Roadhouse Blues, by Malin James: a review

Roadhouse Blues isn’t just an outstanding collection of erotic shorts, it’s one of the most impactful, heartwarming books I’ve read, in any genre. The residents of Malin James’ fictional town of Styx, in the American South, are vividly alive, their voices as real as our own.

Malin isn’t afraid to explore taboos: our desire for what we know is ‘wrong’, for violence as well as softness. And, she shows how grief and violence mark us – that we bear scars on the inside, as well as those visible on our skin.

Her characters’ dialogue flows seamlessly, revealing to us their inner struggle and their hopes. Malin reminds us that our sexuality is woven through our identity, and that, without it, our stories cannot be fully told.

Contradictions are at the heart of this storytelling, showing that many of the things we yearn for have the power to damage us. Malin shows us the bittersweet and the beautiful, as in Marlboro Man. Her stories have humour, and they’re hot as hell; I adored Down and Dirty, and Krystal’s Revenge Fuck. I love every inch of this collection.

Roadhouse Blues by Malin James jpgWhen authors move us, it’s because they reveal to us our own truths. They show us the best and worst of humanity: our jealousy and possessiveness, as well as our capability for love. In Roadhouse Blues, Malin James explores what we fear and what we desire. She brings us all this, and more.

Malin tells us that her stories always revolve around her characters. “Some, like Mick in Roadhouse Blues and Sarah in Love in the Time of War were inspired by specific people I happened to see walking down the street,” she explains. “Most of the rest are amalgams that pulled themselves together in my subconscious. I’ve always been a people watcher—I’d much rather observe than be the center of the action (I’m a serious introvert). People are endlessly fascinating to me, and observing people first hand kicks up a strong kind of empathy.”

“It sounds really boring, but most of my ideas come when I’m alone and very quiet. I get a lot of nudges when I’m running, or meditating, or awake late at night (insomnia). They usually come in the form of characters or questions, though images prompt them too. If I’m engaged in too much externally, they flutter away, but if I’m very, very quiet, they stay long enough for me to touch them, and then the story goes from there.”

“Saying that, I listened to a lot of early jazz and blues when I was writing the collection. More generally, I tend to go with Bach and medieval choral music, though Miles Davis is a mainstay too. Unless I’m editing. When I’m editing, I do best when there’s nothing but quiet so I can hear the rhythms in the words.”  Meanwhile, Malin drinks huge amounts of tea, which she finds helps her to concentrate. “Not the caffeine per se, more the having of it.”

As to her favourite characters from the collection, Malin loves Maybelline, from Marlboro Man. “Temperamentally, she’s deeply self-contained, but also emotionally vulnerable, in a way that breaks my heart a little. She was one character that came to me almost fully formed. I also love Krystal from Krystal’s Revenge Fuck. I’m not sure I’d ever actually want to hang out with her because wow, she’s a handful, but her intensity and sheer engagement in life are incredible. She was so much fun to write. So. Much. Fun. And Sam, from Good Love. I’ve gotten very attached to Sam. She’s so strong, and resilient, and healthy, and caring. I suspect she and I will see each other again at some point.”

Good Love, without a doubt, was the hardest to write. The recovery aspects were very, very hard and came from a deeply personal (and yet hopeful) place. There were a number of knife edges I had to walk, not least of which was the process of my own recovery from trauma. The Waitress was difficult too. In fact, it wasn’t clear to me where the center of the story lay until the very last couple of drafts. Vanessa’s healing came very close to mirroring my own, and I danced around that for a long time without getting too close. They both challenged me in a cathartic way. Writing them was hard but I’m very glad I did it.”

“I learned about sex from books. Anne Rice, Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, Anais Nin and, most pivotally, Angela Carter. These authors introduced me to something new – deeply personal narratives that knowingly walked the line between the mundane and profane. They were my  first introduction to the relationship between sexuality and the psyche – between sex and the self – and it’s that relationship that I keep coming back to again and again.  That is what fascinates me – how people relate to each other, and themselves. Sex can be joyful, painful, wholesome, filthy, simple or profound. If people are the subject, then sex is the lens.”

As to what’s next for Malin, she says, “Something different, I think. Though I’m honestly not sure. I put so much into Roadhouse Blues that I haven’t been able to see past it yet. I’ll probably give myself a little quiet time and space. Whatever comes to me out of that quiet, is the thread I’ll end up following.”

Malin James Roadhouse Blues erotic fiction short stories

Welcome to Styx—a blue-collar, American town where people can do whatever they like, so long as they don’t advertise. From a 1950s diner to the back of a rocking Camaro, the stories in Roadhouse Blues reveal sex that is by turns romantic, raw, triumphant, and desperate. Meet two women grieving the same man, a bartender looking for anything but love, and a hot, brash newlywed who knows she married a cheat. The local garage is run by a kick-ass woman who gives as fierce as she gets, and the strip club is a place full of whiskey and smoke, where memories are exposed as easily as skin.

Malin James is an essayist, blogger, and short story writer. Her work has appeared in Malin JamesElectric Literature, Bust, MUTHA, Queen Mob’s Tea House and Medium, as well as in podcasts and anthologies for Cleis Press, Sweetmeats Press and Stupid Fish Productions. Her first collection, Roadhouse Blues, is published with Go Deeper Press.

Purchase your copy here

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Come Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross : a review

I read Leone RossDrag a few years ago, and I knew right then that I’d found someone special, an author with a unique voice. For me, the story is about our desire not to be restricted or categorized. It’s a battle-cry for individuality, for throwing off shackles.

The whole collection, of Come Let Us Sing Anyway, has this feel for me, that we’re seeing characters who are defiantly blazing, refusing to be constrained by others’ expectations.

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Leone’s storytelling is fearless altogether, and radiant, which is especially apparent in her portrayal of erotic themes. Her prose is, by turns, refreshingly shocking and gorgeously sensual (often, both together!) Our desire for sexual connection is right where it should be in these stories, whether thrusting itself into the limelight, or gnawing away, silently.

Leone’s cast is diverse, eccentric, eye-poppingly theatrical. And yet their actions and words are strikingly familiar. Bizarre as they are, they show us the universal truths that bind us: that we all love, and grieve, and hope, and yearn; that we all struggle, and desire.

Few writers can deliver dialogue like Leone Ross – or achieve so much with so few words. Her stories sing in the small details, her characters built in the roll of their hips and the blossom of obscenities from their mouths, often delivered in Jamaican patwa.Leone Ross Drag quote

Her prose is dazzlingly beautiful and daringly original (as a woman masturbates in a restaurant WC, ‘…even the shining tiles on the bathroom floor seemed to ululate to help her’).

As readers, we each bring our own interpretation; it’s what makes reading exciting. Come Let Us Sing Anyway is, in many places, bravely, invitingly ambiguous. It’s a wonderful thing, because it obliges us to bring ourselves to the story, to find meaning in relation to our own experience.

You may like to read my interview with Leone, here, on her influences and intentions in storytelling.

Purchase Come Let Us Sing Anyway from Peepal Tree Press

or, if you’d like a copy for your Kindle, purchase from Amazon

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About Leone Ross

Known for melding magic realism with erotic fiction, Leone Ross’ novels and short stories are original in approach, style and voice, defying literary niches and expectations of genre. Her work incorporates elements of speculative fiction, erotica and Caribbean fiction.

Leone’s first novel, All The Blood Is Red, was short-listed for the Orange Prize, in 1997. Her second, Orange Laughter, received critical acclaim in 2000, published in the UK, US and France.

Leone worked as a journalist and editor for fourteen years, holding the post of Arts Editor at The Voice newspaper, Women’s Editor at the New Nation newspaper, and  transitional Editor for Pride magazine, in the UK. She also held the position of Deputy Editor at Sibyl, a feminist magazine. Leone freelanced for The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian as well as London Weekend Television and the BBC.  She currently works as a senior lecturer in Creative Writing, at London’s Roehampton University.

Follow Leone on Twitter

Drop in to her website: www.leoneross.com

Or find her on Facebook 

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Author Influences : LN Bey

LN Bey was a reader of erotica long before taking up the pen to write debut novel Blue. Attracted to the ‘inherent illogicality of BDSM’, as LN puts it, ‘the desire to be beaten, controlled and humiliated (or to do the beating) despite it making no logical sense’, Blue is a quest story, with a darkly twisted heart.

LN is adamant that what we read and erotically fantasize doesn’t always bear reflection in what we’d want to experience in real life. In fiction, in our imagination, we’re free, if we choose, to embrace situations we’d find too extreme, too distasteful or, even, too disturbing, in reality.

Speaking of early influences, LN explains, “My interest in BDSM is innate. I found power differentials and half-undressed perils interesting long before I had any idea how sex actually worked. Among the earliest things I read that were overtly sexual, and thrilled me to my core, were a couple of stories in mainstream porn magazines from a friend’s parent’s or older brother’s collection, I forget exactly. One was in an early-1980s Hustler, I believe, and was a very odd thing to find there: a story about a fem-dom slave auction, a dominatrix on stage, one man after another brought out, hurt, and humiliated, before being sold. It certainly got my interest.”

AN RoquelaureMuch later, LN read Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy, then Réage’s Story of O, Antoniou’s Marketplace series and Weatherfield’s Carrie novels. LN explains, “Although the styles (and intentions) of these four women authors differ radically, they each have a definite sense of erotic cruelty—consensual, yes, but often ‘consensual non-consent’. It’s about how the characters deal with the system they’ve agreed to enter. There is love, or something like it, in these books, but desire, and the drive to keep going, to keep pushing oneself, is the bigger theme.”

As LN explains, these novels explore total ‘erotic fantasy’ immersion (in particular, into situations which would be too strict for anyone to seek out in reality). Rather than promoting the safe, sane, and consensual in fiction, these novels embrace extremes, so that the ‘fantasy’ exists firmly in the imagination, rather than being a fantasy which the reader might choose to act out.

“Sometimes referred to as ‘chateau porn’ (but what I’ve always called ‘institutional Pauline Réage History of O BDSM eroticaporn’),” says LN, “They’re full of wealthy people, and take place in worldwide organizations that trade and train voluntary sex slaves, or variants thereof: Roquelaure’s world is a conquering castle; Réage’s a more local wealthy club. We follow entry into a whole new world, not just a new relationship.”

The dedication in Blue reads: ‘…to the four women who have cost me countless hours of sleep but showed me how fun it could be to put entire worlds, and all the filthy things that go on within them, down on paper: Molly Weatherfield, Laura Antoniou, A. N. Roquelaure and Pauline Réage.’ It is these women writers who, foremost, inspire LN Bey’s erotic fiction writing although, amusingly, LN admits that the impulse to pen erotica was primarily triggered by an air-freshener commercial!

89598“A woman is seen busily cleaning her sleek Modernist house, in preparation for a dinner party,” LN explains. “The guests all show up, two couples, and I remember thinking it was a little odd that she was the fifth wheel in this; she had no partner. They all look around, so impressed with her house and the food, but, being an air freshener commercial, they start to sniff the air, and we see the dog on the sofa and the fish frying, and then they all look at her, very disapprovingly. She sort of hangs her head in shame. And every time I saw it I felt this wonderful little tension, because it was obvious, to me at least, that she was going to have to be punished…by the guests!”

“It was the first fiction I’d written since, maybe, high school and I didn’t intend to do anything with it; it was just a hot little fantasy. But it kept bugging me—would this happen, this situation? For it to actually play out, the scene would either be non-consensual, or there would be a reason for all this to happen. I kept thinking about it, and I decided she would have to be ‘in on it’ — she knew beforehand that she’d be punished for infractions, imperfections. It’s what she wanted.”

This became the opening scene of LN Bey’s Blue, where the banality of suburban life meets the seemingly contrary drama of BDSM ‘theatre’.

LN recalls that the first drafts were full of head-hopping and clichés. However, through reading more erotica, taking Rachel Kramer Bussel’s online writing class, and experimenting with short story fiction, LN began to gain confidence, and refine skills.

Precision is a focus for LN, who admires this in Kubrick’s work, where the ‘loving, longing gaze lingers over small details’. As LN notes, Kubrick lingers not only on objects but on people (often using people as objects in his films) and on their conversations.

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photography by Araki

Of the many erotic artists loved by LN, several are graphic novelists: Crepax, MichaelManning, Eric von Gotha, and Stanton. “These artists create entire worlds, where liberties can be taken with reality, practicality, and consent. I also love it when highly skilled painters apply themselves to erotically themed works. I adore Saturno Buttò. A painter named Roberto Negrón did a fantastic series on B&D behaviors, and there is the work of photographer Araki.”

ETHEREA III Saturno Butto
Work by Saturno Butto

Other authors admired by LN are Donna Tartt, Thomas Pynchon and Margaret Atwood. Of Pynchon, LN says, “I love the twisty, screwed-up quests, taking unexpected directions, with multiple plotlines. You travel with characters who only briefly cross paths or just miss each other. I love his willingness to have important characters drop out early, and the book is suddenly someone else’s story. Mysteries are slowly uncovered, or added, and his language is incredibly colourful and rhythmic.”

Speaking of Donna Tartt, LN admires her use of minutia to 2-1immerse the reader. “So much erotica seems to lacks detail until the sex scenes,” LN regrets, ‘As if they’re taking place on an empty stage with no setting.”

LN is a fan the ‘epic quest’, naming 2001: A Space Odyssey, Excalibur, and Apocalypse Now. “Episodic, segmented, linear but winding, they’re exhausting to the participants, and for the viewer, feeling as if we’ve been right there with them. In comedies such as The Blues Brothers Movie and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the quest explodes into absolute chaos. The latter has multiple quests taking place simultaneously, all inflicting insane, comic violence onto the world. What drives people to such extremes? The goals of these quests are all completely different; it’s the drive that fascinates me.”

“1970s erotic film rules my world: The Image, Story of O, the Tani Naomi films, and The Education of the Baroness. Cheap sexploitation movies,” LN declares. “There was a brief period, before the video format took over, in which ‘porn’ directors made sexually explicit, feature-length films with actual plots and some degree of characterization. They had budgets. They would, in their limited way, attempt to tackle issues: the psychologies of sexual power and submission, with varying degrees of consent (Tani Naomi films = 0 on that scale). They took chances! Considering how we can now find any filthy fetish recorded for the Internet, it’s amazing that such films aren’t made today.”

317fRIVTvWLRead my review of LN Bey’s Blue here

and purchase from Amazon

As her guests arrive for dinner, Janet is both fearful and aroused—because this is no ordinary suburban dinner party. Recently divorced and looking for something new, Janet definitely finds it when her friend Jon invites her to join an exclusive club of kinksters whose initiation is to be the host—and the entertainment.

Before the food is even served, she’s naked and on her knees, not to mention in over her head.

Kinky and sexy, intelligent and perceptive, Blue is both highly entertaining social satire and red hot erotica.

LN has written Blue from a position of knowledge, having been practicing BDSM for decades, in private. Meanwhile, in creating the group dynamics and small-group politics of the kink Scene, LN drew widely on the experiences of close acquaintances. “I’m interested in examining why some of us are attracted to dispensing or receiving the intense stimulations that others would call pain, or submitting our will and body to another (whether within the limits of safewords in real life or without them in erotica, porn, and fantasy).”

Blue’s protagonist, Janet, fears disapproval, and shunning — from her conservative family, her neighbours, and her co-workers. As LN admits, “These are the very things that keep me up at night. She fears being photographed, of there being a record of her perversion. I envy those who can be open about their kinks. Some of us simply cannot, which makes writing this kind of thing (or, rather, publishing this kind of thing) risky, though it is constantly surprising to me that, in this day and age, consensual habits still need to be kept secret.”

 

About LN Bey

LN has lived in various cities and towns throughout the American West and Midwest with spouse and pets in tow, pursuing various creative endeavours and playing interesting games. LN’s debut erotic novel Blue was released in 2016 and the three of five segments of the Villa series are now released. LN also appears in the following anthologies:

Best Bondage Erotica 2015, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Love Slave: Sizzle, 2016, ed. by Dom Exel

No Safewords 2, 2017, ed. by Laura Antoniou.

 

Find LN at lnbey.com and at Viscontipress.com

On Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon 

 

Blue, by LN Bey: a review

LN Bey was a reader of erotica long before taking up the pen, with particular attraction Pauline Réage History of O BDSM eroticato the inherent illogicality of BDSM — as LN puts it ‘the desire to be beaten, controlled and humiliated (or to do the beating) despite it making no logical sense’.

As a reader, LN embraced Molly Weatherfield, Laura Antoniou, AN Roquelaure and Pauline Réage, each with their own brand of erotic cruelty, of ‘consensual non-consent’, exploring systematized sex slavery.

AN RoquelaureAs LN explains, “In Story of O, in the Beauty trilogy, and in The Marketplace, the subs are there to serve and to lose themselves, not to be coddled before and after a spanking. It’s assumed that Masters are entitled to their slaves’ submission, and that’s what the submissives expect, and want, as well.”

317fRIVTvWLUnlike Story of O and the worlds of Antoniou, Weatherfield and Roquelaure, there are no castles or billionaire mansions in Blue, which is set in the blandest of American suburbs, where our cast of kinky suburbanites, each flawed and ego-centric, have day jobs, shop in supermarkets and battle traffic jams.

As LN explains, “I’m not a fan of overly romantic language, sweeping us along doe-eyed and swooning, with our hands clasped under our chins. I wanted to write realistically, taking what I most love about fantastical erotica and placing the scenarios into a believable setting.”

