Monday, 30 December 2013

Goodbye 2013 and all that.

You might well call it an interesting year, in a lot of ways. The  zombie apocalypse didn't happen, at least (sorry, have just got around to reading World War Z and am therefore quite glad) though we do seem to have more than our fair share of soulless, brainless, shambling undead in positions of power, which is not so good.

(that's me in zombie drag by the way)

In personal terms, well, I think I'll skip any boring on about repeated tedious (but not, ultimately, dangerous) health scares or the usual freelancer's struggle to get paid on time, or at all, in some cases. It's worth pausing for a moment to raise the Parting Glass to the unhappily high amount of friends who went back into the great atomic stream of the universe this year: Hazel, Velda, Nick, Bill, Clare, none forgotten.

Professionally, it's been what you might call a reawakening. After two or three years of really not writing very much and leaving fiction almost entirely alone I, like a few other people, got swept into the post-50-Shades excitement, and produced one novel, one novella and eight short stories. (Skim through previous posts for details of what and where and how to acquire your own copy). Yes, it looks a bit lame compared to the output of some of my new pals, but it's a start.

Ah, new pals. At the end of May I was invited along to the relaunch of In The Flesh, an evening of erotic readings in a Soho bar. Though that's seemingly in suspended animation at the moment, reading my work there led to invites to participate in readings at Sh!  and later to join the BritBabes and the Smutters and a whole gang of fellow erotic writers at Erotica. There is a bit of a belief among the general public that authors are twitchy, paranoid, competitive and obnoxious, and though I'd be inclined to believe that when it comes to the white, male, 'literary' types there's a bit of willywaving and snipey exchanges via the broadsheet newspapers, writers of erotica tend to be lovely, friendly, mutually supportive and forever ready to put their heads together and dream up new ways of introducing more readers to the masses of good stuff that's out there.

It does perhaps have to be mentioned, though, that this may be partly down to a shared need for support and encouragement given that not all the publishers in the field seem to be pulling their weight. Whether it's the shoulder-shrugging expectation that authors can bloody well do their own promo and, well, if it works that's nice but if it doesn't, whatever... - or the hassle it can be to get paid even when you're selling, it's unsurprising that there's a bit of a drift towards self-publishing. And perhaps even more unsurprising that self-publishing of erotica has been getting a bit of a kicking off the big boys and girls in the name of 'taste and decency'.

So I'm heading into 2014 with a degree of optimism. Censorship attempts from both the government and the big online booksellers have not, actually, gone down very well with the ebook-loving public, while live reading events have been attracting enthusiastic punters all over the place. And I have this massively good idea for a new book, as well...

Friday, 20 December 2013

Rape prevention advice for the party season

We all want to have lots of fun and stay safe at the same time, and there are things that can be done which make the social world a much safer place. Here they are.

Don't drink so much that you might have sex with someone without checking that s/he is awake and willing.

Don't assume that if you have had sex with someone on a previous occasion that this entitles you to have sex on that person whenever you feel inclined.

Don't assume that a person who enjoys or accepts one kind of sexual activity (such as kissing) is therefore available for any and every other kind of sexual contact that you wish to engage in.

Don't tell someone that s/he is 'safe' with you when you actually intend to rape the person.

If you know you get a bit rapey when you are overexcited, ask your friends to keep an eye on you and remove you from the party if you start crossing the line.

If you know one of your friends is a bit rapey, make sure that he is never left alone with someone who he might attack. In fact, stop being friends with that person. Rapists are not nice friends for you.

Stay safe and look out for your friends.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Sh! Oh and no shit Sherlock.

After another excellent evening at the Sh! Xmas Reading Slam I was feeling once again quite benign towards the world and proud to be part of the goodhearted, entertaining and multi-talented gang that is the British-based erotic writing community.

It's possible (or shall we say inevitable) that one of the reasons erotic writers tend to look out for one another, support each other and offer help unaided is that we know we're still a bit of a marginalized bunch, either ridiculed for our supposedly poor writing skills (yes, we know, because 50 Shades, but the existence of a lot of piss-awful crime novels doesn't stop the likes of Ian Rankin or Mo Hayder being good writers) or condemned as sickos who are a menace to society..
So the kerfuffel that's come up this weekend around Caitlin Moran and her oh-so-clever pisstake of fanfic writers was a bit interesting. The contrast between the generally dignified behaviour of the fanfic writer whose work Moran used without permission to take the general piss out of fanfic, and Moran's own behaviour in thinking it was a good idea in the first place is startling and infuriating. Quite a lot of 'successful' journalists are very quick to dismiss and belittle the work of independents, or amateurs, or people whose interests are not particularly mainstream. In some cases this is about reinforcing the well-paid writer and his/her readers' sense of their own normality. A big deal is made about 'objectivity' in journalism (which is, if you look at it closely, almost always a matter of writing from the viewpoint of a heterosexual white man with a reasonably good education, or as near as possible to those parameters). But sometimes it's a matter of reinforcing a hierarchy - the desirable are inside the gates, the 'outsiders' merit only derision, because otherwise they might start getting ideas above their station.
Still, the fact that Moran is getting her arse kicked round all four corners of the Internet might just teach her that holding someone up to ridicule and contempt just because you can is not great journalism or even crouw-pleasing entertainment, it's just playground spite.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Hey, Midwinter/Hannukah/Diwali/Winterval/Solstice! It's also Blissemas so let's party!

...Says the bird with the big Cthulhu necklace. I am not entirely sure if the Old Ones go in for midwinter festivities, being not quite that much of a geek, but I'm happy with the general idea. What with it being (at least in the Northern hemisphere) a bit cold and damp and dreary right now, declaring time to party, put up lights, get pissed, Eat All The Things and cop a snog and a feel and a multiple orgasm if you're lucky, well, no problem with that.

So I'm absolutely loving being part of  Blissemas, which is a feast and festival of lighthearted enjoyable naughtiness that happens at this time of year. You can all join in and win stuff! All you have to do is leave a comment here or on any of the other Blissemas posts, and you might land yourself an eReader or a fat gift voucher: do pile in and have a go. Prizes are drawn on Dec 21, the solstice.

 In the pervading spirit of the event, I offer you all a free seasonal short story, originally put out independently a year or two back and featuring some of the characters from Black Heart in their slightly earlier days.

There is an appallingly complicated procedure by which I could apparently embed this, but for now, if you would like to read it, either comment on here with an email address or email me direct at and I'll send you the PDF. If the stropping at my technical incompetence reaches a high enough level, I'll just post the whole thing on Sat 21st. And you could hear me read a very short extract from this particular story at the Sh! event on Friday anyway.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

When a public figure dies...

It's often time to get off the Interweb for a bit. Even if the deceased was someone you admired or respected, or who died young and tragically, the deluge of awful poetry and wonky Photoshopping of candles, flowers, halos etc is likely to trigger some digestive discomfort after a while. (You end up getting The Life Of Christ In Cats stuck in your brain.) And if the public figure was in any way contentious, it's pretty much guaranteed that both your FB and Twitter feeds will soon turn into a basket full of squawking, flapping, pecking chickens (unless you are the sort of saddo who can only cope with having friends who agree with you and each other about everything) because, hey, the best way to pay tribute to someone who spent a large part of his/her adult life doing good stuff is naturally to have a fucking fight... You know that's just what the bereaved family and friends would want: total strangers calling each other arseholes online.

It's also probably a good idea to sit quiet if you are enraged by being Joplinned, too. So I'm going to bugger off and get on with some work.