This question, in various forms, was bandied about a lot during last year’s Fifty Shades media hysteria. It’s a question I’ve been asked my opinion on more than enough times. Usually the questioner is asking why are so many women into sexual submission as roleplay or fantasy (which would suggest the answer requires a socio-cultural analysis, and I have to put my eyeroll on standby in readiness for the chimpanzee who wants to tell me it’s ‘natural’).
Made more personal, the question becomes why is this character/are you sexually submissive (which would suggest the questioner thinks us crazy bitches need our heads examined cos we must have a history of brokenness to like that fucked-up shit).
I think it’s the wrong question to be asking. Instead, perhaps we should be asking: why is that question constantly being asked of women? It’s a question which implies there’s a problem that needs rectifying. We don’t often hear the corresponding enquiry: why are (so many) men sexually dominant? Femsub generates anxiety because too often it’s deemed to constitute a betrayal and rejection of feminism. I think most intelligent people would be able to understand that wanting to be cuffed to the bedpost and treated like a fuckslutwhore doesn’t equate to wanting to live on the bottom half of a gender-imbalanced culture. The more complex issue, and one which affects me as a writer, is how do we convey this when we’re presenting M/f to a broad audience?
I’m a woman writing about women who desire sexually dominant men; about women who own their stuff or are on a journey towards ownership. I’m writing about sex that re-enacts and often exaggerates gender norms; and at the same time, I’m subverting those gender norms by showing that women can have sexual agency and be actively, assertively desiring. Historically, that’s been the preserve of men.
EL James did us a massive wrong when she presented Grey’s non-mainstream sexuality as a consequence of an abusive past and him as freakishly ‘other’ (and so safe from tainting the mainstream); and when she depicted acceptable, ordinary female sexuality as being dead-in-the-cunt. The romantic, reactionary trope of a ‘sleeping beauty’ sexuality, where our heroine is oblivious to her submissive desires until some handsome prick-prince arrives to ‘awaken’ her kinky self is deeply problematic.
My protagonist in Thrill Seeker, Natalie Lovell, starts to explore her submissive sexuality when she’s in her late twenties. She’s been deterred from doing so previously due, in part, to a former unhealthy sexual relationship which has left her feeling uncomfortable about, and reluctant to pursue, her desires. I think this is a far more typical scenario for many of us, except it’s not usually an incident in the past that has inhibited our sexual growth but a barrage of cultural messages telling us we shouldn’t; that it’s wrong; it’s dirty; it’s twisted to want it that way. I don’t for a moment believe that, as FSOG suggests, we’re all ticking along in neutral vanilla mode until something distorts us and sends us – whoa! – kinky.
In Thrill Seeker, Natalie is sexually submissive because she is. Anyone looking for a ‘why?’ won’t find their answer. They will, however, find plenty to demonstrate the pleasure Natalie gets out of powerplay, and that ought to be reason enough.
Here’s an excerpt. And I’m very sorry: this is my third excerpt from Thrill Seeker, and once again it centres on cocksucking. I promise you, the book does contain other stuff and I do have range!
Another memory: Baxter making me confront myself in the full-length mirror in the bedroom. I was on my knees, hands cuffed behind my back, both of us naked. I’d just been sucking his cock, or rather he’d just been fucking my mouth. He once taught me a word: irrumatio. Not fellatio, where I suck his cock, but irrumatio, where he fucks my mouth. ‘Learn to love it,’ he’d growled, hands in my hair, cock driving hard enough to make me splutter.
When he withdrew, he stuffed my knickers into my mouth, feeding in the last of the fabric with two big fingers. My cheeks bulged, pink lace foaming from my lips as he turned me to meet my reflection. He held me by the hair, waggling my head in warning when I tried to look away. Black tears streaked my face, my eyes bloodshot, my skin hectic and blotched. Next to me, his cock was ramrod-stiff, gleaming with my saliva, his pubes curling damply.
‘Look at the state of you,’ he said brightly. ‘How d’you end up like this, eh? Dirty little cocksucker. You know why your panties are in your mouth, eh? Do you?’
I shook my head, grunting into cotton.
‘Because I dinnae want to hear you speak,’ he said. ‘All that mouth’s fit for is being used. Not got a dick in it? Then it’s surplus to my requirements. Now come on, suck me again. Do it!’
