It’s been a while since I had the pleasure of first interviewing hotwife erotica author, Max Sebastian… a few years, in fact. Back in 2016 Max was gracious to answer a lot of my questions about his writing and publishing in the wild world of erotica, and I’m happy to share this new interview I conducted with him regarding his new book, A Lockdown Affair.
First, I would like to congratulate you on putting out another lengthy book—”A Lockdown Affair”—an actual book, versus some of the much shorter stories other authors publish. Assuming you started this at the beginning of lockdown, how long did it actually take you to write this story?
In the UK we went into lockdown on March 23, and at first everyone assumed it would be a few weeks, maybe a month or two at the most, and then the virus would be gone and things would return to normal. So, I continued writing my work in progress assuming things would probably go back to what we were used to fairly soon.
At the time, I was writing about an Uber driver, who acts as driver for his wife and her dates once they start out in the wife-sharing thing. I continued writing as normal for about a month, albeit with drastically reduced writing times — down to only a couple of hours a day, because now the kids were at home and my wife forced to work from home, and because of the lockdown there were no childcare options.
Then about mid-April, my story sputtered to a halt — I found myself writing about society the way it was lived before the lockdown, and now I was getting the sense that maybe lockdown was going to last a lot longer than we’d initially thought. Society wasn’t going to return to that easy normality any time soon. Uber, for example, wasn’t even operating anymore other than a few drivers ferrying essential workers. The pubs and clubs were no longer open, people were not allowed to go on dates, not allowed to see anyone outside their own household. I hit almost a kind of writer’s block for a week or so, and had to figure out what to write about that wouldn’t seem ridiculous, the way things were going with the global pandemic.
So, I’d say it was the beginning of May when a suitable answer came to me — that I could either write my ‘normal’ kind of wife-sharing story and set it in a certain year in the past, or I could write contemporaneous stories that actively acknowledge the changes that society are going through. I suppose I could have picked up my Uber story and set it back in 2017 and it would have been fine. I can still do that. But as a writer, I like a challenge, so I was motivated to try to write a story that took into account the whole lockdown thing.
At the beginning of May I sketched out four ideas for lockdown stories, and thought I’d probably try them out as short stories, to see how it went. I’m fairly bad at writing short stories — in that they usually take off and spin out far too long to ever be considered short stories — and A Lockdown Affair kept going, and going until it was about 40,000 words long. I sent it to one of my usual editors for an opinion, and she came back quickly with some advice that meant I had to go back and extend certain parts of the story, and during that process the story got longer still. It ended up about 80,000 words and was complete, ready for beta-reading toward the end of June.
A bit of a long way of saying, it took about two months to write A Lockdown Affair! I don’t usually write stories quite that quickly, but this one just kind of flowed well.
It’s been a couple years since our last interview, where we talked about your previous books, including one of my all-time favorites, Anarchy of the Heart. In that interview you mentioned you didn’t want to write about people cheating on each other, because of your desire to write about the uplifting side of sexuality, and not descend into misery. So I have to ask—what changed?
Well, I still don’t like descending into misery! So, that didn’t change. I actually get criticized in emails and occasional reviews for writing stories in which wives cheat and husbands are just far too forgiving. And I usually have to agree wholeheartedly with the criticism — yeah, I’m far too forgiving of cheating wives in my stories. I don’t go into the drama of broken trust as much as I should.
But on the whole, I like to write from the perspective of the husband, who usually (always!) turns out to find himself turned on by his wife’s infidelity. And because he loves his wife so much, he’s able to forgive her, and his sudden increased desire for her, sexually, is a big factor in that. It’s exciting to him, what she’s done. Sure, there’s broken trust that has to be repaired, but if he can understand her reasons for cheating, perhaps that trust can be repaired if his wife still loves him.
My stories depend on a central love between the husband and the wife. If they didn’t, then things would fall apart, and you’d have a different kind of story. The key unexpected factor is the husband being turned on by his wife sleeping with other men — if his wife knew that at the time, perhaps she wouldn’t have gone behind his back and ‘cheated’. They could have worked out a cozy hotwife arrangement. But society gave her the assumption that the husband wouldn’t accept her giving in to the temptation of another man, and so, she cheated. She hid it from her husband because she loved him and didn’t want to upset him. So, if you’re looking for it, there’s still love in there between the wife and the husband.
