Obsession, n.[L. obsessio]
2. The state of being besieged; - used specifically of a person beset by a spirit from without.
Back in the Olden Days it was easy writing for Black Lace …
Then we knew we were writing about sex. Hard-edged, transgressive, no-holds-barred, call-a-cunt-a-cunt sex that would get women hot and wet and breathless. Romance was irrelevant: this was Black Lace, not Mills & Boon. Our male characters could be handsome or ugly, attractive or repulsive, kind or cruel, comforting or provoking or downright frightening, just so long as they were, within that situation, finger-lickin’ hot. Hell, they didn’t even have to be human, or alive – In Cruel Enchantment I wrote sex with a dragon and with the walking dead (I wouldn’t get away with those nowadays, believe me).
So keen was I to avoid being seen to write about Love, as opposed to Sex, that even in situations where it was completely appropriate I wouldn’t mention it. It’s obvious to readers of Divine Torment that the two main characters are wildly in love, but I never once use the L-Word.
Everything changes … Nowadays romance is In and characters should live happily-ever-after together … eventually. I am actually very happy with the new paradigm (at least when I’m writing longer pieces of fiction) - partly because any character, male or female, who can shag their way through 80,000 words without ever becoming emotionally involved is one that I’m likely to find a bit repellent. Partly because there just isn’t anything more erotic than the experience of falling head over heels, obsessively, truly-madly-deeply in love. But it does result in some challenges for the writer...
First, you’ve got to make your male characters actually worthy of more than a one-night-stand. Not always easy: a pretty face and a big cock just aren’t enough.
And then there’s the emotional involvement… After all, I’m (mostly) writing about how a female character falls for a male. There’s the authorly obligation to write sincerely, and to feel what the character is feeling. Which means, since I’m currently working on two novellas plus a novel with rival male heroes, that at the moment I have to be hopelessly in love with four different fictional blokes: a werebear, a ginger eco-warrior, a Crowleyan chaos magician and a king of ancient Sumer… The hormonal overload can be painful at times. I catch myself watching eagerly in crowded areas for someone who doesn’t actually exist to turn up and meet me. And poor Mr Ashbless has to put up with me moping tragically around the house with a haunted look in my eyes and waking up at 3am for furtive liaisons with my computer.
Sometimes you just want to flee to the Arctic to get away from it all.
So, ’fess up, you writers – or is it just me?
Will anyone admit to Faking It instead – writing a hero they secretly found risible or boring?
Readers; it’s easy to fall for a fictional character you can see on screen, but do you ever get a real crush on a man who only exists in writing?
I’d love to know…
Janine Ashbless on Amazon.co.uk
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I could lie and say the first time I was twenty-nine. Late bloomer. Truth is, however, my first time I was thirteen.
It went like this: Boobs, period, pimples, masturbation, smut. Wait.
Boobs, period, pimples, Harold Robbins, masturbation, boy named Dale, smut.
That's how it went. I hit puberty. Started reading novels by Harold Robbins (Goodbye Janette, Dreams Die First, The Betsy; god, there were tons of them) and then started to masturbate bout the time I developed a four-year-long crush on a boy named Dale. He took me into a barn once, led me up to a loft, put his hand inside my underwear and touched my cunt lips with one finger and then pulled it out and lifted it to his nose, inhaled me off his finger. He said, "Thank you."
Same year, I began to write stories, often rip-offs of something I'd read. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton or Salem's Lot by Stephen King. I wrote with pencil in long hand on yards of continuous-feed computer paper my father allotted me in weekly increments. Many of these stories survive today, except the smut, which my step mom confiscated one afternoon from a desk in my bedroom and then gave to my father, who destroyed all of it.
Weird thing about my father: He censored/controlled everything in my life: movies, music, clothing, friends, the words I wrote in long-hand on continuous-feed paper. He never censored, confiscated, or destroyed books though. I could read what I wanted and did. Although my early attempts at smut a.k.a. erotica no longer exist, I assure you they were hybrids, Harold Robbins meets Stephen King kind of stuff. Blood, guts, and coming.
Toward the end of high school, when I could hide stuff at my best friend Christine's house, I began to write erotica again, over-the-top sentimental stuff. Examples of these stories survive. For instance, a story dedicated to John Taylor of Duran Duran called "Sunshine Boy" I wrote in red ink on wide-rule notebook paper. (Note grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors in the following excerpt haven't been corrected in order to preserve authenticity.)
She asked him if she could bum a cigarette and felt her fingers trembling. John said "Yes" in his sexy British accent that sent shivers over her whole body. His gorgeous eyes didn't even blink, making her blush. A fire she felt all over her body! Fire spread all over her body, that's right! Lerah hadn't wanted someone so much before . . . she didn't know what to do. What should she do?! Maybe go crazy with passion for her dream man, John Taylor!
Two pages later . . .
John kissed all over her shaking, shivering body. She was shy, she was trembling hard in his arms as his hands squeezed her boobs and then touched her face with his hands. He kissed her over and over again until she couldn't stand it anymore!
"Please, fuck me, please John!" Lerah screamed hard.
He didn't use words. Not John. He got on top of her and put it inside her. He was inside her, it only hurt for a minute. And then she felt in total ecstasey!
If you asked a lesbian I met at a graduate school party four years ago she'd say I'm an "over sexualized" person. I prefer sexual, as in a sexual being, an artist/writer/woman interested in, intrigued and inspired by human sexuality. I lost my virginity when I was five days shy of my eighteenth birthday. I spent six years disrobing for money in a gentleman's club. I've never been sexually molested or raped. My lovers have been of both genders, mostly male but a few female. In 1996, I sold my first piece of smut to Playgirl Magazine. I mentioned it before. Remember "I'd Marry Fox Mulder This Second?"
"Private Investigation," my first erotica sale, was my version of what happened when Fox Mulder decided to screw his partner, Dana Scully. They did it in an abandoned building on a cruddy old mattress, scene of a brutal crime. Limbs wound together like twine, lips bruised by kisses.
Trust me. It wasn't a good story. The story behind the story is actually better. During the spring of 1996, a friend of mine who used to live down the street from me and worked with me at the gentleman's club, drove up the street to my house one afternoon and then banged on my door.
When I let her in, Adena held a Playgirl Magazine in my face.
"OK," I said. "What?"
"Kirk is in this magazine," she said. "Kirk!"
I had to think a minute. "Oh, you mean the guy you used to sleep with?"
Adena nodded then flipped the magazine open to the centerfold. There was Kirk. Not my type, truth be told. He was the consummate Playgirl Magazine Romance Novel looking guy. Beefed up and tan, frosted hair and shaved chest. I took the magazine from Adena and flipped back to the table of contents.
