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On Episode 8 of The Turn On, we read from "Fire Baptized" by Kenya Wright and talk about our experiences playing with fire (bka being friends with exes).
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. Today, we're going to read from “Fire Baptized,” by Kenya Wright, which was published in 2012. Sit back, relax, get your wine, get your weed, get your whatever you need, and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Fire Baptized,” by Kenya Wright. An hour later, I lounged on my bed encased in a fuzzy purple robe. MeShack was positioned behind me, moving his fingers across my scalp. He'd promised to do my hair after my shower. "I wouldn't bet money on Larry being the murderer." MeShack applied beeswax to the root of my dreadlock and twisted it. "It might not be him."
"I'm ignoring that comment." I'd told MeShack everything, leaving out Zulu and Ray's monster forms. My bed wobbled as he rearranged himself at my side. His long legs barely gave me any space to sit. Two silver and turquoise pixies used his toes as jungle gyms. They climbed through them, chasing each other and laughing. He wiggled his feet and growled, and they jumped in the air, flapping their turquoise wings.
"I just don't want you to think you're safe when the killer could still be out there," he said. "Larry couldn't be..."
"Drop it, MeShack." I just wanted to relax and forget about tonight. The scent of lavender caressed my nose and rivaled the sharp smell of beeswax. All fifty candles were spread around the room. Some were placed on my bookshelf, dripping wax onto the plum carpet. Others hovered over my bed by Easy-To-Do suspension spells that I'd shoplifted from Witch-Mart.
Proofreading MeShack's essay, I put a red slash over two words. "What did you mark?" MeShack stopped rubbing his fingers through my locs.
“I'm not going to read this if you question every revision I make." I hid the pages against my chest.
“You'll proofread it or I won't do your hair."
"Hey, I'm doing you a favor, too. It's 1:00 in the morning." I turned to the next page. "And I've had a rough night."
"He didn't admit to killing her."
"What?" I reread a sentence.
"The Larry guy never said he killed her."
Sighing, I turned to the last page. "Just leave it alone."
"Just don't let down your guard." MeShack pulled my dreadlocks into a ponytail. "I'll walk you home and to your classes. You should let Ray continue to guard you."
I got queasy at the mention of Ray's name. "I won't need his services."
"Stubborn ass," he muttered under his breath.
"Narcissistic fur ball."
MeShack snarled, putting the beeswax on my dresser. I wrote down comments at the end of the essay and set it on my nightstand. He prowled toward my bookcase and scrutinized the pile of library paperbacks I'd checked out two days ago. He held one up and read the title. "Dating Yourself and How to Woo You. Are you really reading this?"
"No." I let out a nervous laugh. "Please, put it down."
"Tonight is the night, when you've taken yourself out for the second time." MeShack read the sentences that I'd highlighted. I covered my face as he continued. "Don't be nervous, because you're going to rock your world. Play your favorite music. Pour yourself some wine."
"Okay, give it to me." I jumped off of my bed, holding out my hand, when he kept reading.
"Remember, you're making love to yourself. No spell condoms necessary." I sent flames to his arm and put them out when he dropped the book. "Have you made it to second base with yourself?" He examined his scorched arm as it healed, then chuckled.
"That's none of your business."
He blurred toward me. Suddenly, his face was an inch from mine. "I'm more than willing to handle your needs." He leaned in closer. His lips touched the skin around my brand, making me shiver.
I tilted my head away. "Thanks for the offer, but I'm not interested."
"I miss hearing you scream my name." He tugged at my robe's belt. "And how you would take me in any position and push me over the edge."
I avoid his eyes. "I'm tired and I want to go to sleep."
"Just one kiss." He wrapped his hands around my waist, and I sent fire to them. Hissing, he jumped back, shaking the flames away.
"No kissing." I headed to my bed. Damn it. I should have let him do my hair on the couch.
He stood a few feet from me and licked his lips. His eyes went to predatory mode, following my every movement. The gold flecks in his eyes gleamed. I was going to have to burn him again. I could see it in his eyes. Were-cats and their constant need to poke and bat at things. Sighing, I took off my robe and climbed into bed. He noticed I was wearing one of his frat shirts and grinned as if he'd won a major competition. Out-freaking-standing. I turned off my lamp.
"Are you dismissing me?" MeShack jumped on my bed and the headboard hit the wall. "Stop. You're going to wake Ben."
"He's in my room, sleeping." His face glowed within the candles' light. "I can hear him snoring. Don't worry." Humming, he rearranged his head on my pillow, and I glared at him. "Fine. You don't want me to touch you, but I'm sleeping in here tonight," MeShack said. "Ben sleeps like a symnocardium sac..."
"What does that even mean?"
"The double-walled sac in Shifters that envelopes the heart and attaches to the breastbone. It constantly reshapes so it won't crush the heart and..."
"No. Please stop. I can't take it anymore." I covered his mouth, and he gently bit my hand. "I put Ben at the top of the bed. Ten minutes later, his head is at the bottom. The next hour, he's hanging off the edge." MeShack pulled off his jade pajama pants, exposing chocolate briefs that wrapped around his muscular thighs like skin. "Plus, he pissed in the bed. He sleeps with you tomorrow night."
"No way. You volunteered for this week." I extinguished all but three of the candles and slapped his hands as he tried to take off his briefs. "And you're not sleeping in the nude."
"Prude." He sucked his teeth.
"Can you play with my hair until I fall asleep?" He poked his lips out and unraveled his braid, and kinky curls fell around his shoulder.
"What do I get out of it?"
"I'll take two weeks of dishes."
"Deal." I buried my fingers in his curls, and silk surrounded my fingertips. He closed his eyes. Lilac filled the air. "Damn it, MeShack. You used my shampoo without asking?"
"You always steal the high-end stuff." He scooted closer to me and turned around. "Not that I approve of your thievery."
I stroked his scalp in a circular motion. A loud purring erupted from his throat. The bed vibrated. I giggled and slid my fingers to the area behind his ears. "You really think Larry isn't the killer?" I asked, trying to concentrate on something else besides the heat radiating from his skin. It was smoother than I remembered it. I squeezed my thighs together to calm myself down. Sex with MeShack would be too complicated. Be careful, Lanore.
"I don't want to talk about Larry right now." He stirred as I massaged his neck and raked my fingers through his soft hair. Curls spilled over my hands and arms. I guided my fingers down to the curve of his neck. A low rumble came from his throat. He quickly faced me. His eyes shifted to feline, glimmering within the candles' light.
"You want me to stop?" I asked. Saying nothing, he gripped my waist. His eyelids hung lazily, half closed as if he was going to sleep. "I'll massage your back if you take my dishes for two more weeks." Smiling, I glided my nails down his chest. He bit his lip and arched his back. Okay, maybe I'd gone too far. I moved my hands away from him. He growled.
"You're lucky you have on my frat shirt, or I'd tear it off." He rubbed his hand against my breasts. His hand slid down from my waist, caressing my thigh and moving toward the middle of my legs. I gasped and scooted backward. "I said a massage, not sex."
