Sunday, October 14, 2007

“Best New Erotica 7” (now available to pre-order) is my 5th BNE in a row

I’m proud to say that, for the 5th consecutive year, I have a story in the Mammoth Best New Erotica anthology, edited by Maxim Jakubowski. “Best New Erotica 7” is now available for pre-order from Amazon (although it won’t be published until January).

I always send Maxim a selection of stories to choose from and I can never predict which one he’ll take. “Best New Erotica” is an eclectic publication and, apart from the fact that the stories have to have been published (print or online) somewhere in the relevant year (2006 in this case) they have little in common.

The first story of mine that Maxim published was “Deserving Ruth” in “Best New Erotica 3”. I was very excited to see this in print. I still think it is one of the short stories I’ve written. I like it because it has a good hook at the beginning, it pulls of a first person POV, it’s crammed with sex scenes and it’s driven by strong emotions: guilt, lust and most of all, love.

Here’s how it starts:

“My wife says you like to come in her mouth, David.”

We are only one drink in to the evening and this isn’t the conversational opener I’d expected. I nurse my bottle of Bud and say nothing.

Lars puts his arm around my shoulders, leans his head down towards mine and says, “Mei Mei does have a talented tongue, but I always wonder about a man who is able to resist her tight little cunt. There’s something about the grip of a wet cunt on your cock that a mouth just can’t match, don’t you think?”

I am very aware of the heat of Lars’ body next to mine. He is dressed in Levis and tight fitting black t-shirt and he looks like six foot four of pure muscle. For a moment it occurs to me that he could snap my neck without breaking sweat, but he is smiling and from the tone of his voice we could be talking about cars or sports.

I glance over at Mei Mei. She looks small next to my wife, Ruth. They both have the same long black hair and have conspired to wear matching outfits, black silk shirt-dresses that stop inches above the knee and tie with a simple belt at the waist. Their makeshift uniforms emphasise how different they are. Ruth has a strong Slavic look; her breasts and hips seem almost swollen and over-ripe compared to Mei Mei’s compact Malaysian frame. The two of them are talking animatedly, leaning forward, their faces almost touching. Ruth’s hand rests on Mei Mei’s knee, her fingers pointing along the line of her thigh. Sexual intent seems to flash between them.

“Ruth has nice breasts, David,” Lars says, “You must enjoy pressing her tits together and pushing your cock between them.”

I feel the beginnings of an erection and I wish Lars would take his arm off my shoulders. I have never fucked Ruth’s tits, she has never let me, but I have often wondered what it would be like.

I continue looking at the women to give myself time to decide how to get Lars to move his arm without causing offence. After all, this is his house and I was brought up not to insult my host.

Ruth’s hand is now out of sight, underneath Mei Mei’s dress. Mei Mei leans forward and pushes her tongue into Ruth’s mouth. There is something staged about the kiss. The tongues are too visible. I know that, out of the side of their eyes, they are looking at Lars and me, putting on a show for us.

Ruth is in charge of course. Ruth is always in charge. She was the one who brought Mei Mei into our bed. She told me that they met at one of those Manchester Sauna clubs that doubles as a swingers swap centre. Mei Mei was new and all the men had been trying to get her attention. Ruth pushed them aside, pulled Mei Mei’s head back by the hair and then kissed her. Mei Mei kissed back and opened her legs slightly. Ruth said that Mei Mei was so wet she could have slid her whole fist into her cunt. As it was, pushing two fingers in was enough to cause general applause from the watching men.

Normally Ruth doesn’t involve me in her promiscuous adventures, but she always tells me about them. She wants me to know the lengths that she goes to to find satisfaction.

Ruth has a set routine. Whenever she gets really horny she goes to the club and fucks. Then she comes back and tells me all about it. She makes me sit in the living room with the palms of my hands on the arm of the chair. If I move my hands she will walk out of the room and not tell me anything more. If I stay still, she will talk me through every detail, all the while coaxing my cock to get harder and harder. Then she’ll let me be her last fuck of the day.


For “Best New Erotica 4” Maxim took “American Holidays”. This is the longest piece I’ve ever had published and at 21,328 words I was surprised that Maxim had room for it but it turned out to be a good decision as the piece received positive reviews.

“American Holidays” is a novella about a group of characters who are all connected. Over the course of Memorial Day, Independence Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, each character gets to tell their story.

This piece came about because Susannah Indigo at Clean Sheets offered me the chance to write a series, with each story appearing on Clean Sheets at the appropriate time of year.

I like the piece because it’s written in the first person with each section being a different person (something creative writing classes constantly tell you not to do) and because each story has to complete, connected to the others and relevant to the holiday it’s named after. For me, the best thing about the story was having the space to get to know the characters as people and having the pressure to give them each a distinctive voice. Here’s the opening to “Thanksgiving” the final section of “American Holidays”. It’s told from Helen’s point of view. She is a Femdom, happily married to Peter. The story takes place at her mother’s house on Thanksgiving. I loved the opportunity to think through what it would be like for a D/s couple to spend the night at the Dominatrix’s childhood home. Is a Domme still a Domme to her parents? Here’s how it starts.

“You want me to sleep here?

“Well this is where you slept when you lived here, Helen. Why should it change now? I thought you’d be pleased to have your old room back.”

I try to read my mother’s face. She must being doing this deliberately. And she must know that I can see what she is doing. But she still has that innocent, not-quite-connected-to-planet-earth look that she uses to avoid any minor questions about her decisions that my father might be rash enough to voice.

I stare in disbelief at the single bed that I slept in as a child. It’s a very narrow single bed.

“I know that you prefer to ignore the fact that Peter and I are married mother, but he is my husband and I expect to have him in my bed. We can’t sleep here.”