I grunted to indicate he needed to first remove the underwear from my mouth. My hands were tied, see? Baxter was having none of it. ‘Spit them out,’ he said. ‘Prove how much you want my dick.’
I did as told, glad to be rid of the knickers, gladder still to have Baxter gliding into my mouth again. I loved the strength in his shaft, loved to breathe in the intimacy of his pubes as he bunched my hair in his fists, pulling me close. And most of all, I loved it when he told me what to do. He knew I got off on that because I’d tried to explain it numerous times. I couldn’t say why I liked being forced to submit, only that I did; that I longed to be overtaken and reduced in this way. I didn’t so much get off on the act of submission but in being made to submit. I wanted to resist as if I hated it, the pleasure arising from the process of him doing what was necessary to push me to that place where I had either become greedy and willing or was too weak to fight back.
Does everything, I’d once wondered aloud to Baxter, have to be explained before it gets a pass? Does the nature-nurture debate need to be resolved before I’m allowed to fuck who and how I want? Didn’t gay people get asked the same question – are you born this way or made? – and discover the answer was ‘accept us for who we are, don’t pathologise and try to fix us’?
Baxter took it in his stride, not seeking justification but happy to be with someone he viewed as on a par. My kinky desires were as legitimate as his, and together we could celebrate what we relished, and make each other happy.
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Enter my Goodreads giveaway by 31 May! Six signed copies up for grabs!
… you are very wise! But hop on over there now and join in to be in with a chance of winning one of three copies of Thrill Seeker!
ETA: I thought it was a simple RT but no! You gotta work for your smut by answering some questions about me!
— Black Lace Books (@BlackLaceBooks) May 10, 2013
Thrill Seeker is out today! Left is a beautiful, well-thumbed, dog-eared, scuffed and spine-broken copy from one of my early readers, Stan Keetley. As you can see, Stan takes a damn fine photograph (open full size to see the pic all its glory). The shot really captures some of the moody seaside atmosphere of Thrill Seeker. (You can’t make it out but the object in the foreground is a penknife.) And that heaped rope, oh my!
Stan gave Thrill Seeker an enormous thumbs up and said he’s never read a book so fast! I’m hugely pleased with that. I wanted to write a pageturner with depth and offering psychological insights into submission, much as I had done with Asking for Trouble. I think – I hope – I have.
Thrill Seeker centres around Natalie Lovell, a thirty something woman relatively new to exploring her submissive side. But she’s no naif, and isn’t hanging around waiting for Domly guidance. She’s actively seeking her thrills, unsure where her journey may take her, but being more than prepared to take risks to find pleasure, and to better understand herself and her desires. If that sounds as if she’s on a merry fuck-adventure, going from one new guy to the next, she isn’t. That’s a fine thing to do, but isn’t interesting to me as a writer. I like exploring relationships, although they don’t need to be love-based. And as ever, I want to portray sexual submission in a positive light, to keep pushing the message that you can be submissive and still have sexual agency and, shock-horror, be a self-aware, fully-functioning, horny adult. Femsub got a lot of bad press after its awful portrayal in Fifty Shades. I may write more about this at some point!
Anyways, Den Jackson is the man Natalie hooks up with, an experienced but potentially dangerous dom who doesn’t always play fair. He leaves Natalie wondering whether she should be running toward or very far away from him. And lurking in the background of the story is Natalie’s former lover, the man she can’t let go of, Baxter Logan, a big, screwed up, sexy bastard with an enthusiastic dominant streak. Baxter isn’t the cool sort, not by a long shot. I absolutely loved writing him.
One of Natalie’s key fantasies is of kidnap which, in the wake of Ohio’s horrors, would seem insensitive to discuss so I’m going to leave that to one side for now.
I’ll be telling you more about Thrill Seeker on this site, and on other blogs, over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me! And I hope, if you pick up Thrill Seeker, you’ll struggle to put it down. Although, um, I also hope there’ll be moments when you’ll really need to put it down!
Don’t forget to enter my bumper Goodreads giveaway before the end of the month!
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I had to rearrange my bookshelves recently because I have stories in quite a lot of the annual ‘best of’ Mammoth anthologies from Maxim Jakubowski, and these books are fat!
Quick and Dirty, a one-off collection of flash fiction, is similarly fat, running to 554 pages, and doesn’t he have a sexy back? I have four stories in this volume: three brand new pieces and one reprint (although its first print publication), Violet Sex, which may be familiar to long term readers.
