The grass was thick with frost, crunching underfoot. Dawn struggled to smear itself over the sky as she trudged over the last field, heading straight for the breach, the small toppled patch of the dry stone wall.
The village was quiet, the churchyard empty, but that wouldn’t last for long past sun-up. her pace slowed, her feet picking their way between unruly brambles and half-toppled headstones.
On the north side of the church, forever chilled by its shadow, sat a small clump of graves, clustered around one large stone monument. Nobody nearby could recall who was buried beneath it, but none seemed happy with the thought it could, in reality, be just what it appeared; an altar.
She pulled the bundle from inside her cloak, untying the knot and carefully fanning out the black cloth, leaving the small stack of cards to breathe the chill air again.
Her hands didn’t shake, although her teeth did chatter as she spread the cards out over the surface, before gathering them together and shuffling with an eager, practiced motion. Shuffle, shuffle, cut, draw.
Tha answers depended on the question, but more importantly, depended on who you were asking. Ask a priest what the most important thing is in life and they’d say ‘God’, ask a baker and they’d say ‘bread’.
She knew what the cards were going to be before she turned them over.
Death; the march of time, the loss of life, the need to act now. The lovers; joy, life, companionship, union. The hierophant Rx; shamelessness, disregard for authority and the perceptions of others.
She breathed a little easier as she gathered the cloth around the deck again and picked her way back out of the graveyard. All was as it should be.
I’m a little hit and miss on how much of my personal life I put up on here, but there’s something bothering me.
I was at a party recently. More specifically it was a play party. I got chatting to someone and the combination of company, conversation, atmosphere and everything else had put us both in a place where some casual play was definitely on the cards. And by play I mean rope, I mean hey, this is me we’re talking about.
We’d established that we were both switches and after the, “So, do you fancy doing something?” came the next most important line, “What do you fancy doing?”
There was a pause. Only a momentary pause and one that I don’t think the other person picked up on, but in it I could see the same feeling staring back at me. Put very simply, we both kind of wanted to ge tied up.
I’ve talked about my switchiness before and I’ll state for the record that I absolutely bloody love tying people up and that evening I had a truly wonderful time tying people.
But there’s a part of me that’s very aware that I am almost always the one tying. In fact, aside from when I’m modelling for someone being shown some of the basics, I can count the number of times I’ve been tied, the times I’ve been really, playfully, passionately tied, tied the way I love to tie others, on the fingers of one hand.
In part it’s a trust thing. I’m much happier tying someone I’ve only met fairly recently than I am being tied by the same. Bizarrely this doesn’t seem to play out with the people I tie (I’m still kind of astonished that I got multiple volunteers at Smut Manchester willing for me to do restrictive potentially (though I was of course very careful) dangerous and certainly very hot things to them with rope.
I’d love to attribute this to my natural charisma and the sheer bloody confidence that exudes from ever… BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA! Sorry, I can’t even type that sentence with a straight face.
I think part of it is that it’s also a numbers game. The simple fact of the matter is that there tends to be more people who want to be tied up than there are people to tie them. This can lead to situations like mine where, despite being very much a switch, one side gets to come out and play more often than another. What’s worse is that, knowing this, makes me feel like, when I ask someone to tie me, I’m doing much more than just expressing a different side of myself, I’m asking them to invest time, and energy and emotion into something where by the nature of it I can’t give that back. I am a greedy emotion-hungry parasite, an attention leech who’s asking you to indulge me rather than anyone else.
And if the numbers are against me when it comes to rope bottoming, that’s nothing compared to the statistical inequality when it comes to the wider BDSM world of submissive men vs dominant women.
So what do I do, sit here and feel miserable? Abandon all hope of being able to explore the full range of my emotional palate? Write angsty self-pitying blog posts?
Or do I say fuck it and brave the meat market of Club Pedestal knowing full well I will rock that place to the ground. For I am no mere worm. I am the maker, the god made flesh, the old man of the desert. Come ride if you dare for I am Shai Hulud!
“Look, I’ll admit I was taking the piss a bit with the Iain Banks one, but that’s also an underrated classic and the sex scenes really are hot!”
“Hot in a, knobbing your cousin, kind of way.”
“Yeah, like that’s any worse than Lolita.”
“How did I know you’d bring Lolita into this. Look, what about if I let you make a Game of Thrones joke?”
“I… yeah, alright then.”
Hi Lordship’s Apprentice is a period piece sitting square in the middle of the frankly criminally underrepresented sub-genre of ‘spanking romance’. In many ways it’s a classic tale; plucky loveable and utterly foul-mouthed servant girl and stately lord fall in love and stumble through a minefield of social pitfalls ultimately culminating in the happy union.