“Really, Helen, I have no idea where you get these impressions from. I have no opinion about Peter. As I said at the time, who you chose to marry was up to you.”

What she’d said at the time was “Are you sure you want to marry Paul, dear? He’s such a bland man. I can see the advantage of having someone manageable but marriage needs a little spice if it’s to last. I’ve always preferred to wake up to Huevos Rancheros, the problem with Paul is that he’s just so… oatmeal.”

I‘d stood there, with my hands balled into fists and my jaw clenched, trying to quell the desire to hit her.

“His name is Peter, mother,” I’d spat out.

“You see, dear, not even his name is memorable. Ah well. It is your decision of course.”

Now, seven years later, I find myself having to bite back my anger one more time. My mother is talking. I’m trying not to strangle her.

“I didn’t think that you and Peter would mind being separated for one night. I’ve given him the fold-down bed in your father’s den. He’ll be perfectly comfortable. I had to give the guest bedroom to Troy and Dianna; after all they have the baby to think of.”

The baby. Of course we should be thinking about the baby. My younger brother (what kind of mother calls their kids Helen and Troy?) produced a grandchild right off the bat. I of course committed the sin of putting my career ahead of my duty to deliver grandchildren, although even that became Peter’s fault in my mother’s mind. “If Peter has a problem dear, I can recommend an excellent clinic.” My mother had left that helpful tip on our answerphone in the second year of my marriage. Peter played it back to me when I got home from work.

I don’t resent the fact that Troy and Dianna got the big bed. I resent the implication that Peter is so bland that I won’t even notice his absence.

“I want him here with me, mother.”

Even I can hear how petulant I sound.

“Well if it’s that important to you, dear. I’ll ask your father to move the fold-down bed in here. I’m sure he won’t mind. Although of course he has only just set everything up the den. But then your father always makes sure that his little Helen gets what she wants, doesn’t he?”

I don’t believe it. She is still

“There won’t be a lot of room in here. You’ll have to fold up the bed before you can open the door. But, if that’s what you want…”

Oh God. It is always like this. A constant trickle of words that erode my will. I either have to get angry or to shut down and give in. Giving in is easier. If I push her now, the topic will come up at dinner. And again in the morning. And in the next time we come to the house. If there is a next time.

“Never mind, mother. Peter can stay where he is. Let’s just concentrate on getting dinner ready.”

“Well, if you’re sure, dear.”

How did this woman live so long?

“You look tense, Helen. Why don’t you take a moment to freshen up? Dianna is changing the baby in the bathroom but you can use the en suite in the master bedroom. I’ll be in the kitchen when you’re ready.”

And then she is gone. The relief is physical, like when your ears pop at altitude.

For “Best New Erotica 5”, Maxim went with comedy, picking “I want to watch you do it”, which later became the opening story in my “Writing Naked” short story collection. This is a lightweight tale meant to amuse as much as to arouse. I like the story because I managed to use dialogue to keep the past fast and to deliver one liners. It’s quite liberating to get away from the burden of descriptive prose

Here’s the first 500 or so words:

"I want to watch you do it."

We've been kissing; really kissing. My eyes are still closed and my mouth is wide open when Karen pulls away to make her bizarre statement.

"Do what?" I say, trying unsuccessfully to pull her back into my arms.

"I want to watch you masturbate."

"What? No. I mean, why?"

"You need a reason? I thought you did it several times a day." Karen places her hands on her hips and holds her head to one side in that way she does when she wants me to know that I'm being difficult.

"I do not. Well, not several times. Once or twice maybe. When I'm by myself."

Karen looks unconvinced.

"What do you think about when you do it?" she asks.

"I don't know. Coming, mostly." I'm feeling foolish and confused now.

"I think about being fucked," she says, "with my hands tied above my head in the centre of a Moorish harem." She holds her hands up and sways slightly at the hips. "With the Sultan taking his pleasure while his other wives stroke themselves from sheer excitement."

I try to grab her hips but she twists away, falling back on to the sofa, legs spread wide.

"Or I imagine I'm on stage," she says, "men and women lining up to lick me to orgasm. It's a charity Lickathon, televised around the world."

Her hips thrust forward and her head rolls from side to side on the cushion. I stand between her legs and she sits up. This girl has very strong stomach muscles. Her face is just in front of my fly and I want desperately to be in her mouth.

"Are you sure you don't want to masturbate? You look as if you need to."

She's laughing at me, the cow. But my cock never gives up and I hear myself asking, "Couldn't we just fuck? You've made me as hot as hell."

She sits back on the sofa and folds her arms. "No. I want to watch you do it."

"But why?"

"I want to know if you look the same."


"You know, whether you still get that 'I've-been-constipated-for-so-long-but-it-will-soon-be-over' look."

"Bloody hell." If I was a real man, I'd leave right now.

"Don't take offence. I'm just curious." She makes that sound so reasonable. Like it's something every woman has to find out eventually.

"Look, I'll strip if it will help," she says and starts to unbutton her blouse. I'm still thinking about sulking until she reaches the third button. She has beautiful breasts.

She looks up from under her fringe, her hands frozen on the fourth button, and says. "Wouldn't you like to stand over me while you do it? Hmmm?"

"What if I knelt?" She slides to the floor in front of me. "And touched myself like this?" she says rubbing one prominent nipple with her thumb.

"Fuck," I say. I'm so eloquent at these moments.

"No, wank. Come on, you'll enjoy it."

For “Best New Erotica 6” I sent Maxim a list with some serious stories in it: Writing Nakedwhich won the Rauxa Prize for erotic writing for 2005; Nadica” a short, edgy, tale about making choices; “Burger Queen” about sex from the point of view of an obsessed sociopath and a comedy piece called “It may not be art, Darling, but it pays the bills” an insider’s view of the making of a grunge porn movie.

