that that's what readers take away from it.
Kenrya: Awesome. So what are you reading right now?
Sondi: Right now? I'm so glad you asked me that. Okay, so one of the things is... One of the things is, as a Wattpad writer, I'm also a Wattpad star. And that's just basically, it basically means I'm part of their digital talent roster. And so I spend a lot of time reading trad published books and indie published books. But I also spend a lot of time reading those books by the up and coming authors on Wattpad. And there is this fantastic series by this author and Wattpad named Graham Bower. And it's the Earthshine series, basically chronicling...
Sondi: It's kind of got a sci-fi feel to it, but you get deeper into it before you get to the sci-fi part. But it's chronically the lives of these two characters who find out that they have this special ability to, I guess, transcend. I guess that's the best word for it. And the book opens up with fantastic writing. The characters are beautiful and believable. It takes you to places, it's a travel type of book. We get to go to India, we go through France, we go to Europe. I'm enjoying that book quite a bit. It's called Earthshine, it's on Wattpad, and that is by Graham Bowers.
Kenrya: Thanks. We always like a good book recommendation, so we appreciate that. And then our last question is what's next for you?
Sondi: What's next for me? Well, right now I'm working on book two of the Overlay City series. And so, I will be done with the entire three books by, hopefully by next year. But in the midst of writing, I'm also doing my own IGTV show. It's called Behind the Scenes with LK1 and it's just basically a way for me to share and end up looking through the types of writing that I do. And also to kind of give words of encouragement and advice to other people. And along with that, I have also been gearing up to see Lead Me Astray transition into bigger and better opportunities. And I can't wait to be able to share that with my readership. So 2020, I'm looking forward to this year being incredibly busy and incredibly active, and is the kind of busy that I like. Writing, videos, doing as much as I can to share my creative force.
Erica: Yeah. You saying that reminded me of a question that I wanted to ask. Which is where did your pen name come from?
Sondi: That's funny because most people don't ask that. The Lesserknown1. Well, they say every family has a writer. My family has several writers, actually. My mom, she writes, she's a hobby writer. My sister's a published author. Well, she's indie published. My younger brother actually does a lot of the story development for video games with EA. And so, I'm kind of the lesser known one. I write queer, polyamorous romance. I'm just kind of diving into it and coming from behind the scenes, coming from the ghost writing end, more so backdoor, more so not forward facing. So the Lesserknown1 reflects just kind of that sense of you don't know me yet, but you will know me. I'm coming out of the shadow, definitely.
Kenrya: I was about to say, that's changing.
Sondi: Yeah, I hope so.
Kenrya: So, we want to make sure that we let folks know where they can find you. I see your website is lesserknown1.com, correct?
Sondi: That is correct. And you can also find-
Kenrya: Okay. And on Wattpad, it's wattpad.com... Oh, go ahead. Tell us, please.
Sondi: Oh, you're doing a fantastic job. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to over talk you. I was just going to say you can also find me on wattpad.com/user/lesserknown1, the number one, altogether. You can also find me on Twitter and on Instagram. And my handles on both of those are lesser_known_1.
Kenrya: Wonderful. See, you did a great job at it. And that ends this week's episode of The Turn On. And thank you so much for joining us.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from you all. Send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app. Follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and find links to our books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff @TheTurnOnPodcast.com. And remember The Turn On is now a part of the Frolic podcast network. You can find more shows you'll love at Frolic.media/podcast. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you soon.
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.