What Stan says about Shoe Leather Wall
Stay tuned for the latest updates and catch Stan's hot short stories in the Cleis Press collections: I is for Indecent, F is for Fetish, Caught Looking, Hide and Seek, She's On Top, Cross Dressing, and the Pretty Things Press releases: Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z, Vol. II and Sex and Candy

I didn't write Shoe Leather thinking it would be an erotic novel. I wanted to write a murder/horror/thriller - I wanted to branch out from writing straight genre erotica, but even so I didn't want to do just another murder mystery novel. So as I was pondering what to write when the inspiration for Shoe Leather came from two places. I'd just finished reading Nicholson Baker's The Fermata - about a guy who has this amazing power to freeze time and can then wander amongst people, undress them, have fun, discover stuff. I really enjoyed the book - as I do all of Baker's writing - but I was a bit disappointed that the protagonist didn't do too much with this amazing power. So like any good writer I started to plan how I would tell the tale differently. What would be my character's amazing power? As I was pondering these plot foundations I had to pick up a pair of shoes from a repair shop. While I waited for the grumpy old guy muttering in Italian to find my shoes I noticed all the shoes waiting to be picked up or repaired. I saw one pair of red high heels with the heel broken and wondered what tale they would tell about how the heel got broken. Bingo - I had the connection - make the shoes tell their tales. My power would be the ability to experience what had happened in shoes simply by putting them on - putting into play that old line about don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in his or her shoes.

The murder/horror/thriller quickly took on a sexual tone when I figured so much shoe damage would occur during violent sex - hence the ability to track down sex criminals by putting on the shoes of victims and perps. From there the story developed, allowing me to indulge my shoe/boot/foot fetish with extensive research. Shoe Leather went through five drafts and numerous refinements. Over the course of two years of trying to sell it I received some amazing encouragement. The rejection letters I collected read like glowing accolades. "What a great idea - well written - captivating" - but they all ended the same way - "too hard to sell." You see, I had my story beginning when young Violetta discovers her power as a kid dressing up for Halloween. She puts on a pair of her mom's sparkly high heels and she's instantly inside her mom's feet having sex with her dad - only little ten-year-old Violetta doesn't know it's her power - she thinks her dad's molesting her - and well publishing people/agents were too scared to push a book with apparent incest in the opening chapter. One kind agent suggested changing it to Violetta discovering her power as an adult. I was toying with that idea - because all advice is welcome and should be taken on board and considered and weighed against your artistic vision - but I just couldn't bring myself to change the story that much. I needed Violetta to go through this childhood trauma to set up all the future angst she'd deal with in juggling her power's demands.

It was then that I decided to polish Shoe Leather one more time. Not to change it but to make it better, and in that regard I owe a big debt to John Rechy - the amazing author of City of Night, Numbers and The Sexual Outlaw to name but a few of his captivating tales. John holds a master class in writing around the dinner table of his house for six or so lucky people who he selects by reading a sample of their writing. I sent the opening chapter of Shoe Leather and John invited me to be a part of the workshop. It was a wonderful experience. He reinforced my idea to tell the story my way, and jumpstarted my writing craft with invaluable, practical advice. Not to mention that his stories and anecdotes are worth their wait in gold.

Indirectly, John Rechy is responsible for Shoe Leather being published. After my final polish I sent the opening chapters with my query letter to as many agents as I could find from the literary listings. In the query letter I noted how Shoe Leather had been polished in John Rechy's workshop. Rejection after rejection of the similar vein - "well-written - great story - too risky to sell - not enough market..." piled up until I got a letter from Richard Derus of the Claudia Menza Literary Agency saying he wanted to read the entire work because Claudia had at one time been John Rechy's editor at Grove. I shipped Shoe Leather off and waited ... and waited ... and waited ... six months later I received a letter from Richard saying they wanted to represent me. Within two weeks Shoe Leather was sold to Blue Moon as an erotic novel as long as I would change the ending to make it a series. Richard, Claudia and the Blue Moon publishing legends of Barney Rosset and Neil Ortenberg thought Violetta was too good to kill off - I had originally written Shoe Leather as Violetta's suicide note. Not a problem - that was one change I was more than willing to make as by then I'd come to love writing Violetta. Which was good, because Blue Moon wanted the follow-up in a hurry.


"Dressing well and looking good are essential. A meaning in life is not." . . . Oscar Wilde

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