Monday, August 13, 2007

Highballs, Cocktails, Cones and Hoses: A Hard Look at Hot Jobs

by Shanna Germain

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years. I started milking cows for the farmers down the road (it seemed way better, in my fourteen-year-old mind than my other option: watching said farmers’ kids), and then moved on to stacking hay. I served up soft-serve cones for one summer, and watered plants for another. After that, it was grocery store clerk and waitress. Waiting tables soon led to slinging drinks at a bar (not to show my age, but you were allowed to do that at eighteen back then). I was a paramedic, a firefighter and part of a grounds crew. A newspaper reporter. A photographer. The list, surprisingly, continues for a while before you get to my current “smut writer” status. But you get the picture (and you get this bonus picture from FX Networks' show Rescue Me as well!).

Over the years, I learned one thing from all those jobs: how to cash a paycheck.

No, not really. I learned that work—no matter what you’re doing—can be sexy. It’s all in how you look at it (and who you’re looking at). Throwing hay in 102-degree heat was hot as hell, but so were the older college boys who drove the tractor. The older-man botanist who worked at the greenhouse had the kind of profile that made me accidentally drown more than a few poor seedlings. And as the only girl on an otherwise all-male firefighting crew…well, you can imagine the kind of trouble one could get into when you throw in hot flames, long hoses and big, shiny trucks (the trucks were never my thing, really, but the guys sure got off on them).

And bartending—that might have been the sexiest job I’ve ever had (other than smut-writing, that is). Sexy drinks. Sexy customers. Dim lights. The ba-ba-boom of the music...It was this inherent sensuality that convinced me to put together a collection of erotica based on drink names. (Shameless plug: Screaming Orgasms and Sex on the Beach will be available from Pretty Things Press in early 2008, and includes a number of our amazing Lust Biters writers).

As I wrote in my introduction: Before I became a sex writer, I was a bartender. The money was great, but that wasn’t why I stayed. I stayed for the chance to pour two fingers of Jack over ice and slide it to the sexy businessman on the other side of the bar. I stayed for the shy blonde who came in on Friday nights and blushed every time she asked for a Muff Diver. I stayed because I liked to lean in when I lit a customer’s smoke and I liked to whisper, “Here’s the Wet Dream you ordered. Let me know when you’re ready for another.”

I know I'm not the only one who thinks that jobs of all sorts are sexy. Recently, I picked up an erotic collection about hot cops and another about men in uniform. But it's not just doctors and lawyers and firemen that we're lusting after. One of my favorite stories ever (sexy or otherwise) is Maggie Gray's deliciously hot and sad, "Fuck Dying," in which the narrator has a most unusual job. And who can forget that other Maggie (Gyllenhaal) and her fantastic turn as a paper pusher in Secretary? For those of us who've always imagined that librarians really are the most seductive creatures on Earth, it turns out to be true--check out this sexy, funny and haunting video about librarians from musical group, Haunted Love.

When you're done with that, step up to Bar Lust Bites and have a seat. Here's your After Work Special. Sure, I can light that cigarette for you. But only if you're willing to talk. One thing about bartenders (and writers), we're good listeners...

So, what's sexy about your job right now? Or, if you're a writer, what sexy bits have you stolen from past or current jobs to give to your characters? And, yes, we can even talk about the unsexy bits if we must (like the time I got splattered with an entire blender of strawberry margaritas--I was picking strawberries out of my hair for weeks!).

Here, have another shot. Settle in. It's going to be a long, steamy night...


Nikki H said...

Well, as a librarian, I can honestly state that yes, I am a sexy little creature hiding behind my barcode scanner and I frequently ask all the good looking guys if they want to check out my first edition in the closed reserve...Er, no, that was just in that video, wasn't it?

Oh well.

Past jobs include barmaid (lots of bending over to pick things up whilst wearing short skirts and making crude jokes about the pumps with the male guests); sales assistant in Toys R Us (LOTS of flirting between staff, believe me!); and working for Clinton Cards where the incredibly dishy area manager once turned upt o say to me "you're being seconded to another store for the day. I'll take you" and we spent a good hot hour in his car before finally turning up at work and giving each other meaningful glances all day (I was only 17 and very swept away by the whole thing).

Apart from that, no real sexy jobs. The readers (unfortunately most of the older, male ones) flirt madly with me at work, whereas the attractive ones my own age just get a twinkle in their eye and behave appropriately.

