Saturday, June 6, 2009

Inside Someone Else's Skin

Last month, my gay erotic story Left Unsaid won the Seattle Erotic Arts short story contest. Written under my Jay Lygon pen name, my gay BDSM Chaos Magic trilogy - Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons - has received wonderful reviews and praise from gay men who are lifestyle D/s. Writing as Kathleen Bradean, my genderqueer, lesbian, ménage, BDSM, and even heterosexual vanilla stories have been published in many anthologies. Obviously, I'm not all of those genders or sexualities. While I'm an adventurous sort, in my real sex life I haven't done everything that I've written about. Lacking bio-cock, I never can. How do I create believable characters across the spectrum of identities? The short answer is that I'm a writer, and that's what writers do.

The longer answer will make this a much more interesting blog entry.

When I sold my first gay erotic story, I asked the editor to take off the kid gloves and tell me if anything rang false. It was more important to me to get it right than to protect my ego. He said that no one would guess it was written by a woman as long as I put a male pen name on the piece. Several months later, I proudly told a famous gay writer that my story was in an anthology with one of his. After a moment of angry silence, he began a diatribe against women who exploited and diminished the gay experience by daring to write gay characters. Maybe I was supposed to apologize profusely. Instead, I said, "I don't remember asking for your permission."

If you've been waiting for permission, you have my official blessing to write any story you're inspired to tell - not that you need it.

I'm sure you've heard many times that the brain is the most important/biggest sexual organ. That's where it begins. A sexual experience may or may not end up with genitals involved, but that part is truly the least of your concerns as a writer. Unfortunately, that's where most people start, and stop, when trying to write about genders or sexualities outside their personal experience.

If you don't have the genitals your character has, don't fret, because you can relate to the important parts. Don't believe me? You've had a universal human experience: a bad day, a crush, quiet happiness. You know how to write those moments so that the reader will empathize with your characters. Arousal isn't all that different between genders either. The end result is the same - increased heart rate, rush of blood to the genitals, increased sensitivity all over the body - even if the equipment looks different. You don't need to dwell on the mechanics of how a body part works or how it feels to be inside a fe/male body. Readers would rather know how your character feels about what's going on. What makes the sex special, intense, or exciting (and can make the reader feel the same way about it)? All of that comes from between your character's ears, not his/her/hir legs.

Attraction is a bit trickier. You don't have to be attracted to the object of lust in your story, but you must make the reader understand why the lover desires this person. Think about this a moment though. While cocks and pussies have their charms, how interesting is a character that is attracted only to a cock or clit and ignores the person attached to it? If that's your story, then it's a fetish piece. Nothing wrong with that, but how many of those are you going to write? The movie The Night Porter is an excellent example of a person finding another character repellent and yet being drawn to him sexually. If you can write that convincingly, let me read it! However, most of the stories you're going to tell will show the main character being seduced by, or attracted to, a person. A whole person. In most stories, the goodies don't get whipped out until the seduction is complete. So don't let your lack of enthusiasm for a body part overwhelm your ability to show why the total package is attractive to your character.

No matter whom you're writing about, write about an individual, not a type of person. Get inside your character's head and understand him/her/hir. If you can communicate your character's feelings, you can write him/her/hir convincingly, no matter how different that character is from you. After all, you're a writer, and that's what writers do.

From Left Unsaid:

A cop's boyfriend hears that two police officers were shot during a bank robbery. He waits for news; the cop doesn't call him. This snip is after the cop finally comes home.

Steve tries to shift under me. Muscle against muscle, he usually wins, but I've got desperation on my side. The more he fights it, the rougher my hold. He sweats. I smell him and that's how I'm sure he's not a ghost. I shove up his shirt so that my slick skin a can crush to his hairy chest. He tries to lift me, but I won't let him get away, not yet, so I pin him to the couch with my dick, and again, and harder, until my cockhead is bruised inside my jeans. Then I realize he's bucking only with his hips, not with his shoulders.

My hand snakes between us. I grasp him through his sweats. It isn't enough. I yank the waistband past his balls and let it snap. He yelps, but quietly, because he's a tough guy.

Steve tries to look me in the eyes but I'm not having any of that. We're having angry sex, despair sex, and make-up sex all rolled into one, only he doesn't know we're fighting. Every grind against him is a punch, but I want to hit him harder, so I lift back and fuck at him like spitting harsh words from between clenched teeth.

It feels so good to make him suffer. My fingernails leave red arcs as I hold his forearms down. He's puzzled, but turned on. Now I lock my gaze with his. I'm grunting and he's breathing hard.

I want him to howl into my mouth. Our lips seal. My balls are tightening. Brutal, I ram him. He's squirming now. He gets his hands free. I'm biting down on his tongue.

He's moaning and grabbing my ass. His hard-on is trapped between us. I'm body slamming him. Every muscle is wound tight. The fear inside me releases. Cum rises, unstoppable. I shoot hard.

