Saturday, July 31, 2010

And Now A Word From A Fan

Since I picked the topic of fans, I thought it would be fun to hear from a fan. Leaundra is one of my FaceBook friends, and I noticed how many of her posts were about books, so I thought, "Hmm, here's a reader! Let's get some insight into her thoughts." She did a great job. My thanks to her for pitching in.

My name is Leaundra and I’ve never done this before, believe me I’m not a writer, I’m just a person who loves to read(I’ll leave the writing to you experts, hehe) I’m from Seattle Washington. I've been married 23 years, have three children, two daughter’s(ages 18,19)and a son(24) and have two granddaughters(3,4). We are a military family and have been traveling our whole marriage. We’ve lived in Washington State, Germany twice (we’re here now), Texas(going back in January 11), Alaska, California and South Carolina.

Just a little background on my love of books. I always get asked the question what is your favorite book and since I read so many books it's hard to pick just one. So how I pick a book, I always pick the book that started my love of reading. "Are you there? God, it's me Margaret" by Judy Blume. I read this book at age 10 and have been in love with reading ever since.

When I was younger I was a librarians best friend. I lived in the library, school library and the neighborhood ones. They always had piles of books picked out for me because I read them so fast. I loved libraries so much that I decided to start my own at home. Right now I have over 1800 paperbacks in my living room. I think since I couldn’t keep them when I was younger I’m making up for it now, lol. Yes they have traveled with me of course I didn’t start out with 1800 but every duty station I’ve add more and more. If you could see the packers faces when they have to pack my books, hehe.

Being surrounded by my books really relaxes me. Since I said I couldn’t pick a favorite book earlier and I have so many, I went to my already read books, books that have a color dot on them, you don’t know how many books I have reread because I forgot that I read them already., lol The authors I’m listing are authors that I have enjoyed and have read their books and are in my home library. Okay here goes... They’re not in any specific order…Karen Robards, Nora Roberts, Jasmine Cresswell, Connie Mason, Nalini Singh, Catherine Coulter, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Annie Solomon, Heather Graham, Dianah McCall, Kathryn Shay, Carly Phillips, Debbie Macomber, Rachel Gibson, Janet Evanovich, Linda Howard, Lori Foster, Lara Adrian, Tina Wainschott, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Shannon McKenna, Lisa Jackson, Julie Kenner, Cherry Adair, Jacquelyn Frank, Mariah Stewart, J.R. Ward, Kay Hooper, Gennita Low, Julie Garwood, Christina Dodd, Christine Feehan, Sandra Brown and Suzanne Brockmann. There are tons more but I’ve already put lots up here and I’m not done, hehe

How I pick an author to read I just go to the book store( I love a good used book store. I only by new books if I have to and only paperbacks) and check out covers and start reading the blurbs on the back and if It sounds good, I get it. The cover can get me to pick up the book but it’s the blurb that will keep me so the book can have a so so cover, but if the books sounds good to me I will buy it. I do have authors now that are auto buys for me so it makes it easier. I only buy paperback because I can get three for one hardback. Even if it continues a series I will still wait until it comes out in paperback, it’s not just a money thing I just enjoy how the paperback looks and fits in my hand when I’m reading. Normally when we’re stationed in the states I can get some books from used book stores but since being here in Germany it’s kind of hard to do since I don’t read German. I also don’t like to order books. So I got into reading e-books here, I started reading m/m books. I’ve read some of the best books. These are some of the authors I love to read, No specific order once again: Lynn Lorenz, Willa Okati, Jade Buchanan, Katrina Strauss, Serena Yates, AKM Miles, Jamie Craig, Stephani Hecht, Z.A. Maxfield, Amber Kell, Devon Rhodes, Cassandra Gold, T.D. McKinney, Ryan Field, Mark Alders, G.A. Hauser, Carol Lynn, Stormy Glenn, Ethan Day, Andrew Grey, Jet Mykles, J.M. Snyder, Cameron Dane, A.J. Llewellyn, Pepper Espinoza, Remmy Duchene, Sloan Paker, Eden Winters, S.J. Frost, Shawn Lane, D.J. Manly, Mary Calmes, and T.A. Chase. Whew!! There are some I probably missed but I it would take too long, lol.

Right now I’m only buying e-books but once we hit stateside again I will be haunting the book stores once again. There are two other things I love besides my family it’s reading and football(Go Seahawks). I just want to thank all of the authors out there for doing what you to so you can keep feeding my reading habit and keeping my life exciting. I can’t forget my husband for having no problem with me buying all my books. He’s the best. I want to also thank Kathleen Bradean for asking me to do this. I always get nervous about any kind of writing but she was so nice and sweet I was like okay you have to do it, hehe Thank you~ Leaundra Ross

Friday, July 30, 2010

Who would I squeeee at meeting?

I, like several of my fellow Grippers, am not a fannish sport of person. Yes, there are people I would really enjoy meeting, and talking with. But I am not obsessed.

I can easily say that much. I do not follow the exploits of those I want to meet on the internet, tracking them in the rag mags, or on Entertainment tv. I don't facebook my undying adoration HOURLY (I actually have a classmate that has a thing for Dempsey racing, and when it is race season, heaven help all of us she is "friends" with). I could care less if those I am fans of are wearing ratty old jeans when grocery shopping, or if they just sent the jet to New York to pick up their favorite flavor of coffee. Although, I might wonder about them if I heard that last part.

I am just not that interested. I just don't care that much. Sorry.

That said, I should also make known neither is my family. We are just not fannish people. LOL

The closest my daughter would come is if she were to meet Dr. Zahi Hawass. I could see some fainting going on there. Maybe some tongue-tied on my husband's part too. Who is Dr. Hawass? Watch pretty much any quality show on the restoration of Egyptian artifacts and monuments and you will know. For a kid who dreams of one day being an egyptologist, I can understand the appeal of meeting him.

As for myself, there are a couple of authors I would really LOVE to meet. They are as close to auto-buy's as I will ever have. I have been known to bully and nag the people at bookstores on street release day to actually get their stock from the damn backroom and PUT IT ON THE SHELVES! Shesh!

Chief among the authors would be Nalini Singh. I fell in love with her writing style with Slave to Sensation. Her Psy/Changeling world rocks! And now her Angel series is just adding a new element of the love I have for her books. I ever went and tracked down her old Harlequin releases, just to see if I could detect where her style started changing. But that is as far as the adoration goes.

So I would probably give a small giggle if I ever got to meet her, especially if we could talk shop, or if I could get some sneak peeks at what's coming up next.

But I am not going to cyber-stalk her, and travel halfway across the country to meet her and spend a whole 30 seconds at a table getting my books signed. Sorry ... I would rather be writing myself.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Love Enid Blyton

Fannish squee?

I’m looking at the words for this week’s theme now that I’ve typed them in a Microsoft Word document. Both words are underlined with squiggly red lines. This occurs on only two occasions.

1) When a word has been misspelled.
2) When an existing word isn’t recognised by my PC’s internal dictionary.

But neologisms and linguistic innovations occur all the time in the developing world of the English language. Every day produces new words. Every day marks the passing of old and forgotten words. And I could have decided to talk about my ‘fannish squee’ for the English language in response to this week’s theme.

I’ve studied linguistics. I’m currently alternating between two entertaining books that relate to language. One is a study of contemporary etymologies through the development of American English. The other is an overview of corpus linguistics.

But I can bore people enough about those subjects in my own time. What I wanted to talk about here was the woman responsible for my love of the English language. Enid Blyton.

Enid Blyton was an English children’s writer. One of the most successful children’s storytellers of the twentieth century. She is the fifth most translated author in the world. Her books have sold more than 600 million copies. She’s been translated into nearly 90 languages. For a full history on the lady, visit:

I grew up with Blyton’s stories. I grew up reading about the Famous Five and the Secret Seven. I adored the Adventure series (Castle of Adventure, Island of Adventure, etc). And it was because of these compelling, simply written stories that I wanted to grow up and become an author.

I’ve studied Blyton’s work since becoming an adult. There have been allegations of sexism, racism, post-colonial snobbery and elitism charged against her writing. Few of these accusations are without substance. And I’m not going to try and defend the indefensible. Reading her stories about The Three Golliwogs today is like reading hate mail from the KKK. Her portrayal of girls as stay-at-home, cook-and-clean role models borders between condescending and downright misogynistic. Her overuse of stereotypes is breathtaking.

But she could tell a compelling tale. She wrote exciting stories about young children having adventures. She kept her language simple, and yet it was always effective. She fuelled me with a desire to write and love the English language. So, whilst I can’t condone her racism, sexism or elitism, I have to admit I’m indebted to the woman for making me fall in love with words. And, if that’s not enough to deserve my ‘fannish squee’, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Midnight Drink of Hair

As soon as I take a cold swig of my beer and crack open my yellowed, brittle old magazine I can sense I’m not alone. I look up and already the pale girl with the silver white hair is settling down into the patio chair across from me.

"Guten abend, arschloch, wie geht es dir."

Everybody else is asleep right now. It’s the midnight hour in my back yard and I was hoping for some quiet time alone with my favorite German beer and a chance to read a special little find I picked up for a couple bucks in an antique shop on my vacation in Ely Minnesota. A worn vintage pulp magazine, an old copy of "Weird Tales". The real thing.

"Hey. Hi ya,Nix."

“Hi ya, hi ya.”

You'll never see her coming. You'll never know she's there until she lets you know. God knows how long she was standing there in the shadows waiting to see if I'd come out of the house. Waiting to decide if she wanted to see me. She reaches across the glass patio table and grabs my bottle. She holds it up for a look. "Paulaner Salvator?"

"A nice home town favorite from Munich, Bavaria, where you come from. Did you drink it back in your day?"

"You sound so nervous. You’re trying too hard to be nice to me. Don’t be so scared." She turns the bottle around and reads the label. "No, when I was a girl, my uncle made beer or we just bought a pot from the . . . the . . . die Schenke . . . what is it you call it . . . like a hotel. Everybody did so. Is this good?"

"Help yourself."

She tips back the bottle, swishes it in her mouth. Raises her blond eyebrows and nods appreciatively. She spits it out on the grass and passes the bottle back. She likes beer but swallowing anything except somebody’s blood makes her puke. "How is the story going?"

"I have the idea, but haven’t really cracked it yet. But I'm hot on the trail."

"Gut, gut. So then, what silly rubbish is this you’re reading now?"

"Weird Tales. May 1946. Back when my people were just done beating the shit out of your people."

"May I see?"

I hand it to her. "Where were you in 1946?"

She frowns. Taps a fingernail at her lips, thinking. "Spain. I think. Spain. First part of the year. Then I left. Didn’t like it. Long days." She goes back to the magazine, as if that settles it. "Look at these ads." She flips through the pages, clearly delighted. "Repair the radio? In your spare time? Isn’t this fine?"

"It amazing, Nix, but none of these science fiction and fantasy writers, when they wrote about the future? None of them got it right."

"Is that so?"

"None of them. No one predicted the Internet. No one predicted computers. They didn’t even have computers at the time. Wireless telephones. Religious terrorism. Nobody guessed any of that.'

"So where's your jet pack?" She holds up the magazine and shows me a pen and ink drawing of a man with a funny helmet flying with a jet pack, rescuing a thinly dressed girl.

"Guess I left it inside."

"Oh - look here –an exciting story about a vampire space alien. Oh my goodness - I’m so scared." She rolls her eyes and then flips to the next page. "Why do you think God made such a thing as me?"

I lean forward to speak and she snatches my beer bottle up again.

"This is good beer." She spits a mouthful on the grass.

"I think it’s because this whole world is skewed on the wrong evolutionary direction."

She puts the bottle down and gives me a half threatening look. "Are you trying to impress me?"

"You’re German. Land of Leibnitz and Kant. I know you like hearing this weird stuff." I lean in, and grab my beer bottle back before she can get it. I really should do the decent thing and just go in and get her one, but I'm stingy about this expensive beer, and I'm concerned about what unexpected effect vampire spit might have on the grass. I worked hard on my lawn.

"The world we live in is based on predatory relationships. Vampires, you, you’re like the soul or the final form of these predatory relationships. You represent a pure predator, co existing with your prey which happens to be the dominant predator of the planet. But the world itself is evolving based on a hierarchy of predatory relationships. It can never last in this condition. It has to collapse someday. That's why I think God made a big mistake in the way he constructed this world. Maybe this world was a rough draft for something better somewhere else. I think if there are space aliens, they wouldn’t be vampires. I think God would learn from His mistakes and base a biosphere along different principles. If I made the world I would make it differently. Believe me; I could make a better world than this one."

"Like what?"

"Sex. A world based on sex."

"Listen to you. Dirty boy."

"It makes sense. The world we live in is based on a complex of food chains. Everything eats everything else. You’re defined by your place on the food chain. Who you eat. Who eats you."

"What's eating you, leibling?"

"I'm pissed at God. Again. So I’ve been thinking. What about a world based on the exchange of sex for food instead of just eating each other?"

“Sounds like fun.”

"This kind of exchange already exists in nature, and it’s the most successful survival strategy when it works. Flowers offer food to bees and pollinating insects. The flower gives pollen to the bee and the bee shares some of the pollen with other flowers. The bee is fucking the flowers and the flowers reward the bee with food for fucking them. Nobody gets hurt. Everybody benefits. It’s perfect. In fact, it’s so perfect without bees to fuck the flowers; there are many plant species that would go extinct. Then you have plants like raspberries who take it a step farther. The bee fucks the raspberry for food. The raspberry makes berries with seeds. How to spread the seeds? It offers food to birds. The birds eat the berries and fly off with the seeds in their gut, which is like being pregnant on behalf of the plant, and then they poop out the seeds in a little pile of bird-shit which is great fertilizer. That's like the bird saying 'Thank you very much for the nice berries. Let’s make more plants like you. You gave food to me. Now here's food back for your seeds.' That's why raspberry bushes are so successful. You see them growing near fences and telephone lines cause the birds sit there and poop them out. That's a harmonious relationship. Fuck me - feed you. Food for sex."

"That was the relationship with my kuschelbaer." she says, looking off into the dark. "I gave him sex. He gave me food. But it wasn’t enough."

"You needed to kill."


"That's what's wrong with this world. You're a victim. It should be a world, where everybody makes everybody orgasm everyday and rewards everybody with sustenance in exchange for good orgasms. That's how I'd do it."

She starts looking through the magazine. "If you think this way, you will go mad."

"What if . . . . ,"

I tap at the table glass so she looks up. Her eyes are painful at the thought of Daniel. "What if . . . there is a world where the sex is not even confined to species. Bees fuck plants. What if everybody fucked plants? What about a world, where fucking a tree or a plant would make you come really good? And the plant needed you to come inside it? Imagine an orchard of sexual fruit trees that needed the farmer and his wife to come and have really great sex with them and then rewarded them with nourishing pure fruit containing life prolonging hormones made from their own body fluids? It gives a whole new meaning to the term 'tree hugger'." I stop talking and catch my breath.

"You're getting a story idea, it sounds like."

"What if . . . you had a sexual vampire? Instead of attacking people for blood the vampire seduces people for sex? What kind of vampire would that be?"

She shrugs. I thought it would get a rise out of her. Shucks.

"And the animals too." I plow ahead. "The animals come up to you in the forest, but they don't want to attack you and gobble you up. What they want is for you to fuck them, because when you come its good for some of them, maybe vital for their very survival, and the animals fuck each other and the animal and plants fuck each other and the world is full of sex and harmony and nobody has to kill anyone else in order to live. Instead of eating each other on the food chain they fuck each other on the sex chain. Wouldn't that be a better world than this one?"

"What a mad idea." She crosses her arms under her breasts and shakes her head. "You are really an old hippie. You know this?"

"But doesn't it sound good? Daniel would still be alive in that world."

She turns to the back of the magazine, and I figure its better to drop the subject of Daniel.

"Look at this. These Rosicrucian fellows. My granny was like this you know. She could read the cards and goose guts at Christmas. She wanted to move things with her thoughts. She kept it a secret because it was supposed to be this big sin. But she liked to see the future."

"Now that's an evolutionary thing too."

"Mein gott. Here we go."

"Like Alien vampires? Why would they be vampires, unless God made the same mistake on their world also?"

"And so?"

"The brains we have today were designed and made about 40,000 years ago. But think about it. We can do higher mathematics. Why did cave men need higher mathematics? We can read and write. We can imagine and visualize worlds and Gods, and mythical beings. But why? What survival function does that serve in a dog eat dog world?"

She frowned. "Overkill?"

"Overkill! Its overkill! You don't need those things to hunt mastodons. Its not like you need to count them to death. So why do we have it? There must be many kinds of dormant abilities in the human brain that occurred maybe by accident as a result of brain wiring that we really did need. A by product that gave us technology, but maybe it's rare in the universe. Maybe our whole evolutionary future is an accident of crossed cave man brain wiring. Maybe its tied up with our destiny, religion and everything. Like you buy these computer games, where if you achieve a certain level it unlocks other parts of the game. Maybe we have stuff in us that if we knew, like the Rosicrucians, it would make us like super powered. We'll reach this point someday and these things will pop out right out of our thoughts that we can't imagine now. What if - "

"Maybe you should stop drinking this strong beer."

"What if this world evolved wrong? What if it was supposed to be brought into another direction by the rise of consciousness? What if . . . what if . . . we all have a destiny. Starting with Facebook?"


"Facebook! People have a social instinct, we want community. We want to be connected. Someday, through technology, we will be. We'll be a super colonial organism. The human species, our destiny, is to be born as a new God-Being. But a God-Being with a sense of heart and compassion, because our species will have arisen from a history of suffering and cruelty. That's the only possible justification for a world based on predatory relationships."

"You're drinking my hair."

"Your what?"

"Do you like that? ¡Me estás tomando el pelo! I learned that in Spain. You're drinking my hair. Pulling my leg. You know. Sometimes they said ¡Me estás tomando me sangre! That’s like you’re drinking my blood. Of course, that was the last thing they said."

"But isn't it interesting? This is where stories come from. Sex world. That could be a story. You see, Nixie - I love ideas. I'm a fan of ideas, of weirdness. The weirder the better. I love riffing on weird ideas. I love weird science. I love to sit here in the dark and drink beer and maybe drink your hair too and think. My big squee. Don't you?"

