Back in 2010, I had thrown myself into sending material to new and different editors, and my next published story was another case. I knew and loved Kristina Wright as a writer, so when she published a call for erotic stories with fairy-tale themes for Cleis Press, I jumped at the chance. I don’t think there are many erotica writers who can resist fairy tales – from Bluebeard to Snow White, sexuality lurks just under the surface, as A.N. Roquelaure was quick to recognise in her Beauty series (one of the first erotic books I read).
Having chosen this winning theme, Kristina was inundated with wonderful work from writers at the top of the genre, so it was an honour to have my story Three Times included in the Fairy Tale Lust anthology.
It was a little bit kinky, a little bit tentacular, a little bit pansexual and a dream to write. I’m not sure the words have ever tumbled out quicker.
It sat alongside stories from Delilah Devlin, Andrea Dale, Craig Sorensen, Louisa Harte, Alegra Verde, Janine Ashbless, Shanna Germain, Allison Wonderland, Kristina Wright, Jeremy Edwards, Aurelia T Evans, Carol Hassler, Saskia Walker, Alana Noel Voth, Michelle Augello-Page, Charlotte Stein and A.D.R. Forte.
And what a dreamy cover…
Here’s how my story starts:
And so it was that a Proclamation went out across the land, from the river basin to the mountain villages, that whosoe’er should free the Princess from the shackles of vine would win her hand.
That day was a busy one in the Market Tavern, and Selina was rushed off her feet, running from barrel to bartop to table and back, trays of foaming beers held aloft in both hands so that all she could use to bat away the constant barracking and groping was her sharp tongue. Between bouts of flirtation, the likely lads of the town formulated foolproof plots to unbind the Princess from her obstinate tethers and claim her for their own.
“She is fair – she will look well in my bed.” General guffawing assailed Selina’s ears and she uttered a silent prayer that the unlucky Princess might find a more gallant rescuer than these thickset, foul-mouthed baboons.
“Can you imagine it – to make your fortune, and to fuck it too!”
“To fortune, and fucking!” The toast was proposed and the tankards clinked together, spilling foam into Selina’s cleavage as she passed. Fortune and fucking, she thought. The prospect of either was as remote as the Utopian Peninsula. She went to the back room to fetch the mop.
Princess Ellora had never looked so serene, so beautiful or so heartbreaking. Against the bark of the silver vine tree she stood, still as a statue, her arms arched gracefully above her head. Some of the tree’s pearlescent sheen had transferred to her skin, giving her an unearthly glow on those parts of her body that were unveiled; to the rest, a toga-like silken garment clung, outlining the teardrop shapes of her breasts and her lean young hips. She looked like an exotic dancer, caught and frozen in mid-slink, her lips parted and the dark almonds of her eyes held in an expression of melting desire. But for whom was the Princess feeling this eternal moment of exquisite lust? Her arms and legs were criss-crossed with winding vines and, although her dress protected some vestiges of her modesty, it was clear that the snakelike plants holding her in bondage were also performing a secondary task.
The King sighed as he pulled aside the gauzy material to apprise his Lord Chancellor of the full seriousness of his daughter’s plight.
“Good Heavens!” exclaimed the veteran politico. “Good…merciful…Heavens.”
And he had to retrieve his lorgnettes to make sure that he was seeing straight, for the vines slithered all the way up Ellora’s thighs, cutting into their white succulence, and then they passed between her labia to disappear inside her. Around her breasts they were also tied, then wound around her nipples before curving back past her hips. Pressed against the vine’s eerily phosporescent bark, Ellora’s buttocks were not visible, but it seemed fair to assume that the invasive plant was making its presence felt there as well.
“Does she…feel anything?” whispered the Lord Chancellor.
“I cannot tell. Her heart beats, and the blood still flows in her veins…but she has neither moved nor spoken since the vine claimed her.”
“What is this vine? I have seen nothing similar before.”
The King extended his hands, wringing them in frustration. “I do not know! Nobody knows! I have had all the botanists in the land examine it, but they cannot pinpoint its provenance. We know that it is unbreakable and poisonous to the touch. Ellora stumbled into the leaves and was instantly bound tight. We have tried knives, saws, even blowtorches – nothing seems to affect it.”
“And now you fall back on general competition? With the offer of Ellora’s hand as bait? Dear me, Your Majesty, there are laws governing a lady’s right to choose her own match now, you know. Could I advise a different reward? Some lands? A diadem or two?”
“A diadem or two won’t cut it,” snapped the King. “And besides, once some backwoods oaf has used his unexpectedly-magical axe to free my Princess, we can always…re-negotiate…”
“Re-negotiate, Your Majesty?”
“Fling him in gaol on a charge of assault or attempted murder or something.” The King shrugged. “Obviously I have no intention of tainting our bloodline.”
“Ah. I see.”
“Well, then. Let us waste no more time. Open the gates and admit the pretenders.”
Selina saw them all, a steady stream of dejected faces trooping into the Market Tavern and calling for ale, one after another after another.