I’m proud to say Violet Sex opens the anthology which means, since the piece is only three pages long, you can read it in its entirety on Amazon for free: I’ve always enjoyed violent sex but then John lost our letter ‘n’ and sex turned violet.
My other pieces are Fast Burn, a story about a new, destructive relationship running on fast-forward; The Wrong Woman, a gangbang abduction fantasy which is a bit meta (yes, I am obsessed with abduction and dubious consent: see Thrill Seeker for details); and probably my favourite, Mighty Real, a high-octane story about friends fucking at a funeral in which I quote both seventies disco lyrics and John Donne. I think John would be cool with that.
I wrote these short shorts as I was writing Thrill Seeker, along with short shorts for Alison Tyler‘s Sudden Sex (UK Kindle), and some super short shorts for the fabulous porn-for-women site, For The Girls. I love writing quickies, although they’re seldom quick to write. But when you’re working on a novel and living with a huge, messy project, its particularly rewarding to be able to take a break from the forward momentum of that and work in miniature; to focus on getting the language right and feel the satisfaction of actually completing a piece. In his introduction to the anthology, Maxim describes the kind of stories featured as being ‘like fires of lust caught in amber’. Nice, no?
I’ve been umming and ahing about what to excerpt but I’m going for the beginning of The Wrong Woman. Because abduction.
The Wrong Woman
‘Someone had fucked up’ went the story. He was supposed to be handsome and charming, and they should have been in a restaurant playing footsie under the table while a waiter took their order, glass and cutlery tinkling around them.
Instead, Jody was in a dingy alley with a gun to her back, her hair awry, her stockings laddered. ‘Keep walking,’ he said. ‘Look straight ahead.’
Her legs were shaking. That wasn’t in the story. Cobbles rippled like water in the pale white sheen of a street light and in her heels, she struggled on the uneven terrain like a weak-limbed foal.
‘You’ve got the wrong woman.’ Her throat was dry, her voice a rasp.
‘Don’t get cute,’ he said. ‘Here. Left here. I’ve got some friends who want to meet you.’
Around the corner, he made her stand by a broad wooden door as he tied her hands behind her back, looping rope around her wrists in a figure of eight. Brittle strips of green paint hung like lolling tongues from the wood and six small, high windows suggested a dirty, cobwebbed interior. When Jody’s hands were secured, the man heaved on a handle to roll the doors aside, the scene opening up as it might in a theatre when the curtains were raised. Before them was a cobble-floored car repair garage, its ceiling veiled by a sagging pigeon net from which crisp, brown ivy dangled like vines in a ghostly rainforest. The light was dim and the props, if you could call them that, were scanty: a heap of old tyres, two rusty cars at the rear, an armchair sprouting stuffing and various tools scattered randomly about the place. No one was in sight.
Her heels echoed on the cobbles as they walked into the centre of the garage, and she imagined the knocking of her heart was equally loud. She breathed in smells of damp, dust, oil and scorched metal. She didn’t know if the gun at her back was real but it didn’t matter. If you thought it might be, it was.
One by one, they emerged from the shadows, five muscular men in jeans and vests, all bristling with menace and swagger. They crowded around her and she was on her knees before she knew it, the cobbles harsh and cold. The blouse she’d worn for her restaurant date tore easily. A pair of clumsy hands shoved the ripped silk around her shoulders while more hands scooped her breasts from her bra and twisted her nipples. She writhed and squealed in protest.
‘You’ve got the wrong woman,’ she said again but they only laughed.
I have a novel out tomorrow. I may have mentioned it.
I’m Erotic Fiction of the Week at the cool and geeky, Dork Adore, and my release date isn’t until Thursday!
Dork Adore say ‘No-one quite knows how to write female submission like Kristina Lloyd does’.
I’m appropriately thrilled!
And just to add, if you missed me shouting about it yesterday, I’m giving away a whopping SIX signed paperback copies of Thrill Seeker over at Goodreads. Enter by May 31st to be in with a chance of winning a copy.
My publishers say: “A sexy and controversial erotic thriller – Fifty Shades Darker than E L James and Sylvia Day.”
Or as Janine Ashbless said, “Kristina, you’re several paint catalogues darker!” Heh. Don’t be scared. Come on in, the water’s lovely…
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