Sunday, 29 June 2008

Best Women's Erotica 2009

Brilliant news! Janine does the Happy Dance all round the house! My short story Ritual Space (which is about the joys of archaeology, claustrophobia and carved phalli) has been chosen by Violet Blue for inclusion in the prestigious Best Women's Erotica 2009.

I'm particularly chuffed to have been picked by Violet Blue because she is a genre hero of mine - an indefatigable sex-positive blogger and educator ... and part-time builder of combat robots. We interviewed her on Lust Bites way back in the mists of time. Her own blog Tiny Nibbles is fascinating, sexy and sometimes alarming reading and I'm an addicted reader. (Did I mention it includes lots of hot pictures?)

*sings* I am H A P P Y; I am H A P P Y...

The picture above was taken by me in the Roman city of Volubilis, in northern Africa, and therefore counts as Culture.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Back from Bruges

Well, I promised some pictures from my brief holiday in Bruges.

Bruges (or Brugge as the locals call it) is the most lovely old city - cobbled streets, gothic architecture and canals. It is amazingly quiet (or at least it is mid-week): you can walk the backstreets for a mile without seeing another human being and I spent 4 days going "Where is everyone?"

We climbed the Belfry and went to a lot of churches and art galleries. I even saw a sculpture by Olivia Knight's mum!

Bruges is really great for the art-lover. There's a lot of modern sculpture about (I knew I'd find a naughty one for this blog - the equestrian with the stiffy is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse) but mostly it's Flemish Primitives: the sort of Medieval religious painting that delighted the Pre-Raphaelites - detailed, realistic, eerily calm figures rendered in intense jewel-like colours, before all those fat floaty Renaissance cherubs 'n' crap became fashionable. I love the Flemish Primitive style and there are astonishing paintings to view by Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling and Gerard David.

This one, The Miser and Death, is by Jan Provost. Isn't it wonderful? I'd love to know what is written on the letter he's handing over - in real life you can see the script is legible.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Dark Enchantment Cover

I'm back from holiday and What's This? The new cover for my forthcoming Dark Enchantment collection, up on Amazon!

They've changed the picture style and font again, I note. It's not bad, I reckon, though it doesn't even hint at a paranormal/fantasy content. I rather like the little squiggle over the title. Do you think it's supposed to be a stylised vulva? Should I use it as the template for my next tattoo?

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Gaping Void #1

This postcard by Hugh MacLeod is reproduced under open permission from the awesome Gaping Void. Go buy his wine. And read his blog.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

In Bruges

All being well with Blogger (and that's assuming a lot!) this should be posted automatically while I'm away. In Bruges, in fact.

We went to watch this gangster film, you see. In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (and Colin Farrell's eyebrows, who really deserve an acting credit all on their own) as 2 hitmen who are forced to spend a week in Bruges, Belgium. One loves the place - the canals, the art galleries, the cobbledy streets - and one spends the whole movie whining about how much he hates it. Until everyone ends up shooting each other, of course. It's a gloriously black, horrifying comedy. I don't know if it was part-sponsored by the Belgian Tourist Board, but 10 minutes in I leaned over to Mr Ashbless and whispered "We're going there."

So we are. I might post some pictures when I get back. In the meantime rest assured I will be eating lots of Belgian chocolate.

See - movies do influence how people act!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Victorian Kinkery

Since I'm working on an Arabian Nights novel I've been looking at a lot of Orientalist pictures. And I've got to say I love 'em to bits. European artists in the Nineteenth Century were fascinated by Middle Eastern costume, textiles, light and architecture. They'd paint loads of faux-realistic street scenes, some of them very proper and some not.

Because of course, if you're a victorian artist you only have 3 excuses for painting raunchy nudes: The subject can be historical/mythological. The subject can be allegorical. Or the subject can be Foreign.

Hence a whole load of "slave-market" and "harem" scenes which would have been hung in the most repectable art galleries for public edification but were in fact quite gloriously dirty. BDSM in early guise, in many cases. Huzzah!

This one from 1866 is called "Slave Market" or sometimes "For Sale" and is by Jean-Leon Gerome. (Lots of his pictures here in high definition.)
I'll be posting some more orientalist pics from time to time.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Gone Baby Gone - movie review

There is nothing remotely sexy about this film - in fact if there ever was a film designed to put you off the human race in general and bringing children into it in particular, this is it - but it's so damn good I have to recommend it.

This movie's release was delayed for 6 months in the UK because of supposed similiarities to the Madelaine McCann kidnapping. It isn't actually much like that case at all - except that the child actor bears a physical resemblance. What it does bear a horrible resemblance to in its duplicitous twists and sink-estate setting is the more recent case of the "disappearance" of Shannon Matthews in Dewsbury.

If you've seen Mystic River (the books were written by the same author) you'll be familiar with the territory: dirt-poor white urban Boston, populated by the kind of people that appear on the Ricki Lake (or in the UK, Jeremy Kyle,) show. A pretty 5-yr-old child goes missing. Her mother is by almost any definition trash and seems emotionally detached from her loss. A private investigator from the local area is brought in to supplement the police efforts to find the girl. And he finds...