Recently, more of my stories have involved cheating wives, rather than husbands urging their faithful wives to get into wife-sharing, hotwife arrangements, partly because I like the suspense and the intrigue involved in the husband discovering what’s been going on, and discovering his sexual enjoyment of his wife’s misbehavior. There’s also a challenge in trying to write a story about a cheating wife while still making her seem likable enough as a character to be the central focus of desire in the story. Often I get readers who tell me I haven’t achieved it — they think the wife is ‘cold’ or ‘cruel’ or whatever, and I might not agree with them, but it makes me want to write another story that does achieve likability for a cheating wife. Perhaps it’s never entirely possible. I’ve been talking with Kenny Wright, and we’ve been writing another lockdown-set story together in the last month or two (60,000 words so far), trying to take on that challenge of creating a likable cheating wife, but it’s difficult to achieve that.
Anyway, I’m not going to stop writing straight hotwife stories driven by the husband’s desire to share his wife, but when it’s time to start a new story, I do tend to write what motivates me most at the time.
Does cheating always lead to misery? It would seem no, if we look at your newest title, but what do you think in real life?
Well, I can’t claim to be an expert in real life relationships! I know the vast majority of times, cheating probably leads to plenty of misery. It’s the minority of cases where a husband is turned on by his wife’s infidelity, and probably a minority of those cases where finding out that his wife has been cheating does not provoke anger and resentment, even if he’s turned on by the sexual element of things. But I don’t claim to write stories about the majority of cases. I’m writing about the rare instances where the cheating kicks off a sexual adventure for the husband, and while he might have a few bumps in the road to get past (perhaps a little misery here and there, and I should probably include more of that in my stories, as I’ve said), ultimately this is erotica we’re dealing with, so we’re going to be headed through some pretty hot escapades.
Of course, these stories still have to be credible enough for a reader to enjoy them. They can’t be completely unrealistic, I get that. That’s why I completely accept it when reviewers tell me the husband was too quick to forgive, or the wife comes across as too selfish and cruel. There is a fine line to be trod in putting one of these stories together. I read real life stories of people breaking out of conventional marital monogamy where I can — there’s plenty of avenues for people to share their stories of wife-sharing and cuckolding on the Internet these days — and there’s some good pointers for how things can go, even when things end up going wrong. That’s helpful to show what is possible in this kind of story, and the issues that crop up along the way. Ultimately, there seem to be plenty of couples out there who can get through the issue of cheating, without descending into complete misery. It’s just not the usual thing, given the way society is set up. But I’m okay with not writing about the usual thing.
Let’s talk about the new book. Right from chapter one, Cam finds a clue that his wife might be having an affair. For whatever reason, I wanted that to be true, while at the same timing hoping there would be another explanation, and his mind was getting the best of him. Did you always intend this to be a cheating novel, or was there some hesitation in the plot line, and maybe there could’ve been another way for this couple to uncover their new desire to explore their marriage?
No, this was always going to be a cheating story. I sketched out a few different lockdown stories, and this was the cheating one. The others looked at hotwife type arrangements, straight voyeurism, and swinging or partner swapping. I’ll be getting to those stories next, probably. But this one was cheating from the get-go. I just enjoyed building the suspense, developing the husband as a kind of detective figure, investigating the whole mystery sparking from that initial clue. Sure, there could have been another possibility, and there’s always the possibility in one of these stories that the husband ends up finding out that his wife wasn’t cheating (but as he does so, he realizes he wanted her to cheat, or at least sleep with another man with his blessing). But in this story, I had the title worked out early on, and the clue is in the title.
Without giving the plot away, Cam very quickly comes to the conclusion he will accept Marcie’s cheating as long as she still loves him, and wants to remain married to him. Was this a hint at his character development further into the story, where he goes quite far down an unexpected road, or do you think his was a natural reaction if someone were to discover their spouse being unfaithful?
I think this might be a natural reaction if someone were to discover their spouse being unfaithful and it turned them on like nothing had ever turned them on before. I think the usual thing is that, if a husband really loved his wife and discovered she’d been cheating, he’d want her to stop cheating and commit to him and to their marriage, and if she could not stop cheating, he would probably end up leaving her. But, this isn’t the usual thing. We’re writing erotica about husbands who are turned on by their wives sleeping with other men.
Of course there are marriages where someone might not like their spouse cheating, but would be willing to turn a blind eye to it, just to maintain the status quo of the marriage. That’s sadly the case where women feel trapped in their marriage by the patriarchal hegemony of modern society. Hopefully that’s changing as more women feel empowered, and society becomes more equal.
But in my stories, the husband finds the initial pain arising from his wife’s betrayal is not to do with the sex with other men (in fact, he enjoys that part), it’s heavily attached to the fact that she went behind his back, she lied or she deceived him, she broke their trust. If you can get past the trust issue, and you find your wife’s promiscuity exciting, then accepting a wife’s cheating comes down to being certain that she loves you, and she won’t cause you further pain in future by ever deciding to leave you.