Almost as an afterthought I sent a strange little story called “Eve’s Freedom”. This is one of the few stories I’ve ever sent directly to Clean Sheets without going through the writers list on ERWA first. Maxim decided it was the one he wanted. There’s much less explicit sex in this story but the idea is quite powerful. It was originally going to be a comedy piece, based on the Encounter Groups that were so popular once upon a time, with the title “Wankers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your inhibitions” but once I started to write, Eve got into my head and the story become about how love, even when unrequited, can free you.

Here’s the opening of “Eve’s Freedom”. It uses a lecture device that I enjoy. After this opening we get inside Eve’s head and discover what she does to make herself free.

Wanker. Jerk-off. Tosser.”

With each word, Zach points aggressively at one of the people in the circle around him. Even I, who have seen this performance many times before, would flinch if that finger were pointed at me.

“These are all terms of abuse. Terms for abusers.”

Zach’s rich, deep voice loads the word “abusers” with such a burden of shame and guilt that some of those in the circle will not meet his eyes. One of the older women, the kind of woman I know Zach prefers, blushes until her pale skin almost matches her auburn hair.

“And yet, we all do it. Every one of us masturbates.”

Zach’s hands are open now; his arms are outstretched as he turns slowly to include the whole circle in that “we”. And surely if he, Zach, a man so beautiful, a man with such an electric sexual presence, a man that we all secretly want to be touched by, masturbates, then it must be OK. Mustn’t it?

“So why is something that we all do…” he paces the circle, trailing the question with him.

“That we all enjoy…” People are starting to smile.

He pauses, as I knew he would, in front of the auburn-haired-blusher; squats with graceful ease, looks into her face and says. “Something that some of us enjoy a great deal…”

She blushes again, but she is smiling now and making eye contact with Zach and we can see she would like a great deal more contact than that.

There is a moment of tension when we all wonder if he will touch her, when we all want him to touch her, when it seems that touching her is the only natural thing to do, and then, with a smile that is almost a caress, Zach stands and resumes pacing.

Zach’s motion, his interaction, his potential have charged the air with sex. Into this atmosphere he launches his loaded question:

“So why does this activity, this little bit of finger fun, get so much abuse?”

Some people are smiling at the word play, but no one laughs. Zach’s body language makes it clear that this is not a time for laughter.

“I will give you the answer in one word: FEAR.”

Zach cuts across the circle in diagonals, keeping the momentum, underlining his point, reeling us in for the argument that will make us special.

“History teaches us that society uses terms of abuse to suppress that which it fears. And what it fears most are those truths that set us free.

I am a wanker.” Zach says, pointing at himself.

“You are a wanker.” The young man Zach points at winces, as if Zach had jabbed him with a stick.

“And you are a wanker.” Zach points quickly at a woman on the other side of the group.

“And you are a wanker.” This time Zach twists around as he makes the statement, and points at the first person he sees.

Zach smiles and spreads his arms. “We are all wankers. And we should be proud and yes, even grateful, that we are wankers. Wanking will set us free. And that freedom, that willingness to take our pleasure into our own hands, that refusal to be ground down by guilt and shame and the expectations of others. That freedom is what makes us frightening.”

The group stumbles over the turbulence created by this idea. A gaunt grey-haired man, the oldest in the circle, lets out an involuntary snort of surprise which he stifles when he feels Zach’s gaze upon him.

“I can see that not all of you believe me.” Zach says, walking slowly towards the man. “But in your hearts…” His voice drops and he seems to be speaking only to the man in front of him “In your heart, I know that you want to believe me.”

The room is completely silent. The mood of the group balances on a knife-edge between ridicule and acceptance. How the man reacts to Zach will colour everything that follows.

“It is your desire to believe, your need to be free, your dissatisfaction with a life filled with half-truths, that has brought you here.”

As Zach says this he touches the man on the wrist. It is not a sexual act but it is an emotional one: a blessing, a gesture of acceptance, maybe even of forgiveness. The old man nods his head, the knife blade twists and we all tumble towards belief.

Zach moves back to the centre of the circle, ready to catch us as we fall. Everyone is looking at him. He looks at me. I wait until the first heads start to turn, then I walk towards him.

So this year I sent Maxim my list:

“Brave enough to cry?” is a story sex and war and rock and roll. It appeared on Erotic Readers and Writers Association in April 2006. Word count 6,295

Up in the morning” was published in “Cream: the best of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association” Edited by Lisabet Sarai in 2006. It’s about an older married man who still wakes each morning with an erection and the choices he makes in dealing with it. Word count 2,259

Postcards” Is the story of how a couple fuels their passion during enforced absence.

It was published in “Aqua Erotica 2” edited by Megan Worman in 2006. Word count 2,357

The Last Taboo” Fat Frank loves fucking his wife but it would be bad form to admit this to ‘The Lads.’ Appeared on Erotic Readers and Writers Association in April 2006 and is now in the Treasure Chest. Word Count 1,249

“Hand Jobs” This is a monologue about a man who likes getting hand jobs from whores. Appeared on the Erotic Readers and Writers Association in August 2006 and is now in the Treasure Chest, Word count 1,427

To my surprise, Maxim picked the “Hand Jobs” which is both the shortest piece I sent him and the least conventional in style.

I re-read the piece to see if I could figure out what made it attractive to him.

It is a monologue given by an ordinary man in his sixties from the North of England who has always needed sex and has always dealt with that need with a quiet dignity.