On the plus side this book makes excellent use of the period, roping in (pun intended) Harry Houdini to add a very enjoyable theatrical element to something that could have come a little too close to Downton Abbey and gives some wonderful moments including possibly the most unexpected first meeting between protagonists I’ve read in quite a while (and yes you are going to have to read it to find out what I mean).
Overall it’s light, funny and engaging. In fact it’s almost the kind of book I could see myself recommending to my gran. Note I said ‘almost’, that is, if it weren’t for the numerous and glorious spankings. I think the best way I can sum up the overall tone of this book is that, unlike so many period pieces, the main excitement around the couple getting married isn’t the sex, but rather the prospect of doing the spanking “properly” on a bare behind.
In terms of criticism, for me, the spankings could have been rendered a little more viscerally. In addition the plot didn’t twist quite as much as I was expecting. I’d say it could have done with a nice juicy murder, but then again I realise that’s a criticism I could level at pretty much every book I’ve ever reviewed (Big Bad Book of Spanking Positions, I’m looking at you!)
Buy it; read it; recommend it to your nan, she’ll probably love it.
Alice tried to remember who had given her the key. And when I say tried to remember, I don’t mean in the casual “Oh I’m sorry I think I may have left it in my pocket when I dropped my jacket off at the dry cleaners, well we’ll just see if it comes back won’t we,” way that I sometimes use when I’m feeling particularly mean. Oh no, this was serious, full on brain racking, checking records, plundering the depths of her hard drive. E-mail inboxes, photos, everything to try to figure out who had given it her and, more importantly what poor sod had his cock and balls still locked away whilst she and, ultimately me, rooted through her home-office.
“Well look, if we at least knew how long you’ve had it that might help?” I say.
“Well it’s been a while, I mean if it had been in the last few months I’d have remembered.”
“Don’t you use something to keep track of them, like a colour code or something?” I ask.
“Not really. I mean, hey, we can’t all be OCD about these things, some boys like the lackadaisical approach.”
“No, they like the idea of the lackadaisical approach. Nobody wants to actually have to go to A&E and have a pneumatic claw half a millimeter from their most sensitive parts,” I say.
“Look, I’m sure it’s fine, I mean most probably either they’ve already found a way out, or else they’d be messaging me daily with pleas for mercy and promises of all sorts of … recompense.”
I sigh, nod, and rub my eyes for a moment.
“Can I have a look at it?” I ask.
She rummages in her jeans pocket and produces a small and tarnished piece of steel. I take it from her, and peer closely at it. The I grab my handbag and pull out my pocket magnifier to have a closer look.
“It’s an older model,” I say, “going from the design, we’re talking at least five years, maybe more.”
“What? How can you tell that?”
“The teeth are only on one side. Most modern designs use teeth on both edges, it’s a security feature designed to stop locks being bumped.”
“Yes, it’s like a Newton’s cradle, a sharp shock splits the two parts of the pins allowing you to rotate the chamber and release the lock. Became all the range for burglaries a few years ago and they responded with a few different measures.”
“But loads of keys still look like that.”
“Yes, but not from this manufacturer, look,” I say. I hold the key up, my fingernail underlining the logo.
“OK, but that still doesn’t prove– they could just have used an old lock.”
I shake my head. “No, the surface of the teeth are still rough from where it’s been machined. Normally keys and locks mate and wear each other smooth, but this one’s been used only a handful of times. Nope, I’d say the chap who used this put it more or less straight on best part of half a decade ago and– what?”
She’s watching me with a mixed look of glee and horror. I hold out the key to her.
“That’s some serious Sherlock shit you just came out with,” she says, holding back laughter.
I wave her away but can’t deny the flush of pride that surges through me.
“Hey,” I say, “I take my job seriously you know.”
I can feel something momentous tickling at the edge of my awareness. Alice starts to say something.
“Shut up!” I snap, holding up a finger. It’s a hard sell, pulling the Domme voice on a fellow Mistress, but it does the trick, giving me the silence I need to let the idea come. What did she say?
I scramble to my feet, kicking over piles of paper as I make my way to her computer and start furiously googling.
“Does this face ring any bells?” I say, clicking an image so that it fills the screen. Alice leans in close, squinting.
“I… yeah, that does look a familiar face. Yes, hang on it’s all coming back to me now, yes, all very cloak and dagger that one.”
“You do know who she is?” I ask. Alice shakes her head. “It’s, it’s her!” I say pointing wildly at the screen.
