Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Does Your Mother Know?

By Mathilde Madden

Mine does. Knows I write porn that is. In fact, my mother is pretty proud of me. I'm sure at some point we had an agreement that she wasn't meant to actually read the books – but she does. My father asks me a lot of questions about the process of writing (I think he's trying to write a computer programme to take care of the boring bits for me). My sisters read my drafts and give me feedback (though they stay away from advising me on the dirty bits).

And if anyone can find a way to embarrass my partner over what I do I'd be glad to hear it. When a national newspaper recently implied I liked to make him dress up as a werewolf for 'research' he couldn't have been happier. (Well he could, but only if I'd bought him a Wii. I fact in this picture I may have just said I would buy him a Wii - either that or I just married him.)

All my friends know. I recently got a text from an old school friend asking if I was the author of 'Mathilda and the Master'. Sadly, I'm not and I have been subsequently unable to track down the book. Everyone but everyone knows. I've never had a less than positive reaction to what I do.

But there are some limits. When I had my brush with national media fame referenced above, my mother confessed she was glad it was the Express and not the Mail so my dear old 86 year old Methodist great aunt wouldn't stumble over it by mistake. And I might be playing happy families now, but I actually wrote three books before I told my parents about my new found source of pin money. What can I say, I somehow missed the point at which I *should* have told them and then it just seemed more and more difficult.

So that's me. How about you? Do you wear a T shirt that says 'I write porn for money!' or is it just a discrete little lapel pin. If you write porn, (call it erotica if you like, but I like the word porn) how out are you about what you do? And why?

If you read on the wild side, do you tell your mother about the latest greatest smutty book you enjoyed. Do you read them on the train. Hidden inside a copy of The da Vinci Code? Do you have a stash of under-the-bed books that aren’t on display?


Alison Tyler said...

Oh, my god! The picture! The shiny red boots! The red velvet! I can't concentrate on the post at all. I'll have to come back when my head clears. But I love, love, love this picture!

P.S. What's a Wii?

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

My parents know, but they'd rather they didn't, and they'd rather I didn't. My mother bought my first novel, but I hope to gods she hasn't read it.

I told my mother-in-law that if there were any parts that were too shocking for her, my coauthor wrote those. ;-)

I have no problem telling people, though (although usually my response to "What do you write?" is [deep breath] "Romance, erotica, science fiction/fantasy, and media tie-in," which allows the listener to pretend theyd didn't hear the second word if they didn't want to.

My husband's perfectly fine with it. I bought him a shirt that says, "My wife writes romances. I benefit. Big time." Hee!

P.S. to Alison: A Wii is some sort of game system, like a Playstation. I think...

Gwen Masters said...

I'm completely out, baby. My whole family knows. My soon-to-be-hubby's family knows. My neighbors know. I don't think there is anybody around me who DOESN'T know what I do for a living.

The fact that I write erotica full-time demands that I be open about it. When someone asks me where they can find my work, boom. The secret is out before it even had a chance to become a secret.

My mother reads my stuff. She sometimes makes jokes along the lines of "Please tell me that's not fictional!" or "You get this naughty gene from ME" (of which she is entirely proud). She writes incredible stories herself, mostly romantice or humor. I'm trying to talk her into joining the dark side, but she hasn't bitten yet. *grin*

My siblings tease me about it. My grandmother reads it from time to time. My friends keep looking up my stories to see if I've written about them.

It feels really good to be so open about it, but I have run into problems from time to time -- like that one neighbor who insisted on calling the Child Welfare office on a weekly basis because she thought someone who writes smut couldn't possibly be a good mother. *eye roll*

I know I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by mostly open-minded people. But then again, if someone has a problem with what I do, they probably aren't going to be the kind of person who wants to come to my dinner parties, you know?

Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Thanks, Alison.

I feel I should point out it would probably take a gun to get me to wear boots like that *now*. Yikes. But I was very silly when I was 25. (I know - what was I thinking getting married at that age?)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I have a question. Most books have author photos in them these days. I think it would be cool if BL/Cheek had author photos (esp if it meant a day out getting tweaked for them)

What do you think?

