The House of Elyot

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…

In April 2010, Xcite brought out another in their ‘Ultimate…’ series, on a theme that was right up my street. Ultimate Spanking contained my story Paying For It, about a woman who indulges her spanko curiosity by hiring a professional.

The original cheeky seaside-postcard cover with its pastel stripes along the bottom was typical of Xcite books of this era, though they had several redesigns and repackagings over the years. The most recent – before it went out of print – was a mysterious dark blue with misty fronds.

I think, by the time this came out, Adam had already left Xcite and editing was left in the hands of the enigmatic ‘Miranda Forbes’. It contained stories by a cracking roster of authors, though, many of whom had come over from Black Lace. Monica Belle, Shanna Germain, Philippa Johnson, Poppy St Vincent, Sadie Wolf, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Ashley Hind, Cyanne, Heidi Champa, Charlotte Stein, Robin Moreton, Amelia Thornton, Sandrine Lopez, Izzie French, Aishling Morgan, Laurel Aspen, Landon Dixon, Teresa Joseph and Philip Kemp are all represented in the contents list.

I recently re-read Paying For It, as I’m thinking of putting all my out-of-print Xcite stories together as a collection, and was surprised at how much I liked it. It’s hot and sweet and rather romantic in its way.

Here’s how it starts:

He makes a living from spanking girls – can you believe that? I told him it was money for old rope, but he said, ‘Nah, I do spanking, not bondage,’ then told me to get out the strap for making such a disrespectful suggestion.

‘What you don’t understand, Kat,’ he said, plying the leather and ignoring my gasps while I gripped the iron bedstead for dear life, ‘is that spanking is not easy. It isn’t just a case of throwing the lady over the lap and whaling away. There is finesse involved. Psychology.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sensibility.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Sensitivity.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Good judgement.’

‘Ouch!’

‘Aesthetic refinement.’

‘OUCH!’

‘And maybe a soupçon of sadistic intent.’

The final stroke caught me at the top of my thighs and my resolve, along with my knees, buckled beneath it.

‘OK, I’m sorry,’ I panted, doubled over on the carpet. ‘It’s not easy. But please don’t tell me it hurts you more than it hurts me.’

He chuckled softly behind me.

‘No, I wouldn’t go that far. Back up, Kat, bending over the bed, please.’

‘Ohhhh,’ I pouted and put an authentic-sounding sob into my voice.

‘It doesn’t hurt me,’ he said, once my upper body was pressed to the quilted eiderdown while my bottom, tight with the heat of the strapping, faced him at a jaunty angle. ‘But I do have to make sure I maintain the requisite muscular strength. In my right arm in particular.’

I expected a smack just then, but I got something else – cold lubricant in that intimate pucker, and then he was easing one of his bigger-sized plugs into me, and I knew he was going to fuck me next, and I sighed, eyelids lowering in pleasurable anticipation.

But instead – and this was what convinced me that no ordinarily-wired man could do his job – he asked me if I’d ever been paddled with a plug in before.

Oh, the despair; the sweet, dizzying, dismaying, rapturous cruelty of it all.

The fucking came later, but I must make it clear that he rarely fucks the girls he spanks. Only, he tells me, the very naughtiest ones. The ones that really need it. Such as me.

‘Do you ever get…you know…emotionally involved with your…clients?’ I asked him afterwards, staring limply at his digital alarm clock, knowing he would probably have another girl to punish in about an hour.

‘Of course,’ he said seriously, then he reached over to ruffle my hair. ‘With all of them. In a way.’

‘Right.’

I showered and dressed and caught the bus home, grateful that there was standing room only, still feeling some of the residual heat my tights held into my thighs and bottom. I wished that the heat could last forever.

 

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!

In April 2010 one of my favourite anthologies, including one of my favourite self-penned stories, came out. Sex in the City: London was the first in a series of city-themed collections edited by Maxim Jakubowski and featuring stories from a wide variety of authors.

I think what I still love about my story Thames Link is how unapologetic and no-holds-barred it is. There is no softening around the edges here, and the ‘hero’ doesn’t fit the romantic mould. And why the hell should he? I find him all the hotter for his slightly sinister aspect.

I always love London as a setting too – the pace, the heat, the crowds, the infinite diversity seem made for erotica. I’d love to have seen more London books in this series – perhaps there will be one day.

The book is out of print now, but still available secondhand from Amazon. It contains stories by Matt Thorne, Francis Ann Kerr, Valerie Grey, NJ Streitberger, Kristina Lloyd, Lily Harlem, Maxim Jakubowski, Elizabeth Coldwell, Clarice Clique, Carrie Williams and Kevin Mullins & Marcelle Perks.

Here’s how it opens:

I sing the praise of the sleazy man.