"Does this magazine publish stories, you know like fiction?"
Adena shrugged. "I don't know. Who cares?"
I thumbed through the magazine and found it: Reader's Fantasy Forum. "Send us your best fantasies . . . Fantasy of the month receives one hundred dollars."
I looked at Adena, thinking. "Can I borrow this over night?"
Adena smiled. "Why?"
"I'm going to write a story." I glanced through the examples. "I think I can do this."
Adena shrugged. "Fine. But I want it back tomorrow."
"Yeah, yeah." I pushed her toward the door. "See you later, tomorrow. Yeah, yeah. Bye."
I shut the door behind her and then went to my computer. Sitting at my desk I read each "fantasy" twice. I studied format, vocabulary, premise. I conjured Mulder and Scully. I began to type. I kept thinking, "I can do this," until eventually I thought, "I can do this better." I typed and typed and typed. Four hours later I had a story. "Private Investigation." Complete with cock and cunt and whole lot of moaning and groaning and coming.
Not a great story. Not even especially good. But Playgirl Magazine bought it in the summer of 1996 and featured it as the "Fantasy of the Month." Within the next year, I sold nine more stories to Playgirl Magazine. Yeah, forever grateful. Because of my success with Playgirl Magazine, I became more confident about my writing. I also got serious about reading and writing as much erotic fiction as possible, the best erotica I could get my hands on.
Someday, I'll tell you about a story that changed how and why I write erotic fiction forever, something from the Herotica series called "Make Me" by Sonja Kindley. Until then, let me hear your first time accounts. How old were you when you write your first piece of smut/erotica? What was it about? Does it survive today? Care to share an excerpt?
Posted by Nikki Magennis at 9:59 AM
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
We bring the first month of the year to a close with Alana Noel Voth asking, 'Do you Remember the First Time?' The first time you decided to write some filthy smut, that is. Whatever would posses a person to start doing something like that? Alana will tell us how she began and I'm sure there will be a few more tales of losing smut-writer virginity.
Wednesday will feature a chat from the dark and devious mind of Janine Ashbless. So dark and devious, in fact, that I have forgotten what it is about. Nikki Magennis informs me that Janine is currently unreachable in the North Pole. Will she be back in time? Does she know what her chat is about? Will Lust Bites collapse under the weight of the uncertainty? Tune in on Wednesday.
On Friday we continue a sort of 'firsts' theme... first time writing smut, first time I've forgotten what the chat is, with Nikki Magennis talking about first lines and opening scenes. Using the forthcoming Sex in Public as a short story collection as a jumping off point she'll take us on a tour of stories and novels that hit the ground running hot.
Tilly aka Mathilde Madden
Dedicated to Urban Kinkery
Thursday, January 25, 2007
All you have to do is enjoy it.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES by Mathilde Madden
David is in a wheelchair following a spinal injury. Mary spots him in the library and finally decides to fulfil one of her darkest and most hidden kinks. Mary is a devo. She is turned on by disability. David knows this, and he really doesn't care. He's a good looking guy and before his accident he had his pick of the women. But since he's been in a wheelchair his confidence has taken a knocking and his studly prowess has vanished. Mary is just this kinky girl, you know? And he's just happy to be getting some.
Another night, a night of coffees and insomnia and wrongness, she keeps me up into the darkest, tiniest hours of the morning, asking me questions. She asks me about what happened to me, about the accident, about how it felt then, how it feels now. She touches my body and asks where I have sensation and where I don't and where it varies. She makes me describe Being-David-Malkovich over and over until I run out of adjectives, out of words, out of thoughts. I keep going until I feel like she could step inside my body, and feel every feeling I do, and nothing would be a surprise. She shows me that my body – my changed, spoiled, abnormal body – is her own personal Song of Solomon. It's a very weird feeling, and one I'm not sure I'm used to yet.
As the night gets darker so do her questions. She says, 'If you weren't in your chair, how would you move?'
'What do you mean?' I roll over in the bed so I can rub against her, pressing close.
'I mean, well, would you crawl around? What could you do?'
'I couldn't really crawl, like, up on my knees. I could pull myself along though. My arms are pretty strong.' I feel her shiver against me.
She swallows slowly, and then says, 'So, sort of on your belly?'
'Yes, just like that.'
'I'd like to see you doing that.'
'Why?' I say with a teasing smile. Because, of course, I know why.
'I just would. Show me.'
So I do. Suddenly the lights are on and I'm in my chair, heading into the living room where there is most floor space. I let her gently help me on to the carpet and watch me drag myself across the floor on my stomach, the best I can. I'm still naked and I feel utterly vulnerable. My whole world contracts. I suddenly feel this strange wave of sensation. I am utterly dependant on Mary right now. And I like it. It's everything I shouldn't like, but I do. I feel like I need this. Like I'm addicted to her. And her bizarre way of thinking.
I'm crawling for her. A weird little fucked up creature dragging itself across the carpet. And, god, I really shouldn't like this so much. It's every kind of objectification. But sparks of arousal are flying all over my body. I can scarcely tell which parts of me are which. I want to scream at her for her to take me. Use me. Make me into a mere thing. I want her to stride across the floor to me and fuck me. Force herself inside me. Own me.
But I don't. I don't because even in my own zoned out state I can tell she's lost in her own rapture. She wouldn't even hear me. 'Tell me why you're doing that,' she says, as she stares at me crawling, squirming on the floor, her voice so ragged it's barely recognisable.
'No, no, tell me why you have to move like that.'
I change my path and start to drag myself towards her, meeting her eyes from way down on the floor. 'Because I can't get up.'
I can tell how much this is turning her on and it arouses me to see her almost frozen to the spot with desire. My cock is so painfully hard now – burning against the carpet as I continue towards her.
She stares at me in silence after that, until I reach her and run a desperate, wanting hand up her bare leg; trying desperately to reach her cunt. As my hand grazes her upper thigh, she takes half a step backwards, pulling deliciously just my out of reach. And I whimper. Begging. Helpless. Everything she loves.
Then, suddenly, she growls like an animal and flips me over with a kind of preternatural strength, and we fuck until I feel sure she's worn away the carpet beneath me.
And after that, while we are still lying there, a sweating mass of heaving chests and smarting carpet burns, that's when I say it. I don't know why.
I say, 'I love you.'
Want more? There's another excerpt on my blog. Here.
