Alison Tyler wrote a neat post today in support of indie publishers, reminding us that authors benefit directly when we choose to spend our book money on the small guys.
Apparently, Smart Ass is currently this month’s topseller at Pretty Things Press. Huzzah! Left is a pic of me reading from my story in Smart Ass at Eroticon in London. (The book in my hands is a print copy of our three ass anthologies from PTP). As far as I know, this is the only picture of my legs on the internet. This is likely to remain the case. Consider it a collector’s item.
But AT’s post struck a particular chord today because just a few days ago, Amazon declined to offer for sale Geek Love, the book born of Shanna Germain’s amazing Kickstarter project, claiming it breached some hazy, arbitrary content guidelines of theirs and they were Mighty Powerful and could do whatever they wanted.
Days later, Amazon relented, but by that point, Shanna was all “Fuck you, Lord Amazon! I’m supporting the small guys who support us!” And so now, Geek Love is available as an ebook via Drive Thru Fiction. Setting up an account takes about 2 seconds and if you’re geeky, you won’t even blink at that.
Hardback copies of Geek Love will be available via the same retailer at some future point. I have a story in Geek Love. The anthology received a great review on Erotica Revealed this week.
If you’re anything like me, you can’t afford to buy all your books from indie publishers and booksellers. And as an author, I benefit from Amazon’s huge reach, and also from publishers with money to spend on marketing. But I mix up my book purchases from the big guns with purchases from the smaller presses and outlets. After all, interesting stuff happens on the margins!
Last time we did this, I found myself drawn towards a piece penned in the second person, even though I’m usually less than keen on this narrative perspective. And I’ve done it again, pouncing on Maria See’s One Sleep.
One Sleep focusses on rape fantasy, a topic many editors and publishers shy away from, despite this being one of the most popular female fantasies out there. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked to tone down explorations of rape fantasy in my own work. Avoidance of the subject can surely only add to the guilt and confusion experienced by many of the men and women who kink for forcing or being forced.
Maria See cleverly plays with the paradox of enacting scenes of consensual non-consent. Too much clear consent destroys the thrill, and yet consent must be established. In trying to find the balance, the couple in this short piece discuss what they want, but not too much. See’s clever use of second person means the gender of the characters isn’t depicted, enhancing the state of uncertainty that’s at the heart of the story. And yet, neatly placed details tell us this couple know each other well: ‘I’ll bet that you’ll be on your stomach, your usual sleeping position.”
It’s a bold, thought-provoking piece with a deliciously scary ending. Author, editor and publisher should all be applauded for venturing where many daren’t.
I’ll be reviewing another story from Sudden Sex later in the month. In the meantime, check out Delilah Night’s review of one of my pieces, Sugar Upsets My Vagina.
And tomorrow, I’m off to Eroticon in London. Hope to see some of you there!
Isn’t that a beautiful poster?
The world of erotica is gearing itself up for Eroticon 2013 in London next weekend. I’m running a writing workshop on the Saturday morning. My blurb says:
“Kristina Lloyd explores how to use imagery, setting and take risks with language to enrich your fiction and add layers of meaning. We’ll examine how the pleasure found in words used both within and outside a ‘sex scene’ can enhance the overall eroticism of a piece. There will be short writing exercises aimed at sparking new ways of thinking.”
I’m also reading on the Saturday evening alongside some fabulous writers (see beautiful poster!). There’s a PDF of the 9 – 5pm schedule and tix are still available! There are heaps of sessions I’m keen to attend. I’m also looking forward to catching up with authors I get to see once in a blue moon, meeting new people and just generally hanging out with creative, sex-positive folk.
In other news, I’m this week’s author on the Filthy Friday series from Sh!. I’ve offered up a key excerpt from one of my latest stories, The Bondage Pig, published in Alison Tyler‘s Big Book of Bondage. This story has been getting some great comments. Kiki DeLovely gave the piece a wonderful review (and reckoned mine was the dirtiest story in the anthology), and Sharon Wachsler (who’s giving away two copies of the anthology) described The Bondage Pig as “a masterpiece [...] suspenseful, creepy, dirty, and surprisingly sweet.”
It’s quite an unusual story. Hop on over to the Sh! blog and take a ride on my pig!
Alison Tyler’s Big Book of Bondage was released earlier this year, and AT asked authors in the anthology to review each other, in a sort of literary equivalent of a mass orgy. Kiki DeLovely did me a couple of weeks ago with her fabulous review of The Bondage Pig. Now I’m taking my turn and doing Derek McDaniel. I’ve been thinking about writing technique lately, more so than I usually do because I’ve had a couple of teaching gigs, so my review is possibly on the nerdy side!