"You're single. I'm single." MeShack stopped purring.
"I still have feelings for you." I got under my blanket. He dove under the covers, pressing his body against me before I could escape. My heartbeat increased and I focused on breathing. His hands went to the bottom of my shirt. "If you don't stop, then you'll have to sleep on the couch."
"Just one kiss." His fingers pressed against mine before I could say no. My mouth opened automatically, welcoming his tongue and tasting honey. Damn, I miss this. But I dragged myself away from his soft lips.
"Goodnight," I whispered. He kissed my X brand and then the area around it. A trail of pleasure rippled down my body and ended at my toes. Maybe we can just make out for a little bit. I relaxed as he went to my ear, sucking on the tip, his tongue tracing it. I curled my toes.
"I'll get you another one." He clutched my shirt's neckline and ripped it.
"Wait," I gasped, heart pounding. The shirt flapped open, exposing my breasts. His mouth traveled to my neck, and I bit my lip, not wanting him to stop. Fuck it. I wanted him, right here and now, and I would think about the consequences tomorrow. He nipped at my chin and headed for my cleavage. Yes. Sparks flickered within my chest. I closed my eyes, relishing in the way his tongue flicked over my nipple and then encased it with his moist mouth, sucking and tugging until I dug my fingernails into his shoulders and moaned. Heat surged through me, moistening my panties.
"This is overdue." He gently bit the other nipple. "Do you know how many times I lie in my bed listening to you moan and hear the hum of your vibrator?"
"No." I kissed his brand. "Is that why you keep breaking my vibrators?"
"Yes," he hissed. "And your body belong to me.
I sighed, pulling away. "If we have sex tonight, it's just a one-time thing."
"Fine," he mumbled.
"I'm serious." I targeted his eyes. A thunderous growl shot from his throat. The skin on his face pushed forward as if something inside him was clawing its way out. His beast. I jumped back. "Does your beast understand this is a one-time deal?" I asked.
"Of course not. If it was up to him, you'd be chained to my bed post." The blanket moved as his hands slid between my thighs.
"Wait, MeShack. We shouldn't..." His fingers dove inside my panties. A lusty heat rushed between my legs. I moaned, my mind in a daze, as he stroked the area.
"My mate," he purred. I put my hands to his arm. His muscles flexed under my touch. I barely caught my breath as his finger entered me. "I love you," he whispered. I arched into his huge hand, taking pleasure in his calloused fingers as they glided between me. So good. I moaned, licking my lips, and pleasure exploded within me. He continued to thrust his finger in and out. His mouth went back to my breast, licking around my nipple and then sucking it hard. I let my head fall back and moaned, "MeShee."
"Gods, I've missed hearing that." I couldn't wait anymore. I tugged at the top of his briefs, wanting to touch the one thing I've missed so much this year. It would be hard and ready to satisfy any desire for as long as it took. The phone in the kitchen rang.
Erica: Welcome back. We just heard an excerpt from Fire Baptized by Kenya Wright. So Kenrya, this book was an interesting one, very different from my normal reading. It had fairies, and were-mongers, were-cats-
Kenrya: Is that like a mythical whoremonger? Like-
Erica: Yeah, it's a mythical whoremonger.
Erica: Well, I mean, niggas still exist, and-
Kenrya: True shit.
Erica: ... their mythical form are were-mongers.
Kenrya: Yes. I like it.
Erica: Okay, so give us a little background on the story itself.
Kenrya: This is the first book in a series, and I think it's billed as an interracial paranormal series, which is interesting. I know.
Kenrya: And it's super well written, and I like sci-fi, whatever. It took me years to admit to myself that I like sci-fi.
Erica: Well, I'm glad you do, because if this was an Erica-chosen story, if this was an Erica book... Wait. If the stories in this podcast were always chosen by Erica, it would be like Hood Love and Nigga Sex, so-
Kenrya: All of which is valid.
Erica: All of it is valid.
Kenrya: But it's a nice mix.
Erica: Yeah, so we need more, and you're bringing more by finding us these mythical paranormal, mythical paranormal stories that also feature really hot steamy romance.
Kenrya: Yes, and Black people.
Kenrya: So, this story is set in this place, and it's called Santeria. Yeah, it's basically off the religion. But basically, everyone who is not a quote-unquote "typical human," like who doesn't have powers, who is... They call them supes, supernatural. They're all corralled in this one area. It's basically like putting them all in the ghetto.
Erica: In a slum or something.
Kenrya: Yeah, and then they have a wall around where they live, and they are not allowed to go out and interact with the quote-unquote "normal people," which is fucked up, obviously. But then so even within the supes, there's a lot of different types of folks, like you mentioned. There's vampires. There's shifters, which are like shape-shifters. There's were-folk, people like werewolves, and were-cheetahs, and were-cats, and all kinds of shit. And more that I'm not thinking... Oh, and fairies, and then there are people who are like our main character, Lanore, who are called mixies. She's called a mixie because she's a mix of two different types of supes, and the mixies are at the bottom of the culture within Santeria, because of course, folks always find a way to put themselves higher on the hierarchy, and she's Black-
Erica: White supremacy just permeates
Kenrya: Every fucking thing.
Erica: Every fucking thing.
Kenrya: It is a smog.
Kenrya: So, Lanore is Black, and she's a mixie, and they have like brands on their heads, so you can look and tell that she's an... It's an X on her fucking head, and from the very first page, you see how she's treated, and how folks talk to her, because she's a mixie. So it's interesting, because while they live in this world that is not our world, the bullshit that Black women are subjected to still is a very real part of her life every single day.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Well, this was a really great... The scene that we picked was great, because I feel like it was so intimate. Like, when I first started reading it, I was just like, "This just feels cozy, and-"
Kenrya: Like lived in.
Erica: Intimate, yeah, like I could just feel myself in the space. And I really like how they started off with rubbing each other's hair.
Kenrya: Like, sitting there re-twisting her hair. Like, it shows the depth of their relationship, like how long they've known each other, that she trusts that nigga-
Erica: Because that's so personal.
Kenrya: ... in her head.
Erica: Yeah, that's so personal. So, for me, and I don't even have a lot of hair, but if you want me to just melt in your arms, rub my hair.
Erica: Against the grain of... I mean-
Kenrya: With the-
Erica: ... with the grain.
Kenrya: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:17:38] fucking your shit up.
Erica: Not against the grain. Don't be fucking up my waves. But yeah, rub my hair. Play in my scalp. Like, it was just such a sweet, intimate moment, and it just showed the depth of the friendship between the two of them. Give me a little bit of background on their living situation.
Kenrya: They live in the same apartment. They have separate rooms. They grew up together. I think both of their parents were maybe using drugs, or it was some situation which feels familiar, where they were kind of thrust together when they were super young, so they grew up together, and they had dated before, but now they just live together in the same space.
