Monday, 30 July 2012

Fifty Shades lessons

I learned some stuff last night.
Channel 4 (in the UK) aired a documentary about Fifty Shades of Grey. As far as I can see, if you missed it, you missed it - it doesn't seem to appear on the 4OD catchup website, or at least not yet.
Among the posturing from some commentators and the slightly jokey treatment of bdsm, some interesting stuff emerged about the whole erotica ‘industry’ and how writers can get noticed.

I won't try to summarise the whole thing. But here’s a range of key points for those of us who write erotica. I shall be trying to act on them sometime soon...

- Put at least some material out for free. But put it in a place where lots of people will read it. That often doesn’t mean your own blog, but a forum.
- Self-pubbing is no bad thing. Up until a year or two ago mainstream publishers maintained the fiction that self-publishing was beneath contempt, and those who self-pubbed wouldn’t get looked at by publishing houses. Now they’re trawling self-pubbed material to see what they can license and republish.
- A boundary has been pushed through. ‘Transgressive’ material, certainly bdsm and probably now other topics, are fine for the mainstream. Big publishers have caught up with the idea that people’s fantasies are not censored and often not politically correct. In the UK, allegedly, some 37% of the population admit to having tried bondage sex (I don’t know the source of this figure but it doesn’t surprise me; I’d suspect, though, it’s mainly a younger demographic). And incidentally, since FSOG came out, publishers have seen a massive increase in submissions of bdsm-themed work.
- Unfortunately for the rest of us, one blockbuster novel tends to sweep the board on Amazon Kindle and leave everyone else selling hardly anything for a couple of months.

And finally - it’s not a lesson for authors, particularly, but Ann Summers had to get a Fifty Shades management team together to find ways to meet the demand for sex toys that resulted from the book’s publication. Overall sales are up hugely (I think they said 'doubled'), some branches have experienced larger sales increases than that, and some items (nipple clamps for example) have had huge increases in demand. So the publication of the book has, actually, grabbed people’s attention to the point that they’re trying out the ideas and buying stuff in order to do so. And maybe that means there's an increased demand for books on how to do bdsm?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

50 shades of Duke Nukem

On Youtube: Jon St. John was convinced by Team Four Star to read a few lines from,"50 Shades of Gray," in his Duke Nukem voice. For the segment they chose, it almost works as a piece of gay erotica.

See it here.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Now with added tweets

In our determination to build our social networking skills and stuff, Velvet and I have now (actually via my joint blog with Velvet, Deliciously Deviant) set ourselves up with a Twitter account. So I'll be using that account to post tweets about this blog, about Deliciously Deviant, and general random stuff that interests me.

Please note: that's Twitter, the social network and not Twatter, the antisocial network. I may be antisocial much of the time but not in the scatological way you tend see on there...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Voodoo bondage women?

'I've just finished a novella that makes a lot of reference to voodoo - or, since it's based around specific beliefs about the supernatural, it might be better to say vodou. And it has a lot of bondage and bdsm in it.

So I was looking at stock websites for a potential cover image, and instead I came across, which bills itself as an 'esoteric guide to difficult and unusual art, music, film, people and ideas'. Yeah, that's my kind of thing.

And the reason I found this is because one of the difficult and unusual things it lists is Tortura 1&2 - a two-volume collection of LPs, which it describes in the following terms:

'This is a unique set of LPs from 1965 put out by Bondage Records. Nothing more than the sounds of whipping and moaning, crying, laughing and shrieking. No music, no story. Just the simple sounds of your happy go lucky, everyday BDSM scenester.'

I had no idea these things even existed. But if you go to the blog entry on Tortura, you can listen to all the tracks.