She holds out her hand. "Here's your silly old magazine back. Danke." She passes it to me and gets up to leave.

"Wait." I start flipping through the pages, looking for it. "You remember Carl Jung? One of your countrymen?"


"He had this idea about synchronicity. It's where the Universe sort of turns around once and gives you a message. Here - I found it. Look! Look at this. This is synchronicity in action. Stick around a minute. You'll like this, page 66, take a look."

I pass it to her and she smiles.

I wonder where her fangs go when she's smiling. How does that work?

What if . . . .

C. Sanchez-Garcia

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deadly Stinger Squees

I squee over everything. I squee over chicken satays: HOMG, I AM EATING CHICKEN SATAYS. That's me. And though I'm never a part of any particular fandom for very long, I do fannishly squee regularly and with much gusto.

Take recently. I found this:

And I squeed so hard I shattered windows and frightened all the stray cats in the area. The reasons are many fold (I always have many folded reasons as to why I squee) and have a long and varied history.

The obvious, surface reason is that the above is a picture of Murdock from the new A-Team movie. Underneath that surface reason comes the less overt, stranger, underlying reasons for my squee. Like, how much I loved the A-Team as a girl. I wanted to rescue Murdock from a mental asylum, then fly away in his helicopter.

But wait, there's more than plain old nostalgia. Nostalgia on its own cannot a squee make.

I also love the guy playing this new Murdock- Sharlto Copley. He was the guy in District 9, who turned into an alien? Yeah, I love movies about men turning into stuff. Like The Fly, for example- yeah, I would have still fucked Jeff Goldblum when he became half insect.

See? There are layers beneath the squee. Layers of insane reasoning, that cause joy to bubble up through my body and escape out of my mouth.

Another layer is the fact that he's eating in this picture. I could not tell you why I find guys eating sexy. Nor could I tell you why the hat he's wearing in this picture only adds to the overall sexiness. But they do, somehow.

And so the squee is bolstered, by elements of sexiness that I enjoy.

So let's break it down, in scientific or mathmetical terms. Nostalgia + Guy I Like From Elsewhere + Unusually Sexy Action + Weird Hat = Fannish Squee. That seems right, doesn't it? That seems like I've logically considered the whole thing, and turned it into something reasonable, right?

Only it doesn't, and it can't, and squee can never be explained. Sometimes you see a guy chewing summat, and your mouth and vocal chords make a noise, and it's just happened before you knew it was going to. Squees take you by surprise, they leap on you. One second you're being all normal and sane. The next you're jumping on the sofa over chicken satays or Sharlto Copley eating chicken satays or maybe chicken satays slathered over every member of the A-Team.

Who knows, when fannish squees might next strike?

Monday, July 26, 2010

All Hail the Fans

by Kathleen Bradean

I have a confession. I suck at fandom. If life were University degree, I’d have a bunch of survey courses and still no major. I like certain music groups, but I have no idea who the members of the band are, where they came from, or who they date. I go to at least three Galaxy (Major league soccer) games a year and watch more on TV, but I couldn’t name half of the line-up. I can’t think of a single television show where I’ve seen every episode.

When I see people with a consuming passion for something, I’m envious. How do you make old cars, a basketball team, knitting, Lady Gaga, renaissance life, science fiction, or basset hounds the focus of your life? How do you connect so deeply to a team’s accomplishments that you’re elated by their victories and destroyed by their losses? (Sure, I was elated when Spain won the World Cup, but that’s because I had money riding on them. That doesn’t count. I didn’t pick Spain out of love. I read a bunch of reports and determined that they were statistically my best bet.)

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a lot of things. As I mentioned, sort of the survey course approach to life. That leaves me free to immerse as deeply as I care to and then move on to the next shiny thing, but I wonder if I’m missing something by not giving my all to one thing. Fans have community where they share with other fans. With the internet, now they get to reach far beyond their cities and meet people from around the world who share their passion. And thank goodness they do, because it’s their fandom that keeps all the genres of music, television shows, books, and sports teams alive, so that I can flit by and enjoy them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


By Lisabet Sarai

MARGARET. Oh, Master! Master! -- how shall I express the all-absorbing gratitude that-- (about to throw herself at his feet).

DESPARD. Now! (warningly).

MAR. Yes, I know dear—it shan't happen again. (He is seated. She sits on the ground by him.) Shall I tell you one of poor Mad Margaret's odd thoughts? Well, then, when I am lying awake at night, and the pale moonlight streams through the latticed casement, strange fancies crowd upon my poor mad brain, and I sometimes think that if we could hit upon some word for you to use whenever I am about to relapse—some word that teems with hidden meaning—like “Basingstoke”--it might recall me to my saner self. For, after all, I am only Mad Margaret! Daft Meg! Poor Meg! He! he! he!

DES. Poor child, she wanders! But soft—some one comes—Margaret—pray recollect yourself—Basingstoke, I beg! Margaret, if you don't Basingstoke at once, I shall be seriously angry.

MAR. (recovering herself). Basingstoke it is!

DES. Then make it so.

-- From Ruddigore, by William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

I'm not a “squee” sort of person. I have my passions, but they're not likely to sending me spinning off into mad expostulations of delight, like poor Margaret. (The one exception is an absolutely stellar review—but there's nothing unusual about that. All authors react similarly in that situation.) I'll experience a delightful sense of anticipation when I learn about a new movie by Pedro Almodovar or a new book by Haruki Murakami or Sarah Waters. I'll savor that internal hum of excitement as I prepare for a trip to some foreign destination I haven't yet visited. Overall, though, unrestrained squeals of irrepressible glee are not my style.

Except, of course, when I hear there's a Gilbert and Sullivan troupe in town.

My love affair with G&S goes way back. I was only six when my parents took me to a concert of G&S songs that featured the legendary Martyn Green. Objectively I recognize that I couldn't have possibly understood most of the patter, but the jaunty tunes immediately had me hooked.

After that, I attended G&S performances whenever I could. I think we must have had some records of the better-known operettas (yes, this was long before CDs) because the melodies and lyrics were familiar even when I was a teen. I remember seeing a stripped down version of Ruddigore with my dad when I was in college, in a theater in the round with just a piano. I recall several exquisitely professional stagings by the D'Oyl Carte Opera Company who was in residence for two weeks in the small city nearest my home town. And the university town where I lived for more than twenty years had a local light opera group who put on a different G&S operetta every November.

I still recall the excitement leading up to that annual treat. We'd reserve our tickets as soon as they went on sale, in order to make sure we had excellent seats. As the day grew closer, I'd sometimes listen to the opera (by that time I owned recordings of all my favorites), savoring my anticipation of the moment when the orchestra would commence the familiar medley of the overture and then the curtain would rise on the town of Titipu or the Tower of London, the rocky coast of Penzance or the “fishing village of Rederring (in Cornwall)”...I could hear the melodies ringing already in my mind, the brilliant lyrics, the tripping rhymes...I'd want to jump up from my seat and applaud wildly...!


Basingstoke it is.

My parents were both G&S fans; my volume of the complete plays has a inscription to my mother from her older sister, dated 1940, so perhaps my grandparents were too. The man who became my husband revealed to me early on a penchant for the quarrelsome duo (Gilbert and Sullivan were renowned for their sometimes acrimonious relationship). I will admit that this was one of the characteristics that encouraged me to submit to his attentions. Since we've been married, we've enjoyed many G&S performances together. He's more subdued in his appreciation than I am. In the run-up to the play, he doesn't dress up like Yum Yum or do the hornpipe like Dick Dauntless or carry on about his sisters and his cousins and aunts...!


Let it be so.

Some of you will remember the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. For me, Gilbert and Sullivan are a bit like that. I don't know how many times I've seen “The Mikado” or “Iolanthe” or “Ruddigore”. I know the songs and the dialogue so well that the anticipation is half the fun. I wait with baited breath for the fantastically twisted logic that will resolve the ridiculous problems of the characters.

FAIRY QUEEN. You have all incurred death; but I can't slaughter the whole company! And yet (unfolding a scroll) the law is clear—every fairy must die who marries a mortal!

LORD CHANCELLOR. Allow me, as an old Equity draftsman, to make a suggestion. The subtleties of the legal mind are equal to the emergency. The thing is really quite simple—the insertion of a single word will do it. Let it stand that every fairy shall die who doesn't marry a mortal, and there you are, out of your difficulty at once!

(From Iolanthe)

ROBIN. I can't stop to apologize—an idea has just occurred to me. A Baronet of Ruddigore can only die through refusing to commit his daily crime.

RODERICK. No doubt.

ROB. Therefore, to refuse to commit a daily crime is tantamount to suicide.

ROD. It would seem so.

ROB. But suicide is, itself, a crime—and so, by your own showing, you ought never to have died at all!

ROD. I see—I understand! Then I'm practically alive!

(From Ruddigore)

What subtlety indeed! What mad brilliance! And the language, so eloquent and articulate! Not to mention the music, often not appreciated (as Sir Arthur frequently complained) but far more complex than it first appears, with multi-part harmony, canons, madrigals, soaring arias, dark instrumental passages that evoke the powers of hell...!