I enjoyed a lot of your imagery in this book like this passage: “He could picture the excitement in his wife’s eyes as she took in the sight of a muscled Lothario climbing on top of her.” I’ll admit, I had to look that up to be reminded of the Don Quixote reference. Is that a common saying in the U.K., or are you a fan of Spanish literary fiction? Or really, how on earth did that line come to you?
Yeah, I’d say it’s fairly common in the UK, at least in British newspapers. I read a lot of news, far too much, probably, for my own good. And British newspapers are obsessed with sex, even if they have to be fairly prudish about how they describe it — we do, after all, live in a society where sex is considered ‘dirty’ and inappropriate for open discussion, in case younger members of society might read it, even if newspapers can write all they like about violence and grisly horrors that would scare the bejesus out of any children happening to see. British newspapers, particularly the tabloids, have come up with their own language for sex — celebrities are always ‘romping’ or enjoying a bit of ‘raunch’ or ‘rumpy-pumpy’, engaging in ‘energetic bedroom scenes’ or the like. It’s quite amusing how they do that.
Even in film reviews, which I tend to read quite a bit, you get characters described as ‘aging Lotharios’ as a fairly common trope — reviewers have to be careful how they review the more erotic end of the spectrum for movies. One of my early jobs as a journalist was on a film magazine, so I was involved in that kind of writing.
I hope I never find myself writing about characters ‘romping’ with each other, but the language we read does end up infiltrating the language we write with — it’s why it’s so important, if you want to be a writer, that you read a lot.
In another passage you write: “To his eyes, she was just gorgeous. It was ridiculous. If it was his subconscious trying to get him to work on re-heating their sex life, then it was being stupidly effective. She walked over to him to greet him with the usual little kiss on the cheek—and he nearly swooned, for goodness’ sake. This was his wife?” I always feel women hold the real power in the world, at least the ones who are smart enough to know how to use it, and Cam certainly discovers this. Do you feel this awareness of the attractiveness of one’s partner is something that naturally ends at a point in a relationship? Is by having some sort of an affair—cheating or an open marriage— the only way to keep this kind of passion alive?
I agree, attraction can certainly be a powerful thing — though not just for women to wield, even though that’s often the way it’s presented, since mainstream culture has been very (heterosexually) male-driven. In long-term relationships, it’s my experience that the awareness of the attractiveness of one’s partner does diminish over time — we take our nearest and dearest for granted, far too much, since we see them every day, so much of the time.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of what drew us to them in the first place, we need a little change in some way to reenergize that desire. That might be a new perfume, a special date night, some saucy new lingerie. But for a husband who has that particular kink (either knowingly or unknowingly), it might be other men showing interest in his wife that reminds him of how attractive she is, and validates his choice in a long-term partner that rekindles his desire in her.
I’d say it’s certainly not the only way to keep this kind of passion alive — there are countless books written about how to keep the passion alive in a marriage, and a therapy industry based on helping couples to achieve it — but in some cases, an open marriage in some form, including consensual infidelity, can be a way to keep that passion alive.
Your book takes place in our current global pandemic and you accurately described the lockdown for so many, from bingeing Tiger King on Netflix, to commenting on the poor people in the United States who survived COVID-19 and returned home to medical bills in the thousands, a nod to the UK national healthcare. Besides the trauma of the pandemic itself, how do you think the lockdown has affected relationships in general? Was there other material you wanted to try and work into this story?
I think the lockdown has affected relationships a lot. Unfortunately, all too frequently it’s affected relationships in a bad way, though there have been some real benefits, as well.
I wanted to acknowledge how the lockdown was bringing so much change to society just now, and so I tried to drop in a few hints, here and there, about what’s been going on. But this is erotica, and its primary purpose is to entertain readers with a central erotic purpose, so I wasn’t really in this business to get into the real misery that can be seen in lockdown.
Lockdown has brought plenty of couples closer together, and I’m sure it’s helped improve the relationships of people who weren’t spending enough time together. But in many cases, being cooped up together with minimal outlets for personal space has been difficult for couples. Even beyond the direct impact of the virus itself, there has been the stress and anxiety that comes from people losing their jobs, dealing with rent and bills without the income to cope, people dealing with a very uncertain future. There’s the whole isolation to deal with, of course, the loss of a social life. Parents having to deal with childcare with the schools and daycare facilities shut, while also jostling their own jobs.
Mental health has been a huge, largely unreported issue during the global pandemic, but it’s been quite a colossal problem.