Well, I am married, after all, so that's a good thing, isn't it?

Janine Ashbless said...

You were a firefighter, Shanna? That is awesome, and so sexy! Forget the men - a woman who can hold her own in that sort of situation is A1 crush material.

I was a library assistant too, in a university library. I would sneak the more interesting books (Lesbian SM is shelved in Sociology) out the back door - I always brought them back - to read without having to book them out under my colleagues' eyes. Apart from that it was the most boring job I've ever had.

I was a Viking for several years too. It wasn't nearly as sexy as it sounds! I worked in costume (long woollen dress + soft leather shoes), often up to my ankles in mud, lecturing up to 60 school kids and leading them through a day of interactive activities/drama (pottery, weaving, weapons drill, farming). Since we treated their teachers as Saxon Slaves for the day I did get to shout "Slave! Come here!" and order people about a lot. Unfortunately most of them were not fit young men.

As a consequence of that job I now have a very load shouting voice, fallen arches and occasional asthma - but at least the flea bites have cleared up! (We got fleas off the chickens. All the time.)

It did lead to a situation where I was at a a music festival and a man came up to me to ask "Where have I met you before?" and I was able to enquire, "Well, have you ever been a slave?" He had, and he bought me a pint.

Without doubt the sexiest job I've had is this one: writing. I get to spend all day thinking about sex, reading about sex...

Ally said...

Ooo there are so many Hot jobs. I've been lucky that most of my jobs were pretty hot.

My 1st job was on a farm too, cleaning stalls for the local harness racing horses. I guess that's the reason why I like smelly, dirty men. Nothing like a cowboy or barnkeep to get me way too hot. The smell of horses never fails to send me off into lala land.

And bartending—that might have been the sexiest job I’ve ever had (other than smut-writing, that is).

I couldn't agree more. I began at 18 also. My 1st job as a cocktail server was in a strip club. The guys sure loved teasing me by ordering slippery nipples and screaming orgasms. I worked the night club scene as a cocktail server and bartender for 15 years then a bartender for 5 at a busy Casino. 20 years sluggin slush and loved every friggin moment.

Here is a response to a poem I recieved from a friend...

Man that poem is so awesome and reminds me of my fun younger years when I worked in the hottest night club in the city as a cocktail server, I was-served-cock,
as-often-as-I-hungered-it. I could not count the amount of lovers I've had in my life, working the night club scene. I had as much fun as the men, but few were satisfying. Young men always in such of a rush-for-their-rush and push-inda-bush. I was always in-a-race-for-face and rarely got to the finishline...LOL

As the old song goes, "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end."

Now I just write about sweaty dirty men who smell like horses and can ride me till the cows come home, which is pretty cool because the stay out on the range for months at a time... LMAO

This was so much fun and brought back so many fun memories.

Thanx Shanna
I can't wait to read
Screaming Orgasms and Sex on the Beach

Craig said...

Nice post, Shanna.

I guess you could say I'm batting about .500 by job count. However, by years, the vast majority of my experience (I won't bore you by counting those years) is in the office working with computer systems. With very rare exception, it's not a very sexy job. But, as Nikki h said, that's probably a good thing as I'm married!

The resaurant I worked in, with the fairly sexy outfits the waitresses wore (at least in my opinion), was a sexy one. Pumping gas (due largely to some of the clientele) had it's moments.

Schleping boxes around a warehouse, not so much. Re-roofing old houses, definitely not. It was a great place to sweat, though. It's a bitch to get the remnants of old roofing material out of your hair, especially as long as I wore it back then.

But I digress.

Army days, well, lets say it definitely had its moments, and I was fortunate to have met my sexy wife there.

And, of course, along with my day job in the office, I have the creme de la creme, writing smut.

Any day's a good day when the smut flows freely.

Speaking of, I've got some writing to do.

mina murray said...

I used to be a librarian myself actuall, specifically, I searched for and requested hard to find items for our patrons. One of whom had a predilection (or should I say serious research interest) in classical Japanese as well as gay European erotica. And I got to see the books before he did...

Add to that I was a bartender for a while too - and every guy (and many women) flirted with me outrageously. It was great! Any job where you have something that the other person really really wants is extremely sexy, especially when you make sure they're sufficiently grateful.

Jeremy Edwards said...

What a terrific, intoxicating post, Shanna! I love it when you drink dirty to us. And I love hearing about everyone's sexy work moments (or hours).