Kate Pearce said...

oh jeez-I got married at 23-purely so that me and Mr Kate Pearce could escape both of our fiercely Roman Catholic families. We're still married btw!

Which leads nicely into the whole Mother thing. I had my usual conversation with my Mum this Sunday.

mum: "I'm very proud of you, now if you could just write something decent so that I can show it to my friends."

me: "I do write something decent mum. I make money and it sells, what's wrong with that?"

mum-"Well you know what I mean dear, something you can be proud of."

me: (steam coming out of my ears but still maintaining good British stiff upper lip) "I am proud of what I write mum and I'm not going to change it."

mum-big long suffering sigh

What can I say? She doesn't want to read it, fine but she doesn't have to put me down in the process...

ps-I love you mum-really I do

kathrynoh said...

Eek, I'd much rather be seen reading porn on the train than the Da Vinci Code!

I've never really discuss writing with my mum so it's never been an issue. My sister gives me feedback on a lot of my writing but she reckons she has to pretend someone else wrote the sex bits.

Janine Ashbless said...

My first and only conversation with my mum on the subject went like this:

Mum: I'd really like to read your book, you know Janine.

J: No you wouldn't. Believe me. You wouldn't like it: there's way too much sex.

Mum: But I'm not a prude - you know that.

J: Mum, it's PORN.

Mum: Oh!

The subject has never arisen since. Not once. My family are all born-again Christians. On the other hand they are also good middle-class English liberals and so totally approve of all forms of literary achievement.

They do not disparage what I write; they just act faintly bemused and change the subject. I think Mum tells herself I'm only dashing off the smut in my spare time while I wait to break into Proper Literature. She thinks I'm being ironic.


Nikki Magennis said...

What a gorgeous picture, Tilly!

I just spent the weekend with my family up north. Dad, being incredibly proud, brought out my book to show Grandmammy (92) at the dinner table. She started leafing through it...

Me: 'It's a dirty book, granny.'
Granny: 'Oh, good.' (silence. Moments pass while she peruses book and I down a full glass of wine).
Granny: 'I'm not sure I like the font they've done the title in. What's for pudding, dear?'

Janine Ashbless said...

Tilly, I do sort of like the idea of a proper author photo.

But that would involve waking up from their coma somebody from Marketing and persuading them to unlock the rusty box of spare change that is the Black Lace marketing budget. So it ain't going to happen, I fear.


Madelynne Ellis said...

Photos might be cool, but eek, they'd have to take millions of them until I found one I was happy with.

As for family etc, yep, all mine know and read my books and shamelessly promote me to whoever is listening, which is fantastic of them. However, there are a few teensy downsides to it...

Like when they insist on telling you the gory details of the sex you prompted with your words.


My favourite comment from a friend was: 'I thought I needed HRT, but actually I just needed your book.' Very flattering!

Of course, I do still remember the early conversations with my mam when I tried to warn her off reading them. Now I don't even try.

ME:(Just after the release of A Gentleman's Wager.) 'I'm not sure you'll like it. It has lots of explicit sex in it.'

Mam: 'Yes.'

ME: 'And lots of gay sex.'

Mam: 'Yes.'

About 4 days later...

Mam: 'It was erm...very risque,

ME: 'I did warn you.'

Mam: 'But it was a good story. When's the next one? BTW I'm lending this one to your aunt.


Anonymous said...

I like it when people say, 'Oh, you'll want to write this down,' and I humour them and get out a notebook, and then they tell me some weird, completely unsexy sex disaster story and I say, 'Um, yeah, not really right for my books.'

kristina lloyd said...

I love the picture. It's so happy!

My mum reads all my stuff (well, she thinks she does) and genuinely seems to like it. She's even lent books to her friends. Sometimes, in a darkly worried voice (her tone implying I am 6 years old and I just killed a puppy but she’ll always love me) she'll say, 'Oh, darling, that was very sexy.'

My dad (parents not together which makes it easier) is fairly bemused and accepting. He travels a lot with his partner and puts my books face-forward if he spots them at airports. I think this is an attempt to assist me financially rather than because he’s proud.

My sister’s cool about it and recommends me to her friends. Most people know what I do - though there are some situations where I think, 'Ew, I don't want to tell you, you're creepy.'

