I’ve been tagged by Alison Tyler in the writing process meme that’s been doing the rounds. Since it’s Monday, I thought I’d combine with some gorgeously erotic man candy hands. (It’s this: http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/14239)
1) What am I working on?
Mainly my fifth Black Lace novel, Undone, due to be published September 2014. I’m around the 2/3 mark, which is usually the point I start to despair because the project seems impossible and I fear I’ll never be able to draw all the disparate threads together and fill in the various plot holes I’ve jumped over. But I’m actually feeling quite confident, shortage of time aside, so either I’m getting this novel-writing thang sussed or the despair will hit in a couple of weeks! I’m also working on some kinky short short stories for Alison Tyler’s recent call for submissions (deadline March 1st, folks!). And thirdly, I’m developing my workshop on flash fic which I’ll be delivering at Eroticon 2014 in Bristol in March. Very excited about that!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, there’s a dead body within the first few pages of Undone, not exactly standard fare in erotica. I enjoy crossing the erotica genre with other genres – suspense and psychological thrillers, spooky stories and the gothic. The trajectory of a romance narrative alone isn’t one I find exciting enough to want to write. And I’ve learned I’m quite a visual writer; my brain likes to work in images.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I like exploring the hidden. I like going below the surface to explore dreams, secrets and fears, and the erotic is very much part of that. There’s also a crusading aspect for me: as women, we are massively short-changed when it comes to the availability of erotic material for us; plus female sexuality and desire aren’t given enough cultural air space. I want to contribute to improving the situation.
4) How does your writing process work?
For novels, I plot but not to the nth degree. As I write, ideas build and original plans are jettisoned in favour of better ones. I’m slow. I think of my process as comparable to backstitch. I always go over the previous day’s writing and edit that before I crack on with the next section. Ideally, I work for hours at a time for long-length fic. I’m a mono-tasker, and at my best when I can immerse myself in a single project. These days, life rarely allows me to do that so I combine occasional long sessions with short bursts. When I’m focused on a novel, I struggle to write short stories although I find writing flash fun and useful. It diverts without taking over my imagination, and it’s satisfying to be able to complete a piece when the end is a long way ahead on a novel.
I write chronologically but my WIPS are usually peppered with the phrase [stg sgt], meaning ‘something, something’. They mark points where I need to smooth over a change of scene or of tone, or where something needs to be added to slow down the pacing.
I’m passing the baton on to Janine Ashbless and Sallyanne Rogers who’ll be answering the Qs next Monday. I was meant to find a third victim but failed due to shameful lack of effort! Plus, I think most people have done this meme by now. If you haven’t and want to, here, catch the baton!
Janine Ashbless writes erotic fantasy and paranormal stories and novels. She aims to transport you to other lands and times, places where life hangs by a thread and that stranger might be about to bring you terror or ecstasy or both.
Sallyanne Rogers is the slightly more professional and hopefully better-behaved alter ego of a veteran filth-peddler. She has written articles for magazines such as Forum and For Women in the past but now concentrates on fiction. Her novella Midwinter Heat was published by Xcite and she is currently finishing the sequel, which is about sex and Morris dancing.
Update! I pounced on Charlie Powell so got my third victim!
Charlie Powell is currently supposed to be editing her first erotic novel, but instead spends most of her time blogging at Sex Blog of Sorts. She prefers to confine all of her actual writing to the month of November.
Check out these three writers on Monday 24th Feb!
The UK has been hit by some crazy weather of late, especially in the South West where rains and floods have been causing chaos. The storms are set to continue in the weekend ahead, and we’ve had some of the wettest, windiest months for decades.
So it’s with grim timeliness that Alison Tyler’s anthology, Twisted: Bondage with an Edge, has just hit the digital shelves, featuring my UK-based, wet-weather story, Dry Spell.
Do you remember the summer of 2012? It was too wet to feel like summer, and a certain monochrome-jacketed trilogy was taking the bookstores by storm. Dry Spell is set, and was written, during those sodden, sunless months. It tells the story of a woman whose orgasms appear to be making the heavens open.
If this is you, now, could you just stop, please? We need a break!
Twisted was reviewed on Erotica Revealed this month and Dry Spell is described as “fanciful, hot and delightful” by Kathleen Bradean who adds, “I just loved this story”.
Here’s an excerpt:
I realized my orgasms were controlling the weather when, for the umpteenth time, rain came crashing down as I climaxed. The curtains billowed in the sudden chill, the windows rattled as rain hammered at the glass, and a car alarm honked in the street. Coincidence, you might say, but this had happened too often to be dismissed as a fluke.
