Friday, 13 February 2015

Feeling lucky? FREE SHORT STORY!

Things I don't usually do part 156...
Anyway, given that it's such an entirely suitable day and date to do so, I've uploaded one of my short stories to the blog. If you read and enjoyed Black Heart you will recognise the characters - and I will helpfully point out that the events in this story are supposed to have happened before the beginning of Black Heart.

And no, there's no 50 Shades of ANYTHING going on here.

If you like this one and have a particular fondness for gender blending and/or cross-dressing, grab a copy of the anthology it was published in.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Books and Music

I'm not the only one who loves both fiction and music, obviously. But, in the course of contemplating my choices for a list of great modern erotica being compiled for World Book Day I drifted into thinking about my other favourite obsession: novels about musicians and the music business. In my teens and early 20s, any mention that the book was about rock or pop starts pretty much guaranteed I would buy it, only further down the line did I start realising that a lot of these books were written by people who either didn't understand or actively disliked 'modern' music, and were presumably only choosing to use the pop/rock/punk metal universe as wallpaper in order to bump up sales.



Mind you, some of the novels written by people with actual involvement in the music industry were even worse - is there many novel as mean-minded, snarky, misogynistic and depressing as Tony Parsons' Platinum Logic? Even tedious Brit-pop tome Powder by Kevin Sampson isn't quite as annoying.
I have read quite a few music-themed stories that have been simply enjoyable genre hackwork, whether romance, horror or crime, and I have certainly featured bands and musicians in stories of my own - Cathouse and the Castle was about rock bands and two of the main characters in Black Heart are musicians. But I thought I would share a list of my own favourites in the category.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Paul Breeze.
I was utterly fixated on this in my teens and still like to re-read it every couple of years. It's about a guitarist who is crippled in a pointless street attack and then hunts down the people who did it, told in chapters which alternate between the present as he recovers from the attack and plots his revenge and the past, which relates how he grew up and formed a band and almost made it. It's raw and messy in places, and it does seem a bit dated now (unsurprising, it came out in about 1979) though that also means it comes across as a bit of a time capsule. There was a sequel, Back Street Runner, which isn't as good, but the author seems to have vanished entirely since then.

Little Heroes by Norman Spinrad
I rediscovered this one last year, and was quite startled by how prescient it seems: a crippled economy, music in the hands of soulless corporations and used to keep the masses quiet and passive... Spinrad's been criticized for overdoing manly manliness to the point of sexism in some quarters, but Glorianna, the heroine of this book, is an excellent female lead. Anti-heroine Sally is an interesting character, as well: the hell of being a talented woman who is unattractive and the rage it engenders is nicely handled.



Bold As Love (series) by Gwyneth Jones
I did refer to both these and Little Heroes in a previous post because they are long-standing favourites. The Jones books are sci-fi/speculative fiction, as is Spinrad's, and both have had a bit of a critical bashing for getting the music 'wrong' in terms of chronological relevance, which I don't entirely agree with. BaL is a stunning, highly complex quintet of books about a dystopian future, the outer limits of technology, what makes for a 'good society', human fallibility, human potential. I remain amazed how few people have actually read them.

To Major Tom: The Bowie Letters by Dave Thompson
An utterly lovely book (and not just saying that because the author's someone I used to know). I would call this pretty much essential reading for anyone who grew up in the 1970s and loved music. It's a series of letters written by the protagonist to his idol, Bowie (who never writes back and the two never meet, though there are a couple of amusing near-misses). The immense attention to detail mixed with the general trivia of everyday life, growing up, working out who you are and what you want, makes it utterly absorbing even though I would like to slap the printers for putting the footnotes in such a tiny little font that I have to keep charging round the house looking for my reading glasses.

A more comprehensive list can be found here but if you have any suggestions of your own, chuck them over.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Satire, power, offence and SCUM.