What distinguishes the story is that, although the monologue is all about his sexual experiences, at the end of this short piece you feel as if you know a lot more about this man than how he likes to get off.

Maxim’s willingness to select this kind of story is one of the things that makes him such a successful editor.

These are turbulent times in the publishing business and the house that publishes the Mammoth series has just changed hands. I hope that the new owners recognise the strength Maxim brings to the table and give him the scope to continue to edit anthologies that stimulate and surprise.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Praise for “The Dresden Files” and a Discovery About American Paperback Book Design

I’ve just discovered “The Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher and now I have a new writer to admire to the point of envy.

Last time I was in the US, I saw one of the Dresden books being promoted at Barnes and Noble but they only had book eight and I’m one of those folks who just HAS to start at book one. So, a few months later, I finally get around to ordering first two in the series “Storm Front” and “Fool Moon” from Amazon. I read them back to back and enjoyed every page.

Harry Dresden is the only publicly practicing Wizard in Chicago. He works alongside the Special Investigations Unit of the Chicago Police Department to deal with all the super-natural nastiness that no-one wants to admit exists. He lives alone, he has a dark past, he wears a black duster coat, a cowboy hat, boots and jeans (sadly this is an accurate description of my winter wardrobe – what can I tell you – it keeps the rain off) and he has trouble with authority figures and likes to be chivalrous with women, even one’s who’d rip his arm off if they even thought he was trying to protect them..

Put like that this sounds like pulp-fiction – clichéd to the level of a Hollywood “treatment” – think “The Long Goodbye” meets “Tales From the Crypt” with a touch of Spaghetti Western thrown in. Hey, it would have more going for it than “Resident Evil 3”.

But the wonderful thing about these books is that they are genuinely surprising and original. Every monster has a new twist. Every plot is more complicated than it seems. Then you realize that the books are linked and that the whole thing is thought through and that Harry Dresden is much more than a macho magician with a penchant for coats with mantles – he has ethics and weaknesses and he changes as the books go by.

I gulped down the first book like an ice-cold beer on a too-hot day, When I caught my breathe and said “wow” a few times, I put my reader persona to one side and asked myself the writerly question: “How did he do that?”, swiftly followed by “How could I do that?”

The immediacy and emotional impact of the books come from the fact that they are told in the first person. I love writing in the first person and I lost count of the number of times that I’ve been told that although that might work for short stories, it’s not viable for novels. What Butcher shows is that it’s viable for a novel IF YOU’RE GOOD AT IT.

Butcher’s books move along at a fast pace. He is a master a short chapters – eight to twelve pages – each of which starts with a hook and ends with cliffhanger or a punch-line – which may be one reason that he can continue to use the first person. This means that you get straight in to every chapter and you’re always keen to reach the next one.

Plot is central to these books. Each book sets out a problem for Harry to solve and Butcher walks the tightrope of maintaining suspense while providing the reader with all the information necessary to solve the problem. Butcher keeps the promises his opening chapters make to the reader and each book ends with a resolution – of course, in line with the structure of the chapters, each of the first two books has ended by setting up a sequel.

But the most important thing is that Butcher has rethought the mythos without violate or belittling it. He’s taken a cliché and made it into some new and fresh.

Of course, reading a book is a physical as well as an intellectual exercise. I carry books with me everywhere and read them when I dine alone on restaurants, or when my dog and I complete the morning walk with café and croissant at the local patisserie. I like the physicality of books, the weight of them in my hand, the smell when they are new, the texture of the paper in my hands. These days I sometimes indulge myself with hardback versions of books by authors that I HAVE to read RIGHT NOW, like Terry Pratchett or Ben Elton but mostly I buy paperbacks and most of them are from the UK (I live in Switzerland). I read a lot of science fiction and I’ve never liked the garish covers that American publishers use.

With the Dresden books I made an exception. I preferred the covers on the American books – they seem more in keeping with the content of the books than the arty English versions that seemed more obsessed with the concept of files as stationery than they were with Dresden as a Wizard (copy the two covers for book one and you’ll see what I mean).

So I decided to put up with the smaller size and the crappy typeface they chose. And I made an interesting discovery – one morning I was putting on my duster and my hat to walk the dog through the rain to the patisserie, and trying to figure out where to put my copy of “Fool Moon” when I realized that American paperbacks are designed to fit in the back pocket of your jeans.

How cool is that?

I think Lee Cooper should start an ad campaign with women looking intently at the jean-clad ass of a cool look guy. He thinks they’re checking out his clenched curves but actually their trying to read the title of the novel in his pocket.

Another thing that makes it cool is that, in French (which is what they speak around here) a paperback is called a Roman Poche, literally a Pocket Novel – now I know why.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Disgraceful conduct by a Colombia University Professor

Yesterday I watched the live broadcast of a speech that the Iranian President had been invited to give at Colombia University.

At least that's what I tuned in to watch.

What I got was a long verbal assault on the President by a Colombia professor who was supposed to be doing an introduction.

He was rude, inaccurate, cowardly, and did a great disservice to his university and to the good name of American hospitality.

If you think a man is vile, you have every right to say so, but if you invite him as your guest then you should treat him (and the rest of us) with respect. If you can’t do that, then you should be honorable enough not to accept the task of introducing your guest.

For the most part, this professor's actions backfired.

The Iranian President (a man I approached with deep suspicion) came across as reasonable and honorable by comparison to the Professor, who sounded like one of those communist apparatchiks that used to disparage democracy and defend communism.

Can you imagine President Bush trying to cope with similar treatment if he had been invited to address the students at Oxford or perhaps Tehran?

