Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Out of my mind

By J.P. Bowie

Jealousy: This is sort of a difficult subject for me—not that I want to give myself a pat on the back—but I’m really not the jealous type, at least not in a “frothing at the mouth, have to get even with you if it’s the last thing I do” kind of way.

The dictionary describes jealousy as a negative emotion stemming from insecurity, fear, or anxiety of losing something of value, especially if that something is a someone. What’s interesting is that envy is often lumped in with jealousy, meaning the same thing. But to be envious is different from being jealous. Apparently,there is such a thing as benign envy, for instance, people living under a dictatorship might envy other people’s freedom, but there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as benign jealousy.

The very word has a strong, visceral connotation and stirs up visions of the ‘green-eyed monster’ as Shakespeare called it. Someone standing in the shadows, fists clenched, anger simmering below the surface, ready to explode, ready to do anything to hurt or destroy whomever she/he considers responsible for their emotional distress.

The greatest dramas in literature are generally full of this stuff. Othello was filled with murderous rage when he thought poor Desdemona was bed hopping—she wasn’t. Cain murdered Abel because he thought Adam and Eve liked Abel more—they didn’t. Jezebel’s husband had her put to death because he was told she was screwing anything on two legs—she was. Menelaus had to prove he was better and bigger than Paris by launching a thousand ships to get Helen back. Now that’s some kind of jealousy!

It might be a negative emotion, but it’s a powerful one. An emotion that can scorch the pages of a book, create fantastic, scathing dialogue and gripping, spellbinding plots of murder and intrigue. So when I say I’m not the jealous type, I’m actually jealous that I’m not. What’s the point of being controlled and indifferent emotionally? No one’s going to write an epic about someone like that. Let’s face it, even Darcy and Rochester, the masters of haughty reserve, succumbed to it in the end.

I guess they finally realized that in order to get laid, they had to show some kind of emotion—that stiff upper lip of indifference didn’t quite work with the feisty young ladies they’d set their sights on. They say there’s nothing like a hint of jealousy to stir interest in the hardest of men.

Hopefully, it’ll make them even harder.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Monster Speaks

By Lisabet Sarai

I'd like to strangle her with that oh so tasteful silk tie on the cover. Armani goes well with murder.

Or perhaps I could stage an “accident” at one of her signings. What if a huge pile of her five hundred page tomes were to topple down and crush her? Wouldn't that be poetic justice, for her to be suffocated by the weight of prose she has inflicted on the world?

Ah, but her sudden demise, especially under dramatic circumstances, would only make the problem worse. A dead controversial celebrity would be even more marketable than a live one. Posthumous mommy porn would rise up to smother us all.

Anyway, I'm not the violent sort, no matter how sorely provoked. That recent incident at the Bolshoi was so very tacky. And really, her ignorance is no more her fault than her fame. Jealous as I am, much as I'd like to erase her and her books from the universe, I can't hate her personally.

Sigh. Another approach perhaps. I could teach her a bit about the realities of dominance and submission. Perhaps I'll rope her to the bedposts, blindfold and gag her, then bring out the cane. Let's see how many orgasms she'll have then. Or maybe branding would be appropriate – I gather her steely-eyed hero is cruel enough to consider such extreme measures. I might tattoo “Virgin Slave” across her chest, or “Christian's Slut” on her arse. These visions offer me a few minutes of relief, before the torment of envy returns.

Better still, I'll kidnap her and lock her away in my basement, forcing her to read The Story of O, The Marketplace series, Nine and a Half Weeks, and Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns, until she has some idea what she's talking about. I'll make her watch videos from Kink.com and chuckle as she blushes and squirms. Lady, you have no idea what we pervs really do ...

It could have been me. That's what kills me. I've written a score of tales about a natural submissive's initiation into the dark delights of BDSM, some of them as romantic as her opus. A woman finding her Master and making him love her – I get the appeal, I really do. I've been through that experience personally, which is more, I suspect, than she can say. That's the basic premise of Raw Silk, after all, as personal a fantasy for me as her opus was for her. My heroine's no virgin, though, and no wimp. She has a mind of her own and a rich sexual history - not to mention a Masters degree in computer engineering. I guess the masses couldn't identify. I'm not a mommy and never have been. The demographics just don't work in my favor.

One's first novel is rarely one's best. I read Raw Silk now and cringe at some of my sentences , especially the stiff and unrealistic dialogue. Nevertheless, Raw Silk is far better written than the novel that shall not be named, at least based on the excerpts of the latter which I've read. No, I haven't bought my own copy of the infamous trilogy. I refuse to add to her wealth, as much out of petty jealousy as out of disinterest in reading books as empty and warped as hers are purported to be.

Do I really want her fate, her fortune? Of course not, my rational self replies. I couldn't handle the constant glare of publicity. For one thing, it would quickly unravel the life I've built for myself overseas. I wouldn't want the pressure either. What will she do for an encore?

But she doesn't need to do anything, the monster counters. She can, if she chooses, live off the proceeds of her revamped fan fiction for the rest of her life.

A virid mist rises up to obscure my vision.

It's not really the money. It's not the fame. It's the unfairness of it all, the fact that recognition has nothing to do with artistic quality or truth. I toil away at my work, trying to honestly recreate the thrills and confusion of a D/s relationship. I remain obscure and receive minimal remuneration. She writes nonsense, shallow fantasies without any grounding in reality, and wins worldwide recognition.

I'll suppress the monster – I always do. Jealousy is pernicious and unhealthy. Like acid, it corrodes your peace of mind. Still, these days, the green-eyed demon whispers poison in my ear, whenever I pass a bookstore or kiosk and see those books – and the many knock offs – staring back at me. That's when I start to fantasize about whips and chains, handcuffs and riding crops, and how I might teach my nemesis a well-deserved lesson about the dynamics of power.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cast Change

Greetings, everyone.