I’ve found it much easier being out these days than I used to. When I first wrote smut (back in the day – well, mid-late 90s, actually) people seemed either to find it really, really funny or they'd think I was a serial killer who frequented dungeon parties.

Which obviously I am.

Nikki H said...

My husband knows (and enjoys reading them), but not anyone else. My in-laws are ultra-conservative with their noses so high in the air I'm amazed they haven't got clouds drifting in and out of them.
My own parents think I write 'romance', which I do also, I just don't give them details. So far I've only been published online in places like Cleansheets, Tit-Elation and the ERWA, so i don't have to worry about my mum and dad finding something on the shelves just yet.
My brothers haven't a clue, though i suspect my eldest brother, who's gay, would be the only one out of the three of them to accept it.

Madeline said...

The picture! The youth! The rapture! Goegeous. Great post, too. My lovely, always blunt, critical-while-trying-to-be-supportive mom passed away in 2001. If she were alive, I know for a fact she would not be pleased. My dad 'knows' but accepts my verdict, 'You wouldn't like it, dad.' My sisters know, but only one has read Wild Card. My brothers know, I think. All my friends know, and they know my nom de plume - one friend ordered six copies (what a gal) one thought it was 'really *(&^ sexy and one, as you know, dumped me. And my two teenage daughters? The eldest knows - and she also knows it's not for her. The youngest would love nothing more than to get her hands on my book and she probably will. This issue is the same as all the other issues with her - it's only a matter of buying as much time as possible so she can continue to grow without being 'scarred for life' (her favourite comment when I say/do something 'inappropriate.' Friends/family that really want to read my work can read stories by Madeline de Chambrey, which are fairly off the wall but not erotica per se. The rest of the world knows I write 'genre' books, or 'romance'. So I guess on a scale of 1-10, I'd be an out but safe 7ish. Sort of like my gay friend who wasn't out at work but paid for work-related tickets with a cheque from a joint chequing acc't he had with his partner. I don't know a lot of men who have joint acc'ts with other men unless...but then he took a girl to the actual occasion. Who me, gay? Who me, porn writer? Speaking of 'porn' my eldest daughter doesn't bother with the details of my work, like the name of the genre, but my youngest loves to refer to me as a porn-writer, just so she can hear me squeal in my mommy-voice, 'not PORN, sweetheart, EROTICA!' Maybe it's me who is scarred for life.

Erastes said...

What a great post!

I've often encouraged my writerly friends to tell their parents.

Here's my story. I told my mother what i was writing after I finished my first fanfic. She said she "knew I was up to something but wasn't sure what" (twas ever thus, I'm afraid)

So I told her about it, and she was nicely interested but then she looked at me and said "but what's the point? You can't sell it."

After that she became my absolute number one fan, she read everything I ever wrote with the exception of the sex scenes - when I printed them I had to make the text of sex scenes "white". In one section of Transgressions there's a gap of about seven pages, she looked at me and said "really? For Seven Pages???"

For a womwn who didn't "approve" of homosexuality, it was wonderful of her to care so deeply. However I have to say that she was always convinced that my writing gay erotica was just a phase and that eventually I would write The Next Great English Novel.

I hope so too - but when I do, it will be gay erotica.

She died at Christmas and I miss her input so very, very much. I am the writer I am thanks to her.

Erastes said...

Oh - and PS

My Dad is lumbered with me now, and although he doesn't understand the whole gay thing, he quietly sits and listens as I bang on about gay men in whatever century I'm writing about.

*loves him*

Madeline said...

There are some fabulous stories in these comments, and some great ideas too. 'What's for pudding, dear?' My Gawd, another wonderful example of the English way. It may just have to become an expression of mine, now. I also like the idea of 'whiting out' the sex so family can read the book. Thanks for that, Erastes. Now, to answer your question, Mathilde. I think it would be great to have author photos. Why not? There are lots of ways to be a little mysterious, as is evidenced by the little photos accompanying our comments. A hat, sunglasses, shadows...these things help 'protect' us. Not just from Grandma's disapproval, but more to the point, from creepy wierdos (is that ego talking? I don't think so but I might be wrong) and uptight misery mongers like the one Gwen refers to, who tried to sic 'the authorities' on her for being a terrible mother. You really, really don't want those people coming around. I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in Canada they merely nod to the cops and whoosh, the kids are gone. I think it's the worst nightmare of any mom who does anything unusual. Me - I'd be happy to paste my big grin and black hat on the back of my book.
I wonder if author pictures would have any affect on sales? What, really, is the purpose of author photos anyway?