He unzips my fly; milks my dick. I keep humping him. He coats his hand with my cum and grasps his cock. The wet slam of fist and cock and cum is all I hear.

His shoulders lift off the couch. His chin tucks down. Steve is gasping. I yank back his head and shove my tongue in his mouth. He shivers. Then he goes stiff. I feel the hot ooze of his cum on my stomach.

We don't move for a while. I cradle his head again and press my lips to his neck and taste his sweat. My voice can't be trusted, so I don't say anything, not yet.

He's sliding his hands over my back. He hugs me, lets go, hugs me again. I nuzzle closer so that he can't see what's written on my face. He groans and tries to move. At first he laughs a little, but I'm still holding him down, and he wants to get up, but I want to stay where we are for the rest of forever.

He can't lift my entire weight. I go limp. I'll stay like that as long as I have to. I'll take every little second of the rest of our lives I can get at this point. He tries again. I can't let him go yet. It hasn't been long enough.

I'm listening to his heartbeat. I'm feeling him breathing. I'm hoping his cum glues our bodies together and we have to stay like this from now on.

What I want to say is please don't leave this room, please don't put your uniform back on, please don't die.

He holds my face between his hands. He's frowning a little and a question is there, waiting to be asked. I go to the kitchen because my eyes have never been convincing liars. What I want to say is that I'll do anything if you just turn in your badge right now. I'll live on the streets, I'll go hungry, I'll sell my soul to the devil. Anything. But he warned me from the start that he always chose the badge over the boyfriend, so I can't say it aloud. I want to be the one worth giving it up for, but I don't want to be the one who asks.

What if he says no?

There's no taking something like that back once it's been said. No matter what else you say, it's there and it's between you and it keeps growing until it's a huge barrier that you can't overcome anymore so you say goodbye and move on. I don't want to do that. So I leave it unsaid.

The words ring in my brain though, and there are times, like now, when I want so bad to let them spill out. If I pick a fight with him, I'll have an excuse to yell. It would feel so good to let loose and say everything I always have to hold back. Let it go. Spew it until the words come out in dry heaves.

Instead, I go into the kitchen and turn the lights on. I rub his cum across my skin until I'm coated and I pretend that it won't wash away in the shower, that it will always be there, that he will always be here.

He follows me, leans against the doorjamb, watches me. "Are you okay?"

I tell him, "Yes." Because that's all that I can say.

Winner of the 2008 Seattle Erotic Arts Festival's short story competition, Jay Lygon has published over 50 short stories in anthologies such as Inside Him, Gods and Myths, Blue Collar, Toy Box: Floggers, Toy Box: Quiches, and Torqued Tales. His novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons (Torquere Press) have been praised as, "Magical realism, unlike any other BDSM novel ever written." Jay lives in Los Angeles, on the 405 freeway.

Kathleen Bradean's stories can be found in The Sweetest Kiss: Ravishing Vampire Erotica, Where the Girls Are, Coming Together: Against the Odds, Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, Cream, Best Women's Erotica 2007, Blood Surrender, and She's On Top. Her reviews of erotic novels and anthologies can be found on and Erotica_Readers.Com. She has the required writer's cats, but still hasn't figured out how they're supposed to help her write.


  1. "I don't recall asking your permission..."

    I wish more writers had that attitude. We don't need anyone's permission to write stories. We just need to do it!

    Thank you for the post, Kathleen!

  2. And self-censorship is the most insidious beast of them all.

  3. Splendidly put! And huge congrats on the winning story. Is the entire piece available somewhere?

  4. Lee - I'm waiting to hear from the SEAF if they plan a book. I haven't looked. It may be on their site.

  5. Hi Kathleen!

    I was thinking about what you said about writing gay stories. That would be hard for me, and I'm a guy. How much more remarkable for a woman. Pretty good.


  6. Kathleen, welcome and thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic. I love your response to the dumbass fella ranting about women writing about gay men. "I don't remember asking for your permission." ROFL!

    I also write the genre along with f/f and others. It really is a matter of, I'm a writer, so I write. Being able to imagine what things feel like or what the characters thoughts are, that's our job. It's what we get good at if we keep at it long enough.

    Great post, and again, thank you for joining us.


  7. Dear Kathleen,

    A hearty welcome to the Grip! Your post captures exactly what I wanted to say, but much more eloquently. Emotion, not genitalia, is what drives erotica - or any tale for that matter.

    The story is absolutely marvelous. It rings true. I'm not surprised that it won the competition. Looking forward to the opportunity to read the entire work.

    Warmest wishes,

  8. Thank you all. I was glad to be a guest blogger. I love reading this blog. Always an interesting topic!

  9. Thanks for joining us Kathleen. You're right - no one needs the permission of real people in order to write ficitonal people!

    Great excerpt.

    Take care,

    Kim Dare.