Erica: Okay. And you can tell that there's like years of intimacy built between the two of them. Quick question for you. Would you ever fuck a were-cat, or a fairy, or a-
Kenrya: I mean, I don't see why not. It’s so fucking random.
Erica: There's so many variables that have to work-
Kenrya: I know.
Kenrya: ... in order to make this question-
Kenrya: Like, everybody's got to have the-
Kenrya: ... equipment.
Erica: Sockets for the plugs.
Kenrya: Right, well you know, sex is bigger than penetrative, so I mean, fuck.
Kenrya: You know. There's probably a lot you could do-
Erica: Maybe got one of those were-cat tongues. But cat tongues are scratchy, right?
Kenrya: They are scratchy.
Erica: Ooh, but that might be good on like a back. I mean, I might not need that on my clit, but it's probably like good for a good back scratch, or-
Kenrya: I'm not mad at it.
Erica: ... some exfoliation or something.
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, and they're adults, so fuck, you're consenting, and you're figuring it out. I don't see why not. Yeah, but of course in the book, though, he's in his human form as they're starting things, but then he starts fucking-
Kenrya: But then he starts-
Erica: But then he starts coming out.
Kenrya: Growling, and yeah, yeah.
Erica: I was like, "Oh, this could be interesting." This could be very interesting.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: I like it. So, this kind of the bigger question that I have, that kind of runs through this entire scene is could you be friends with like a former... Well, so when we were thinking about planning out this episode, we were talking about... Like, the big question was can men and women just be friends?
Kenrya: Right, and we think yeah, like-
Erica: Of course, like-
Kenrya: ... I've got friends who I never would even consider fucking.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's one of those things, yeah, I think if you're... Adults can be friends. But when you take it a little deeper, could you be friends with a former fuck buddy, or boyfriend?
Kenrya: I mean, I think it's possible. Am I? No, and I think that's just because a lot of my relationships did not end-
Erica: Very well?
Kenrya: ... that well, or even if they did, like I've definitely had some where I was just like, "All right, I'm out." And they were like, "Okay," and then we just kind of went our own ways, and it wasn't like we had ill will. It was just we didn't want to spend time together anymore. If I ain't want to spend time with you as a partner, I don't really want to spend time with you as a friend.
Erica: Yeah. I don't think I have any real relationship... I'm trying to think. Yeah, most of the guys that once dated, we... I have a few that still keep in touch, but I feel like they still keeping in touch-
Kenrya: On the off chance that you're going to throw them some pussy.
Erica: Yeah, to see if it's still warm, and you might still be around on the off chance that-
Erica: ... that I want to keep it warm.
Erica: But I also feel like they don't cross that line, and I feel like the main character, Lanore here, was definitely setting herself up.
Erica: Like, what did you think was going to happen?
Kenrya: She was. She was.
Erica: Y'all, like you flat-out told this man, "I still got feelings for you."
Erica: And then he in your bed, playing in your hair. You wearing his shirt. Like, this was just a complete and... This was one of those, like, have you seen that meme? It was like, "If you went over there just to talk, why you shave?"
Kenrya: Yes, I have.
Erica: That's one of those things, like-
Kenrya: Yeah, it reminds me of... Damn, what's that movie with the Black people? Nia Long and Larenz Tate, he's like, "I just want to come up and talk." Like, nigga-
Erica: Oh, “Love Jones.”
Erica: Okay, so we had like... There's a whole group of people probably listening ready to scream that you forgot.
Kenrya: I know. Whatever. It was one of my favorite movies for a really long time. It probably still is, but I think the last... I get so frustrated, and I think it's a thing that comes up in a lot of rom-coms, where things could just be solved with a simple conversation. So I get so fucking frustrated when cats, like, leave town, and see somebody in the bookstore, and rather than just going in or hitting them up on their cell phone, they put their head down all crestfallen and go home. Bitch, be a woman and have a conversation.
Erica: Yeah, and I think that's why this takes us back to the previous episode that we recorded, where I was like, you know, "If I'm feeling something, I'm just going to tell you. Like, if I love you, I'm going to say I love you. I mean, I'm telling you because I want you to know. I need you to have all the information," you know?
Erica: So in case you see me in a bookstore, you know I love you, so come and say something.
Kenrya: Right. So much of the high jinks-
Erica: Don’t be shy nigga.
Kenrya: ... could be avoided if folks just had actual conversations, so yeah.
Erica: But, I will admit, I don't remember seeing “Love Jones.”
Kenrya: Bitch, what?
Erica: Yeah, I don't know if it's that I haven't seen... Maybe I saw it and just wasn't paying attention, but I don't think I've seen it.
Erica: I know, and we... Yeah, I know. Okay, I-
Kenrya: I mean, I saw saw it.
Erica: Winter's coming. Don't worry. I'll rectify it.
Kenrya: Girl, I got it on DVD.
Erica: Bitch, I ain't got a DVD player. What are you talking about?
Kenrya: Oh, I do. I have one.
Kenrya: That I haven't turned on in probably three years. I used to use it for like teaching-
Erica: It don't even work, probably.
Kenrya: No, it works.
Kenrya: It totally does, yeah, yeah. I used to use it to watch... like, teaching my kid Spanish, like I had little DVDs that were like, "Baby, Bebe.”
Erica: Bebe... Why are y'all Spanish from New Orleans?
Kenrya: Right? Then like that's how I taught her sign language, with DVDs or whatever, but now you can stream all that stuff, but you know, technology changes very quickly, but all that to say that I have “Love Jones,” and it lives in my heart, and I'm sorry to all of the folks who are screaming right now.
Erica: Well, they probably-
Kenrya: Bitch forgot.
Erica: They probably put your screams away and added... Pulled out screams for me-
Erica: ... like, "This bitch hasn't seen it."
Kenrya: Yeah, it's good. I mean, if you can avoid looking at Larenz Tate's fucked up ass hairline the whole movie.
Kenrya: It's so bad.
Erica: Like, y'all ain't had no good barbers?
Kenrya: I just don't understand. Is it because he a renaissance man, he don't give a fuck about his line, his shape-up?
Erica: He cut his hair with scissors.
Kenrya: Like, what the fuck? It's so terrible the whole time. But whatever.
Erica: That's the worst. Okay, so back to relationships with former friends, friends with benefits, former fuck buddies, friends with benefits. How do you feel about your partner having relationships?
Kenrya: Oh wait, no, back up. I do have one friend who I used to fuck.
Kenrya: Who we're still friends, and we're fine. We don't have no weird tension, no nothing. It works out well.
Erica: That's pretty cool.
Kenrya: But it's one, yeah.
Erica: Yeah, I'm going to have to... It's so cool that I can't remember who it is, so...
Kenrya: I don't know how to tell you without saying it.
Kenrya: I'll tell you later.
Erica: Yeah, no, yeah, you're so cool that I can't even remember.