LN Bey, in Blue, presents characters each on their own quest for self-realization, usually through extremes of self-expression – through film, photography and performance, but also, as ‘artists’ of their identity, shaping themselves as living works of art (naturally, as works in continuous progress). The most obvious example of this is the character of Mai, who stands, in imitation of a statue, throughout the novel, decorating a niche of Carolyn’s home, but there are many others, less overt.

89598Blue references erotic art and fiction, creating a nod to the reader, in their role as ‘connoisseur’: we recognize ourselves in these characters who read erotica, peruse erotic art works, and indulge in sexual fantasy. Janet, the leading protagonist, begins her journey in just this way, with a collection of well-thumbed novels of ‘erotic peril’ and some coffee-table books of provocative images.

Janet engineers her entry into a fantasy, built upon expectations from her reading of sensational fiction (in this way, Blue is rather like a kinky, 21st century version of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey). Unsurprisingly, she is destined for disappointment, as reality fails to match her imagination (although there are elements of her experience that do appeal to her, and keep her coming back for more). Meanwhile, Janet’s fears must be overcome, in order for her to attain self-realization. LN tells us, “She isn’t looking for love but thrills, for her fantasies to come true, even if the book is largely about the impossibility of that. She knows how she wants to be treated now (‘strictly, but not callously’) and she’s suddenly got the opportunity she’s been looking for.”

Blue is about the artistry of pain, and control, and the struggle to fulfill yearning, to gain self-realization. Janet discovers, through her ‘quest’, that she craves being dominated, being compelled to serve and to take pain (despite disliking discomfort). She is a submissive, rather than a masochist, gaining pleasure from obedience rather than from the endorphin rush of pain itself.

Blue quote chapter 14In parallel, Carolyn, a dominant seemingly in control of everything around her, struggles to control her own emotions. LN tells us, “I modelled Carolyn’s crisis on the HAL 9000 character from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. An artificial intelligence-level computer, HAL was faced with two contradictory missions; unable to cope with conflicting impulses, as in Carolyn’s case, all hell broke loose.”

The most moving chapter in Blue is unveiled entirely through phone voice-mail, revealing Carolyn’s true feelings for her submissive.

LN comments, “I’m fond of alternative means of narration. That chapter shows us relics of communication, with a different timeline. We later learn that the voicemails weren’t even effective, because he wasn’t checking his messages. She was talking to no one.”

Some of the most vivid scenes in Blue evolve around hyper-stylized film-making, where Laura Antoniou The Marketplace BDSM eroticatension is heightened, since we, like Janet, have no idea what will happen next. Speaking of the inspiration behind these scenes, LN references director Kubrick’s ‘lingering’ shots and wide angles, and his tendency to shoot people as he would objects, examining them in minute detail.

As LN comments, “Blue is a book about erotica. About people who read erotica, and how we build expectations from reading it. One of the goals of the book is to subvert the expectations that the reader is likely to have about the story and characters, just as Janet’s expectations are constantly subverted.”

Purchase Blue from Amazon

As her guests arrive for dinner, Janet is both fearful and aroused—because this is no 317fRIVTvWLordinary suburban dinner party. Recently divorced and looking for something new, Janet definitely finds it when her friend Jon invites her to join an exclusive club of kinksters whose initiation is to be the host—and the entertainment.

Before the food is even served, she’s naked and on her knees, not to mention in over her head.

Kinky and sexy, intelligent and perceptive, Blue is both highly entertaining social satire and red hot erotica.

About LN Bey

LN has lived in various cities and towns throughout the American West and Midwest with spouse and pets in tow, pursuing various creative endeavours and playing interesting games.

LN’s debut erotic novel Blue was released in 2016 and the three of five segments of the Villa series are now released.

LN also appears in the following anthologies:

Best Bondage Erotica 2015, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Love Slave: Sizzle, 2016, ed. by Dom Exel

No Safewords 2, 2017, ed. by Laura Antoniou.

 

Find LN at  lnbey.com and Viscontipress.com

On TwitterAmazon and Goodreads

 

 

 

Author Influences : Terrance Aldon Shaw

Terrance Aldon Shaw (TAS to his friends) has written more than 70 erotic short stories, 10001405_268601389969496_1314269374_nand is currently at work on a novel The Seven Seductions. His work explores the thoughts, feelings and emotions that accompany the erotic experience.

Having worked as a musician for much of his adult life, eking out a modest living as a singer and a classical composer, TAS stresses that music has been the primary influence on his writing: not just his love for classical works and grand opera but classical-influenced jazz and 70s rock, folk, bluegrass and country, hip hop and rap.

TAS asserts, “There’s nothing that equals the power of music to express emotion, to evoke atmosphere, and establish mood. This is why a film without a score often seems to fall short of its potential, lacking the full measure of visceral impact—just compare the scene in Jaws where the shark attacks the boat, first without John Williams’ music in the background, then with it. Whether conjuring a sense of existential anxiety and dramatic tension, desolation or euphoria, claustrophobic horror or the sublime vastness of space, nothing comes close to music.”

Comparing musical composition with that of writing, TAS underlines, “You have to be able to discern structure. Melody, harmony, and rhythm have to be coordinated to form a coherent statement. When I sit down to write, I consider the musical quality of the words, the prose-melodies that are created by the artful combination of words and phrases gradually built up into the literary equivalent of a symphony (that word, by the way, means ‘sounding together’). The way writing sounds when read aloud is important; if it doesn’t flow, if it doesn’t reach out and tickle the reader’s ear—if it doesn’t make music—it’s not ready to publish.”

Terrance Aldon Shaw Moon-Haunted heart quote 2

As to how we make music with words, TAS advises varying the length of our phrases, never letting rhythms become too predictable, and avoiding repeated syntactical patterns. He emphasizes, “Understand that each word (or each note) carries its own innate energy, like a charged particle. If you arrange words carelessly, putting similar words too close together you drain them of their emotive power.  Finally—and this is quite important, I think—don’t always play your music in the same key. Vary the mood and pace—especially in multi-chaptered works. Occasionally, dark clouds need to roll in and, sometimes, the sun needs to break through the dark clouds, if only long enough to keep the reader interested.”

He adds, “Great music has a sense of flow, an inevitable logic, leaving the impression that every constituent element is perfectly coordinated with every other. In the great operas of Wagner, particularly Die Walküre and Siegfried from Der Ring des Niebelungen, the music never seems to pause. I want that quality of sensuousness—that inevitable sense of flow—to permeate my prose and animate my storytelling .You can’t be a great composer if you only grasp what’s on the surface. You have to appreciate the way disparate elements come together. You have to see it all from the inside.”

Terrance Aldon Shaw Moon-Haunted heart quote 1

TAS is profoundly near-sighted, which perhaps explains his desire to evoke sensory detail. As he comments, “When you’re a storyteller, everything you see and hear and touch has its own story.”

Nevertheless, he has a love of photography, sculpture and painting, and these have influenced some of his stories directly. In Night Vision, based on his own experience, the near-sighted narrator takes off his glasses and sees a jazz ensemble ‘reduced to its essential shapeless elements of light and colour’. As TAS explains, this gave him sudden appreciation of the nature of abstract art. He names ‘the intriguingly distorted figures set in the bleak urban landscape of Di Chirico’s The Disquieting Muses’ as an influence and Jackson Pollack’s Mural, which he believes ‘evokes its own strange multi-verse of fractal layers, like grains of sand under a powerful microscope’. As he notes wryly, “If you can’t find a story prompt there, you’re not looking.”

TAS points out that theatrical and cinematic works ‘all begin with the written word’. He comments, “I’m attracted to the same qualities in film that I find irresistible in books; an evocative sense of atmosphere, and sharp narrative focus (look at Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men based on the P.D. James sci-fi novel, or Kathryn Bigelow’s dystopian masterpiece, Strange Days with its seamless tracking shots and breathtaking leaps into the realm of virtual reality). I also appreciate intelligent storytelling that does not patronize the viewer with obvious ‘set-up’ dialogue or linger on superfluous detail: I am reminded of those long stretches of silence in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, so richly detailed—a perfect example of showing as opposed to telling. And then there’s that wonderful Pixar animated film Wall-E, where the poignance of the story is heightened by the lonesome stillness of an abandoned earth.”

He adds, “I also adore movies that engage my playful side (Charlie Chaplain’s City Lights and Modern Times, The Marx Brothers A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and absolutely anything by Mel Brooks. And . . . and . . . and!  I LOVE Joss Whedon’s stuff for its intelligent ‘meta’ storytelling, its wisecracking archetypes, and its cheeky—very intentional—employment of bathos. These are all things I aspire to in my writing. Effective scene-setting through the evocation of atmosphere, an unblinking eye for crucial detail, and an uncompromising demand for clarity of narrative.”

He also muses, “I’m moved by great dancing in the movies and I admire those who can dance well—their gracefulness is just so often a mystery to me, I can’t help but be dazzled even as I’m sad that I can’t join in with them. In my writing, I often refer to dance, employing it as a metaphor, sometimes citing the techniques, or the physical characteristics associated with dancers.”

Terrance Aldon Shaw Moon-Haunted heart quote 3

TAS asserts that he ‘categorically rejects magical thinking and superstition’, yet admits that tales of fantasy and magic have deeply influenced his own storytelling. Beyond early influences of fairy tales and myths, Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible, he is drawn to ‘sweeping, mythic, quasi-poetic narratives’: Stephen King’s Gunslinger, and William M. Miller’s Canticle for Liebowitz (which he callsprobably one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, and certainly a great work of humanist fiction’).

TAS tells us, “Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber blew my mind apart and put it back together in the same revelatory instant—such beautiful, daring language! Reading Anais Nin is like soaring across the astral plains and never wanting to come down again. Imagica, by Clive Barker, is a creepy, atmospheric tour de force, while Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is powerfully thought-provoking, exploring the conflict between faith and science, politics, and sex. What all these books have in common is that they’re intelligently conceived, elegantly written, evocative, colorful, always—always!—feeding the reader’s intellect while stimulating the imagination. That’s the kind of book I love to read—and certainly the kind of book I want to write.”

Other books that have stayed with him are The Engineer of Human Souls by Czech author Josef Skvorevski, which he calls ‘a tragi-comic masterpiece of sex, politics and academia as seen through the bemused eye of a cynical college-English professor and political refugee’. TAS notes that Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, ‘with its deeply sympathetic yet relentlessly unblinking descriptions of suffering’ has influenced not only his writing, but his life.

Unsurprisingly, given his musical ear, TAS also has a love of poetry. He explains, “I came to deeply appreciate poetry through my interest in classical music, and the masterful settings of the great poets by modern composers, like Benjamin Britten and Ned Rorem. When I heard a setting of a poem that affected me, I went out and bought everything I could find by that poet, looking for things that I, too, could set to my own music: everything from medieval lyric fragments, Chaucer and Shakesperare’s sonnets, to Blake, Keats, Shelly, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson, to Walt Whitmann, Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Wilfred Owen, Vachel Lindsay, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, Sylvia Plath, W.H. Auden, Robert Frost, and Pablo Neruda in translation.”

He continues, “Poetry has taught me the importance of being concise and a sense of rhythm. I loved poetry long before I became serious about writing prose.”

In his writing, TAS gives us all that is ‘distilled within that secret place where love and madness meet’. He tells of what might have been; tales not only of mortality and desire, but of nostalgia, regret, isolation, loneliness and longing, lost inspiration and the search for one’s place in the cosmic scheme of things. These aspects he surveys through the lens of the erotic, inviting us to scrutinize ourselves as sexual beings: naked, vulnerable, passionate, longing. Only in so doing can we know ourselves.

As Mr. Shaw declares, writers ‘live in hope that what they write will have meaning, though it is almost always left to readers to find it’.

 

Works by the author

Terrance Aldon Shaw’s Moon-Haunted Heart comprises fifty short pieces, exploring the The Moon-Haunted Heart (print cover image) 4 - Copy (4)human condition through the lens of the erotic. See my review here.

Eight Erotic Tales print (front) cover 1Another of his short story collections is Take Me Like the World Ends at Midnight. As TAS tells us, “They say forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. These eight short stories are about the thrill of the unexpected; a handsome stranger’s touch in a dark theater, a night of passion with the most unlikely of mystery men; the sheer adrenaline rush of sudden contact; the silent promise of ecstasy.”

 

About the author

Terrance Aldon Shaw (TAS to his friends) lives in a 167-year-old farmhouse in the heart of southeast Iowa’s Amish country. His neighbours do not know what he does for a living. (Sometimes, he’s not quite certain himself.)

 Find Mr. Shaw’s reviews, musings on the craft of writing and short stories on his site: Erotica for the Big Brain

Find him also:

On Smashwords 

On Amazon

On Facebook

On Goodreads

 

Part Five: Behind the Erotic Pen – interviewing the authors of ‘For the Men’ anthology

This is the final installment in my review of the tantalizing new anthology, For the Men erotic fictionwritten For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them), edited (and narrated) by Rose Caraway

Rose Caraway erotic fiction author interviewTwenty-five tales: from bitter chocolate and acidic citrus, to lush caramel.

In this series, I’ve shared insights from the authors: their thinking as they wrote each tale…

The collection aims to show that erotic fiction isn’t just for women. The  Rose Caraway reading narrating erotic fiction conduit for author passion‘erotic’ in literature has the power to speak to everyone.

In Part One, I looked at the theme of ‘watching and being watched’: our desire to exhibit ourselves sexually, the thrill of revealing, and concealing.

In Part Two, I delved tales filled with tension and conflict, exploring dichotomies of power: giving and receiving, vulnerability and strength.

Rose Caraway  Erotic Fiction audio quote express your sexualityIn Part Three, I looked at stories in unusual settings: futuristic, supernatural, and off-planet: locations thrilling and unexpected.

In Part Four, I examined psychological and emotional depth within some of the stories, taking us to places unsettling, in which to face our own truths.

Here, I present tales which combine fantasy with ‘the everyday’: on journeys, within the home, on the simple Rose Caraway quote on honest and unflinching audio narrationsetting of a farm. We see the meeting of strangers, and passion between those in established relationships.

Jade A. Waters and Spencer Dryden both contribute ‘handyman fantasies’ to the collection. Jade’s 73A portrays the fantasy of sex with a stranger. She recalls a crush on a handyman who came to work on her satellite dish, admitting that she considered trying to get him back for ‘more repairs’. Jade combined that memory with another of a good-looking painter working on a neighbour’s fence. The result is sassy and humorous.

jade a waters author erotic fiction eroticaIt came together like a lust letter in my head!” she admits, adding, “While I think the anonymous sex/no strings attached sex idea often appeals to men, I don’t think that’s lost on women, either.

Jade muses on perhaps Emma Stone or Blake Lively playing her lusty jade-a-waters-for-the-menheroine, with a confident, dude next door as her handyman suitor: Gerard Butler, Wentworth Miller, or Simon Baker.

Spencer describes his tender handyman story, MILF and Cookies, as a ‘holiday romance suitable for the Hallmark Channel, if Hallmark gave us erotic romance, told from the perspective of the male protagonist’. For his fantasy casting, he’d use Matt Damon and would love to hear reader’s thoughts on who’d be suitable for his female protagonist.spencer-dryden-for-the-men

He tells us, “Like many of my short format male POV works, an earnest but somewhat clueless guy falls into the orbit of an enchanting woman… From that, I’m sure something could be inferred about my own romantic encounters!”

Terrance Aldon Shaw’s Making Hay is a re-telling of one of the classic Norse myths: a tale of lust, of longing, of restlessness, and our search for our place in the scheme of things. It’s set on a small tenant farm, such as his paternal grandfather worked upon, struggling to make ends meet and could be set ‘somewhere between the late 1930s and early 1960s’.

He asserts, “I wanted to write a story about men and women working side by side, doing real, hard physical labor, and respecting each other for their work.” He notes that people ‘close to the earth’ tend to be more ‘matter-of-terrance-aldon-shaw-for-the-menfact about sex’. Meanwhile, ‘hard work in close proximity often becomes an aphrodisiac in itself’.

In writing the tale, Terrance gave thought to what a man in this setting would find attractive and desirable. He tells us, “Gunni is not just physically beautiful but is given the great compliment of being ‘a good worker’.” Meanwhile, she is physically strong yet has a certain vulnerability: a ‘subtle duality’ as Terrance puts it.

“I also thought it would be interesting to describe these people’s relationship with the machinery they depend on for their livelihood. (Is Erotic fiction Terrance Aldon Shaw quotethat ‘a guy thing’ or what?) The image of the baling machine as a kind of sexually voracious creature–comprising both male and female characteristics, really gets to the essence of this story.

Terrance emphasizes that the need to harvest promptly, before the hay is ruined by rain, lends a sense of realism and urgency, which underscores the erotic elements in the story.

As for the inspiration behind the tale, Terrance explains, “The god Odin assumed human form to learn the ways of men. He plucked out one of his eyes in exchange for the gift of foreknowledge, and, in the guise of a farm hand, seduced the maiden Gunlöo.”

Terrance Aldon Shaw quote erotic fiction pornA fan of the TV series Vikings, Terrance imagines Kevin Durrand (who plays Harbard, the bard/wanderer) and Alyssa Sutherland (who plays Princess Auslaug) in his main roles, saying that Alyssa ‘would make a lovely Gunni, with just the right amount of vulnerability and spunk’.

Rachel de Vine‘s Hitchhiker gives us a female protagonist with an uninhibited attitude to sex. Rachel recalls her own youthful days of hitch-hiking around Europe, feeling that ‘anything was possible’. Rachel wished to present hiker Jezebel ‘without her being judged and found morally lacking’. She tells us, “I wanted my female character to be bold and fearless, and honest about her intentions and needs.”rachel-de-vine-erotic-fiction

For Jezebel,  and trucker Hermes (the name Jezebel gives to him as the Greek god of travelling), Rachel imagines casting Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson from the TV series Poldark, admiringhis dark intensity and fiendishly good looks’ and ‘her mass of auburn hair and strong character’.