The man with the shifty eyes, the man with the floppy fringe, the man with the sensual lips, the man who drinks a little too much red wine and eats a little too much cake.  You might see him on the train; his eyes follow you over the top of his paper and you try not to recross your legs too often.  He might be standing at the bar so you have to feign enormous levels of animation with your companions.  Perhaps he works with you and there is a rota in place among your colleagues so nobody has to go into the photocopier cupboard at the same time as him.

He’s a creep, he’s a sleaze, he’s a perve.  He’s my kind of guy.

I know, I sound insane.  Who on earth likes men like this?  I suppose it’s his honesty that appeals to me.  No ‘I really like you as a person’.  No discussion of mutually admired bands and comedians.  No number swaps or long waits for the phone to beep.  Better than the man who moves in with you before revealing his wardrobe of skintight latex.  Better than the man that waits until you have his ring on your finger before asking you if you fancy a pint down the swingers’ club.  This is a man who wears his cock on his sleeve, and quite rightly so.

He’ll speak fluent innuendo.  He’ll sit too close to you on the bus.  He’ll walk behind you in the park, watching the sway of your backside.  In the ultraviolet light of the disco, he’ll try to get a hand up your skirt.

No, he isn’t a rapist, it’s not about power.  It is about sex.  He wants it.  Not you.  It.

And there’s something about that I find refreshing.

I have a sleazy man of my own, tucked away in my address book for days when I don’t feel pristine or perfumed.  On days – and they come all too often now – when I feel rumpled and seedy, when my tights are clinging damply to the crack of my arse and my skin is grimy with the London summer, I call him.

I’m going to call him now, actually.

‘Morning, foxy.  What can I do for you today?’

‘When are you free?’

‘Hmm…it’s looking like a late one.  Could take a two hour lunch break, though.’

‘Lunch sounds perfect.  Midday?’

‘Blackfriars tube.  Wear the green dress.  Hold ups.  No knickers.  Got that?’

‘No knickers,’ I repeat, my clit puffing up, my silky scanties already wet.  Who cares?  I will have to take them off before I leave.

‘Don’t forget your perfume, Jane,’ he says softly before hanging up.

How could I forget that?  The application of scent is the precious first step in the ritual, setting the tone for all that is to follow.

These are his rules:  I must draw back the bedroom curtains and open the window, so that the block across the green is visible to me, and I to it.  I must strip naked and lie down on my unmade bed.  I must take my vibrator and masturbate to orgasm, plunging it deep inside, juicing it up until it gleams.  While I am doing this, I must think of some of the filthy, slutty things I have done for him in the past – easy enough, for there are plenty to choose from.  Once I am red-faced and spent, I must take the vibrator and rub it across my pulse points, making sure I am generously anointed before smearing any remainder on to my nipples, breasts, belly, thighs.  I must dip the vibrator back in and repeat the process until there is nothing left to apply.  Only when my skin is stiff and heavy with the smell of my sex am I allowed to dress.

Today, a sheer white peephole bra, some nude laced-topped hold-ups and the green dress.  The dress I was wearing when we met – though that sounds grandiose, as if we have a story or a future.  The day we picked each other up, perhaps.

The dress is made of very light cotton in eau-de-nil.  It buttons all the way up and has a short, flippy skirt whose hem is only just beneath the lacy bit of my hold-up.  The merest breath of breeze is enough to give my thighs a tickle, and on some of the windier tube platforms I have to clamp it down with my palms flat on my legs, shuffling bent double like an ancient babushka.

Then it is time to slap industrial quantities of gloss on my lips and mascara on my lashes before slipping into strappy sandals and running for my train.

Once again, it is a hot day, humid and dirty, the way it was the first time we met.  The station platform is crowded – several previous trains have been delayed – so I know I will stand no chance of being able to hide my sex-drenched self in a corner seat away from the masses.  I will have to force it on my carriage-mates, mingling it in with their smells of onions and cigarettes and engine oil and boiled aftershave, all with a sweaty topnote.

It’s taken me a while to come up with a plan.

Last year, I barely wrote a word. I don’t know if it was burn out, or if some vampire attacked me in my sleep and drained all the confidence out of me, but nothing was working and I had to stop even thinking about writing for a good, long time. The vampire didn’t even have the common decency to be sexy, the bastard. If it had been the Poldark one from Being Human I wouldn’t have minded so much.

This year, it’s a different story (thank god because the last one was very boring). Ideas are bursting out like the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la. But with the different story comes a different problem – what the hell do I do with them?

The erotica/erotic romance scene I entered eight years ago has gone through so many mutations that it’s now unrecognisable. Many of the imprints I liked to work with have shut down or changed in ways that don’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong – there are imprints still running that I think do excellent work. Totally Bound is one of them – they have a great PR department, look lovely and publish some top-grade stuff. But with some others, there’s been a definite shift towards a softer approach, which I can cope with on some levels but not others (e.g. being asked to tone down my content so as not to scare the kink-curious post-50 Shades horses).

