Wednesday, 31 March 2010

We went to the World Horror Convention...

Wheee! Smutwriters go to the seaside! This is the view from the window of our hotel, where the World Horror Convention 2010 was being held. If I was to have turned round 180 degrees and taken another photo, you would have been able to see the hotel's historic features (and stains), plus more bald men with grey beards than you could shake a stick at. Nice friendly ones though. I spoke briefly to Tim Lebbon.

Here's one who isn't bald: it's Neil Gaiman, who was a surprise guest and hot off the plane from Moscow.

The focus of the convention was literary horror - there weren't any people in costumes or whatever. There were loads of panels covering subjects like "How to get an agent" and "Are zombies the new vampires?" There was an art show downstairs.There were bars open until 2am (hence a perilous lack of sleep). And of course there were authors doing readings of their work.

This one looks like she's enjoying herself, whoever she is...

Oh yes - I even got a couple of chances to get out and look around Brighton. Here's the Pavilion (which used to be a royal palace). The interior decoration has to be seen to be believed! Brighton Pier at night, btw, was a markedly unsettling experience. You've got the glaring lights of the carnival shows and cheesy pop music on one side, while from the other comes the noise of the distinctly hungry-sounding sea. The pier seems to hover in pitch-blackness, and below your feet the wooden boards sag rottenly in places. I don't think I've felt so irrationally nervous in years.

(L to R: Me, Olivia Knight, Mathilde Madden, Kristina Lloyd).

Oh yeah, the public reading made me pretty damn nervous too: it was my first time so I had virgin's jitters. Poor Olivia had to bear the brunt of me trying to second guess what the audience would want (How scary? How rude? How long?). But once I was up there reading out loud, I loved it. Our late-night audience stuck it out with us for two hours, despite being given a chance to escape halfway through, and they were appreciative and friendly. The four of us read two excerpts each. I did a bit from my short stories The Red Thread (Minotaur sex) and Montague's Last Ride (corpsy undead sex). Yes, all the way through to the icky and thoroughly offensive ending!

So, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. But I fell asleep sat on the floor of the train on the way home...

P.S: Big thanks to Charlotte, our official photographer!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Eyecandy Monday

Uh ... Wah day is it?   'S Monday, isit?

Did not get enough sleep over the weekend at the World Horror Convention. Had fun though! Reading went well. Report 'n' pictures later in the week.

Today's plan: Walk dogs. Sleep.

P.S: picture [REDACTED] was sent to me by Eloise. There are many more on the same theme at Bend Over Boyfriend.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I'm all tied up now...

... packing for the World Horror Convention this weekend. At least I've decided which stories I'll be reading from on Saturday night.

Gosh, this is like two halves of my brain in collision. If you know anything about the small, proud, insular world of horror-writing you'll know that they hate with being regarded as illiterate rubbish by the mainstream literary establishment. Innovative and passionate, they know they don't deserve the contempt in which the wider reading public holds them. But wait - there is one genre which Horror gets to look down upon and sneer! One even more despised than themselves!

Yes, you guessed: it's Erotica...

So I'm a bit nervous about sticking my smutwriter head over the parapet, but here goes. I'll be back here on the blog on Monday.

Bondage picture with rats is one of the illustrations Harry Clarke (1889-1931) did for Poe's collected short stories. This one is The Pit and the Pendulum, of course. Clarke's style followed that of Beardsley, only with less sex and more horror. I was going to post his illustration for The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, but I didn't want to put you all off your tea. It's very appropriate for one of the excerpts I'm going to be reading this weekend, though!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

This is NOT how I put my back out

I decided to make a new frog-pond in the garden. 

 1) I marked out the shape, roughly.

2) I attempted to protect the pitiful remnants of my lawn (This is what 10 years of dog-pee does to grass).

3) I dug an 'ole.

4) I lined the 'ole with cut-up carpet. This protects the pond membrane from roots and stones.

5) In goes a waterproof liner.

6) Fill her up from the water-butt.

7) Trim and edge. Yuck. The water need a few days to settle before plants and frogspawn get added.

In total this took about 4 hours, spread over 2 afternoons. My back was fine. Four days later I bent over to put my knickers on - and THAT is how I put my back out.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Eyecandy Monday

Liar, liar: pants on fire...