I'm just popping in to let you know that we have a change in our membership roster. Unfortunately, Cari Silverwood is leaving the Grip due to other responsibilities.

In her place, we've been lucky to recruit J.P. Bowie, prolific author of M/M erotic romance. For more information about J.P., check out the About Us page.

J.P. will be posting on the first Tuesday of every fortnight.


And by the way - if you're an author, and you'd like to be our guest at the Grip on some Saturday, just contact me. You can find my email at: http://www.lisabetsarai.com/links.html

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Thin Veil

by Jean Roberta

Several of my erotic stories have been inspired by dreams, which tend to be bizarre, unreal and (unfortunately) disjointed. As several other Grippers have mentioned, even a story set in a made-up world or featuring traditional fantasy characters (vampires, werewolves, fairies, ghosts, ancient deities) has to have a certain logic and coherence. At least an illusion of reality has to be maintained.

While reading a vampire novel for review several years ago, I was pulled out of the spell by apparent inconsistencies in the vampire characters’ physical characteristics. (None of them needed to breathe, being dead, but sometimes they breathed heavily, being aroused. Sometimes they were impervious to extremes of temperature but sometimes they were sensitive to the cold.) Aside from these annoying details, I found the novel well-written, hot, dramatic and believable. Those vampires could have cast their glamour on me if they had simply been live, breathing humans.

I made a note to myself that fantasy can only be written at one’s own risk. Of course, the same can be said for writing in any genre, including blog posts.

My earliest erotic stories were certainly fantasies in the sense of being fuckfests with minimal plots and few real-life complications. The characters met, they ripped off each others’ clothes, they came. The novelty of writing stories like this soon wore off.

I realized that in erotica, as in any other kind of fiction, there have to be complications that move the plot along. The characters need to learn things about themselves and each other. They have to change.

Characters have to morph or shapeshift in some way (on the page or in the implied ending or backstory), because everyone does. If you don’t believe me, try looking at a photo of yourself from thirty years ago, then look in the mirror. If you were not even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes thirty years ago, look at one of your grandparents of the same gender and imagine yourself looking like that at the same age.

This little exercise can serve to remind us all that we appear and disappear, every one of us. Where were you before you were conceived in this life? Who knows? Where will you go after you inevitably leave your body? There are numerous theories about this, but I don’t know of any solid proof.

I came to realize that fantasy plots, settings and characters are thin veils over what passes for reality. To the extent that all fiction describes events and characters that never existed in real life, it could all be considered fantasy. However, as Amanda explained, creating a fantasy world from scratch seems to work better in a novel than in a short story, and reading other writers’ fantasies has shown me how easy it is to slip up and break the rules of a created world.

When I first thought of writing a collection of erotic stories, I ventured into the kind of fantasy called “metafiction,” in which the author intrudes to interact directly with the characters or the reader. (Here is a fairly well-known example by Ursula LeGuin: http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/guin.htm )

My story “Mindscape,” begins with a Politically Incorrect fantasy:

The scene has the eerie glow of fantasy or nostalgia, and it looks as choreographed as a dance sequence in a musical about urban gangs. An adorable young woman, a cute chick with a glossy chestnut ponytail and assertive tits under a clingy sweater, has been cornered by three members of a gang (The Cobras? The Switchblades? The Renegades?) against an old brick building in a part of town where the sound of torn paper and empty bottles rattling down an alley in a sudden wind serves as a menacing soundtrack.

The young toughs are edgy because they are randy and defensive, knowing that nice girls are warned to stay away from them. They are no less image-conscious than the one they have captured. They are slim but muscular under leather jackets; neither their sculpted haircuts nor their tattoos are homemade. All three are (surprisingly or not) female. They are faintly outlined by moonlight.

I think of the girl as Felina because she is cat-like. She takes dance lessons and it shows. She is also as curious as a cat, and this is why she let herself be lured outdoors by a gang member (who is after all, she told herself, another girl). Felina is so full of energy that she always seems about to laugh, cry or come. Her general interest in other people is often interpreted as flirtation, although she is less vain and manipulative than snide observers suspect. She is bouncy with hunger.

The three blades (Mike, Spike and Dyke? Cut, Slash and Burn? Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos?*) have itchy hands. Soon they will be pulling off Felina’s sweater to reveal a white cotton bra, which will not stay on long enough to shield the tender breasts from the night air. The girl’s poodle skirt will be raised to show petticoats, panties (girdle? garter belt and stockings?), all the trappings of archaic femininity which have never been an obstacle to the serious explorer. (*the three Fates in ancient Greek mythology)

Soon Felina will be naked in a semi-public place, on all fours on rude cement or passed from one pair of arms to the next. She will be kissed, stroked, squeezed, pinched and slapped until she is breathless. Experienced fingers (nothing bigger?) will invade her surprised pussy and she will be fucked until she is hysterical with fear or delirious with joy. If she tries to squeeze her legs shut to keep things out of her “privates,” a finger or something more threatening will be pushed up her inviting ass. Demanding mouths will cover all the entrances to her body, swallowing her screams and anything else that might come out of her.

The sound is growing louder. It must be the wail of an approaching police siren, bringing law to the lawless. But the cruiser never appears in the scene because the wail of protest is coming from the author’s feminist conscience.