“Lamia; devil-woman; the evil seductress and hope-stealer of the faithful!”
I click back to the full-page of results and click another that shows the happy couple.
“Oh, is he that one that you–”
“So… so you think she might have…?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Oh… no wonder he always looks so… intense.”
We take a moment to zone out at the sight of his gorgeousness. Drip by drip an awareness of just what’s going on hits me.
“Alice,” I say, “could I possibly borrow that key?”
“I, I guess so. Why? What are you planning?”
She hands over the little sliver of steel. I run my fingers over it, imagining the feel of it in the lock. Suddenly the hours spent daydreaming up my master plan don’t feel like a waste at all.
“Oh, nothing too much,” I say, “I’m just going to arrange a jailbreak.”
I’m by and large a very honest person. In large part this is due to the early realisation that I am utterly utterly shit at keeping secrets and that even half-truths have a tremendous tendency to eat away at me.
So the prospect of being ‘out’ as kinky to my family is a tricky issue for me. I think Dan Savage summed it up nicely when he said that there are some things your parents have a right not to know. Similar thoughts have been echoed by my parents, although it feels like a combination of morbid fascination with the rational realisation that some things can’t be un-heard.
But what if I were gay?
I’ve been mulling this over for a while now and I’m not sure how fair or unfair it is to compare kink with being gay (or bi, or asexual etc). On the face of it there are a lot of similarities, particularly in public perception (i.e. kink being relatively common but underrepresented and widely misunderstood in the general perception of the public and particularly in the media). Indeed there have been commentators who suggest that kink and kink acceptance is at a similar point to gay rights twenty or thirty years ago.
The simple fact of the matter is that if I were gay I would have absolutely no problem about being out to my friends and family, not least because I know that I have extremely loving open-minded and supportive parents. Not only that, but I understand and appreciate that one of the most effective things one can do to challenge homophobia and prejudiced perceptions is to be ‘out’.
But for now I’m remaining as ‘in’ as my bungling will allow (oops, did I really leave that coil of rope out in the living room…). But does this count as respectfully not troubling the old ones with things they don’t need to know, or instead am I pandering to societal pressure to conform. Do I keep these things separate because of respect or cowardice? Love or fear?
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 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!”
It kind of surprises me that there aren’t more sex-themed graphic novels out there. I guess what also surprises me is that my first exposure to this would be in the form of something quite so brilliantly done.
Let’s get the skinny out-of-the-way, this isn’t really something to wank to. yes there’s nudity and explicit discussion of sex and sexuality that will raise an eyebrow and a tingle in certain places. But it’s no porn, not by a long shot.
I once compared Kick-Ass to Watchmen as being a more human and entertaining take on the same theme, whilst leaving out the heavier connotations (and, some would say, the whole point of the piece). And I feel I can best summarise this by saying that what Kick-Ass is to Watchmen, Sex Criminals is to Lost Girls. It’s funny, it’s very funny, but in an endearing way that’s yes a little crude in places, but done with a light touch and a gentle wit that’s truly endearing. A story that can blend a critique of American society’s morals and education system with a guy stuffing dildos into his mouth; one that can mix Lolita and Queen; defecation and death; is really worth a look in my opinion.
Sex Criminals also makes excellent use of the medium, using the images in a way that whilst being in some ways cinematic, also accomplishes things that could never be done using a moving image.
Does it have failings? Yes. Aside from the non-wankable nature (yes that’s a criterion, get over it) I can’t help but feel that this story doesn’t lend itself to an ongoing plot. The antagonist is unnecessary and, quite frankly, this would be a more convincing piece if ‘Volume 1’ was the only volume.
Let me just make clear that this isn’t a cut and paste what I’ve done over the last year that abound on the internet at this time of year. I mean, ok, it is that, but with reason rather than the arbitrary ticking over of numbers in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
You see, a year ago almost exactly I was keyboard-clattering my way through what was to become my first published story Bound in Plain Sight. Over the last year I’ve been more than happy to see this one is still a consistent seller and in spite of some failings (it was following this story that I switched to first person narration) it’s a story I’m very fond and rather proud of.
So the last year has been pretty succesful given that it’s been my first year of really doing stuff. I mean yes I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember and a good portion of that has been filth, but 2014 marked my first plunge into self-publishing and has seen me go from red-facedly typing short smutty stories to getting stuck into the (long promised and definitely actually happening) novel.
Along with the writing has been Eroticon and the Smut events and, with those, meeting more wonderful friendly, enthusiastic gloriously filthy kinky lovely people than I can shake a stick at (I would suggest looking to my Blogroll but that’s currently hopelessly out of date… so I’ll do something about that soon, honest).