Also, here is an interview with me talking to the glorious founder of Lust Bites Nikki Magennis about the book and other smutty topics.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
From Alana Noel Voth, a message despatched by pigeon post to Lust Bite Island, and brought to you via the wonders of science:
I was in my mid-twenties when I got hooked on a TV show called The X Files. I used to stay home Friday nights to watch it. Before The X Files was hip and commercial, when it was still underground and cultish, I watched it. No one knew what I was talking about.
The general assumption was I meant porn.
My version of porn. After all, I remember lying on the couch with The X Files flickering in front of me, silver light and shadows, then suddenly I'd left the room and was on my knees sucking Fox Mulder's cock, or Fox Mulder had his mouth on my cunt.
It wasn't unusual for me to masturbate during commercial breaks either.
It also wasn't unusual for me to fantasize Fox Mulder fucking me from behind, fucking me on my side, fucking me missionary style. Fucking me. Or me fucking him in his small dismal apartment in Washington DC, straddling him on a ratty couch near a window marked with an X.
The X-Files was a little show on the Fox Channel about two FBI agents, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, who pursued the mysterious. The wacky and wicked. Frightful and freaky. Dangerous and perverse. The show was both spooky and slapstick. So was Fox Mulder.
Spooky Mulder they called him in college. Intelligent. Intense. Geeky. Articulate. Kinky. Lonely. Driven. Less than perfect.
Exhibit A: The big nose. His square jaw. Set of small bright eyes. Thin upper lip, pouty chapped bottom. Fox Mulder has the kind of face an artist conjures when she seeks perfection in flaws. I love flaws.
On the show, sexual tension brewed between the partners, Mulder and Scully. I used to write for Playgirl Magazine, and the first story I sold to them was my version of the Scully/Mulder screw. Mattress in an abandoned building, stained by a bit of blood, foul play. Damp darkness and white heat. Their limbs tied together like rope, lips bruised by kisses.
I coveted Fox Mulder for years. Still covet him now. Fox Mulder. Not David Duchovny. Not the actor. The character, Special Agent Fox Mulder. The only man on Earth I'd marry.
Why? Well I'd love to get into that. Here's a short but solid list, anyway.
1. Fox Mulder is never home. Surly I jest? Nah. A Special Agent spends eighty percent of his life chasing the truth that's out there, investigating mysteries and solving cases, which means this wife (me) gets to spend fifty percent of my time (I have a kid, remember) writing.
2. Fox Mulder is college educated and has written and published his dissertation. Call me pretentious, but I'm impressed. Know how many can't punctuate correctly let alone compose an entire thesis? For Mulder also reads. Travels the world. Has first hand experience with aliens and werewolves. Imagine all those intense conversations in bed after we've fucked.
3. He's amply employed. Always good in prospective husband material. After all, I'm a writer who made $150.00 last year writing.
4. He wears a long black trench coat. Nuff said. But leads to my next reason to marry Fox Mulder.
5. He's kinky. Watch enough episodes of The X-Files and it's evident Fox Mulder is not only a prime kinkster but hard up too, a mystery all in itself. Fox Mulder enjoys the services of phone sex operators; he frequents porn shops; and he'd probably hang out with me in a strip club too. Baby, lets tip the ladies.
6. He has a hot partner. Yeah, I'm talking about Dana Scully. The red head in quaint tailored suits. Imagine dinners with just the three of us. The conversation, the dessert.
Fox Mulder, only man on Earth I'd marry. Might explain why I'm still single. But in the meantime, who's your man, ladies, ldeal Husband Fantasy Fuck?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
You may have noticed a few changes lately. We’ve been redecorating, but we’re still arguing over the colours, so who knows what lustbites will end up looking like. At this point, flock wallpaper and flying ducks are a distinct possibility. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please do chip in!
Anyway, much more importantly, a few new writers have jumped on board. Everybody, I’d like you to properly meet:
Teresa Noelle Roberts: ‘Erotica and romance writer, sometime fantasy writer, person generally obsessed with the written word (and with nature, love, and sex)’. Teresa also somehow splits herself in two, and forms Sophie Mouette with:
Dayle A Dermatis. Dayle is a ‘writer of fantasy and science fiction, media tie-in, romance, and erotica’. She collaborates with other writers as well as Teresa. Phew! One or both of the girls will be explaining just how this works in the near future. Meanwhile, check out Sophie Mouette’s Cat Scratch Fever.
Our latest new um...lusty biter?
Suzanne Portnoy - an entertainment publicist and writer. Divorced with two children, she lives in North London. ‘Attractive and finally a size 12 after twenty years of yo-yo dieting, she is happily single and spends her spare time writing, having sex and acting as a one-woman car pool.’ Suzanne Portnoy’s memoir ‘The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker’ was published by Virgin in 2006.
Check out the links on the sidebar for more on all of these wonderful authors, and do drop by the comments to make them feel welcome.
Posted by Nikki Magennis at 7:55 PM
Monday, January 22, 2007
“Too stupid to live.” It’s a phrase used by romance writers and reviewers to describe a heroine who’s apparently had her common sense gland removed. She just does something, or possibly a series of things, that no self-respecting woman with two brain cells to rub together would consider doing.
When I was in college/grad school, there were all sorts of warnings about how to date safely. Things like, never tell the guy where you live; instead, meet him somewhere neutral. Make sure you have the means (transportation, funds) to get yourself home. Have a prearranged call scheduled with a girlfriend; if she doesn’t hear from you, she knows there’s a problem. And so on.
In almost all romances (Gothics, some suspense, and MMF erotic romance being the exceptions), you know the moment the hero’s introduced that he’s the hero. The heroine may not know it, but the reader does. Thus the reader knows the heroine is safe—the hero would never willingly put her into danger, much less turn out to be a serial rapist.
The heroine, however, doesn’t know that.
But where do you draw the line? If she’s appropriately cautious, the relationship will take forever to develop, and the process will be pretty boring for the reader. In erotic romance in particular, we expect to see some hot-and-heavy foreplay, if not outright sex, within the first few chapters.
In some books, this just works. You believe in it, and you never give a thought to the fact that the heroine is taking some serious chances with her life and health.
In other cases, this kind of behavior makes me throw the book across the room.
For the life of me, I can’t tell why one works and one doesn’t. It’s worse when I can’t figure it out in my own writing. I’m struggling with a novel right now in which I keep thinking the heroine is being an idiot for going to the hero’s house right after she meets him. Why? They have some rip-roaring sex all through the book, and end up with at least a strong pathway towards commitment. He’s a great guy (a little stuffy, but the heroine breaks him of that); she’s an independent woman who knows what she wants both in and out of bed. Why do I have this nagging feeling that their first encounter—which is essential to both their emotional development and the plot—involves her being too stupid to live?
