Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Wind beneath my Wings - or rather The Bit between my Teeth

Right. So a week or so after starting my blog and going on Twitter, I think I am in the saddle. Actually, that's the title of one of my kinkier short stories...And the best way to get with the programme is to practise blogging so that I am ready willing and able to guest blog for other people. I've had fun following some great blogs, very colourful and professional, and now I have to choose some themes for blogs that might interest others. The theme for this one is how last year I returned to erotica when I was on the point of jacking it all in.
   After 20 years of writing novels and short stories for Black Lace, Xcite Books and various defunct magazines, I saw the fees dwindling, and when the temporary demise of Black Lace occurred I thought it was some kind of sign that my erotica had gone far enough. It had become far darker than I felt comfortable with, and I didn't feel myself writing it any more. I had other literary ideas to pursue, so decided to give it all up.
   Then came 50 Shades, and the world sat up and got het up. And so did my editor, who about a year ago, after himself moving from Black Lace to Accent to Avon, contacted a group of authors and made an offer, or rather a request, that no serious writer could refuse. He ASKED me to try my hand at a trilogy along the more intense, romantic lines introduced by 50 Shades, toning down the language and subject matter, moving it away from the pornographic (which is why 'mummy porn' is such a ridiculous description) elements that had increasingly weighed down some of the other imprints I'd written for, and focusing more on the relationship and romance between two people, the awakening, healing effect they had on each other, exploring the darkness but in a safe relationship, all wrapped around with delicious and sensuous sex.
   How many people can say they've been approached by an editor to write a novel? I couldn't say no, and I have really enjoyed exploring the new Erotic Romance model because it has moved away from the old, dark style into brighter, more compelling, dare I say more intelligent romance. My parents might not lap it up, but, I feel confident that the friends who shied away from my erotica in the past can read this and still look me in the eye at the school gate!
   It took several drafts to wean myself totally off the old style, but what I felt able to do was to let fly with my imagination, let rip with my language, be poetic if I wanted, quote Shakespeare if I wanted - without being overblown or pretentious, I hasten to add - and most fun of all was getting into the heads and bodies of my protagonists rather than watching them at arm's length, which is how it was beginning to feel with some of my earlier characters. I could see my younger self as Serena, my heroine, developed and matured, and I could fall in love with Gustav, my hero. I let her fulfill another ambition of mine, to be a photographer, and Gustav is the entrepreneur giving her a professional break - in return for certain personal favours she becomes only too eager to pay back.
  I won't give much more away. Suffice to say the trilogy is two-thirds written now - the first volume The Silver Chain comes out in August 2012, the second is at first complete draft stage, and I am straining at the bit - yes, the equestrian imagery again - to write the third one.
   Now, a theme for my next blog. How about narrowing it down a bit to my favourite type of heroine - the COUGAR?

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lads' Mags debate

This may sound rich coming from an erotica writer, but seeing a Twitter remark about yesterday's debate on whether or not lads' mags such as Nuts and Zoo should be banned from supermarket shelves has got me buzzing into my angry old woman mode. Despite having a fertile and erotic imagination, I prefer subtlety and sensuality in my erotica, and have long found the sight of squirming, boob-squeezing girls right there in my face embarrassing at best and offensive at worst, and let's not beat about the bush, bordering on the pornographic in the full, graphic sense. It's all about the picture, not about the words. And in this day and age it's downright bewildering. I thought we lived in a more sexually equal world where men were finally realising that women have brains as well as breasts? Where mechanics' garages and pubs have taken down topless calendars because they are public places. And yet these mags seem deliberately to challenge and stick a finger up at anyone daring to question the taste or decency of having a naked girl on a supposedly mainstream magazine at eye-level, and if I was stacking shelves in Tesco then yes, I think I would dislike it, too. Not to mention trying to divert my pre-teenage boys away.
    But what is worse than all that and what no-one in these debates has ventured to say, is that these mags symbolise, proudly,what we erotica writers spend our lives getting away from, escaping if you will into our fantasy worlds where sex and sensuality is painted and celebrated, and that's bone-headed, testosterone-filled, bullish machismo. Because the tone of these lads mags is not respectful or funny or woman-loving. They are low, sniggering, puerile and mocking of the female form. What on earth is good or sexy, or acceptable, about that?

The Pram in the Hall

Cyril Connolly said there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall. In my case, the size 10 trainers, the deflated football, and the roaring of the Nintendo Wii. I know I've said before that I find inspiration for my erotica from what I see and hear around me, conjuring up romantic scenes on railway stations, abandoned shoes outside hotel rooms, gorgeous underwear trailing out of shopping bags... but it's half term and what I see and hear around me is a pile of ironing, my sons squabbling over the logistics of a Hobbit Lego figure playing Quidditch with a Harry Potter figure, and an onion half chopped. How to recapture my mojo, on the page at least? I leave the iron steaming gently on the board and go to the bookshelf, run my fingers lovingly across the smooth spines of books that I have written or contributed to. And wonder how I got the energy to write  those short stories about a student and her lecturer, the a Sassenach wedding guest in the Scottish Highlands seduced in the heather by a real Scotsman, that novel about the naughty nuns' cavorting in their convent. Scotland, Venice, Oxford. They all seem so far away. And yet any day now I will get my editor's 'suggestions' for improving the draft of my second book of the Trilogy, and a deadline will loom. What to do?
   For now, there is nothing for it but fill the empty casserole dish in front of me so that my family can eat while I nip out for a well needed prosecco with an old mate. Perhaps between us she and I, in the short hour or two we have to natter, can come up with some fresh ideas, or old, decadent memories,
 while our respective men spoon food into the mouths of our tots.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


When people ask me where I get my inspiration from, well, like all erotic writers I've lived a little, sure. I also mine my travels, my part time work, my friends and neighbours, stories about celebrities, but mostly my stories spring from an over-fecund imagination. Have I been in a threesome, or been whipped by a mask-wearing dominatrix? Well, read my stories and tell me how convincing they are! Any erotic writer worth their bondage gear can, with rounded characters and real situations, take you right into the heart of a story and keep you there.