The professor's introduction also colored my response to the questions asked to the President. It is fair enough to ask questions that put a President on the spot but it seemed to me that these questions showed a lack of self-awareness by the (American) students asking them. The questions were valid enough but the implied context was “How can you do this? Why aren’t you like us?” when perhaps the problem is that there are too many similarities between America and Iran.

The President was asked about why he is developing nuclear power, as if such a thing was outrageous, yet America is the only nation ever to have used nuclear weapons and leads the world in their development.

He was asked why he supports terrorists, yet America has long fought proxy wars by sponsoring terrorists including terrorists who have attacked Iran. Without the American people the terrorists in Northern Ireland would have been much less well funded.

He was asked why women are not accorded equal rights with men, yet America has an astonishingly high rate of violence against women and has consistently refused to amend the constitution to grant women equal rights.

He was asked why homosexuals are victimized in Iran. He replied that there are no homosexuals in Iran. This is an answer the Christian Right in America hold dear in their hearts. An answer like that could make be enough to get a man elected to the Senate.

The most interesting question was - why did he want to go to the site of the WTC. He explained that he wanted to pay his respects and looked puzzled that this needed any explanation.

But then the whole event showed that, at least in Columbia University, respect is a concept that is not understood.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Writing beyond what you know – telling old truths in new ways

In art classes, students are often asked to draw the naked human form. The fact that the body is naked makes it a greater challenge than if it were clothed. Clothes are easier to draw and they set the body in a social context: social status, period, personal taste. Clothes would have allowed the students short-hand ways of sending a message via their painting.

The naked body is difficult to draw. We are programmed quickly to spot oddities in the human shape so the artist has take care to get the proportions of the body right or we will be distracted or unconvinced. The artist also needs to decide on what they are doing with this naked body: making a photo-accurate copy? Trying to capture the spirit of the sitter? Drawing attention to particular attributes of the body itself? Making the body into a more abstract statement, a thing of shadow and light that starts from the human form but reaches outwards towards something more spiritual?

I think that, for those of us who are trying to learn to write, the equivalent challenge to drawing the human nude is to write beyond what we know. By doing this, we remove the props that produce easy prose – local colour, stereotypical characters, well established conventions for interaction that we can present without having to analyse.

For those of us who are trying to learn to write erotica, this challenge becomes the challenge to write beyond our own erotic experience. This might be done by writing from a different gender or by writing about a sexual orientation other than your own or by writing about a fetish or kink that you have no experience of.

I’m going to focus on writing about the relationship between dominants and submissives but what I’m about to say could equally apply to any sexual demographic: gay, lesbian, bi, old, age-gap, plushy, necrophile, dog-lover etc.

The first step in this exercise is to put superficial realism to one-side. No one lives life the way it is in books. Books describe only those things in a life that are of use to the story, yet most of us stagger through our days besieged by details and much of the time we only understand what the storyline was after the event. That's why books are so much better than life. It's also why reading (and writing) is ultimately less important than living.

So your task as a writer is to pull out those things in the Dom/sub relationship that make it what it is, to help your readers to identify with that world, to make your characters unique and human and credible, and yet keep the focus on the act(s) of dominance and submission that are the launch-pad for the story.

How do you do this when you have no personal experience of the Dom/sub scene?

Some writers might do this via research. But this is like dressing the nude before you write about it – it doesn’t really help you to get closer to the inner truth of the story.

I suggest that you start with questions that will help you apply your imagination to understanding and conveying what you see when you look at the nude in front of you. Try the following:

Why do Doms behave the way they do in the Dom/sub relationship?

How much control do they have?

How much does being a Dom define who they are?

How successful (or unsuccessful) are they in integrating this into the rest of their lives?

What was their first time like?

What is sex like now?

What is it in this behaviour set that is absolutely essential to satisfying the motivation that drives them to the behaviour?

How has that changed over time and why?

What do they look for in a partner and why?

How do they find it?

What makes them ashamed or afraid?

What would they decline to do?

What makes them proud?

What makes them feel more complete?

Are sex and love cohabitants in this person's life or do they have different addresses?

As you play with these questions and the answers they produce, reach into yourself. Make the story about you even if it is not about your actual experience.

Start of by telling a story about your first time in a Dom/sub relationship. Given that you personally have not spent much time tying someone up and hitting, flogging, pinching, biting, twisting, and waxing them until they cry with pleasure and relief starting at the beginning makes our task easier.

Imagine you've found a woman who you know wants you to be dominant when you have sex. What is the Dom’s reaction?

If he has to stretch his to figure out what is required of him then he’s not going to be a convincing Dom. He is trying to be something he’s not in order to please his lover. This is almost certainly doomed to failure – like most passions, this one is hard to fake. So the challenge of the story will be the gap between will and performance, desire and intent, and the extent to which the participants in the relationship will acknowledge that it and they are failing.

If, on the other hand, the woman’s desire to submit awakens a hidden or suppresses desire or one that has been surfacing for some time but remained unnamed and un-acted upon then how the does the would-be Dom feel? He might feel gleeful and afraid at the same time. It doesn’t matter that fear isn't part of the porno paint-by-numbers BDSM story play book. What matters is whether his anxiety resonates with you and your readers and whether it helps to move the story forward.

So how does our novice Dom get started?

She's waiting. He ties her up because he knows she wants that and because it is expected but he immediately understands that this is a preliminary not the act itself. What urge surfaces in his mind then? What is the thing that he is going to do that he wouldn’t normally let himself do? Hit her? Fist her? Force something into her? Slap her with his cock?

And how does it feel FINALLY to let yourself do that?

What have you learned about yourself?

What have you learned about her?

And what if she liked it and you didn't? Or you did and she didn't?

And so on and so on

The purpose of these questions is to explore the emotional reality of a sexual act.