I sometimes think the biggest constituency in the world is the well-meaning idiots. They want to do the right things and they want to think the right things, particularly now that everyone not only has opinions but is expected to express them all over the place, all the time. They are well-meaning, so they (for instance) get sucked by Britain First (no, I am not linking to them in any shape or form) printing a picture of a doggie or a dignified veteran and don't read the small print where the facism lurks.
At the moment, the well-meaning idiots are worrying about offensiveness. It's OK to disagree with other people's religious beliefs, they bleat, but do you have to be so nasty and rude about it?
The answer is yes. Yes, you fucking do. Ridicule is an effective, sometimes devastating weapon and a necessary one. Well-meaning idiots don't get satire, in the same way that they don't get fiction (all erotica writers get asked, endlessly, if they have done or regularly do all the sexy things they write about, and when you ask the latest well-meaning idiot to put the same question if s/he thinks JK Rowling attended Hogwarts herself, they get all huffy...)
Satire isn't 'nice' because satire is born out of rage. Good satire should make you uncomfortable even while it's making you laugh, but great satire actually aims to ^make things better^. The intention is to shock you into examining your own behaviour, or the behaviour of people you have allowed to hold positions of power. Being 'offended' is sometimes the equivalent of the metaphorical good kick up the arse that makes you see the world in a different way.


And it is about power, at bottom. The powerful don't satirize the powerless. They may mock, degrade, humiliate and harm them, but they don't satirize them because they don't need to. Satirizing radical Islam, by the way, is not about insulting or degrading non-white people - what is being attacked in this form of satire is a violent, homophobic, misogynistic superstition that is used to justify brutality and murder.
It's the power differential that makes the SCUM manifesto an exhilarating satirical work, whereas all those Angry Neckbeard sites about putting women back in their place may be uninentionally hilarious at times (Return of Kings you just know is written by a clammy-palmed drip from his parents' damp basement) but, because men are far more dangactually dangerous to women than women are to men, even when misogynists are insisting that they are being funny, the message that lingers is not 'Women have too much power and should be nicer to men' but 'Some men are really, really inadequate'.
Mind you, that's the point at which SCUM starts feeling less like satire and more like a Good Idea.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sunday Snog: Black Heart

I'm normally far too lazy, disorganized or otherwise engaged to join in the Sunday Snog but this weekend I just happen to be at home, awake, and reluctant to go anywhere, so I thought all those of you in the same boat might enjoy this little extract from Black Heart - two snogs for the price of one.



Feet padded along the hallway and Gary came back into the room; at a murmured command from Rosa he knelt beside Daniel. There was another prolonged moment of silence, and then she said, ‘Look at me.’

She stood before them, smiling, at her ease, holding a multi-tailed flogger in one hand, dangling it lazy by its little looped handle. Her leather trousers fitted her perfectly, caressing her long legs; her black shirt was unbuttoned low enough to reveal a black lacy bra and the upper curves of her breasts. Daniel had never wanted a woman so much in his life.

‘So much potential,’ she said, in the same soft, dreamy voice. ‘Pleasure and pain, and both together. Stand up, both of you.’ The last sentence was rapped out sharply, and they both scrambled to obey her. When they were both on their feet, she moved up close to them, close enough to touch, and Daniel struggled not to reach out for her, though he longed to do so. But it was Gary she went to first, lifting his chin with one finger and kissing him, lightly at first, then with greater intensity. Daniel was standing close enough to feel the tremor that ran through the drummer’s body, and he clenched his fists. Waiting his turn was exquisite torture: would she kiss him, too, or would she decide it was more fun not to? He thought of the night he’d seen her beating another man, how his blazing jealousy had mixed with a strange, compelling enjoyment of his own suffering.

Then she was in front of him, twining her fingers in his hair, holding him still, and her mouth was on his. The kiss was hard, demanding, sending tiny explosions of ecstasy throughout his whole body, and it was only with a great deal of effort that he managed not to wrap his arms round her and prolong it when she finally pulled away.


‘Face one another,’ she said. ‘Hands on each other’s shoulders, lean into one another, and stay still.’

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Still dirty after all these years

Another year older and, yes, still in debt, but remaining optimistic. I do feel the need to mention that this year ended with a Significant Birthday, because such birthdays do make you stop and reconsider. I'm not living the life I thought I would be ten or twenty years ago, but in some ways it's better than anticipated. Though I'd prefer it to be like this with more money, of course.

As far as writing goes, it's been a nice, interesting year. Eroticon and Smut Manchester were both great fun, and I also got going on my own Dirty Sexy Words slam nights, which will be getting bigger and better in 2015.