I so enjoyed lying to you all last week! Did anyone guess which two out of the seven statements were true? Well, here's a reprise:

1. As a special treat my Grandma used to feed me raw egg yolks.
 FALSE - it was raw bacon rind. Goodness knows how I didn't end up with tapeworm.
2. Out of the regular cast of Friends, the one I fancied was Ross.
FALSE - it was Chandler.
4. My Shamanic Power Animal is a fox.
FALSE - he's a reindeer.
5. I spent the advance from my first Black Lace book on surgical breast enlargement.
FALSE - reduction, actually.
7. I like kissing.
FALSE - as I explained over on Lust Bites, I do not Do Kissing.

Which means that the two TRUE statements were:
3. When I was a child I robbed a grave - and then spent years worrying that the dead person would track me down wanting his bit of skull back.
This probably requires further explanation. Believe me, I am not proud. When I was little I lived in Hong Kong, and one weekend we were staying out on one of the islands. There was a dell of trees in which there stood a number of large ceramic jars which contained the bones left over from cremations. Aged nine, I'd decided I was going to be an archaeologist - and what did archaeologists do but dig up bones, eh? So I opened one of the jars and took out the top lump of bone, which was clearly a piece of skull, and went off with it. About half an hour later I decided maybe this wasn't such a great thing and I buried it on a beach.

Kids, eh? *ahem*

6. I spent yesterday night in the Underworld.
Okay, I was cheating slightly, but lots of you guessed that. The Underworld is a club in London specialising in metal and waily goth music. We watched the last ever UK gig by Theatre of Tragedy. It was pretty good, but I was distracted by trying to think up lies.

Which all means that the only person who guessed right was Madelynne Ellis - who wins a copy of the Susie Bright anthology Bitten! Yay Madelynne - and how the heck did you know about the grave-robbing, eh?

Sunday, 21 March 2010


[click to enlarge]

Well, I'm really glad someone said it about these depressing little books (They are primarily insulting to men, btw, since they revolve around the conceit that men are so crap that the mere sight of one putting the toilet seat down, or noticing his wife's existence, is enough to send women into a masturbatory frenzy).

Cartoon is from the uber-smart and uber-geeky XKCD,  which is one of Mr Ashbless' favourite websites. Comedy with added mathematics.

(I can't bring myself to say "added math" ... In the UK we say "maths." Plural.)

UPDATE: You can read Violet Blue on the joy of geeks here.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva by John Collier (1898)

I've featured paintings by John Collier - notable Victorian atheist - before, for example in the Lilith post, but this is probably his most famous work.

Lady Godiva (Godgifu in her own time) was a real person - wife of Leofric the Saxon Earl of Mercia - and her story is worth knowing because it's one about sex and female courage. Leofric had imposed crushing taxes on the people of Coventry, who took their plight to his wife. She repeatedly asked her husband to be more merciful but he refused, until eventually he got so annoyed by her importuning that he said "Look, if you take off all your clothes and ride naked through the city then I'll do what you ask." So she did. The current version of the story is that everyone stayed respectfully indoors and didn't look except for Peeping Tom, who was struck blind by God for watching (the first case of masturbation sending you blind, perhaps? lol). The oldest version of the legend has it that the populace was assembled by Leofric to watch.

So it's a great story about selflessness and exhibitionism, and I'd like to write a version one day. The feel of the saddle between her naked thighs, the gasp of the crowd, her shame and determination and secret excitement...

Godiva outlived Leofric and was one of the few major Saxon landowners (and the only female) in England to retain her title and holdings after the Norman Conquest. She is still counted a heroine by the people of Coventry and an annual procession and festival is held in her name to this day (although as far as I can see from their publicity they seem to have given up the actual naked re-enactment ... shame). She was a popular subject for Victorian painters and sculptors, who just fell over themselves to depict her naked body and beautiful hair and - this was their usual emphasis - her crippling shame at having to apear in public this way. 

But when the city of Coventry decided to install a statue of her after the end of WW2, she acquired an altogether more serene expression - as befits the patron of a city which has been through trials and emerged victorious.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Hot Scientist (male): Dr Brian Cox

In praise of all the wonderful things Science has brought us: anaesthetics, contraception, antibiotics, the Hubble Telescope, t'internet ... and particle physicist Dr Brian Cox on TV weekly, telling us about the Wonders of the Solar System (you can download episodes here if have access to iPlayer).

The BBC has a simple formula for getting its plebian viewers switched on to science: special effects, impressive location shots and an attractive presenter. It works for me. So does a combination of joyous enthusiasm, floppy hair and an irrepressible smile that looks like he's just personally invented sex and he can't believe how awesome it is.