My love affair with Gilbert and Sullivan has even seeped into my writing. My story “Opening Night” in the alternative history anthology Time Well Bent has the initial 1887 performance of "Ruddigore" as its background, as it postulates a homosexual seduction of Gilbert by a member of the cast. My novel Incognito (which has a Victorian subplot) includes a scene set in the opera house at the 1886 Boston premier of "The Mikado". I've even toyed with the notion of an erotic ménage story featuring Dick Dauntless, Robin Oakapple and Rose Maybud (since in the play she clearly can't make up her mind between the two gentlemen).

Would that count as fan fiction?

Would anyone other than a few old farts like me even recognize the allusion?

Who cares? Gilbert and Sullivan were geniuses whose oeuvre remains outrageously entertaining even in this era of instant communication and gratification. I don't have children, but if I did, I'd be playing light opera for them on a daily basis. Of course that would make it difficult for me to stay calm and fulfill my responsibilities. I'd be moved to sing, to dance, to laugh, to weep...!


(Deep breath.)

Basingstoke it is.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What do you think...?

Hello reader,

It's Ashley again. I hope you're not disappointed. But, in the absence of a special guest this week, I wanted to make you the special guest. I also wanted to ask what you thought about sex and travel.

So far this week we've had Lisabet relate some saucy suggestions about the happiest of worldwide happy travelling. Kathleen has admitted she has a soft spot for Italy, and Charlotte has taken us out of this world into the realms of fantasy. Garce has guided us on a first class flight with an erotica author and an enthusiastic reader, whilst Michelle has taken us to Belize and then onto a hotel with mirrored ceilings. Personally, I alluded to vampires in Paris.

But where would you go, reader? And what would make it saucy?

Leave your comments below and let's hear which boxes you want ticking the next time you visit the travel agents.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Come Sail Away ...

Hum. I have debated just what to write about on this topic. I just don't travel much. Other than a few trips to Florida, the one to New Orleans, and a couple back and forth between Kentucky and Missouri.

And on all but a few of those trips, my daughter has shared the room with us.

So travel sex just doesn't happen. LOL With very few exceptions, ie when our daughter is with someone else.

Now, there was a funniness to my trip to Belize. Hubby took the class with me, and so he went to Belize with me. Along with two dozen of our classmates.

We stayed in the same room together, alone for most of the time (the last two nights one of the girls crashed with us due to space issues). Yet we didn't have sex. Why you might ask? Well ... no air conditioning. The windows all had to be open, and all the rooms were in a U shape around a pool, so there was zero privacy. Plus, um, bunk beds. Yeah. Too short bunk beds. Too narrow bunk beds.

We could have gone down to the beach ... but mosquitoes were a major issue. Plus, well, tourists. And the sand. I just didn't want to get sand in delicate locations.

We were razzed mercilessly by a couple of the guys too. The last day we were there, they tried to get my tipsy so hubby could get him some in Belize. Needless to say, it didn't happen.

Had we been in one of the three rooms under the main building, that were windowless and thus had to have air conditioning, maybe it would have happened. As it was ... nope.

Now we did go on vacation just a few weeks ago, and I rented a hotel room with a jacuzzi tub and a king sized bed. There was even a mirror on the ceiling. *wink wink* But since where we stayed was just two hours down the road, that's doesn't really count as travel sex, now does it ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Frenching with Vampires

by Ashley Lister

As I’ve said before, I don’t usually write locations. With my fiction, I’m never bold enough to include the pathetic fallacy of location. Partly this is because I believe locations can be perceived as living and breathing characters, and if my interpretation of that character isn’t the same as yours, then the read is destined to be disappointing. Partly this is also because I don’t feel sufficiently secure in my skills to effectively recreate a location with words alone.

But that’s not to say I haven’t done it.

In The BloodLust Chronicles, a trilogy of stories about three vampire-fighting sisters, I had my central characters tour a triptych of European capitals: Rome, Paris and London. This involved a large stretch of the imagination as I’ve only ever visited one of these capital cities. However, as I’ve never encountered any vampire-fighting sisters, and I was willing to write about them, I figured my imagination was ready for the challenge.

Below is the opening passage from the second of the BloodLust Chronicles: Hope.


Hope Harker knew there was always a price to be paid.

She sat in the manager’s office, uncomfortable in her croupier’s uniform of a skimpy basque over fishnet tights. Her ankles ached from the punishment of the high stilettos while the low cut top made her feel as though her breasts were ready to spill free from their restrictive cups. The high line of the crotch, and the fact that so much of her pert bottom was on public display, left her feeling cheap, nearly-naked and exceedingly vulnerable. But she knew those drawbacks were the price that had to be paid if she wanted to complete her business management degree at one of the most prestigious casinos on the Champs Elysées: Hope knew there was always a price to be paid.

The problem was: she also knew the price would always be higher than expected. Her business management degree was a good example; the course fees were exorbitant; the study texts were complicated; the hours were long; and the work experience on the floor of a Paris casino was demanding and mostly thankless. But she was beginning to realise that the price was much higher than the sum of those parts. The highest part of the price was the discovery that she was working for a certifiable lunatic.

Todd Chalmers put a match to his cigar and settled back in his chair. He hadn’t bothered to turn on the office lights and their conversation was lit by illuminations from the Champs Elysées shining through the louvre blinds. The smoke from his cigar leant an atmosphere of film noir to the room and Hope thought they were just short of a saxophone playing sultry blues to complete that image. She studied him warily, not sure if she was meant to laugh, agree or run screaming for help. The noises of music, money and merriment were a faraway drone at this height in the building but Hope could hear them clearly enough in the thick silence that rested between her and the casino’s owner. Diplomatically, she fixed him with an understanding expression and said, ‘Let me see if I understand you correctly.’

Todd Chalmers smiled and raised his whisky glass in an encouraging salute.

He looked chillingly normal and, if she hadn’t just heard the lunacy he had been spouting, Hope could have believed she was having a rational discussion with a sane human being. ‘You’re telling me that my sister, Faith, was a virtuous vampire hunter.’

He nodded.

‘You say she defeated a four hundred year old vampire, but has since been turned into a vampire herself.’

Chalmers nodded again. ‘That’s what I’m led to believe.’

‘And you think the newly established leader of this same coven is now looking for me?’

‘You seem to have understood everything I said,’ Chalmers grinned. ‘Do you have any questions?’

Hope thought about her answer then nodded. She sat in the chair across from his desk, ankles folded as demurely as her uniform would allow, hands clutched tight together and resting in her lap. A part of her wanted to pull at the low neckline of the basque and conceal herself from Chalmers’s salacious leer but she knew that would make her look like she was intimidated and she didn’t want to give him that satisfaction. ‘Yes,’ she said eventually. ‘I’ve got two questions. Are you on prescribed medication? And why haven’t you been taking it?’

Chalmers’s smile slipped a notch. ‘I don’t think you appreciate the gravity of the situation…’

Hope stood up. She looked resplendent in the uniform, her narrow waist accentuated by the basque and her breasts appearing plump and desirable as they threatened to spill from their restraints. The fishnets hugged her shapely legs and defined the muscular curves of her calves and thighs. ‘I think you’ll find I do appreciate the gravity of the situation,’ she assured Chalmers stiffly. ‘You’re a drunkard with a sick sense of humour and you thought it would be entertaining to scare the exchange student with spooky vampire stories.’

‘Faith has been changed into a vampire. She’s been sired by a vicious bitch called Lilah and now Lilah is looking for you. I can train you to defeat her but you need to listen to what I’m saying. You need to do everything I…’

Hope wouldn’t allow him to finish. She held up a silencing hand and shook her head. ‘The guidelines of my business management degree state that I don’t have to tolerate practical jokes and horseplay. Unless you have some real business to discuss, Mr Chalmers, I think I should get back to the floor.’ She didn’t give him the opportunity to reply. It seemed more sensible to turn her back on him and flounce out of the office.

But, all the time she was worrying about the price she would have to pay for dismissing him so rudely. Todd Chalmers owned the casino and was regarded as a ruthless and powerful man. She knew there would be a price to pay and, as she closed the door on him, she fretted that the price would be excessively high.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Riding the Dog. Late at Night.

As we passed through Cloquet around midnight, a few people got off and went into the bus station in the falling snow and the dark, and a woman in her forties or so got on and took the seat next to me. I didn't really feel like talking but she started talking, and it would have been rude to ignore her so we chatted. We talked about stuff. She asked what I did, and I thought I'd show off and told her I was a writer. I wrote erotic stories, why not? Was she shocked, I asked. No, not at all, she said, but she preferred the classics. Life was too short after all. Blah blah. I knew the rest of that line by heart.

Then she turned on her reading light and took a magazine from a shopping bag and ignored me for awhile. It was the latest Cosmopolitan. She started to nod off with the magazine in her lap. I nudged her and asked if I could read it. I love snacking on Cosmo.

Cosmopolitan and its screwball stuff for liberated women. I always think of them as “goddess articles”. The endlessly popular How to Drive Your Man Wild in Bed. Fifty Oriental Taoist Sex Techniques to Drive Your Man Really Insanely Wild in Bed Until His Balls Explode. One Hundred Sex Techniques Known Only to Fiji Island Cannibals to Make Your Man Eat You Out Like a Love Goddess.

I don't know.

That stuff.

We're going down the highway in the dark and snow is blowing against the window. There's hardly any cars on the road. Buses are mostly safe in snow. After a while, she rolls over and says "So you write dirty stories?"