What do you think makes the difference? Characterization? Plot? Good writing vs. not?
On a related note, let’s talk about safe sex. Black Lace and Cheek Books carry that “In real life, always practise safe sex” disclaimer, which I’ve always found a little funny. I mean, doesn’t everyone understand that they’re reading fiction, not a how-to book? Do we need that disclaimer?
By the same token, do you notice when the heroine hooks up with a new partner and there’s nary a condom in sight (and not a wisp of conversation regarding them)? Or do condoms end up ruining the one-handed read moment? Do they sound obviously shoe-horned in to an otherwise steamy sex scene? And if condoms are necessary, what about dental dams? Latex gloves? When does she ask for a blood test?
And how soon should the heroine go gleefully into bondange with a new man? It’s not important to even know his name, because she’s just going to call him Master anyway… Right?
So where’s your balance? What’s fun and fantasy, what constitutes too stupid to live, and does anything else about a particular novel affect your answer?
Sunday, January 21, 2007
It's been a busy week here at Lust Bites. Alison Tyler's request for your favourite sexy films had a huge response. I hope the DVD rental industry will be able to cope with the upswing in demand for certain saucy specials. It's not too late to add your favourites to our list or check out the other suggestions. Go here.
Alison already has another post in the works about sex and music – so get sharpening those pencils to add your suggestions.
On Monday Dayle A Dermatis (one half of Black Lace writing team Sophie Mouette) will be holding the reins. She'll be talking about risky business. How far should a character go when it comes to dangerous or edgy behaviour? Should readers be warned not to try this at home?
Then it's the welcome return of Crush Wednesday. Alana Noel Voth will tell us who she's crushing on and in return we can all confess who's making us feel all squishy inside.
The last Friday of the month means free smut! We're starting a new tradition. Mark your diaries because every final Friday will be Fornicationtabulous Friday – with a free dirty extract presented here for your lascivious delight. I've elbowed my way to the front of the queue with my award winning disability smut epic Equal Opportunities. I've probably got a copy knocking around for a giveaway too.
Official Lust Bites Werewolf Handler
Posted by Mathilde Madden at 10:25 AM
Friday, January 19, 2007
If Black Lace was a slice of cake, some of the lovely ladies here would be dark chocolate curls, the luscious cherries soaked in brandy and the tart coffee center. My place would be the fluffy pink frosting on the top. I’m basically a boring person with a wild imagination, so I apologize if this blog isn’t as scintillating and edgy as usual!
I write erotic romance even if my idea of what constitutes a happy ending isn’t the conventional one woman one man anymore. Growing up in England, my romance reading was confined to Mills & Boon and the gritty northern sagas by such writers as Catherine Cookson. I sensed even then that something was missing. I tried to write my own sagas but I kept morphing into a bad imitation of Jane Austen with sex and somehow I couldn’t quite get it right.
Then my big sisters discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss. I’d hide in the bottom bunk bed and listen to them read the books aloud to each other while giggling uncontrollably. After mulling over what I’d heard, I’d invariably have to ask my mum a few questions: such as what does phallic mean and what exactly is a burning tinderbox of love? She did her best to answer me and I knew I was getting somewhere.
I kept writing through university and the early years of marriage, still not getting it right. Feedback was at least consistent. Too much sex and not enough gritty angst. I stopped writing.
Fast forward to the late 1990’s and I get to move to California with my lovely family. Of course the first thing I do is head for a bookstore and I find a huge section labeled ROMANCE. I pick up the first book I see, which happens to be a Catherine Coulter, and I start reading. This book has SEX in it and a happy ending. A light exploded in my skull and I realized I’d found my audience.
I wrote a note to Catherine Coulter and she kindly replied and pointed me in the direction of Romance Writers of America. I was on my way to finding my peeps. Just in case you don’t know, RWA has over 9000 members both published and unpublished, including Nora Roberts. Romance in the U.S. accounts for over 51% of paperback sales and generates approximately 1.2 billion dollars in sales a year. That is a big number and makes the romance industry a force to be reckoned with. Every time someone sneers at what I do, and it’s not just men, I drop those numbers into the conversation and it usually makes them pause.
A romance section in an American bookstore is vast. It contains every sub-genre possible from inspirational, contemporary, paranormal, science fiction, historical, futuristic and of course, erotic. It’s a constantly mutating and developing market place.
When I first moved here, Black Lace books were shelved in some very strange places that included not only the erotica section but sexual therapy and ethics. Now they have proudly taken their place in the romance section as the American market has become hotter and hotter.
Some of that change has come from the internet publishers such as Ellora’s Cave, New Concepts Publishing and Amber Quill. They gave American women the opportunity to buy very hot romance novels as downloads which avoided a trip to the local bookstore and the potential snottiness of a sales assistant who considered all romance trashy porn. (and what’s wrong with that anyway?) Now most of the New York publishers have their own erotic romance lines. Kensington Aphrodisia (I’m also contracted to write for them) makes no apologies for publishing erotica. They chose to call it erotic romance in order to get it shelved in romance.
These publishers pushed the envelope and took their readers along with them. Of course, Black Lace had been merrily doing that for years. For me, my journey as a writer took me to Ellora’s Cave and then back in a nice cosmically pleasing circle to Black Lace and Cheek. As BL seek a bigger market share in the U.S. will the erotica publishers here reciprocate and send their books over the pond and how will they be received?
I’ve never quite understood why the huge Romance section available in an American bookstore hasn’t worked its way across the Atlantic yet. I know that it’s beginning to. My five sisters have converted a lot of people since I ‘showed them the way’.
When I lived in Britain, the word ‘romance’ conjured up Mills & Boon and that was it. Now it makes me think of a multitude of different sub-genres and a market that keeps on growing alongside an increasingly sophisticated audience. Will romance ever explode in Britain or is the word too clichéd to reflect the variety now available? It will be interesting to see.
Oh, and wish me a happy birthday-I’m… another year older. As my friend said on my card: “We’ll still be friends when we’re old and mysteriously not at all gray.”
Posted by Kate Pearce at 6:48 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I met my first serious boyfriend on New Year’s Day at The Varsity Theater during a screening of the trilogy of the Mad Max movies. We managed to make eye contact even in the darkened movie theater, and we were inseparable for the months following. If I were to tag our relationship, then the words: sticky, popcorn, faded, velvet, darkness, and apocalypse would all be featured prominently.