Nikki Magennis said...

'What, really, is the purpose of author photos anyway?'

I love seeing author photos. I'm incurably nosey, basically. I would like to see the insides of everybody's house and what they have in their fridge, if possible.

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, Nikki, you know you're asking for trouble.
Now, I'll have to go and take a photo of my fridge and send it off to you...

I'm nosy, too. I've said before, I want pictures of everyone's work spaces. I'd like to see closets, underwear drawers, and shoes... please, just photos of everyone's shoes...

How about that for a back-cover photo? My boot collection?

May said...

Alison, I swear I'd buy your book just for a picture of your boot collection, even if I didn't already love your books!

Thank goodness I don't have to write sex scenes. My parents might decide to stage an intervention or something. Plus, they don't know that I write.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

My mother knows but so far has declined to read any of the erotica. It's not that she's opposed to erotica--I know, for instance, that she read and enjoyed Exit to Eden--but she's opposed to erotica I wrote. And really, I don't ever want her asking that cliched question: So, how much of this have you actually done? (Not all of it, certainly, but more than Mom needs to know.)

She rejoices in my poetry publications, however, and was very pleased to hear that the latest Sophie is a romantic comedy, albeit a very sexy one, because she thinks she could handle that.

My husband and most of my friends are incredibly supportive. I've done a couple of readings supporting lesbian anthologies I've been in, and it's always a hoot for me, and I think for the other writers, to see Himself there in the audience, usually as the token male.

His brother and my sister-in-law also know; he's amused, she's just fascinated to know there's a full-time writer in the family, and is quite amused by some of the things I get to deduct on my taxes. (My sis-in-law, the accountant!)

I have one friend who's uncomfortable with it, but we've agreed to disagree. On the other hand, she actually bought my poetry books.

Portia Da Costa said...

My Dad died when I was seven, so I never really knew him, and my Mum died just before I started writing. But I know she would have been thrilled that I became a writer because she loved to read herself and always encouraged my brothers and sister and I to read. I've no doubt that she wouldn't mind at all that I write erotic romance. She'd just be so pleased and proud that I was writing... and ecstatic that I was published!

Alison Tyler said...

Most of my friends are aware of what I do, but I don't think all approve. (Ask me if I care.)

Still, I only really talk about my writing with two girlfriends. But my very best friend from childhood (I've known her since I was three) was one of my early editors.

Here are her notes on the first story I was ever brave enough to show her. I scanned it because I love her drawing of herself. (Her little stick figure and her halo!) And do I have the messiest handwriting in the world? (Scroll down to the bottom of today's post.)

t'Sade said...

Most of my family knows. Hell, I can't shut up about it, mainly because I first got my novel published, I burpled for better part of six months. Now, the responses, that was kind of sad and happy at the same time. My mother decided that a story about a mummy having sex with "psychological horror" and told pretty much all her friends. I suspect that she actually never read it and just made assumptions from my first novels (never published) which were horror in a sense.

My father was excited that I actually got published. He congratulated on me getting published and read it, said it was well written but didn't really go into details. However, knowing him, he actually is proud of what I did.

My brother read it over a weekend at the cabin. He pulled me aside to ask if I did at least most of those scene and I reminded him that I was part of a threesome, but no. Since The Mummy's Girl was basically written as a romantic stroke book, he gave me the expected review of just a tad too many sex scenes (28 chapters, 28 scenes). To my surprise, he actually posted a review on Amazon, something that my mother and father completely and utterly refused to do ("A father should never make a review on their children's works.")

Intrestingly, my mate didn't read my novel for close to six months. Then, one weekend on her many hotel visits (they know her by name and she requests hotel rooms by number), she read it. I got the impression she loved it when she basically molested me when she got back home. Now, she reads the "soft" stuff I write and occasionally asks for it.