My alter ego published a novella and a couple of short stories this year and I managed to get two short stories out into the world and begin on a hugely complicated new novel. Once again I am awed by the productivity of various pals who manage two novels, three novellas and fifteen shorts per annum. I should spend less time on Facebook and more time in front of Vintage TV with the little laptop, I really should.

And the wider world? Continues to be a fucking tricky place for everyone: austerity and inequality here and the most psychotically misogynistic terrorist group in the universe rampaging around elsewhere. Yet there are still daily acts of kindness, big and small. I wish you all luck in 2015 and hope for the best.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Manchester mayhem - nuns, whips, getting lost and crispy duck with pancakes

Erotica authors, it's sometimes thought, are a shy, quiet bunch in real life. Perhaps I'm a bit atypical, being a gobby old show off given the slightest opportunity, but that slightly tired trope of the diffident, timid, retiring author could be said to have taken a bit of a kicking last weekend at Smut Manchester.



I mean, all it takes is a naughty nun and the components of a bondage kit (and my own collection of whacking implements) and utter mayhem is likely to ensue.


I started my trip a bit inauspiciously by getting spectacularly lost in the Manchester suburbs. I don't have the world's best sense of direction, but decided to do my usual thing of trusting to a newly-purchased map and the public transport system, which seemed to be just fine at first, but somehow ended up with me wandering aimlessly down unpaved paths, under dripping railway arches and through a deserted industrial estate, with a bag full of whips, as the sun was going down. I reminded myself forcefully that all weird experiences are potential story material, but was definitely very relieved to set eyes on the BnB at last. 

Friday night involved a few drinks with various Smutters and what should have been an early night but translated into sitting up till about 3am with a fourpack and cracking on with Chapter 3 of what will hopefully be the next book. Saturday was Smut day proper, however. In the unavoidable absence of Kay Jaybee, who usually does the necessary chastizing when authors overrun their time slots, I got to arm myself with my favourite paddle and punish anyone who didn't stop reading when s/he should have done. The mere threat of my presence kept most of the slam participants in line, but there's always one (isn't there, Charlie?) Actually, Slave Nano went one better and pre-booked his whacking, with a reading intended to, er, climax, with the author being pursued off stage and round the room...

I had, in fact, said rather sternly to a friend that the event was 'not a play party, you know. It'll just be a lot of people talking about books.' But this Smut involved a whole lot more direct participation than usual, what with Cara Sutra letting everyone play with her bondage kit. We were divided into teams and challenged to see how many different uses we could put the items to, and as we had one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on our team, those uses rapidly got varied. If you want to check out the full range of filthy pictures, check out the various postings here. I had been slightly anxious that my own talk and demo on stuff to hit people with might be a bit of an anticlimax, but that wasn't the case, and my only anxiety at the time was whether or not I would get all my toys back at the end of the session. I did, which is just as well...

A lot of us ended the day with dinner in a very good Chinese buffet restaurant, whose staff were remarkably charming in the face of 18 people arriving to claim a table booked for 12 and having assorted rather startling conversations all night. The youthful and energetic went on to further fun and games in the town centre, but this old bird was fit for nothing but a good night's kip after all the excitement.

Excellent event, folks. Roll on the next one.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Flashbacks and book sightings: La Boudoir

Having been tipped off by the lovely Cara Sutra that the launch of the Boiler Room at La Boudoir Boutique was happening, I took myself off to the East Kent coast. Having been a student at the University of Kent I have all sorts of depraved memories attached to Herne Bay, Whitstable and Canterbury. I was therefore wildly overexcited on the bus from Herne Bay to Birchington and full of vivid flashbacks of motorbikes, men in leather, giggly post-party/post-coital stumbles homeward and all the rest of it.

La Boudoir is lovely, too: a series of beautifully decorated rooms (including the aforementioned Boiler Room which combines steampunk and dungeon aesthetics with some really good furniture and a tempting range of toys); friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere. I was also happy to record a sighting of Books In The Wild.



It's always nice to see books on shelves and do a quick namecheck/headcount to see who and what is represented - I spotted Aishling Morgan and Kay Jaybee among others.


more than one bookshelf, as well...


A thoroughly good way to spend a damp Saturday afternoon - check them out if you're in the area.