D. Lovejoy describes Take It Like a Man as ‘a humorous story about a guy whose wife uses her seductive wiles to convince him to try pegging’; meanwhile, he is anxious as to what this means for his manhood. Dahlia explains, “I wrote a story I wanted to read—sexy and funny with a touch of the ‘forbidden.’ I love when erotica uses humor; it’s a great tool for lowering defenses and allowing the reader to dahlia-lovejoy-for-the-menexplore new possibilities and discover new turn-ons. I wanted to show how sex doesn’t have to become stale or predictable. Exploring fantasies together is a great way to connect and keep the fires burning. And things don’t have to go perfectly. It’s fine to laugh together when they don’t.”

As for her leading man, she laments that Seth Rogen doesn’t make erotica.  

Josie Jordan’s The After Party gives the reader a very steamy ménage, her female protagonist entering into a consensual encounter with two men.

She notes, “It’s the first erotic story I’ve written without a woman being thejosie-jordan-for-the-men main character. I figured being approached in a club by a gorgeous girl who wants to go home with you would be a popular male fantasy. Except there’s a twist: she wants his best friend to come too. I thought couples could read this story together and imagine themselves in this situation.”

Josie imagines Channing Tatum as her leading man, and admits that the fantasy is one she has come close to enacting in real life. She muses, “I’ve always wondered what it would be like. I had so much fun fantasizing about it to write this story!”

***

Erotic fiction isn’t just for women. It’s for everyone.

Explore the unexpected, and the uninhibited.

To read more from the authors behind this exciting anthology, you may like to read parts one,  two, three and four.

for-the-men_cover-copy-back-02An audio version is now available to complement the e-book (narrated by huskily voiced, utterly fabulous Rose Caraway.

My darkly erotic story, ‘Labyrinth’, features in final place in the collection, following stories by authors Adrea Kore, Tamsin FlowersRachel Kramer BusselAllen Dusk, Terrance Aldon Shaw, Rachel de Vine, Jade A WatersDorothy FreedD.L. KingChase Morgan, Marc AngelCharlie Powell, Landon Dixon, Sonni de Soto, D. Lovejoy, Erin Pim, J.T. Seate, Spencer Dryden, Winter Blair, Simon Drax, Lynn Lake, Josie Jordan, Daily Hollow, and T.J. Christian.

Find out more here, in Terrance Aldon Shaw’s interview with Rose: on creating an Stupid-Fish Rose and Dayv Caraway interview erotic fiction pganthology attempting to encompass the scope of male desire, on advice to aspiring writers, and the importance of plain speaking when it comes to sex.

You may enjoy a peek at my own interview with Rose, and husband Dayv, on their superb work in creating for-the-men_official-cover-copyerotic audio-fiction and anthologies.

More from Rose, including sexy snippets from each story, and her own interviews with each author, at Stupid Fish Productions.

Purchase your copy of ‘For the Men: And the Women Who Love Them’ from Amazon.

Part Four: Behind the Erotic Pen – interviewing the authors of ‘For the Men’ anthology

for-the-men erotic fiction fantasy For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them) is the latest anthology release by editor (and narrator) Rose Caraway, gathering together twenty-five authors, each with their own, tantalizing flavour, filled not just with strawberry creams but with dark truffles, delicate marzipans and sharp ginger.

The collection aims to show that erotic fiction isn’t just for women. The  ‘erotic’ has the power to speak to everyone.

For the Men erotic fiction In this series, I’m sharing  insights from our authors. Read on, to discover their thinking as they wrote each tale…

In Part One, I delved the theme of ‘watching and being watched’: our desire to exhibit ourselves sexually, the thrill of revealing, and concealing.

In Part Two, I examined tales filled with tension and conflict, exploring dichotomies, emmanuelle-de-maupassant-quote-erotic-fictionparticularly relating to power: giving and receiving, vulnerability and strength.

In Part Three, I looked at stories in unusual settings: futuristic, supernatural, and off-planet: locations thrilling and unexpected.

In this instalment, I look at two tales which defy erotic fiction’s reputation for focusing only on the superficial. They demonstrate not only the power to arouse the reader, but to engage us with psychological and emotional depth, taking us to places unsettling, in which to face our own truths : Odd Man, by Sonni de Soto, and Charlie Powell’s Winning Big. 

Sonni’s Odd Man explores the psychology of jealousy, and the fragility of our relationships, built upon assumed identities. Using an intimate narrative voice, she probes our vulnerability.

Sonni drew on her own experience of open relationships in writing her tale, wanting to explore not only the thrill of the fantasy but the ‘train-wreck tragedy’ that can come from attempting polyamory. Her story aims to show that we cannot expect our relationships to remain unchanged by time.

sonni-de-soto-for-the-men-erotic-fictionAs women have been emboldened by feminism and attitudes of sex positivity, becoming more open in articulating their needs (which may include the desire to have sex with more than one person), Sonni believes that men are faced with pressures to find their role. She notes that, in dismantling traditions, men can feel vulnerable, questioning not only the validity of their relationship but their ‘value’ as a man. Her story aims to confront some of those anxieties.

She admits, “It can be scary and, even, disheartening but, instead of looking at this as a relationship-ending inevitability, it can be seen as an opportunity. To grow as individuals as well as partners. As I age, the more it seems that the only way to keep the promise we bought into when we were young is by being open to change.”

In casting a film version of her complex story, she sees Ryan Gosling as her protagonist, Russel Crowe as his romantic rival and ‘someone ethereally beautiful’, like Olivia Wilde, as the woman in their lives. Sonni advocates for evolving and adapting, believing that happiness is ‘something we must strive towards everyday’.charlie-powell-for-the-men

Charlie Powell’s story, Winning Big, is a bittersweet tale, exploring the themes of infidelity and lost love, as well as whether we can love someone without being sexually compatible. She says, “Sometimes, great sex isn’t enough – you can have that with someone and they can still be bad for you. Don’t be surprised if that means you never lose the temptation to go back there…” 

Charlie does not offer a ‘happily ever after’. Her clever, smoothly narrated tale explores the forbidden: our desire to be unfaithful to those who trust us. She explains, “I wanted to show that people are complex.” Her story is set during a hen celebration, when the bride-to-be sees the old flame she has never been able to forget. She is moved to act where she knows she would be best advised to leave well alone.

As for who would play her leading roles, she admits to adoring the film ‘Riot Club’. “I found it very sexy,” she reveals, “…almost against my better judgement. I’d love to reunite Max Irons and emmanuelle-de-maupassant-for-the-men-anthologyHolliday Grainger.” Charlie’s story is set at a race-course, a predominantly male domain, which she notes is an environment she finds inherently sexy.

My own story, Labyrinth, also focuses on uncomfortable themes. It looks at our tendency towards self-destructive behaviour, our struggle to fulfil the roles others expect of us, and our internal conflict, including the compulsion to hurt those we love (whether physically or emotionally).

***

Emmanuelle de Maupassant erotic fiction versus porn what is the difference author quoteMore from the authors behind this exciting anthology in part five.

Erotic fiction isn’t just for women; it’s for everyone.

Taste the unexpected, and the uninhibited.

Twenty-five authors bring you tales of temptation and seduction.

for-the-men_cover-copy-back-02An audio version is now available to complement the e-book (narrated by huskily voiced, utterly fabulous Rose Caraway.

My darkly erotic story, Labyrinth, features in final place in the collection, following stories by authors Adrea Kore, Tamsin FlowersRachel Kramer BusselAllen Dusk, Terrance Aldon Shaw, Rachel de Vine, Jade A WatersDorothy FreedD.L. KingChase Morgan, Marc AngelCharlie Powell, Landon Dixon, Sonni de Soto, D. Lovejoy, Erin Pim, J.T. Seate, Spencer Dryden, Winter Blair, Simon Drax, Lynn Lake, Josie Jordan, Daily Hollow, and T.J. Christian.

Find out more here, in Terrance Aldon Shaw’s interview with Rose: on creating an Stupid-Fish Rose and Dayv Caraway interview erotic fiction pganthology attempting to encompass the scope of male desire, on advice to aspiring writers, and the importance of plain speaking when it comes to sex.

You may enjoy a peek at my own interview with Rose, and husband Dayv, on their superb work in creating for-the-men_official-cover-copyerotic audio-fiction and anthologies.

More from Rose, including sexy snippets from each story, and emmanuelle de maupassant quote porn versus erotic fictionher own interviews with each author, at Stupid Fish Productions.

Purchase your copy of ‘For the Men: And the Women Who Love Them’ from Amazon.

Part Three: Behind the Erotic Pen – interviewing the authors of ‘For the Men’ anthology

I’m delighted to announce my inclusion in a tantalizing new anthology,for-the-men erotic fiction fantasy written For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them)

The collection aims to show that erotic fiction isn’t just for women. The  ‘erotic’ in literature has the power to speak to everyone.

Editor (and narrator) Rose Caraway has gathered together twenty-five tales, each with its own, tantalizing flavour.

emmanuelle-de-maupassant erotic fiction fantasy men womenIn this series, I’m sharing  insights from our authors. Read on, to discover their thinking as they wrote each tale…

In Part One of this series, I looked at how several authors in the collection explore ‘watching and being watched’ in their stories, looking particularly at our desire to exhibit ourselves sexually, at the thrill of revealing, and concealing.

In Part Two, I examined how some of the stories in ‘For the Men’ delve into tension and conflict, exploring dichotomies, particularly relating to power: giving and receiving, vulnerability and strength.

This time, I’m looking at stories which locate our fantasies in unusual settings: futuristic, supernatural, off-planet or elevated from the everyday. They feed into our primal impulses but do so in locations for-the-men-erotic-fiction-tj-christian-quote-enhancedthrilling, fascinating and unexpected.

When we enter the realm of fantasy, there are no limits, so it’s no surprise that two of the tales in ‘For the Men’ have sci-fi settings.

T.J. Christian’s innovative story, Enhanced, evokes stylishly sexy 1982 film Bladerunner, probing the pitfalls of technology, in a society where upgrades to our limitations are the norm. In such a world, the author speculates, wouldn’t we lose sight of what’s real, and what it means to be human, where ‘the lines between human and artificial become blurred’? His story also explores the philosophy that we rarely know someone as well as we imagine, and that our actions (or inaction) directly affects the mental state of others.

T.J. sees his leading man, Tom, played by Adam Driver allen-dusk-for-the-menand his female protagonist acted by the enigmatic Rooney Mara. He adds that Tom’s dislike and resentment of his employer is likely to resonate with many men.

Allen Dusk’s Wayward Drift, set on another planet, gives a nod to the exotic bar scenes from Star Wars. His lead character enters an alien strip club and is bewitched by a dancer with hypnotic moves, who makes him an intimate proposal.

His space pirate might make some readers think of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but Allen imagines Jason Statham as his lead, and Remy LaCroix as the stripper, slathered in glitter makeup to transform her.

Allen found inspiration for his story during a visit to his local strip club (with his wife). He tells us, “There was one raven-haired beauty who caught our eye, not only because she was jaw-droppingly gorgeous with graceful moves, but because she had this distant look in her eyes that said ‘I’m not here for you, I’m here for your money, so pay up’.”

His tale touches on the theme of loneliness, his main character having developed a relationship with his spacecraft. We see him as a ‘stranger in a strange land’ and as a man with misogynistic tendencies.

Allen notes that most of his erotica work is female-erin-pim-for-the-menfocused but was eager to make this story male centric, turning the lens on male sexual experience and perspective.

Erin Pim takes her erotic tale in another direction entirely, but one firmly set in fantasy, within the format of a crime thriller. She hopes it will appeal to men and women alike. She wrote Undercover Cop as if it were a screenplay, scene by scene, cinematic style.

Her strong female lead uses her sexuality to apprehend the perpetrator of a bank robbery: a role in which she imagines Emily Blunt. For her perpetrator, she imagines Johnny Lester, scruffy, cocky, handsome, and unhinged, or Games of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster.

She tells us, “Rose’s call for For The Men was an inspiration in itself, as I’d never thought about writing with a man’s aesthetic in mind, and was curious to give it a try.  Rose is a fantastic editor, who continued to ask questions and push my piece to its limit. She even suggested that I read a ‘Stuff You Should Know’ article winter-blair-for-the-menon hostage negotiations.  I want readers of my story to feel sexually empowered enough to act out similar scenarios in their own bedrooms.”

Two of the tales within the collection take sexual fantasy into the supernatural. Winter Blair’s Lonely Spirits is an erotic ghost story in which she imagines Jensen Ackles as her leading man, with his ‘soulful eyes’. Winter aimed to write from the man’s perspective for the action of her story and notes that, to her surprise, her methodology ‘really wasn’t that different’. She notes her intention not only for the reader to be aroused but to contemplate what it is to be lonely, to seek companionship and to find redemption.

Meanwhile, Daily Hollow’s The Devil Went up to the Bronx was written back in 2013, as his first foray into erotica. Firmly tongue-in-cheek, his inspiration was Adam Ezra Band’s music video for ‘The Devil Went up to Boston’. This is a great example of combining daily-hollow-quotehumour with sexy storytelling. In an imaginary filming of the story, he sees Ian Somerholder playing the Devil, and Courtney Cox as Marge.

Adrea Kore, the author of Dance for Me, stresses the transformational potential of our sexual fantasies. She tells us, “If readers feel inspired by this story to own and explore their fantasies, I’d feel my work as ‘sexual provocateur’ is done.”

She relates a reader messaging her to share that they were inspired to perform an erotic dance for their partner after reading Dance For Me, which is set in a high-octane sex club environment. “They both ‘thanked me’ for the sex that happened later!” Adrea smiles, adding that it’s responses such as this that convince her that writing erotica ‘has value beyond adrea-kore-for-the-men-quote-erotic-fictiontemporary titillation’.

Adrea emphasizes the associations between dance and female sexuality, reminding us that ‘they are apparent in so many cultures, from Middle-Eastern belly-dancers to clubs featuring exotic dancers for male titillation in Western culture’. She explains, “In Tantric practices, to dance for one’s Beloved, to express Shakti (the divine feminine) and Shiva (the divine masculine) through movement, making your partner the sole recipient, is one of the sacred rituals for deepening intimacy.”

Speaking of where she gained her inspiration for Dance For Me, Adrea tells us that she’s always been fascinated by the ‘inherent theatricality’ of sexuality, and has been keen to explore the idea of dancing for a man as ‘a gift – expressing desire through the art of dance’.

***

More from the authors behind this exciting anthology: in parts one, two, four and five

Erotic fiction isn’t just for women; it’s for everyone.

Peel back the pages and discover.

Taste the unexpected, and the uninhibited.

Twenty-five authors have pooled their talent to bring you teasing tales of temptation and scorching stories of seduction.

for-the-men_cover-copy-back-02An audio version is now available to complement the e-book (narrated by huskily voiced, utterly fabulous Rose Caraway.

My darkly erotic story, Labyrinth, features in final place in the collection, following stories by authors Adrea Kore, Tamsin FlowersRachel Kramer BusselAllen Dusk, Terrance Aldon Shaw, Rachel de Vine, Jade A WatersDorothy FreedD.L. KingChase Morgan, Marc AngelCharlie Powell, Landon Dixon, Sonni de Soto, D. Lovejoy, Erin Pim, J.T. Seate, Spencer Dryden, Winter Blair, Simon Drax, Lynn Lake, Josie Jordan, Daily Hollow, and T.J. Christian.

Find out more here, in Terrance Aldon Shaw’s interview with Rose: on creating an Stupid-Fish Rose and Dayv Caraway interview erotic fiction pganthology attempting to encompass the scope of male desire, on advice to aspiring writers, and the importance of plain speaking when it comes to sex.

You may enjoy a peek at my own interview with Rose, and husband Dayv, on their superb work in creating for-the-men_official-cover-copyerotic audio-fiction and anthologies.

More from Rose, including sexy snippets from each story, and her own interviews with each author, at Stupid Fish Productions.

Purchase your copy of ‘For the Men: And the Women Who Love Them’ from Amazon.

Part Two: Behind the Erotic Pen – interviewing the authors of ‘For the Men’ anthology

I’m delighted to feature in a tantalizing new anthology, for-the-men erotic fiction fantasywritten For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them), edited by Rose Caraway.

As we know, erotic fiction isn’t just for women; the ‘erotic’ has the power to speak to everyone.

The collection features twenty-five tales, each bite offering a new flavour: from darkly bitter chocolate, to lush caramel, with some tangy surprises.

As a reader, I love it when a story keeps me thinking long afterwards, moving me to speculate. We don’t need all the answers on the page. We, as readers, should be ‘filling in the spaces’, finding parallels to our own experience, or emotional state. Through contemplation of the fictional, we take away some understanding of our own self. For me, this is what’s meant by finding ‘truths’ in fiction. I discover what is true of myself in reading about others’ motivations, behaviours and choices.

In this series, I’m sharing insights from the authors of ‘For the Men’. Last week, in Part One, I looked at stories exploring the theme of sexual exhibition, revealing what is usually concealed, for the delectation of other eyes. Today, I’m looking at dichotomies, particularly those relating to ‘power’.

