Thursday, 28 February 2013

Pretty Woman and fairytale endings

The other night my partner and I ended up watching the film Pretty Woman, which I hadn’t seen for many years.  It’s a kind of modern fairy tale (knowingly?) in which the attractive prostitute, Vivien, played by Julia Roberts, is bought by the sophisticated millionaire tycoon (Richard Gere) and in this short space of time, said couple fall in love.  When the millionaire offers to provide Vivien with an apartment, money, etc. and set her up as his lover, she turns him down, insisting that she wants the “fairy-tale ending” (full relationship?  marriage?) which, of course, he ultimately provides.

It’s an entertaining story, and despite the main character being a hooker, there is little sex, the emphasis being on romantic comedy.  I enjoyed seeing it, but the message still makes me uncomfortable.  Deep down, do all women really want the “fairytale ending”  (i.e. to be taken care of by a man).  And not just any man.  He has to be good looking and, more importantly, very rich.  (a la Fifty Shades of Grey).  If this is a universally shared female dream, is it wrong?  It doesn’t appeal to me, so am I in the minority?  It lies at the root of so many hugely successful stories so it must be a powerful fantasy. 

Years ago, in another life, I was working with a group of grammar school girls as part of a careers day, discussing the life of a writer.  I asked the girls to tell me what their career ambitions were and more than one replied, perfectly sincerely, “To marry a rich footballer and be famous and never have to work.”  This made me feel rather sad.  I suggested that a contingency plan might be in order, in case such an ambition did not come to fruition. 

Fantasy and reality.  

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Truth About Being an Erotica Writer

Today I'm guesting with the lovely Lucy Felthouse, exploring The Truth About Being an Erotica Writer.

When I am asked to give talks about writing erotica, I am still surprised at the myths surrounding the genre.  Some people think (or prefer to) that I have to get dressed up in a rubber catsuit and heels to get “in the mood”.  A nice idea, but not very practical.  Do I fantasise about sex, or reach for my trusty vibrator before I switch on the laptop?  Yes, sometimes.  Or do I grab a notebook and jot down a few sentences whilst in the throes of coitus? Now that would be really bad manners.….

Click link to read the rest of the post.....

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Vampire Diaries, Taylor Swift and teen angst

Having lost a week due to illness I have been working my way through a boxed set of The Vampire Diaries.  I’ve always been fascinated and turned on by the idea of vampires, and when I was verging on becoming a teenager and my friends had posters of the Bay City Rollers on their walls I had pictures of Christopher Lee as Dracula.  It makes me horny just thinking about it! Cloaks and fangs were just so much more appealing than tartan trousers at half-mast!

I am a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, (which I discovered in my mid 30s and adored the writing and humour) although for some reason I never connected with the Twilight phenomenon. 
Vampires are sexy.  They just are. And The Vampire Diaries explores a kind of dysfunctional triangle between the human Elena and the brooding (good) vampire Stefan and his dangerous but charming vampire brother Damon (the name gives it away really), who both love Elena.  Light and dark, good and bad.  Delicious contrasts. There’s loads of other stuff too, and most of the characters are pre-18, very attractive and still at high school.  It’s all about sex, relationships, teen angst, sex, angst.  Etc.  And triangles offer wonderful opportunities for writers.

It’s pure escapism and I think what I am enjoying is the whole teen thing, when life revolved around what you looked like and who you went out with (sort of).  Before mortgages, tedious jobs, responsibilities, and reality.  I’ve also been listening to music by Ke$ha, Taylor Swift and Rihanna, whose lyrics are also mostly about sex, relationships and angst.  And I do remember that from my teens to twenties, sex and love was the centre of my universe.  I devoured The Secret Garden, Story of O, Anais Nin, explored anything connected with  BDSM, and was consumed by an intense relationship that caused me a great deal of angst and pleasure and pain.  Life had a purity and simplicity that has been lost.  Watching the Vampire Diaries reminds me that I was indeed a teenager.  Once.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Maxim Jakubowski Guest Post: The Ties That Bind

Today I am absolutely thrilled that the guest blogger for my series Sexy Stories: fiction that turns me on is renowned editor and writer Maxim Jakubowski. Over to you, Maxim....
The Ties That Bind (Modern Erotic Classics)

I've always been a great believer in the virtues of popular fiction.

I began my writing career in the science fiction & fantasy field before making a diversion later in life into the world of crime and thrillers. However, my own efforts in these wonderful genres tended to attract mixed reviews and barely average sales due to the fact that it was always self-evident to me that even if I was working in genre, this was no reason not to have believable characters constructed out of flesh and blood rather than cardboard. So, my characters always felt real to me, and in order to make them even more real and credible they shared many of my own tastes, obsessions, quirks, whatever, and as a result sex often reared its pesky head in my writing, which didn't help in making me overly popular to genre readers.
This explains how I eventually came to erotic fiction.