My first job (summers spanning ages 16-18) was in a department store, and one of my co-workers was a slightly older woman (twentyish) with whom I didn't have much in common but who was fun and just plain sexy. (Let's call her Karen. Karen--Lust Bites. Lust Bites--Karen.) Nothing happened beyond G-rated goofing off in the stockroom--I don't know if it even constituted flirting--but I'll never forget when her best friend walked in on our game of throwing the empty shoe boxes around (or whatever) and kidded that she was going to tell Karen's boyfriend that she'd been "playing with the little boy." Despite the choice of words, it made me feel like a real stud.

Much later, I spent a decade and a half working in a store that catered to college students. So many of the college women were attractive to me . . . until, eventually, most of them started to look like children . . . and it was their mothers (often in tow to pay for the purchases) that became the point of interest.

Alison Tyler said...

You dirty librarians... talking about sex at this hour of the day! (Of course, I'm not always entirely sure what hour it is, or what day. It's Friday at 6, right?)

It's a bit early for drinking here, but I swear... tonight I'm ordering one of these:

Wet Dream

1/2 oz Amaretto
1/4 oz Blue Curacao
1/4 oz Creme de Banane
1/4 oz Sweet and sour
1 splash Pineapple juice
1/4 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
Mixing instructions:

Mix all ingredients except Chambord. Chill and strain mixture into a martini glass. Float Chambord to the bottom of the glass.

That is, unless I have a Long Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall

1 part Vodka
1 part Sloe Gin
1 part Southern Comfort
Orange juice


Mix together the vodka, sloe gin, and Southern Comfort in a tall glass over ice; fill with orange juice and then float 1 part Galliano on top to make the wall.

Madeline Moore said...

Terrific post, Shanna, and so far the comments are particularly well-written. I'll try to keep the standards up, although I'm still on my first pot, I mean cup, of coffee.

The list of terrible jobs I've had is long and,yes, terrible. Good jobs? As others have said today, the sexiest job is the one I have now, freelance writer of sexy stories and screenplays. Other sexy jobs? Well...

The life of a writer is a solitary one. I'd say my sexiest jobs were jobs that brought me in contact with lots of people. And those jobs were:

Production Assistant at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in radio.
I worked for the morning show in Toronto, known as Metro Morning, and every day I arranged a head set on the head of at least one great guy, since in total I probably arranged a headset on at least a dozen men. There was one gorgeous big, bearded classical pianist who was leaving on a World Tour the next day and when the host, Joe Cote, (a sexy dude in his own right) asked what he was doing on his last night in Toronto, he said 'Nothing special.' Oh how I longed to make that night something very special for him, but I was a newly wed at the time.

The guest that got me and all the other gals in the studio in a real state, hearts aflutter and cheeks flushed en masse, was, believe it or not, Dr.Spock. He was six ft. something with perfect posture and a great head of white hair. It was Valentine's Day and the other women dared me to give him some of the cinnamon hearts I was handing out, (we really disintegrated into schoolgirls) and I did! I whispered, 'May I give you some cinnamon hearts?' and he said,'Of course,' and I did so, my fingertips brushing the palm of his hand, and then ran back to the circle of female radio producers,writers and directors to giggle in giddy triumph.

Still in radio, I eventually went from regional to network, and worked with some of the great minds in Canada. Since smarts are a turn on for me, I was always eager to get to work. On the program 'IDEAS' every single freakin' producer was either a genius or darn close. I developed a mad pash for Max Allen. He liked me too, so I became 'his' production assistant, and it made me wild with joy (and weak with fear) to work alongside him. Gawd that was fun.

Any job where you have a crush on the boss is fun, isn't it? I worked in research for a firm that was headed up by a baby-faced genius and his marvelous wife. Again, the boss made me weak in the knees. I ended up doing some special projects with him as well, and I loved it. One night I found his doctoral robes in a closet and dressed up in them, flinging myself around the room in a wild dance of lust. Yum. He was adorable but of course...we were both married and's really only in writing sexy stories that one goes from 'I was in love with my boss' to 'and then I fucked him.' After all, I liked his wife, too. Oh! And my immediate supervisor was a gorgeous English woman with incredible pale blue eyes. She'd fix them on me and threaten me with 'twenty lashes' and I'd murmur 'promises, promises'. Ah, the good times...they almost make up for all the ugly, scruffy, nasty louts who yelled at me over the years...

