Saturday 2 January 2016

New Year's Revolutions: personal and political

So where are we heading in 2016? Yeah, I know I sort-of mothballed this blog a few months back but what the hell, it's too cold to go anywhere this afternoon and any and all methods of housework-avoidance are valid...
In the wider world. it's not looking that great - austerity biting ever harder, for one thing - but there are still flashes of joy and hope and above all humour. Whether your portion of the Interweb is an echochamber for your own view of the world or whether you regularly scan around and check out a diversity of opinions, there's enough stuff around which shows human beings sharing their common humanity to offset some of the worst of the rest of it.

In my small corner and chosen hangout of erotica writers/bloggers/kinky people, there's also a mix of good and bad to contemplate.  Amazon still seems to be fucking about with erotica writers in particular: both by their randomly-implemented rules on 'unsuitable' content and the latest trick of deleting reviews because a reviewer allegedly 'knows' the author - given the high level of peer support and friendliness within the erotica world, this is hitting our genre disproportionately hard. The 50 Shades 'effect' is still not, actually, doing the majority of writers any good: if anything, the glut of cookie-cutter billionaire/bimbo erotic romance is making things worse. Again, though, there are flashes of joy and hope. There are interesting books coming out all the time, and an increasingly visible community of writers: events such  as Eroticon and the Smut days are thriving and my own DSW slams are starting to build a following.

I wish you a good New Year, and will leave you with this thought: erotic writing as a genre may not be a powerful political force for good, but what we authors can do is make someone think, or at least make someone's day a little more enjoyable, and that's something to believe in and take forward, at any rate.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Hellooooooo, anyone still out there?

It's certainly been a busy spring and summer. I'm not exactly shutting DoD down but it's going to stay fairly quiet from now on as I am doing a whole rejig on my social media.

So have fun the rest of you and I will probably bump into you soon.

Friday 6 March 2015

Perverse Parent Of The Year

OK, I know it was Erotic World Book Day yesterday as well as regular WBD (and do click that link and buy that book...) but some people seem to have got a little bit confused between the two.

Yup, a mother actually sent her 11-year-old to school dressed as Christian Grey, carrying a blindfold and a handful of cable ties. The school, predictably, threw a collective fit, and the mother has been having fun pointing out various logic fails in their attitude
(pic from the Daily Mirror article)

And she does have a point: it's not like Christian Grey is the only abusive fictitious ringpiece around. Kids are allowed to go as James Bond (who kills people) and Dr Who (who has committed genocide more than once) and Bellatrix Lestrange (who kills and tortures people)... Christian Grey 'only' stalks and perves over dimwitted young women.

Also, it is quite a funny idea and quite a clever, satirical one as well - it certainly points up the fact that most people still don't read many books (and don't get me started on how many kids' costumes on sale for WBD are for film/TV characters rather than those who have ever come to life between pages). I sort of wish I had thought of it (and it would have been even funnier to do it with a toddler who would have had NO IDEA what was going on). But the truth is, I wouldn't have actually done it to my own child, or any child under the age of about 14. It's not that kids aren't vaguely aware of the character, given the apocalyptic hype over the film - my own offspring has seen the (very tame) TV ad for it, and the posters on the buses, and asked me about it. What I find a bit uncomfortable is that the parent is driving this and basically making a kid the butt of a joke he is too young to fully understand. When he's older: old enough to date or want to date, these pics might come back to bother him in a more complicated way than the standard Embarrassing Fancy Dress Photo that most of us store up against the time our little darlings bring home their first dates. Hopefully this story will be a short-lived sensation, so Mini-Christian doesn't later on have to go through the whole messy, unnerving, exciting, complex business of working out his own sexual identity with an extra layer of pressure from stupid people's expectations that he will be kinky/abusive/irresistible. Or his adolescent rejection of parental values might mean he turns into John Stoltenberg by the time he's 21, though for his and everyone else's sake I do hope not.

But does anyone else wonder what this story would have looked like if some parents had decided to dress their child up as Anastasia Steele instead?

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.’