Erica: Okay, well that's good.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Does your partner know that y'all used to-
Erica: Okay, I didn't want to, like-
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah. He knows.
Erica: You're like, "There's going to be a very special conversation in your home after this."
Kenrya: He does know, yeah, yeah, but we rarely ever see each other. We live in different cities, so...
Erica: Okay, now I know.
Erica: Now I know. I got it. I got it.
Erica: See, now the story's come back.
Kenrya: And then there was another one, right, who I was friends with, and then we were together, and then we went back to being friends, and then we got back together after we both got divorced, so that happened there too. Now we not friends no more.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, and I think the friendship... Well, I think, but do you think that the friendship was-
Kenrya: Oh, it was absolutely-
Erica: ... keeping a pin-
Kenrya: ... keeping a pin in it, 100%.
Erica: Yeah, yeah.
Kenrya: I mean, we were friends. We were legitimate friends, but-
Erica: And I think that's why people are often so hesitant to want to allow their partner... Not allow-
Kenrya: To have the person-
Erica: ... but don't want their partner to be friends with-
Kenrya: Somebody who they used to fuck.
Erica: Because they've been in that situation where-
Kenrya: They knew they was holding a pin for somebody.
Erica: But, I mean-
Kenrya: Yeah, that situation was a total like, "What if," you know? If we're ever both in a situation where we could be together, how would that be? And then it happened, and... But-
Erica: But I think also, again, it's just you know, trusting that you're not with some dick of a partner that is going to... I mean, no one wants to feel like their partner has somebody on the back burner. But-
Kenrya: And I think part of-
Erica: ... at the same time-
Kenrya: Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry.
Erica: No, you go.
Kenrya: No, please.
Kenrya: No, ma'am.
Erica: At the same time, you know, like it is what it is. Shit happens. That's the reality at times, so let's not fool ourselves. It took a while to get here, but I am firmly in the I ain't trying to keep a nigga that ain't trying to be kept camp.
Erica: So, it ain't-
Kenrya: If I got to be sitting here worried about this shit-
Erica: Yeah, if I got to worry about you-
Kenrya: ... then this ain't it.
Erica: ... then I don't want that drama.
Erica: I don't want that worry. I am raising a Black boy. I got enough shit in the world, that is constantly stressing me out, than be stressing about whether or not this nigga want to be around, or keeping his girlfriend around, because he trying... Like, if that's what you're trying to do-
Kenrya: Go do that.
Erica: Do it, you know?
Erica: So sorry, what were you saying?
Kenrya: Oh, I don't even remember no mo’.
Erica: Oh, shit.
Kenrya: Oh, I do.
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative)?
Kenrya: I was going to say that in those situations, I think when somebody is still friends, like for example, in the few situations with somebody who I was friends with, I felt the onus was on me to make sure that my partner felt comfortable, so in that case, it meant that they met that person. You know what I mean? I was up front about what our relationship was, like how you just asked about my current partner knowing about this other person. Yeah. I told him. I think he met him at some point, at a party or something, and I was very up front. Because my thing is, I don't ever want somebody else to have more information than you have, so then you out here looking crazy, like we don't communicate and I'm being a fucking asshole. So for me, I try to give... Not try. I give as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable, and I expect the same thing.
Erica: Exactly. Well, my ex, when we first started dating, because you know, I've been in this area, in the same area, for 20 years now?
Kenrya: Yeah, damn.
Erica: And I spent most of my... I grew up here, you know? Like, I came here in college, so I put some miles on this pussy in the city, you know? So, I always made it a point to tell him, because he was one of those type of people that be out, and be like, "Oh, I met somebody." You know?
Erica: And I'm like-
Erica: "Hey, full disclosure."
Kenrya: "Fucked that nigga."
Erica: Exactly, so like after a while, I didn't even have to say much more than, "Hey, full disclosure." He's like, "All right, I got it." You don't need to know details, but at the same time, I don't want you out... and smiling at somebody's face-
Kenrya: And this nigga, in his head, like, "Ooh, he don't know I fucked his wife," or some-
Erica: Yeah, exactly. Like, yeah, so I always make it a point to... I think it's always good that everybody knows what's going on and that kind of thing.
Kenrya: Yeah, absolutely.
Erica: So, like you said, you're comfortable with your partner being friends and that kind of thing.
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, I think... So two things have to happen. One is, like I said, with the whole information, and then I think the other thing is maintaining boundaries, right? Appropriate boundaries.
Erica: I was just about to say, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, so like making sure that your partner one, puts your needs around that up front, and well, at the forefront, and that if there are things that you are not comfortable with, that they set those boundaries accordingly, so that you can feel comfortable in a relationship. I think that's key, and I've absolutely been there, and had to point out, "Hey, I don't like this thing that she did," or, "this message that she left," or whatever, and knowing that this nigga is not afraid to then go and set that boundary, because it means something to me.
Erica: Yeah, because I also feel like part of the problem between MeShack and Lanore is that-
Erica: Yeah. Like, she failed to... Like, he's pushing boundaries left and right, and she's just-
Kenrya: Letting them back down.
Erica: ... letting them come down, you know?
Kenrya: Yeah, yeah, and then feigning like she don't want it. Bitch, you want it.
Erica: You want it, because if you didn't, you would say, "Nah."
Kenrya: Yeah, because if that phone hadn't rang-
Kenrya: We was about to get something steamy.
Erica: Yeah, I was definitely mad at that phone. Have you ever been in a situation, or has there been someone that, like, y'all just couldn't get right, like y'all... Things getting hot and steamy, and there's always a-
Kenrya: An interruption?
Erica: Yeah. I feel like that's God telling you, "This ain't where you're trying to go," if that's been the case, but-
Kenrya: Yeah. I don't think so. I got to think about that one. What about you?
Erica: Yeah, but it was a... I mean, looking back, it was a situation, where it was like-
Kenrya: It was definitely God saving you?
Erica: It was like, "You know what, girl? You don't need to be here doing this." It was always just, you know, "I got to run," or, "It's a bad timing," or something like that. I did end up fucking him at Ben's Chili Bowl.
Erica: Well, not at Ben's Chili Bowl, but-
Kenrya: It was at Ben's next door, right?
Erica: Yeah, yeah. But nonetheless, it was just one of those things where it was like, "I need to go. This ain't..." You know, like it was just always not-
Kenrya: Not quite right?
Erica: ... not quite right timing or something like that, and yeah, I think it was just, you know-
Kenrya: It was just God's way of telling you, "This ain't it, boo."
Erica: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Kenrya: Yeah. I don't think I have.
Erica: Because also, I think it was a situation where I could have easily been dickmitized, so it was like, "Girl, don't get a hit."
Kenrya: I mean, was that one time at least good?
Erica: Oh, it was more than one time that we did.
Erica: I mean, not more than one time there, but it was more than one time, but you know, we had enough times during the course of that situation-
Kenrya: That little window?
Erica: ... that was like, "Ooh, this ain't... Ooh," you know? Yeah, it was...
