It’s the final day of my month-long blog tour to promote my latest book, Undone. I’m at Anna Sky’s, discussing women’s apparent preference for erotica over porn. A national newspaper asked me to write on this topic yesterday but offered zero payment. However, I would, they said, get exposure. So I declined because I think this practice sucks. Then I wrote a piece anyway.
Please check it out! I’m desperate for the exposure!
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Justine Elyot is with me today, bringing a bit of bling to my blog and recalling the trailblazing days of our awesome publisher, Black Lace. I love Justine’s fun, upbeat approach to erotica. There’s something distinctly British about her work that goes beyond mere location and language. She writes with wry humour and creates relatable, down-to-earth and enthusiastically horny characters. Diamond is the first in her new trilogy for Black Lace, and I’m greatly looking forward to the read. Take it away, Justine!
Diamonds and Black Lace
I’m delighted to be here with Kristina Lloyd, who is my stablemate at Black Lace…but I did promise not to talk about the pony play, so perhaps I should move away from that angle.
But, no. Hang on. Why should I? If I want to write about pony play, and somebody else wants to read about it, what’s stopping us?
Quite a lot, actually.
I know pony play is niche and, for the record, I have never written a pony play scene myself. But that’s not because I think it’s dreadful and unacceptable. I’ve read and enjoyed a fair bit of pony play erotica (Molly Weatherfield’s Carrie’s Story springs to mind – recommended; do give it a go). I sincerely doubt that I could publish it anywhere but Kindle Direct or Smashwords, though.
Well, wasn’t it ever thus, you might ask? Hasn’t erotica always been the preserve of self-publishing and dodgy fly-by-nights?
No, not necessarily, because the venerable Nexus imprint had long been on hand to supply what Wikipedia describes as ‘sado-masochistic pornography written mostly for men’, and in the 1990s it was joined by a sister imprint, Black Lace. Black Lace’s remit was pretty revolutionary for the time – deftly mission-statemented as ‘by women for women’, it was the first label to deal exclusively with erotica that explored female sexuality.
And it did exactly that. Women were able to buy top-shelf material without the traditionally embarrassing, and sometimes rather threatening, packaging. Instead of page after page about the female (sex doll) character’s big tits or juicy ass, the focus was on the female gaze. It was fantastic and, in my naivete, I really thought it meant society was moving on from its unholy terror of women’s sexuality.
If you wanted luscious kink, there was Portia Da Costa’s Entertaining Mr Stone. If you were in the mood to indulge yourself in fantasties of sinful years-gone-by there was Anna Lieff Saxby’s Lord Wraxall’s Fancy. If your tastes ran to the edgy and literary, Kristina was your woman with her Asking for Trouble. And if (like me) you could handle all three, and more – well, you had found your late night reading home.
It was amazing. And then it ended.
But now it’s started again, under the 50 Shades shadow, beneath which a thousand little mushrooms of billionaire romance have sprung up. During its absence, the erotica scene has changed. ‘More romance, and make it aspirational’ is the order of the day. Exploration of female sexuality is plum back out of fashion. Knitting and baking are where it’s at.
So I have to be thankful for a publisher that doesn’t ask me to cut the anal sex scenes (because, of course, no nice, normal woman could possibly enjoy it).
Long live Black Lace and all who drape themselves in her!
(Incidentally, Wikipedia still lists Black Lace as defunct.)
I will now prove the actual existence of Black Lace by giving you an excerpt from my new Black Lace book, Diamond.
She poured herself a glass of Merlot and she was sitting on the broad windowsill, sipping it and looking out into the weedy front garden, when Leonardo came into the room.
She almost double took.
Jesus, he scrubbed up well. He scrubbed up a lot more than well.
His hair shone like polished conkers, matching his melting eyes. She wanted to go over and bury her nose in it, knowing it would smell divinely of her expensive shampoo. But that wasn’t all she wanted to do. His face, now clean and shaved, seem to actually shine. It was pale but as full-lipped and high-cheekboned as some exotic angelic creature painted by a Renaissance master. He reminded her of a portrait she’d seen by Pietro Perugino – an older version of that melancholy-eyed young man.
But he was taller and broader and undoubtedly fully developed, and she found herself transfixed by his forearms, sinewy and powerful – one of them sporting an amateurish tattoo that she couldn’t quite make out from this distance.
The clothes fitted well, having that telltale recently-unfolded look such new garments always did. He had not put any socks on, though, and stood in the doorway barefoot, gripping the top of the splintering frame so that she could see his long, surprisingly delicate fingers splayed across the peeled paintwork. His nails still bore little crescents of black deep down – paint, she supposed.