So here is the central conflict: retro fantasy (dyked-up, but still featuring gender polarity) vs. an equally pressing desire for safety and respect for women. Luckily, all the characters in this story are able to convince the author that what they do is Safe, Sane and Consensual, not to mention metaphorical, metafictional, and completely unreal. Felina even points out that she hasn’t been touched yet, since the author put all the action in future tense. Eventually, this story was published in my collection, Each Has a Point (www.amazon.com/Each-has-a-Point-ebook/dp/B004MME148).

I admired the combination of sex and fantasy which is the specialty of Circlet Press before I had three fantasy stories accepted for Circlet anthologies: “Smoke” (about an encounter between a mortal woman and a demon) in Best Fantastic Erotica, “Taste” (my heterosexual gargoyle story) in Best Erotic Fantasy and Science Fiction, and “The Way to a Man’s Heart” (about a territorial dispute between a proud woman and a man who can turn into a hawk when he needs to fly) in Like a Sword, a mini-collection of “high fantasy.”

Having this many fantasy stories in print gave me the courage to write a new version of “The White Cat,” a French fairy tale from the 1600s, for Rumpledsilksheets, a collection of lesbian fairy tales published by Ravenous Romance in 2010. As you can see, the “hero” of my story is hardly different from some modern people. There have always been masculine-identified females:

Long ago, in a land far away, there lived a King and Queen who had three children: a daughter and two sons. From her earliest childhood, Princess Valerie had asked to be trained in horsemanship and all the arts of war, and her parents loved her so much that they provided all she asked. And when her younger brothers were growing to manhood, she trained them in fencing and archery and hand-to-hand combat as skillfully as the masters their parents had assigned to them.

"I was meant to be a man of authority," young Valerie often whispered when saying her prayers. She would smile at the proud shoulders and firm jawline in her reflection in the glass, and frown at the budding breasts under her jerkin. Her hairless cheeks glowed with health, but she preferred to hide them under a visor. She had no desire to be courted by a foreign prince who would expect her to bear his heirs.

How differently she would court a woman if she were a gentleman. As Prince Val, she knew she could teach all the fops at court how to show an unfeigned, quiet strength. How it grieved her that her finest impulses were considered unseemly in a princess, although she was her parents’ firstborn heir.

Since my story is fantasy, this character eventually becomes Prince Val without surgery or hormone therapy. In fantasy stories, magical transformations are always possible, and love is the most powerful spell.

Fairy tales, loosely speaking, tend to be set in a vaguely-medieval Times of Yore, and therefore they seem like a combination of fantasy and historical fiction. Here is the opening scene of my story of moral temptation, “The Battle Lost and Won:”

"Sister Mary Agnes."

The creamy, insinuating voice held a hint of mockery as it echoed off the high ceiling of the convent kitchen.

Everything else within the room could be identified and put back in its place. Cups, bowls, tableware, sun-bleached tablecloths, pots, pitchers and candlesticks waited patiently in the cupboards until they could be of service. Like penitent sinners, the dirty dishes from the evening meal were being scrubbed clean, dried and placed safely where they belonged.

Sister Mary Agnes enjoyed washing the dishes alone, when she could focus on her work and not on the presence of another sister. Everything about this humble task was satisfying, from the warmth of the soapy water to the caress of the young nun’s plain habit on the skin of her legs as she moved back and forth.

But someone else was in the room with her, and its voice was too androgynous to be identified clearly as that of a man or a woman. "Do not ignore me, Sister, at the risk of your immortal soul." The voice was not human, yet it reminded her of someone she knew.

The disembodied voice, of course, can be regarded as that startling inner voice that can’t be ignored. It goads Sister Mary Agnes out of a life which is calm and peaceful into one that teaches her what she really wants. This story is part of a collection of my historical lesbian erotica that is due to be released by Lethe Press in Fall 2013.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Little Chocolate In My Peanut Butter

by Amanda Earl

I admit I have Fantasy envy. Most of my erotica tends toward the realistic, but I'd love to be able to create entire worlds both plausible to the reader and outrageously imaginative. I find this difficult to do in a short story. To me the fantasy genre lends itself better to the novel where there is space to create elaborate worlds, notwithstanding the fabulous sci fi/fantasy stories of Ray Bradbury, the magic realism of Jorge Luis Borges and countless other writers whose genius humbles me.  

So far I have taken only rare side trips into the fantastic, and I was able to make these forays because I worked with existing characters and imagery from folklore and mythology, rather than attempting to build a new world all by my lonesome.

I have ventured into the paranormal with stories such as The Coriolis Effect in which the sarcastic and jaded vampire Ruth Verdigris picks up stray emo twenty somethings and lures them to her bat house.

I like my vampires to be jaded skeptics. Another one of my world-weary vampires is the protagonist of a story called the Vampire Responds who is attempting to hide from social media where he has accumulated numerous fans.  

At times I'll even adapt a myth or steal characters from Greek or Roman mythology or the Bible.  I've dabbled with religious figures in  stories such as Jesus, Melinda and the Undead, which has Jesus fighting Luther, a bumbling version of Lucifier, in order to win fair Melinda who doesn't realize she is dead.

I'm very fond of taking fictional characters out of their original literary settings and plonking them into my stories and poems. Or reimagining historical figures. Eleanor of Aquitaine has wandered through the streets of Ottawa in my long poem Eleanor (above/ground press, 2007). 

A homeless woman has visions that she is Saint Ursula in Ursula, (AngelHousePress, 2008) and I've tried to fill in the blanks of well known and obscure figures from history, such as Catherine Blake, Catherine de Medici and Kiki of Montparnasse. I've also invented characters, such as an alien who has come to Earth for the first time in my long poem "Welcome to Earth" (BookThug, 2008).