Kenrya: I'm thirsty.
Erica: Yeah, I want... She takes these long, languid sips. Did I use the term correctly?
Erica: SAT word correct? Long, languid-
Kenrya: I be thirsty. It's a lot of talking.
Erica: The sips. Okay, so do you remember someone that was your playing with fire person?
Kenrya: I don't know. Do you remember somebody who was my playing with fire person?
Erica: Okay, you know what? I think about this every time HBCU homecoming comes around. I be talking to my girls far and wide, and they be like, "Bitch, homecoming."
Kenrya: Oh, nigga. That's always bad.
Erica: Because we hit about, what, 3:00, 4:00. It's starting to get... You know, it's fall, so by about 3:00, 4:00, we starting to go into like everybody been drinking all day, the sun's starting to set.
Kenrya: Then we get into the club, and everybody start dancing-
Erica: Everybody trying to... Who going to what day party?
Kenrya: ... pairing off.
Erica: And honey, that is when the playing with fire busts out.
Kenrya: Niggas start stopping by our section.
Erica: Or, even before you go to the section, "Where y'all going?"
Kenrya: The texts, yeah, yeah.
Erica: "Here, let me give you my number." Yeah, honey.
Kenrya: Oh, God.
Erica: Yeah, you just got to-
Kenrya: I'm legit thinking about the people that that happened with last year.
Erica: Oh, shit, yeah. It's just one of those things where it's like, oh, this is a bad situation. And I always joke about like homecoming, how one, again, you got to be just solid in your shit with your... I mean, just in life, you know, going around, but I feel like you get to homecoming, and everybody start getting on that college fuck shit, and all intentions go out the window.
Kenrya: I mean, everybody's drunk. Everybody's not really trying to go straight home after the day party.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. And it's like, "Well, let's go get some food," you know? That kind of, "Or come on over and eat." Let's go. For the record, I usually have people staying with me, so-
Kenrya: You do. Yeah, yeah.
Erica: I don't get to partake in that kind of-
Kenrya: You do.
Erica: Shout-out to my family back home.
Kenrya: They do. They be shutting your shit down.
Erica: But nonetheless, I think that's really one of those situations where you see that shit playing out, in like real time.
Kenrya: Real time. Yeah, I will say in general, I'm usually not tempted, because I can even... Because you know, I only drink one glass all day, right? I have like one thing of champagne and I'm good, because I'm a fucking lightweight-
Erica: Whereas I have like a-
Kenrya: ... so I'm good.
Erica: ... thermos of like Crown.
Kenrya: You do.
Erica: Like, just straight Crown.
Kenrya: So I'm like good and sober as I'm going through the day, but that allows me to be able to remember that you was a fuck nigga then, and you a fuck nigga now, and it's easy for me to be like, "I'm good, but thank you."
Erica: "I'm good, love. Enjoy"
Erica: Yeah. Well, I definitely-
Kenrya: Yeah, a lot of that.
Erica: You definitely see that shit happening in real time, and I mean, like thankfully, we have... I think we have a good group of girlfriends, that are quick to see-
Kenrya: Swoop in.
Erica: ... shit like that going in.
Kenrya: "Mm-mm (negative). That ain't it. That ain't it."
Erica: Because I clearly remember being pulled away, as well as pulling niggas away, like... And my dumb ass be standing like, "But, I mean, we was just going to go over here and talk," and being pulled away like, "No, bitch."
Kenrya: "No, we're not doing that."
Erica: "Danger." (singing)
Kenrya: Oh, I'm like, "What are you singing?"
Erica: Come on, now. We need Erica's-
Kenrya: Song of the week.
Erica: Erica's song of the week, Erica's storytelling time. Okay, so MeShack and Lanore. We know that going back to the playing with fire, playing in hair-
Kenrya: Which is interesting, because she has fire powers, but anyway.
Erica: Yo, I thought that was so dope, how he was like fucking with her book, and she was like, "Yo, I'm going to burn his-"
Kenrya: "Burn your shit up."
Erica: Oh, so okay, the details in this, like just the tiny details in the book, but so evident in this scene, were just amazing. Big up, Kenya Wright.
Kenrya: Yeah, she wrote the hell out this book.
Erica: Like, just the there are a bunch of candles, and some of them were suspended in air, with the-
Erica: ... with a-
Kenrya: Like, this bitch's imagination.
Erica: ... "Spell I stole from Walmart, WitchMart."
Erica: It was just like how do you think of that? I thought that was so cool.
Kenrya: I know. That's why don't write fiction. Like, these bitches got me beat. It's beautiful.
Erica: Yeah, mm-mm (negative). I mean, you know, back me in the corner, I might be able to come up with an elaborate story, but it will be horrible. And then also, with him fucking around with her book, and then she does the fire up his arm. Then, like he drops it, and it stops, and he's like watching his arm heal. Like-
Erica: ... dawg.
Kenrya: You can see it all, right?
Erica: Like, that was just so... Like, it just added to the warmth in the-
Kenrya: It puts you there.
Erica: Yeah. It just really puts you there. And also, I say this constantly. My reading game has fell off, so it feels good to be reading and exploring again, and getting excited about what these authors are writing, so you know.
Erica: Good pick. Good pick.
Kenrya: Thanks, girl. I hope that our listeners get into it. It's really a dope book, and the series is good. I'm halfway through the second one now.
Erica: Yeah, so how does this... Can you tell us more about how this-
Kenrya: I don't want to tell you. I will say that MeShack is not her main love interest in the book. It's her homeboy. There's somebody else who is of another type of supe who she is spending time with. Yeah.
Erica: Oh, you suck. Well, all right.
Kenrya: I mean, you got to leave something.
Erica: Yeah. This whole scene left us just upset-
Kenrya: And that happens quite a bit in the beginning of the book. Like, there's all this really-
Erica: Because what does that-
Kenrya: ... this anticipation-
Erica: ... what is that, God saying, "Look, bitch. This ain't who you're supposed-"
Kenrya: Yes, but it happens... I mean, it happens with the guy who she ends up with as well, but it just builds this anticipation, which is really dope, so then when they finally do, for real kind of-
Erica: Do the deed.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's like, ooh, okay.
Erica: Ooh, girl, finally, thank you.
Kenrya: Yeah. Glad I waited. Yeah.
Erica: Okay, so my baldheaded hoe ass loves somebody rubbing my head.
Kenrya: I love it too.
Erica: You do?
Kenrya: Oh my gosh. I do, and my partner knows it, and just randomly does it. Like, yeah.
Erica: Yeah, you want to have me somewhere, just start rubbing my head.
Kenrya: Yeah. It's the best. It's bad when I'm sleepy, which just feels like it's always lately, because I will just go to sleep.
Erica: Well, hey, you know, he know what he's getting into. He knows what he's getting into. Okay, so, last question. Like I said, I love the detail and the little WitchMart hex, and the fire, and the playful friendship that is so apparent between the two of them.
