Thursday, 28 August 2014


**** EDITED**** Link to the rest of the party now works!
Fancy a drink? Those of you who read this blog for the feminist rantings might want to run off elsewhere for the day – or not. You might want to sit down, grab a stiff one and join the fun.
Today I’m piling on on the Kinky Cocktail Party which has been organised by Kristina Lloyd to launch the blog tour for her new novel, Undone, which centres on a cocktail bar. Checking out both the book and the rest of the antics going on all over the Web on the theme today is strongly recommended.

So I picked Screwdriver as a cocktail, even though I’m more of a pint-of-cider type, because I fancied talking about science, research and technology in erotic fiction.

I am an absolute bollock when it comes to mechanical, practical stuff. I had trouble changing lightbulbs until I started living alone in my late 20s and got deservedly mocked for trying to make visitors do it for me. However, this didn’t stop me having various goes at writing sci fi stories in my teens, and even having one published in the late, lamented Erotic Stories some time in the 90s. You don’t have to understand the precise working procedures of the internal combustion engine to have your heroine jump into a car and drive over to the house of the person she fancies fucking the arse off tonight. You do, maybe, need to know the order in which one switches off the handbrake, looks in the mirror, tunes the radio and puts the car into fifth gear, or whatever if you are going to mention these details because getting them wrong will make you look a bit of a dipstick. But given that the majority of readers not only know how to drive cars but do the basic list of actions involved in starting a car and driving it away so frequently that they hardly think about them, it’s actually a bit strange to itemise every stage of the process when writing a story that’s predominantly about sex and other human interactions.
With sci fi, or steampunk, or fantasy, you’re making it all up anyway, but it helps to think it through and make your making-up comply with your story’s internal logic. A story-universe full of horny goblins and Merrie England naughty peasants is not going to have its conflict resolved convincingly by someone Googling the problem. If there’s a bit of your hard science and hardcore BDSM tale of interplanetary buggery where someone needs to fix the landing pods, you might need to involve some sort of Alien Beans instead of Magic Woo Beans for this to work.
Either way, you can’t get by without a little research. Be aware of the classic tropes (and the relevant laws of time, motion, gravity, energy etc) whether your subject matter is spooks or spaceships. Writing about vampires, for example, means deciding in advance whether or not they have an issue with garlic and religious iconography and, quite probably, acknowledging the choice you made somewhere within the story given that, like driving a car, most of your readers will have some sort of idea of how to get rid of all those pesky biters.

I’m currently working on a steampunk story which features an orgasm-powered train. I did my research, or some of it anyway, at a steam museum. No, I didn’t offer to demonstrate my theory.

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Glory That Was Geekfest

Having gone along to the first Nine Worlds Geekfest last year to sell stuff, along with Miss Deadly Glamour, and had a completely wonderful time, I was even more thrilled to be attending this year as an actual speaker/performer/workshopper.

I am a thoroughly subcultural, non-mainstream old bird and always have been - give me pagans, perverts and morris dancers over z-list slebs and hipster hangouts any day - and one of the reasons I love these types of event is that you meet nicer people. Nine Worlds deserves particular praise in this area for managing to host an event that is hugely inclusive and accessible without the organisers ever getting tiresomely officious about it. It's just a done deal - all kinds of people are attending: everyone's got the right to be there and enjoy him/herself without being pestered or mocked or patronized or chivvied about.

To my great regret, I was only able to be there on the Friday, but I made the most of my time. Cosplay is something I admire but am generally crap at, being lazy, skint and not much cop at handicrafts. However, I did happen to have a nice gold frock in the wardrobe and, after some consideration, decided that it would form the basis of a Muse costume (given that my official reason for being there was to help Kristina Lloyd run a workshop on erotic writing along with a Smut Slam).

(gold frock, Cthulhu necklace and laurel wreath - job done!)

Admittedly it might have been smarter to wait till after I had done my bit before diving into the messy injuries make-up workshop and putting on a zombie face. But no one seemed to mind my sunken eyes and smears of fake blood.

Despite a couple of technical hitches at the beginning, our workshop went off well, and people seemed to enjoy being given a selection of short passages to transform from one genre to another (steampunk to BDSM, lesbian spanking to paranormal het romance, etc) and the standard of work read out at the later Smut Slam was pretty damn good as well. Kristina and I agreed that, in the spirit of inclusiveness and good sportingness and stuff, we would not give the prize to any of our mates even though several were in the room having been pestered by us to enter the contest in case no one else did, but luckily all the writers who were new to us were brilliant too, and it was actually a difficult decision to make.

And I have lost the bit of paper on which I wrote down the winners' names, which is extremely crap of me. But you were wonderful and I hope you enjoy your books.

Next year, I am definitely going to go for the entire weekend. Even if it means repeated 4-hour night bus journeys while dressed as some kind of alien.