When I dip into a new anthology, I tend to go straight to the stories penned by my favourite authors, knowing I can trust them to deliver, and eager to see where their wonderfully warped imaginations have led them this time.
Derek McDaniel is a new name to me. His story, Eye Contact, caught my, erm, eye with its snappy opening and use of second person narrative, a story-telling device that usually has me wincing. Most editors won’t touch fiction written in the second person (although I notice AT has a call out for exactly that but then Alison’s always been a little crazy). It’s a tricky approach to get right but seems to appeal to eroticists, perhaps because creating a fictional realm of “you” and “I” or “we” (but not so much “he/she/they”) can feel intimate to the writer.
As a reader, however, I often feel distanced from such scenes with the narrator (I) and narratee (you) failing to emerge from the text as characters or people. The action floats alone. We seldom get to see who is doing what and where they are. Worse, desire often disappears. There’s no one to own the wanting, the ache. The device can create passivity, the narrator using the “you” as a puppet to express their own lust. “You” is doing what the recipient of the action implicitly wants them to do (“Your tongue dives between my thighs” etc) without showing us the driving lunacy of their own erotic need. On top of all that, the technique seems to encourage a langorous, pseudo-poetic writing style that leaves me feeling tired rather than turned on.
From line one of Eye Contact, McDaniel makes it clear he’s not going to fall into any of those traps: “When you give yourself to me, the first thing you’ll do is suck my cock, and you’ll do it exactly the way I taught you.” Woah, this guy’s bossy! The story depicts a BJ between a couple sharing a strong D/S dynamic. They’ve had webcam sex aplenty but this is their first in-the-flesh encounter. The piece is low on plot but high on desire (and drool). The woman on her knees is lavishly described, her appearance a result of her dom’s insistence that she tan, grow impractically long fingernails, wear trashy clothes and present herself as “some dumb bimbo slut”.
McDaniel keeps a tight focus on the sex while skillfully weaving in the couple’s backstory and dropping hints about their character. We know the woman isn’t dumb; she’s initially loath to dress to please but complies because she evidently wants this hook up as much as he does. And she’s not the only one paying attention to sartorial detail. He tells us, “I’m wearing a suit because I do that sort of thing. And this is our first date, right?”
Those two lines neatly portray something about the guy or, at least, the guy in the sexual role he’s adopting here. He’s breezily confident, a little arrogant; too cool to suggest he’s put any effort into his clothes yet we get the sense he cares how he looks. (His trousers are “pricey”.) He’s witty and ironic; it’s their first “real-life” encounter but this is no conventional first date.
Eye Contact is a super, sexy piece. The choice of second person works in part, no doubt, because there’s a reason for employing it; this isn’t about arbitrary stylistics. The story opening reads as a series of instructions he gives her when anticipating how things will be when they meet. When they get together, the same narrative POV is used, creating continuity, immediacy, and reminding us of how their relationship began. We feel as if we’re watching in on them while gaining an insight into his desire to dominate. The BJ is rough, cruel and messy, and the narrator’s relish for nasty detail – “You smear tears and mascara everywhere, even into your hair; sticky precum and spit form strings between your chin and my cockhead” – makes for a deliciously hot, dirty read.
I’m always pleased to see men writing as men in a genre where female writers predominate (and I grouch when I see male writers creating false identities and masquerading as women because, dude, we really don’t need your help in creating “authentic” representations of female sexuality, thanks all the same!).
I’m very much looking forward to more from Derek McDaniel.
January, clearly, is my month of pig. I have couple of new stories published: Cutting Out Hearts in Best Erotic Romance (ed Kristina Wright), and The Bondage Pig in The Big Book of Bondage (ed Alison Tyler). The latter story features a lot of pig and recently received a seriously fab review from Kiki DeLovely. More on that porcine piece next month. (TBBoB is available for Kindle now but gets its paperback release in the UK on Valentine’s Day; I do think there ought to be more pigs among the hearts and flowers.)
Meanwhile, Cutting Out Hearts tells of Susanna, a married woman who goes home with her local butcher after bumping into him one evening. I’ve only just spotted the pig reference when choosing an excerpt! I swear I’m not obsessed. Here’s the excerpt:
From Cutting Out Hearts
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.
His kitchen was magnificent, the sort that might feature in one of Ness’s magazines: granite worktops, halogen spotlights, acres of space and a double-drainer sink. A triple row of knives and cleavers glinted on one wall, and at the room’s center was a large pine table with curvy legs, its surface scored with marks. Likes to socialize, I thought. Well, that’s probably good.