On the first occasion, Ray had lifted his head from between my thighs and joked, “How do you do that?” I’d laughed lazily, thinking little of it. Half-drugged with post-orgasmic bliss, I’d watched water sluice down the window in rolling, silvery screens, and pour from the ledge above, shimmering and swaying like a row of dancing icicles. I’d felt as if my peak were being applauded, my wetness honored with a show of wetness from the skies.
But when it continued to happen, we realized we had a problem. Ray and I had been having phenomenal amounts of sex in the months we’d been dating. During that time, the UK had experienced one of the worst summers on record. The Met Office issued regular severe weather warnings and countless towns were flooded. You could barely turn on the TV without seeing images of streets transformed into cheap Venetian canals, half-submerged cars and traffic lights rising from murky waters. Root crops rotted in the fields, train services were canceled, landslips closed roads, and hailstones the size of golf balls were said to have fallen in the Midlands. Everyone was blathering about that book, Fifty Shades, and the media made jokes about how wet the summer was, how gray. The sky was never blue; it was black and blue, storm clouds amassing in the distance whenever the sun tried to shine.
On days when the rain stopped, people glanced skywards with hopeful hearts, picturing barbecues at the weekend, a spot of gardening, maybe a walk across the South Downs or a bike ride. But invariably, the world would darken and another deluge would descend.
Experts blamed the jet stream but I could see it was actually my fault. I was creating chaos with my climaxes.
I’d started to suspect a connection however the notion seemed too crazy to divulge. But when my orgasm prompted a downpour fierce enough to activate a car alarm, Ray gave me a look suggesting he shared my concerns. “OK, that’s enough,” he said. “We need to hold it right there.”
For an awful moment, I thought he was dumping me. Then he explained what he meant, and I wondered if I should dump him.
“No orgasms?” I said. “None at all?”
“Not even a small one when no one’s watching?”
“God’s watching,” said Ray.
“God’s got better things to do than that.”
Ray grinned and sat astride me, his cock angling up from his patch of straw-gold hair even though he’d only recently shot his load. I have to say, he wasn’t my usual type. Tall and slender, he resembled Jesus, probably more so than Jesus did, although he had a neater beard and shorter hair. His eyes were deep brown, kind and dopey like a spaniel’s, but he wasn’t kind or dopey in bed. He liked to top but his was a very geeky style of topping involving ropes, cuffs, vibes, new toys and tricks. He enjoyed the rigmarole, the complexities, and he liked to plot, making me feel I was a subject in a series of deeply unethical, scientific experiments. In his day to day life, he was a PhD student researching estuarine sedimentation and sea-level trends. Sometimes, I liked to pretend he was doing a PhD on me.
“Then quit for your country,” he said. He took my wrists and lightly pinned my arms to the pillows above my head.
I laughed. “I’m not that patriotic, Ray.”
“OK then,” he said. “Do it for me. Give me that amazing, precious part of you. Give me … give me the power of your orgasms. Let me be the one who tells you when you can and can’t come.”
“Hmm. It’s a big ask.”
Ray shrugged. “Wouldn’t be worth doing otherwise.”
I mulled it over. “Supposing I come accidentally? Say, when we’re having sex and you’re not concentrating and whoops, there I go.”
“I won’t let that happen.”
“Well, supposing I come accidentally when you’re not there? You know, say, I fall on my vibrator or something?”
“You won’t let that happen.” Ray’s puppy-dog eyes were twinkling with excitement. I could practically hear the cogs of his brain whirring as he began contemplating the implications of his suggestion.
“I could lie to you,” I said. “I could pretend I was obeying but in reality – ”
“But I’d know,” said Ray. “It would start raining.”
“Gah!” I said. “There’s no escape for me, is there?”
I sighed, defeated. “Still not convinced. Anyway, supposing it doesn’t work and it keeps raining?”
Ray shrugged. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
We fell silent for a while. Outside the torrential downpour continued although the car alarm had stopped. That I had the power to improve the nation’s weather was both a wonderful gift and an unwelcome responsibility. If only the gift were slightly different and involved, for example, not quitting orgasms but eating huge amounts of ice cream.
I thought I’d cast my eye back over this last year, take a look at what I have and haven’t achieved, and share a few thoughts about some recent changes in erotica.
2013 was a big year for me. My fourth novel, Thrill Seeker, was released. I did a lot of promo for the book, a good deal of which entailed leaving the house, something many authors (I count myself among them) prefer to avoid!