I thought that was the end of it, until last year (five years after MG got published), when I went to my brother's wedding. To my surprise, my uncle asked how my writing was. I gave the usual answer, but he cleared his throat, "No, the porn. Any more porn?" That surprised me and I noticed the slightly uncomfortable looks by the rest of them; apparently all my aunts and uncles read my story and most of them were "interested" but didn't want to mention it. My uncle laughed at that when he told me, he caught my aunt paging through it more than once. He even offered to tell others near him about it.

So, I'd say my family knows about it, but my close family isn't that comfortable with it, but my extend family thinks its great.

kiki said...

i would dearly love to get that little lapel pin for a porn writing friend of mine. oooh but that would be fun!!! i wonder what it would cost.


Alison Tyler said...

Hi Madelynne,

What's HRT?


Nikki Magennis said...

Ah, Alison, you young chicken. HRT - hormone replacement therapy.

Unless Madelynne meant something else?

Anonymous said...

I feel I should point out, as Alison emailed me to ask, that those are *rubber* trousers on that man I have kidnapped and blackmailed into marrying me.

I would not marry a man wearing *leather* trousers (although I'm sure many of you lot would.)

Alison Tyler said...

I would not marry a man wearing *leather* trousers (although I'm sure many of you lot would.)

Um, yeah. I guess I would.
But rubber's nice, too.

(Shouldn't someone insert a joke about bouncing here?)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Hey Alison, Nikki was right, HRT is Hormone Replacement Therapy.

And as for the leather trousers... I have no intention of marrying anyone, but Mr Madelynne looks damn good in leather trousers and knee-high boots.

Janine Ashbless said...

It's a lovely photo!

Alana said...

Hi Lusties:

Nx, love the bit about your granny. That's priceless. And if you really want to know I have milk, cream, orange juice, V8, salsa, cheese, eggs, leftover chicken, sour cream, bagels, jelly, chocolate sauce, pickles, an onion, lettuce, tortillas, smoked salmon, bottled water, and several little tubs of tapioca pudding in my fridge.

Erastes, I also write gay erotica. And read quite a bit too. Where can I read your stuff????

And Mathilde: To get to the whole point of your fabulous post, my first porn publications were for Playgirl Magazine, and when the first one sold the first person I called was my stepmom (mom.) She went out and bought every single issue that included one of my smutties (nine total.) Her most memorable comment was, "Your stories are much sexier than those silly photos." Haha.

So yeah, most my family knows. My son knows, although I'd say his concept of what I write remains abstract and/or simplistic . . . Mom writes stories about people, and those people have sex. He also knows I write about gay men who have sex. Our most recent conversation related to my writing went like this:

"I'm going to write now, babe."

"OK, Mom. Book or a story?"


"Another gay one?"


Anyway, since I don't use a pen name anymore, and have no plans to adopt one again in the future, anyone who wants to know what I write wouldn't have a hard time figuring it out!

Oh, Dear Old Dad. Hmmm . . . he knows "what" I write, but I'm less sure he's actually read anything or knows "details." But I wouldn't ever say to him, "Oh, god, don't read that one!" I'd say, "Yeah, read that one, whatever."

I mean, shit: Some of my stuff is really damned good!


Nikki Magennis said...

Alana - mmmm. Suddenly I want a sandwich. Not a m/f/m or anything, just a real proper sandwich with salsa. And gherkins and mayonnaise.

Sorry, strayed off topic..can't think. Hungry.

Alana said...

Nx, soon as you said "sandwich" I got to thinking toasted bagel with melted cream cheese and ham!

Damn, sounds super good right now.


Alana said...

Gwen, are you serious? One of your neighbors called the Child Welfare office and reported you as a poor parent . . . because you write and publish porn/erotica/smut/stories? That's like something sick you'd see on Dateline or 20/20: Children removed from Sex Mom's house. I don't know your kids, Gwen, but I know my own, and I have to think as parents we're probably similar in that what we do makes us BETTER parents, as we don't promote paranoia and social ignorance but personal empowerment, empathy, social awareness, and sex ed. Like, did anyone ever report Stephen King to Child Welfare because of what he writes? Sonofa... I get so mad!