His stance was almost aggressively masculine, and she had to remember to breathe before saying, ‘Help yourself to wine.’
‘I’ll do, then, will I?’ he said, staying put for another moment.
She thought that he was displaying himself to her, but then she dismissed it. He was young and unearthly-beautiful. What would he want with her?
‘The clothes fit well,’ was all she could come up with.
‘Yeah. Not sure they’re my style but…’
‘What is your style?’
She smiled and he walked over to where the wine bottle stood on the floor with an empty glass beside it.
‘Ghetto,’ he said shortly, picking up the bottle. ‘Not so fabulous.’
I don’t know about that.
‘I’m not sure if I like wine,’ he said, sniffing at the bottle neck. ‘Never had it before.’
‘Nope. I’m a superstrength lager man myself. As long as it’s on special.’ He poured himself a glass. ‘Gets you the most pissed for the cheapest price,’ he elaborated, with a combative look in her direction.
He was trying to tell her who he was, she realised. He was giving her a get-out clause. I am who I am. Take it or leave it.
‘Wine is nice. I don’t usually indulge, but I can call this a housewarming, I suppose. Try it. Go on.’
‘Why don’t you?’ he asked, filling his glass to the brim. ‘Don’t you like drinking?’ He had to sip a bit off the top to prevent spilling it.
‘I like it. I just try not to like it too much.’
She came over and sat on the mattress, hoping he would do the same.
Thank you for reading – the book is available now from all sorts of places, including The Book Depository:
Social media means we get to see a lot more of people’s day to day lives than we used to. And many of us in the erotica writing community have watched on as fellow writer, Sommer Marsden, deals with her husband’s cancer battle, displaying candour, determination, frustration and even her trademark humour. Today, writers are rallying round with a Snog for Sommer to raise money and show our support.
Please visit the Smut for Good page to find out more, to donate if you can, and to check out some of the other authors who are contributing a kiss for the cause.
Below is an excerpt from my newly released book, Undone. Sol and Lana are in the woodland on the morning after the night before. A man they had a threesome with is dead. During the threesome, Sol had avoided kisses since his lip was bust from a tennis injury. Here, Lana is craving the taboo intimacy of Sol’s broken lip.
I’m giving away a paperback copy so comment below (‘Me please!’ is enough!) or RT with the hashtag #undonelips to be in with a chance of winning.
I sniffed and nodded, easing back as Sol released his grip. I dusted the tear splashes on his T-shirt. ‘Sorry,’ I croaked.
‘No need.’ He smoothed my hair from my face and gazed down. Under his jutting brow, his once-twinkly eyes were now smudged with concern. The split on his lip sagged, a taut polished bead of bruises and blood. The injury seemed so decadent, a flagrant display of sensuality and excess bordering on the sordid. I wanted to kiss him there but doing so was forbidden. I might hurt him or open up the wound. And foolish to kiss where blood could spill into my mouth.
That his lips were off-limits made me desire to touch him there all the more. I raised my face higher, seeking and offering, my breath quivering with suppressed sobs. But I bottled out. Instead, I grated my lips over the rough, harsh stubble of his jaw, trying to inhale him. That was safer. I tasted my tears on my lips and I brushed harder, nibbling, kissing, smearing my saltiness against him, murmuring half-words of sadness. I couldn’t stop. The scouring on my lips was addictive.
I liked to think I was shredding tender skin on the burn of his bristles; that he was ripping me at the molecular level so the kissing, murmuring wreckage of me would lodge with him unseen.
I edged closer to his lips. Wasn’t it even more foolish not to kiss him there? A man was stone-cold dead. In the scheme of things, what did minor transgressions matter? Who cared about taking a chance on civility and health? So what if I tried and he was repulsed? Because wasn’t this, right now, what mattered most; this seizing of messy moments undaunted by a wagging finger?
I gazed up at him, and I wanted to vanish into his eyes. The hand cupping my head coiled my hair into a gentle fist and, oh, sweet, dirty joy, his cock nudged against my hip. A thick, slow beat throbbed between my thighs, three distinct pulses that wetted and widened me. I opened my mouth as if I were about to eat thin air. With great care, I reached up to take his injury in a soft, moist hold. As tenderly as I could, I ran my tongue tip over the taut, cracked plumpness.
A noise snagged in his throat.
I pulled back, concerned. ‘Does it hurt?’
‘Everywhere.’ His voice was a throaty whisper. ‘But I can’t feel it.’
When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand. One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?