Graphic, hard-core sexual images are used in erotica for quick warmth, to light the fuse of the story. Emotional realism is what gets beneath the skin of the reader and stays in the mind after the initial heat has subsided.

II recommend the BDSM section of the Treasure Chest of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association as a source for Dom/sub stories that have this kind of emotional realism.

Check it out and see which stories resonate and then ask yourself:

Why do they resonate? Because they sound real? Because you'd like them to be real? Because the confluence of restraint and release, desire and fear, dominance and submission, pain and pleasure captures the existential defiance inherent in a sexual act that, for a while at least, stems the entropic tide of universal decay? Or because it gets you from hard to soft in the shortest possible time?

What are the writers paying attention to? The mechanics of this toy and that knot? The gynecological detail? The taboos being broken? The slap of leather on Willow (or whatever her name is)? The nature of the relationship between D and s?

In one way or another, most of these writers are trying to get beyond threadbare formulas and pantomime characters to an emotional reality that drives the behaviour of the people in their stories.

And therein lies the challenge of writing beyond what you know: the opportunity to tell old truths in new ways.

Writing beyond what you know lets you step out of your skin and into someone-else’s.

If you can do that successfully, then there is a strong likelihood that your readers can follow your footsteps.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gog, Magog and President Bush – how Europe sees American fundamentalism

This picture of President Bush (extended to show the hands of the President and the solider behind him folded in prayer) appeared today in “Le Matin Dimanche” (A French language Swiss Sunday paper)

To understand the impact of the picture, you have to bear in mind that Europe is a much more secular place than the US. To give an example, it is illegal in France to wear anything at school that indicates religious affiliation, be it a Christian cross or a Muslim headscarf.

You would never see a European President praying with the troops (although you will see them with heads bowed on 11th November, the day that commemorates the end of World War I). The Europeans do not have Christian armies. They do not assume that God is one their side.

So this picture of the Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces and Head of State, at prayer with Christian troops on the soil of a largely Muslim (though under Saddam a secular) State, was chosen for its shock value. It is meant to portray Bush as leading the US in a Holy War against Islam

I was ready to write that off to French xenophobia and move on when the title of the article caught my eye: “When President George W. bush saw the prophesies of the Bible coming to pass” is a rough translation from the French. The full article is available in French here.

The article arises from Professor Thomas Römer of Lausanne University. In 2003 he received a call from the staff of Jacque Chirac, then the French President, asking for information on Biblical prophecies associated with Gog and Magog. It seems that, when President Bush called President Chirac to ask for his support in invading Iraq, he positioned this initiative in the context of being on the right side in the long-prophesied war between Gog and Magog.

Those of you who have not read Ezekiel 38 and 39 recently may need reminding, as Chirac clearly did, that the war between Gog and Magog will take place in Israel. God, of course, will be on the side of the Israelis. The (probably Muslim) enemies of Israel will be lead by the anti-Christ.

It seems President Bush sincerely felt that he could persuade President Chirac to be on the right side by portraying the events then unfolding in Iraq as the start of the Gog Magog war.

In this context, it is hardly surprising that Chircac felt that having America as an ally in a holy war, lead by a President who took his foreign policy from Biblical prophets wasn’t the right course for France, where only about 30% of people claim any sort of religious affiliation and many of those are Muslim.

If this situation were not so frightening, it would be funny. Can you imaging the Chief of Staff meeting where the General and Admirals, and Commanders are asking “So tell me again, are we Gog or Magog and which one has the weapons of mass destruction?”

The pop charts in Switzerland are based on air-play time. The number 2 song in the charts is Pink’s “Dear Mr. President”. If you’re not familiar with the lyrics go here.

It worries me that American politicians, including those now standing for election, have no understanding of how they are characterised in Europe, which increasingly finds itself in the middle between two sets of heavily armed religious fundamentalists, the Muslims and the Jews to the East and the American Christians in the West.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Moving on - reading, watching and a little writing

First I’d like to thank Amanda, Nicki, Jane and Anonymous for their encouragement after my last post. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether anyone reads what I write here or whether it’s just a means of me hearing my own thoughts. It’s cheering to get such positive comments.

I’m still reading a lot – I’m on the last few chapters of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” which I’m enjoying immensely but am reluctant to finish– and I’ve been watching some interesting movies. The one I was most impressed with was “A Love Song for Bobby Long” based on the book “Off Magazine Street” by Ronald Everett Capps. The movies stars John Travolta as a larger then life, ex-academic currently drinking himself to death in New Orleans with his best buddy and former student Gabriel Macht, until their lives are changed by the arrival of Scarlett Johansson. All of them give remarkable performances that are displayed to perfection by the skill of the director. I fell in love with the movie and I’ve ordered the book.

The reading and the movies got me thinking and I’ve started another story, a follow on from a piece I did a while back called “It may not be art, darling, but it pays the bills” which sits in the Treasure Chest at ERWA. It was about an English ex-RADA (Royal Academy for the Dramatic Arts) student making a grunge porn movie. It was a humorous, dick-in-cheek piece that debunked porn. At the end of the story, our heroine, who has a strong preference for women, despite the hetero scene she’s just been through, takes solace in the fact that her next movie is a lesbian piece. It was a throw-away line at the time but recently I’ve been wondering what the lesbian piece was and whether the reality of it would have been as comfortable as her expectations of it. So now I have almost completed a story called “Licking Little Nell”. I’ll keep you posted when it’s done.

In the mean time, I thought you might be interested in seeing a recent flasher of mine called “Driftwood” and the first part of a longer series of stories called “In Jack’s Hands”. It hasn’t been posted or printed anywhere yet and may need some revision after the next parts are written. I’d love hear what you think of it.

"Driftwood" © Mike Kimera 2007

“Desire always outweighs the consequences,” he said

With neither shame, nor regret, nor pride

But a bone-deep certainty, as final as the grave.

Glad of the all-concealing darkness, I replied

With soft kisses, deft touches, and low sighs;

Perfume sprayed to hide the smell of rot and fear

Deepening the darkness, he covered me once more

His hard hot hunger filling me and consuming him

With flames that showed me only guilt-filled shadows

He peaked, I spasmed, our lust crashed onto the shore,

Then his sticky tide ebbed, beaching me like driftwood,

Hollowed-out, abandoned and praying for freedom from consequences

In Jack’s Hands

© 2005 Mike Kimera. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission from

Jack’s wife is younger than me. His “She’ll-be twenty-two-next-April”child-bride is almost young enough to be my daughter; certainly young enough to be his. I think about that sometimes when I’m alone in this bed that he pays for.

She’s his second wife of course; his first left him once their children were grown. She’d left his bed long before that. Perhaps she’d sensed my presence there, like perfumed sweat on the sheets. She is the kind of woman who would rather starve than share a plate.

It had amused me at first, when he’d taken me to their bed, then taken me on it, riding me with my legs spread wide and my ankles held high, not so much screwing me as nailing me to the bed, making me cry out with every swing of his hammer.

Back then I’d assumed my youthful form was the source of his vigour. Now, when I remember how, leaning over me, soaked with sweat and pink with effort, he closed his eyes just before he came; I wonder who he imagined spilling into, me or his wife?

It’s not in Jack’s nature to be faithful. He’s a strong, slightly selfish man who takes what he wants and expects the rest of us to do the same.

He took me the first time that we met, ten years ago.

I was twenty five, had just moved to London after a lifetime in the frozen North and was determined to enjoy myself in the big bad city. I had a good body, a great smile and a very sexy little black dress that would get me in to almost anywhere.

That evening my dress and I were at a cocktail party in an expensive gallery in South Kensington. I’d come because I knew there’d be free champagne and rich young men, not all of whom could be gay. To my surprise the art turned out to be more interesting than the men: large bronze figures of naked women. These were not the fantasy nymphs of mass-produced, middle-class, middle-brow, masturbation-art, but real women with imperfect bodies naturally posed, that I thought were intensely sensual.

I found myself walking around the figure of a slightly heavy woman who was lying on her side. She had that just-come look. Everything from the trace of a smile beneath her closed eyes, through to the way her top leg lay slightly in front of the other, told me that she was resting in post-orgasmic warmth, though whether from her own fingers, that rested on her soft belly just below her hips, or through a good fucking, I couldn’t say. How she got to her afterglow didn’t matter. This piece was about how she felt when she arrived and the answer was very clear: entitled to be there.

Without thinking about it, I reached out to stroke the smooth line of her thigh, half expecting to feel warm skin beneath my fingers. I’d just reached her hip bone when someone very close behind me said: “I could never resist touching her either.”

I whirled around, hiding my hands behind me and blushing as if I’d been caught shop lifting.

I recognized Jack at once. His picture had been in the entrance to the show, above a sign saying “Jack Cavanaugh: Artist”. The head and shoulders shot had captured the strength of his forty-something face but it hadn’t shown how big he was up close. He was a foot taller than me and with shoulders so wide that I couldn’t see beyond him to the room full of people. It felt like there was just me and him and the naked woman behind us. I should have taken that for an omen.

“The eyes lie,” Jack said.

I felt his eyes roam over me like a skilful tongue, from my thighs, up my belly, lingering for a second on the free motion of my breasts, along the smooth length of my neck and finally up to my mouth. It seemed to me that I was already naked in front of him. It had been a while since I’d been naked in front of anyone. My body was telling me that I liked the idea.

“But touch always tells the truth.”

Jack took a step towards me, bringing him so close now that I could smell him: an alcohol top-note and a hint of Bulgari over a strong base of warm male. It was a scent that made me want to inhale deeply.

The lust in his eyes excited me and I tilted my head up, waiting for the first kiss. I didn’t know then that Jack never does the predictable thing.

He leant forward but instead of kissing me he took hold of my wrist and placed my hand back on the hip of the bronze. “Her name is Angie,” he said, “and she likes to be touched.”

Jack put his large hand over mine and traced the curve of Angie’s belly up to the fullness of her breast. In the process he turned me around so that I was facing her and he was pressed up against my back.

I knew I should say something but I had no words. All my concentration was on the surface of my skin: my fingertips on the cold bronze nipple, Jack’s hard hand on mine, the heat of him behind me. No words passed my lips but my whole body was broadcasting, “Fuck me. Please.”

Jack pushed forward, pressing his chest against my back. I shivered and pushed back into him.

“Close your eyes,” Jack said, “let your fingers tell you all you need to know.”

I cupped the bronze breast gently, imagining the weight of it in real life. Jack placed his other hand on my ribs, just below my breasts. It felt as if he was burning me but I wanted to move towards the fire, not away from it.

“Feel the how her breast fills your hand. Imagine it heavy, firm, hot and responsive. Run your thumb over the nipple and feel her shudder with pleasure.” With Jack’s hand on mine I could almost believe that the warmth came from the bronze beneath me. I’d never wanted to touch a woman but I found that I liked the idea of Jack making me caress Angie.

“I like my hands to know a woman before I sculpt her,” Jack said, sliding his hand over my breast and cupping it. “My hands tell me the truth about who she is and what she wants.”

To my acute embarrassment, when Jack’s thumb grazed my lightly clad nipple, I groaned with pleasure.

