Although I’ve been dabbling in this writing caper for over 3 decades, and received my first offer of publication fifteen years ago, my affair with writing erotica began only two years ago.
Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica is a “Best of” anthology of erotica short stories, that have been published in some form within the preceding year. Hand-picked by well-respected editor Maxim Jakubowski (himself an author of many genres of fiction including erotica), this anthology has been going for over 13 years (it started getting numbered after a few releases) and has a considerable standing amongst the erotica-writing commmunity.
Just one year ago, I was (very politely) rejected from this anthology. The piece I submitted wasn’t even a story, more a scene. But the editor must have seen something he liked, because he encouraged me to submit again. After reading the anthology I didn’t get into, and being so impressed with the quality of story-telling, as well as the diversity of sexuality represented, I was determined to get a story in one of them – one day.
My complimentary contributor copies for this year’s anthology arrived earlier this week.
And I am proud for my story to be there, nestled between the covers with writing peers, authors I have oodles of respect for, people I’ve interacted with and exchanged story critiques with, via my favourite online erotica writer’s forum. And proud of my ability to not let a rejection fill me with self-doubt or stop me from submitting to the same editor.
I don’t share this to gloat. I share it to encourage fledgling writers. Persistence and practice can actually lead to publication. (I really didn’t mean to execute that much alliteration in one sentence.) Oh – yes – the other factor :
(I seem to be on a roll with P-concepts.) Not at all surprising, considering the subject of this story.
Being published, especially in hard copy, seems hardwired into very early dreams of being a ‘famous’ writer when I was a child. Writing scraps of poetry for my mother’s birthday card, dry essays to represent my primary school on some dull civic theme, and winning eisteddfod short story and poetry contests. Seeing my words online doesn’t have quite the same effect on me. And then – well there’s the smell of books. Nostalgic. Warm and woody. Can you tell I hung out in libraries a lot when I was a child?
Forgive me, Gen Y’s and younger, and I really hope the e-book explosion is actually helping to slow down deforestation of the planet – but computer screens just don’t smell the same…
My story Peek Hour, featured in this anthology, is a ride on a train with a woman called Roxy, as she indulges in her favourite passion – Penephilia.Penephilia: (n) pēn-ə-ˈfi-lē-ə a strong positive emotional view towards, or positive emotion caused by the penis. [mod. L. penilis – of or pertaining to the penis + Gk philia – love of or enthusiasm for]
Stories of men watching and viewing women for sexual pleasure are – well – fairly common (which I don’t mean in any way to be derogatory – it’s a classic theme and there can be many uniques takes on this). But, somewhat more unusually, this is a story where the voyeur character is female.
They are used to doing the watching. Their assumed power makes them vulnerable. So confident are they, she thinks, in their position as the initiators of the desiring gaze.
Three years ago, this plot came to me while at a cafe, and I scribbled it down in my journal. I live in a Metropolitan capital city; I take trains a lot; I have both experienced being ‘checked out’ and observed men eyeing off other women. And I am not saying that people-watching isn’t natural within the scope of human behaviour, and that some of that is with genuine appreciation or interest. But some of it isn’t. So perhaps I wondered about the inverse version.
At the time of jotting the idea down in my journal, I was dubious about my story-telling stamina. Especially erotic story-telling. I doubted my ability to conceive plots. Fast-forward two years. I was trying my hand at erotica. I’d written a few short stories that had been published and some of them I’d even been paid for. And the idea of this character had never quite gone away.
Over a manic fortnight of too much caffeine and more than one midnight dinner, I pumped out Peek Hour. And I like Roxy. She’s feisty and intelligent, with a quirky sense of humour. She’s also a woman who’s not afraid to pursue her fantasy and indulge in what turns her on.
Just for you lovely readers, I’m going to share an excerpt of Peek Hour here. The anthology is brimming over with sexy, provocative tales, so if this whets your curiosity, consider purchasing it, and showing those publishing statistics that erotica is in public demand and is a valid literary genre (goddamnit).
This fabulous anthology is available here, for pre-sale (ridiculously cheap for the content and quality), released online November 20, and available at discerning bookstores from December (depending where you are in the world).
(There – I tried to keep my “plug” to a very short paragraph.)
Next time you’re on a train – you might see things diferently.
The author would love to hear your thoughts … 🙂