All in all I'm happy to be home, churning out words, and focusing my adoration on my mate. It's been nice, though, taking a stroll down memory lane. There's more than one sexy story waiting to be written, starring me and my bosses from the past.

Thanks Shanna. This is fun!

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Terrific post, although I have to say I'm short on sexy jobs to contribute. Working in the vineyard was pretty good. Intense physical labor. Lots of wine. And a very intense existential boss. Yeah, that one was dangerous.

Fund-raising (despite what Dayle and I wrote in Cat Scratch Fever) wasn't sexy at all. Well, except for the last job, where I had the very hot butch boss who kept pushing the boundaries of good taste with her interest in my shoes. Since the job was otherwise dull, I kept finding excuses to wear heels to the dead-casual office and enjoy some harmless flirtation and fantasy.

But being a stay-at-home writer is the best. Any job where your husband can come home and find you naked and hard at work writing a BDSM threeway has definite merit!

t'Sade said...

For all practical purposes, I've only had one job my entire life. 22 years of it, but who's counting. I've been a computer monkey from the beginning and a computer monkey ever since. The only difference is now I have a glass office, people who "work" for me, and a larger salary. I'm also considered a manager now.

However, that said, it has been a sexy job. It is a small company with less than a dozen employees. Everyone is fairly friendly with each other and we have nice ammendities like a hot tub and a pool at the boss' house (which is one of the offices). None of us have ever really bothered with swimsuits, so I've gone skinny dipping with my coworkers on more than a few occasions and we used to share a hot tub every night throughout the winter, just four of us including me and my mate.

Since it is a small company, I also get away with being a bit more... gropey than I could get away with in a large company. Yeah, it won't get anywhere beyond the occasional hand (that whole straight and monogamous thing they have *sigh*), but it is still nice when you get set of breasts pressed against your office window to bright up your day.

And with the manager things, I have gotten a few BJ's from under the desk, from my mate of course, but it is just as good as screwing on the copy table, the binding room, the vault, the server room, and the bathroom.

Shanna Germain said...

Oh my gosh, look at all these sexy jobs! Just look at all these jobs in general. Me thinks I'm going to have to steal some and give them to my characters...


Shanna Germain said...

Nikki --

Toys R Us? I just have this image of all those super-squirters. I don't know why.

I don't know what a Clinton Cards is, but damn...that's pretty hot.

Shanna Germain said...

A viking, Janine...that's the coolest (hottest) job I think I've ever heard of. I love that there are jobs out there than I can't even begin to imagine.

I want a shirt that says that, "Have you ever been a slave?" just because I'd like to see who came up and said yes!

Shanna Germain said...

Oh, yes, Ally...horses. And the smell of summer hay. I keep trying to capture that smell on paper, but so far I haven't been able to...


Shanna Germain said...


You might have gotten the short end of the stick with that warehouse job. Ugh. Unless the boxes were full of sex toys, you're right -- you win the prize for "Job that No One Could Possibly Find Sexy."

Thank goodness you moved on! s.

Shanna Germain said...

See, I love all these sexy librarians and bartenders!

Mina, way to use your jobs to the fullest! Hehe.

Shanna Germain said...


"point of purchase." Tee. I can't imagine anyone calling you "the little boy," (I've seen those pictures!), but you're right, totally sexy in that moment!

I do see a story in the works for you though...


Shanna Germain said...

Oh Alison...

My glass is empty. Perhaps a bit of a fill up?

For all my time behind the bar, I have to admit that I rarely had anyone else serve me. I could get used to that for a while :)

Shanna Germain said...


Dr. Spock, really? I always thought it was his Volcan powers that made him so sexy. I didn't know that his human counterpart was as well...

Yes, working at home, despite all the sex on my pages, isn't as sexy as I might like, but if it was sexy, then I probably wouldn't write as much sex, so...catch-22, I guess.

:) s.

Shanna Germain said...


A vineyard is one job that I've always wanted to try my hands at...ideally in Italy or Chile somewhere. Where do I apply?

Dangerous bosses. I've had a few of those. Oh man, hard to get work done, hard to concentrate, hard to behave...


Deanna Ashford said...

It is so hard to come up with stuff to top all you guys.

I worked in a Path Lab for a number of years, in Bacteriology and that certainly isn't sexy. But we did take our own blood samples and, as we tested for sexually transmitted diseases, we did sometimes take bets on who we thought might come up positive.