Adrea Kore, in Dance for Me, explores seduction through performance, showing a woman’s elation and liberation through ownership of her sexuality. Her character reveals herself through dance, and is ‘fully seen’. In this way, she demonstrates both ‘vulnerability and power’.

adrea-kore-for-the-men-quote-erotic-fictionAdrea goes on to say that, in contemporary sexual culture, we tend to think of men being ‘hardwired’ to initiate. In Dance for Me, Adrea presents, first, her male protagonist as the recipient of pleasure, through dance. She explains, “In the second scene, the dynamic is reversed – he becomes the giver and she the receiver. Of course, the sharing of pleasure in reality is not so clearly polarized – the current of energy flows both ways, in varying intensities. Across the two scenes in this story, there’s an exchange in roles of who primarily plays the giver and the receiver.”

In response to editor Rose Caraway‘s call, I wrote Labyrinth: a scenario of sexual and emotional conflict. I look at our self-destructive side, and how we channel that ‘destruction’ onto those we love. In association with this, I wanted to look at our desire to inflict (and receive) pain as well as pleasure. I find it fascinating how these two opposing elements sit alongside each other, whether we speak of physical pain/pleasure or emotional.

My story uses the metaphor of the maze. We are ever seeking, though for what, we emmanuelle-de-maupassant-for-the-men-anthologyare unsure. Within, are our unspoken yearnings, and our fears, our ‘monsters’.   Our inner life is the labyrinth: action following on from action, leading us to where we stand now. We are as we are in this moment, though shaped by moments that have gone before, and the promise of those yet to come.

We are the protagonists of our own stories. We wander our personal labyrinth, slaying ‘monsters’ as we go. This very act of exercising choice, of being active in how we determine our path, brings our sense of ‘being alive’. In this, there is another dichotomy: that of passivity and action.

In a similar vein to Adrea Kore, Rachel Kramer Bussel emphasizes  that ‘dominance is not a one-way street; it’s an interplay’. For Picturing You Naked, Rachel relates ‘the way desire can overtake us, especially at work, when we’re supposed to be thinking about other things’, and the ways in which a dominant/submissive couple can ‘push each other’s boundaries’.

Rachel asserts that, although her businessman talks tough, he is ‘undone’ by his partner’s charm and creativity. She adds, “I liked the idea of him getting flustered by her. They are equally masterful. I want readers to enjoy the wordplay.”

for-the-men-fiction-erotic-rachel-kramer-bussel

As for who might be cast in the role of her heroine, were the story to be filmed, Rachel mentions Emma Stone, for her mischievous personality. 

Dorothy Freed conceived her story, Love Sling, first from a submissive female point of view. She then became curious as to how it would read from a Dominant viewpoint. The second version of the story is ‘longer and more detailed, presenting more of the male protagonist’s feelings and motivations’. She underlines, “I intend my portrayal to illustrate how much care, consideration, and understanding is involved in safe, sane, consensual BDSM.”

Casting a film version of Love Sling, Dorothy imagines actors similar to Mickey dorothy-freed-for-the-menRourke and Kim Basinger in Nine and Half Weeks. 

D. L. King believes her stories speak to men ‘because they can see themselves in the role of the protagonist’. She prides herself on showing ‘the softer, emotional side of the male psyche’ and underlines, “It’s different from its female counterpart, but is there, hiding in plain sight, waiting for the right woman to notice. I notice.”

As to who she’d cast to play her characters in Cupcakes and Steel, she opts for Margot Robbie as her dominant female, and Eddie dl-king-for-the-menRedmayne as her male lead.

Simon Drax’s The Binding of the Babe in the Backseat evokes his own fantasy of being in a position to save a sexy woman (in bondage) from danger. His character does battle, winning the woman’s respect, and his ‘reward’ in her arms.

Full of action, the story quickly evokes tension. Meanwhile, his damsel in distress isn’t passive (she bites off her attacker’s nose). Simon notes the arousing dichotomy of a ‘powerful woman’ being in a vulnerable position.

He pictures Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Taxi Driver, and Chyler Leigh as Erin.

simon-drax

Discover more from the authors behind this anthology, in parts three, four and five.

***

Erotic fiction offers an amazing space in which to explore. Dare to dip your toe into the unexpected, and the uninhibited.

Twenty-five authors have pooled their talent to bring you teasing tales of temptation and scorching stories of seduction.

for-the-men_cover-copy-back-02An audio version is also available to complement the e-book, narrated by huskily voiced, utterly fabulous Rose Caraway.

My darkly erotic story, ‘Labyrinth’, features in final place in the collection, following stories by authors Adrea Kore, Tamsin FlowersRachel Kramer BusselAllen Dusk Terrance Aldon Shaw, Rachel de Vine, Jade A WatersDorothy FreedD.L. KingChase Morgan, Marc AngelCharlie Powell, Landon Dixon, Sonni de Soto, D. Lovejoy, Erin Pim, J.T. Seate, Spencer Dryden, Winter Blair, Simon Drax, Lynn Lake, Josie Jordan, Daily Hollow, and T.J. Christian.

Find out more here, in Terrance Aldon Shaw’s interview with Rose: on creating an Stupid-Fish Rose and Dayv Caraway interview erotic fiction pganthology attempting to encompass the scope of male desire, on advice to aspiring writers, and the importance of plain speaking when it comes to sex.

You may enjoy a peek at my own interview with Rose, and husband Dayv, on their superb work in creating for-the-men_official-cover-copyerotic audio-fiction and anthologies.

More from Rose, including sexy snippets from each story, and her own interviews with each author, at Stupid Fish Productions.

Purchase your copy of ‘For the Men: And the Women Who Love Them’ from Amazon.

Part One: Behind the Erotic Pen – interviewing the authors of ‘For the Men’ anthology

I’m delighted to announce my inclusion in a tantalizing new anthology,for-the-men erotic fiction fantasy written For the Men (and the Women Who Love Them)

The collection aims to show that erotic fiction isn’t just for women. The  ‘erotic’ in literature has the power to speak to everyone.

Editor (and narrator) Rose Caraway has gathered together twenty-five tales of assorted flavour: from bitter chocolate and acidic citrus, to lush caramel. Some come with surprises, hidden nuggets of pleasure unearthed with each bite.

emmanuelle-de-maupassant erotic fiction fantasy men womenIn this series, I’ll be sharing  insights from our authors. Read on, to discover their thinking as they wrote each tale…

A prominent theme through the anthology is that of exhibiting our sexual selves, of revealing what is usually concealed, for the delectation of other eyes. There are tales not only of being watched, but of watching, illicitly, or through invitation.

Chase Morgan, the author of Night Watch, points out that the very act of reading is voyeuristic (magnified many-fold when we’re reading erotic fiction). He explores this theme explicitly in Night Watch, noting, “I love Rose’s calls because she makes a point to encourage authors to write without boundaries. My intent was to take the reader chase-morgan-for-the-men-anthologydown a darker path.”

He emphasizes that he prefers to leave characters without any particular ‘face’ but, were he to cast actors for a film version of his story, he’d choose Edward Norton, for his ability to use facial expression to convey conflicted feelings.

Speaking of her story, Dance for MeAdrea Kore tells us, “I love dancing, and have often noticed how much men love being ‘danced to’. Giving a man your sensual and sexual attention through movement, eye contact and energy, and touch if you’re actually dancing with them,… it can be a total turn-on for both people. I confess I’ve done it often enough in life to want to explore it in a story.”

Adrea reminds us that dance has long been used to both honour and seduce men. Just think of the days of Salome and her dance of the Seven Veils.

adrea-kore-for-the-men-quote-erotic-fictionShe reveals, “The first half of Dance for Me is only a slight fictionalization of a night out I shall always remember. Gorgeously corseted for my date, it was a spontaneous flow of events – but I got to be ‘the girl in the cage’ that night. The spontaneity of it all meant there was very little time for me to be nervous!”

As to who would take the leading roles in her story, were it to be filmed, Adrea imagines Clive Owen, saying he ‘plays a contained character well’, and the ‘sensually gracious and feline’ Scarlett Johansson.

Marc Angel also indulged a personal fantasy in writing The Bust, delving voyeuristic pleasure, and the theme of infidelity, when a man discovers his wife unexpectedly in the arms of another. He examines the anger and pain evoked at discovering betrayal, as well as arousal and shame.

Marc tells us, “I wanted to explore a less indulged side of male sexuality. marc-angel-for-the-menInstead of reacting with horror or anger if you found your partner having sex with another man…what if you found yourself turned on? It might open a door…”

Marc imagines Bruce Willis as the protagonist, with Scarlett Johansson returning to set as his cheating partner, and Ryan Gosling as the other man.

More from the authors behind this exciting anthology, in parts two, threefour and five.

Erotic fiction isn’t just for women.

It offers an amazing space in which to explore, and it’s for everyone.

Dare to dip your toe into the unexpected, and the uninhibited.

Twenty-five authors have pooled their talent to bring you teasing tales of temptation and scorching stories of seduction.

for-the-men_cover-copy-back-02An audio version is also available to complement the e-book (narrated by huskily voiced, utterly fabulous Rose Caraway.

My darkly erotic story, ‘Labyrinth’, features in final place in the collection, following stories by authors Adrea Kore, Tamsin FlowersRachel Kramer BusselAllen Dusk, Terrance Aldon Shaw, Rachel de Vine, Jade A WatersDorothy FreedD.L. KingChase Morgan, Marc AngelCharlie Powell, Landon Dixon, Sonni de Soto, D. Lovejoy, Erin Pim, J.T. Seate, Spencer Dryden, Winter Blair, Simon Drax, Lynn Lake, Josie Jordan, Daily Hollow, and T.J. Christian.

Find out more here, in Terrance Aldon Shaw’s interview with Rose: on creating an Stupid-Fish Rose and Dayv Caraway interview erotic fiction pganthology attempting to encompass the scope of male desire, on advice to aspiring writers, and the importance of plain speaking when it comes to sex.

You may enjoy a peek at my own interview with Rose, and husband Dayv, on their superb work in creating for-the-men_official-cover-copyerotic audio-fiction and anthologies.

More from Rose, including sexy snippets from each story, and her own interviews with each author, at Stupid Fish Productions.

Purchase your copy of ‘For the Men: And the Women Who Love Them’ from Amazon.

Siri Ousdahl: contradiction, paradox and CONSTRAINT – a review

Constraint is Siri Ousdahl’s debut in the genre of erotic fiction, although she has written prominently under an alternate author name for many years. She holds several prestigious writing awards and has worked extensively in publishing.

Within this, my critique of Siri Ousdahl’s novel, she joins me to discuss transgressive themes and the contradictions within our psyche. 

Constraint pulls no punches. There is no sweetening of the pill. It is a tale of kidnapping, siri-ousdahl-constraint-emmanuelle-de-maupassant-critiquerape, violence and humiliation.

Our natural response is outrage. How dare one human being treat another this way? The early phases of the story are written clearly with the intention to arouse this reaction from us.

We are told that Alex is a sadist and has always been so, musing, from the youngest age, on ropes, chains and controlled violence. As an adult, he rises to the challenge of exercising precise control. ‘He wants to work out how much he can darken her flesh without breaking her skin.’

It is from this position that Siri Ousdahl unravels her story: winding back and forth, through past and present, and presenting us, readers, ready to judge and condemn, with knots we must unpick.

What should be simple is not, because we are human, and to be human is to be a creature of paradox.

Siri, while no writer can ‘control’ the reactions they inspire in readers, your story clearly aims to manipulate strong emotional responses, shaping them in various ways as the tale progresses. In this way, where do you hope to lead your reader?

This is my first formal erotic writing. In my other world as a writer I’m committed to psychological realism, and my ambition is to elicit a complicated, conflicted reaction from my readers. Very little is unequivocally one thing or another, red or blue or green; everything is tints, shades, and blends. If our understanding of ourselves is at all realistic, it is full of unresolvable contradictions. I wanted to write a sex novel that reflected that.

When I decided to write a noncon BDSM novel, I was my primary reader, so the person I was challenging was myself. I wanted to write a book that was as morally problematic as Lolita and as sexy as The Story of O. I wanted to see whether I could balance unsentimental realism with the poetry of eroticism, telling a story that, ideally, would both repel and attract. I wanted to see how long I could stay on the tightrope without falling off.

siri-ousdahl-author-writing-quote-1Our psyche comprises contradictory elements. Linnea, we are told, is ‘an alloy’, stronger than the metals from which she is made. A powerful metaphor in the story is given through Linnea’s sculptures, which comprise contrasting, yet harmonising materials: hickory and chestnut or oak and walnut. They symbolize Linnea’s inner being. ‘There are three tiny knots… clustered like moles on a woman’s shoulder.’ This metaphor continues. ‘The twisting shapes hint at lovers entangled ankle to throat’, bound by fine steel wire, brass straps, clear glass bands, rough rope knotted. Linnea’s art is a visual representation of what she desires for herself: bondage and forced compliance. We are told that ‘wood fucks wood’ and that the scent is ‘musky, human’.

Later, we read that Alex and Linnea’s bodies are a ‘sculpture’, representing ‘blood and hunger’.

Siri, you use Linnea’s art to reveal her state of mind (both during her captivity and beforehand). Can you tell us more about your research into the art world and how you’ve used art to bring layers of meaning to the story?

As a child, I didn’t study art (though I drew a lot), but I was raised in a family that valued art, much of it carved wood and stone sculpture. I’m sure my mother would not be thrilled to know how often I touched the art, running my hands along the shapes, marvelling at the three-dimensionality of it, its gravity.

I knew Linnea was a sculptor almost before I knew anything else about her. She was strong-muscled and ‘saw’ with her hands. Her art needed to be nonverbal, because I’m entirely verbal. Her sculptures were very clear in my head from the start, and I wish I had some of them!

Her photorealistic paintings were a surprise to me, but as I spent time in her head, trapped in the siri-ousdahl-author-quote-writing-4enclosure, I knew she would become obsessive about the walls: that she would make art from this constraint, as well.

I did a lot of research into the women of the abstract expressionist movement, and I developed immense respect for them. A woman artist of the first half of the twentieth century – in any movement – was in a horrible situation: her work ignored or treated with contempt, expected to model for and/or have sex with the men who defined whether she would ever be taken seriously.

As we enter deeper into Constraint, we’re given insight into the mind of kidnapper Alex, and the subject of his fixation, Linnea. Neither are as they seem and, as the story unfolds, the paradoxes within their natures are made more explicit.

A central theme of the story is our inward battle: our desire for self-determination and our wish to surrender some part of ourselves, to forfeit control, to allow another human ‘under our skin’, even (or sometimes, especially) where we know that surrender has the power to harm us. Most love stories explore, to some extent, this contradictory push and pull. In Constraint, there is an overt ‘battle’ between Linnea and Alex.

We’re told that the attraction for Alex is the paradox of the situation: that he enjoys Linnea’s compulsion to fight him, while witnessing her simultaneous arousal, seemingly against her wishes. He enjoys the ‘battle’ yet also wishes ‘for her to want him as much as he wants her’. We witness Alex’s violence towards Linnea, yet also his tenderness. ‘She has rolled close to him in her sleep, with her hands tucked close to his ribs and her face pressed against his shoulder… He…turns his face into her sleep knotted hair and breathes and breathes and breathes.’

We also see Alex’s compulsion to lose himself to a place of otherness, of transcendence. ‘He snaps the switch lightly against his forearm. It’s barely a touch, and the bright sting is no more challenging than walking out into icy-cold air or biting into raw ginger, but a faint white stripe flares and flushes red, a color shift as sudden as an octopus shifting camouflage. He observes this siri-ousdahl-author-writing-quote-3with interest. He is dropping into the strange, abstract space where she stops being entirely real to him, where he stops being real to himself: the no-place that is all places, and their bodies become geometries and his body and brain divide themselves into pieces simultaneously dissociative and entirely, pulsingly, engaged.’

While whipping Linnea, Alex ‘…does not think as he builds rhythms, patterns… He switches to using both floggers, infinite eights overlapping. And faster, until he is breathless, fighting a strange wild laugh that is rooted not in his mind but his body’s work… Linnea is barely present in his mind; she is also the entire focus of all his attention.’

Meanwhile, we learn that, as a child, Linnea played games of self-torture for pleasure. ‘In her teens she started to make sense of it all. She read Réage, Millet, Nin, Roquelaure, McNeill; eventually (with a horrified blend of alienation and recognition) de Sade.’ Linnea ‘knew she longed for bondage and all the sorts of torment ingenious men and women had developed. She was hungry for the whip, the collar, marks.’ She ‘knows that her body will respond in complicated ways—as it always has been complex, pain and pleasure tangled like necklaces tossed onto a bed…’

In this way, they are sexually well matched. We are told that their ‘games and rituals’ are such as ‘their natures decree’. Linnea watches coyotes outside, dancing, playing, fighting, then mating: another metaphor for her relationship with Alex.

Siri, can you tell us more about the psychology of the dynamic between your siri-ousdahl-author-quote-writing-6protagonists?

 I was a lot like Linnea as a girl, with a high tolerance for pain and a craving for adventure that was not satisfied by my quiet upbringing. I did many dangerous and stupid things, all of them exhilarating. I was also a pain in the neck, for reasons I did not then understand: My mother says that I would ‘cruise for a spanking’, restless and clearly pushing rule after rule until I eventually did get spanked – ‘and then you would calm right down, happy and settled’ – which is how I remember it, as well.

My nature decreed what I wanted, even as a child. As I became sexual in my late teens, I found I moved effortlessly into BDSM, though I didn’t always understand how to get what I needed until I was in my 30s. As an adult, I have both topped and subbed for floggings, whippings, bondage, D/s, and many other things. When I write, I write from experience.

Despite this, I think I understand Alex better than I understand Linnea. Writing is basically a top’s game: I write something to elicit a response. I design a scene and then execute it and if I do it right, the reader feels things they didn’t expect. I am in charge, though the reader can always safeword out, put down the book and walk away.

