Saturday, 31 August 2013


It's out. There's a mountain of work on other stuff I need to do, let alone the even bigger mountain of housework,  but today I will mostly be barking and running up the walls - or at least clattering all over the internet, repeatedly Googling myself and wondering why I didn't get more of a move on with this sort of thing ages ago.

I'll be posting something more about social media and using it and not being eaten alive by it and stuff shortly, but really today is all about the fact that BLACK HEART IS ON GENERAL RELEASE!

Oh yes it is!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Writers' gigs, my new favourite thing

Erotica writers are really lovely people. Not just 'normal' people, as the slightly condescending Women Behind Erotic Fiction project insists - Ooo, look! They're not all actually running around with their fannies out and doing strange things with the contents of the bathroom cabinet! - but friendly, witty, kind and thoroughly supportive of one another. I've only met two absolute whangers over the couple of decades since I started getting involved in the erotic fiction business, and one was a walking advert for why Twelve Step programmes are useless, the other a self-aggrandizing silly moo who has long since disappeared.

But over the past few months, as I've been exploring the world of erotic fiction reading events, I've found nothing but fabulous new friends, and I'm remembering and rediscovering all sorts of things I had totally forgotten about.

(pic from the SH! website)

Last night I went along to the Sh! Erotic Poetry and Reading Slam in Hoxton Square, and had a most excellent time, as I had sort of expected. OK, anything involving free drinks and cakes and smut is going to appeal to me, but there was something else going on as well and when I got home I was full of ecstatic tipsy jabbering and sat up till about 4pm telling my long-suffering co-parent about All This Stuff Is So Exciting. Because it is. Way way back - in 1995 as it happens, I was involved in setting up the Guild of Erotic Writers. This was pretty much pre-Internet (yes, I know that there were dial-up bulletin boards and the Net existed, but it was still mainly used by geeks and freaks - I actually devoted about three pages of a book I wrote in '96 to describing the arcane and complex process of going to a Special Internet CafĂ© and Sending Someone An Email), and one of the reasons the Guild was begun was in recognition that erotic writers were a slightly lonely lot, and would jump at the chance to meet others of their kind. We held conferences, with panel discussions on a set theme, and there would always be drinks and a buffet afterwards (the fact that these often ended up with me shagging a publisher is quite another matter). The mid-90s was a reasonably good era for erotica, particularly stuff aimed at a female audience: it seemed as though a new imprint was being launched practically every month.

Over the years, though, the whole thing seemed to fizzle out: Headline Liasons, Idol, Sapphire, Nexus all bit the dust, and the Guild had faded away around the turn of the century for various reasons. But now there seems to be a whole lot of new life in the erotica genre, and it's not just down to EL James; the momentum's been gathering for a while. And these days, there's so much more opportunity for people to get their fantasies and feelings and filth out there to a wider audience.

I'm looking forward to whatever's going to happen next.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bored with Femsub

Don't get the wrong idea, this is not a rant about my kinks being better than other people's. I have no problem whatsoever with the fact that some women prefer to be on the receiving end of the whip or the cane or the hairbrush or anything else. Nor do I have issues with people writing erotic fiction about women submitting to men and yes, I have written some myself, though it's always been a bit more of a challenge than writing about group sex, gender-blurring sex or queer sex - or femdom sex. And I don't think I've ever written any femsub fiction that doesn't feature at least one incident or mention of femdom action in it somewhere.

I didn't actually read the 50 Shades books. Well, I picked one up in Tescos and read a few paragraphs and went 'Eurgh' at the atrocious prose style and put it back down again.  Nor have I read the handful of others touted as 'even better/more authentic/sexier/the real thing.' I really, really didn't need to, because I have read so much erotic fiction over the years that I know this: femsub doesn't really do it for me. A whole novel about one woman being introduced to kinky sex by a man who does it all TO her is just Not My Thing.

Again, if that's your thing, that's fine, I wish you joy of it. What actually irritates me is the insistence that Vacant Virgin and Cruel Sir Jasper in modern guise is what  all women really want, an attitude that obviously peaked last summer, but isn't that new. Back in the days of the first erotic fiction 'explosion', when half a dozen publishing firms were putting out 'adult' imprints, I got told more than once that 'readers don't like stuff about dominant women' and 'it won't sell, can't you make the heroine more submissive'. It's one of the reasons I pretty much gave up on writing erotic fiction for several years (the others being general idleness... oh, and parenthood of course).

Yes, things are getting better than they were in the 90s, a lot of which is due to the generally magnificent efforts of Xcite Books and the thoroughly diverse range of erotica they publish. And there is of course my own fabulous commissioning editor Peter Birch who said, I want a femdom novel, get on with it. But there still seems to be the same kind of disconnect - a look along any shelf selling erotic novels will show femsub, femsub, 'romance' and more femsub, with maybe a bit of LGBT-lite, and yet whenever I'm selling a mixed bundle of books on my stall down at the LFF there are always punters going, got any femdom? I like femdom and it's really hard to find.

Maybe the tide is about to turn. I'm trying, anyway.