Saturday, 21 September 2013

A.K. Anders - A Secret, a Confession and a Guilty Pleasure

Today I'm delighted to welcome erotic writer A.K. Anders to contribute to my series A Secret, a Confession and a Guilty Pleasure and to talk about his intriguing first book, The Pimlico Tapes.

I thank you for inviting me, Eliza. It is a great pleasure to be on your blog.

As sales of my first book, The Pimlico Tapes, have continued to grow, so have the e-mails and Tweets relating to the characters in the book. Some of these enquiries are of a cautiously inquisitive nature, where as others have a decidedly aggressive and accusatory tone. I have also had letters from solicitors.
“Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” my friends say.

Let me first explain, for those who don’t know the book, that The Pimlico Tapes is a collection of transcripts, taken from a box of old cassette tapes found in a dilapidated office building I purchased in Pimlico, South West London. The basement office had been used by an eminent sex therapist during the period of the late 1960’s to the late 80’s. Listening to the tapes I immediately realised how fascinated others would be by their content. They revealed the fascinating lives, exploits and problems of patients and how the therapist had tried to help them. At each new consultation, the therapist explained that he required of his patients complete candidness. Generally he got it. Most conversations were sexually explicit; some were quite shocking. Immediately seeing their literary potential, I set about transcribing the conversations, whilst removing the real names or any other direct links to patients or the therapist. I was aware of the need for confidentiality; despite knowing the therapist was now dead. In fact I took legal advice to ensure I was on safe ground. I didn’t want to be sued, and neither did I wish to harm anyone. On the other hand, I did feel that revealing these cases might be very helpful to those with certain sexual problems. It helped justify it to myself, if not to publishers, who were cautious to the point of asking me not to use their main office entrances. Secrecy and hushed tones was the order of the day and it was this that eventually encouraged me to publish via e-book only – at least initially.

No sooner had the book been published, than I began to receive e-mails. Some were from people who were affronted by the general idea of disclosing such private and sensitive material, but most were from people who felt they fitted the description of a character in the book. Each assured me that their own case was exactly the same. They remembered particular things that had been said during consultation. Some said they were merely concerned to find out, whereas others were outwardly furious and threatened legal action if the book was not removed from sale. In each case, I explained that without identifying names or other more specific details (which I had been careful to remove), nobody but they themselves would know it was them – if indeed it was. In each case, I refused to remove the book, or even the individual case from the book. This has happened many times since – sometimes via solicitors. So far nobody has actually taken legal action, only threatened it. I did have a brush with certain ‘civil servants’ (those in the business of keeping state secrets), regarding a well-known politician (now dead). This was the most threatening so far, but they have since stopped making those threats. “Secrets,” one said, “should not be revealed that might harm the reputation of that sainted lady,” or words to that effect. I confess they did frighten me. I will give you some other examples.

One of the cases is about a political journalist and sometime television newsreader. I have had no less than five different people contact me, claiming that the person I named Amanda in the book, was in fact them. The woman on the tape is obsessive about her privacy and has some very strange sexual behaviour. Without going into too much detail, she enjoyed playing a lifeless ragdoll – her boss and lover finding her lying on a sofa or on bed in a spare room. She also talked on the tape about an impromptu one-night stand with a pedaloe-hire man in a Caribbean holiday resort, where she had felt safe from recognition by the paparazzi.
People would put two and two together, one complainant told me. Another who claimed it was her, was worried by a recollection from Amanda of having watched a couple have sex through a roof-light from the top of her BBC building. She could remember having told her therapist about it, she said. She had also told a colleague. The colleague might read the book and would then know that the character of Amanda was in fact her.
“My secrets are my own,” she said, “and should remain so.”
I told her that four other women also claimed to be Amanda and that all their secrets were safe, since the original name had been removed from the transcript.

Another patient, who I named Samantha, was the wife of quite a well-known London headmaster. She could only enjoy sex if it was with a stranger in a public place. On the tape, she explained numerous lurid exploits in her early years, leading up to the point she was arrested for gross indecency in a Chiswick cinema. A woman contacted me saying she was the woman in the book. This e-mail had a very accusatory tone. The tapes were not mine to use as I pleased, she said, they were private. I think she called me a rat, living in the gutter and sucking off the blood of others. She had reconciled matters with her husband through a quiet divorce, she said, but she had since become a successful woman in public life. Again, I was told people would put two and two together. Her sordid secrets would come out and she would be barred from high office. She had access to those who could make things very difficult, even painful for me, she said. I thanked her and told her I might enjoy that.

There are numerous other examples of such complainants, but those above probably give you a fair idea. What has been more interesting for me, however, is a recent trend for people to contact me, wishing to unburden themselves (as some of them put it) of their strange or extreme sexual histories. After the initial mild success of The Pimlico Tapes, I had begun to worry about being able to follow it with a book using further material. People had immediately begun to ask when the sequel was coming out. While I do have other unpublished material that I had already transcribed from the tapes, there is barely enough for another two books. I need not have worried. The confessions revealed to me will fill a number of future books. I have, in fact already published eight single stories derived from these confessions. You can find them as part of a series named ‘Erotic Shorts by A.K. Anders’. Priced at only 77p they are proving very popular – no doubt due in large part to their uncanny sense of authenticity.

Quite a number of people I know have expressed their discomfort or even distaste for the idea of The Pimlico Tapes. They support the idea that what people disclose to a therapist should remain a secret. I disagree. Yes, I believe that the identity of those involved should be kept secret. In fact, after some deliberation I decided to destroy the tapes after I had transcribed them. The original names were never transcribed – not even in the first draft. Other names and incriminating details were also never written down. Alternative details were inserted in their place when I produced the second draft. Therefore, nobody could ever be even remotely sure of who the patients were. Secondly, I know how hypocritical people are – all of us. We are all compulsive voyeurs. This is our dirty little secret – our guilty pleasure. If we are alone and we hear a couple having an argument in the house next door, we cannot help but listen. When it comes to hearing a couple making love, we may even stand still and then tiptoe closer to the wall to hear more clearly. Can you imagine anyone foregoing the opportunity to watch two people in the throes of having vigorous sex in a haystack, if they feel confident that they cannot be seen from their vantage point? I know only one person, and she has been in serious therapy for years. This is why people read erotic stories or watch erotic films. Believe me, 99% of those who don’t, only avoid them through fear of being caught. This then, is one of our most prevalent and most popular guilty pleasures. And I for one am proud of helping people to indulge in those pleasures. Gorge yourself upon them, I say!

A.K. Anders posts, periodically, on the blog:
He regularly tweets at: