Jai Clare: An Interview

by Rusty Barnes

Jai Clare's short stories have appeared in The London Magazine, Agni, The Barcelona Review, Absinthe New European Writing, Fiction International and various international anthologies, including the first issue of Night Train. She lives in London. She has taught creative writing and English literature at University College Falmouth and many other places. Her areas of interest are the short story, European fiction, and the non-realist poetic novel. She writes to surprise herself with words and find out things unknown to her, putting words together to form new ideas and emotions. Once she even tried to sing in a goth band! Her novel, "Paradox Junkie", is represented by John Jarrold of the John Jarrold Agency. Her website is at

Many of these stories are placed in locales other than your native country. What makes the appeal of the foreign so powerful for you? Is it related to your characters' sense of being outsiders, or is it something else?

I think you must be right. I just get stimulated by landscapes. Cultures. Especially the wrong people in the wrong culture or landscape.

Certainly there's sex in these stories, but nothing I would venture is intended to be outright erotic. What prompted Elastic Press to list this book as erotica? How do you feel about it?

I suppose it's easier to classify and therefore sell a book if you give it a genre. It becomes a commodity whereas something unclassified is unknowable in marketing terms. How do you sell something that's not like something else? There is one story, More Moments of Sheer Joy, that I sold to an erotica anthology, but one with an emphasis on quality of writing. That's the trouble with genre fiction in my eyes—it's often an excuse for pedestrian at best and lame at worst writing. The plot is paramount—let's forget the quality of words. So to answer your question—I believe there are erotic elements to my stories but no they are not erotica per se.

From 'More Moments of Sheer Joy':

Lost in the moment, eyes closed breathing hard, lost in the moment the island purple mosaics flashing tunnels inside outside going through hands gripping feel your breath. The blue sea the sheer blue sea, islands that kiss like crabs, the swaying boat-deck, the sound of gulls. Wet wood beneath my feet. He touched my breasts his lips, his hands, his pinching fingers his fingers inside me naked now his mouth and tongue between my legs, he holds my back, holding me`with the palm of his hand, stopping me from swaying from falling-I can feel his concern for my body with every touch. This exultation of touch is what I needed. The caress of his cock, the feel of it.

I want to pay attention to your commas or lack thereof here. I love a long sentence, particularly if it's broken well as these are, the way you pile phrases on top of each other and intercut with a four or five-word sentence. I know you work hard word-to-word (we all do), but what is your conscious process when writing a scene like this, which has to convey emotion without becoming porn-y?

Initially, I am not conscious at all. However, saying that, I am conscious of trying not to write porn. So easy in anything to lapse into clichés. To genre writing. Finding the write word is hard, but if I find the right rhythm, words come easily (trying not to pun there). Juxtapositions within rhythm always makes for interesting reading. For me, one word