“No luck?” she would ask sympathetically, and he would slam down his pocket knife or diamond cutter or shovel on the table and launch into his tale of failure.
(As an aside, the naming of the Princess reflected some thoughts I was having at the time about whether or not to sub to Ellora’s Cave. In the end I didn’t. Phew.)
A new story from me is available now in the Mischief anthology Submitting. I enjoyed writing this one so much that I’ve started writing a book about the characters, covering the lead-up to the story and what happens afterwards.
Doing It For Emmett is about a submissive woman’s first experience of being shared, and is about how far you can go for love.
Here’s how it opens:
If you’re going to behave like a cheap whore, the best place to do it is an expensive hotel.
This was the thought running through my head as Emmett led me by the hand through the polish and glister of the lobby, towards the miniature fountain that signified the entrance to the bar.
I didn’t look like a cheap whore. Emmett had chosen what I was wearing: silvery silk shirt, knee-length pencil skirt, heels that were high enough to make me wiggle but not high enough to make me totter. I could pass as a delegate en route to pre-conference drinks, or somebody’s elegant mistress. Who would guess what I actually was?
We stopped at the fountain, and Emmett took my other hand, tilting his head and looking deep into me.
“Are you nervous?” he said.
“A bit,” I admitted. “I don’t want to let you down.”
He let out a breath, kissed my forehead, then my lips.
“You won’t,” he promised.
He walked me over to a corner table underneath a potted palm, where a pinstriped gentleman in his late forties sat working on the Times crossword.
Impressions of him were quickly absorbed and filed: elegant, distinguished, wealthy, watchful, intimidating, attractive. Everything Emmett had described.
The man looked up, and I turned quickly to Emmett, lacing my fingers more tightly into his.
“Your order, sir,” said Emmett.
The man – I knew his name, but the idea was to pretend I didn’t – stood up and shook Emmett’s hand.
“Thank you,” he said, then he looked me up and down with hard, grey eyes. “Yes, this one will do.”
Emmett nodded, unlocked his hand from mine, and went away to the bar. I put the hand he’d released on to my chest, clenching and unclenching it, and looked after him. Come back, I pleaded silently, but I knew I couldn’t say it aloud.
He would be in the hotel room later. He wasn’t abandoning me.
“You can sit down,” said the man. “I’ve ordered you a gin and tonic.”
“Thanks,” I said, following his instruction and taking a sip of the welcome drink.
“I’m Charles,” he said. “But you will call me Sir. What’s your name?”
“Suky,” I said.
He raised an eyebrow. “Suky? Suky Tawdry?”
He’d got the allusion straight away. I suppressed a smile. Emmett had said it was too obvious.
“That’s right, sir.”
“And is your boyfriend over there Mack the Knife?”
“No, sir,” I said. “He isn’t a criminal.”
“I should hope not, although I believe procuring is still a shade on the illegal side.”
“I don’t think it counts if no money changes hands, sir,” I ventured.
He smiled, running a finger around the rim of his brandy glass.
“You’re probably right. You’re doing this for nothing, aren’t you? Why?”
I clenched my thighs in an effort to stop them quivering. The tension of this encounter was exquisitely tightly strung. A barrage of conflicting feelings coursed through me with each exchange.
“I’m doing it for Emmett,” I said. “Because he told me to.”
“Ah, he told you to. And you do everything Emmett tells you, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” I whispered.
“Why is that?”
“Because he owns me.”
I’m in this one with some of my favourite authors – stories by Rose de Fer, Lily Harlem, Sommer Marsden, CeCe Marsh, Alegra Verde, Ludivine Bonneur and Kathleen Tudor can all be found behind this man’s chest.
Back to 2010 again, and the closure of Black Lace had forced me to gambol in some fresh woods and pastures new. One of the most fertile of these was Cleis Press, the veteran San Francisco-based indie publishing house behind one of my favourite contemporary erotic books, Carrie’s Story.
My story Sunday In The Study was the first of many to be accepted by one of the biggest names in the business, Rachel Kramer Bussel. It appeared in her male dom/female sub collection Please, Sir – and I can tell you, I was absolutely thrilled to bits when I got my acceptance. I felt like I’d broken America, hahaha. Well, it was a nice feeling while it lasted…
The book is an excellent hot read on one of my favourite themes and includes stories by Shanna Germain, Elizabeth Coldwell, Sommer Marsden, Mercy Loomis, Tess Danesi, Heidi Champa, Emerald, Yolanda West, Isabelle Grey, Remittance Girl, Evan Mora, Doug Harrison, Alison Tyler, Aimee Pearl, Kissa Starling, Charlotte Stein, Ariel Graham, Lisabet Sarai, Salome Wilde, Donna George Storey and Rachel Kramer Bussel.
And I love the coy look on the cover model’s face.
Here’s the opening of my story:
I never know how long he will make me wait.
Never less than five minutes, usually between ten and twenty, and on one unfondly recalled occasion I was standing hands-on-head listening to the steady tick of the grandfather clock behind me for over an hour.