Earlier than that, I shared one of my first ever kisses in the same cinema, in the back row of the balcony, during a double-feature of The Blues Brothers and 48 Hours, our lips burning from too many Sweet Tarts. So my definition of sexy movies is probably somewhat skewered. How many other people would list those movies on their top sexy cinema list? And yet, when I see any of them, those familiar shivery sensations flare through me, as I flash back in a heartbeat to the verge of young lust.
In college, I worked at Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema, a luscious revival house on Beverly Boulevard, where I took in Last Tango for the first time, and flirted with the projectionist during inappropriate films such as Sid and Nancy and Repo Man. (But maybe the films weren’t inappropriate. Maybe it was simply inappropriate to taunt the cute projectionist because I already had a boyfriend.)
I’ll even admit that I had sex at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater during the movie Seven. I was wearing a plaid black-and-white school girl skirt with chrome hardware, a knee-length leather coat, thigh-high stockings, battered Docs, and a tight red Sex Pistols t-shirt. Perhaps it’s not sex in the movies that appeals to me, but sex in movie theaters!
That said, I do possess some treasured erotic movie scenes memorized forever…
Mulholland Drive: The scene in which Naomi Watts is auditioning. Christ, I could watch that over and over. Endlessly.
Secretary: Ripe with sexy interactions of my personal number-one fetish, but my favorite moment comes near the very end, when she is naked and he is tracing his fingers over her body. Worshipping her in spite of her scars. Or because of them.
Paris, France: Love the scene where he has her masturbate by the mantle, telling her not to look at him. Again, an odd sort of flick, rather disturbing, but sexy.
Apartment Zero: Neighbor confesses to Jack (Hart Bochner) how she felt when she lost her daddy. He says, “What does Daddy’s little girl need?” And I go fucking weak in the knees.
Something Wild: Jeff Daniels is handcuffed to the bed, forced to talk to his boss on the phone while Melanie Griffith teases him mercilessly. Yeah, I'm partial to the Ray Liotta bad boy character in the flick, but this is a hot scene.
Betty Blue: The opening few minutes. That's all I have to say.
The Hunger: The whole movie is filled with lush sexuality, but I like the opening. Bauhaus, Bowie, and Catherine DeNeuve. What more could you ask for?
Too Beautiful for You: (You knew I was going to get Gerard Depardieu into my lineup, didn’t you?) He’s on the bottom, she’s on top, and they’ve just screwed themselves silly. He tells her to control herself… but he doesn’t mean it. “Stop,” he says. “I’ll stop,” she says. “Do it some more,” he says seconds later… "I'll do it some more," she says.
I know there are many, many more. But now it’s your turn. Tell me your favorite scenes…(or favorite movie theater memories, if you’re a Cinema Slut like I am).
P.S. And if you'd like to read erotica about watching movies... check out these two stories by Simon Sheppard and Thomas S. Roche.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I've noticed that glasses are far less common in TV dramas, movies and adverts than in real life - or at least the bits of real life I see. So here's a question ...
Has anyone ever written an erotic/romantic male lead who wears glasses?(Vampires in sunglasses don't count!)
Can specs be fetishised? Or is 20/20 vision a romantic necessity?
Okay, so that's several questions...
We interrupt this schedule to bring you disturbing news from the world of publishing.
I don't fully understand the mechanics of book production, but all I need to know is that a Very Big Company (AMS) has gone bankrupt (- people in prison, FBI raids, stockmarket crash). This is going to adversely affect not only a lot of the big publishing houses but most of all, a lot of little independent publishers. Who may not be big enough fish to survive. For those of us who write on the edges of fiction (and erotica often counts as such) this is not good news.
Writers won't get paid for sales from the end of last year. Imprints like Cleis Press could be badly affected.
So a plea on behalf of independent publishers - buy direct from them if you can. Cleis is having a big sale at the moment - well worth checking out.
All those of you who love books and want to help:
Don't let the little imprints go under! Man the decks! Save the independents! Buy direct!
Posted by Nikki Magennis at 10:48 AM
Monday, January 15, 2007
I'm a woman. And I don’t really understand men all that well. I don't think they're from Mars or anything – and a lot of the time, I'll admit, their behaviour and motivations make perfect sense. But after close observation of one subject for over ten years I know that they are different in more ways than the anatomical. For me, that makes them hard to write about.
You might be thinking, hey, Tilly, everyone's different. And you're a writer. Can't you use your imagination? But the thing is, yes, I can. But how do I know I've got it right? Can I imagine what it's like to be a man? Especially with erotica. Can I write about feelings of sexual desire from a man's point of view and be convincing?
When I wrote Equal Opportunities I decided to write it in dual first person point of view with the hero and the heroine taking it in turns to tell the story. Dual first seemed like a great way to convey the conflicted mix that was Mary and David's relationship. But I was scared of writing my hero in first person. Not because he was disabled and in a wheelchair, not because he was nearly ten years younger than me, but because he was a man. First person male point of view. Surely I'd get found out.
Here's a snippet (his kinky girlfriend Mary has told him he can’t come for 24 hours – that's why he's so frustrated by everything.):
But really, some days every woman in this place seems to have another job moonlighting as a body double for an Eastern European shot putter. Some days, most days in fact, it’s as grey and depressing as a pre-Jamie-Oliver school dinner.
So, like I said, I thought I’d be okay – or, as okay as anywhere - but I’d reckoned without this new girl. Eleanor she’s called. And, well, she’s what they call a breath of fresh air. In this wasteland of sheer unsexiness, Eleanor is pure totty. And she is a trainee physiotherapist’s, which in anyone’s mind approximates to nurse, which, of course - when it’s a girl like Eleanor - approximates to sexilicious.
And guess what I so don’t need right now! Yup, sexilicious.
No matter that Eleanor is make-up free and has her hair screwed up in an ugly purple butterfly clip. No matter that her uniform is at least two sizes to big and bags and sags around her little waist, looking as grey and greasy as old fish and chip paper. No matter that her shoes are scuffed-up cheap trainers rather than Carry-On-Matron-style stilettos. Today, and in my tortured state, Eleanor looks fucking hot. And, what’s more, underneath her function-over-form work-togs Eleanor is totally my type. From her honey coloured highlights to her neat petite ankles. She even has that kind of that mouth I like. That sort of pinky-coloured permanent moue.
She has a cocksucker’s mouth. And the funny thing is, I have a cocksucker’s cock.
Strange thing is - despite my concerns - the best comments in reviews were always saved for him. For David. My first person male hero.
And here's the thing. I write books for women. Do I write about men in a way that is 'real' or do I write about men in a way that I wish was real? I might not know for sure what *real* men are like but I know what the men I like to read about are like. They're sensitive and damaged and conflicted and stifled and loving and stubborn and dangerous and naked. And dangerously naked.