This ‘Kristina on Tour’ lark started a little before 2013 when I co-hosted a workshop and discussion panel at Random House with my Black Lace editor, Gillian Green, and Curtis Brown literary agent, Sheila Crowley. (You can read more about my experience here.) In February 2013, I gave a talk at Brighton’s Jubilee Library as part of National Libraries Day then in March I ran a writing workshop at Eroticon in London. (You can read more about this here.)
June saw me participating in Brighton’s first Fetish Weekend, probably my favourite event of last year. I took to the stage (left, looking bossy) to give a talk and a reading, and after that hung out in a wonderfully warm and kinky atmosphere. (You can read more about my experience here.) Brighton Fetish Weekend returns in 2014, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve been invited back. Keep an eye on their FB page and, if you’re in the South East in June, do check it out.
In July, I attended Latitude arts and music festival in rural Suffolk as a speaker in the Ebury (Black Lace) tent. This was probably the low point on the KL Tour because it involved camping! I don’t camp. I’ve done it a few times in my life and that was plenty. The camping turned out to be more civilised than I’d anticipated, helped by the fact we were staying in the performers’ area, relatively calm, clean and spacious. However, 2013 brought my first experience of hay fever. Apparently, the late start to Spring resulted in one of the worst hay fever seasons in decades.
Being a newbie at this, I hadn’t fully accepted the fact I was a sufferer. And so it was, I found myself in a field for a weekend, in a sodding tent, surrounded by trees of evil, feeling progressively worse, and with no meds other than anti-histamines which really weren’t cutting it. I felt as if my eyes had been sprayed with vinegar and my lungs were operating at half their capacity. I developed such a ferocious cough my stomach muscles ached from the involuntary crunches, and my throat seemed to be trying to strangle itself from the inside.
I was due to give my talk at the Ebury tent late on Sunday afternoon but woke without a voice. In the morning queue for the showers, I drew the short straw and ended up being blasted by freezing-cold water rather than the nice, hot, steamy stuff others were getting. I couldn’t even scream. All that emerged from my lips when the icy water hit was a cracked, reedy squawk. By the afternoon, my voice was returning. I gave my talk – or croak, as I renamed it – and, interestingly, the more I spoke, the stronger my voice became. The Ebury tent was gorgeous; the Ebury staff were lovely, laid-back and welcoming; and my audience were friendly and forgiving. Latitude has a lot to offer, and I did get to see Kraftwerk performing in a field to a crowd of people wearing 3D glasses which was pretty cool. But all in all, my trip was marred by me being unprepared for such a vicious pollen assault. Sympathies to all regular hay fever sufferers!
In late August, I joined Justine Elyot and SM Taylor at Sh! in London for a joint book launch of Thrill Seeker and Justine’s Seven Scarlet Tales. As ever, the special Sh! brand of hospitality made for a fabulous, fun evening. You can read my take on the event, and the foiled vibrator theft, here!
In September I joined Nexus authors, Zak Jane Keir and Peter Birch for a reading at London Fetish Fair, and in October, I rounded off my grand tour at the huge trade fair, Erotica, at a bookstall and event put together by the dynamic duo that is Lucy Felthouse and Victoria Blisse.
Phew, I know! In May, in the midst of all this gallivanting, Thrill Seeker was published. I’m more than delighted by the reviews I’ve been garnering on Amazon, GoodReads, review sites, blogs and zines, and by the positive messages and tweets received from readers. Thanks to all those who found time to share their enthusiasm and considered critiques. Despite the fab reviews, sales have been disappointing, so I’m left wondering why.
The Black Lace marketing machine has, after an eager start, practically ground to a halt; and it took several months for Thrill Seeker to be made available on Kindle in the US, meaning much of my online promotion was targeting readers who couldn’t buy the book. But I think the main reason for slow sales is, post-FSOG, the market is saturated. The erotica boom was short-lived and non-book merchandisers, keen to get a slice of the pie, have been quick to harness reader enthusiasm for the trilogy/brand and get those women out of the goddamn bookstores. The proliferation of new titles and reprints is outstripping the influx of new readers. In addition to that, the currently popular books tend to be softcore romance, not exactly my area.
It’s hard to know whether Thrill Seeker is, along with many other titles, getting lost in the glut of monochrome-jacketed erotica; or if my work is simply not in vogue, or is possibly too niche. It feels as if a juggernaut has slammed into our genre, leaving the market polarised, with a handful of massive, series-sellers at one end; and at the other, a sizeable majority of authors selling to a small number of readers who perhaps want something a little different, and aren’t easily able to find their way to their kind of book.