"I'm not very good. But I've had a little luck."

"Where do you get your ideas?"

"Its about like you'd expect. Fantasies. Same as anybody."

“Like what?”

“Sexual fantasies.”

"The kind you jerk off to?"

"Madam. Now you're trying to shock me."


"I don't shock easy. Even Minnesota women have a hard time shocking me."

"I'm an Iron Range woman. I'll bet I could shock you. Hey. Tell me a fantasy."

“What about you?”


“Tell me your shocking fantasy.”

“I asked you first.”

“Yes, but you’re the one who wants to know.”

"Oh, poof." she said. "What kind of fantasy? I have a lot."

"Something weird, something that goes back a long way. The uber fantasy."

I didn't hear anything back from her for a little while, and I slouched down in the seat, thinking the conversation was over. I was about to go to sleep.

"Okay. Here's one. Ready?"

"Yes, please." I said, straightening up. "You have all my attention."

"This goes back, like when I was in high school with the nuns."

"You went to Catholic school?"

"Didn't everybody?"

"I like Catholic girls."

"Are you going to let me tell it?. So. This is my fantasy. I'm living in this big rich house, like maybe in Italy."

"Romance novels are always in big Italian houses like that. Same old stuff."

"Don't interrupt."

"Its a form of fantasy birth control. Fantasia Interruptus."

"Anyway. Big house. Maybe Italy. Or the Riviera. And the house has this thing like a deck. In the back, its a deck with a view of this kind of sweeping canyon, with trees and wild flowers. I'm laying on a chaise lounge in my bath robe, there on my deck in my Italian house, but I've just gotten out of the shower. Or maybe I've been swimming naked in the ocean. I'm naked underneath the robe. There's a little table with this drink called a 'buck fizz.' "

"A fuck fizz?"

"A buck fizz. It makes me feel romantic and kind of warm all over. Its a real aphrodisiac. Very sensuous."

"I'll google it."

"So there I am. I'm fuck-buck naked under my robe, with my buck fizz. I'm looking across this meadow full of wild flowers. And there's someone crossing the meadow, coming towards me. It's a man. He has long hair and a beard, and this kind of scruffy robe, like he's come in from the desert. As he gets closer he's sort of middle eastern looking, kind of hippie Italian looking, with dark olive skin and big eyebrows and a big nose. He sees me and he's coming towards me. And I just lay there and wait for him to get near and then I see who he is."

"Who is he?"

"Jesus Christ."

"Really? I can't believe it. You've shocked me. You did it."

"Yes, now listen and no Interruptus, because that's not even the weird part. What happens next, its hard to even tell this part, so look out the window or something, don't look at me for a minute. I always thought he looked so sexy and kind of vulnerable in those pictures with a lamb in his arms. Don't you think so?"

"Me? I thought he looked like a pansy with that stupid lamb."

"Anyway. So he comes up to me and I'm laying there and suddenly the wind gusts up and blows my robe open and he like . . . he like sees me. You know? My breasts. My bush. He sees everything. Sometimes I pull the robe closed and hide, sometimes I let my legs fall open so he can see more. Its always different. But he smiles and he gives me this look like he wants me. Like he loves looking at me, and I pull my robe closed and I feel all embarrassed but he goes on looking at me like its okay. Are you getting this?"

"Yes! I love it. I'm going to steal it and put it in a story someday."

"You'd better not."

"I could. And its Jesus? He's looking at you naked?"

"And he sits down on the chaise lounge with me, and then he reaches over, so gently, so sweetly, and he pulls my robe open. He pulls it apart and he just sits looking at me naked, looking at my chest, and my boobs and he looks down at my bush, and he looks at my face. It gets me hot because he's looking at me, its like God is looking at me and God thinks I'm hot. And me, like I could just reach out, and run my fingers through God's hair. Can't you just imagine doing that? Then he puts his hand on my right breast and lifts it and cradles it in his warm soft palm, like that little lamb and then he bends down and kisses me fiercely and puts his tongue in my mouth."

I hadn't realized it, but I was holding my breath. I let it out. "And then what happens?"

"Well then, its always different each time. But something happens. Sometimes he fucks me. Or he does down on me. It that a venal or a mortal sin, do you think?"

"I don't think it's a sin. I do think its pretty damn weird to imagine Jesus Christ fucking you on a chaise lounge, right out of nowhere."

"If it was the Virgin Mary laying there with her robe open and it was you, wouldn't you do it?"

"I'm not Catholic."

"Whatever. Sometimes he asks me 'Are you a bad girl?' and I say yes, I'm a very bad girl. And he says 'I'm going to have to punish you or you'll go to Hell.' and I say it's okay, punish me Jesus. And he takes me over his knee, so my bare butt is sticking up in the air and he spanks me."

"Jesus Christ spanks you."

"On the ass with his hand. Isn't that sick? The idea of Jesus spanking me gets me so hot."

"You Catholic girls, I don't know about you."

"It's my fantasy, not yours."

"Fair enough."

"Didn't you ever imagine something like that?"

"I've never imagined myself fucking the Virgin Mary. She doesn't even appeal to me that way."

"I first told this in confession, when I was still in high school. I confessed it to one of the nuns."

"Oh boy. What did she say?"

"She didn't say anything. She just sat there and cried. I don't even know why."

"I admit, it kind of gets to me."

“Now you.”

I had to think about it. I have a lot of fantasies. A lot of them aren’t the kind you tell to women because they read too much into it. You can dig a hole for yourself. But I had one that was safe, and it was ancient. It was one I had since I was a kid.

“You ever watch Dracula?” I said.

“Which one?”

“The first one. That dusty old Universal pictures thing, with Bela Lugosi.”

“Oh shit,” she said. “Yeah, I love those old movies. Okay. Lugosi. 'Good EEF-ning! I VILL bite your NECCK!' So you’re a vampire in a tux? That’s your big fantasy?”

“No,” I said, “it was this thing he did. This eyeball thing he did. He would look in a woman’s eyes with his vampire eyes, and she’d go all blank. She’d do anything he said.”

“Okay. And then?”

“In the movie, after he goes to England there's this opera, see? And he’s at the opera, and there’s some fancy people there he wants to meet. So there’s this girl, she's like a maid or a cigarette girl or some shit. Its like 1920 or something, and he’s all dressed up in his tux, and there’s this young girl, not too bright, and she’s dressed like an English maid. I guess. And he does the eyeball thing to her. See?”


“She looks into his eyes, ‘Look into my eyes!’ he says, and she blanks out. Like totally. He's got her. He's right inside her skull. Now she’ll do anything for him. Anything.”

“Okay. So what does she do?"

“That’s the shit!”


“She doesn’t do anything! He tells her to go to the opera box where all these rich English stiffs are sitting around all dressed up, and just announce him. I mean, what the fuck, why does he work that hard? Is he cheap? He can’t tip her five bucks and just say ‘Tell those dumb fucks in the opera box over there, Count Dracula is coming and save me a seat.’ No, its cause they want you to know he's this powerful dude who can eyeball people into doing whatever he wants.”

“So what’s your fantasy?”

“Well. If I were Dracula, and I had the little English maid there looking into my eyes, I’d zonk her out good and say ‘you’re in my power now. Hell, show me your tits.' Or maybe ‘you are now my slave. I command you. Come into this unoccupied opera box over here, you hot little English cigarette girl, take off all your clothes until you're good and naked and then I command you to bend over and spread ‘em wide.’ Something substantial at least.”

“Now wait, but, but that’s like date rape.”

“It’s my fantasy, not your fantasy. If you can fuck Jesus Christ I can fuck cigarette girls.”

“Oh, poof. Shut up.” But I heard the smile in her voice. “Misogynist pig.”

So she was quiet for a long time. And then I heard her whisper - “Try it on me.”

C. Sanchez-Garcia

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Really, Really Far Off Destinations

Okay, I'm pushing the topic a little with this post. But seriously, I haven't travelled much, and I've certainly never travelled while doing it, so I think it works!

Because more than any other travel type thing, I've always wanted to fly away to the land of Oz. Or the world in the movie Labyrinth. Or Narnia. And it's this urge - the one that's always been with me - that made me write Tigerlily (out now from Total-E-Bound).

And Tigerlily is also full of raunchy sex, so I'm sure it fits the topic. Especially as I've had many more sex dreams about doing it in labyrinths or in fantasy palaces or in that upside down and inside out castle than I've had actual sex in normal travel places, like on a beach or in a train. I don't even write about my characters doing it in trains or on beaches, all that often. Usually they're in beds or over sinks, or other ordinary things.

Either that, or completely extraordinary things, like on spaceships and while climbing the Mountains of Glass in some fantasy world I've made up. I go from one extreme to other, when it comes to travelling sex. My sex travels from mundane bedrooms, through magical mirrors and into places where men are half-pumpkin, half-person. Or half-sofa, half-person.

What? That totally happens in Return To Oz. Except without the grown women and the hunk versions of these things and lots of sex. Because that would have made for a very disturbing kid's movie.

But anyhoo. I guess it's safe to say. I'm one of those many, many, many women who, as a child wondered what it would be like if the Goblin King really did come and take me away from all of this, right now. And in all honesty, I can't think of a better way to travel than in the arms of David Bowie, in a pair of tights.

P.S. If you'd like to know more about Tigerlily, here's a blurb!

Oh what’s a girl to do, when she finds a sexy, naked man in her back garden?

When a naked guy turns up in Mae’s back garden, she can’t decide if he’s crazy or sent from heaven. He can’t remember his name, or where he’s from, but he seems to know one thing for certain- Mae is in need of some hot loving, and fast.

However, the more he persuades her to let go and give in, the more she finds herself believing that she’s met him before. But childhood games with a boy who she’s sure had wings on his back are giving way to her deepest sexual fantasies, and dreams of another world entirely are not far behind…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Italy is For Lovers

By Kathleen Bradean

The first thing I used to look for in a hotel room was a huge tub. A shower with a bench was wonderful. I hate tile floors. Hard on the knees, you know. When you travel with kids, you have to get creative about sex. And no, going without wasn’t an option. Now we simply get them their own room, but when they were little, we weren’t comfortable with them being on their own. So I got to be quite the expert at stealthy sex in hotel bathrooms. I’d wait until the kids were deeply asleep and head for the bathroom. We’d use running water – filling the tub or running in the shower- to muffle the noise we made.

The trip that changed that was our first visit to Italy. Our hotel in Milan wouldn’t accommodate four, so we were forced to get a second room. The kids were on the same floor as us, but down the hall. Despite jet lag, despite the humbling challenge to my navigational skills (Did you know that in Italy, street names often change each block? I didn’t. Nor did I realize that street names were on the buildings at each corner, not on signs.), despite the stress of not being able to speak Italian, I was determined to have sex in a hotel bed for the first time in my life. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but sex while bent over an ottoman is a delicious substitute for a narrow, lumpy bed – even though it meant I was still on my knees.

After our night in Milan, we drove south to a tiny farming village in Umbria where my sister had rented a villa. The kids chose to sleep with their cousins, so we had a huge room to ourselves. It was too hot to sleep until the early hours of morning. I remember sprawling on the bed after polishing off bottles of lemoncello and grappa with my sister and brother-in-law. A horse clip-clopped down the dirt lane outside the villa. Several hours later it passed by in the other direction. R and I giggled as we listened to the rider serenade his horse. Giggles turned to kissing, kissing to petting, and finally to sheet-mussing. I woke the next morning to the sound of sheep being driven down the lane to their day pasture. It woke R too. Grinning a bit, well, sheepishly, we giggled again, and things progressed from there to a leisurely morning romp.

Eventually, we staggered downstairs. The kids were watching Scooby Doo in Italian. My sister, her husband, R, and I hiked down the lane into town for our morning coffee. The tiny café/bar/grocery was probably where the horseback rider had gone the night before. We took our little white cups of espresso out to the grapevine-covered patio. It was already hot, and for us, a drowsy sort of day. We all have high-pressure professions with long hours, and enjoy the challenges of our work, but that morning, we were content to watch the world amble past us and nod greetings to the farmers headed out to the fields. No one talked. My brother-in-law gently squeezed my sister’s hand. They shared one of those secret lover’s smiles. R kissed my hand and grinned at me the same way.

Since that trip, we’ve been to many other countries. Every other trip, though, we go to Italy. R loves Venice; I adore Rome. Every time, we manage somehow to have one intensely romantic moment even though we know better than to try to plan such things. Italy just brings it out in us. With all the world to explore, is it any wonder that we keep going back?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Foreign Affairs

By Lisabet Sarai

Anyone who has read much of my work or followed my blogs will know that I'm passionate about travel. My husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant by telling me tales of his own international adventures. With him at my side, I've visited every continent except Australia (though I still have a long wish list of places we haven't been) as well as at least three quarters of the U.S. states.

One of the many things I adore about travelling is the freedom it offers—freedom to be anonymous, to do things that might be a bit too outrageous in a city or a country where someone might recognize you. DH and I have had our share of erotic escapades on our trips together. Characteristically, we began our relationship with a three-week drive across America. That voyage included a ménage a trois with a close woman friend in Ohio, some (hilariously unsuccessful) attempts at bondage in Kansas, and a blisteringly extreme coupling in sleazy Las Vegas. (Okay, so this was a better trip than most!)

The combination of travel and sex is also a frequent topic in my fiction. One of the first short stories I published was “Butterfly”, in Mitzi Szereto's second volume of erotic travel tales, about an expat construction worker who falls in love with a transgendered Bangkok bar girl. Mitzi's next collection included “Vows”, set in Luang Prabang, Laos—a story about the sexual craziness engendered by foreign climes. “Crowd Pleaser” is another example. A married couple travels to New Orleans to very publicly celebrate their anniversary. And of course my novel Raw Silk could be viewed as an extended essay on the topic of sex in exotic locales.

One of my personal favourite "sex and travel" episodes occurs in Incognito. It explores a long-time fantasy of mine, in which I disguise myself as a man and, along with my male companion, visit a gay bar and make a pick-up. Given my diminutive stature and zaftig build, I'd never make a convincing guy. Miranda, however, is tall and willowy enough to impersonate a youth of twenty.

Most of Incognito is set in Boston, but this chapter moves to Jolly Old England. Miranda (a Harvard PhD student doing her dissertation on Victorian erotica) has been invited to participate in a panel discussion at a prestigious academic conference in London. She journeys there with Mark, the sexually irrepressible lover who has finally won her trust. Promising a surprise, he shows up at their hotel with bags from Harrods and enough make-up to turn Miranda into the slender, buff “Randy”. Miranda puts herself in his hands and he leads them to the venue of their next adventure.

The door was opened by a clean-shaven young man wearing a crimson bellboy’s uniform. He looked them up and down in an openly appraising manner. What he saw must have satisfied him, for he nodded and gave them a stiff little smile. “Good evening, gentlemen. Welcome to the Harkness Club.” They followed him into a modest anteroom furnished with coat hooks, an umbrella rack, and hunting prints. At the far end of the room was an arch covered with red velvet drapes. With a flourish, their guide pulled back the drapes to let them pass. “The curtain rises,” murmured Mark under his breath. Electric anticipation shot through Miranda’s body.

She was not sure what to expect, but her initial reaction was disappointment. The room on the other side of the curtains was large but remarkably ordinary. A gleaming mahogany bar ran along one wall. Brass trim and ranks of glassware suspended from the ceiling reflected the golden light of ceiling fixtures with oiled paper shades. The rest of the room contained shadowy groupings of low tables and chairs. Semicircular couches hugged the wall in the corners. The room was fairly full. People perched on bar stools, clustered around the tables, or simply stood around in tight knots with their drinks. Some violin piece played softly in the background. The swelling sound of conversation frequently overwhelmed it.

It took Miranda three breaths to realise that every one of the patrons was male.

The rich panelling, leather upholstery and old-fashioned lighting were so quintessentially traditional that Miranda expected more foxes and hounds, or perhaps flowers and fruit, to adorn the walls. When she looked closely at the many paintings, however, she saw that they were male nudes, artistic as opposed to raunchy, but undeniably erotic. She looked at Mark. “This is a gay bar,” she whispered, feeling a tiny hint of panic.

Mark grinned ever so slightly. “Well, you might call it that. I prefer to think of it as a gentleman’s club.”

As they walked into the room, Miranda felt the eyes of the patrons, discreetly surveying the new arrivals. She was suddenly, intensely, aware of the sock distending her trousers. Mark steered them to a table near one corner.

A waiter appeared immediately. Mark ordered whisky for both of them.

“We can leave at any time,” he told her. “However, I thought that you might find this scene interesting. It's considerably more tasteful than most gay bars back in the States. There are no chaps showing bare butts, no tattoos, no strategically torn jeans. The only leather you’ll see is three-hundred quid custom-made suits. Even in this environment, the Brits are restrained. Personally, I find the additional social constraints heighten the erotic tension.”

“You think that everything heightens erotic tension!” commented Miranda, sipping her drink.

Before he could answer, she noticed a man approaching their table. He was medium height, trimly built, with salt and pepper hair and a small moustache. His clothing was well-tailored but conservative. He favoured them with a slightly nervous smile as he reached them.

“Good evening,” he said. “Do you mind if I join you?” He had a cultured voice. His accent reminded Miranda suddenly of Geoffrey. The memory made her sex heavy and wet.

“Please do,” said Mark, standing up to allow the other man access to the empty chair on the other side of the table. And to show off his physique, Miranda suddenly realised. There was just a hint of swish in Mark’s manner, a roll of the hips and a tilt of the chin that were not typical of his usual movement. As soon as their guest was seated, Mark held out a friendly hand. “I’m Marcus,” he said, “and this is my friend Randy.”

“Peter,” responded their guest. “I’m pleased to meet you both.”


“You’re American, aren’t you?” Mark nodded. “In London on business?”

“A bit of business, a bit of pleasure, you might say.”

There was general laughter. Miranda thus far had not dared say a word. She was fascinated, watching Mark flirt with their companion. Peter was attractive for a mature man. He had a ready smile and graceful, well-groomed hands. He and Mark chatted about London sights, shopping, entertainment. To Miranda, it seemed like every comment Mark made was a double entendre. Peter leaned forward, his lips slightly parted, his pale blue eyes gleaming, attention totally focused on her lover. Miranda felt slightly invisible. She didn’t mind.

