Someone drew my attention to this delightful response by Neil Gaiman to the question of how to seduce a writer.
The last line in particular really struck me, not least because there have been multiple instances where I was in that very position of having literally no clue what was going on until suddenly my lips were in contact with another person’s. These encounters have then proceeded along the entire spectrum from being the beginning of a long-term relationship to an awkward drunk moment of trying to remember the guy’s name, then paying silent thanks for the extremely drunk friend who chose that moment to need to be carried home.
The notion of seduction sits a little uncomfortably with me for two reasons. First is the presumption that any form of romantic or sexual approach is inherently unwanted and therefore is a game of basically tricking someone into being with you (Fuck. That. Shit!)
Second is the horrific gender bias that tends to go along with such ideas:
A friend once described being a female and engaging with websites including Fet-Life, OK Cupid and others as being a bit like the seagull scene in Finding Nemo (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then shame on you… but you can watch it here). Basically what I’m saying is that I am extremely unlikely to ever ‘seduce’ someone as I don’t want to be another entitled, squawking voiced, Larus Canus. I know (or at least hope) that that modicum of self-awareness already elevates me above some creatures of the net, but still, it’s not something I’m comfortable doing.
But what about the other side of the equation? …Sorry, I literally spurted cold coffee over my keyboard upon typing that last sentence. But no, seriously, go-on, I promise I’ll stop laughing at some point.
So, how to seduce an erotica writer (extrapolated from a single data point, so your mileage may vary):
- Talk to them.
Ideally in person (at an event perhaps, there are several scheduled for the coming months including Dirty Sexy Words and Smut Luton to name but two), or failing that via the internet. And I don’t mean Twitter. I mean, ok yes twitter is fine, but if you’re serious about this seduction malarkey, I think it’s appropriate to go full prose and send an e-mail.
- Don’t fanboy/girl.
Don’t just talk about what they do, or just about erotica, or sex in general. I mean, by all means talk about it, but go deep, mention something specific that really worked for you. Any writer I know would probably be chuffed by the compliment, and gratefully file the factoid away for future use… basically what I’m saying is feedback makes writers better BUT talk about other stuff. As a rule I try to avoid talking too much about the thing I’m doing. So if I’m at a writing event, I’ll usually end up chatting about martial arts or morris dancing, whereas if I’m at a talk about hyper-real religion and self-made belief systems then I’ll usually be that guy who heads off on a tangenital* conversation about spanking and CBT. This also helps with the fact that on some level I still constantly expect to be called out on being a filthy disgusting pervert-weirdo. Don’t get me wrong, being complimented on my writing is fantastic, but it comes hand in hand with a massive fear of having passages I’ve written being read out-loud by a sarcastic barrister while I stand red-faced in the dock…
- Express your interest.
Don’t be subtle, I really cannot stress that enough. If you’re interested in someone then tell them. Even better, if you’re interested in a particular thing, then say as much. “Hi I’d really like it if you could tie me up in a platonic satisfying curiosity sort of way?” is very different to, “Would you like to come back to mine so I can lock you in a cage and poke you with a cattle-prod?” Both are awesome, but have rather different implications. I’d also say be prepared for a no, or at least to not receive a response right away. This might actually be one of those situations where the instinct to run away and hide mortified in a corner might be worth listening to; Lord knows that’s what I’m thinking during most conversations I have anyway.
- Have a plan.
Is your bedroom near here? Do you have a suitably sized cage? Are your sure your cattle-prod is fully charged? Knowing this stuff beforehand makes the difference between an awkward “I like you but have no idea how this would work” and “stick a flower in my mouth and call me Ermintrude!”