I didn't meet that many dishy doctors (they were surprisingly thin on the ground) but I did fall for a patient once - he was a member of a lesser known rock band. But that is another story.

Some years later I was a manager in a shipping company in the City of London - in charge of leasing containers. There were very few women in the business so I used to be taken out to lunch a lot, and I never managed to get back to the office as the lunches often ran on late into the afternoon. There was one very dishy director of a container company and those extended lunches eventually turned into a full blow sexy affair.

Shanna Germain said...


Wow, I'm impressed! I'm so flighty about jobs, I'm like a job-jumper. And a glass office -- mmm...I could get in some kind of trouble with that, I do believe.

-goes off, dreaming about blow jobs beneath desks and glass offices and being surrounded by coworkers who do my bidding--


Shanna Germain said...


OMG, bets on how blood tests would turn out?!? That's horrible! In a wicked, wild way. Actually, I can remember being on the ambulance crew on slow days thinking, "Isn't anyone going to get hurt today? I'm bored..."

Isn't that horrible? Eeps.


Shanna Germain said...

I also meant to ask: Does anyone have any published pieces about sexy jobs? Stories you can point us to, either online or in books?

It would be fun to check them out.

Smut Girl said...

Oh, what a cool post. I'm having flashbacks. Let's see. I worked in a bakery with a very handsy Greek boss and the boy who worked the fruit stand. Mmm. Mike T. Good memories...

Waitress in a French cafe with a handsy French boss, Cocktail waitress, grocery store checker (talk about inside dating, the flirting and dating were like a square dance: switch partners!), an office temp, caterer, bookstore employee, Assistant manager of a beauty supply shop (drama, drama, drama...), Senior Admin. Asst.

I think the bakery at the indoor market and the cocktail waitress jobs had to be the spiciest/steamiest/sexiest. Lots of beautiful young people working to make school money. Horny. Dating each other, switching up. Long, late hours. Whew.

I think I have to go write now. Wish I could say I've had a job that involved a hose but...not so lucky.


Ally said...

Re-roofing old houses, definitely not.

For some, definitely "Hot" My ex would come home and I couldn't wait to get at him. (takes big whiff of tar, sweat and shingle dust) Mmmmmmm

Long Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall

The Slow comfortable screw up against the wall was the first drink request I got from my students when I taught bartending for a year. But to make it "Long" you have to add a splash of tequilla.

Shanna Germain said...
I also meant to ask: Does anyone have any published pieces about sexy jobs?

Not yet, but after this posting I plan to get right on that. My, how Lust Bites can inspire.
Mmm... remembering doing the bump and grind on the dance floor behind some hot hard male with 12 or more drinks on my tray held high above me on my fingertips. I worked and played at the same time. Customers loved it and I made amazing money.

Kate Pearce said...

Perhaps I should just go ahead and drum myself out of the pantheon of erotic romance writers I'm so flipping dull.


Pie and Mash shop? Not sexy at all

Inland Revenue? Surprisingly sexy-the wildest office parties and day trips to France I have ever been on/to.

Motherhood-not sexy, although I do have some serious adolescent admirers in McDonalds, Kinko's and my eldest sons weight class.

erotic writer? well it makes me feel sexy if that helps!

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Sigh. I've never had any really sexy jobs except for this one (the writing gig--and since it doesn't involve makeup or high heels, sometimes it doesn't feel all that sexy!). Other than a few teenage jobs, pretty much everything I've done is been in some stage of publishing: from writer to copy editor/proofreader to project editor to production editor to designer to print shop flunkie to bookseller (although not in that order).

But often, as many of us have shown here, it's not the job, but the attitude that makes the work sexy. Teresa noted that in Cat Scratch Fever, we made fundraising sexy. Heck, in "Slow Burn" (Sex in Uniform), we made firespotting sexy!

mina murray said...

Believe it or not, I'm actually working on a bartender story at the moment: it should be posted on my website in a couple of weeks (if all goes to plan...)

Anne Tourney said...

I'm with you all the way on the firefighters and paramedics, Shanna -- it's not just those bodies, but the idea of strong men and women who are out there ready to rescue you. (Although in my case, I'd probably be rescued from having ten or twelve too many Muff Divers :).)

I was lucky enough to work in an ER for two years, and I don't think I ever stopped salivating over the firemen, paramedics, and ER docs. And the residents! Someone take me to the decontamination shower -- my thoughts were too wild and filthy for sane human company!

