Friday, March 16, 2007

Oiling the Infernal Desire Machines of Madelynne Ellis

by Mr Madelynne Ellis

So, what’s it like being the partner, confidante and (ahem) muse of an erotic writer? It’s all questions, like one long interview, or maybe a pub quiz, and it usually starts like this…

'So does your wife work?'

'She's not my wife. We're living in sin.'

'Oh. So is she just a housewife?'

Ha! If housewives were paid the going rate for what they do, they'd earn more than company directors.

'Actually, she's a writer.'

'Oh, that's great! Has she had anything published?' (As in: what a lovely hobby for the little woman.)

'Why yes. She's got three novels in print and a fourth has just been commissioned.'

'Wow! So what does she write?'

You asked for it...

'Porn. She writes porn.'

Expressions range from Gobsmacked Goldfish to Randy Gargoyle, but at this point it's anyone's guess where the conversation goes next. All right, I've got a sadistic streak that likes baiting people. Sometimes it upsets their little world, sometimes they make vague promises to read her books. Sometimes they've even read some Black Lace already.

I'd better say that I'm immensely proud of what Madelynne does. She's following her dream. It's kinda cool to have an artist in residence, and I think she's a fucking excellent writer. I know, I'm biased. But not very biased. Plus anything that accelerates the decline and fall of western civilisation has got to be good.

But it (she) is sometimes a pain in the arse. Oh, the birth pangs of a new plotline. All the pacing and knuckling of the forehead is exhausting to watch, and so is the agonising self-doubt as editors and publishers prevaricate about accepting a submission. I've offered to form a posse and do some kneecapping, but she won't have it.

Sometimes the Artist In Residence looks up at me as I cut my bloody swathe through Resident Evil (How many guys do you know who get left in peace to play videogames all evening?) to ask a question.

'Can you think of a Japanese/Egyptian/Atlantean name?'

I sometimes feel like I'm being mined for my knowledge of everything from comics to blokey attitudes towards sex. Do you all do that to your partners? Doesn't it wear them out sometimes?

'Do you like my new notebook?' (Madelynne has a notebook fetish. Art deco, paisley, mock Victorian, whatever. Her latest has spiders all over it, and she bought two of them. I just nod and smile.)

Sometimes if she's struggling with the biomechanics of some piece of sexual athleticism, and the limbs don't fit or someone can't reach a nipple or a clit, I have to get up and be an artist's bendy model while she works out what's humanly possible and what only happens in hentai. I keep trying to persuade her to buy me a Real Doll for this kind of thing, but apparently, the job doesn't pay enough.

This all started thanks to my excellent friend Dom, who had the first book dedicated to him. And no, he's nothing like Vaughan (well maybe a teensy bit). Anyway, at that point Madelynne was between crappy imagination-killing jobs, so I agreed that if she's going to do it, she might as well do it properly. For a long time I fended off family from both sides who kept asking why the hell she didn't get a proper job, so I felt hugely vindicated when Kerri Sharp picked up A Gentleman's Wager. Now they keep asking why the hell she doesn't write a proper book. Grr.

We have an arrangement on weekends. Saturday she works, Sundays I work. It's frustrating, I guess, being a writer, suffering for your art, working in isolation, but it must beat the 9 to 5 (or in my case, midnight to midnight). Every now and then, she asks if we can swap. She'll go to work, I get the kids, the laptop, daytime TV and the struggle to find a hundred different ways to say 'penis'.

Sweetheart, sugar, you have no idea what you're saying.

'Can you read this? What do you think of it?'

Being Mr Madelynne Ellis sometimes means being a mean, curmudgeonly bastard, but as the first person to comment on her work, I've always been honest. Brutally honest. You need that, as writers, oh yes you do. You might not like it, but just look at what happens to famous authors when no one is brave enough to say 'This is crap. Go write a different book.' That sucking noise is the sound of someone vanishing up their own proverbial.