Kenrya: Yeah, which is like... Isn't it... For me, like that's when sex is always it's best, when it can be playful alongside the sexy and all of... Like, when it's fun.
Erica: Yeah, because I am... Like, I am personally a very sexual person, but I am also goofy as fuck-
Kenrya: A fun person, yeah.
Erica: You know? So I need to be able to feel like... If I have to be sexy time Erica all the time, you're not going to get a full complement-
Kenrya: That's exhausting, and you won't get... Yeah.
Erica: ... of me, because I'm constantly with this façade. Now, if I get to authentically be a dork like I am, then you going to get all the... I'm whipping my hair. You going to get all the Erica. So is there something in this particular, I'll say book, but scene that tickles you the most, that delights you the most?
Kenrya: I really do think it's what you started with. It's that built-in intimacy that is there with them. I just think it's such a great place to start, and as you're reading the book, like you haven't seen them interact in that way until that scene, and it gives so much background as to who they are and why they talk to each other the way that they do, and sets the scene for what's comes next. So yeah, it was the ease of it, and to me, like, not just sex, but intimate relationships are their best when you can fully be your whole self, like you were saying, in it, and that really resonated with me. Yeah.
Kenrya: What about you?
Erica: This made me think of something else.
Erica: I had a situation that reminds me of this, where there was this guy, and he showed interest, and I was, "Okay, let's see what happens." We kind of had a quick make-out session, but it kind of... You know, we had a quick make-out session, didn't go anywhere, and then I kind of got my wits about me and was like, "Nah, this ain't even what I'm trying to do." So I guess you could say we're friends, not really, just kind of we see each other out and about, and now it is always so fucking weird. Like, I saw this motherfucker-
Kenrya: Oh, really?
Erica: ... the other day, and he was like, "I miss my buddy." And I was like, "Nigga, we was never friends."
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:43:42] buddies.
Erica: "Like, what the fuck? You just..." You know what I mean? So I could only think about how weird things are with MeShack and Lanore after this constant, like-
Kenrya: It's not weird.
Erica: No, what I'm saying, have you had... I introduced all that to say have you had a situation where it's like, "Yeah, you might have fingered me for like two seconds, but then I was like nah, this ain't it."
Kenrya: Yeah, I got somebody who was like that, where we kind of got into it. We never had penetrative sex. It was just kind of some fooling around, and it didn't go anywhere, and I was in a super not great place, and I remember part of me wanted it to go somewhere, but then a part of me was like, "This-"
Erica: This ain't-
Kenrya: ... "ain't it-" Yeah. So it never went anywhere, thankfully. But even now, it's still... Luckily, I don't ever really see him. He pops up from time to time on fucking Facebook, because that's where niggas like to pop up.
Erica: That fucking poke feature. Does Facebook still do the poke?
Kenrya: It does, because somebody from high school poked me, and I didn't know who the fuck that was. Turns out it was somebody who was legit my boyfriend.
Erica: And that is, like-
Kenrya: I forgot he existed.
Erica: The poke feature is like so-
Kenrya: So fucking-
Erica: ... creepy.
Kenrya: ... passive-aggressive and noncommittal. Like, nigga, say it with your chest. If you got something to say, say it.
Erica: Say it with your chest.
Kenrya: Don't fucking poke me.
Erica: Yeah, I don't do pokes. I don't do... You know what? Pokes are... The Facebook poke is the equivalent of a nigga jumping in bed and putting his dick against your booty.
Kenrya: I was going to say sending his homeboy to come holler at you in the club, but that's it.
Erica: Well, yeah, so Facebook poke is level one, sending a nigga in a club, his homeboy in a club is level two, and then like-
Kenrya: Putting his dick on you butt.
Erica: Nigga just putting his dick on your butt is level three, and it's just like-
Erica: This whole suggesting ain't where we trying to go.
Kenrya: It ain't it. I like some assertiveness.
Erica: Honey, if you want it, you going to have to tell me you want it.
Kenrya: Not on this boulevard.
Erica: Not on this motherfucking boulevard.
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative).
Erica: Okay, well, with that, that was Fire Baptized, by Kenya Wright.
Kenrya: Yeah, it was dope.
Erica: These are your homegirls, Erica and Kenrya.
Kenrya: Two hoes.
Erica: Making it clap.
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 y'all. Send recommendations for books you want us to read on the show, and all the questions that you want us to answer related to sex and all the other stuff. You can send those to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com. And please take a moment to review the show, five stars only please, and subscribe to us in your favorite podcast app. Then follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and head over to theturnonpodcast.com to find links to the books that we feature, transcripts of our shows, and info on all the guests that we talk about. Bye.
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On Episode 7.5 of The Turn On, we interview Talia Hibbert, author of "Bad for the Boss," and talk about the importance of representation and banning shame from our sex lives.
Fit Series by Rebekah Weatherspoon:
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today our guest is Talia Hibbert. A Black British author who lives in a bedroom full of books. I love that. Talia writes steamy, diverse romance because of a deeply held belief that people of marginalized identities need honest and positive representation. Talia's interests include makeup, junk food and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia, thank you so much for joining us.
Talia: Well thank you for having me. I'm really excited.
Kenrya: Yes, me too. And I love the unnecessary sarcasm.
Talia: Got to get it in there, wherever you can.
Kenrya: It makes me happy. Yes. I love it. And it comes through in your characters, but we'll talk about that later. But before we really dive in, what are your pronouns? Erica and I are both she and her.
Talia: I'm she/her too.
Kenrya: Awesome. Okay.
Erica: Great. Kenrya just read your bio but we really like for our listeners to hear from you what you would describe as what you do. So tell us what you do.
Talia: Oh gosh, this is testing how well I know my own, I suppose they call it a brand. So basically, I try to write honest, funny, heartfelt romance that represents people from all kinds of different walks of life, positions in society, cultures, as I can. Purely because I really enjoy, appreciate and have been affected by diverse romance. So that's kind of why I prioritize when I write as well. And I really focus on kind of fiery chemistry, deep emotions, and lots of lighthearted humor to balance things out.
Kenrya: That's dope. So did you always want to be a writer?
Talia: Yeah, it's strange actually. That was kind of my main, when I grow up, my dream job. But at the same time as I got older, I started to doubt that it would actually be possible. People always say that you can't support yourself being a writer or a creator and you have to be super, super special to make any money writing and things like that. So for a while I did kind of lose hope, but it was always my dream to do this.
Kenrya: Wow. So did you do other jobs before you got here? Was it just kind of always a path that led you here? And then I think, specifically, how did you come to write romance erotica books?