Another good thing from Science (and specifically, The Scientist): an overview of studies into the effects of the availability of porn upon rates of sex crime concludes:

Over the years, many scientists have investigated the link between pornography (considered legal under the First Amendment in the United States unless judged “obscene”) and sex crimes and attitudes towards women. And in every region investigated, researchers have found that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased.

A major study of American prison populations comes up with some startling results:

Looking closer, Michael Goldstein and Harold Kant found that rapists were more likely than nonrapists in the prison population to have been punished for looking at pornography while a youngster, while other research has shown that incarcerated nonrapists had seen more pornography, and seen it at an earlier age, than rapists. What does correlate highly with sex offense is a strict, repressive religious upbringing. Richard Green too has reported that both rapists and child molesters use less pornography than a control group of “normal” males.

(Emphasis mine. How I laughed.)

You can read the whole article here.

A surreal footnote: Dr Brian Cox, when he was younger, was the keyboard player in a popular beat combo called D:ream, who had an annoyingly catchy hit single with a notorious afterlife:

Monday, 15 March 2010

Eyecandy Monday - win a book!

It must be Spring - those noisy gits are back in my garden, having loud sex all day and half the night.Yet if I go out to take a peek they just jump in the pond and hide.

No, not those two above - the frogs:


(I adore 'em, actually.)

Back on the interweb...
Want to win a smut anthology in which I don't feature?

I've been tagged by Charlotte Stein, who wants me to lie to you all. The idea is that I tell you seven things about myself, two of which are true. You have to guess which ones, and tell me in the comments below. Get it right and you'll be put into a hat to win a copy of the rather lovely gothic/erotic collection Bitten, edited by Susie Bright. Closing date on this will be, oh ... Next Monday.
Here goes - which two are not lies?

1. As a special treat my Grandma used to feed me raw egg yolks.
2. Out of the regular cast of Friends, the one I fancied was Ross.
3. When I was a child I robbed a grave - and then spent years worrying that the dead person would track me down wanting his bit of skull back.
4. My Shamanic Power Animal is a fox.
5. I spent the advance from my first Black Lace book on surgical breast enlargement.
6. I spent yesterday night in the Underworld.
7. I like kissing.

Oh, btw - I tag Jo and Jeremy (but only if they want to play).

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Magazine review: Filament #4

Filament Issue 4 is out now. I've reviewed previous issues in the past and I now want to say that I am genuinely in awe. This is a magazine that has forged itself a unique identity and truly found its feet. It's an acheivement for all the creators - and particularly editor Suraya Singh - to be proud of.

The line on the cover now reads "For women who like hot men and intelligent thought," and there's plenty of both inside. In fact the amount of nudity - predominantly male, but female too - has climbed steeply over four issues since its inception. Yet it's the fact that it's a magazine with sexual content that doesn't assume sexy = mindless that I really appreciate. My personal favourite articles in this issue are:

  • Nick Ord on the foundations and limits of tolerance in society - yet again a new slant on a familiar issue (I always turn to the philosophy article first, after flicking through the eyecandy!)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder - what's that and what's it like to suffer from it?
  • Prehistoric porn: ancient archaeology and sexual depiction
  • An enticing look at alternative erotic photography website Shot With Desire, and an interview with its creator.

There are also articles on the practicalities of setting up threesomes, how to get started with Japanese rope bondage, an interview with Annie Sprinkle (porn star, director, artist, political activist), women in computer gaming, vegetable gardening and a slew of pictorial articles with men getting their kit off to various extents. And I am green with envy at the superb set of photos illustrating Heidi Champna's erotic short story about a m/f/m threesome - she must be SO pleased! 

It's an eclectic mix. Did I mention the recipe for tea cake? As it says in the editorial: "The single most controversial thing about Filament isn't the cocks; it's that we have some content that isn't about sex. Our critics have honed in on that fact obsessively ... confused by the idea that women can be interested in perving on hot men as well as the big questions of society, like tolerance, or even the little questions like How do I bake a tea cake? The rest of us call this being human." 

Honestly; if you're female, heterosexual and have more than two brain cells to rub together, you should be reading this magazine. Even if you don't fall into all three of those categories, it would be worth your while taking a look. 

Filament is out quarterly, priced £4.99 + P&P
Buy at their website - back issues and subscriptions are discounted

Friday, 12 March 2010

Spam spam spam spam

This has nothing to do with anything, but I just wanted to share my spam with the world. Recently I've been receiving fewer enticing offers from French pharmaceutical companies ("Votre libido enorme!"); my inbox has instead been filled with hopeful mail from purveyors of fake designer watches. Bad targeting there, guys. I don't think that I have ever in my whole life noticed whether a bloke was even wearing a watch, never mind what type it was (I was probably too busy looking at his crotch  nice hair). So, like, what's the attraction of a fake Rolex?