Don’t get me wrong. My sales certainly haven’t been poor. But, from what I can glean, to date they are no higher than sales of my previous books, published pre-juggernaut, the main difference being digital rather than print is selling. This might not be too gloomy if, for example, I hadn’t expended so much time and energy promoting the book, leaving me behind schedule on my next book; and if I hadn’t received an advance that was precisely half the amount I received for Asking for Trouble back in 1999. Yup, half! I know these issues aren’t unique to erotica publishing but it’s left me keen to take stock of what I’m doing.
I’m contracted to write another book for Black Lace. Undone is sort of an erotic murder mystery, but sort of not (I’ll work on the blurb!), and is slated to be published in September 2014. I’m enthused by what I’m writing however my deadline is tight. I have a bunch of other stuff on my plate too, so I’m likely to be fairly quiet on the social media front in the next few months. (Which reminds me, apologies for all unanswered emails and messages! I’ll catch up with my inbox soonish, I hope.) Next year will also see the re-issue of my first book, Darker Than Love, in an elegant new cover.
I’ll also be returning to Eroticon in March, held this year in Bristol, and running a two-hour workshop on writing flash fiction. This workshop is available to conference delegates and also as a standalone event, costing a mere £25! Eroticon is the event of the year if you’re interested in writing about sex. I had a ball last year and loved running a workshop. I hope to do more creative writing teaching in the future.
So lots of excitement in store for 2014, along with plans to do a few things differently, and spread my wings by doing a few different things. I hope relaxing will be one of them, once I’ve finished Undone!
Heartfelt thanks to all those with a passion for this genre. Wishing you the very best for a smart and sexy 2014!
Photo credits: BFW by SHaddow and LFF by Peter Birch
This is my seventh appearance in the annual Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica series from Maxim Jakubowski. Volume 12 is extra special because not only is my name on the front cover – always exciting for my ego – but because this collection contains two of my stories!
My Ass is Your Ass is My Ass is the second story of mine to be selected from our popular annual anal erotica series. And my other featured story is All My Lovers in One Room from Racy Pages’ Stretched.
Maxim is passionate about publishing quality erotica, and his introductions to these volumes are always a delight to read. The stories in Mammoth 12 were published in 2012, the year of Fifty Shades.
Referring to the huge surge in popularity of erotica, Maxim writes, ‘I can only applaud this new-found recognition and hope that it is at least partly sustained after the wave of bad imitations and exploitative material that any new phenomenon generates abates and the quality authors rise to the top without being drowned in the sea of “me too” books that are currently flooding us.‘
Mammoth 12 gets its official UK release tomorrow, 7th November. However, right now on Amazon, the paperback is available and, weirdly, is actually cheaper than the pre-order ebook. No, I don’t understand either. But if I were you, I’d act fast and snag a big fat hard copy (and these books are fat!) for £5.56 with free postage. Or, you know, download to your Kindle for the costlier £6.17.
Quick before someone realises there’s a pricing error!
ETA: Apparently, the book is getting a promotional week push, hence the bargain price. Go for it!
Dirty Little Numbers, an anthology of flash fiction, is out today, 23rd Oct!
My story, Under Captain Jack, is the opening piece in the book. Kicking off a collection is always a thrill, and being first also means my short short can be read for free on Amazon’s Look Inside Thingy – in less than 2 minutes! (I timed it, and I’m a slow reader.)
This is probably the one and only time Johnny Depp will feature in my work, so do make the most of it. (He’s a bit too skinny and pretty for my taste.)
Under Captain Jack is followed by fic from a range of writers, including Jeremy Edwards, Tamsin Flowers, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Raziel Moore and more, more, more. Some names are new to me, some I’ve known for a while but don’t yet know their work. I’m hugely looking forward to delving in and discovering new writers via bite-sized pieces of hotness.
This is the first time I’ve worked with Go Deeper Press, and I’ve been super-impressed. In the wake of FSOG, I’m enormously grateful to all editors, imprints and writers who are willing to resist the commercial temptation to do romantic billionaire bonking; who are pushing boundaries; and who are motivated by a belief in our genre that’s rooted in its potential for cultural change rather than in its currently fashionable, mainstream kerching!!!!! value.
Check out Go Deeper Press and support the indies!
Buy Dirty Little Numbers directly from Go Deeper Press.
(You can upload to your Kindle via this option, or read as a plain ol’ PDF .)