So I’ve decided to give self-publishing a serious go. It wasn’t something I ever really wanted to do, because I hate all the fiddle-faddle admin type stuff that goes along with it, but on the other hand, the freedom of it is something I need at the moment. A late-night Twitter conversation with Giselle Renarde and A.M. Hartnett (read their books!) gave me the final push, after much dithering.

So you can expect new material (along with some repackaged old material) in the near future – just as soon as I know what I’m doing.

Maybe not the ‘near’ future then…

Mischief Books have just brought out this hot little anthology, which contains my story Open Minded, about a woman who flatshares with a dominatrix.

It contains a slew of other stories as well by the likes of Ashley Lister and Rose de Fer, so there’s plenty of bang for your buck.

Here’s an excerpt from mine:

The advert had asked for an ‘open-minded’ flatmate, and when I asked her what she meant by that, she replied with breathtaking frankness.

“I moonlight as a sex worker,” she said. “Specifically, kinky stuff, a dominatrix. But you don’t need to worry about weirdoes hanging around the place – I know all my clients very well and they’re 100% decent, respectful guys. Most of them pretty well-off, too. No shifty types in raincoats, I promise.”

It took me a while to reply to this. I needed to take stock of her answer. The fresh-faced thirtysomething woman sitting in front of me in sweats and a messy ponytail was a…?

“I know, it fazes most people when I tell them,” she sighed. “If it bothers you, that’s fine, I’ll readvertise…”

“Er, no, no, hang on,” I said. “So you’re saying you meet your clients here?”

“I’ll have made enough for a deposit on a serviced apartment in the West End soon,” she said. “The plan is to move operations out of here as soon as I can. It’ll just be for a few weeks, I hope, until I’ve made all the necessary start-up costs.”

“Start-up costs?”

“You know, marketing, a new web page, maybe some hush money for the concierge. That kind of thing. I’ve already got everything I need for the job itself.”

“The job itself,” I echoed. “You mean, like, whips and stuff?”

“Yeah. Thigh high boots, all that.” She grinned suddenly over the rim of her coffee mug. “I know I don’t look the type. You can’t picture it, can you?”

“I can’t really,” I confessed. Shona seemed such a very typical kind of London woman – gym, office, wine bar, home. Not gym, office, wine bar, walk all over a man’s back in stilettoes. But then, perhaps there was no ‘typical London woman’. It wasn’t as if I didn’t have my own secret dark side, after all. In fact, Shona and I could almost be birds of a feather. Perhaps it was right that we should flock together. “I thought you had to be about six foot tall and built like Wonder Woman.”

“Hey, are you saying I’m not built like Wonder Woman?” she said with a fake pout and a laugh. “No, you’re right. But you can dress up to look like anything, really. And it’s all about confidence. If you can say the right things in the right way at the right time, you can look like a Cabbage Patch doll and still get clients. OK, I might be exaggerating that last bit – you do have to make an effort with your appearance. But it’s not as prescriptive as you might think.”

There was a pause.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can see this has knocked you sideways. I’ll let you get on.”

“No,” I said, shaking my head for emphasis. “No, it’s OK. Honestly. I said I was open-minded, and I am. I’m more fascinated than repelled, definitely.”

“So you might take the room?”

“Well, it’s a really nice one. And the location’s perfect, two minutes from the Tube. Price is right. I haven’t seen anything else half as good.” I muted my thoughts, to put the minus side to myself. “But it could be noisy, what with all the walloping and howling that might go on. And what if we get raided by the police?”

“It’s really a great area to live in,” Shona enthused. “The high street’s full of pubs and bars, there’s the cinema, loads of shops, leisure centre around the corner, park at the bottom of the hill…”

I made my decision. This was London. When it came to renting property here, there was always a compromise to be made. The question was only what it would be. I could cope with a few submissive blokes passing through now and then better than half an hour on top of my commute, or rising damp. Perhaps they’d even make me the odd cup of tea, or do the dishes for us.

“How often do you see clients?” I said.

“Not that often at all,” she said. “Two Saturdays a month, and one evening a week – usually a Wednesday, six till ten. I’ll always give you tons of warning. If you like, just go out for a drink on those evenings. Spend the Saturdays in town, or with mates, or whatever. It’s flexible, anyway. I’ll always take your needs on board.”

“OK, then,” I said. “I really like the room, and you seem really nice, and…and…OK then. Let’s do it.”

She clapped her hands. “Thank fuck!” she said. “Finally, somebody who knows what open-minded actually means.”

Hard Bargains: A Mischief Erotica Collection by [Mischief]

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