Talia: I'm quite lucky I think because I managed quite a straightforward path despite my doubts. So when I was younger, kind of when I was studying, I had a few different jobs. Some of them would be things like freelance writing, writing for newspapers that reflected my interest in writing. But then mainly, I worked at McDonald's and I worked at lots of coffee shops and I was a hotel room cleaner. I did quite a few things. I worked in makeup artistry for quite awhile. And then while I was at university I started out studying law because that seemed like a more reliable path. But then I realized that it wasn't working for me and I needed to do what I really wanted to do. So I went on to an English degree and that gave me more confidence. And it was in the third and final year of my degree that I actually started writing and self publishing my romance novels.
Kenrya: Wow. While you were still in school?
Talia: Yeah. Because I kind of wanted to see if I could make enough money doing that to support myself before my student loan ran out.
Kenrya: That's real. And real smart.
Erica: What was the first romance book you read?
Talia: Oh gosh, it was, I think it's called Splendid by Julia Quinn. I remember it quite well. I come from, well for most of my teenage years I lived in a very white, small town. So I go to the library and all the books were white. And there was this one book that was like a cartoon cover, I don't think, well maybe they do, but I don't know if they have those cartoon covers for Julia Quinn's books in the U.S., so you might not know what I mean. But it was like a girl sitting at a mirror and the background was just plain green and she was a cartoon. And for some reason, I felt like I could relate more to the cartoon than I could to photographed covers of people who didn't look like me. I don't know why. But I was like, "Yeah, I want that one."
Talia: And I didn't realize it was a romance, but I started reading it and I was like, "Oh my God, they're kissing." And I was like, "Oh, they're doing other things." It all went uphill from there.
Kenrya: Yes, up hill. So it's funny because the next question I was going to ask was what was the moment when you realized you weren't well represented within the genre?
Talia: The very first moment.
Kenrya: Yeah. It sounds like it. Like what did that feel like to you?
Talia: Well, like I said, I was at that point a teenager in a very white town. So it was kind of more of the same. I'd stopped expecting to be represented most of the time. Like it was more like when I was represented, I was like, "Oh, this is a nice..." I've lost my word. "This is a nice anomaly." You know?
Talia: So it was more that it took me a while to realize that I could represented in the genre. You know, I had to go online to see that there were all these other romance writers who were writing characters like me. So that was a nice moment.
Erica: When was the first time you saw yourself in erotica? And tell me a little bit about how you felt when you realized, "Hey, this is me."
Talia: I think the first time was Rebekah Weatherspoon's series, I think it's called the Fit series. And one of the books, I believe, this is completely from memory, so I could be wrong, but I believe that one of those books has an East African heroine. She might be Egyptian or something like that. And that was the first time that I read someone who kind of came close to me. There were sex scenes and she had brown skin and I was like, "Oh, I have brown skin." That was nice.
Kenrya: Dope. So I mean kind of in the same way that seeing your... We wanted to know about the first time you saw yourself and how that impacted you. I'm really interested in how writing these books impacts the rest of your life. Like how does writing romance erotica impact your own intimate relationships?
Talia: Oh gosh. Well, I don't know if it does. Which is a super boring answer. But no, I really don't know that it does. I'm just very... I compartmentalize a lot just as a person. And so when I'm at my desk writing these stories, it's all like a fantasy world that doesn't touch me. I definitely put parts of my own experiences, life and obviously it's coming from my mind, into the books. But then when I'm going about my own life, I don't think it impacts me. But then you never know with these things.
Kenrya: Right. You never find yourself re-enacting some scene that you wrote or like, "Oh wait, this is familiar."
Talia: Maybe because this seems weird to say but obviously everything I write is to my personal taste so I'm sure there's some overlap.
Erica: Well, in the book that we read for this episode, Bad for the Boss, Jennifer and Theo are an interracial couple, like in most of your books. And one of the reasons that... We were looking for a story that featured an interracial couple. However, we didn't want the interracialness of the couple to be a thing. And I think you did a really great job of making it an interracial couple, but not making this like fetishized couple. His alabaster skin and her kinky hair. Because we read a lot of that before we got to you. But in most of your books you have interracial couples. So can you explain why you like to explore these type of relationships and what role race plays in your writing?
Talia: Yeah. I think when I started out, it came from a very simple place, which is that I'm in an interracial relationship and I have been since I was 18. So when I was kind of discovering more and more books that I liked, I was going for a lot of interracial romances because that's what I was living at the time. And then when I got to writing, I feel like definitely for myself, I don't know how other writers feel about this, but when I started writing and I was learning how to craft a story, I definitely wanted to echo things that I'd been reading and studying beforehand.
Talia: So I feel like that, maybe subconsciously, influenced my decision to start writing interracial romances. And then obviously after, when I published some and there was a reaction, I realized that there's a group of readers who read interracial romances for the same reasons. That they are in interracial romances as themselves, but they dislike fetishization and common problems. So it felt like I was doing something nice for a lot of people by writing these stories. Not filling a gap, but adding to a maybe underrepresented section of romance. Although I don't know that I'd say it's underrepresented anymore. I felt like it was at the time, but definitely not now.
Kenrya: Yeah, it was surprising. I think how many books in the genre or the sub genre, I guess I should say, that we came across. But as we were saying, they're not...
Erica: They're not well written.
Kenrya: Most of them are not well... They are not as well written as yours. We love this book. And I think it takes... Maybe in part because you have been there, where you have a touch that makes these stories feel really authentic and not like it's just interracial for the sake of being interracial.
Talia: I mean, I definitely don't do that.
Talia: And I do think that when you are writing interracial romances, you have to be, or I have to be more careful than if I write a Black hero and a Black heroine or if I wrote a Black hero and heroine. Because I'm not suggesting that people of the same race can't have different perspectives and opinions when it comes to things like race and white supremacy and interracial issues like colorism. Definitely can. But at the same time, the way you move through the world is a lot more similar than the way my Black heroines and white, or in the case of this book, Asian heroes move through the world. So they don't have to have conversations about that and navigate that.
Kenrya: Okay. As a start of the book, you included a trigger warning essentially, which I really appreciated. And essentially, for folks who have not yet picked up the book, which they will, a warning that, like most of us, Jennifer has some past un-dealt with trauma that, to actually use the language you just used, it informs how she moves through the world. And that brings me to two questions. I think the first is why did you choose to lead with the warning? And then the second is why was this past trauma important to her character development?
Talia: As far as the warnings, I always try to put content notes in my books for any potentially difficult topics that I handle. And I do that because I've been really lucky to read a lot of books by authors who've done similar things, which kind of introduced me to the concept. And I always thought that it was really important and valuable because a content warning might not stop you from reading a particular book, but if you know that something has the capacity to affect you and you know that you're not in the right mindset right now, or you're not in the right place to deal with that, it kind of gives you the power to say, "Well, I'll just put that down and come back to it when I can." So it enables more people to enjoy the book, which is what I really care about.
Talia: And then as far as Jennifer's trauma informing her life, I think that the things that have happened, the things that happened to all of us in the past are obviously super important when it comes to our future choices. And when I'm planning a romance, I always kind of look at any major events in each character's past and I spend a lot of time thinking about even the smallest ways that that can impact their personality. And more importantly, or the most important aspect of that for a romance, whether it stops them entering a healthy relationship. Whether they have issues that they need to deal with before they can let themselves kind of love and trust. So for Jennifer, she had kind of, she was prickly and she had a hard time trusting people and trusting good situations because something so terrible had happened to her in the past.