Two things I adore: Alison Tyler and writers talking about writing. And today, I’m lucky enough to have both! Wrapped Around Your Finger is out now in the US from Cleis and shares a UK Black Lace release date with my own book,Undone, tomorrow, 11 September. Here’s Alison, telling us how she works:
Wrapped Around Your Finger is the third novel in what has become my “Submission Series” but what began as a blog post a day. For 18 months, I worked on the story. I don’t sleep much anyway. I slept less while writing this series. Every song I heard on the radio became a potential soundtrack. Scents sent me back in time. Colors were brighter.
I remember both the stress and the freedom of sitting down each morning and slamming out a scene. I thought about the story all the time. Unlike a short piece or a stand-alone novel—which I tend to wrap up after a few days, a week, or a few months— this tale had no end planned. I lived and breathed the words every day.
The first post went up in August of 2006. The desire to wrangle 500,000 words into novel format remained for years simply a fantasy (or possibly a nightmare). How does one take 2000 pages and divide them into novel-sized sections that make sense? The concept was too daunting at first, and I hid from the idea until Cleis asked if I was still interested in writing novels.
But this series was unlike any of my other novels because the words were already there. I simply had to edit the fuck out of them. When you write a blog post a day, you can trust you have not overused a specific word. When you put all of the pieces together, you learn a lot about yourself as a writer. Or at least, I did.
I found pet words and phrases that I didn’t know I owned. Which means that I edited these books to their limits. The most thrilling note I’ve received ever as a writer was this one from Cleis’ copy editor:
I meant to mention in passing: I think I noticed this last time around, with Torment– it’s gratifying to see, going through the document, that Tyler used the opportunity to pare back her own language very effectively–word cuts that might’ve been presumptuous coming from me, but make the text so much more direct and tight. And not a single typo or added spaces, as usually happens when (usually individual contributors) start rewriting. She’s a pro!
The books as they stand are Dark Secret Love, The Delicious Torment, and Wrapped Around Your Finger. I still have 300,000 words to whip into shape.
Wish me luck.
Alison Tyler has been called “a trollop with a laptop” by the East Bay Express, “a literary siren” by Good Vibrations, and “a hell of a writer” by Violet Blue. She is the editor of more than seventy-five anthologies for publishers including Pretty Things Press, Cleis, Plume, and Harlequin. Her novels include Dark Secret Love, The Delicious Torment and Wrapped Around Your Finger, which is the third in the “Submission Series” published by Cleis Press. Visit her at alisontyler.blogspot.com and follow her at twitter.com/alisontyler.
I’m kicking off my month-long blog tour for Undone with an excerpt. The story starts when Lana Greenwood has a threesome with a couple of strangers at a swish manor-house party. On the morning after, one of the guys, Misha Morozov, is found dead in the swimming pool. The scene below occurs in the hours after the body is discovered. Lana and the second guy, Sol Miller, have escaped to the woods to discuss what they should tell the police. Lana has known Sol for less than a day. Although she’s deeply attracted to him, she’s starting to fear he may have something to do with Misha’s death.
The track narrowed, sloping gradually into denser woodland of beech trees, their smooth, grey trunks rising to a high mesh of green brilliance. Sol tramped up shallow steps edged by thick twigs. The forest floor was scattered with prickly husks of mast and dry, dun-brown leaf litter, friable and soft to walk on.
‘I’m in stupid sandals,’ I said irritably. ‘Will you please slow down?’
He stopped and turned. I read impatience in his silence but I may have been projecting.
‘I’m not dressed for this. Where are we going?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Somewhere quiet.’
‘If you ask me, this is pretty fucking quiet.’
‘A little further on, that’s all.’
He turned and continued marching along the low incline of the earthy, staggered path. I lagged behind, my breath quickening. Underfoot, the carpet of dead leaves muffled our tread and dulled the occasional crack of twigs. These makeshift steps hadn’t been used in some time.
‘You know that bit in 1984?’ I called. ‘Where Winston and Julia go to the countryside? Is this like that?’
‘Never read it.’ He spoke loudly, turning to shoot me a fleeting look. ‘I’m a Yank. We do Steinbeck. Why, what happens?’
I laughed, and the relief of doing so brought a wave of pleasure that made me laugh again. I felt feeble and giddy. My calf muscles ached.
‘They go on a sort of date,’ I yelled. ‘And they have to keep walking through woodland, not speaking until they’re … till they’re past all the hidden microphones and bugs and whatnot.’
‘Then what happens?’
