You may not have asked for it, but here it is: 38 pages of erotica starring New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. In A Gronking to Remember: Book One In the Rob Gronkowski Erotica Series, mild-mannered New Englander Leigh becomes so aroused by watching Gronkowski handle the ball that she embarks on a quest to land in his end zone. (A relatively safe-for-work sample: “My sewing could wait, I thought—go to hell for all I cared. Suddenly all I wanted to do was watch Gronk do his thang-thang in the zone place there. My vagina demanded it.”) I interviewed author Lacey Noonan (a pseudonym) in advance of the Patriots' Saturday playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. We talked over Gchat about the meaning of A Gronking’s scintillating climax, the sexual appeal of Flo from Progressive, and what she does when she’s not writing postmodern NFL erotica.
Slate: Why Rob Gronkowski?
Lacey Noonan: That's a question I've definitely been asking myself a lot more lately as the book gets more press. I think it's one of those things where you're zoning out and something outlandish comes into your head and you're like, "That's absolutely stupid. Wait, can I do this? Should I do this? Do I dare?"
Slate: Perhaps a better question would be, "Why not Rob Gronkowski?"
Slate: Are you a Patriots fan?
Noonan: Yes, I mean, by default. Living in New England, you can't not be. Sorry … I'm watching Gilbert Gottfried read the book on TMZ right now. This is nuts.
Slate: How's he doing?
Noonan: Well, he said the pages were stuck together, but that's physically impossible, since the book was only available for delivery in paperback form yesterday. Gilbert has some integrity issues, is what I'm saying. But the reading was pure gold.
Slate: Noted. In the story, the heroine's husband is a Jets fan. Was that a real-life detail?
Noonan: No. My husband is a Pats fan like me, but I've definitely been in tense situations before where people are rooting for other teams in the same room as you. The last Super Bowl the Pats were in, there was a Giants fan there. Got real snippy.
Slate: Does your husband give you any feedback on your work?
Noonan: He's my first editor. For the Gronk story, he gave me some pointers on the football details, which I'm a little foggy on. The names of plays and things.
Slate: Does he comment on the sexual passages, or is that all you?
Noonan: No, that's me. I control the heat.
Slate: Tell me about the story’s climax, where Rob Gronkowski spikes a football into the heroine’s butt. Was that always the plan, or did that plot point sort of evolve naturally?
Noonan: It’s hard to remember exactly how it evolved. I think I just started writing it and let it go where it wanted to. I just started writing about a woman watching Gronkowski go berserk on TV. There wasn't much plot to that, so then I added the husband. About the ending, though: I just felt the ending needed some "oomph." It's surreal, and just takes it to the level of impossible fantasy. I think I should also say that the ball doesn't exactly go into her "butt."
Slate: God, sorry. There is a fine distinction there.
Noonan: I remember reading about how Kafka didn't want the "bug" on the cover of Metamorphosis. Gronk's spike impacts in a mystical, non-physical realm of Leigh's being. Although, quickly scanning my Word doc, I found that I wrote "between her butt-cheeks." So, jury's still out on that one.
Slate: Perhaps the logistics can be clarified in a future chapter. You say this story is the first in a series. Will there be more?
Noonan: I've been ruminating on the possibilities. I really had no plan on doing a second one. I just added the "Book One..." thing as a joke at the last minute; a big thing with me are prolix titles. I guess I have to do a second one now. The clamor is deafening.
Slate: You've written other books. I think my favorite of your titles is I Don't Care if My Best Friend's Mom Is A Sasquatch, She's Hot and I'm Taking a Shower With Her ... Because It's the New Millennium.
Noonan: Yeah, that's definitely the limit a human can take from a book title.
Slate: You’ve also written a story that features an encounter between Flo from Progressive, Wendy from Wendy’s, and Jan from Toyota (Eat Fresh: Flo, Jan, Wendy, and the Five Dollar Footlong). Are you drawn to characters that aren’t typically seen as particularly sexual?
Noonan: Definitely. I believe all three of those women are talented actors, but yeah ... not your normal fare. I think it's a writer's responsibility to throw light on the dark corners. It's also a kind of reaction to the blunt ubiquity of American culture. Like, if it's going to be in my face 24/7, then I'm going to have a reaction to it, and I should.
Slate: What do you want readers to take away from your books?
Noonan: Oof. That's a tough question. Just that they enjoyed themselves reading the books. Some are more straight-up erotica, some are more post-modern fudge-ups. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I mean, TMZ wasn't having Gilbert Gottfried reading my story about a landlord that has sex with his two tenants. (Submitting to the Landlord: An Erotic Novella.)
Slate: Do you think the attention might affect the trajectory of your writing going forward?
Noonan: You can't not be affected by it. But also, people are flinging ideas at me for a sequel, and I think I have to stick to my guns. I've really been trying to write a 50 Shades of Grey bodice-ripper this whole time, but I haven't been able to. I just can't bring myself to do it. The erotica genre is just so self-serious that I have to come at it at a funny angle.
Slate: What are you doing when you're not writing as Lacey Noonan?
Noonan: I'm a web designer and coder. I've been trying to get into deeper coding, but it's hard with an infant crawling all over you.
Slate: At some point, Rob Gronkowski is going to hear about this, if he hasn't already. How do you hope he takes it?
Noonan: I hope he likes it, and reads it with the joy I had writing it.