Erica: It's really interesting that you brought up the prickliness of Jennifer because one of the things that stood out to us is that you wrote that Jennifer's prickly and often prickly things aren't kissed. And that made us think about the things that we tell ourselves that we do and don't deserve. Is there anything that you've preemptively counted yourself out of when it came to relationships?
Talia: Oh gosh. I think for a while I did. Yes. You kind of have these preconceptions, especially because I haven't always been treated the best. You do come to this mindset where you're like, "Well, you know, maybe I'll just have to be happy with this bare minimum thing or this because clearly I can't get this impossible ideal that I'm fantasizing about." But actually I would say that romance novels themselves helped me with that because the more you read these really wonderful relationships and the more you read about people putting their loved ones first, the more you think, well surely everyone's not making this up. Like surely this can actually happen.
Kenrya: Right. It came from somewhere.
Talia: Yeah, we didn't just like... This didn't poof. It's a thing that people have experienced. Otherwise how would we write about it? So for awhile I was kind of living in two minds where I was like, "This thing exists, but what's the likelihood of someone like me ever getting it?" So I would say that yes, I have counted myself out of things, but then at the same time. I am kind of lucky that I had, for example, a mother who is always like, "Don't you dare. You are a special rainbow. And you deserve this, this and this." So, things worked out well for me with minimal strength on my part. It all came from elsewhere I think.
Kenrya: That's the beauty of having solid relationships. It's great that she was able to give you that. Another thing that we really loved early in the book is when Jennifer is talking to her bestie Aria and Aria reminds her that there's nothing that she can do during sex that's bad as long as all parties are down to participate. That really rang true. Why was it key for you to remind this character, and by extension, your readers, of this super true thing?
Talia: I think that a lot of people, especially when you're from communities that don't always talk about sex, which I am, for multiple reasons, it's easy to kind of know what you like, but carry this secret certainty that you're a weirdo and no one else could possibly be into that. You can't say anything or ask for it because if you ever speak it a loud, everyone's going to be like "You like what?"
Talia: But the truth is that it's fine. You know, everyone might not be on board with what you like, but that doesn't mean that what you like is bad. And I don't want people to feel any kind of shame for anything that they enjoy reading or doing.
Kenrya: Word. I think that leads us to a larger question about the book in general, what do you want readers to take away? When they've read the final page of Bad for the Boss, what do you want them to walk away with?
Talia: I want them to know that good things can happen to anyone and that they should happen to everyone.
Erica: That's really dope. So, here at The Turn On, we like to ask the hard hitting questions. You know this is a setup for a bullshit question?
Kenrya: I can't even hold in my giggle. My bad. My bad.
Erica: So we'd like to ask a would you rather question to all of our interviewees. So would you rather... And one of this question is because the two characters, the two main characters in the story, have an age gap. So would you rather be in a relationship with someone 14 years younger than you or someone 14 years older than you?
Talia: Well, this is a tricky question because I'm 23 so someone
Erica: Oh hell no! Nope, not at all. Hell no. We ain't even allowing...
Kenrya: Okay. So we'll revise it. Would you rather be with someone who is younger or someone who is older? Yikes!
Talia: I think that I would rather be with someone... I mean honestly, I would rather be with someone my age. And I only say that because I'm with someone my age and it simplifies things. But if I had to choose, I would say older purely because I've been told that I'm very boring.
Erica: Oh no.
Talia: So maybe someone older would also be boring and we could be boring together.
Kenrya: Oh my gosh, no. I don't like that framing. But I do think that, well... So Erica really likes older men. So that fits.
Erica: Yeah, I like them older. So 14 years older to me is great. 14 years younger, I'm like, "Oh, you got too much energy boy. Go sit down."
Kenrya: See both sound horrid to me. I don't think I could do either one. I'm the same as you, Talia. I like somebody who is solidly within a couple of years in my age. It just, we have the same cultural references. He knows what I'm talking about all the time. It just works. I dig it.
Erica: I guess.
Kenrya: Whatever. You're a hater. Anyway, thank you so much for joining us today. It was really great talking to you and I'm really impressed. I had no idea that you're 23. Not to sound like your auntie but...
Erica: Yeah, I did not want to sound ageist. Be like, "Wow!" But I really enjoyed your book. I look forward to reading more from you.
Kenrya: And you've written so many. How many books do you have?
Talia: Oh gosh. Oh, maybe 12?
Kenrya: Like dude.
Kenrya: That's crazy. So like I write books and I go around and folks always tell me like, how can I get started? And even just like how can they be writers in general? And I have not met anyone who is at your age who is doing such a wonderful job and like cranking this stuff out. And it's so good.
Erica: You know, this leads me to ask a... Sorry, we're supposed to be wrapping up the interview, but this leads me to ask another question. Because one of the things that stood out to me in your book are you drop bits of sage advice. One of the things we note in our previous episode where we actually read the story is how Jennifer's bestie, Aria, says you're not supposed to work for the first five orgasms. Or your comment about prickly things aren't often kissed. You have such great perspective and you're able to kind of sum it up. I mean I guess this is what makes you a great writer. I'm not a writer so I'm like, "Huh, maybe this is why she's making it." But you do a really great job of summing up just great advice, great ways of thinking of things. Is this all from you or do you channel advice you've received from other people? Can you go into that a little bit?
Talia: Well first, I just want to say thank you because I am overwhelmed with all the lovely things you both just said. A lot of lovely things.
Kenrya: We mean them.
Talia: Thank you very much. I don't know. I think that a lot of my perspective is informed by the women in my family, especially by my great grandmother who was kind of the head of the family and she was a big inspiration to me when it came to starting my career. And she was, I'm not at all like her, but she just has the kind of spirit that, or had the kind of spirit, that I think I will always aspire to. And so I think a lot of that probably comes from her because she was always giving me advice.
Kenrya: Oh, I love that. You're bringing your people with you everywhere. Right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: So I'm going to close again because we got off...
Erica: I'm like, okay, I'm finished. I promise.
Kenrya: You sure? You got it?
Erica: I think so.
Kenrya: Okay, cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I really want to take a minute to tell folks where they can find you. Your website is taliahibbert.com. T-A-L-I-A-H-I-B-B-E-R-T.com. And your IG and Twitter are both @TaliaHibbert, correct?
Talia: Yep, that's right.
Kenrya: Awesome. Well, that wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On. Thanks to everyone for listening and have a wonderful day.
Talia: Thank you.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. First, please leave a review in your favorite podcast listening app. For real, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And please subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app. Follow us on Twitter @theturnonpod and Instagram @theturnonpodcast. And find links to books, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff theturnonpodcast.com. Bye.
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.