I'm currently working on a poetry manuscript inspired by Edward Gorey's illustrated eccentrics.  I recently porned up Cinderella in a story called "Cinderella and the Glass Dildo."  I also wrote an elaborate and completely dreamt up story about a supernatural queen responsible for Van Gogh's lust for the colour yellow  in the Queen of Yellow.  I'd love to write a whole series of related stories called "The Court of Colour" in which I pursue the idea further.

On occasion I'll try my hand at speculative fiction, imagining worlds where the right wing agenda carries the day (not too far from reality, I know) Take for example my gender bending post-apocalyptic orgiastic tale "Successor" published on Unlikely Stories  and republished in Cream, the Best of the Erotica Readers and WritersAssociation .

It was inspired by the painting the Death of Sardanapalus by Eugène Delacroix. Sarabella, Albumar, Joachim, Maliende and others seek sanctuary from soldiers whose mission it is to eradicate the queers and to repopulate the Earth by impregnating women against their will. I admit I had a lot of fun inventing the characters'  names.

Fiction that satirizes an increasingly close-minded society and takes the scenarios to their ultimate Draconian and appalling conclusions is vital as both an instrument of artistic expression and an outlet for readers. We have a need to examine what might happen if we continue along certain paths. 

I think this is one of the reasons why the graphic novel or comic book genre has boomed. People crave fiction that talks about what might happen. The comic book seems to be the perfect genre for the depiction of new worlds, both Utopian and Dystopian societies. Bless the Alan Moores of the world. We need more like him.

For both my reading pleasure and writing angst, I like a little magic in my reality, a little chocolate in my peanut butter. In some ways, I still have a childlike hope that magic exists. In my childhood, magic seemed like a very real possibility. I used to squeeze my eyes hard so that I could see the coloured lights moving because I believed that these lights were guardian angels and I wanted them to come and rescue me.

I devoured fairy tales, and was convinced a fairy hid amongst the tiger lilies behind the wrought iron fence in our front yard. I also felt sure that I could fly (away from home), if I could just figure out the right combination of movements, that my dolls became real when I slept, and that my imaginary friends weren't imaginary at all. The possibility of magic gave me hope of escape from both the mundane and the frightening aspects of daily life as a child.

But magic realism, fairy tales, rewriting Bible stories and mythology all tend to make use of existing tropes, rather than invent entire worlds. Such invention seems like a huge challenge to me as a writer, which means, that one day I shall probably want to take it on.

As to erotica reading, I am inclined toward realistic plot elements with settings in places that have existed or are very similar to existing places. Realistic but not completely real. All fiction, of course, is a form of fantasy or verisimilitude. I am fascinated by the world of Roissy created in the Story of O. The chateau, the hierarchy, the translation of these values outside the chateau. I have often imagined rewriting Roissy  in a contemporary setting.

I need a lot of grit in my erotica and such dark taboos have to come from imagined and imperfect worlds rather than fantasies about women being captured and then treated like princesses. The scenarios have to be plausible enough within their worlds to make sense. I recently started Lisabet Sarai's very hot m/m romance "Quarantine" which is set in an imagined future where a gay plague infecting heterosexuals has resulted in imprisonment for those testing positive for the homogene. It has the right mix of tension, gritty sex and characters that are not too unrealistic to  be believable although their bodies are delicious sounding. 

I am also a big fan of the speculative fiction of Kurt Vonnegut--Harrison Bergeron is one of my favourite stories--the magical realism of Robertson Davies and Isabelle Allende and recently I discovered Angela Carter whose adaptations and recreations of old fairy tales are  marvelous. Helen Oyeyemi is a contemporary writer who has updated the tale of Bluebeard in Mr. Fox and Barry Webster has written fable, horror, fairy tale and fantasy in his wonderful linked short story collection, the Lava In My Bones. I aspire to write as well and as imaginatively as these fine writers.

Now back to reclining on the chaise lounge and being fed bonbons by several scantily clad young men. [pure fantasy alas]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Compared To What.

By Daddy X

What does fiction do for us? Take us to the outer reaches of the universe? To new worlds? Inside technology? To a contrived history of the pyramids? Do we, as writers, first experience the travels in the real world, then relate the trip ourselves? Or do we create the journey from whole cloth? What stimulates a reader’s mental and emotional synapses to trigger a particular realization the writer has in mind? How to get readers to process information the way we intend? Do we acknowledge intelligent readers by subtle tricks, isolating ourselves from their own interpretations? Or do we hold their hands, explaining everything as we go along, leaving nothing to the imagination? How do we make it all happen? How to keep it real?

Life experiences hint at how a character may behave in a given circumstance or what reactions may result from certain stimuli. Creating an acceptably realistic scenario is a melding of what we know as fact with what simply might be. It’s a matter of blending the universally knowable with conjecture. Sounds easy, as long as we’re simply writing what we know, what we’ve lived.

While I certainly do make up shit, I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to write anything too far out.  By that I mean crossing erotica with Sci-fi, paranormal, vampires, zombies (ick). I do have a couple thousand words set on another planet, but there it sits, in the ‘What Next?’ pile.

Fact is I’m not really conversant in the very fantastical, except for those places I’ve traveled within myself and consequently still within my world. Doors opened and thresholds crossed under the influence of psychedelics. Real life, whether within our conscious minds or not, is all so interesting (and fantastic) that there’s enough internal space to explore before I’d get to setting up other unfamiliar, complicated societies. I can’t figure out the one we’re living in, for crissakes.

