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 Caf√© 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.

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