“So if you ask for something?”
“I really, really, fucking want it.”
“That sounds like a challenge.”
“I bet it does. But you’re a talker then? What kind?”
“I don’t get mean, if that’s what you’re asking. Mostly I just like to talk about what I’m seeing, what it feels like, what I’m gonna do.”
Me and her both went silent then. The way he said that was spectacular. Her chair shifted and I caught myself before I did the same thing.
(another snippet. This one sprang like Athena, furiously typed out in one sitting. Again, there’s no ‘proper fucking’ but there doesn’t need to be, not really. And no publication, just inspiration. Also it’s so tiny!)
And we take a hard right into historicals. On My Honor (in Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors edited by Delilah Devlin) is a bit of a departure from my previous two pubs. No kink, really, no power struggles (…mostly) and, in a fit of inspiration, no actual fucking. Oh there’s orgasms and cocks and quims and wetness and filthiness, and a bath, but there’s no PIV sex.
I explain my reasoning here.
This was my third pub, and being the cool, calm and collected graceful lady I am, when I got the acceptance I responded with ‘uh, did you mean to send this to me?’ (sorry Delilah!) (Delilah Devlin is also a totally lovely editor, and I loved working with her). The promotional aspect of writing was a challenge for me, and a departure from previous pubs as well.
Ella Dawson just wrote this piece, in response to another piece by Tamsin Flowers that I hadn’t read when it came out. And I found it fascinating.
I don’t know if it is being the same general generation of Ella (I think…) (I simply play a cranky old lady on stage) but I am one of those readers for whom condomless sex with a stranger requires a significant amount of mental energy to put aside in order to enjoy the work. And sometimes it ruins it. I know it is fantasy, I know it is not real, but it belongs in the realm of ‘cunnilingus post unprotected sex without mentioning semen’ for me. Record-scratch, head tilt, narrow eyes, wonder if this was done on purpose for a reason. It feels unrealistic (even though it’s probably not that unrealistic) and it feels a bit off-putting.
I’m in a long term, fluid bonded relationship, and we use condoms as our primary form of birthcontrol. Well, our only, to be honest. The stigma against condom usage, against the embodied use of them, counts for something I think.
I came up against this issue most recently in On My Honor. It’s a historical, and the knightly knight isn’t going to have a primitive condom in his saddlebags (although the healer is likely to know some methods of contraception, reliable or not). So they didn’t fuck. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t write a scene so disembodied from my reality. It draws me out so thoroughly as a reader – unless there is some contextual reason that unprotected is okay – and I just couldn’t manage it as a writer. I don’t know if that’s a facet of my abilities
But beyond that, I like the negotiation, I like the mechancis of putting a condom on. I like that moment where you pause and there is expecation building, or the moment where you just work as quickly as possible. I like negotiating what will happen if there is no condom – some of my favourite stories are about that moment of negotiation, kink or boundaries or whatever the point may be. And I adore the sense of connection with my reality too, if I’m being honest. Not in the sense that “oh I do that” but the sense of reality that extends beyond the page.
I’m now going to try and challenge myself to write condomless unprotected sex in a modern setting. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Before They Burn was my second pub, with the totaly fabulous Tenille Brown in Can’t Get Enough. It had a very different genesis and journey to Deeper. And you can read an excerpt.
It started with a few images; booted feet bracketing bare ones, those awkward moments where you unconsciously expose yourself*, and the way lust can colour everything.
Plus, I really like cooking.
One of the other things that shines through is how I like to write about the speech acts of sex. Not dirty talk, but those grunting, snarled incoherencies that make sex filthy. I still don’t know that I’ve gotten it right but I try. Oh Lord how I try. Oh Lord how much fun I have trying.
*I had one of those moments the other evening (…it even involved spanking). Not a physical interlude, just one of those moments where the conversation stalls because the joke took a hard left into delicious imagination.
Claudette reached up and began to unfasten the strap at one shoulder. When she breathed it was his musk, heavy sweat and horse and straw. This close his size, his reach, made her feel tiny. After his pauldron dropped free, and they both began to undo the buckles beneath his arms, he spoke.
“So, Claudette, are you planning to help me bathe?” His voice was low. “Apparently coin will not sway you, so I’ll simply ask.”
His big hand caught hers, swamping it, the careless strength sending a thrill through her. “Stay?”
Claudette’s mouth opened, to breathe, to speak, but Sir Elis’ lips pressed to hers and instead she found herself consumed by his kisses, his tongue touching hers gently. When he drew back she moaned, then shut her mouth with a snap and blushed furiously.
(This is a snippet from a piece I’m still working on, for no projected publication, just because I feel like it)
Deeper was my first pub, in the inestimable Alison Tyler‘s Bound for Trouble. Now, Alison is a fucking goddess among editors, truly. I am always impressed with her, so I have a bias, but she was the perfect gateway to erotica writing for this mildly terrified blushing not-really-a-virgin.
But, we’re not here to talk about how much I like her work.
I wrote Deeper as part of a kind of writing cure. Erotica is one of the most densely descriptive and internally focused of genres. Or it is when it is done well. So Deeper began as an exercise in not shying away from the messy emotions and senses of the fictional world. I’d always written erotic material, and when I first discovered Black Lace in my local public library (!) I remember thinking “I can do this”* and so when I realised the deficiencies of my other writing, the ‘cure’ seemed pretty obvious.
And, to be entirely honest, it started as something of a fantasy about a public figure…
Regardless, by the time I got to the slick and messy end, I realised I had enjoyed every moment of writing it. That’s not to say it was easy, just that I enjoyed it. Working out exactly how to show Miko’s strength and submission, Grace’s drive and change from the more socially acceptable and expected submission to her own natural instincts. I like writing switches, I like writing people who hover around boundaries and haunt liminal spaces.
I like writing, in general. I like exploring through what I write.
*I also promised my best beloved friend to send her copies. Which I have done, signed and posted down to her, with a kind of awkward pride.