Clearly, a lot of readers do love these fantasy genres, and the artists who create them can be quite affecting. Storyteller Stephen King is one who states the impossible and makes us believe it. The writers of the ‘Star Trek’ series, endowed with the innate ability not only to create new worlds, technologies, societal patterns, etc. also remembered to take us along for the ride. As if a phaser was something everybody had in a drawer somewhere. We felt we understood how warp drive worked.  

Feeling one’s way around a created fantasy world is at once a noble, frivolous, and difficult task. Noble, in that an alternate ordering of a different way of being even resides in the random cards of animal imagination. Frivolous, for those who lead a more simple existence--even folk tales and creation myths tend to stay fixed in nature. Difficult, in that it all has to jibe.  

We mustn’t forget the need for the human spirit to create fantasy. Even in the most removed tribes, the otherworldly has a way of creeping into a very real existence even though a moody, introspective state couldn’t be sustained for long. Not at least without the cooperation of others of like mind. It seems as though there’s a need in the human condition that requires flights of fancy. Escapism? Metaphor? A need to explore the creative process? This is the genesis of magical thought. To create an unsubstantiated story to explain who we are, why we are, and where we come from. Births of religions would fall in here somewhere.

The very complexity of our own way of life seldom makes sense, so why, one may ask, does ‘real’ matter so much? Good question, but Fiction has to make sense relative to itself. Life doesn’t have to follow any rules. A reader’s observation may suggest that a particular outcome would be impossible given the information provided.

At times it appears we accept such incongruities in our real lives much easier than we endure fake in our fiction. Reality is a state of flux. In the real world, we can’t always predict the effect of an action, whereas in the world of fiction we must. We can surprise, but the surprise must be congruent with what came before.

My guess is it’s my own laziness, covering for some perceived inadequacy that keeps me from the difficult stuff of research, which would be necessary to any endeavors in writing the fantastic. Same as a historical piece for that matter, so it’s not just a simple fear of the unknown that keeps me from that noble task. 

My lamest excuse would be that at this stage of life, there isn’t time for researching something outside my experience. After all, I am still a long way from exhausting what I’ve learned thus far. Going forward, it follows that research into esoteric and non-substantive issues could be a waste of time. Time better spent writing. Of course all that’s simply cover for procrastination, and that was our last topic, wasn’t it? Funny how themes reoccur. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Take me away – to the Snowy Mountains

By Desiree Holt

People dream about places they want to go, places they want to see. Things they’d like to do. Experiences they want to have. For my books I have daydreamed and researched myself into the jungles of Peru and Mexico, Caribbean islands, the countries of Europe and the Middle East. I have imagined myself in the strong arms of my heroes being rescued…or as in the case of Jungle Inferno, doing the rescuing.

Hold on, Mark. We’re here. We’re here.
As the man in grey slacks approached the helicopter at a dead run, Faith heard the whistling sound of what she later learned was a rocket propelled grenade and the ’copter exploded in a bright fireball. The man in grey fell back, pushed to the ground by the force of the explosion.
“Oh my God,” Faith screamed, forgetting the order for silence in the shock of the explosion.
“La senora!”
She heard the voice from below her and looked down to see a man raising his rifle toward her. She reacted automatically, barely taking time to think, all those hours on the range paying off. Before the man could fire she aimed the Glock at him and emptied the clip into him. He fell back, his face and chest covered in blood, his finger tightening on the trigger one last time in death, the rifle spraying bullets into the air.
Her heart was racing so fast she was sure it would explode any minute.
Think of him as a paper target. Don’t think of him as a person.
But she suddenly remembered her promise—I’ll get you out even if I have to kill someone. She hadn’t expected it to come to that but she realized with a shock that she’d do it again if need be.

But as much as I like the soothing blanket of heat and the lure of exotic places, I have always wanted to see the Snow Mountains in Australia. Why, you might ask? Because years ago I saw a movie, The Man From Snowy River, and I fell in love.
With the story, the scenery, the people. I wanted to ride a horse down the mountainside the way Tom Burleson did, cracking that long whip of his. I wanted to campy in the snow of the mountains, boiling the pure crystals for water and watching the sun cast its blinding light on it.
When I wrote about Reece Halliday in Crack the Whip, it was Tom Burleson I saw, naked in the snow on the mountains, the very essence of masculinity.

The sound echoed in the room. India jerked even though he hadn’t touched her yet, simply cracked the whip in the air. But the sound was arousing to her. And to him.
This time he applied it to her flesh and the tail left a satisfyingly red stripe on India’s ass. One of those delicious little sounds he loved rolled from her throat, diffused by the fake cock in her mouth.

And as I wrote this scene I could just imagine my naked hero, standing in the snow rather than in a heated room, naked beneath the sun. The fabled horses of the mountains thundering around him.
I play the theme from the movie very often when I’m writing because that image inspires me.  Check it out on iTunes. I bet it will inspire you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Demons Do It Better

I do prefer my characters to be believable, or at least only slightly preternaturally endowed, if they’re supposed to be in the “real” world. As an editor, I come down hard on sex moves and positions and endurance that are clearly impossible.

But why limit ourselves to the real world? I’m going to cheat here and leapfrog right over the possible or even the barely plausible into full-flung fantasy territory. Paranormal, fairy tales, steampunk, High Fantasy with aristocratic elves, urban fantasy with rock-star elves, whatever. If your readers willingly suspend disbelief because they know you’re writing outside the lines of real life, you can play with eroticism in ways you’d never get away with otherwise.