He selected a bottle from a wine rack, his hands gripping its neck. I hovered, not knowing what to do. When he took two glasses from an overhead cupboard, I joined him, spreading my fingers over the base of my glass as he opened the wine like a waiter, regular corkscrew and a muscular withdrawal.
The cork gave a dull pop, a starting gun for seduction.
I’m doing this, I thought as Will poured. I’m flirting with intent. Oh, sweet whoever’s up there, strike me down with a pitchfork.
“Chin chin,” he said as we clinked glasses.
I drank, not knowing what to say. I was about to admire his kitchen when he said, “You often look sad. You know that?”
My heart dropped. “Do I? I don’t mean to.”
“You mean to hide it?”
“Guess I didn’t know I looked sad.” I shrugged. “Maybe that’s just how my face is.”
He walked away to put on a CD. Sound system in the kitchen, the heart of his home. I stayed leaning by the granite counter because I hadn’t been invited to sit down. When he returned, he said, “You don’t look sad now.”
“You look terrified.”
I laughed. “I am.”
I shook my head. I felt as if a pill were stuck in my throat. I swallowed. “Of me. Of … of what I might want.”
He looked at me for a long time, trying to read my face. Then he drew a deep breath and leaned at an angle, elbow on the work surface, making his body softer, his height lower than mine, unthreatening. “Have you ever been tied up?” he asked.
Hail Mary, mother of Jesus! Have I what? The room whirled, streaks of halogen whizzing past blurred granite, flying knives, swooping saucepans, and a pine table on its hind legs, dancing pirouettes among the shifting white lights. My knee bones did a runner and between my thighs, I melted like butter on a skillet.
“I …” I began.
Did I accidentally drink all his wine? Was this me? Why was I shaking?
“I … no.” I pictured a joint of ham trussed up with string, its pig-pale skin bulging against the bonds. “No, no.”
He smiled kindly. “I would never do anything you didn’t want me to.”
Never? Never forever?
I shook my head, fighting a rising panic.
Will stood, walked into the adjoining room then out through a door leading deeper into the house. Was he going to his bedroom? Was he expecting me to follow? Well, I wouldn’t. I didn’t think my legs would carry me anyway. Besides, wanting a wrong thing was bad enough; acting on the want could have no justification. Oh, but I thought of many excuses while Will was gone: I don’t love my husband and I doubt he loves me; what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him, like the tree he doesn’t see; how can I know if the grass is greener if I don’t even try the other side?
Will returned, grinning, loops of rope in one hand, jacket off, tie loosened. “Just in case,” he said, and he tossed the coils at my feet. They landed with a clatter.
He stood inches in front of me. The world froze and so did my heart. He must do this all the time, I thought. An expert, and me the lamb to his slaughter. I could see the faint prick of his nipples through his white cotton shirt. Then everything started thundering as his face moved toward mine, or perhaps mine to his. His features grew large then his lips on mine were warm, moist and mobile.
For the first few seconds, I was tense and self-conscious. My mouth wouldn’t yield. I’d forgotten how to kiss. Then instinct took over and I was gone, slipping toward delirium, heat flaring in my face. I closed my eyes and behind my lids, a blue sun blazed in a pitch black night, receding and surging. Between my thighs I grew hotter and wetter, plump tissue parting with treacherous ease. I embraced him, needing the support of his bulk and wanting his weight pressed against me. Running my hands over the slab of his back, I plucked his shirt from his waistband, my fingers seeming to move of their own accord. His body was warm and clammy, muscles shifting below thick skin as he raised his arms to thrust his fingers into my hair. Wisps of hair on his shoulder blades brushed my fingertips. He held my head still, clamped, so I couldn’t escape his kiss. Not that I wanted to. His hands were good there. I fancied if he let go of me, I might dissolve into a puddle of lust.
When he pulled away, he had a new look of seriousness to him, eyes and mouth sagging, lips gleaming.
“Oh god, I shouldn’t,” I whispered.
Ignoring me, he dropped to his knees, hands sliding down my legs.
“I shouldn’t,” I said again, even quieter now.
Slowly, his broad hands rose higher, back up my legs to bunch my skirt around my hips. He kissed the skin on my thighs, making my breath flutter faster, then his mouth was on my underwear, lace shielding my pubis like an ornate gate of silk. No trespassers, please. But inside the fabric I was swollen to fatness, fluids seeping to reveal my need and welcome him in. He traced a single finger over my damp patch, making my groin pulse so insistently I thought my heart had lost its moorings and plummeted to a new place. He nudged into my briefs and I felt him, his flesh on mine, touching me where only my husband was supposed to touch. He skimmed my lips, tickling fronds of hair and when he split me open, I groaned deeply and so did he.
I couldn’t remember when I’d last been so wet.