This, he says, is Reflection Time. I am to spend it thinking through any of the week’s tribulations or missed opportunities, and considering how I will account for them. That is the theory, although in practice these tense minutes lend themselves to speculation. How many? How long? What will he use? Will I be able to sit at the family dinner afterwards?
Later I will find myself in reflective mode once more, but this time I will be facing a corner, holding my hands clasped in the small of my back, above my bare and throbbing bottom. This is Recovery Time, and usually lasts half an hour – long enough for tears to dry and sins to be absolved before we move into the final stage of the process – forgiveness and reconnection.
You will gather from all of this that Sinclair and I are lovers of ritual. What holds us together is something more than our mutual kink, our undeniable attraction and all the usual romantic folderol. It is our need for this Sunday to be like every other Sunday in essence, even if certain elements are allowed to vary. It is my need for correction and his for control. When we were younger, my Sundays were spent in church, while he captained the school cricket team. As adults, we have exchanged these rituals for their deviant counterpart. He dominates, as he did his ten bowlers and batsmen; I submit, as I did to the God I worshipped. But this time there is nothing unpredictable, nothing unknowable, nothing to fear. It is all so much more satisfying.
Tick…perhaps the strap…tock…I hope not the cane…tick…but then again…tock…I like the cane…tick…I must be insane…tock.
The door opens.
I know the drill. I remove my hands from my head and lower my eyes, letting them drift over the familiar pattern of the Persian runner, through the doorway and across the highly polished oak floorboards. My feet follow their gaze until they are stopped by the obstacle of his desk.
I love his desk. It is so antique it even has an inkwell. When I am bending over it, I can see my face in the mirror shine, though I tend to screw my eyes shut rather than watch my contorted expressions. Rarely, he requires me to keep them open – for instance, on the day that he invited his dominatrix friend to watch and take notes. I had to look her in the eye through twenty four strokes of the tawse, an almost impossible task, though I am proud to say I managed it to their satisfaction.
He walks, always in a slow, stately fashion, from the door to the desk. He stands on the other side of it, looking down at me with his more-in-sorrow-than-anger face for a moment.
‘Well, Beth, here we are again,’ he says. ‘I wonder if the day will come when I do not have to waste my Sunday morning taking you to task over imperfections of behaviour.’ We both know it will not. ‘No answer to that, hmm? Well, it does seem a very distant prospect to me as well. Now then.’
He seats himself and pulls over a large book, a leatherbound ledger. Large as it is, after two years it is already half-filled with page after page of copperplate script, remembrances of crimes past and their associated sentences. He opens it, flipping the leaves to where the ribbon bookmark lies across a blank expanse.
Not blank for long though, for soon a fountain pen is slanted between his elegant fingers, dipped in the inkwell and put to the page. As he writes, he talks, his murmur following the looping progress of the pen.
‘Sunday June 18th,’ he says, then he holds the pen in suspended animation and looks at me. ‘What should I write, do you think? Any ideas?’
I thought I’d decided my next step – having heard about people who make a decent income from Kindle erotica, it seemed something worth trying.
Then I looked into it a bit further and found Kindle Unlimited has unlimited problems. Books being withdrawn, accounts shut down for activity the author has no control over, and the whole dodgy ‘pay per page view’ premise is giving me pause. The whole point of self-publishing for me is to avoid being at the mercy of other forces.
But on the other hand, it seems that you can’t earn any money without recourse to Amazon. So I’m back to pondering…
I thought it might be fun and illuminating to think about some of the ways in which erotic writing differs from other types – because it does, in many ways, some of them quite surprising.
Today we have naming of parts.
Of course, all writers have to think deeply about their word choices, I’m not suggesting otherwise. But for erotic writers, this can become an incredibly vexed question. There are readers who will click away from the story the moment the word ‘cunt’ shows up. There are others who will roll their eyes at anything but the bluntest descriptors.
Most readers fall between these two stools (but let’s not get into scat – definitely not my niche). Even so, everybody has their cringe-list; those words and descriptions that will take them out of the breathless moment and into mild nausea.
I have quite a few of my own, but my number one bugbear is ‘cum’ – spelled like that, rather than ‘come’, which is fine. I know that makes no sense, but I hate it. There’s something about it that reminds me of the panicky, unsettling feeling when I found sticky pages from highly-coloured porn mags in the local woods as a child of about 9. It makes me anxious.
My weird aversion illustrates something all erotic writers must struggle with – the readership’s own irrational hatred of certain words and phrases. Of course, you can’t possibly take everyone’s tastes on board. You’d never get a word written at all. But I keep an eye on these kinds of conversations, and if one word persistently crops up as being found repellent by many, I’ll avoid it. ‘Moist’ is one – many people find it sickening, which is a shame, as it’s a very serviceable word in erotic description, but I don’t want people heaving over my characters’ shenanigans, so I have – with some regret – crossed it off my ‘to use’ list. Another is ‘gusset’. Oh, how many times have I been tempted to write about a woman’s ‘moist gusset’. But you’ll only read it here – never in one of my stories. Alas!
What words do you avoid? I’d love to hear everyone’s squick list.
Next time – euphemisms!