I got my writing start with fantasy and science fiction, and I still dabble occasionally in those genres, usually with a heavily erotic slant. That doesn’t mean that the sex is always other-worldly—sometimes the fantasy elements involve other aspects of the story, and the erotic bits share real-world constraints—but sometimes the fantasy and sex do drive each other. Think, for example, of bondage enforced by magic. Imagine a demon imprisoned for centuries in the stone body of a gargoyle, befriended by a despondent, abused prostitute who arouses him to such a pitch of lust as she stands on a balcony and masturbates that he breaks through the bonds:

His vision of her flashed through her mind; eyes half-closed, lips full and parted, head twisting from side to side as damp, heavy hair coiled over her shoulders and slid across her thrusting nipples, rising and falling to the ragged rhythm of her breathing. It was his will that raised her hand to cradle and press one breast and then the other, gently at first, then harder, sending hot lances downward. She no longer knew which sobbing cries and moans were her own, and which reverberated from the stone.
Somewhere in the outer world there were sounds. Pounding on a door? Or her own blood pounding in her ears? The clamor of her body drowned any intrusion. Linked with this being who watched and shared and demanded, she moved in response to his will as well as her own, hips twisting, undulating, arching toward him, hands stroking and kneading and tantalizing but leaving the hot, pulsing void for him, for his filling, if only he would come to her, into her...
A sharp crack split the air. The balcony shook. A wave of force slammed her against the building, jarring her teeth into her lower lip until it bled. She force down pain-sparked anger; whatever she had incited she would willingly accept.
The pressure surged up and down her body. She couldn't breathe, couldn't see, mist swirled before her eyes...but the force eased at her struggles. She pushed against it and it eased again, in slight, unsteady increments.
As her vision cleared, distant lights and buildings twisted and wavered, distorted by something not quite visible, something trembling between being and not being. She reached out and felt a throbbing as of air propelled by beating wings, or a pounding heart.
He was taking form now, still murky to the eyes but tangible to her hands, her skin, her demanding body.
Wingtips curved around her. Strong arms circled her and hands grasped the soft fullness of her buttocks to lift and press her up against him. Fiery crescent eyes flickered closer and closer as she stretched upward. He bent his head and with a tongue gently rasping, like a cat's, licked the drops of blood from her lip.
She clutched at his massive chest, iron-hard under deep velvet fur; gripped corded thighs with her own, straining to raise herself enough to meet the tip of the great cock pulsing against her belly.

Okay, over the top, and it gets even more so, but with a definite story arc completely dependent on fantasy and horror (and erotica) tropes. This piece was first published in Kristina Wright’s Dream Lover anthology and then picked up for the current volume of Maxim Jakubowski’s Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, so there does seem to be a readership for this sort of thing, even though it’s far from being everyone’s goblet of blood-red wine.

There does seem to be more of a market for fantasy erotica than there was a few years ago. I’ve written for Kristina’s Lustfully Ever After fairy tale anthology and her steampunk Steamlust, and Mitzi Szereto’s Thrones of Desire with a Game of Thrones atmosphere, and even had a good time with shapeshifter erotica (mine was an oriental dragon) for Delilah Devlin’s She-shifters. I also write sometimes for Circlet Press, which specializes in sf/f erotica, and there are plans for them to do a short e-book collection of stories I’ve done for them.

All of which is just to point out, at far too great a length, that fantasy in erotica doesn’t always have to mean unreal portrayals of the supposedly real world. Once in a while you can scrap the real world entirely, drink deeply of that goblet of blood-red wine, and let your imagination go all the way over the top.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Fantasy of Romance

by Giselle Renarde

Here's something you should never admit when you work in this industry: I'm not a romantic.

But that's my truth.  I soured on romance early in life because I never felt represented in Disney-esque storylines.  I'm queer and I'm weird.  I was never a princess and I never wanted a prince.  Romance as a genre did not speak to me.

Apart from being queer and not identifying with heteromance (which struck me as prescriptive and ridiculous in terms of what's considered acceptable and appropriate behaviour in establishing a relationship), I also found the idea of the happy-ever-after a little... well, unrealistic.  Fantastic, in other words.

Romance is a fantasy.

A couple months ago, there was a hashtag on Twitter that had something to do with romance readers' guilty confessions.  I noticed a lot of readers tweeting that they didn't care how a story resolved itself so long as the lovers lived happily ever after.  They didn't care if the romance was realistic.  They just wanted to feel warm and fuzzy at the end.

Of course, not everybody following the conversation agreed.  Some readers want the plot to resonate, or at least to... you know, make sense.  For myself, I'd rather watch everything fall apart.  That's reality.  I'd rather see real, deep troubles between people--troubles that aren't easily or ever fixed.

But the fantasy of romance must have wriggled its way into my writing brain. I happened to be writing a fluffy bit of erotica, at the time, called "Seducing the Sexy Celebrity Chef."  I intended it as a hardcore romp--a woman's sexual fantasy of getting it on with a domineering TV chef.

But as I wrote my Chef story, its intention began to morph.  I was trying to write a story that was all about sex, and suddenly it was infusing itself with romance.  Suddenly, my famous chef wanted even more than my star-struck woman.

I tried editing out all that fantastic romance, even as I wrote it.  For some reason, I couldn't stop myself.  Romance overpowered me.  When I handed the manuscript over to my girlfriend, who is also my contract editor, I asked her, "Is this too far from reality?"  I really hoped she'd tell me it was.  I hoped she'd advise me to change the story and remove some of that gushy, far-from-life romance.

But she didn't.  She liked it.

What is it that's so satisfying about the fantasy of romance?  Even as I reread that story and told myself, "This would never happen--not in a million years!" I couldn't change it.  Maybe even the most jaded among us maintain the fantasy of an easy love, an easy romance, an easy life.

That's not reality.  Maybe that's why we (yes, even the cynics and the pessimists) need a fictional shot of happy every once in a while.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lust in the Detergent Aisle

I’m in the soap aisle of the Kroger store, staring at the polished silver handle of a very nice upholstery brush.  I have no interest in upholstery brushes.