By the way, you know that question? I get it too.

'So, have you done all the things in her books?'

Yeah! We make hot monkey love every night! I'm just like those hunky love gods that live in her kinky little head! And, 'cos she's a writer, she has to watch and take notes, so I get to take home all these babes and shag them stupid. Although it's not so much of a perk since she got into yaoi...'

No, I haven't been brave enough yet. I'm saving that answer for someone really annoying.

I've just been instructed to put in a discussion point. Errmm... okay, friends, lovers and relatives of writers, artists and other dreamers. How much do you do for the writer in your life? Do you put their books at the front of the pile in service stations, or link websites? Have you ever given their book as a present to someone? Ever posted a review for a friend? How about requesting a copy for a library? Anyone ever done anything really cheeky? Like this... link.

Mr Madelynne Ellis

PS. Visit Madelynne's website


Madelynne Ellis said...

Hmm, what's this... OMG! A picture of Andy Lau. How cool is that!

Thanks sweetheart :-)


Nikki Magennis said...

Oh Mr Madelynne Ellis, you're wonderful! Thank you so much for visiting us here in our pit of seething and sordid imagineerings.

Madelynne, you're a lucky girl. Especially because of... (am I allowed to mention that? You know, that thing Mr Madelynne did?)

I will try to get Mr Nikki on later. But he's a bit shy. Your man is setting a lovely example to Partners of Smut Writers everywhere.

Do they have some kind of support group?

Olivia Knight said...

I definitely think they need a support group... I'm guilty of a few of the things Mr Madelynne said. Especially that staring into the distance and then asking bizarre questions of someone who is very legitimately concentrating on killing people. When my other half wakes up I shall sit him in front of the 'puter and go hide my head in a paper bag while he replies...

Madelynne Ellis said...

Maybe they should form one. Mind you, I'd have to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Nikki H said...

That was great to hear from the 'other half'! Welcome Mr Ellis. I know my own DH gets fed up with me sometimes being more attached to the computer than I am to his own appendage. He wouldn't dream of telling anyone what I write sometimes, because a) his job, and b) his brother's job would probably be questioned as if I were some mad, over-sexed danger to society.
Why DO people think that erotica writers perform every single sexual act they write about?????!!!

Mathilde Madden said...

Aww. I made Mr Mathilde Madden read this and he sort of nodded grumpily, which is Mr MM speak for, 'yeah, word.'

Nikki Magennis said...

'Why DO people think that erotica writers perform every single sexual act they write about?????!!!'

Well, blimey, I know I do. Twice, to make sure I get it absolutely right. And then backwards, just for the hell of it.

kristina lloyd said...

Oh, Nikki, you do the backwards thing as well? Wow, I thought it was only me who was that anal.


So Madelynne, that story of yours in Sex in Public where she goes, 'Drop your trousers, bunny boy' ... that's not about you two?

And I thought we were going to get a pic of Mr Ellis in the buff. Or was that another of my weird dreams?

Nikki Magennis said...

Backwards, forwards, sideways. Any which way but loose...

Alison Tyler said...

Kristina, you beat me to the punch line. I was typing in my head until I scrolled to your comment. Damn.

Mr. Ellis, you sound like such a superb partner—and Madelynne, you're a lucky girl. But Mr. Ellis, are you a champion Twister player? That's what I'm dying to know...

(Hey, Madelynne, that's my not so clever way to say that I'm leading G is for Games with your piece...)


Shon Richards said...

I think spouses of erotic writers should have a support group and then someone should write the erotic novel about how they support each other.

"'Can you think of a Japanese/Egyptian/Atlantean name?'"

That cracked me up.

May said...

My tummy hurts from all that laughing.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Alison - yipee! You gorgeous angel! First story in an antho is a first for me.

Mr Ellis is suitably bendy and hence an ace twister player.

Um, and Kristina - ask Nikki about Mr Ellis in the buff. I'm sure she'll point you in the right direction. Being an artist, she's an expert on that kind of thing.

kristina lloyd said...