I paused, panting for breath. The gathering hush blanketed our voices, our words seeming to linger in a realm unused to speech. I drew a deep breath and said, ‘Then they sit down on the grass and have a lovely picnic.’
Ahead of me, Sol laughed. ‘Get outta here!’
‘OK, I lied.’ I grinned as I strolled on. ‘They fuck each other’s brains out.’
Sol laughed again. ‘Then yeah,’ he hollered. ‘It is like that. Because I totally forgot the picnic.’
The steps ended as the forest floor levelled out, the ground a deep bed of old leaves reminiscent of crumbled cigar skins. Sol stopped walking and surveyed our surroundings.
‘Seriously, I can’t go much further.’ I stood downslope from him, gasping for breath. ‘These sandals are useless. I’ll break my ankle. Then you’ll be sorry because you’ll be the one carrying me.’
He smiled and began sauntering off the track towards a toppled beech. His trainers created small flurries of leaf litter when he picked up speed in a boyish scramble of pleasure. At the tree’s base, a lattice of roots matted with earth formed a ragged wall, and the vast spread of dead, bare branches lay tangled on higher ground. Narrow sunbeams pierced the thinned canopy and saplings rose towards the patches of blue sky. Sol slapped the fallen trunk in a gesture of satisfaction; then he turned and leaned his backside against it. A bird rattled overhead before flapping away with a desolate cry.
Sol patted for his cigarettes, smirking as he watched me struggle over lumpy terrain. I stopped a few feet from him, hands on hips, trying to catch my breath as I assessed our location. Ivy crawled over the horizontal trunk, the ground dipping in a small valley beneath the tree, thick with forest debris. Pale, filtered sunlight, dusty with forest air, gave the small clearing an atmosphere of reverence and myth.
Sol put a cigarette to his lips and tilted his chin. ‘Take your top off, Lana.’ The cigarette waggled as he spoke.
Lust slammed into my cunt. He cupped a hand to the cigarette tip, shielding his lighter. I laughed nervously, adoring his show of arrogance. A lock of his dark hair spilled forwards as he gazed at the flame. Smoke drifted up from his cigarette, swirling across shafts of light.
‘Here?’ I said. ‘Do you think we’re safe?’
He inhaled with long, luxurious pleasure, hard enough for me to hear the suck through his teeth.
‘I figure so.’ He released a slow trail of smoke, watching me steadily. ‘Haven’t seen any of those hidden microphones for a good while now.’
I laughed and caught a whiff of his cigarette. In the clean, fresh forest, it smelled illicitly industrial and modern. I could well believe we were the first to walk this way for years, that our voices were breaking an ancient silence. Secrets were secure here, the trees our only witness.
‘Well? I’m waiting,’ said Sol.
I faltered. Ordinarily, I’d have participated without a second thought. Sol and I had the hots for each other and seemed to be on the same wavelength. This was just a bit of fun, some casual sex at a weekend party. But we were fleeing a scene of death, so sex couldn’t be easy and meaningless anymore. Indulging in pleasure seemed disrespectful to Misha. I knew too that, although we concealed it well, emotions were running high.
All these doubts flitted through my mind. But Sol looked at me and I looked at him, and my cunt didn’t want to pay heed to my brain. And my overburdened brain, desperate for a break, wanted to relinquish control to my lust. I’m not sure what my heart was doing. Cowering in fear, most likely.
‘So?’ said Sol. ‘You don’t strike me as the shy type.’
He looked such a hot mess. Strong hips, worn jeans, cool way of smoking. I once read that women desire bad boys because they want to be the one who’ll fix him and make him good. What are we? Zookeepers? I’ve never wanted to tame a man in my life. On the contrary, I’ve welcomed the excuse to become more like him, to have a bad influence foisted upon me. In my youth, I longed to be swayed off the straight and narrow. I’d wanted the dangerous, corrupting guys because they legitimised me acting like an archetypal man, reckless, hedonistic and selfish. I’d wanted him, carefree, randy fool that he was, because he made me believe I could fuck it all to hell. I wanted to join him for the ride
But I learned the hard way that these are the guys who cause heartbreak and pain. I was quite certain I’d grown out of them. As an adult woman, I thought I preferred adult men who didn’t fuck you about; who were able to take responsibility for their own lives and treat fellow human beings with respect and decency.
I thought I had it sussed. And then all of a sudden here was Sol, wild, intriguing, pleasure-hungry, and quite possibly implicated in a man’s death. He was too much, way too much.
And at that moment, too much was what I craved.
Published September 11th, 2014
Pre-order with Amazon
Read more about Undone.