The ghost in the polished silver handle– big and bouncy, meaty, outrageous.  Oh you.  Go your way -   Jigging among the bottles in defiantly tight and definitive black jersey, swollen to bursting like a Macy’s Parade balloon.  Where have you been?  Oh thou gorgeous heifer?

Jig. Jig. Jig. God bless that savagely sumptuous Bison rump, fellatio lips snickering a delicious hum, oh the humanity, that staggering tonnage of her Charmin clevage swaying unhinged like a surprised suspension bridge in wind.  

Big and boozing, irreproachably lewd, from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All, swelling Tide, the agreeable white grub between my amused legs awakes “Lugt Schwestern!  Die weckerin lacht in den Grund!”

Surreptitiously on toes, closer I, a prince among detergents,  for if she turns oh how fine on sheets as fresh as snow, to smother languorously below the salt dark, undulating, mucusly slipshod, riant bore as she humps over head.  To slam on the juice!  From Bounce to Shout to Finish then Snuggle!

“Is this cheap stuff any good?”

Unhinged, civilized me again under the unthrillingly dumb florescent lamps.

“I think so. I use it.”

Eroticism can happen anywhere.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Does the Line Blur?

Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Escapism versus reality.

To me, every story ever written has some element of fantasy and some element of escapism. That’s why it’s called fiction. It doesn't matter where you set it, or who the people are, or how closely it follows something that really happened, the writer has imagined it.

This topic set me to thinking about the huge variety of fiction out there. When it comes to books, it’s not whether you like escapism or not, it’s where you draw the line in the sand. And boy, it’s one wiggly line when it comes to what people prefer in erotic writing. Appropriate, don’t you think? Sex is not a straight forward affair. Wiggly sounds better. There are so many many ways to approach sex. If you think it’s just wham bam thank you ma’am and insert tab A into slot B you need to step away from this blog…or to go and read a few of the past posts.

That wiggly line in erotic romance stories (I mostly write those) might as well start with those involving the guy next door. I mean, that is so close to real, right? Yet for some like me, it’s too close.

If you’re going to dream, you don’t want Ned the balding, badly dressed IT consultant with the bad case of (insert some disease) next door do you? No, you must have Mr. Insanely-well-muscled with a bad case of gym junkie who is also a great lover next door. So there you have the first rift in reality. There are very few books that ever pick a man who is truly average, and none that choose Mr. Way Below-average for the ‘hero’.

There is always some element of unrealness. And even in a contemporary story, what turns on one reader will turn off another. You may love reading about Billionaires who find the woman of their dreams walking down the street and she’s poor and nothing special really, but to him, she’s amazing and he just has to have her!

But to me?

Hmm. No. Billionaires don’t do it for me. Unless, maybe, they have had some awful things happen to them and they’re trapped in a jungle prison with a vile disease eating away their leg and the cleaning lady has made off with their money. Yeah, sorry, uber-rich for me is just going too far.

I would rather read a story set in an alternate world where the people are at risk of being killed any moment from a dreaded invasion of aliens than read about billionaires. If you’re going to stretch reality, do it in a way that makes my brain hurt, puh-leeese.

In most every story there is a moment where the author asks you to take a leap of faith. They take you by the hand and say, come with me and I’ll tell you the rest of the story.

And right there, right then, some readers let go of that hand and go, no way.

But that’s what highlights the differences between what some see as escapism and others see as trash.

And though different people have different opinions there seems to be a mass preference for some types of escapism that is set up by what has come before. Go back twenty years and you won’t find this huge preference for shape-shifters or vampires in romance. Women now see them as sexy because of what they've seen in the media, on TV and in books, and Twilight has a lot to do with it.

Give us another twenty years and these stories probably won’t be as accepted. Ask a romance reader to believe in a shapeshifter romance and they will perhaps let go of the author’s hand and not make that leap of faith.

Obviously, what you like others may not. The trigger point for disbelief can be tiny and inexplicable. Some minor detail of character will make one reader toss the book, where another will sit enthralled and read until the small hours. That same first reader who got stuck on a minor character detail, will gobble up another story that starts with a billionaire Dom at an art gallery finding their future submissive wandering past the gallery. Or they’ll dive into a book where a man finds a woman and tells her to go enroll in a Submissive school so she can find her dream Dom.

Is it just the weirdest and the most fantastical books that make readers faint and walk away? No, it isn't  There is a huge immense market for books about women being abducted by aliens and finding their true mate in outer space.

What one reader will go all OMG over, another will snatch up and devour.

Yet is it any more escapist to imagine an alien with two dicks loving you than it is to imagine a sexy, handsome, well-endowed billionaire deciding you are the woman he has been waiting for and that if he cannot have you his life is worthless? I think not.

Perhaps you disagree? Where does the real turn into the unreal and you let go of the author’s hand?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Just Over the Edge

By Lisabet Sarai

Our topic for the next fortnight here at the Grip is “Take Me Away”:

You could argue that most erotica is fantasy, but from paranormal to alternate history to exclusive clubs and mansions for BDSM practitioners, our genre seems to lend itself to fantasy worlds. Do you like your erotica as close to reality as possible, or do you figure that as long as you're giving the reader what they crave, you might as well go all out?

Anyone who's read much of my work will recognize that it is strongly (perhaps too strongly) grounded in the real world. Practically everything I've ever written provides a strong sense of place. Indeed, I suspect that I could list the settings of my tales more accurately than the names of my characters. How many authors set stories in Worcester, Massachusetts, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Minneapolis, Minnesota, or a motel on the Interstate fifty miles from Kansas City? I've got tales that unfold in Bangkok, Siem Reap, London, Guatemala and Assam, too.