And that’s before you even get to the relationships where there are abuse problems, where the stresses and strains flare up into real anger and violence. We’ve seen a huge uptick in reports of domestic violence, and while crime rates have been down hugely during the pandemic, this week we learned that murder rates are up something like 37% — and one thing we know about murder is that a large proportion is the result of domestic violence.
But we’re talking about erotica, here, and readers are generally looking for escapism, rather than more of the kind of shocking realism that can be gained from the TV news or the newspapers.
If Cam’s wife hadn’t cheated on him during lockdown, or as a result of the pressures that came with her job, do you think he would have forgiven her so quickly?
I think he might have, because that’s the kind of writer I am (hence the criticism, as I’ve already mentioned!). But, he probably shouldn’t have. I think I was able to use the lockdown—and the fact that Marcie was having to deal with loneliness and anxiety of being on her own a city where there was a high risk of infection, and people were self-isolating as a result—as an additional reason for understanding Marcie’s temptation to cheat on Cam.
Essentially, it’s one reason that the context of the global pandemic and subsequent lockdown are not just coincidental to this story, it’s actually affected the characters and the plot.
If you had to spend lockdown with one person and it couldn’t be your spouse, who would it be?
Well, I’d probably have to say my kids, although if you were being strict about the one person rule, it would be impossible to choose between them, of course.
If it couldn’t be my wife or kids, then I’d probably say that I’d spend the lockdown with an amazing chef, because in my household I tend to do all the cooking, and I’m a little tired of what I cook. So perhaps, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, or the great Nigel Slater. Good food can be a great way to while away the hours.
The trouble is, I think a lot of chefs are well known as fairly fiery individuals, so perhaps I’d have to be careful about which chef.
Do you think everyone should just get a free pass during lockdown to keep our sanity?
I think everyone should get a free pass anyway, but it would be a good idea during the lockdown, although you’d have to be careful to avoid the virus itself. And if the government starts trying to track everybody, to help combat infections, there would be all kinds of privacy problems to contend with. They’ve had a few problems in Korea with their tracking system uncovering people having affairs.
Who are you currently reading right now?
Right now, I’ve just finished Stephen King’s ‘Elevation’, which I loved but was very short, and the best detective novel I’ve read for a long time — IQ by Joe Ide. There’s two more IQ books already, so I’ve got those to look forward to.
In terms of erotica, I’m reading the newly-released fifth book in Kirsten McCurran’s terrific series Carol’s Trinity — “Carol’s Trinity 5: A Hotwife’s Reverse Harem“. Now there’s a series that really grapples with the complexities of a hotwife lifestyle, and gives us a serious rollercoaster ride for a husband who really had no idea what he was unleashing when he introduced his wife to the pleasures of a liberated sex life.
What’s next in your publishing pipeline?
I’m looking to put out my ‘Obsessive’ trilogy as a single ebook and paperback next, although that’s not a new story. That should come later in August 2020.
As I mentioned before, I’m in the process of writing a story with Kenny Wright which has already reached full novel length, but still needs a third act to be written before we can get it out there. It’s another cheating wife story, the culmination of discussions Kenny and I had about how to instill likability in a cheating wife character. Our story involves a guy who ends up in a coma in intensive care because of the coronavirus. When he emerges from the coma, he has amnesia and can’t remember much of the past 20 years — including the fact that he has a rather attractive wife. But while he’s renewing his relationship with her, and trying to piece together memories of his past two decades, he discovers things about his wife that suggest she might not have been entirely faithful to him over the years, and that her infidelity might not be entirely over, now that she’s rekindled things with her husband.
I also have a number of my own stories that are ongoing. Most likely, next up will be another of my lockdown stories, but I have others in the pipeline, too, which would have to be set before the pandemic.
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I would say if you haven’t started Kenny Wright’s series “Bull’s Eye” yet, then you should give it a whirl — it’s a hotwife story told from the perspective of the ‘bull’, but ends up being a little more complicated than that. The fourth story came out in May 2020, and Kenny’s currently finishing up the fifth and final story. It’s a real treat.
Also around at the moment, Sean Geist put out a new novella in May, “Cuckold’s Gift”. Sean’s so good at the angst, and of writing couples who explore the very limits of their boundaries, sometimes to their cost. And check out Arnica Butler’s “Island Game: A Hotwife Adventure“. Here’s a really cracking adventure — an established hotwife couple with firm rules for their adventures is completely challenged when they meet some unexpected people on vacation. It’s not just the wife being tempted to break the rules by another guy, the husband has his own temptation as well. Love it.
Be sure to check out A Lockdown Affair at Amazon and other places erotica is sold.
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