If that story happens to canter into a slick penthouse suite in Manhattan or a back-street convent in Venice, well, so much the better. The imagination is a great alternative to travelling.

Erotica, unlike porn, should be about atmosphere, suggestion, anticipation and the senses, a climax in the real sense of the word with a beginning, a middle and a satisfying end.

So what do my family and friends think about what I do? My 23 year old son, far from finding it cool, is embarrassed by the whole idea and hides my books if visiting mates are likely to see them. A chosen few of my more 'broad minded' sisters and friends have read them, but others would never look me in the eye again if they knew how expert I am in finding sexiness in strawberries and olive oil!

As to the nuts and bolts of getting published, the world of erotica revolves around the efforts of individual writers. Unlike mainstream publishing, fees for erotic short stories and novels are non-negotiable, fixed by the publishers, so there is no call to share 10% of your precious royalties with an agent. And once you've proven your credentials to an eager editor, then there will be no stopping you.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Man in a Cage

 My husband dines out on the fact that my first successful story, Man in a Cage, was written when I should have been typing his letters. He was my boss at the time, and about to marry someone else, but that's another story. I bashed out this story about a heart broken woman who finds, on her birthday, her naked ex lover delivered to her in a cage. It took me one lunch hour, and it was accepted by For Women magazine. I was offered £150 for what amounted to an hour's pleasurable escapism, and that's when it all began.
Since then I've published three erotic novels: Country Pleasures, Club crème and Behind The Curtain for Virgin Books, as well as dozens of erotic short stories; Random Acts of Lust, my first solo collection of short stories and Out of Focus, a novella, for Xcite Books; and Sisters in Sin, a novella, for Avon's new imprint.
So, what are the stories about? Sex. Sex between consenting, passionate and adventurous adults, husbands and wives, stepmothers and stepsons, lesbian encounters, and my particular favourite, the cougar theme at its mostforbidden. But although it's graphic, I write sensitively and above all intelligently, build up believable characters, real relationships and genuine responses, however brief, rather than constructing a one-dimensional set-up. So as well as creating colourful and exotic settings and situations between impossibly gorgeous people, using smell, touch, clothes and scenery to heighten the atmosphere, I enjoy finding erotic potential in the most mundane places – a suburban street, an office, a shop - or an unexpected moment, such as an awkward family gathering, a new wife meeting her stepson for the first time, or a PTA meeting, two mums getting horny preparing for the 'Strictly Classroom' dancing competition.
And would-be writers beware: the housewife meets plumber stuff of Seventies porno flicks has been done to death. The challenge is exploring it more subtly; a comely landlady, for instance, inflaming her lodgers with her full English, or a convent girl falling for one of the nuns...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My back story

I am an Oxford-educated cougar living in Hampshire.  To supplement my erotica earnings I work part time as a secretary for criminal defence lawyers, am a landlady to foreign students, a portrait photographer and a freelance features writer. 

I like to think I'm respectable, opinionated, intelligent and funny, and at the school gate you wouldn't have me down as a kinky dominatrix who in her spare time writes about threesomes, lesbian sex and spanking. Some people wonder where, in a life full of sons, lodgers, meals, commuting and deadlines, I find the time, but there is always time for fantasy. Idling at traffic lights, stirring a sauce, scrubbing a loo - as any writer knows, if you have a fertile enough imagination, you will find inspiration anywhere. Write about anything, real or imagined.

People always ask what triggers my stories, particularly the erotica. Well, it can be a conversation, an anecdote, a tableau glimpsed through a moving window. Personal memories. A random thought (while scrubbing aforesaid loo), an imagined scenario. Writing is a wonderful way of escaping the world but also of enhancing your observations of it.

But it wasn't until I found myself a single mother at 27 and waiting for my knight in shining armour that I decided to try my hand firstly at Mills and Boon. Well, respect to romantic authors, because it isn't as easy as they make it look. I was rejected despite setting my novels in every exotic place I'd ever been to: Venice, Cairo and, er, Devon.

Finally one helpful editor spelled out that, as well as other faults, my sex scenes were, well, too sexy. Too explicit. Hell, I reckoned that if I could do explicit, then I may as be paid for it.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Emerging, blinking, into cyberspace

We erotica writers have much to thank E L James for. I don't know about my fellow scribes, but after 20 years in the business of finding inspiration both in the world around me and in my own head to arouse and titillate my readers, then watching in dismay as sales and fees dwindled and erotic magazines such as For Women and Forum disappeared, I was on the point of hanging up my handcuffs this time last year. But then 50 Shades exploded in our faces and suddenly my editor was emailing me with the request that I submit an erotic romance in the new, less hardcore, more intense, relationship-based model. In fact, could I make that a trilogy? How could I resist a plea like that, and the chance to continue writing erotica but expressing myself more naturally at last? And so that's why I'm here, getting to grips at last with Twitter and the blogosphere, because that's how The Silver Chain was born and it's to be published by Avon in August and I want you to get to know me.