Nikki Magennis said...

Let's just say Mr Ellis has done something much more cheeky for his good lady's career than link to her book...

Exhibit A:

Ms Ellis' website.

The polaroid.

Need I say more?

; )

t'Sade said...

Okay, the yaoi comment made me laugh a lot. It was also very well written and pointed out some of the things in my household too. My mate watches TV and drags me away from my computer every couple of hours (house rule, whoever gets up has to kiss the other) for silly things (to make me kiss her), but otherwise, at night, she focuses on her TV and decompression and I focus on my writing (I rarely need to decompress when I have a word processor, a computer, and electricity to run it).

I'm glad you are proud of her and I'm also happy you support her. I know I could never write as much as I do if it wasn't for my mate. Even with the "my goddess, how can you get depressed again!?" and the "not now, I'm not in the mood" though there are times when they have specifically asked me to write porn for a few hours, then come to bed. Wonderful way to kickstart things when we can't get in the mood at the same time.


kristina lloyd said...

Oh, Mr Ellis ... that's a mighty fine arse!

Thanks Nikki. Got any more?

Nikki Magennis said...

'Behind every great man there is a surprised woman'

How about:

'Behind every great lady smut writer there is a guy with a grin on his face'?

Nikki Magennis said...

Any more?

Not of Mr Ellis.

But seeing as its Friday, I'll share...someone just sent me a link to their blog - he's called Mr Provocateur and he's very pleased to meet you.

(That link is Not Any Kind of Safe.)

Olivia Knight said...

I'm in love with Mr Provacateur. I want to shag him senseless just so he'll describe it with that intense precision and sense of awe. Finally, a man by whom the full impact of one's most glorious sexual artistry will be appreciated and breathtakingly articulated...
Especially if that picture's of him.

DOWN, libido, DOWN! Sorry everyone - it got out of its cage again...

While we're sharing, here's a less exotic but immensely useful link that I use all the time, and which may spare Mr Madelynne being distracted from the all-important task of killing evil pixels: Thousdans of names, searchable by origin and meaning. It also offers a Random Name Generator for those fantasy-lovers like me who spend hours staring into the distance moving their mouths in funny ways trying to work out if "Nagarakan" is a convincing name for a tribe of woodcutters.

Mr Madelynne Ellis said...

Hmm. The most useful name generator ever is But thanks, you've saved me some thinking.

The support group idea could run.. "My name is Mr Janine Ashbless and I wanna testify.. my partner makes me wear a toga and a horned helmet when we make love, for research she says!" (Just kidding, I loved Cruel Enchantments). But wait, what if the Nexus widows drop by? Tentacles and goblins! Maybe us Black Lace partners have it easy after all...

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd help with the name thing...

A good Egyptian name for a taxi driver is Tut en Al Kamoot.

Boyf x

Kate Pearce said...

Just dragged Mr Kate away from re-setting the scope on my son's BB gun (or something like that?) and he said that he agreed with Mr Mad and that living with me or any writer was flipping weird.

Great post!
I think I scare Mr Kate more than you scare Mr Mad!

Felix Baron said...

Consider the plight of a Black Lace Baby who lives with a Naughty Nexus Novelist. We, Madeline Moore and I, read and comment on each other's works-in-progress and yes, it can lead to our taking tongue-tangle breaks, if not total torso twistings.

However, my Darling has grown leery of sharing, of late. You see, I read a phrase of hers that made me think, 'I wish I'd written that!' Lo and behold, a week later, I HAD. Luckily, Madeline read my plagiarism before it went off to Adam, so I was saved from that particular sin. (Other sins, she encourages)

I've considered excusing myself with, 'I didn't steal your words, Pet. I absorbed them in some moment of sweaty passion, via osmosis. I simply soaked them up, like body fluids.

My problem is, if I use that excuse, what if she demands I start using some sort of lexicographic condom?