Are they anything like *real* men? I don't know. I don't know if I care. One of my favourite things in the world to read is slash fanfiction – stories of men in love with men written by women (and the odd gay man who often doesn’t know *what* he's got himself into). Are the men in these stories realistic? Does it matter if everyone's having fun?
So what do you think? Do you want realism or fantasy? Do you want to read and write about the kind of men who could really be the boy next door, or do you prefer a knight in shining armour type who you know in your heart might be too good to be true? Or perhaps you disagree with me totally and think that writing about men is no different form writing about women. Perhaps you actaully are a man.
Well tell me, or I'll send the boys round.
The Mathilde Madden Foundation for the Preservation of Dangerously Naked Men
Posted by Mathilde Madden at 9:06 AM
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Monday sees me, your genial hostess, with a post about writing realistic male characters. Or rather about writing male characters who are hawt and charismatic and who I enjoy spending hours and hours obsessing over - and then worrying later about whether or not they're realistic. Or something. I'll figure it out.
On Wednesday Alison Tyler will be here kicking off the chat on favourite sexy scenes in films. Talking of which, why not try this while you're waiting Captain Jack brings Sexy Back!
And on Friday Kate Pearce will be talking about the differences between the UK and US erotic romance markets. It's not just about whether you write he had a cute arse or he had a cute ass, you know. Kate's lived and written in both countries so I'm really looking forward to hearing her perspective.
Tilly aka Mathilde Madden
Posted by Mathilde Madden at 4:32 PM
Friday, January 12, 2007
By Alana Noel Voth
The concept for this post, as presented to me by the eclectic ladies at Lust Bites, was "Motherhood and Writing Porn for Money."
I made one-hundred-fifty dollars as a writer last year. Few years before, when my stories "Genuflection" and "Lemon-Lime Firefly Girl" appeared in Best Gay Erotica 2004 and Best Women's Erotica 2004, respectively, I earned five hundred. So we'd best dispel with the idea I make "money" writing. Which isn't to say some of my peers here at Lust Bites don't.
Ladies, I toast you.
Next spoiler: I did a reading once in which I was billed as the Sex Writer. After I read, a young woman raised her hand and said, "That wasn't very porn like."
"Oh . . . sorry."
"What I mean is, are you sure what you write is pornography?"
I write stories. These stories appear in publications like Best Women's Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, and Best American Erotica---so "erotica" appears in the title. I also used to write for Playgirl Magazine, and my editor at the time instructed me to write less narrative, more sex. "We're trying to sell sex here!" Understood. Except narrative inspires me. I love stories. And so I write stories, and often my stories involve sex, although to paraphrase Marcy Sheiner, "The sex isn't the story." I write stories to understand why people end up in bed together, what happens once they get there, and to discover any consequence or reward.
So while it remains unclear whether I write "porn" or not or will ever earn more than I need to claim on my taxes doing so, I am, without a doubt, a mom. Or Mama as my kid calls me when he wants something.
I named my blog My Mom Writes Erotica as one way to acknowledge who I am---a mother, a writer, a mother who is a writer who often writes about sex.
The other day my son, who is nine, took note of my blog's title, read it aloud, and then asked me, "What does that mean?"
"Means I'm a mom, and I'm a writer, and sometimes what I write involves sex."
I got the same reaction the time he asked me to explain, for the one-hundredth time, what sex was and I finally gave him a PG, rather than a G, version.
"When two people like each other, fall in love, or find each other attractive they often have sex, which is when the man puts his penis in the woman's vagina, and it feels wonderful, especially when the man wears a condom and the woman is on birth control."
I'm waiting for him to ask me to explain homosexual and lesbian sex because he will. He asked to see a condom once after he saw a commercial on TV. After I showed him a Trojan, out of its package, he said, "Oh," and then he asked, "Mom, why is it so big?"
Since I knew what he was thinking I assured him. "Your penis gets bigger as you get older, just like the rest of you."
Another "Oh," and this one evident with relief.
My kid knows no bounds when it comes to asking questions, probably because I'm comfortable answering them. Kids deserve respect; they deserve information; otherwise you leave them vulnerable, leave them ignorant.
My books lie around the apartment. When I publish a story I share my pride and delight with my son. Few weeks ago my contributor's copies of Best Gay Erotica 2007 showed up, to much personal fanfare, and the second I opened the package my son wanted to see.
So I showed him the book, the cover, opened the pages and then showed him where my story appeared.
"Good," he said. "Good, Mom, you wrote a story that's in a book. When you going to have a book that's only your stories? That's what you need to do next."
One reason I decided to drop my pen name, Lana Gail Taylor, is because mentors in college convinced me not to publish erotica, a.k.a. smut, a.k.a fluff as "myself." Wouldn't be academic. Wouldn't be literary. Acceptable. Swank. I never felt comfortable with that decision though, to write as Lana Gail Taylor, because the shame I felt about writing erotica wasn't innate so much as imposed. If what I write makes me feel ashamed my child will inevitably inherit that shame.
"Why do you use a pen name, Mom?"
Because what I write is bad.
Except I've never believed what I write is bad. Lousy characterization perhaps; shabby craftsmanship; trite language once in a while, even boring or dumb a couple times (haha) but never bad. More precisely I've never believed what I write is wrong.
If I thought what I wrote was "wrong," I wouldn't write it.
Sure, "wrong" is a matter of opinion, definition even, and my "wrong" in this instance refers to harmful to my son, harmful to people in general. Writers write because we're driven to the point of obsession to communicate and to better understand our human condition. Sometimes illumination comes at a price, is painful. Writing often feels risky to me, but it has never felt "evil," and that's what we're really talking about, right? Whether or not writing about sex is evil; whether or not a mother who writes about sex is irresponsible and indirectly abusive.
What is she subjecting that poor child to? A house of horrors, a Roman-sized orgy?
I participated in a panel once at the University of Denver called "The Erotic and the Fantastic," and a young man in the audience raised his hand and then asked me, "Do you do everything you write about in your stories?"
The writers on each side of me chuckled.
"Hmm, no." I smiled. "If I did I'd never get out of bed."
Historically, I'm not a non-fiction writer; blogging has complicated that, mixed it up, or at least made writing more hybrid for me, but generally speaking, I write fiction. Even so, no writer writes divorced of her experience. Writing comes from the head, heart, and soul. Some of it's innate; some of it's knee-jerk reaction; it's analysis, exploration, a journey. I don't do everything I write about, but writing is still an extension of something I've thought about a lot.