They finished their drinks. Mark was about to order another round, but Peter held up his hand. “Excuse me, but I’ve got to visit the loo.” He strode across the room and disappeared through a doorway on the far side.

“Come on,” said Mark, grabbing Miranda’s hand and pulling her in the same direction.


“It’s a signal,” whispered Mark. “Come on.”

She followed him, a bit reluctantly, into the brightly-lit lavatory. It was immaculately clean. A vase of purple carnations sat on the sink.

Peter stood at a urinal along one side. She could hear the sound of his piss pouring into the porcelain fixture. Without hesitation, Mark took up position beside the older man, unzipped his fly, and extricated his penis. It was half-erect. His own cock still hanging out, Peter watched, fascinated, as Mark handled himself. Miranda hung back, her hands in her pockets. From where she stood, she could see both of their organs. After a few minutes of stroking, Mark began to pee. A queasy excitement settled in Miranda’s stomach as she watched the yellow stream arching through the air. Without realising it, she took a few steps closer, her eyes glued to the two men.

“So, Marcus, I’d like to give you a taste of how we entertain ourselves here in jolly old England,” said Peter softly. “Would you like that?”

Mark was stroking his cock again, making it swell to full tumescence. “I would, Peter,” he said with one of his angelic smiles. Peter reached out a hand, but instead of touching Mark’s cock as Miranda expected, he laid his palm on the black fabric stretched across Mark’s buttocks. “I’d like to give it to you here,” he said, almost in a whisper.

“Sounds good to me,” said Mark. He led the way toward one of the stalls. Suddenly Peter turned his eyes on Miranda. She saw, reflected in his blue eyes, the lust her boyish form inspired.

“And what about you, Randy? What would you like?” He licked his lips.

Miranda was speechless. Fortunately Mark stepped into the breach. “Randy’s a bit shy,” he said with a smile. “He just came out of the closet. I’m showing him the ropes, so to speak.” Peter half-smiled, half-leered at Miranda. Mark lowered his voice. “So far, he’s a virgin. But I suspect that he would not be adverse to giving you a blow job. Would you, Randy?”

Miranda swallowed hard. She tried to deepen her voice. “No, I’d like to do that,” she said. Then she realised that she meant it.

What follows is one of the raunchiest scenes in an admittedly explicit novel. However, you'll just have to use your imagination (unless you want to purchase the book, of course!) After all, that's what I did. I've never been to a British gay bar or watched two men have sex in the loo, or pretended that I was a boy.

See how much I have to look forward to!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Breaking Eggs

A woman sits alone at a bar in a strange city as night falls. She catches the eye of a man she's attracted to. They meet, they talk,they flirt, they fuck. This is the basis for so many erotic stories,it is worth using as a framework for examining character dynamics.

First, I freely admit that I'm a lousy hatcher of plots. All my writing is character-driven and my plots, such as they are, grow out of the classic narrative conflict possibilities inherent in character dynamics.

There are only really three types: man against himself, man against his environment or circumstances and man against man. Ultimately, for me, it will be the flaws and strengths in each character that will determine how she or he acts in any given situation. In order for a
story to be good, even plot-driven stories need the characters to act believably.

Perhaps the truth is, I'm evil: I find there is nothing so satisfying as reading about a character in the midst of a great moral dilemma. It can be something universal or personal, but taking a character to the place where their circumstances or another character challenges
their basic moral principles is always a great delight for me. Especially in erotica.

This might seem odd. On the surface, moral discomfort doesn't seem like the best setting for hanky panky. Wouldn't it all go smoother if the couple at the bar I opened this post with just dug each other? Just wanted to get it on? Had no inhibitions or reservations? Well, if it were porn, this would be perfect. They're all sexy as hell and no one is vulnerable.

However, what if I told you that the woman is married to a fabulously rich industrialist and the man at the bar is a spy for another company? Now we have a plot and a clear sense of risk. Betrayal is afoot. I figure the sex is going to be a little spicier because no one is what they are pretending to be.

What if all those things are true but we add another layer: the woman is not a bored trophy wife. In fact, she loves her husband deeply. But he has a mistress who he's with at this very moment. In her hurt, the wife has decided to pick up this cute piece of ass as an act of revenge. And, for his part, the cute piece of ass, an industrial spy, has also been keeping a quiet eye on our girl for a while. He knows all about her. He has, through the weeks of his surveillance begun to admire her. If he's an immoral bastard, the seduction might just be the icing on the cake, but if he isn't - if he has a conscience - it's going to eat away at him.

Now she's reluctant, feeling deeply guilty but hideously attracted. Her panties are wet and her heart is breaking. He can't keep his hands off her and knows he shouldn't try, but he realizes that his success is her moral destruction.

This is going to be delicious. She wants his cock so bad she can hardly hold her wineglass. Even as she passes over her spare hotel key card, a sick guilty feeling is brewing in her gut.

Now she wants it to happen fast. She wants to be overwhelmed by the act of lust. If she hesitates, she might balk and feel weak and pathetic. That would make her hate herself even more.

He is torn between achieving his goals and hoping against all hope that she'll turn out to be the honourable wife he has come to think she is. Visions of fucking her into the deep pile carpet compete in his mind with the fragile hope that she'll change her mind at the last minute.

You know this is going to be deeply uncomfortable. And you know the sex, when it happens, is going to be incendiary: her, with her guilt and her lust and her anger, he, enraged at his own self-delusion, triumphant at his success, intoxicated at finally possessing the woman he's wanted for so long. When they finally fuck, it's all going to come out in a long, delicious series of psycho-dramatic spurts.

There are many readers who would prefer the simple, easy version. However, I believe that breaking your characters open and having them ooze all over the bed is hotter. I have come to find that there are plenty of twisted readers just like me who feel that bringing all that angst and complexity to the sex takes it out of the realm of common experience and into the earthquake zone. I guess I write for them, and for me.

Remittance Girl

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is from the opening to a story I’ve recently been working on. I’m fairly pleased with the character dynamics in this piece. I'm now having fun unpeeling the layers of Corinne's character and seeing how the story develops.

James thought Corinne looked like a woman on the verge of orgasm.

She stood alone and seemed determined to remain unnoticed. She was attractive in an understated fashion, wearing an outfit that seemed designed to blend in. Her jeans were neither too light nor too dark: only the wash-faded colour of a late summer sky. Her top was fashionable but unremarkable: a shapeless garment that concealed whatever figure she possessed beneath. Her unassuming hair; the light application of make-up; even her round-shouldered posture: all suggested she was going to great lengths to avoid being noticed.

James thought Corinne was probably disappointed that she hadn’t been able to wear camouflage for the party. He could imagine her dressing in clothes that were the same colour and pattern as the tiled walls of the Hudson’s kitchen. He guessed, thinking back to the conversational games he sometimes played with Liz and her pseudo-intellectual friends, if Corinne had been given the choice of a super power, she would almost certainly pick invisibility.

But he also thought she looked like a woman on the verge of orgasm.

Corinne stood in a carefully selected position in the Hudson’s kitchen. Her back was to the dishwasher and, James thought, it was the perfect place to stand and be seen to be at the party while being completely ignored. The kitchen was busy with the Hudson’s guests constantly milling through. Cherie Hudson made repeated appearances, snatching hot trays from the oven and transferring the contents to freshly emptied plates; Dennis Hudson occasionally brushed past Corinne, collecting empty beer cans for the recycle bins, fishing fresh four packs from the fridge or taking frozen sausages and burgers for the barbecue outside. Conversations started in the kitchen; meetings and greetings erupted around her; everyone passed through on their way to and from the bathroom: and Corinne stood alone and untouched by everyone and everything.

And, James thought, she looked like she was silently coming her brains out.

She shivered slightly, like a blade of grass caught in a summer breeze. Colour darkened her throat and décolletage in the same blush he saw on Liz’s neck and chest when she was close to climax. The ice cubes in Corinne’s highball tinkled with telltale tremors.

If Corinne had stood anywhere else, James thought her isolation would have been obvious enough to draw attention. Too close to the fridge and she would have been in Dennis’s path. Any closer to the oven and Corinne would have been in Cherie’s way. If she had positioned herself nearer to the sink she would have been a nuisance to those who gathered there to rinse plates and glasses and share kitchen confidences. If she had stood closer to the counter, which was laden with oven-warm savouries, she would have been an obstacle to the greedy. But, in front of the dishwasher, she remained a part of the party while being completely distant from everyone and everything around her.

James felt certain he had never seen a fully dressed woman so close to having a public orgasm. The thought made him instantly intrigued. The desire to know more was a sudden, inescapable impulse. She drew breaths in long, thirsty gulps. The hand around her highball was a tight fist. Even though her large dark eyes drank in every detail of the room around her, James could see her expression was glassy and distant with pleasure.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stoker Poker

I think being the mortal lover of a vampire would be like being somebody’s pet goat.

Baby goats are very cute. As they get older they get less cute. They start to smell gamey, act stubborn and ornery, and look more and more like food. All your happy little goat life, the human who owns you is very nice to you, feeds you, hugs and pets you, plays with you. Then one fateful day, he comes up to you with something shiny in his hand and he’s suddenly not very nice to you. No, not very nice at all.

We'll come back to that, but first let's talk about the rules of Stoker Poker.