Watching a group of doctors, nurses, and paramedics work over a patient during a code, seeing how competent and calm and professional they were in such terrifying situations, was always a huge turn-on to me.

Unfortunately, my job at the ER was neither glamorous nor sexy. I registered and discharged patients, and helped them apply for financial assistance if they needed it. But I got to do some very intense observation!

This was a great post, Shanna.

I'm Crystal, said...

Until I read this article...which is fabulous by the way. I hadn't realized how many erotic bits I have written inspired by my previous work experience.

I have four stories about being a designer/costumer, which was my first job after university. All of those sexy models I had to undress and dress at the fashion shows in NYC were a great turn on.

Then there were the art classes at fashion school, again, staring at beautiful figure models all day. Oh, I do miss college!

I was a nanny in college for a nudist family. Lucky for me, all family members looked decent out of their clothes, some of them more than decent.

Now I work at the front desk of a four diamond hotel and every once and a while a very hot couple walks through the lobby doors that ignites my imagination...but mostly they are normal, not so sexy people, tired and cranky from traveling, that only inspire me to thoughts of strangulation.

I worked for a year as a reporter/photographer, which sounds like a sexy job, but it wasn’t.

My husband thinks that writing smut is the sexiest job I've ever had and I would have to agree.

Oh! and it is rather hot to think of you as a firefighter...a woman with a hose and all that, must admit...;-)

Shanna Germain said...

Wow, this was such a great discussion, and now I'm seriously inspired to write more about my work stuff. Just when you think you've tapped it all... :)

Kate--your bit made me laugh, with your admirers.

Dayle--Ok, now I have to read that one. Firespotting. I'm in.

Anne--Yeah, there are def. bits about the ER stuff that were so far from sexy. I mean, talk about seeing people at the worst moments in their lives...

Crystal--Hmm...I see a lesbian firefighter story coming up!

Thanks all! I enjoyed hearing all your stories. Now, I can't wait to read more about these jobs in your new pieces of fiction. --hinthint--

Best, s.

Angell said...

My current day job isn't that sexy, but does have it's moments - like when my hot boss is working with the transmissions in the back and comes out covered in grease, his shirt unbuttoned halfway. Being the only female in the building you'd think would be sexier, but the men here aren't that hot.

Then there's my OTHER job - security is HOT. Giving full pat downs to the scantilly-dressed- mini-skirt-fuck-me-boots wearing amazingly hot women who show up for an Aerosmith show, or the grungy, sweaty, pants to their knees, mid-20's male hard bodies that show up for a Korn concert is nothing short of a turn on.

And there's no counting the endless possibilities of dark corners, public spaces and shrubbery to get it on in, whether with a patron or another guard - while the uniforms are UGLY the men that wear them lead my imagination in places I LOVE to go.

The pay sucks, but there are some perks - which is why I'm still there after four years.

Shanna Germain said...

OMG Angell,

I want your job. Just for a day. Really. Can we trade?


kristina lloyd said...

Sorry I'm late, miss! I've had my head stuck in page proofs of Split (Mmmm, sexy. Pre-order your copy now! And here for the Yanks!)

I think I have a Bad Attitude because just the word 'job' makes me feel a little bit frigid. But then I have a job I don't like very much. (Buy all my books and release me from this purgatory! Yanks too!) I've done heaps of bar work and library work (what is it about librarians and smut?) but never found either sexy because, basically, I don't like to serve. Honestly, I don't. I like to be forced. But I don't think 'Give me the books, you hot little bitch' would go down too well on the issue desk. ('Sshhh!' they'd say.)

In Split (pre-order your ... OK, I'll quit), my female lead, Kate, takes a job working for Jake, a puppeteer living in a remote museum on the Yorkshire moors. Jake's job is the sexiest one I've ever written about. He works with his hands, carving delicate little faces and limbs out of wood. He brings them to life. The marionettes have strings - lots of bondage in the book. Jake manipulates and controls. When the action gets kinky, there's usually an audience, albeit an unseeing one. Usually. It's also creepy, unsettling and tense. Puppets can seem almost real and for me, that childish belief of toys and dolls coming alive at night taps right into ideas of sex and secrets and escapism - the strange stuff we get up to with lovers when the real world has switched out the lights.

Damn. I wish I'd said all this the other day when people were listening. It's just me and the puppets here in the dark now, isn't it?