In exploring the theme of constraint and freedom, we see the metaphor of inside and siri-ousdahl-author-quote-writing-6outside spaces – looking inward and outward. Linnea struggles against Alex’s constraint of her freedom, but we come to see that her constraint is also internal. ‘She’s a coyote in a leg-hold trap, chewing at her own ankle.’ When she asks what he wants from her, he laughs, evading, ‘because the answer is love and he cannot admit that’. Linnea evades, as well. ‘It is not the house and enclosure that blocks honesty; their constraints travel with them.’

Alex seeks tension. He ‘draws a narrow line around Linnea and longs for the moments she breaks past them… What hawk comes to your hand without training, without bribes and constraints…? How is this different than other, more conventional relationships?’ He muses that even true love is built from ‘unconscious accommodations, invisible chains.’

The non-consensual elements of Constraint are, by nature, disturbing, while yet having power to arouse. It is this very juxtaposition that makes the story compelling, since we are encouraged to examine paradoxes within our own behaviour. You’re exploring where many authors fear to tread. Siri, what inspired you to choose this theme, of our contradictory, paradoxical, self-destructive nature, and of the constraints we carry within us?

A correctly structured BDSM experience (or relationship) has clear rules and expectations, but many ‘traditional’ experiences do not: in most relationships, love and trust change meaning unilaterally, over time, without negotiation. A lot of BDSM fiction is actually terrible BDSM: even if the sex/play itself is safe, sane, and consensual – even if there are contracts – the characters lie, manipulate, gaslight, misdirect, and cheat their way into the relationship.

Alex is, at least, honest about what he wants, to the extent he understands it.

Having delved into Linnea’s romantic past, Alex challenges her lack of intimacy with siri-ousdahl-author-writing-quote-2anyone. She resists, saying, “No one is anyone’s.” Later, taunted by dominatrix Klee, Linnea asserts, “I am not yours. I am no one’s.” Klee responds, “So sad. We all belong to someone…”

We see Alex’s desire topossess’ Linnea, to make her love him, while this can never be true until she wishes it to be so, until she recognizes an emotional connection to him.

The relationship between Linnea and Alex progresses, through shared intimacies, until she feels that he is ‘seeing her, actual her, instead of whatever he usually sees when he looks at her’. We read that he sees ‘she is her own person’.

By the closing pages, he has accepted that his non-consensual treatment of her has been unacceptable, to the extent that he is willing to suffer any consequences (including imprisonment). He notes that he no longer has ‘certainty that his decisions are the right ones’.

Alex tells Linnea explicitly that he loves her and offers that she may choose what happens next, even if it means her turning him in to the police. He has the power to continue as he did, but recognizes his error in having attempted to force her love.

Meanwhile, Linnea admits to Alex that she believes he knows her as no one else does, and chooses to submit because it is what SHE wishes, not because it is forced upon her. ‘Her skin is her own. She is not afraid of him. She never has been; fear was never the thing that kept her here.’

Siri, did you consider other conclusions to Constraint or, for you, was this ending inevitable?

As with The Story of O, several endings are possible. This is the HEA ending, or as close as a story like this could honestly have – and it is dependent on where I typed ‘The End’. I can’t believe they bdsm-erotic-fiction-story-of-o-pauline-reagewill stay together as things are, but there’s a sequel I have thought about that starts six months from now, when Linnea has left Alex and ends up in Switzerland, using Klee, Berndt, Vadim (and others) to make sense of her experience. Can they return to one another after that? Depends on the next book.

There’s also a less romantic ending where she escapes or he lets her go and she returns to her life (or a life) without talking about this to the police – which is how women often address rape. And an ending where she does turn him in, and has to then deal with the fact that she will never be as satisfied sexually, as seen by her partner, as she was with him.  

Fiction, within the safety of its pages, invites us to explore what disturbs us, to process what is written and to respond. It asks us to reflect upon our own behaviour, our motivations and compulsions. The non-consensual theme of Constraint is liable to inspire controversy, reaching as it does into realms of discomfort for many readers. To anyone who would criticize the story as eroticism of rape, how would you respond?

It’s fiction. In what way is this different than reading book after book about a murderer? If someone is fucked up enough to think that an erotic novel gives them permission to rape someone, the problem is the rapist’s. That said, we do live in a culture permeated with sexual violence against women; the (substantial) percentage of women who like to read or watch noncon and dubcon erotica are as conditioned to this as the men who think it’s okay to rape. A hundred years from now, if we sort out rape culture, will books like this still be being written? I don’t know, though I have theories.

I am an intelligent, philosophically inclined woman who values honesty in interpersonal dealings. I am writing this book as a direct response to the artificiality of most noncon and dubcon fiction. Is it eroticizing rape? It is also engaging directly what what’s wrong with eroticizing rape. It’s a complicated stance.

Siri, your language is both precise and lyrical. Which authors have inspired you in creating your distinctive voice?lolita-nabokov

I was thinking a lot of Lolita while I was working on this. Nabokov never sets a foot wrong: every word is exactly calibrated. I was also thinking a lot about the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet’s strangely opaque voice.

I’ve no doubt that readers will anticipate further works from you. Can you share what’s in store?

I do write fiction under another name, and some of Siri’s readers may recognize her voice elsewhere. I have thought about writing about Klee as a young woman in 1970s France: how did she become the woman she is? I was partway through the book when I read a recent Vanity Fair article about erotic novelist/octogenarian dominatrix Catherine Robbe-Grillet, wife of writer Alain (and what a strange coincidence that was). Robbe-Grillet has a lot in common with Klee, I realized.

siri-ousdahl-constraint-emmanuelle-de-maupassant-critiqueI’m also researching an erotic fantasy novel! Yes, research: I can’t bring myself to write anything without lots and lots of reading ahead of time.

Thank you once again to Siri for taking time to discuss her intent in writing and the complex psychologies of her work.

If you’d like to read Constraint, you’ll find it for sale, here.

You can also find Siri at Visconti Press

Read more from Siri on motivations in writing erotic fiction here, as part of the 130 Authors series.

You may also like to read critique of Constraint written by Remittance Girl, here, and by Terrance Aldon Shaw, of Big Brain Erotica, here.

 

London Triptych, by Jonathan Kemp: a review

 

Jonathan KempJonathan Kemp explores hungers we cannot explain and paints images not only intensely erotic, but tender.  Here, in London Triptych, he shows us the unfolding of three men’s lives, each an unravelling ribbon, fluid, twisting, looking back upon itself. Their stories are confessionals, inviting us to enter the nocturnal, hidden recesses of the psyche. Meanwhile, London’s shadows and secrets echo those within our protagonists, and remind us that we readers, too, have our untold stories.

Each of the tales within the ‘triptych’ takes place, primarily, in London, though separated by five decades. We see the details of the setting change, while the themes remain eternal: our desire for what we cannot articulate; our struggle to express ourselves freely; our eagerness to navigate the ‘geography of possibilities’; our delight in love, glorious, overwhelming and unexpected; and the vulnerability of that state.

1890s rent boy Jack Rose falls into an almost unwilling passion for Oscar Wilde, leading towards a path of disappointment and betrayal.  1950s artist Colin tentatively explores his sexuality, against a backdrop of prudery and prejudice. In the 1990s, David awaits release from prison, telling of the lover who deceived him.

Jonathan Kemp

With each interchanging narrative, we learn more of each protagonist’s history and motivations, and we see the ways in which their stories resemble one other. They do not go in search of love. Rather, it surprises them, catching them off guard. They experience transcendence and then misery: a change in their worldview.

Sex is central to the story, an enduring, irresistible force, with or without love. It is the engine driving each of our narrators to discover a version of the ‘self’ yet out of reach.

Jack Rose tells us: ‘I became a whore in order, not to find myself, but to lose myself in the dense forest of that name.’

However, love is the transformative emotion. Love enervates and destroys, bringing ultimate joy and torture. We are shown its ability to shed light on our restricted, repetitive paths.

Kemp explores what it has meant to be homosexual in a world which views those desires as dangerously inverted, and shows us the tension between pleasure and danger, when there are ‘no laws but those of the body’:

‘When you can be free, free to pursue any desire, acquire any knowledge… it’s the most terrifying place to live. It’s dangerously beautiful…’

Jonathan-KempAs ever, Kemp’s storytelling goes beyond action and consequence, or the clever use of dialogue to reveal character, or the exploration of eternal themes. His talent lies in his use of language, probing words for their secrets, for their ‘blood-beat’, for their ability to reveal ‘meaning held within the contours of the skin’. He returns, again and again, to the inadequacy of language to express the erotic truths of the body, the ‘cannibal, animal hunger’ of desire.

And yet, he, as few authors can, animates the ‘universal language of lust written on the body and spoken by the eyes and fingers’.

He shows us that sex can take us to other destinations within the ‘self’, as if ‘opening doors that lead to other corridors, and other doors’: ‘I am here without knowing how. Suddenly, terrifyingly present. Here, now, lost and hot…

Meanwhile, London itself embodies the elusive, enchanting paradox of existence. It is a place of anonymity, and simultaneous intimacy; London is the unseen, legion-faced (and thus faceless) listener, inviting the narrators to share their secrets. It is a place of judgment (all three stories bring to bear the presence of the law and prospective punishment for homosexual transgression) and of liberation. It is a place of contradictions, just as we are contradictory.

 

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London TriptychJonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London.

London Triptych, his first novel, won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize.

He is also the author of Ghosting (my review here) and 26, my review here.

Hear directly from Jonathan Kemp, on how the novel came to be, here, in an interview with Polari Magazine.

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Also, you may like to visit this article, featuring Jonathan Kemp: Men Writing Erotic Fiction

 

 

 

 

Damage by Josephine Hart: a review

Damage is a tale of desperate erotic obsession, and its inevitable path to destruction.

The narrative, told by the male protagonist, eminently respectable, and respected, cabinet Damage Josephine Hart a review minister Fleming, is clinical in its formality, in keeping with his social position. His life revolves around public service, and the care of his family and, at the heart of this seeming ‘order’ he is deeply unhappy.

This very formality, with its lack of true passion, has suffocated him, so that we have some understanding of his leap from empty order into consuming chaos, into the danger of an affair with his son’s fiancée, Anna.

The icy detachment of this narrative is a perfect foil to Fleming’s inner turmoil and the depth of his catastrophic infatuation. His spiralling descent is forever tempered by a façade of civility and order. Josephine Hart’s sparse, simple, even elegant language balances the fevered undercurrents of Fleming’s psychological state.

DAMAGE_610‘… my life would have been lost in contemplation of the emerging skeleton beneath my skin. It was as though a man’s bones broke through the face of the werewolf. Shining with humanity he stalked through his midnight life towards the first day.’1992 film Damage Jeremy Irons Juliette Binoche Josephine Hart a review of the book Emmanuelle de Maupassant

His affair with Anna is both an awakening and a dream-state, a loss of self to the intoxication of desire, and a finding of the self.

Fleming tells us: ‘I eased her gently to the floor. Leaving my elegant disguise on the sofa I became myself.’

We are left in no doubt that destruction is inevitable, that Fleming is at the precipice. There are no mitigating circumstances, and we know that there will be no happy ending, or forgiveness. What we see is a chillingly honest portrayal of sexual obsession, and our potential for destruction: lives damaged, or soon to be so.

Many will be familiar with the wonderful film of the same name, starring Jeremy Irons and 1992 film Damage Jeremy Irons Juliette Binoche Josephine Hart a review of the book Emmanuelle de MaupassantJuliette Binoche, directed by Louis Malle, in which we witness more of the sexual nature of the affair. In her book, Hart does not describe sex at length, and yet we are left in no doubt that the acts are intense.

Fleming tells the reader: ‘We were made for other things. For needs that had to be answered day or night – sudden longings – a strange language of the body.’

They involve a degree of mild violence and of domination (there are references to slavedom, to being tied, and blindfolded, of Anna giving herself over to his will, of being physically ‘arranged’). These scenes leave us with a sense of the brutality of Fleming’s sexual desire, and of Anna’s desire to submit to it.

… there would be time for the pain and pleasure lust lends to love. Time for body lines and Damage-film-still-007angles that provoke the astounded primitive to leap delighted from the civilised skin…There would be time for words obscene and dangerous. There would be time for flowers to put out the eyes and for silken softness to close the ears.’

This is a love story of sorts, as Fleming proclaims in the closing lines, but the journey is heartbreaking, unsettling, terrifying. It is a nightmare from which the protagonists cannot wake. We are shocked, horrified, even to the bitter close, but cannot look away.

Hart reminds us that, when tragedy strikes, as when Anna’s brother Aston kills himself ‘silence, separation and sadness… become a way of life’ trapping us ‘in the unresolved agonies of long ago’. In some part, this is offered as a reason for Anna’s detachment, but we are not invited to judge, only to witness.

We see Fleming acknowledge his folly, cruelty and deceit. He takes full responsibility, never Josephine Hart Damage review by Emmanuelle de Maupassantattempting to apologize or make excuses. He is in the grip of what he knows will destroy him, and we abhor him for it. And yet, we see that he is powerless, just as Anna is powerless.

They are presented as equally culpable and yet, equally, without blame. They are damaged and are destined to destroy not only themselves but others.

At one point, Fleming asks Anna: ‘Who are you?’ and she replies: ‘I am what you desire…’ While Fleming fantasises about the possibility of leaving his wife and living with Anna, she realises that their relationship is outside of normal bounds and social conventions. It is only there that it can exist.

1992 film Damage Jeremy Irons Juliette Binoche Josephine Hart a review of the book Emmanuelle de MaupassantJosephine Hart achieves something rare in this novella: a helplessness that speaks deeply to the reader, a knowledge that, however sane and ordered our life, we carry our own destructive flame, the potential for our own acts of ‘damage’.

Like Water For Chocolate: a review

Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel review Exploring the burning pleasure and pain of physical desire is Laura Esquivel’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’. It is an erotic tale in the purest sense, delving the agony of repressed love, and the intense delight and suffering of which we are capable. It evokes the smells and tastes of the body, as well as those of the kitchen, showing the power of the senses to overwhelm us.

Tita falls in love with Pedro. Their eyes meet, and:
‘She understood how dough feels when it is plunged into boiling oil… The heat that invaded her body was so real. She was afraid she would start to bubble… like batter.’

Even a single look can be erotic. Pedro finds Tita grinding ingredients in the kitchen and his gaze transforms her ‘from chaste to experienced’ without even Like-Water-for-Chocolate-film-images-13fcd109-647b-4368-80dd-f6556923164touching. She is ‘like water for hot chocolate’ because she is ‘on the verge of boiling over‘ with desire.

Every erotic experience is conveyed in terms of food and cooking, rising heat, flesh seared and long simmering. Chillies appear in recipes repeatedly, symbolising the fiery heat of passion. Tita’s emotional journey is told alongside and through her creation of cuisine.

Tita’s fearsome mother, Elena, insists that Tita must never marry, being destined to take care of her until the day she dies. Pedro agrees to marry older sister Rosaura instead, declaring it as a means of staying close to his beloved, but, of course, as a servant declares, ‘You can’t just exchange tacos for enchiladas!’

Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel review Passion is contained and beaten into submission as surely as Tita herself whips eggs into meringue. Each dish provides a metaphor for Tita’s love life and cooking remains her only way of expressing her emotions, with magical results. Weeping as she beats the wedding cake for Pedro and Rosaura, her tears enter the mixture. As each guest takes a bite, they are overcome by an intense longing for their lost loves, by sadness at opportunities missed and sacrifices made. Their despair is such that they end by vomiting it from their bodies, like poison.

When Tita pours her sexual yearning into her Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, her blood mixing with the soft petals, she induces in her guests a sexual frenzy. The dish brings on a ‘voluptuous delight’, acting as an aphrodisiac so potent that Gertrudis, Tita’s other sister, feels ‘an intense heat pulsing through her limbs’. She rushes to an outdoor shower to cool off but her body is so like water for chocolate esquivel reviewpowerfully charged that the wooden boards catch fire.

Gertrudis’s sexual allure is carried upon the air to the nose of the captain of the rebel troops, Juan, who leaves the field of battle to whisk her off, quite naked, to become his lover. The scent of her ‘red-hot fire’ draws him and he recognises ‘the lust that leapt from her eyes, from her every pore’. He scoops her onto his horse and they make love for the first time, immediately. ‘The movement of the horse combined with the movement of their bodies.’

Gertrudis is so filled with amour that one man cannot satisfy her, and we hear that she seeks out employment at a brothel, before joining the rebel troops, Like Water for Chocolate a review Esquivel and rising to the position of general. There, she meets Juan once more, and they become married, fulfilling the destiny denied Tita and Pedro. In many ways, Gertrudis’ path throws that of Tita into sharp relief, she being confined to the kitchen and to watching over other family members, while Gertrudis, literally helps lead a revolution. She so firmly throws off all conventions, fully embracing her sexual nature, that we might argue that she, rather than Tita, would have made a more fascinating heroine.

Once Mama Elena dies, we hear that Tita and Pedro conduct a fragmented, illicit love affair, coupling discreetly, to avoid upsetting Rosaura. Theirs is a life half-lived. When, at last, Rosaura’s passing allows Tita and Pedro to enjoy one another without guilt, so joyful are they that they are, magically, consumed by flames, fulfilling the prophesy that: ‘If a strong emotion suddenly lights all the matches we carry inside ourselves, it creates a brightness that shines far beyond our normal vision and then a splendid Like Water for Chocolate a review Esquivel tunnel appears… and calls us to recover our lost divine origin.’