And I can't say much more without spoiling it. Because this is the twistiest plot I've seen in a while, as well as a crawl through the sumpwaters of modern society. Your sympathy for individual characters crashes up and down as those who look like good guys are revealed to be bad guys - and then back again. Then the film ends with the most goddawful moral dilemma for our protagonist. It's so incredibly difficult that you have to make up your own mind whether he did the right thing. The director certainly doesn't let you off by making the decision for you.

For the record, my opinion is that he made the wrong call. But I would say that, wouldn't I.

An exciting, engaging, appalling film - not your usual Hollywood fare at all. And a fine antidote for those of us disappointed by Indiana Jones.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Heart of Flame

Yesterday I signed and sent off a contract to Catscratch Books for my new project - an e-novel.

CatScratch are the people who published my werewolf novella Bound in Skin in the novella collection of that name. The editor wants something in the same style - i.e. a steamy, erotic, romantic adventure, but not a full-on explicit shagfest - which is one reason why this particular fiction idea isn't suitable for Black Lace.

It's going to be my first foray into e-published books so I've no real idea how that will go, but am interested to find out.

So I'm going to do something in the setting and style of the Arabian Nights stories. I am looking into medieval Arabic and Middle Eastern history, but this is definitely going to have a fantasy setting rather than a historically accurate one, with magic and the paranormal playing a big part - think Thief of Baghdad but with more smouldering! It's working title is Heart of Flame.

I am dead excited about this book. It should be fun to write! And this week there was a superb (and rather explicit) TV documentary on Richard Burton - Victorian Sex Explorer, hosted by hottie Rupert Everett. Which I'm taking as a good omen, because Burton was the guy who translated the first unbowdlerised version of The Arabian Nights.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Piratical News!

Shiver me timbers mateys! My short story Pirate Treasure has been picked by editor Alison Tyler for the Cleis Press anthology Flash Fucking: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex, due out in October this year.

It's not actually about pirates - it's about a film extra working on a pirate movie (Big thanks to my friend Ro for the insider info on being an extra). So to celebrate I'm putting up this picture of me in my favourite pirate costume, which is based on the one worn in Cutthroat Island, and is the dress "worn" in my story.

And because I've removed Pirate Treasure, there is now a brand new story to read on my website! (Click on "Free Story" in the left menu.)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Is Bigger Better?

One of the things I noticed while revising my eleven short stories in Dark Enchantment was that in practically every one I would emphasise how big the male protagnist's cock was. Of course I almost always had a reason for each individual instance: he was a god, he was a genie, they were the hand-picked sex partners of an all-powerful empress ... And yet. I got a bit self-conscious about this. Was it naff? Was it unimaginative? Was it old-fashioned?

On the other hand, these are stories of sexual fantasy. And who fantasies about a sexual partner with a weeny little willy?* Or even an average one? And if you did picture him having a nice but perfectly ordinary dick you sure as hell wouldn't describe it that way (especially not to him!).

*Okay, okay, I know the ancient Greek ideal of masculinity meant a teeny phallus, and that got carried over into Roman and then Renaissance art. But the Greeks also had a thing for incredibly long dangly foreskins which they would pierce and tie up with knotted thongs, so their vote doesn't count.

I figure most people interested in cocks fantasise about big ones. This does not necessarily mean that women actually want fantasy to cross over into reality. I can only speak for myself but I believe women do not really relish being rogered by something that's actually painful, at least not on a regular basis. Pain is a pretty refined taste: most of us like pleasure with our sex. So 10-inch monsters generally belong on porn sites, not in bed.

On the other hand we do like to look at them and fantasise about them. It's an aesthetic thing. (Of course, the excessively priapic become in the end ridiculous to look at.) My male characters are almost all tall and big of general build: I want their genitalia to look in proportion.

Here's an extract from the foreword to Wicked Words 4, written by a (female) editor who is being more idealistic than realistic:

Black Lace girls find eroticism in the most unexpected quarters. They aren't limited to the physical appearance of their characters for the turn-on. It really isn't about size."

And here's an extract from the very first story in that collection:

"I wonder what I have done to deserve what is surely going to be nine inches of the most stunning cock to cross the Atlantic that day."

Bear in mind that the narrator of this story has met the man in question in an airport arrivals lounge all of 2 minutes ago and has had no chance to see how well-hung he is. Women don't think size is of interest? Hah Hah Hah.

In the end I did tone down a couple of the more unnecessary eulogies to my characters' pork swords. But even when being ambiguous about actual dimensions I made sure my female characters were always delighted and impressed.

And if you like Big Ones you might like this site: Xtra Inches (motto: Bigger Is Better) Be careful! - this is a fairly hardcore gay site consisting of video-clips of very attractive and well-endowed men having sex. It is definitely Not Safe For Work - unless you work in a porn shop.

Monday, 2 June 2008


Dark Enchantment is done and dusted, locked down, finished, complete.

Time for a short break. Feeling snoozy...