Then all my questions were answered, as one of my spam slices came through helpfully entitled:  "You will look like Hollywood actor if you wear Swiss watches. Even if you have no money to take a taxi others will think that you forgot your wallet." This was just the title, mark you.

How endearingly optimistic! If you wear a big watch, people will respect you when you catch the bus.  If you take these diet supplements you will feel energetic and filled with life.  If your cock were only an inch longer, women would be queuing up to have sex with you.
Ah, if only life were really that simple.

The men in the kinky lace-up wetsuits, btw, are Nazi Kampfschwimmers, synchronising their Rolex-Panerai watches. Yeah, I bet they never had to worry that they'd look silly if they didn't take a taxi.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sweet Love is on sale

Waah - that took me by surprise. Sweet Love, the new short story anthology edited by Violet Blue, was originally scheduled to come out in April. But it's up there on Amazon US as of this week!

(Sorry - not due out in the UK until May, still ... though you can order it direct from Cleis Press, and they ship worldwide.)

The theme of Sweet Love is happy horny couples who explore their darker wilder fantasies together - threesomes, spankings, exhibitionism etc. So if you like a your hot fictional sex to be sweetened with a little love then this is the anthology for you. My own contribution, Jump or Fall? is about Izzy, performance artist and gymnast, who is crazy-in-love with Blayne and thinks he might ... might ... be just as interested in her. They're really close. They work together. They flirt. But he's holding back: he has a secret. Izzy is determined to find out what - and when she finally does, it is so frightening that she hardly knows how to react.

Let me tell you, this was a scary story for me to write too. I was dealing with a theme I was not at ease with, and exploring my own fears and doubts as well as arousal. I also thought I might be overstepping my right to comment on the subject. But when Violet Blue said she "really, really loved it," I could breathe again.

Here's an excerpt:

‘It won’t work.’
‘I know something that thinks it will.’ I’ve already burned my bridges. ‘This big hard cock of yours thinks we’ll do just fine together, doesn’t it?’ I press against him to make my point, and he certainly makes his, right in the wall of my belly. My cunt flutters greedily. He shifts his hips, his eyes darkening. He’s holding my hand really tight.
‘Believe me,’ he says hoarsely, ‘it’ll not work out right between us.’
‘Based on what?’
‘Then just fuck me,’ I whisper. ‘I’m a big girl, you know: I can handle a one-night-stand without going off the rails.’ I’m not playing fair either, pulling his hand from my bare shoulder down to cup the orb of my breast. He thumbs my nipple instinctively, sending electric flashes through my skin, and I moan.
‘Izzy...’ He sounds desperate, but he doesn’t break. There’s something weird going on here.
‘Are you scared you’ll hurt me?’
Something flickers in his eyes. ‘Far from it.’
‘Then what’s the problem?’
He drags his hand from my tit and secures both of mine against his chest where I can’t do anything naughty with them. I lean into him instead, my thighs burning against his. ‘Izzy, I have this thing...’
‘I know. I can feel it.’
 He grins without any amusement. ‘There’s this thing I do. It’s ... a part of my life. It doesn’t come as an optional extra. And it’s not something you’d be at all happy with.’
‘What?’ For the first time doubt seeps into me. ‘This is a sex thing, is it?’
‘Oh god. Is it something illegal?’
He shakes his head. ‘No – Consenting human adults only. I promise.’
‘But you think I’ll freak out?’
‘It’s ... difficult to understand.’
‘So you’re kinky.’ I swallow, trying to be blase. ‘I can handle that. I’m not a prude.’
He pulls a face: disbelief.
‘What is it? You like to wear women’s underwear? Lick feet? Ah – it’s not nappies is it?’
He laughs, and then shakes his head.
‘Then what? What’s so bad I won’t even be able to work with you?’
‘Can’t we just leave it?’
‘Too late for that.’
He shuts his eyes for a moment. He doesn’t take a deep breath, but I feel something in the twitch of his muscles. I recognise it: the moment you decide to jump.

Buy at Amazon US : Buy at Cleis Press : Pre-order from Amazon UK

Monday, 8 March 2010

Eyecandy Monday

Bits 'n' pieces...

This last week I've been writing a bondage story. For me, bondage is one of those topics on the list of Things which are great in real life but fairly difficult to write descriptively about (along with F/F sex and orgasms). So it's coming slowly...