Laura Esquivel explores the tragic consequences of denying love: for Tita, who is forbidden from marriage by her mother; and, as we discover, for her mother, Elena, whose thwarted love resulted in an affair which brought on her husband’s death and sowed the seed for her own discontent and bullying of Tita.

‘Like Water for Chocolate’ is a tale, beautifully, enchantingly told, of our struggle against what is Laura Esquivel forbidden, of denial and of fulfillment, and of our helplessness in the face of desire.

 

I read in translation, by Carol and Thomas Christensen. The book was released in the USA in 1993, and simultaneously at cinemas (still shots featured here are from the film).

Laura Esquivel lives in Mexico.  In an interview with Salon Magazine, she notes: ‘I’m interested in that relationship between outer reality and inner desire. It’s important to pay attention to the inner voice, because it’s the only way to discover your mission in life, and the only way to develop the strength to break with whatever familial or cultural norms are preventing you from fulfilling your destiny.’

Patrick Califia’s ‘Mortal Companion’: a review

There is much that is playful in this beguiling tale, including speaking vampire cats, and a wealth of snappy dialogue. There are also scenes of powerful allure, and those of heartbreaking poignancy.

What better vehicle for exploring the many pains of love than a full-length vampire novel?

It doesn’t take the reader long to be rooting for leather-clad, biker Ulric, born in the 14th century, and struggling with the loneliness of Patrick Califiia Mortal Companion erotic fictionimmortality ever since (Califia’s vampires being cursed with finding the company of their own kind unbearable).

Through the centuries, Ulric wanders lost and largely loveless, his suffering sweetly punctuated by short periods of mortal companionship: Alain, who becomes an early victim of AIDS, and, now Lilith, a small-town librarian ripe for exploring her passion for her new lover.

Califia’s sex is heavily influenced by BDSM elements, presented in glorious techni-colour, and with authenticity (having been inspired by Califia’s own experience of the San Francisco scene). Califia’s sex is not only lava-hot but innovative. Combined with a writing style that embraces the brutally raw and the gently lyrical, this is a recipe for an erotic masterpiece. Califia knows his craft.

Above even his skillful manipulation of language is Califia’s creation of compelling, multi-layered characters. Ulric is both dominant and submissive to his new love, tender and masterful. Their relationship is one of balance, presented as an ideal. Lilith is, of necessity, a less dramatic persona, but carries her own quiet authority and we have a sense of her agency in her own fate. She is the giver and receiver of pleasure, Ulric respecting (almost worshipping) her female sexual power on equal footing with demonstrations of masculine erotic strength.

The plot revolves around an ancient feud, initiated by Ulric’s half-sister, the fearsome, obsessive, ruthless Adulfa. Statuesque, and beautiful in all senses unconventional, she pursues vengeance with a single-mindedness that, in the hands of a less talented author, might result in a stereotype of wickedness: a two-dimensional villainess. However, in blaming Ulric for having sentenced her to vampiric Patrick Califia erotic fiction review mortal companion Emmanuelle de Maupassantabomination six centuries earlier, we see not only her capacity to inflict pain on others, but the pain she carries within herself.

On discovering Ulric’s mortal companion, her plans unfold with steady inevitability, set against a catalogue of sadistic scenes in which we, as readers, are left in no doubt that Adulfa’s revenge will surpass anything we can imagine.

Adulfa’s brand of perverted domination is explored at length, leaving us intentionally disturbed and disrupted. Her behaviour, destructive as it is, to others and herself, is the perfect foil to the mutual love we witness between Ulric and Lilith. Where their sex scenes revolve around pleasure and emotional fulfillment, Adulfa’s couplings are spiced liberally with excruciating humiliation and torture.

The story, in its very concept, is fantastical, and yet Califia makes it so easy to suspend our disbelief. We shiver with delicious fear at the sinister path of Adulfa as readily as we shiver with satisfaction at the sex scenes involving Ulric, Lilith and their lovers.

The closing pages of the story are unexpected, and leave the path open to a sequel (as yet unwritten).

Would I like more of Adulfa, Ulric, and Lilith? Oh yes…

 

You many purchase ‘Mortal Companion‘ by Patrick Califia, here.

 

Thoughts from the author, and other male writers of erotic fiction in this article: The Erotic Vein.

A.S. Byatt’s Angels and Insects: a review

Angels and Insects comprises two novellas: Morpho Eugenia and The Conjugial Angel.

As we know, the Victorian age provides the perfect setting from which to explore themes of freedom and suffocation, as well as moral hypocrisy; it is these which are central to Byatt’s first tale, Morpho Eugenia.

Angels and Insects A S Byatt Victorian fictionShipwrecked naturalist William Adamson is brought under the wing of a wealthy Victorian family and soon falls ‘in lust’ with the enigmatic Eugenia. The sheer beauty and eroticism of Byatt’s prose is magnificent:

‘She sat beside him on the bench, and her presence troubled him. He was inside the atmosphere, or light, or scent she spread, as a boat is inside the drag of a whirlpool, as a bee is caught in the lasso of perfume from the throat of a flower.’

and, later, when they are married:
‘…he felt that their bodies spoke to each other in a kind of fluttering bath of molten gold, a raidiant tent of silky touch and shimmering softness, so that long, tender silences were a natural form of communion during the mundane grey light.’

Just as Adamson has collected specimens of the natural world, Sir Harald Alabaster ensnares him, setting him upon the endless task of classification: an activity requiring meticulous ordering (mirroring the strict order of upper-class Victorian society). This parallel is taken further as we see Adamson studying ant colonies living near the house, each as minutely complex and strictly ordered as the society within the Alabaster home.

Byatt reminds us repeatedly of the contrast between Adamson’s bold past as an explorer of A S Byatt Angels and Insectsthe Amazon, and the suffocating restrictions of polite aristocratic society. However, we come to realise that the family conceals just as many secrets as the darkly exotic jungle. Eugenia, for example, may outwardly (and symbolically) resemble the beautiful butterflies her father enjoys pinning to his boards, but the behaviour we discover of her is closer to the tumbling, devouring, ruthlessness of the insect world.

The pure ‘Alabasters’ are degenerate: stifled, congealing and corrupt, trapped within narrow, inward-looking mindsets. Using more symbolism, Byatt gives us a grotesque description of Harald Alabaster’s hands as ‘ivory-coloured, the skin finely wrinkled everywhere, like the crust on a pool of wax, and under it appreared livid bruises, arthritic nodes, irregular tea-brown stains. The flesh under the horny nails was candlewax-coloured, and bloodless.’

The Conjugial Angel examines the themes of grief and transiency through the Victorian obsession with séances and the next world. Byatt quotes significant portions of Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam, which explores mortality, and decay, inspired by Alfred’s love for Arthur Hallum (who died aged 22 and was engaged to Alfred’s sister, Emily). It is Emily who stands as the central figure in the story, as heartbroken in her loss as Alfred in his.

While the physicality of Emily and Alfred’s desire for Arthur is mostly hinted at, their suffering is vividly echoed in that of Mrs. Papagay. Torn by desire for the physical love of her husband, thought lost at sea, she dreams of ‘male arms around her in the scent of marriage-sheets’.

In both stories, there are dark themes at work, of selfishness, betrayal and deceit (of others and the self) but also an element of the fantastical. Byatt draws us into the stifling world of parlours and manners, but leaves doors open to possibilities: of adventure, of love, and of reignition of self-purpose. Both novellas end with protagonists looking to the future with more optimism, with eyes cast up to the stars.

The Victorianesque language is heavy at times, as dense and complex as Byatt’s themes, but there is beauty here, and such insight. Worth persevering for.

byatt authorA S Byatt‘s novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, byatt_childrens_bookStill Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman.

Among her most recent works are The Children’s Book and Ragnarok: The End of the Gods.

Her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Elementals and Little Black Book of Stories.

 

 

 

26, by Jonathan Kemp: a review

Jonathan Kemp‘s 26 is a series of bittersweet vignettes: perfect slices of agony and ecstasy, ‘visions of excess’ burning brightly beyond the civility of language and manners, taking us on a journey of tJonathan Kemp 26 literary eroticaranscendence, of sexual gratification and drug-induced otherness.

Explicit and, often, disturbing, his scenes lead us into dark places in search of meaning, exploring our isolation and our need for connection, our yearning for intense physical experience and our desire for oblivion. Kemp celebrates the raw, terrifying beauty of sexuality, showing its capacity to ‘make and unmake the world’ and to ‘speak a different tongue’.

He explores the hunger we cannot explain and draws with tenderness love unrequited, misplaced, and abandoned: ‘The difference between what we want and what we are able to do emerges with the slow, poisonous crawl of grief.’

He gives us poignant fragments of lost love and intense eroticism, underpinned by the repeated theme of the limits of language to convey human feeling, and the role of the body in remembering its past. It is the pulsing archivist, memories ‘rippling beneath the skin’.

Jonathan Kemp 26‘I wake to find your presence still alighting on my skin, a fragment of your warmth, the weight of you still pressing, and a blurred memory of the dream’s end.’

Kemp shows us physical sensation as another language, our desire to tear open and ‘release something monstrous and wild, from the other side of language’. He voices his longing for ‘a new tongue that licks closer to the contour of bodies’.

Yet, amidst this despair at the inadequacy of language is Kemp’s thread of richly satisfying poetic prose. His images and metaphors blaze.

‘This is for when the blood turns black and burns you from the inside, for when you get the hunger – feel it unravelling within its long, dark spine of want… This is for then, for those crystalline moments when your body molds to your desires, contoured by the red heat of longing…’

Kemp has created a masterpiece, Jonathan Kemp 26 erotic fictionmoving the reader emotionally, intellectually and viscerally, our hearts captured and broken alongside those of his anonymous protagonists.

’26’ is haunting, unsettling and erotically compelling.

Kemp gives us the night folding up like a sheet of paper, sliding itself into memory, ‘to be unfolded and relived, recounted and treasured’. In ’26’, Kemp has created a book of night dreams, vivid imaginings and shadows, half-remembrances and images seared on the skin. These pages close but the emotions he stirs remain close-caught.

‘There are places only the night knows, places only shadows can show us… I walk… looking for something, looking for something, looking for something… Forgive me for not having the words to describe it, this place in which I dwell. I have tried, I have tried. I have drenched myself in words and sensations, seeking a way to make them speak to one another. This is all I have to offer.’

How do you describe a book which has such power to manipulate the reader, to draw so deep from the well that you discover yourself anew?

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London TriptychJonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London.

His first novel, London Triptych won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize (my review here).

He is also the author of Ghosting (my review here).

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.20.45“There is a deceptively relaxed quality to Kemp’s writing that is disarming, bewitching and, to be honest, more than a little sexy… As a writer, Jonathan is somewhat akin to the Pied Piper if only because there is something magical you cannot help but follow.”
– Christopher Bryant, Polari Magazine.

You may like to visit this article, featuring Jonathan Kemp: Men Writing Erotic Fiction

Moon-Haunted Heart: a review

As the author, Terrance Aldon Shaw, declares, on entry to this anthology, we see the tremble of his ‘naked soul… manic, howling, vulgar’ with its ‘white-hot wants’. He exposes every emotion, from sorrow to exultation, ‘roaring blood and brimming brain’. He gives us all that is ‘distilled within that secret place where love and madness meet’.

He tells of what might have been; tales not only of mortality and desire, but of nostalgia, regret, isolation, loneliness and longing, lost inspiration and the search for one’s place in the cosmic scheme of things. These aspects he surveys through the lens of the erotic, inviting us to scrutinize ourselves as sexual beings: naked, vulnerable, passionate, longing. Only in so doing can we know ourselves.

As one of his characters muses, when we define something, it ‘stops growing, becoming static’. In honour of this, I’ll avoid defining these little pieces of magic too closely.

Diverse in style, from dialogue bathed in the colloquial slang of the American Midwest, to 28807874richly poetic, dramatic prose, they are also diverse in content. Some capture a fleeting moment of desire, or offer a glimpse at the eternal. They unfailingly explore the human condition, in all its madcap glory.

There is cleverness, playfulness, wit and wisdom, light as well as dark. There are words that curl and dance on your tongue. Speak them aloud, and you’ll hear their music, just as the narrator voice suggests in The Purview of Small Minds (an homage to Lolita). Even a single word can delight with its rhythm and structure.

Mr. Shaw gives us wry comedy in Señor Gordo (dialogue with a willful-minded penis) and macabre humour in Drunk and Disorderly, nostalgia in A Sense of History (cataloguing a mattress’ exploits), and cheeky verbage in describing the ‘gossamer prisons’ of a woman’s underwear in Mazelblum: ‘frilly gussets and diaphanous drawers, hot-pink tangas like tulle fig-leaves, raspberry hipsters, tangerine boy shorts and sea-foam green bow cheekinis, French-cut mesh and jeweled G-strings like removable vajazzle facades’.

There is also much poignancy. The author writes: ‘Very few people have the maturity to understand that it’s our flaws, our slight imperfections, our deviations from the norm that make us interesting. These are the things that pique our curiosity and, ultimately, kindle our desires.’

There is regret for a life half-lived in Salix Sepulcralis, in which we are invited to see ourselves one day no more than a ‘mass of diverse necrotic tissues’, a ‘voiceless assortment of cells in random, untidy decay’.

Where Mr. Shaw uses poetic prose, it is lush, as in Nox: 

‘The ancients believed that darkness was a thing substantial, that Night poured into the world from below, a malignant emanation of the nether regions, filling the dome of heaven with a miasma of poisonous atoms, even as the moon cast its spell of madness from above.’

My favourite of the tales is La Sonnambula: a story of obsession, and the grotesque, told with delicious theatricality, an opera diva’s stalker at last fatally cutting off his penis and sending it to the object of his admiration, wrapped in a skein of her hair.

There is an undercurrent of the disturbing, and of the bittersweet philosophical. In A Little Death, ‘she howls as if to frighten away the dark things beyond the guttering firelight, the fears that lurk behind the mirrors she loathes to look in, the doubts that would whisper to her when she is alone.’ In Ad Astra, we feel the ‘dread of standing still, of being in one place too long, of rooting too deeply in the soil of past pain or bleak future’.

As Mr. Shaw declares, writers ‘live in hope that what they write will have meaning, though it is almost always left to readers to find it’.

These tales are the outer ripples of memories lost. Search your own past and you’ll find their echo. They float here on a ‘lawless realm of dreams’ where time ‘moves as easily backwards as forwards’. Step your way through the fragments and seek out the shards glittering most brightly. Your touch will inevitably linger, perhaps where you least expect it.

Those slivers may prick your tender flesh.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

The Author

Terrance Aldon Shaw describes his work as ‘psycho-rotica,’ exploring the ‘complex, fascinating inner world of sex’, all the ‘thoughts, feelings and emotions that accompany the erotic experience. You can purchase Moon-Haunted Heart from Smashwords and find Mr. Shaw’s reviews, musings on the craft of writing and short stories on his site: Erotica for the Big Brain.

 

 

A Review of Licked : Tales of Salt-Sweet Delight

Licked : seven tales of oral pleasure : a review

1fd25a7c1fb4e91da3a2e82318309941As Adrea Kore explains, in her interview with editor Jillian Boyd: ‘Going down’ connotes the Underworld: descending beneath. Basements, underwater caves, places of darkness and mystery… Venturing into the unknown, we yearn for a little danger, a little adventure, but sometimes also treasure, and discovery.

This anthology is devoted to the delights of sexual scent and juices slick, to our impulse to Adrea Kore Lickedlose ourselves in another, to the luscious lapping of a lover’s cream.

Kinky

Rob Rosen rises to the challenge of defining kink, in ‘Sanitised For Your Pleasure’. His futuristic, dystopian setting lends itself well to contemplation of how sexual ‘norms’ are shaped by cultural trends. In his world, pills are popped to eliminate anything deemed unsavoury, from body odour and body hair, to bad breath and dandruff. Eventually, babies are born without these ‘offensive’ extras. He imagines a society in which the human organism has no scent of its own, and no flavour. 4902cbfe47e4963927a76b1d543de84aIn such a setting, to seek out sex with smell and taste becomes a fetish in itself. Finding an arse crack tickled by hair takes the protagonist to heady heights of arousal. This is a clever celebration of the human body, in its all sweaty, hairy glory.

Intense

One of my favourite writers of erotic fiction, Adrea Kore, explores the torture of desire, of compulsion and addiction, in ‘Wet Satin Plaything’. She writes not only to arouse but to challenge us intellectually and emotionally. Her cleverly embroidered story of revenge is haunting, its prose woven with poetic refrain. Each sentence is a perfect melody in itself. Adrea Kore Licked quoteMeanwhile, her descriptions of oral sex are unsurpassed. I was left dry-mouthed and anticipatory.

Joyous

In ‘Rip’s Reward’, Marie Piper gave me my first ever reading of ‘Western style erotica’ and I found it utterly charming, as well as more than a little arousing. Marie truly had me rooting for her characters’ happiness.

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Robin Watergrove’s confiding narrator voice, in ‘Just Thirsty’, bathes us in tender, sensuous prose: We’re unmoored; no voices now, too far off shore to make sense of each other’s words. I rock against her body and she pulses back against mine. Swimming in the smell of her, soaked into the sheets.

 

e-is-for-cunnilingusWitty

Dale Cameron Lowry’s ‘Sucker for Love’ begins by musing humorously on the attraction of certain flavours of the body, and his early introduction to the notion of oral pleasure: I found out about oral sex for the first time like many children my age did: by listening to BBC World Service over breakfast… it was the year U.S. President Bill Clinton scandalized the American citizenry with his sexual shenanigans. Our protagonist’s mother explains that it’s an acquired taste, like beer: ‘Grown-ups like to taste their lovers.’ she says. His childhood-self scoffs: ‘Beer smelled like wee. Genitals made wee. Never mind what anuses did. I didn’t want any of it near my mouth.’ As the tale unfolds, it is tender and romantic, satisfying and whimsical.