Writing vampire stories is a lot like starting a poker game, you announce the rules before you start, Five Card Stud, jacks wild. You can do this, but you can’t do that. Bram Stoker vampires are not Stephanie Meyer vampires. Meyer’s vampires sparkle charmingly in sunlight, and pose and sulk like unemployed Abercrombie and Fitch models. Stoker’s vampires burn up in sunlight, sometimes explosively. A stake in the heart is terminal. Not big on garlic. They can snack on a human, or drain them to death. Stoker Rules, to “turn” a human you have to deliberately give them vampiric blood to drink, just biting them is not enough. In some mythos such as Lingqvist’s “Let The Right One In” just being bitten, dead or alive, is all it takes. “Sookie Stackhouse” vampires are made according to Stoker Rules, “Anita Blake” vampires are Stoker Rules, more or less, and so are Anne Rice vampires. Stoker Rules vampires are usually intensely erotic on the outside but only for show. Eroticism is bait for the hook. Once they get you alone – aiiee! I approached the relationship with my Nixie and her lover Dan with Stoker Rules. Deal the cards. Play the cards you’re dealt. Seven Stud, Stoker Rules.

In the story “The Lady and the Unicorn”, things begin with Nixie telling the story to the reader as she walks down a lonely dirt road at night in the dark. Like an exquisite bloodhound she is trailing her runaway mortal lover’s scent in the air and has almost caught up with him.

“. . . He left me during the day in a trail of strewn clothes and broken dishes all through our little house. And other things also, which he left behind and I have brought with me in a little gym bag I carry in my hand as I walk down the dirt road following his scent. Because of what is carried in this bag, I know he loves me still. He could not have left behind a sweeter valentine.”

Ooooo! A valentine! Perfume? Godiva chocolates? Fruit flavored condoms? Much later in the story, Nixie shows us the kind of valentine Daniel left behind for her:

" . . . I move in close to him, touching him again – and oh the joy to feel him against me, the heat of him - still holding my bag, but stepping close enough for my breasts to aggressively brush up against him. I’m trying to get him to put his arms around me, but he steps back and I feel his fear. “Why?” I say.

“I got to know if you’re all right.”

“No – why did you not want to be there, alone? You were afraid.”

He looks down, ashamed. And afraid.

“Why, my love? Why were you afraid?”

“I thought you might be looking for me.”

“Of course I was looking for you,” I say soft and slow, feeling the bag in my hand grow heavy. “Why would I not look for you? Why would you not want me to find you alone? I’m still your woman. Don’t you want to be alone with me?”

“I thought. . .” He is really sweating it now. It is miserable to see. “I thought you’d be pissed.”

Whispering. “Why would I pissed? Hmn. Now, let me think.”

He only looks at me with those angry frightened eyes, and I wish I were blind. This is not the Daniel I came to find.

“Why would I be pissed, kuschelbaer?” He is looking at the bag now. He knows. “Oh, I wanted to give you these. Look what I found beside my little bed.” I put the bag on the ground, unzip it and reach in. One in each hand, I show him. A hammer in one hand, I show him. A sharpened piece of wooden broom handle in the other, I show him. I hold them out to him. “Is this why I would be pissed at you? You think?”

“Dammit Nixie!”

I thrust them out to him. “What are these? What are these?

He turns away. He can’t look at me, but I am trembling now. I can’t stop myself or what I feel. “What is this?” I shake them at him. I stamp my feet. I know I’m ruining everything, and I can’t help it. I love him so terribly I want to bite his nose. “Is it a sexy new game you want to play? You can dress up and be the fearless Mr. Van Helsing, jah? And I will be sexy little Miss Lucy, in my nightgown in my toy coffin, and you will climb in with the hammer and the stake, yes? - and we will play and do the rinky-tink together and have some fun, jah? Would you like to maybe do that now? Now is a good time. Let’s play Van Helsing – “

“Shut up! Shut up!”

Now he is almost crying and I am almost crying too. I shake them at him, screaming “What were you thinking?” I hate this, to be cruel to him. I try to calm myself and remember what it really means, finding there the hammer and the stake discarded beside my bed. “You couldn’t do it, could you?”

“I couldn’t do it. God help me, I couldn’t do it.”

I hate myself for doing this, but this is the road I must lead him down, until he is tame again. “Why?” Softly I speak, because I would be his lover again and he is almost mine. “Why not?”

He shakes his head.

“I want to hear it. Please say it. Say for it for me, please. Why couldn’t you kill me in my sleep?”

“Because I couldn’t. I love you. God forgive me.”

“Why God forgive you? What’s wrong with being in love with me?”

Nordchen, I love you with all my soul and I always will. But. But, you need. . . That is. Somebody needs to . . . You need to be put down.”

So there it is. There’s the dynamic. Each one in this relationship has a hold over the other. Each is deadly in their element. Each is vulnerable out of their element. At night, if you’re Daniel and she takes a notion to kill you, she’s going to haul off and kill you and there’s not a damn thing you can do that would stop her. She’s been killing people for a hundred years and she’s good at it. You will die at her leisure. But in the daytime, she is helpless. At your mercy. She sleeps in the same room as you and she has placed herself willingly in your hands. No secret vault. No locked coffin. No gimmicks. You’re her lover, her man, she trusts you to behave yourself in the day as you trust her with your life at night. Its not the fearless vampire hunters who could kill her, she knows how to handle them. She’ll see them coming before they see her. Its you who could kill her. Lovers are supposed to trust each other, but this is trust on a special level. She trusts you with her life in the day. You trust her with your life in the night.

It's not so obvious in the stories, but when Daniel has sex with Nixie, his semen has an unusual composition that replaces the need for blood. I made this part of the deal in order to set up a moral dilemma. This always seemed like an intriguing sexual fantasy to me, one that was never explored by other writers. What if you were a man with unique semen that could replace a lady vampire’s need to steal blood from the living? Maybe a small harem of lady vampires? Oh, baby. For a lady vampire who doesn’t want to kill, this could be very liberating. So as long as she’s keeping you happy and keeping you coming, she doesn’t need to hunt. This is the unspoken theme under the surface of the story “Singing In The Dark”, in which Nixie struggles with her urge to attack a man in a rail yard at night. Daniel’s been fucking her regularly for a year and keeping her off the streets, so the practical need for blood isn’t the problem. But what Nixie has discovered is that she is addicted, beyond blood, to the need to kill. For its own sake.

A vampire is a serial killer with style. Nixie is a specific creature, she has a specific nature that goes with being that creature. What she discovers about herself is that she is addicted to the act itself of killing prey. She needs to roam the night and hunt and experience death because this is who she is and who she must be. Daniel’s semen has replaced her need for blood, but not her bloodlust.

Now this is a moral problem for Daniel, when he realizes this is her nature and she can’t change it. That makes him morally responsible. If your lover, the passionate love of your life, is sneaking out at night and killing people, shouldn’t you turn her in? Or “put her down” as he says. Even if the wolf loves you, don’t you have an obligation to your fellow sheep to deliver them from her? But the wolf loves you. Trusts you with her life. What are your moral responsibilities when she comes home one night covered with blood and tells you its pigs blood? You want to believe her, but isn’t that blood on your hands also? For some reason this never seems to come up much in vampire romances. You're harboring a skilled serial killer who is perfectly capable of turning on you. And you know it. You're responsible for keeping her in business. Wouldn't that be a problem? It'd scare shit out of me.

Its hard for Nixie too, because the fact is loving one goat very much makes you not want to kill goats. Part of her wants to kill people, but now a new part of her doesn’t. So she’s in great turmoil over what has become a dual nature. This is why she says to the reader in Lady and the Unicorn, that for one of her kind to fall in love is a disaster, a fatal catastrophe. It is a crippling experience for a predator to fall in love with its prey. This is also why in “Singing in the Dark” she practically slaps the man in the railyard to death as she yells philosophical questions at him, deciding his fate. His fate is in fact her fate, to live or to die based on his proof of innocence.

So this character dynamics business has more than one level. There’s the more obvious “I love you, please don’t kill me.” And then there’s the one under the surface, of a higher or more universal moral question. It can get as twisted as you want to make it.

Somehow the idea of a vampire lover, or any non-human lover is very romantic and erotic. Why? Why is it not in fact a huge pain in the ass? I asked this question to Charlane Harris, author of the hugely popular Sookie Stackhouse novels which became HBO’s “Trueblood” series. She didn’t know. And you’d think she’d know, because this has made her a very rich writer. She doesn’t. I asked Dacre Stoker, author of the international best seller “Dracula: The Undead”. He didn’t know either.

I think this is something hard wired into us as human beings, because its so ancient. In the old stories of Greek mythology the gods and goddesses very often came to earth and took mortal lovers into their beds, and when they wouldn’t cooperate they just raped them, resulting in semi-divine children such as Perseus and Hercules. Jesus Christ no less was the offspring of a mysterious relationship between God almighty and the otherwise Virgin Mary. In 1978 in the movies Superman flew with Lois Lane above the clouds and set women’s hearts a flutter all around the world. Nobody seems to be able to explain it, but it’s a part of being human somehow. To be chosen from the common herd of goats by the gods or the supernatural sets you apart, it means you must be somebody special.

Everyone wants to be special.

Especially if the gods and goddesses like to eat goats.