Madeline said...

Great post! Thank you Felix, my love, for contributing. The lovely thing about living with another writer is the shared passion for language. We coo over words the way others coo over babies. A game of Scrabble is exciting. Tapping at my keyboard while he taps at his keyboard is is the sound of him tapping at his keyboard when I am not. (At least someone around here is working!) And of course, Felix says the loveliest things. I'll share this with readers of this post: Felix bought yet another full length mirror the other day. I said,'What on earth do we need another one for?' He said, 'I want to stand you between two full length mirrors so I will have an infinite number of Madeline's to love.' Ooooo...I couldn't have said it better, myself.

t'Sade said...

The only vaugely Egyptian names I came up with were Akumet and Anuset (well, and Binis and Iata, but no clue about those).

My first novel was set in faux Egypt, until a (well-meaning) friend told me that gods would never have a threesome like I had in the "real" Egypt.

So, I made up an entirely new fantasy world where gods did have threesomes in pocket dimensions. :D

Though, I don't ask my mate for names or advice. She gives me the same looks I give her when she tries to explain a programming problem in fifteen words and expects me to give her the correct answer.

Anonymous said...

A wee hint - there may be a Scot's dialect joke hidden amongst the comments above...

Boyf x

Mr Janine Ashbless said...

Well, here is Mr. Janine Ashbless, and I'm fairly sure that my better half would kill me if I turned up in a horned helmet (something the Victorians added and not authentically ancient). I will testify that contributing to this blogging thing has certainly had a knock-on effect in the bedroom - it must be those enlightening website links you all insert!

I've never had anything but positive reactions from the people I tell about what my wife does, even from my parents (which surprised me not a little). I've even persuaded a few to try a Black Lace book, and no-one has yet admitted to not enjoying them.

As far as helping Janine with her writing goes; well, I will admit to owning a full suit of chainmail, an axe and a sword, and it was whilst dressed in this way that we met (how romantic, I hear you say).

But generally it's the odd (not "occasional", definitely "odd") question that I'm called upon to answer that distracts me from Morrowind (my PC relaxation game of choice at the moment). And they're not all necessarily related to sex, or what can reach where in which position - the one that sticks in my memory from the last published book was "So, how much does it hurt if you get punched in the bollocks, like, really hard?"

Anyway, I think a support group is a wonderful idea, although it sounds like we'd just sit around our various games machines and grunt at one another over beer and pizza. Wait a minute ... that still sounds good to me!

Janine wants to get back on the machine now, so I'm being sent back to my room. Bye.

Anonymous said...

See what May said earlier...

Now that's what I call pre-emptive!

Boyf x

(you've maybe guessed)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Strangely enough Mr Madelynne was also dressed in outlandish garb when we first met. Pixie boots and a cloak as I recall (better not mention the strange accoutrements!)

Mr Madelynne Ellis said...

Are you referring to the fact that I was leading a werewolf around on a chain, in a bar full of "normal" people? Heh, I knew about the horned helmet thing, (and also that strictly speaking there's no such thing as chainmail), it just made a better image.

Thanks for all the nice comments about the post and other bits, everyone. I did get the Scottish Egyptian joke, too.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Erm, yeah, that's the one. I was trying not to get Tilly too excited.

Mathilde Madden said...

I was trying not to get Tilly too excited.

You failed at that one long ago what with all those dirty sex books you've written.

Um, perhaps that is TMI...

Erastes said...

Well if you haven't tried all the things in her books... You can always come and try out the things in mine...

Only kidding.

Wonderful entry, I really enjoyed reading it!

Mr Madelynne Ellis said...

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

"What's the difference between a straight man and a gay man?"

"Eight pints of lager."

Personally I subscribe to Freud's view that we're all on a continuum, and there's no 100% straight or gay.

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

I bought my husband a shirt that says, "My wife writes romances. I benefit, big time." Hee!