Erotic Soviet, Alphabet 1931, MerkurovWistful

Suanne Schafer, in ‘Feeding Her’ gives us a poignant story of how illness (and mastectomy) can change our self-image and others’ perception of us. Showing a talent for penning ‘believable’ characters, Suanne unfolds a tale with sensitivity and emotional depth.

Mysterious

In ‘Vapour, Venom, Oleander’, Jessica Taylor conjures ancient Greece, as her prophetic Sibyl of Delphi interprets the fumes of the Oracle, advising Romulus on the founding of Rome.

RevelatoryScreen Shot 2016-03-28 at 10.47.29

Let go your inhibitions and inhabit your senses. Embrace these tales of salt-sweet delight and, in so doing, discover oral pleasures anew.

As Adrea Kore invites us: ‘Get Licked. You know you want to…’

Edited by Jill Boyd, the edition is available here.

Nights at the Circus: a review

If ever a story defied categorisation and deconstruction, here it sits!

Luxuriously lyrical and peopled by a huge cast of cacophonous eccentrics, such that the reader cannot begin to keep track of each one, it is as if Angela Carter went to every length to make her tale as chaotic and exceptionally unbelievable as possible. Above all else, it celebrates the ridiculous and the unexplainable, the surreal and the dazzlingly grotesque.

Nights at the Circus review Angela CarterHere is evidence that plot need not follow a clear arc, and that characters need not be realistic, let alone likable. She gives us the vulgar and the ethereal, motives base and sublime. Beribboned in silk and velvets, her dark world of magnificent misfits and baroque tragedy is fascinating, as only the truly bizarre can be. It is an outlandish, irreverent, boisterous romp.

And, at the summit of this shabbily beautiful fable is the most gaudy and bizarre character of them all: the audacious, voracious, foul-mouthed, star-spangled, gloriously sexual, Fevvers. Acrobat extraordinaire, half-woman half-bird, she charms the crowned heads of Europe, the great, the good and the very, very bad.Nights_at_the_Circus Angela Carter review

We only gradually gain a sense of Fevvers’ true individualism, revealed stage by stage, to find that it derives not from her wings, but from her irrepressible spirit, even to the last pages, as she stumbles through snowy Siberia. We first join her as an adored spectacle with the Cirque de’Hiver, and then tumble through her terrible past: through her childhood as a ‘winged tableau’ in a Victorian brothel, and years as an unhappy exhibit in the Museum of Women Monsters, then into the perverse hands of a millionaire who wishes to sacrifice her miraculous being in pursuit of immortality.

Angela Carter view nights at the circusEven Fevvers’ voice cannot be strictly categorised, being described as ‘dark, rusty, dripping and swooping’, ‘cavernous’ and ‘somber’, the voice of a ‘celestial fishwife’, ‘musical’ yet discordant, ‘that clanged like dustbin lids’.

Meanwhile, rather than creating ‘another love story’ (love being at the heart of her tale) Angela Carter swoops from one madcap adventure to the next, hardly giving you time to process what you have read. Besides traditional male-female romantic love, Carter bestows her caress upon love between women: downtrodden Mignon is so tenderly drawn as she falls in love with the lion-tamer princess. We see also love between Fevvers and her long-suffering adoptive mother, ever-loyal Liz, and love between circus trainers and their animals: the apes, the tigers and the noble elephants.

Such is the exuberant originality of ‘Nights at the Circus’ that to analyse its meandering plot or character development would be pointless. Every sumptuous detail is a delight, every line a masterpiece, every paragraph a sculpted work of art: here is its magic.

Fevvers’ room is a place of ‘exquisitely feminine squalor’, with ‘a large pair of frilly Angela Carter Nights at the Circusdrawers fallen where they had been light-heartedly tossed’, and a corset poking from a coalscuttle like ‘the pink husk of a giant prawn emerging from its den, trailing long laces like several sets of legs’. A stale feet smell emanates from ‘a writhing snakes’ nest of silk stockings’; ‘essence of Fevvers’ clogs the room. And the lady herself, in her ‘bonnefemmerie’ thinks nothing of letting ‘a ripping fart ring around the room’ for no more than the pleasure of seeing her male companion’s discomfort.

Angela Carter Nights at the Circus view EmmanuelleThere are morals interwoven through the divinely diabolical set pieces, but do not read Angela’s Carter’s majestic masterpiece to ponder on human nature. Read it to be seduced by a deeply enchanted love affair with language.

Haunted by the Past: a review of Jonathan Kemp’s ‘Ghosting’

 

How do we live with the spectres of the past: lost loves, lost children, years wasted in bitterness and regret? And, in living with lament, do we become ghosts ourselves?

 

This is a tale of how we haunt ourselves, how the torment of the past can desiccate us. It’s also a tale of unlocking self-imposed shackles.

 

Grace’s long-dead husband, Pete, has always been the dark shadow at her side, captured Jonathan Kemp ghosting revieweternally in her memories of his initial love for her, and of his physical and emotional abuse; now, she believes he’s reappeared in the flesh.

 

Looking back, to four decades earlier, we hear: ‘…with each blow, her love for him diminished. She would say she loved him but she felt it less and less.’

 

Jonathan Kemp has a talent for evoking a moment through a single image. Grace recalls: ‘pegging out their bedsheets for the first time and feeling as if she was pitching a flag on the summit of her happiness; declaring her joy to the world.’ He shows us not only a husband hated, but adored, and therein lies a tangled web.

 

There are memories too of a teenage daughter, who was lost emotionally to Grace long before her fatal drug overdose. Jonathan Kemp shows us the power of grief to place us out of joint with the world, disoriented, a form of madness, memories clanging a jarring bell.

 

Grace is adrift, failing to cope with the pain of the past. Her strategy of denial and containment has left her brittle. She’s barely breathing when we meet first meet her: a ghost of the self she once was.

 

Her cage is uniquely her own, but we all have our cages, inhabited by lovers long-ago-kissed, friends discarded, family members lost to us. They are the patterns woven into our personal tapestry, folded and put away, for what we avoid looking at we think we may forget.

 

Grace thinks: ‘What happens to all the pain you refuse to feel? Does the body store it perhaps, for a future date?’

 

I defy your heart not to ache for Grace and, in reading of her grief, to ache for yourself, for we are all haunted by the past, and by the transience of this life.

 

As Grace ponders: ‘Life happened. Only I feel like it happened without me, and I want it back so I can do it differently.’

 

As in The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Grace sees a woman crawling through the wall, trying to escape: a metaphor for her own effort to be free of what constrains her.

 

Kemp leads us through the female mind with insight, dark humour picking its way through dark themes. Grace wonders at what point her frustration will rob her of self-control. She recalls a friend of her mother’s who would carry a china saucer wrapped in a tea towel in her handbag, alongside a small hammer, ready for extraction in emergencies, to allow her to vent her anger. It must ‘go’ somewhere, or she’ll descend into madness, so she fears.

 

She pictures her thoughts as fishes, swimming inside the bowl of her skull; pictures herself ‘casting a line to catch them.’

 

At last, the mysterious apparition turns out to be Luke, whose youthful vitality and daring helps bring Grace back to life. While she locks her torment away, Luke uses performance art to purge his. Through their growing friendship, she realises that only she can release herself from grief’s burden.

 

Grace is: ‘becoming herself, and daily casting aside that fictitious self that people assume like a garment in which to appear before the world.’

 

ghosting jonathan kemp  reviewShe accepts life’s chaos, knowing ‘with a knowledge that somehow sets her free, all there is to know about life, which, nothing.’

 

The tale ends with Grace leaving behind her past, dropping her phone into the bin. She no longer feels the need for safe shelter. She’s ready to step into her future.

 

Grace notes, on visiting an art exhibition, that art is ‘a way of seeing’ and ‘a process’, ‘more than a product to be sold’. Some stories are told to enlighten us, to shine a small flame in the darkness of our haphazard ramblings, to show us the way. Kemp’s story is one such, urging us to recognise the pain we carry with us and to set it free. The pages are ‘a product to be sold’ but they are also a personal message, of encouragement to heal, and step into our own tomorrows.

 

Jonathan Kemp 26 Ghosting London Triptych

Jonathan Kemp teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Birkbeck College, London. His first novel, London Triptych won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Green Carnation Prize. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, 26.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 11.20.45“There is a deceptively relaxed quality to TWENTYSIXKemp’s writing that is disarming, bewitching and, to be honest, more than a little sexy… As a writer, Jonathan is somewhat akin to the Pied Piper if only because there is something magical you cannot help but follow.”
– Christopher Bryant, Polari Magazine.

 

 

 

 

‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – available for download from all Amazon sites – vivid flowers with text kindleincluding Amazon UK and Amazon USA. 

Stylist Magazine UK

‘Sensuous’ and ‘mind-blowing’ with ‘beautifully crafted prose’.

Twitter

‘I could not go to sleep thinking about your book. I stayed up and read it cover to cover. The most erotic novel I recall reading.’ – Guillermo Tomas

‘An elegantly written piece of period erotica. I was engrossed and highly aroused.’ – Sir to You

Amazon US

‘Erotica – and historical fiction – doesn’t get any better than this. If you haven’t read it, buy it.’ – Seattle Reader

‘A beautiful example of erotic literature – one that shows the genre to be capable of intelligence and elegance. Wonderful and truly impressive.’ – Malin James

Voracious Reader Reviews

‘Have some type of cooling method handy when you sit down to read this.  There’s just something so deliciously naughty about the steamier seedier side of things when everyone is supposed to be so stiff and proper. I simply love it. This is well-Victorian bed lady reclining erotic thoughtswritten, creative and hot. Enough said. Now, go. Run and get it, if you dare…’ – Carol

Erotica for the Big Brain

‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant brings a refreshing confidence to her writing. Her work has already begun to enrich the genre, and readers need look no further than “The Gentlemen’s Club” to understand why.’ – Terrance Aldon Shaw

victorian corset adultery

Escapology Reviews

‘The Gentleman’s Club turned me into a pool of jelly. So hot it set the bathroom on fire and a fire crew had to hose me down’ – Vikki Heaven

Amazon UK

‘A masterpiece of erotica: every paragraph has you begging for the next. An exciting story of lust, passion and romance. Sexually explicit, but not offensive; it will broaden your sexual mind and sexual appetite. If you buy one book this year, make it this one. I am in great anticipation of the follow up.’ – Pauline

csdl51lxgaa4lbt-jpg-large‘I came across this author quite by accident. I am glad that I did! I thoroughly enjoyed this erotic novella as, unlike some of this genre, it was able to hold my interest from an intellectual and visceral stand point. If only some Men of my acquaintance had similar talents! I particularly appreciated the theme of a liberated woman, throwing off the strictures of society (still resonates in this day and age)’ – Melanie

 Amazon Canada

‘This book. This book! This is the book I wish I had written. The Alice Wilkes Ziegfeld Follieslanguage…oh, the language! It grabs you and propels you smack dab into Victorian London from the first paragraph. It weaves a net about you, it draws you in. Iit has you shouting ‘yes, yes, yes,’ like Meg Ryan at the diner, because finally there is a well-rounded, well-written, exquisitely crafted story which redeems the genre.’ – Julia Rist

take a peek via the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon

Peep Show: a review

The exhibitionist in us wants others to disapprove, as well as to admire, for it is in this that we find the tantalising ‘edge’.

Wilmington, North Carolina, 1950 by Elliot Erwitt
Photograph by Elliot Erwitt (1950)

Here is the line in the sand, and here we are, stepping over it.
Here is my body; here is my lust.
See it in my fingers and in my eyes, and in my quickening breath.
Look away if you don’t like what you see…
Except that I know you won’t.

Peep ShowPeep Show: Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, edited by the Queen of Erotica, Rachel Kramer Bussel, is a gem of an anthology: each story perfect in its own right, original and well-crafted, surveying the paired delights of voyeurism and exhibitionism.

‘Clean and Pretty’, by Donna George Storey, is a sensual masterpiece, displaying the very paradox at the heart of the collection: that the essence of our desire to be watched, to ignite the flame of arousal in others, is based not just on the notion of seeking admiration but also on a yearning to defy boundaries, to defy the watcher’s approval, to defy commonly-held canons of ‘decency’.

Bruce Webber
Photography by Bruce Webber

Every act of exhibitionism is a performance, as in Jennifer Peters’ gloriously bold ‘People in Glass Hotels’, and in Lolita Lopez’s ‘Indecent’.

Of course, the coin’s reverse is all the more potent when illicit. Forbidden pleasures are, inevitably, the sweetest, as we see in Elizabeth Coldwell’s tantalising ‘Audience Participation’, and in Nobilis Reed’s cleverly rendered and multi-threaded ‘Glass’: both extolling the joy of watching, uninvited.

Hans Mauli
Photograph by Hans Mauli

Rachel KB’s own contribution to this treasure trove, ‘I’ve Only Got Eyes For You’, and Angela Caperton’s ‘Calendar Girl’ end the collection on a note lavender-sweet and dumpling-soft, showing that exhibitionism is not confined to the shadow-world. Every one of us can enjoy the act of display, and there are so many ways in which to do so, to the enrichment of our self-esteem, while feeding a secret desire to shock.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown is L.A. Mistral’s exploration of the relationship between the knowing performer, and the open watcher, writing in ‘The Theory of Orchids’: ‘The more we cherish something with our eyes, the more it flourishes. Our attention changes both who we are and what we look at. Our watching changes everything.’

Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Maniquí tapado (Mannequin covered), 1931
Photograph by Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1931)

We read for entertainment, but also to know ourselves better, to find an echo within the pages, and to witness parallel universes. Knowledge of each ‘other life’ opens a door within our own.

Mannequins, E1 by John Claridge (1968)
Photograph by John Claridge (1968)

Reading, of course, is an act of voyeurism in itself, and this anthology, by its very nature, encourages us to embrace the process.

Read, and watch, and enjoy.

(For more voyeuristic delights, you may like to visit my Author Page on Amazon to see where my pen has been tickling…)

Coming Together in Verse: a review

Coming Together In VerseHere is an anthology for those who delight in both the sensual word, and the inherent comedy of sex, in all its vulgar glory. Here are words intense and poignant, whimsical and witty.

Here is power, conveyed in the sparsest of phrases:
‘He is wordless and unknowable
He is appetite and need
The thrust
of flesh
of horn’
(Janine Ashbless ‘Minotaur’)

Here is the pulsing corporeal:
‘Let the wall be my backbone
as I give up gravity to you’

and
‘Your tongue and teeth interrogate secrets
Embedded long ago in arteries and skin’
(Adrea Kore ‘Threshold’)

We can taste the ‘scattered seeding dream’ on the ‘platter of my tongue’
(Adrea Kore ‘Best Enjoyed Hard’)

 

Adrea Kore Threshold erotic poetryJade A Waters and Tamsin Flowers‘ contributions are
intensely sexy, while AJ Chilson and Ashe Barker prove themselves masters of the short form.

 

It’s impossible not to smile at KD Grace‘s ‘Dodgy Bus’ and Lisabet Sarai‘s clever parody of ‘The Night Before Christmas’; Bella Settarra‘s ‘If I’d Wanted Sex’ is a delight, as is Kay Jaybee‘s saucy alphabet.

 

Meanwhile, Ashley R Lister’s ‘Old People Sexadrea kore poetry‘ is feverishly naughty and utterly irreverent, embracing the ridiculous.

Janine Ashbless also achieves this with aplomb in ‘On Erotic Vocabulary’:
‘Mighty Weapon makes me queasy
Throbbing Manhood sounds diseasy’

and in her playful ‘Song for Whoever’.

Here is an anthology bursting with treats and treasures. You’ll want to dip in time and again, to savour its moods and melodies.

Coming Together in Verse, edited by Ashley R Lister

Big Brain Erotica: Best Reads of 2015

My sincere thanks to the hugely knowledgeable, insightful and unfailingly entertaining Terrance Aldon Shaw of ‘Erotica for the Big Brain‘ (in my opinion, the very best review site for erotic fiction) for including ‘The Gentlemen’s Club‘ among his ‘best reads of 2015’.

Gentlemens Club 2

I’m in excellent company, alongside:

Twentysix (Jonarthan Kemp)Twentysix (Jonathan Kemp), with its ‘wild surfeit of language’ and ‘sumptuous banquet of experience’;
the ‘bold, surprising and sometimes shocking’ Addictive Desires (Big Ed Maggusun); andAddictive Desires 002
Katie in Love (Thurlow)Katie in Love (Chloe Thurlow), beautiful in its melancholy,  ‘reflective, sensuous and cerebral’.

 
Libidinous Zombie (ed. Rose Caraway), ‘skillfully melding horror, erotica, comic sensibility and the macabre’ and featuring some of the leading writers in the genre:

Malin Libidinous Zombie 2James, Remittance Girl, Rose CarawayTamsin Flowers, Jade A Waters, Raziel Moore, Allen Dusk and Janine Ashbless

(see here for my own review)

 

 

Generation Game 2

 

 

Generation Game (Secret Narrative), an artful exploration of mature desire

 
One Night Only 2One Night Only: Erotic Encounters (ed. Violet Blue), a steamy anthology boasting such literary legends as Rachel Kramer Bussel and Donna George Storey

 

 

The ‘intriguingly original and soulful’ Aphrodite OverboardAphrodite Overboard (Raiment) (Richard V. Raiment)

 

 

Lips Like Ice (Peggy Barnett), ‘which contains elements of classic feminist science fiction in the best tradition of Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood’

Lips Like Ice 2

 

 

 

 

The ‘genre-bending, thought-provoking and heart-warming’ Counsel of the Wicked (Rebel Mage: Book 1) (ElizabethCounsel of the Wicked (Schechter) Schechter)

 

 

and, in praise of the enduring, voluptuous, intoxicating delight of Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber, Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter)a nomination for the release of the  75th Anniversary Edition

 

Relentless and Destructive: a review of Libidinous Zombie

The full version of this review appears on Cara Sutra’s Pleasure Panel, alongside others.

