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I’m often asked why I don’t write a ‘real’ book (in other words, one that doesn’t include sex). Bizarrely, exploring sexuality and desire on the page isn’t celebrated in the same way as the exploration of other human themes, such as grief or unrequited love. No matter that literature exploring sexuality often does so in the context of far wider human experience.
The themes of madness and imprisonment, and our desire for freedom (physically, emotionally and intellectually) often seem to tie into sexuality: as in Sarah Waters’ Affinity, Fingersmith and Little Stranger, in Jane Eyre, and in Wuthering Heights and in the novels of Wilkie Collins. What is it to be ‘mad’ and are our minds ever ‘free’? Angela Carter and Michel Faber, in their gorgeously rich prose, tackle these themes too.
In my case, this search for freedom has led me towards the erotic genre.
Like many writers (I suspect), I have a laptop stuffed with snatches of writing and story outlines, ideas I’ve been exploring, thoughts I’ve spilled out, tens of thousands of words as yet unseen. Some of my most brutal writing is there: resentments, pain and desire.
Write from that deep place and it changes you; creatures from your dark corners are allowed to come creeping out, and it’s utterly liberating!
When I write, I don’t need to hold back. Yes, it’s fiction, but my fears prowl the pages, as well as my fantasies.
As Lidia Yuknavitch says: ‘What is underneath what you want? And what is underneath that?’
I want to explore the bittersweet: things we rarely dare look at, feelings intense and wild and violent and unexplainable. On the page, I can play out anything my heart desires, explore anything, be anything.
Meanwhile, in ‘real life’ I live with my little hairy pudding terrier and my wonderful husband. I enjoy photography and cooking, and I watch films (lots and lots of films!)
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