It was, I think, the signal Jack had been waiting for.

“Don’t let go of Angie,” he said “and try not to make too much noise.”

Jack wrapped his arm around my chest, squeezing me until it was hard for me to breathe. I could feel his erection, hard and hot, against my arse. I parted my legs in anticipation.

I was in a public place with a man who hadn’t even asked me my name and yet I was ready to bend over and let him fuck me in any hole he could reach. It was insane and intoxicating and out of my control. My legs were tensed, my eyes were closed. I was waiting impatiently for him to fuck me.

Of course Jack didn’t fuck me; he was too controlling for that. He fed my hunger rather than sating it.

Taking his hand off mine he slid it gracefully up my thigh, under my short dress, over my hipbone and then down between my legs. When he closed his wide hand over my cunt it felt like he was claiming territory.

Pushing upwards, Jack lifted me up onto tiptoe, pressing me into his erection, bending me closer to Angie. I waited for his strong fingers to force their way into me, wondering if they’d hurt and if I’d care but he didn’t enter me.

He didn’t even move my panties aside. He massaged me through them, working my labia and clit with a skill that had me breathless in seconds and made me come in less than a minute. Then he let go and stepped away from me.

I slumped against the bronze, my head almost resting on Angie’s ample arse, waiting for him to continue. Looking behind me in what I hoped to e a provocative way, I saw Jack, smiling and holding his fingers to his nose.

“I’d like to do you,” Jack said calmly, making no move towards me “You’d make a fine bronze.”

I couldn’t believe Jack’s arrogance. He had my juice on his fingers and he was talking to me as if we were having a coffee. I pushed myself upright, one hand on Angie’s thigh and moved towards him.

“Perhaps, I could persuade Angie to pose with you. You look so suited to one another.”

That’s when I tried to slap him.

I’d never hit a man before. I’d never hit anyone. But he’d made me so angry that I wanted to smash his smug bastard face so that he could never smile again.

I put all my strength behind the blow. He caught my wrist in midair and held it tight. He was still smiling so I let fly with other hand. He caught that one as well. Then with great speed and apparent ease, he forced both hands down and held them at the small of my back.


My words were stifled by his kiss.

I should have bitten him or kicked him or both, God knows he deserved it, except I was too busy discovering how much I liked being held totally helpless by a large, powerful man who kissed me as if it was his right.

My eyes were closed when I heard that distinctive upper-class throat-clearing sound that expresses disapproval and mild irritation without requiring words to be wasted.

A tall thin man stood behind Jack. He was in his thirties, casually dressed but with a “groomed by others since birth” finish that spoke of breeding and not just wealth.

Jack let go of my hands but did not move away from me.

“The Culture Vultures are waiting to be fed. These people are too well-educated to touch a sculpture. They wait for someone to explain it to them so that can tell their friends why buying my work cost them so much money.”

Jack stepped away from me and turned towards the tall man.

“Campion, give this woman the address of my studio and set up an appointment for a session when the dragon lady is away.”

Jack moved towards the crowd that was waiting to hear him speak. Without looking back he said “Oh and Campion, find out her name for me.” Then he was gone.

“You can take your hands from behind your back now.” Campion said.

Although Jack had released me, I was still standing as if bound. I refused to let myself be embarrassed. I held out my hand towards Campion and said “My name is Tracey Muir.”

Campion shook my hand briefly but politely. His skin was soft and dry. His face was carefully neutral.

“This is Jack’s address, Ms Muir,” Campion said handing me a card. “You can have your session with him any time from Wednesday noon onwards. If you call that number, we’ll send a car for you.”

Campion started to turn away from me to follow Jack. I wasn’t ready to be dismissed. Some of the anger I should have directed a Jack splashed onto Campion instead.

“Are you always, Jack’s pimp, Campion?”

He turned to face me, looking at me properly for the first time. He smiled.

“I see Jack has found a brave one. Jack can sense bravery from fifty paces. The only thing I always am, Ms Muir, is Jack’s brother. In anycase, I believe the role you were casting me in was panderer rather than pimp.”

He stepped towards me, moving close enough so the he could speak without the possibility of being overheard. I wanted to step back but I didn’t want to look weak so I stayed put.

“Jack will be forty next week. You are somewhere in your twenties I would guess. Jack has been married for most of your life. His oldest child has just gone up to Oxford. You wear no wedding ring. Jack is a selfish, domineering, intensely passionate man who eats young women before breakfast. You need to decide who you want to be before Jack casts you in bronze. And now, like a good brother, I must join the crowd in time to applaud Jack for being Jack.”

He left before I could think of anything to say beyond “Fuck you” which was in danger of sounding like an offer in the circumstances.

That night I lay in bed, thinking over the encounter. So Jack was a married man who ate young girls before breakfast. It sounded like a good way to work up an appetite to me. Besides, the idea of fucking a married man had a certain illicit thrill to it. And it placed a limit. If he had a wife then things could never get too serious.

I didn’t want serious. Not then. Then I was twenty-five and he was a good story I would tell one day to shock my daughters. “I once bedded a sculptor you, know – very good with his hands. Even better without them.”

I decided to conclude my day with a reprise of Jack’s finger fuck. I rolled over onto my belly, closed my eyes and slid my hand into position trying to imagine Jack’s weight on top of me. Annoyingly I couldn’t get anywhere near the level of arousal that Jack had produced. My own hand felt more like Campion’s than Jack’s. An image popped into my head of me, naked, hands bound behind my back, sitting on Jack’s lap with my back to him and his cock up my arse and Campion standing in front of us, face carefully neutral, waiting to applaud Jack for being Jack. My arousal peaked and I fell asleep determined to visit Jack on Wednesday.