Smut, Filth and Awkwardness

Sometimes I get nagged.  Perhaps all writers do.  “Why don’t you write such and such?  I’m sure it would do well.”  And of course, I grin and nod, then usually go my own way.  But last year, the pressure was persistent.  “Look at 50 Shades of Grey, it’s a bestseller.  You know that sex sells.  That’s what the public wants:  mummy porn.”

And it’s true, of course.  Sex does sell.  It’s no surprise to anyone that just about every other URL on the internet leads to a porn site.  It’s also true that an erotic book is infinitely more satisfying than a porn movie.  When provided with a good story, your own imagination can construct far more steamy and arousing situations than any number of performers (who invariably all look the same) slapping flesh and faking moans.  In your imagination, the characters possess those little features and quirks that turn YOU on; they don’t have to pander to the bland tastes of others.

So I decided to go for it.  I created my cast of characters, set up a scenario and sat down to write an erotic novel, titled Water Into Whine.

Water_Into_Whine_Cover_for_Kindle

I immediately found that nothing in the world is so difficult to write as a good sex scene, one that is genuinely arousing and turns people on, but is so perfectly balanced that it doesn’t become simply ridiculous.  I don’t think my command of language has ever been so rigorously challenged as when I had to select the right words to keep the reader’s attention fixed right on the brink, before desire collapses into derision.  Erotica – good erotica, that is – is the hardest thing in the world to write.

The only way to approach this problem is to show respect for your novel and treat it as a worthwhile story, not just a piece of smut.  I carefully crafted my characters.  They were all flawed human beings, but all were likeable and relatable, they weren’t supermodels or hunks.  And in spite of all the situations and experiences they had in the novel, they all emerged from it as better people, with relationships that had benefitted from events; the feelgood factor was important to me.

It also helped a great deal to make sure that there was plenty of humour in the story.  Water Into Whine is not a comedy, but it certainly has its tongue in cheek.  Any book which chooses a vicar as its lustful leading man is always going to raise an eyebrow.

This combination of likeable characters and a whiff of humour allowed me to write the (numerous) sex scenes without missing a beat.  They fitted perfectly into the narrative and kept the book steamy and hot throughout, each chapter managing to go a step further than the chapter before it, raising the temperature all the while.

When I had finished, I asked if I had succeeded in emulating 50 Shades of Grey.  I didn’t know, as I hadn’t – and still haven’t – read it.  “Well,” said one lady who had just read my offering, “In book 3, she hints at things that you feature in chapter 1”.

I sat down and reread Water Into Whine the other day, returning to it after a year away.  I spotted three typos (some of those little buggers always manage to slip through, no matter how hard you try!), but I genuinely felt that I had created something truly arousing and ultimately heartwarming.  I am very, very proud of it.

The reason I reread it was that I am now penning a sequel, cheekily titled Vicars and Tarts.  I’m hoping I can recapture the same mix of good humour, steamy sex and human warmth that so characterised Water Into Whine.  I hope you’ll all love it as much as I do.

To celebrate this fact, I’d like to close this blog with a photo of myself as a vicar for your erotic excitation … or not.

author photo

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