See what I mean?

My characters aren't generally fabulously wealthy, famous or powerful either. I've written computer programmers and cops, doctors and grad students, flight attendants, strippers and bar owners, but not a single rock star or super model.

In each story, I try to evoke environments and situations that feel solid and familiar, or at least plausible. I want to lull my reader into believing in my worlds and the individuals who populate them. That way, when I step over the edge into erotic fantasy, I'll pull them with me. They won't notice (I hope) that we're all at once in an alternate reality where every desire can be fulfilled. I want them to be ready to accept – no, devour – my sexual scenarios even when they're of dubious possibility. Exhibitionist masturbation on a late night subway train. Double penetration on a billiard table. Setting oneself up as whore for a night in a rented window. A public spanking on the stage of a western honky tonk. Sex on the moderator's desk at an academic conference. Things are just so normal - right up until the point that they become fantastic.

I've written a few swingers and BDSM clubs in my time. However, those places do exist – I've even visited a few. Sure, I exaggerate a bit. At the typical swing party, you're just as likely to find creeps and bores as sexy, intuitive Dominants. However, I doubt that those of you who have had similar personal experiences would have serious issues with my portrayals of these environments.

In the few historical stories I have attempted, I work hard to build a sense of time and place, to generate a past as solid and believable as the present. I'm no expert at this; however, the goal, for me, is not much different from when I am writing a contemporary tale. Make it feel real.

Even when I write paranormal fiction, the worlds I create closely mirror the everyday. I prefer to insert only a few preternatural or occult elements in an otherwise mundane setting, and I definitely stipulate limits to my characters' powers. In my novel Necessary Madness, Kyle has prescient visions, but he cannot control them, at least initially, and they've driven him to the border of insanity. In Serpent's Kiss, although Jorge is an incarnation of the god Quetzlcoatl, he is neither invincible nor invulnerable.

Occasionally I wonder whether my propensity for writing relatively realistic erotica stems from a lack of imagination. As a reader, I adore strange, intricate, well-crafted fantasy worlds. I know it takes considerable skill to create one that's detailed and consistent enough to satisfy me. For the most part, I haven't dared to try.

My most recent novel, however, is a serious departure from my more realistic focus. Rajasthani Moon, which will be released in early June, could be politely described as “over the top”. The book began as a sort of experiment. Fed up with the slicing and dicing of erotic romance into a million subgenres, I decided to write a book that combined as many genres as I could manage. Rajasthani Moon is steampunk-paranormal-BDSM-ménage-Bollywood-Rubenesque erotic romance. There are also some kidnap fantasy and F/F elements thrown in to the mix. Here's the blurb:

Neither kink nor curse can stop a woman with a mission.

Cecily Harrowsmith, secret agent extraordinaire, is a woman on a mission. When the remote Indian kingdom of Rajasthan refused to remit its taxes to the Empire, Her Majesty imposed an embargo. Deprived of the energy-rich mineral viridium, essential for modern technology and development, Rajasthan was expected to quickly give in and resume its payments. Yet after three years, the rebellious principality still has not knuckled under. Cecily undertakes the difficult journey to the rugged, arid land of the Rajputs to determine just how it has managed to survive, and if possible to convince the country to return to the Empire's embrace. Instead, she's taken captive by a brigand who turns out to be the ruler's half-brother Pratan and delivered into the hands of the sexy but sadistic Rajah Amir, who expertly mingles torture and delight in his interrogation of the voluptuous interloper.

Cursed before birth by Amir's jealous mother, Pratan changes to a ravening wolf whenever the moon is full. Cecily uncovers the counter-spell that can reverse the effects of the former queen's hex and tries to trade that information for her freedom. Drawn to the fierce wolf-man and sympathising with his suffering, she volunteers to serve as the sacrifice required by the ritual – offering her body to the beast. In return, the Rajah reveal Rajasthan's amazing secret source of energy. In the face of almost impossible odds, Cecily has accomplished the task entrusted to her by the Empire. But can she really bear to leave the virile half-brothers and their colourful land behind and return to constraints of her life in England?


There's nothing at all realistic about Rajasthani Moon. It postulates the existence of fabulously perverse devices such as robotic rope that binds upon command and inexhaustible sources of energy to power airships and sex machines. Cecily is a larger than life character (in every sense) who raves against her captors even as she experiences one climax after another at their hands. It doesn't matter who is around or what is happening – Cecily Harrowsmith is almost guaranteed to be aroused.

I did enough research on Rajasthan to lace the tale with genuine cultural references, but I also concocted some purely-imagined ceremonies and performances, in line with the Bollywood theme. I made up exotic foreign dishes and created a Taj Mahal-like palace by a sacred lake. I even messed with geography, relocating the forbidding Merangahr Fort (which I knew would be my primary setting as soon as I set eyes on a photo) from Jodhpur to the Rajasthani capital city of Jaipur.

Rajasthani Moon is such a departure from my usual realistic style that I worry about readers' reactions. In particular, I'm a bit concerned that some people might object to the aspects of dubious consent that run through the tale. I just hope they realize that the book is not intended to be taken too seriously. In the real world, and in most of my fiction, I insist that all sex, and all BDSM activities, be safe, sane and consensual. However, Cecily's Rajasthan is about as far from the real world as you can get. It has a good deal in common with Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars or H. Rider Haggard's Africa, but with considerably more sex.

In writing this novel, I took a step over the edge of plausibility, into the realm of high fantasy. Whether I make it back remains to be seen.