At long last, the big question: What will a child learn from a mother who writes erotica?
No way I can answer that question with certainty. I'm not omniscient, a fortune teller, or a know-it-all. As a mom I rely on instinct, common sense, and a devotion to my child's well being. Right now, my kid still has to endure the awkward insecurities of puberty, the trials and tribulations of young manhood. Growing pains. Kinks. Triumphs and failures. Life.
But hard pressed for any predictions for my son's future in relation to my being his mother who writes erotica I'd propose this:
• Maybe he'll learn sex is normal and natural, that it's a large part of being human.
• Maybe he'll learn curiosity and exploration are also part of being human.
• Maybe he'll accept people---straight, bi, or gay---and thus accept himself.
• Perhaps he'll understand, by my example, that you trust your own instincts, stay true to your aspirations, stand proud, don't quit, and fight hard as hell not to let other people shame you into submission, obscurity, or shame.
• Maybe it will be more simple than that: He'll learn if you want something you keep at it and don't give up. After all, my kid is often by my side when I receive yet another rejection note from an editor, and he sees me at my computer day-in-and-day out writing.
• Maybe he'll learn we don't do what we love just for the money; sometimes we do what we love for a whole lot of other reasons, like survival. Self fulfillment. Enlightenment. Something.
But maybe the lessons are even bigger than that: Maybe my son will adopt a lack of pretension and won't be so quick to judge or persecute others. Maybe he'll listen as much as he speaks. Maybe he'll let go of that fear, ignorance, and vulnerability that assholes count on when they go looking for someone to manipulate, victimize, or control.
Adolf Hitler once said, "Thank God people rarely take time to think."
Maybe I've got you thinking.
Visit my blog here or you can email me: alananoel at comcast.net, with @ for at, no spaces
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Let's talk about two guys kissing – and more (more guys, more than kissing, add a girl to the mix, oh yeah).
Whether it's a guy/guy scene or an m/f/m ménage - I'm happy if I get to see/read about two guys touching each other. And the best news for me is the more I look around me the more I see that it isn’t just me. This lovely stuff is starting to pop up everywhere.
Great books for lovers of this sort of smut are Peep Show by Mathilde Madden (ahem) my first BL book which I wrote about a women who spies on gay men because that was
my own hobby at the time a hot idea, A Gentleman's Wager and Dark Designs both by Madelynne Ellis and, of course, the grandmummy of m/f/m Menage by Emma Holly.
And finally, because it seems wrong to talk and talk and talk about guy/guy fun without giving you some – here is a little snip from Peep Show. From the scene where our voyeuristic heroine stumbles on something to watch in the men's changing rooms at a fashionable gentleman's outfitters. This is probably the scene most people seem to mention to me from that book.
Two blond men: entwined in blissful pursuit and blissfully unaware of me. One is half standing/half leaning, propped against the warm, honey-beige painted wall with open mouth and open fly. The other is pressed up hard against him, with a hand snaking into his partner’s trousers, as he crushes their mouths together – fast and hot and slow and cool. Their long denim covered thighs are pressed together, the more dominant man bearing down on his submitting counterpart, forcing him harder and harder against the wall behind them, and parting his compliant legs with one hard limb. It’s a very, very pretty kiss, and I watch it for a long while, as their mouths melt and slide around on each other like strawberry ice cream on a blistering hot day.
So hands up who likes m/m and m/f/m. That's it both hands where I can see 'em. Recc me some books (not just BL and Cheek), tell me what you really want to read - hey, maybe someone will get inspired and slip that dream-scene into an upcoming book!
Tilly aka Mathilde Madden
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Emergency lustbites alert! A near-naked man needs our help! My brand new crush Romain Duris, from the beat that my heart skipped seems to be having a style crisis.
Look, he's lying there all clueless. Poor boy. First of all, let's remove those horrendous underpants, shall we? The less said about the bed linen the better...
Monday, January 8, 2007
I’ve got fetishes on my mind all the time now. And not just because I’m a naturally kinky person. But because I’m in the midst of editing a collection of X-rated stories for Cleis Press called "F Is for Fetish," (part of my risqué ABC series). So while I might spend a good portion of my time lost in thoughts of my various fetishes anyway (marabou, leather, handcuffs, shoes), right now, my fetish fantasies are actually part of my job. Aren’t you jealous?
The stories I’ve read for "F Is for Fetish" turned me pink-cheeked from the start. I should have known, I suppose, that this would be the theme to generate the most wide-spread response, from fingers to toes and fishnets to dildos. During my research for the anthology, I managed to discover fetishes I never even knew existed. Rachel Kramer Bussel alerted me to two: an accent fetish and a hair color fetish (check out her upcoming columns on both in the Village Voice). Who knew? But now that I think of it…I do have a thing for East Coast accents, and when my man says “wicked weird,” which comes out sort of like “wicked wee-ahd,” I get, well, wicked wet.
Over the years, I’ve written about my share of fetishes, often specific topics requested by editors, concepts that I might not have explored otherwise. Cara Bruce, the sexy vixen who edited "Best Fetish Erotica," asked for a piece on shoplifting. I wrote about stealing knives in my story Blades, and I still don’t know where this piece came from:
I’m the type of girl who gets an intense rush from any type of thievery. From absconding successfully with a single piece of fruit that I know I’ll never eat to taking lipsticks and glosses and tints that simply gather dust on my bathroom shelf. The art of stealing is enough. It transforms me. A heart-pounding energy fills my brain when I realize that, fuck yes, I’m going to do it once again. I’m going to walk out of this store with something that I haven’t paid for. Fear freezes into a pleasing numbness as I grip an item tightly and make my way to the nearest exit.
But knives are the best, because blades turn me on.
Another editor has purchased countless tickling stories from me, and I love to write them, although living out those torturous fantasies on a regular basis would be something else entirely.
I once received fan mail for an early novel, The Blue Rose, from a reader who had so adored my many descriptions of flowing long hair. He had a hair fetish, he explained, and would pay me a very nice sum if I would write a 5,000 word piece that solely dealt with women’s long, curly locks.
To me, the best part of learning about other people’s fetishes, is the fact that the revelation itself is often unexpectedly erotic. People tend to keep their fetishes close to their hearts. They treasure them, holding on tight. Which makes uncovering these secrets that much more delicious. (Maybe I have a fetish about learning about other people’s fetishes!)
What do I know about fetishes personally?