I've also subbed a post (and a picture) for the F-Stop website, which should be appearing in the first week of April. I'm feeling a bit wobbly about both picture and text, since they are quite ... revealing. Still, that's the point of F-Stop: Expose the Naked I, isn't it?

The eagled-eyed Jeremy Edwards sent me this pic he snapped of my novel Wildwood at large in the bookshops of Austin, Texas. Go Austin! (Though what sun-scorched Texans will make of my soggy, dirty English woodland and its soggy, dirty fairies is anyone's guess.)

Finally, just to distract me from work, Filament Issue 4 has arrived in the post - I'll post a review later this week.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Sand Art

This one has been around for a while, but just in case you haven't seen it ... it's jaw-dropping. Completely wonderful. From Ukraine's Got Talent, I believe. Bonus point to anyone recognising the Apocalyptica version of Nothing Else Matters on the soundtrack.

Friday, 5 March 2010


When, last year, I got to see this Sumerian plaque (usually regarded as depicting Lilith) in the British Museum, I got very excited. Not only is it a beautiful and powerful figure, but Lilith is one of my favourite mythological characters - by some versions the world's first feminist. In Mesopotamia she was a night-demon and handmaid of the sex-goddess Inanna. In later Jewish folklore she was reinvented as the first wife of Adam, created at the same time as him from the earth (not from his rib as the later Eve was). She regarded herself as Adam's equal and, when it came to sex, refused to lie underneath but insisted they did it on their sides in token of this. When he wouldn't agree, she uttered the Ineffable Name and left him. She became a demon, haunting the night and forcing men to have wet dreams. She strangles babies and gets the blame for what we'd now call cot-deaths.  And when medieval artists started depicting the temptation of Adam and Eve - what do you know? Suddenly the Serpent becomes female - it's Lilith back to wreak revenge on her Ex. This is a carving in Notre Dame, Paris:

One of the very first stories I wrote was all about Lilith - although as it's not erotica I don't think there's any chance it'll see the light of day again. 

And she is the perfect subject for that sort of artist who rather likes the idea of a scary dominant sexy female demon...

Lilith by John Collier (1892).

Lady Lilith by Rossetti (1868)

Lilith by Kenyon Cox (1892)

You can see many more pictures of Lilith, ancient and modern, at the Lilith Gallery.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

To Hell in a Handbasket

Chris sent me a link to the above, a review of the PC game Dante's Inferno, not because I'm likely to buy the game but because it contains a number of caustic comments on the theme of God and is, like all Zero Punctuation's reviews, highly amusing ... if a bit like playing a 33rpm brain recording at 45 rpm* by mistake. In fact Zero Punctuation's style is reminiscent of my Embittered Smartarse Crush of the Year 2010: Charlie Brooker.

Here he is on My Super Sweet 16 ("I think this might be an Al Qaeda recruitment film"):

I did read Dante's Inferno, btw, sometime in my teens when I had time for that sort of thing. (How? How did I have time to read?) I skipped all the boring crap about Italian politics of course, and just remember the horrible tortures and Dore's amazing illustrations.

Talking of going to Hell ... PZ Myers, one of the US's more prominent atheists, has stuck his neck out and confounded the critics who whine "You're always picking on Christianity. You wouldn't dare blaspheme against Islam," by doing just that last weekend. Now - fairly obviously - one of the reasons people are wary of being rude about Islam is not that it's more morally unassailable/likely to be true, but that while brain-dead Christian fundamentalists often send death-threats, they rarely follow through with action - whereas the Muslim version do. It's a simple case of self-preservation (and preservation of family, friends and colleagues). So Myers, whose physical location is well-known, certainly has balls. I admire what he did - though I suspect the governing body of the university where he lectures probably put their collective head in their hands.

I hope he's going to be okay.

*Doesn't that date me?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Eyecandy Monday

March at last. So how is the weather where you are? Last I saw, the USA was under 12ft of snow, mainland Europe was under 4ft of water, Scotland was cut off from the rest of the world and Somerset (my old home county) was pissing it down with rain and overrun by demons ... Oh, hold on: that last was the Solomon Kane movie last night. Forget the demon thing.

Still, the weather in Solomon Kane wasn't an entirely inaccurate reflection of this particular English winter. When it isn't snowing it's raining. The rivers are all up over their banks. My back garden is a swamp I dare not set foot in; I'm thinking of getting rid of the greyhounds (they only sink) and getting alligators instead.

But this morning - the first patch of blue sky in weeks!

So - are you still snow-shovelling your way to work? Or is Spring on the way?