It’s also been a year that has seen earth-shaking changes in my personal life and I have finally taken another plunge to fully embrace my kinky interests, not least of which rope. Yes I know I go on about it a lot, but it’s something that just works for me, something that just clicked from my first clumsy single column tie months ago to my more recent clumsy single column ties… To quote from the Sunscreen Song:
“The race is along and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
I’ve been struggling to find something to write lately. Mainly this is because life has been happening to me at something of a rate of knots. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a dull ‘taking the cat to the vet and re-tiling the bathroom’ way (although I did have to use an outdoor toilet for the first time in years… but that’s a tale for a different time). Oh no, there were sexy and dramatic adventures involved. It’s just I can;t talk about it.
It’s a decision you have to make when writing a sex-themed blog as to how much of yourself you are ready to share and, put simply, my personal life for the most part doesn’t belong here. Hey, this is meant to be a marketing tool for selling more books right? (Have I mentioned lately, I sometimes write stories you know, stories you can buy and read!) There are wonderful courageous funny brilliant people out there who share a lot more than I do and I admire them for doing so. But that’s not me. Don’t get me wrong, what you see here will always and absolutely be a true reflection of me. But not all of me. Sorry internet, but you don’t get that.
But what I can write about is my writing. More specifically I can let you in on the secret of what’s been stopping me publishing stuff for the last six months.
I’m working on a novel.
I shan’t go into detail but for those who’ve read more than a couple of my posts it won’t surprise you to learn that there’s a healthy element of kink and particularly an emphasis on rope bondage in this current WIP. There’s also (partially following some encouragement from a potential publisher) and element of the supernatural.
Now, let me be very clear, I am not talking some god-awful Twilight knock-off. There be no dragons, werewolves or vampires in my story. Instead I’ve been doing one of the best bits of writing, I’ve been doing research (yaay more books!) into the occult and different traditions and generally trying to get more of a handle on (for want of a better term) ‘real magic’.
The answer isn’t really straightforward. In fact I’d go so far as to say the answer cuts right to the heart of what it means to write. You see I’m well aware that when I read or write, that it’s not actually happening. No matter how many times I re-read the junior novelisation of Jurassic Park, those characters aren’t actually there and the dinosaurs aren’t really real. But (and here’s the important bit) when I’m reading it, they are real. Even when it’s the fifth or sixth time through, they are still absolutely facing that life or death situation, and facing it right now, as I read.
A friend of mine once described conspiracy theories as being an indulgence; something you let yourself believe in for a little while because it’s fun and can be an interesting new perspective on things. I guess that’s how I’d describe my approach to belief, as a luxury, something to be enjoyed in quiet moments, like a cup of tea or a walk in the snow. Something different, a change, a little piece of time where anything’s possible.
Yes I know I’m mis-using the word sublime, and I’m not going to imply that anything around the porn protests of the last week has actually featured terrifying and imposing landscapes but the title was too good not to use.
Along with hundreds of other people I went to Westminster last friday in order to take part in the mass demonstration in protest of the new ATVOD regulations. This not being my first rodeo I was prepped for more or less anything (water, check; food, check; thermal long-johns, check). But this was perhaps a little overly cautious as a very civilised time was had and it was all over in about an hour and a half (again not entirely surprising, as I say, not my first rodeo).
The highlights, aside from seeing lovely people I hadn’t caught up with in months (you know who you are 😉 ), for me at least was the speeches, which did a brilliant job. They were articulate, to the point and really brought home how damaging the new regulations are.
The seriousness of this was somewhat undermined by a dutch woman who shouted something about “Freedom of porn; whoo!” before exposing her breasts to the crowd. I’m not saying I object to that per-se, but it was an uncomfortable contrast to the concerns raised by the speakers. Things kind of got a bit worse than with the much hyped (and derided) mass face-sitting. It was at this point that the dozens of press (who up to then had been flocking like vultures around anyone who looked even vaguely like they were about to squat down) finally got the money shots they’d been waiting for.
I know that the media is a double-edged sword, and that by having something that people could ‘point-to’ the protest inevitably got more media coverage than it would have otherwise, but it was an uncomfortable shift of tone, a serious issue regarding state censorship and lack of democratic process and freedom of speech transformed into a guffawing gimic worthy of Eurotrash.
I was feeling a bit despondent. Until I watched Channel 4 News and saw the inimitable Pandora Blake being interviewed, not just a talking head at the protest, but full on adversarial discussion, in the studio. It was a delight to watch as suddenly the actual issues and actual intelligent discussion had a national platform.