Plenty. I have been a fan of leather since my freshman year at college. My friend Gina sat in front of me in Ancient Greek History and she’d saved up all of her summer job money to buy a leather jacket with a fur collar. (Yeah, she was one of those wise-beyond-her-years types.) She wore the jacket all fall and winter, and she accentuated the natural scent of the leather with Obsession perfume. I sat behind her and mentally missed every lecture, stroking the skin of her jacket and drinking in her scent mixed with the smell of the hide.
But maybe my fetish began even before that, on a trip to NY just prior to college, when my friend Simone took me to a show her friends were in. Four of us shared the back of a cab, and three were in leather pants: Simone, her friend Michael, and his lover David. I was surrounded in the butter-soft fabric, surrounded by that most sensual aroma ever.
I’ve never gotten over the way I feel when wearing leather, when touched with leather gloves, when zipped up tight in an ankle-length leather jacket. And yet somehow that sensation is very akin to the way I felt while editing my "F Is for Fetish" book. The heady scent of sex flooded over me as I turned the pages dedicated to toys and toes knickers to knuckles:
He ran those perfect fingers along the bike’s curves and let them linger in her hidden spots. He pressed his fingers in the gear spots where she always wanted more oil, tucked them into the corner of the stem that always collected dirt. I’d always wanted a man like that, who could discover my hidden places and know intuitively how I wanted, needed, to be touched. Not sex, but something else. A discovery maybe. Or the feeling that someone knows you better than yourself.
Watching his fingers made me dizzy. The smooth sound of his skin sliding over her frame, the way he tucked his fingertips beneath the lip of the seat—it was too much. Then he moved down to the flat tire. While he spun the wheel with one hand, he kept two fingers pressed to the side of the wheel. The sound was a steady slide, like someone pulling a skirt up over stockinged thighs.
(Excerpted from Shanna Germain’s sizzling “Knuckling Under.”)
I reveled in fetishes that appeal to me, and learned about some brand-new ones. And as I read the words, each fetish came alive to me, swept over me, leaving me breathless and blushing.
So feel free… feel free to imagine me fully flushed. And feel free to turn crimson-cheeked yourself as you tell us each one of your own secret fetishes….
P.S. For more info on fetishes, please check out this handy resource by the ever fetish-worthy Miss Violet Blue.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Wheee! A lusty round of applause for our two lucky winners: Debora Finkenbinder and Liz. Congratulations! You each win this handsome stack of smut featuring 8 of the hottest titles from Black Lace. Debora, Liz, email us with your postal address (details below) and the goodies will soon be yours!
Thanks to everyone who entered. It was a lot of fun, and it makes us feel good to have you drooling over our books. If you weren't lucky this time, don't despair. Our next competition is just around the corner. February 8th sees the UK release of Sex in Public, the latest Wicked Words short story collection from Black Lace. We'll be celebrating with another stupendous giveaway and, who knows, this time it could be YOU!
Until then, keep stopping by for the usual Lust Bites mix of chat, news, nonsense, heated debate and semi-naked men. Tomorrow, Alison Tyler starts the week in high kinky style with a few words on fetishes. On Wednesday 10th, we've got Mathilde Madden introducing a much-loved subject: guy on guy action, plus the best sandwich of all, male/female/male threesomes. And on Friday 12th, Alana Noel shares her experience of being a mother who writes erotica.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on how we're doing at Lust Bites. Is there anything you'd like to see more of? Less of? Stuff you've loved? Stuff you've loathed? Questions you want to ask? Books or authors you want to learn more about? Topics you want to see tackled? Men you want to see tackled? (Listen, we've got a lot of influence. Rufus Sewell naked? Hey, consider it done.)
Let us know, please. We're having a ball up here. We'd like to think that you are too!
Prizewinners, our email is: lustbitesblogatyahoo. com - substituting @ for at and no gaps.
Posted by Kristina Lloyd at 5:12 PM
Friday, January 5, 2007
I took two characters from an earlier novel two people deeply in love, who live only for one another wrenched them apart, enslaved one to a group of psychopathic demi-humans and battered the other round the head until he lost all his memories and now treads a razor-narrow line between reality and the world of the supernatural. And I said to them: "Go on how are you going to deal with that lot, then?"
...are currently working hard to fix the blog. We seem to have a little trouble posting, but don't worry, we'll be back soon. (Unless we decide we like watching the boys work too much to let them go...)
Posted by Nikki Magennis at 2:44 PM
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Today, I thought we’d chat about that old bugaboo—pen names. Pseudonyms. The nom de plume. Why do writers use them? Why are they so prevalent in erotic writing? Is it a necessity to cloak yourself in a new identity if you’re writing about sex? Or can you just be plain old you?
Of course, writers use pen names for at least a million reasons, and maybe more: to protect themselves and their loved ones, to save their career (see the recent rash of politicians writing erotica under a nom de plume), to keep their anonymity, to write more freely…
In some cases, it’s used as a marketing tool. (Apparently, publishers believe that a writer with a name like Howard Dumpleberry is probably going to sell a lot less erotic books than a writer named Arizona Gorgeousbody).
Over the years, many writers have used pen names to great success (and often found even greater success after their real name was disclosed to the public). Right off the top of my head, I think of two:
Anne Desclos, the intellectual French Journalist and translator who penned “Story of O” under the pseudonym Pauline Reage. The story is that she wrote the sado-masochistic book after her lover told her than women couldn’t write erotic novels.
Under the pen names A.N. Roquelaure and Anne Rampling, Anne Rice wrote her “Sleeping Beauty” series as well as a number of other erotic works. (By the way, while we’re talking about names, did you know that her given name was Howard Allen O'Brien?)
On the other hand, there are erotic writers out there who have chosen to disclose their identity, to be proud of what they write no matter the costs. Susie Bright is a perfect example. Cecilia Tan, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Bill Noble…the list goes on.
Personally, I’ve chosen not to use a pen name. For lots of reasons. The first is probably because I’m too damn proud. If I’m going to go through all the time and energy to write something good, I want the world to know it’s mine.
The second reason is because I made a choice early on that if I was going to write erotica and make money at it, I had to give back. And for me, that giving back means being proud to write about sex. It means showing respect to my readers—if they’re going to be brave enough to buy and read my writing, then I’m going to be brave enough to claim it as mine. And it means making a dent in a system (at least here in the States) that says sex is bad and is something that must be hidden. When people ask me what I write, I want to be able to say, “I write erotica, and here is my book that I’m so very proud of."
Okay, ladies (and gents), I’ve spouted off long enough. Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?
And, readers chime in: do you like it when an author uses their own name? Do you prefer not to know who's writing the books you read? Do you not care as long as the writing’s good?
Inquiring and erotic minds want to know!