Saturday, 21 December 2013

Blog post rewind: Re-invention and writing erotica

This post first appeared in January 2013 on

I remember it quite vividly even though it was over thirteen years ago.  The event that launched my career as a writer of erotica.  Bizarre as it sounds, I was peering from the upstairs window of a double decker London bus (I always sit on the upper deck - you can see things from a different angle – one you wouldn’t normally access), commuting from Brixton to Streatham when I noticed a man pissing against a wall, in broad daylight.  That was it.  The Moment.

As the bus trundled onwards at a snail’s pace through the traffic clogged roads, I pondered this image.  It wasn’t sexy in any way.  In fact, it annoyed me that the man was so blatant.  But it gave me the first paragraph of my story.

She was right.  He was urinating against the wall in the alleyway beside the tube station.  Quite blatantly, too.  The question was, what to do about it.  And Kate knew she had to do something.

As a writer, you always think “What if.”  At the time, I had been successfully submitting short stories and articles to a wonderful and now defunct small press magazine called Quality Women’s Fiction.  Payment was nominal, but I didn’t care because the magazine was a labour of love from the brilliant editor Jo Good and she only published really good writers, so whenever I was included as part of this hallowed fold I always got a huge buzz, a kind of validation that I was a proper writer. (Many QWF writers went on to have successful writing careers).  Anyway, the what if became, “What if my female protagonist had an unwanted animal attraction to the man and they ended up having some kind of sexual encounter?” 

“Excuse me.”                                                           
As she spoke, the man glanced over his shoulder at her, not in the least distracted from the task in hand.
“Excuse me,” she repeated.  “I don’t think you should be doing that in a public place.”
“Why not?” was his response.
She was incredulous.
“Why not?  Because you are breaking the law.”
“Show me the sign, then, that says No Pissing.”
For a moment she was taken aback.  The man stared at her, his toffee-brown eyes brazen, and she noticed that his caramel-coloured hair looked soft and freshly washed, and his bronzed complexion reminded her of a creme brulee.  She began to feel hungry. Then she recovered her composure. 
“You shouldn’t need a sign.  It’s obvious.”
He studied her curiously, gestured around him to the numerous passers-by who behaved as if it was a normal Friday night occurrence in the rush hour.  “Do you see anyone complaining?” he asked.  “Where are the hordes of objections, then?”
Now he was getting on her nerves. He continued doggedly, “Am I inundated with protests?  I think not.” 
They had reached stalemate. Glaring at him, Kate noticed that although he was behaving like a lout, he was not dressed like one.  In fact, he was smartly attired, with liquorice-black trousers, a creamy white shirt open at the neck and a leather blouson-style jacket the colour of Bournville chocolate.  He looked good enough to eat.

I called the story “Eat Me” (so you can probably guess what the sexual activity was!) and I duly submitted it to QWF, who printed it.  However, the editor suggested I try an erotic magazine, such as Forum (sadly another magazine no longer with us).  Well, I had been a regular Forum reader since the age of 16, so I dipped into the current issue, and sent my story off.  I’ve been lucky to work with some great editors and Forum’s Elizabeth Coldwell was very encouraging.  She liked the story too, but it wasn’t raunchy enough for Forum so would I like to expand the sexual activity, with a bit more detail, and she would reconsider it.  Wow!  If there was a possibility of being published in one of my favourite magazines, I would find a way to do it!  I lacked confidence initially, but the rewritten story with extra raunch was accepted and published and became the start of a long and productive relationship with Forum (and subsequently For Women) magazine. 

Soon, I couldn’t produce new work fast enough, so I began to trawl my archive folder of still unpublished fiction to see if, with the addition of some naughtier input, it could evolve into erotica. 

And so followed a most enjoyable and interesting writing exercise, which taught me a lot about re-writing and also applying the “what if” principle to individual stories.  It resulted in one of my previous “literary” and prize winning short stories called Perfect Strangers (inspired by my years of commuting) metamorphosing (many years later) into Nice Work, a very raunchy story that appears in the Xcite e-anthology Eve’s Big Bang, (which I recently gave a reading of at one of our Wanton Words Burlesque Shows.  It went down very well and I got such a buzz reading it out loud!)

I would recommend the technique of “reinvention” to any writer.  It kick started my erotic writing career and I have subsequently used this technique on many occasions, especially if I am pushed for a deadline.  It’s just as creative as writing something totally new and a useful skill to develop.

Could your undiscovered masterpiece be reinvented as genre fiction?

A later version of Eat Me appears in Xcite e-book Ultimate Sins

Nice Work can be found in Xcite e-book Eve’s Big Bang

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