As an editor with a long career in traditional book publishing, I have always subscribed to Sturgeon's law that states that '90% of everything is crap, which leaves 10% of quality'. A simple piece of maths that applies to all literature, whether it be deemed literary/mainstream or be within recognisable genres such as those evoked earlier.

Having been accused of allowing too much sex to permeate my genre fiction, I naturally became more curious about erotic literature and, having been educated in France where there is a healthy tradition in the genre, from Sade onwards through the surrealists, STORY OF O and a wonderful assortment of contemporary authors, I began investigating the genre in the English language once I had established that Victorian erotica and its upstairs/downstairs spanking traditions did nothing for my libido. Beginning with erotic SF, exemplified by Philip Farmer and others once published by the legendary Essex House  60s imprint, I embarked on a journey of discovery which unveiled so many hidden treasures in the genre that I was prompted to assemble what became the first volume of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF EROTICA, if only to demonstrate that erotic writing could be well-written, non-exploitative and full of 'real' people. This was an immediate success, which would later go on to encourage me to take the crime and thrills out of my own novels and write straight erotica, something that now comes to me naturally and continues to this day.

Shortly after the first volume appeared I was on a break in Paris and came upon a second-hand book that seemed interesting on a bouquiniste stool by the Seine and picked it up, without knowing anything about it, attracted by its brief cover blurb. It was a novel by a French writer called Vanessa Duries, titled LE LIEN. It was a thinly autobiographical story of a young French student's acceptance of her sexual submission and traced the moving trajectory of her relationship with her dominant cum Master. In itself not a strikingly original story, although I had been previously piqued by similar tales of BDSM dynamics like STORY OF O, and Anne Rice's early excursions into erotica as Roquelaure and Rampling, which struck a chord inside of me.

Vanessa's story touched me immensely. She had an authentic voice which spoke to me directly at every level, intellectually and sexually. The story made me cry, made me hard, made me scared for her and her future and Vanessa felt so real that I immediately began researching her. The book had appeared three years earlier and there was no sign of any follow-up. I made contact with her French publisher, Franck Spengler (who was later to become mine in France and also a good friend, with whom I have since edited a collection of French female erotica as OOH LA LA!) only to learn that the young woman who wrote as Vanessa Duries died shortly after the book's publication in a car accident, and Franck was able to fill in the gaps and tell me more about her and her story, the facts that were not in the book, and privately showed me many photographs of her, some in extreme sexual situations which had been taken by her dom, and which she had trusted to his care. I was moved to tears.

Had she lived, Vanessa would, I believe have become a major author and not just in our restrictive erotica field. Considering that she was only 20 when she wrote the book, she was a born storyteller, stylist, and could convey emotions and the sense of loss sexual abandon can often provoke. She had begun a second novel before she died and Franck would publish it unfinished some years later as L"ETUDIANTE (The Student). Never before had a work of erotic writing affected me so strongly because through the lines (and despite some often intemperate philosophising that only the French are sometimes prone to) the characters depicted (and of course based on real life) felt so immensely authentic, vulnerable, imperfect, flesh and blood and guts and semen and fluids as we all are. It was also a demonstration of the sheer power of erotic writing can attain when it is done right, and doesn't meekly aspire to just being entertaining smut. From that day onwards it became a standard I swore to reach for in my own writing and in my editorial choices.

From that intense discovery onwards, I had no cease to convince an English-language publisher to get the book translated. The times were not right but, eventually, I was given the opportunity of editing the Eros Plus shortlived line for Titan Books and jumped on the opportunity of releasing the book in the UK as THE TIES THAT BIND after which that great erotic entrepreneur, scoundrel and innovator, Richard Kasak at Masquerade Books took the bait and acquired it for the USA where it went into several editions. The book appeared with a long essay/foreword by me about my post mortem relationship with Vanessa the writer and her photographs...

Years have now gone by and both lists no longer exist but when I was asked last year by Constable Robinson to edit a new digital-only imprint for them of Modern Erotic Classics, Vanessa's book was one of my obligatory initial selection, so it is now finally available again (alongside 19 other crucial titles that all demonstrate how bloody good erotica can be, away from the dross of self-published rubbish now flourishing on the Internet and electronically and giving the genre a bad name, titles by Samuel R. Delany, Elissa Wald, Michael Perkins, David Meltzer, Marilyn Jaye-Lewis, Julie Hilden, Michael Hemmingson, Paul Mayersberg and others...; please look them up and download at the first possible opportunity).

But my heart still belongs to Vanessa.



Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Arthouse sensuality and films by Patrice Leconte

In my late teens I was fascinated by French sensuality.  I loved The Story of O, I watched my first Emmanuelle film and I devoured my mother-in-law’s copies of Marie Claire magazine.  Flipping through its pages it seemed the women were so sophisticated, effortlessly stylish and self-assured.  I kept an image scrapbook cut from its pages and tried to emulate the models, yet somehow I never managed to acquire their impeccable style.  

I was recently reminded of this when I watched a film by Patrice Leconte, whose work I enjoy, called Le Parfum d’Yvonne (1994).  Observing the main character of Yvonne, played by Sandra Majani, looking simultaneously sexy and innocent in a simple white dress and pearl earrings, her cool blonde hair tied back with a chiffon scarf, I wonder why the French are so successful at portraying such understated sensuality.  The film is slow, enigmatic, intriguing, with a delicate eroticism that is such a contrast to the explicit, faster–paced way in which I generally write. 

I wonder if my tastes have changed over the years?  Do I write the way I do because I am so used to working to the requirements of publisher briefs?  Would I have done so anyway?  Or have I got so used to writing explicitly that it is now automatic? 

Exquisite as it was, the story didn’t turn me. I found the character of Yvonne oddly passive and accepting, allowing events to happen rather than actively taking control.  I like spiky, passionate, strong heroines (although this would have completely changed the nature of the film).

I appreciated the film, which I imagine would be termed arthouse, and the way it explored the nature of love and memory and ageing, although I preferred Leconte’s beautiful earlier The Hairdresser’s Husband (1990), which deals with similar themes, and also the haunting Monsieur Hire (1989). 
But despite the sometimes impassive and rather shallow characters, this style of French cinema is able to evoke an age of beauty, taste and the kind of carefree existence (mostly) that the majority of us will never experience, providing intelligent escapism to luxuriate in for 86 minutes, and to ponder on afterwards.

If you are also a fan of the work of Patrice Leconte, I would love to know what you think.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Reading all about it

I just had to share this great post from Chantel C, which explores pace, plot and passion and what makes a good page turner.

Find it here:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Wanton Words

Our Wanton Words show on Saturday 2 Feb was the best ever and the audience reaction was truly memorable.  Check out our facebook page
for comments from the audience.

There are also some pics here

The next show is April 6th at the delightful Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville. Not to be missed!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Second Helpings Blog Tour from 4th - 8th February

This week is my first ever blog tour!  The book I'm "touring" is my collection of 3 quirky erotic stories called Second Helpings and the tour schedule is below. There are 6 different articles which explore aspects of being an erotica writer. Please do check in on the guesting sites each day.  I do hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. 

Elizabeth's Calendar

4th February
Touch me there
5th February
Unexpected Outcomes
6th February
Do you get turned on when you write?
7th February
Thongs and things
8th February
Words and Actions

I'm also over at Blissekiss ( on 8th February with a post called Anatomy of a Kiss

Sunday, 3 February 2013

KD Grace Guest Post: Sex and that Chain Reaction

I'm delighted that the wonderful KD Grace has written a guest post for my blog series Sexy Stories: fiction that turns me on, in which she discusses Sex and that Chain Reaction.
Over to you, KD.....

Thanks for having me over to talk about my favourite sexy books, Elizabeth. I have to say the task was a bit more daunting than you might expect. I’m sorry to say that I read very little erotica before I started writing it. What I loved back in my pre-erotica days, what intrigued me most in novels, was chemistry; was the sense of two people so drawn together that the end of the world itself couldn’t keep them a part. And that chemistry, that magnetism translated into love scenes so vivid and so real that they made my knees weak and left me thinking about the scene, the characters and the book long after I’d reached the end. Sometimes that scene would be really hot and other times it would be different than hot. Other times it was more like magic, more like a chain reaction that I, as a reader felt, in my gut and in my heart as well as in my knickers. In fact, feeling it in my knickers was sort of incidental.

My first experiences of that feeling were in myths; Psyche and Eros, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde. The truth is, since I write erotic romance, I look for that same chain reaction, that same sense of chemistry and magnetism in the erotica I read as well. And I try my best to create it in the erotica I write.

Two books, in particular, have really influenced the way I write both sex and romance. Nora Roberts’s Black Hills is one of them.

I’ve never read a book where the chemistry between the two main characters and just the bond of camaraderie was so strong. To me, Nora Roberts is the queen of romance, and her romance is sexy. I figure I can learn a lot from her.

The other novel is The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s classic retelling of the King Arthur legend through the eyes of the female Characters, in particular through the eyes of Morgain. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s writings, both Avalon and her syfy/fantasy Darkover novels, caused me to rethink my views on sex and the magic that’s created in that sexual connection between two people. Her writing was influential in the ideas of sex magic, which drive my Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy.

Now that I’ve had time to read some really great erotic novels, though not as much time as I’d like to, when there are so many fabulous ones out there, my favourite is Charlotte Stein’s intense and sexy novel, Control. I love the novel because the characters are powerfully drawn and the lust and the chemistry between them is about as close to magic as you can get. One of the best things I like about Charlotte’s writing is that she really gets inside her characters’ heads, and so much of what’s sexy happens in the minds of the characters. Charlotte has a gift for describing what’s going on in her character’s heads in a way that makes what their bodies are doing even sexier.

If you ask me this same question several years from now, Elizabeth, I’m sure my list will be longer and more varied, but I think the expanded book list will still be dominated by stories where that chemistry and magnetism between characters drives the story. Thanks again for having me over.

Find K D and her work here:

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