What is theLibidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthology nature of our erotic drive, relentless and destructive, the ‘Libidinous Zombie‘ within? This innovative collection takes up the torch, and dares to lead us down the twisting passageways of the labyrinth, each  author unravelling the threads in their own way, leaving their footprints for us to follow. As Remittance Girl describes it, here is an anthology which presents ‘the delicious marriage between horror and eroticism’.Libidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthology

From the dystopian setting of a post-apocalyptic world (Tamsin Flowers‘ poignant tale) to the confines of an early 20th century mental asylum (Malin James‘ compelling depiction of descent into the madness of sexual obsession) we are taken on a shadow journey, where nothing is quite as it seems.

Their charm lies in the unexpected, in their twists, as tLibidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthologyhey arouse and horrify, provoking both disgust and a compulsion to continue.

Libidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthologyThese tales offer not just entertainment but a deeper commentary on what we choose to conceal, or reveal. They offer insight into the voracious nature of lust, and into our darker side, into the thoughts we rarely admit to. And, they offer warning: be careful of what you wish for, and how you behave.Libidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthology

Follow the rich pathways of the maze, seek out the minotaur, and, when you find him, look deep into his eyes. There, you’ll see your own self reflected, your own image, prompted by the author’s lens. Remember that each reader brings their own interpretation to the page, and what you find in the labyrinth reveals your own preoccupations, as much as those of he or she who wrote the words.

Enjoy the feast: rich and spicy; grotesque and violent; heart-breaking and bittersweet.

Devour these dishes course by course, without rushing. Savour them to the full.

Libidinous Zombie - an erotic horror anthology

 

A collection worthy of your time, featuring:

Rose Caraway, Raziel Moore,Erotic HorrorRemittance Girl, Allen Dusk, Janine Ashbless, Jade. A. Waters, Malin James and Tamsin Flowers.

The Lure of the Forbidden

‘I am a forest, and a night of dark trees.’

― Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra

 

I am a different person by night.

I breathe more deeply.

What I thirst for is not the reflection in the mirror but something beyond and behind, only visible when there is no light: a realisation of my shadow side.

Thoughts of revenge, debasement, danger, fear, pain and violence, is this my ‘real’ self?

It is, although other selves exist too. They have the daylight.

All are mine: dark and light.

As Jung said: ‘How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.’

My self beyond the mirror desires what cannot be spoken, and what cannot be attained. This ache may be soothed but it cannot be satisfied. Whatever I imagine, it will never be enough, for my desire is always to want more: to grasp at what is out of reach.

I walk a balancing act between light and shade, between my ‘civilised’ self and that which flickers and dissolves at the edges.

‘I am terrified by this dark thing

That sleeps in me;

All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.’

― Sylvia Plath (Ariel)

In Joseph Kessel’s Belle de Jour (1928), Séverine knows well that her indulgence of her ‘dark’ self – which wishes to lose its conventional, public identity and surrender only to desire and sensation, without thought of consequences – endangers her ‘social’ self.

Belle de Jour film poster

The story is best known through Catherine Deneuve’s portrayal of the icily beautiful housewife, in Luis Bunuel’s film (1967). Compelled by desires she cannot articulate, let alone share with her husband, Pierre, she is drawn into an alternate sexual world, choosing to spend each afternoon working at a brothel.

The greater her revulsion with her clients, the greater her satisfaction, yet she seeks continually, without finding true fulfillment. She experiences little ‘conscious’ choice, driven almost mad by her need to act out fantasies of masochism and debasement: to be forcefully subdued, to ‘lose’ her usual sense of self.

Her desires make no sense to her; she only knows that she must serve them.

The story’s tension lies not in her compulsions but in her knowledge that they are incompatible with her ‘other life’ and her love for Pierre. For him to discover the truth is inconceivable. She sends one of her lovers, Marcel, to murder the man she thinks will betray her and it is upon this moment that Fate twists the course of the story, turning the blade towards Pierre.belle de jour

The shock of almost losing him drives Séverine to renounce her sexual yearnings and devote herself to the long-term care of her terribly injured husband.

The final tragedy is that her desire, and her shame, live on sufficiently to drive her to confess all and, in so doing, bring to pass the very reaction she most feared: Pierre’s revulsion and his repudiation of her. In the closing lines of the story, we are told that he refuses ever after to speak to her.

Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut, based on Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story, also examines ‘unbridled’ desires, including concealment of the truth and feelings of guilt. A woman tormented by relentless dark fantasies involving a man she encounters briefly, reveals the details to her husband: a scene intimately constructed in the film, whereby Nicole Kidman whispers her confession of her ‘raw self’ to Tom Cruise.

Eyes Wide Shut - promotional film posterAroused and resentful, he allows himself his own act of transgression by entering a twilight world: attending a secret, orgiastic gathering, at which he is an intruder. It is for this segment that the film is best known: its glitteringly dark, dream-like depiction of a sinister, masquerade sex party. Much is left unexplained, elevating the sense of danger.

What these books (and the resulting films) share is their portrayal of the lure of the forbidden. However much we experience and possess and taste, it is never quite enough, because our imagination always craves more.

We feel, almost instinctively, the seduction of what lies on the darker side of the mirror, where the norms of social behaviour no longer apply.

George Bataille (in Guilty) wrote: ‘Eroticism is the brink of the abyss. We’re brought to the edge by uncontrolled ecstasy. This is the stage of rupture, of letting go of things.’

Similarly, he said: ‘The need to go astray, to be destroyed, is an extremely private, distant, passionate, turbulent truth.’

And here it is. In fiction, we seek both to ‘escape’ and to ‘find’ ourselves. We seek an echo of our nature within the pages, while hoping also to set aside the constraints of ‘reality’: to ‘lose’ ourselves, as we do in ultimate moments of sexual arousal.

We want danger.

We want extremes.

We want the duality of pleasure and pain.

We want the forbidden.

In Japan, diners delight at the tingle of poison on their lips from the carefully prepared puffer fish, knowing how close they are to danger, to death.

So it can be with our erotic nature.

What greater triumph is there than to feel your mortality and to conquer it?

In reaching a heightened sexual state, we are of the flesh and beyond the flesh: we are corporeal and spiritual. We feel our mortality and we transcend it. At that moment of sublime ecstasy, we ‘defy’ death, becoming more than bone and blood.

We see beyond the mirror.

We see the hidden self.

 

Bibliography

Joseph Kessel: Belle de Jour (1928)

Arthur Schnitzler: Dream Story (1926)

 

To taste my own darkly erotic pen, visit my Amazon page.

 

F. Leonora Solomon kindly first hosted this article as a guest blog on her site.

Many thanks Leonora xxx

Seven Tales of Sex and Death, by Patricia Duncker: a review

 

 Hallucinating Foucault : Patricia Duncker Having adored Patricia’s ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ (1996) and enjoyed ‘The Deadly Space Between: A Novel’ (2002), I felt compelled to try this collection of her The Deadly Space Between: Patricia Duncker - a reviewshort stories.

The author writes that her intention was to ‘disturb and provoke’. To this end, I believe she is partially successful, since two of the tales, particularly, continue to haunt me.

Moreover, I’m left asking myself why, which I’m sure is what Ms. Duncker would be pleased to hear.

They highlight the erotic relationship between violence and sex, yet neither tale is arousing in the traditional sense, more inspiring horror and revulsion, and yet… there is something.
Patricia Duncker: seven tales of sex and death review‘Stalker’ is the most violent, gruesomely detailed of the seven tales, yet also manages to build a chilling atmosphere of anticipation. Reader beware.

‘Sophia Walters Shaw’ left me similarly disquieted.  Painting an alternative, yet highly recognisable dystopian future, it focuses on the dark underbelly of the sex industry and the work of hired assassins.

The last story, ‘My Emphasis’, seems an ill-fit for the theme, but that it centres on the ‘heroine’ being obliged to maintain the pretence of being a victim of domestic violence. The tale is perhaps the most well-crafted of all, engaging us in the behaviour of a great many characters and drawing out the humour of misunderstandings with a light touch – but it does not move the darker side of me.

Patricia’s ‘Seven Tales of Sex and Death’ (2004) left me wanting more: more sex, more violence, more death. These are such rich seams, enticing us to explore further: to pick apart their interwoven threads and unknot their secrets: shadowy avenues which she plumbed with such heartfelt insight in ‘Hallucinating Foucault’.

 

 

For a taste of my own writing in this genre, visit my Amazon page. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanted: Intelligent Smut

 

 

Yes, yes YES!!!

Such is the battle-cry of millions of insatiable readers in the erotic-romance genre: currently worth around $1.5 billion Dollars annually (more than any other).

Yes, women have sex drives (as do men).

Yes, women have fantasies (as do men).

Yes, women sometimes just want to get down and dirty (need I say more).

Fear of Flying - erotic fiction

It’s clear that the popularity of e-readers and tablets has aided sales of erotic fiction, offering as they do the chance to enjoy any amount of knee-trembling ‘naughtiness’ with anonymity.

Looking back to the 1970s, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying was one of the first to gain international bestselling status, with the uninhibited ‘flying free’ of Isadora, on a wild journey of liberation and self-discovery. Nancy Friday’s taboo-shattering My Secret Garden (1973) not only sets out to show us that we are not alone in enjoying fantasies (the kind that nancy_friday  erotic literature still have women wondering if they are the only ‘bad’ girls thinking saucy thoughts) but that, whatever spice your imagination can conjure up, someone else is undoubtedly doing the same, and possibly adding quite a few jalapenos on top.

Although I grew up on the salacious 1980s offerings of Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper, eating up each morsel like a dog falling upon a plate of fat sausages, these days, I much prefer my fiction without ‘hearts and roses’. Erotic literature is widely classified as exploring sexual themes for their own sake, viewing our humanity through the  lens of erotic desire. The development of a romantic relationship is not obligatory to the menu.

Classic examples come from the kinky pen of the late 18th-century’s much fanny-hill by-john-clelandimprisoned Marquis de Sade and John Cleland, whose Fanny Hill (1748) inspired over two centuries of obscenity trials and censorship. Brazen for its time, Theophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) sees a woman use her beauty to captivate not only a young poet but, disguised as a man, his mistress! It oozes sexual deception and intrigue. Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899) similarly shocked readers by its Mademoiselle de Maupin heroine seeking out passion for its own sake, beyond the confines of her marriage. Also published in 1899, The Torture Garden, by Octave Mirbeau, follows desire and depravity to a shocking, sadistic paradise, where debauchery knows no bounds, its premise being that self-knowledge and fulfilment are only attainable by experiencing extremes. Reaching back even further into the annals of sexy literary history, there is The Perfumed Garden. Written in the 16th Century, it looks at the sexual customs and behaviour of Arabia in the Middle Ages (much as the Kama Sutra reflects ancient Hindu culture).

Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer Other storm raisers, banned from public consumption for decades, include D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (bawdy adventures in 1930s Paris) and Tropic of Capricorn (debauchery in Lady Chatterley's Lover  erotic fiction 1920s New York).

The question is, amidst a sea of erotica, how do you locate the more challenging, intelligent sauce? The sort that not only arouses at a visceral level, but inspires us to rethink sexual conventions: to challenge our minds as well as delivering a thwack to the groin.

In Delta of Venus, Anais Nin pens several provocative and elegantly Delta of Venus, Anais Nin - intelligent eroticastyled tales: a Hungarian adventurer seduces wealthy women then vanishes with their money; a veiled woman selects strangers from a chic restaurant for private trysts; and a Parisian milliner leaves her husband for a mini-break to the opium dens of Peru.

Another titillating collection is The Gates of Paradise: 35 stories exploring the infinite variety of erotic experience, by such authors as Tennessee Williams, Marguerite Duras and Isabel Allende. Ms. The Lover - Duras - erotic fiction Duras is best known for her poetically scribed The Lover.

Belle de Jour (1928), by Joseph Kessel, inspired Luis Buñuel’s film Belle-de-jour  Catherine Deneuve (starring the luscious Catherine Deneuve). A wealthy Parisian housewife seeks fulfilment of her own vivid, sadomasochistic fantasies via a brothel, where she submits to her customers, revelling in (yet also repulsed by) her ‘debasement’. Each evening, she returns home to her oblivious husband.

Another French novel better known as a film adaptation is Emmanuelle Arsan’s Emmanuelle (1959), whose protagonist embraces the full Emmanuelle - erotic fiction scope of her sexual nature. Served with a dollop of French philosophical reverie, it’s smut at its most stylish.

There is a wealth of contemporary erotic fiction for you to explore, covering every nuance of kink and desire. The more time you spend looking, the more likely you are to find a tantalising surprise. Standing on the sado-masochistic shoulders of Pauline Réage’s Story of O (1954) is Anne Rice’s 1980s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy Story of O - erotic fiction BDSM(written under her A.N. Roquelaure pseudonym). It has spawned a rich seam of fairy-tale inspired erotic tales. Meanwhile, Twilight has brought forth a host of alpha-male werewolves and lustful vampires.

My modern day recommendations are Tobsha Learner’s kaleidoscopic anthologies of short stories: Quiver, Tremble and Yearn. Highly original, provocative and Tobsha Learner - Quiver - erotic fiction often shocking (erotic encounters at the dentist’s and a disembodied penis providing endless nights of pleasure), they admirably challenge conventional notions. More a ‘wake-up’ call than overtly sexy, I find Tobsha a breath of fresh air.

For a dystopian erotica mash-up, treat yourself to a look at Steelwhisper’s masterfully written George. Disturbing, and infinitely touching, it is one of the most powerful pieces I’ve come across in the erotic genre.

For hauntingly beautiful, evocative and challenging short-stories, visit the sites of Malin James and Remittance Girl.

Indulge the paradox of sexual agony and ecstasy via Jonathan Kemp’s 26: ‘visions of excess’ burning brightly beyond the civility of language and manners, taking us on a journey of transcendence, of sexual gratification and drug-induced otherness.jonathan-kemp-26-erotic-fiction

Or venture into the radical sex writing of Patrick Califia; I recommend his gothic classic, Mortal Companion, as a great place to start.

We are in charge of our sexual choices: we don’t need ‘permission’ to bed as we please, and the same applies to what we choose to read. I say, dare to be as adventurous with your erotic reading as you would be with any other genre.

Make free to add your suggestions for reading below…

(you may like to visit my Author Page on Amazon to see where my pen has been tickling…)

Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

 

 

reading a book vintage retro Praise for ‘The Gentlemen’s Club’ – available for download from all Amazon sites – including Amazon UK and Amazon USA. 

 

Twitter

‘I could not go to sleep thinking about your book. I stayed up and read it cover to cover. The most erotic novel I recall reading.’ – Guillermo Tomas

‘An elegantly written piece of period erotica. I was engrossed and highly aroused.’ – Sir to You

 

Escapology Reviews

‘The Gentleman’s Club turned me into a pool of jelly. So hot it set the bathroom on fire and a victorian fainting fitfire crew had to hose me down’ – Vikki Heaven

 

Voracious Reader Reviews

‘Have some type of cooling method handy when you sit down to read this.  There’s just something so deliciously naughty about the steamier seedier side of things when everyone is supposed to be so stiff and proper. I simply love it. This is well-Victorian bed lady reclining erotic thoughtswritten, creative and hot. Enough said. Now, go. Run and get it, if you dare…’ – Carol

 

Erotica for the Big Brain

‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant brings a refreshing confidence to her writing. Her work has already begun to enrich the genre, and readers need look no further than “The Gentlemen’s Club” to vintage reader retro Victorian maybeunderstand why.’ – Terrance Aldon Shaw

 

victorian corset adultery

 

Amazon US

‘Erotica – and historical fiction – doesn’t get any better than this. If you haven’t read it, buy it.’ – Seattle Reader

‘A beautiful example of erotic literature – one that shows the genre to be capable of intelligence and elegance. Wonderful and truly impressive.’ – Malin James

 

Victorian in reclineAmazon UK

‘A masterpiece of erotica: every paragraph has you begging for the next. An exciting story of lust, passion and romance. Sexually explicit, but not offensive; it will broaden your sexual mind and sexual appetite. If you buy one book this year, make it this one. I am in great anticipation of the follow up.’ – Pauline

‘I came across this author quite by accident. I am glad that I did! I The Amorous Drawings of the Marquis von Bayros 7thoroughly enjoyed this erotic novella as, unlike some of this genre, it was able to hold my interest from an intellectual and visceral stand point. If only some Men of my acquaintance had similar talents! I particularly appreciated the theme of a liberated woman, throwing off the Ziegfeld-Follies-Girls-1920-Broadway-18strictures of society (still resonates in this day and age)’ – Melanie

 

 Amazon Canada

‘This book. This book! This is the book I wish I had written. The Alice Wilkes  Ziegfeld Follieslanguage…oh, the language! It grabs you and propels you smack dab into Victorian London from the first paragraph. It weaves a net about you, it draws you in. Iit has you shouting ‘yes, yes, yes,’ like Meg Ryan at the diner, because finally there is a well-rounded, well-written, exquisitely crafted story which redeems the genre.’ – Julia Rist

 

take a peek via the ‘look inside’ feature on Amazon