Another little gem on the site, incidentally: if you've never come across Anais Nin you should have done, because she's one of the major figures in the development of women-centred erotica (among her other achievements). And there's a video of her taken, I guess, sometime in the 1960s talking about destructive and constructive uses of anger. Since I last looked, a couple of years ago, bits of Nin on video seem to have emerged on Youtube but this was something I hadn't come across before.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Tolerance, freedom and nudity

Just caught something about Stephen Gough on the BBC website. Stephen Gough, aka the 'Naked Rambler', came to public notice in 2003 when he attempted to walk naked (well, with walking boots and a rucksack) from Land's End to John O'Groats in the UK. The reason was apparently something to do with things happening in his personal life. Since then he's spent more than six years in prison for repeated 'breaches of the peace'. And he's just been re-arrested in Fife for a 'breach of the peace', a few days after being released from prison for public nudity.
This whole episode raises a bunch of questions in my mind about attitudes to public nudity and why we seriously want, as a society, to police it in the way we do.
There's an interview with him, and with his lawyer, on the BBC website. In it, Gough makes a serious point about tolerance and freedom. It's far from being a comprehensive argument, but then he only gets about 60 seconds. I think it's a point of view that can be applied in all kinds of circumstances, from international politics to interpersonal relationships. I've tidied up the hesitations, false starts, ummms and aaahs, and what he says is this:

The point is that underneath it all, we believe, in this country, in tolerance and freedom. And you can't have freedom unless you've got tolerance [...] It isn't tolerance if you can accept something easily. You've got to open your mind further. And through tolerating things that you have difficulty with, you find, actually, that your mind becomes more open and actually you become more free too. So it's a two way process.

Hear the whole interview (it's only 4 minutes 16 seconds) on the BBC website. If it interests you, there's also a news item on the arrest that includes trackbacks to previous news items about him.

While writing the above I remembered something I once read, though can't lay my hands on the book at the moment. In 1935, the Prison Commission decided to open a new 'Borstal' for young offenders, North Sea Camp, near Boston, Lincolnshire, UK. The population of the new institution was taken from around the system and gathered at the existing institution at Stafford. Staff and inmates then marched from Stafford to the new site, staying overnight in local community centres, farmer's fields, etc., led by one W W Llewellin as the new institution's governor. My memory of what I read says Llewellin had inherited early-20th century views on the benefits of exercise and fresh air, and that every morning on the march, all staff and inmates - all, of course, male - were expected to run around the campsite, naked, as part of a health and fitness regime. And no one thought that was exceptional or unusual. I stand to be corrected on this and I know early 20-century morals on nudity were complex, to say the least. But if I'm right, how and why have attitudes changed so much in the course of just a couple of generations?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Library porn

I'm currently writing a bdsm scene set, not in a library (I may do that later in the novella) but in a bookshop. That said, in the context of library porn you may be interested in:

- Bookshelf porn (a page Velvet found on Stumbeupon)

- 'Checking Out' by Avi Steinberg, in the Paris Review (a thinkpiece about sex, libraries and librarians)

Each in their own way contributed something to the ambience of what I'm writing. Though as a teaser I'll just add that the lead-in to the scene is the heroine of the piece looking for guides, studies or histories relating to voodoo (or vodou, or voudun, depending on your preference for spelling). I guess the novella will be out later in the year.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Naked Delirium

Out soon (expected mid-August) from Sweetmeats Press. Note the 'explicit content' advisory.

An illustrated anthology of sex in altered states. Five novellas, by Fulani, Kristina Wright, Sommer Marsden, Vanessa de Sade and Velvet Tripp.

Velvet, incidentally, is my partner and an author in her own right, so you get 'his and hers' stories in Naked Delirium.That's only happened once before (Xcite's Lust Bites collection, available direct from the publisher or on or

Oh yeah - notice that last line on the cover? It's an illustrated collection, though I think only if you get the print version.

More details and trailers sometime soon.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Freudian slip?

You know that moment when you're writing a story and the main protagonist is talking about a time when she went to a hotel with someone she met in a bar? And she's describing what happened:

"It was a cheap hotel, the kind where you can book a room by the hour. And when we got to the room he said he wanted to type me up. I let him type me to the bed."

That wasn't quite the scenario in my head, but that was the way it came out when I wrote it... And maybe that is what I meant and I should go with it and take the story from there, about how he tortured her, leaving nasty little exclamation marks on her body before splitting her infinitive before finally bringing her to an orgasm that was so good it had been pluperfect.