It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Kinked Ink (why do I keep saying that?), but I am determined to get back on the ball with all things erotic in 2018 after a slovenly and depressing 2017—and this series is always fun for me as a reader, because I never know what I’m going to encounter. In asking writers of the genre what their favorite and formative erotica and/or porn is and was before they decided to “go public” and write and publish themselves, we are privileged to peek into the most secret and personal preferences of people who have since decided to influence the proclivities of others.
To begin 2018, I invited author Rachel de Vine, who also writes as Juliette Banks, to discuss those erotic works that impressed her enough to want to create them for herself, and put them out into the world. Rachel is the author of The Artist (which looks especially interesting to me), Out of the Darkness, and Bryony’s Awakening (which looks especially interesting, as well), among others. She has also written numerous short stories and novellas such as The Russian Bride and Snatched. While not all of Rachel’s books have a focus on BDSM, they all have a breathtaking eroticism, crafted with excellent writing.
Here is Rachel’s response to my invitation:
Many years ago, before the Internet, before the Kindle, before the mighty Amazon, (yes, there was a time!) there was the bookshop, the only source (to me, at least) of erotic literature. What was available was very limited in subject and content. I don’t make a habit of talking about my age, for I feel it’s immaterial to a writer, and hopefully to the reader too. However I’m sure that by now quite a few people will realise that I am older than the average current writers of erotica featured on Amazon. Young readers and writers might find it hard to understand how difficult it was to find such material when I was young.
As a teenager I read D. H. Lawrence—a local boy as it happens, who grew up about five miles from where I live now. Although, compared to modern erotica, his books are not as shocking as they were once considered, his writing mesmerized me. I understand the dialect of the area and the mind-set of a boy who grew up wanting to challenge the social mores of the small English Midlands mining town in which he was born.
His frankness and open-ness in writing about sexuality was one of the factors that attracted me to his books—and also one of the factors that brought him the most disapproval in his lifetime. In particular his last book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, was the book that appealed to me the most—not because of the well-known explicit language passages that were well-thumbed in the copy that would be passed around at school (pre-Internet and cell phones, remember)—but because, in Lawrence’s own words his intention was “to think sex, fully, completely, honestly and cleanly.” For me his intention resonated.
To a young reader of erotica now it must be hard to understand how difficult it was to find and purchase erotic material. Slowly – very slowly – the High Street bookshops started to stock this genre (albeit the more sanitised versions). But if you were fortunate enough to discover a book on the shelves (they didn’t file them alphabetically by author as the other books, but were instead in a small clump at the beginning of the alphabet.) I would see a few people hanging around at that spot, trying to look nonchalantly at the books, as though pretending they were looking for a Bronte novel or similar. There was the furtive glance to see if anyone was watching you remove it from the shelf, and feeling your face go pink as the cashier picked it up to check the price on the back (pre-barcodes), allowing the rest of the queue to see what you had purchased. Young people must see this behaviour as very strange and repressed compared to what they are used to.
Until then I hadn’t come across books that are now classed as BDSM genre. Heaven knows how people got hold of those in previous years. What changed this was finding a copy of The Story of O by Pauline Réage. This book blew my mind, and, I found, turned me on enormously. I suppose I was in my mid thirties when I discovered it. I’d honestly never heard of such things as women being voluntarily dominated and beaten in a sexual relationship. I was hooked. Until then I was a relatively unsophisticated woman who knew little about kink, and hadn’t really explored the recesses of my mind. I mean, I had a normal, perhaps slightly kinky sex life (blindfolds, tying hands with scarfs etc.) but that was the extent of my experience.
I began to search for similar books, and thank goodness the Internet, Amazon and, later, the Kindle, came to my rescue. I discovered Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series and read them avidly. Laura doesn’t include a great deal of sex in her books, but the powerful submission and control she writes about I found extremely erotic and arousing.
I think I should say at this point that I’ve never lived in a D/s relationship, and I doubt I ever will. I would describe myself as a strong, independent woman, who has run a demanding business where most of my workforce was male. The man who could put a collar on me has not yet been born. Yet maybe that’s why I’m drawn to this genre. When you have to be in control in your real life, the attraction of handing over control in your fantasy life is very enticing.
So what drove me to writing erotic books, mostly with a BDSM theme? I’d started writing mainstream women’s fiction and then came that much talked about series of Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t intend to discuss the books, which have been well-dissected on Facebook, other than to say they irritated me somewhat—mainly the characters and their behaviour—which pretty much covers the three books (yes, I’m embarrassed to say that I read them all—although I did resist for quite a while.) But the result of reading the books was to discover that while I’d been working twelve-hour days in my business, the world of erotica had moved on. It appeared that anyone could do it now. Including me. So I did. Rachel de Vine was born.
Once I started writing erotic romance (yes, I’m a bit of a romantic) I was also reading, and eventually getting to know, other writers. They were writing stories that had only existed in my fantasy life before. I was bowled over and smitten. It was like discovering Aladdin’s cave.
Although I write mainly erotic romance, I am actually attracted to darker stories which might not be acceptable to my current publishers, so many of the writers I enjoy, write mainly, although not exclusively, in that genre. I’m going to list a few who I admire enormously, and I know that I will miss some out, so I hope I don’t cause offence by not including everyone.
Apart from LN Bey, who asked me to write this piece, and whose book Blue I found both erotic and absorbing, about a woman who walks out of her ordinary and unfulfilling life, and surrenders to the deep needs she harbours within herself, there are numerous others, which I will briefly include.
Emmanuelle de Maupassant is a writer I admire, especially for her Victorian novel Gentlemen’s Club. She describes erotic behaviour that is explicit, but not crass—the underbelly of a period of British history where erotic acts were not considered acceptable, but existed nonetheless. (Has any government ever been able to suppress the deep, dark and dirty sexual manifestations of the population?) Deep down I fantasise about being one of the women in such a place, being made available for the use of men who cannot find such satisfaction in their family lives.
R.B. O’Brien is a writer I have come across fairly recently. I found her Thorne series masterful. In her own words (pinching from her blurb!) “Sex with no strings attached. Obedience without questions. An arrangement of mutual benefit. No mess. No love. No expectations. Nothing beyond a signed contract.” These words themselves make me shiver with expectation. The perfect fantasy.
Lana Fox is another writer I enjoy reading. I particularly enjoyed Castle of Depravity, and its sequel. This is a story of a woman’s descent into the depraved life of her stepbrother, who is intensely attracted to her, but tries to resist giving in to her begging, to allow her to submit to him. The fantasy continues, in the safety and privacy of my mind.
Lilah E. Noir is a superb writer of strong characters in a BDSM setting. Her book Unorthodox Therapy (whose sequel is about to be released) is one such story. It flips the usual dynamic on its head by having a strong and single-minded business woman, who has built a very successful tech company, as the submissive of the story, and a much younger man who initially comes over as a rather sweet and unassuming person, but who hides a much darker self, as a man who has a strong desire to dominate this woman. Perhaps being a self-identified strong, independent career woman is why I enjoyed the book so much. Maybe it reveals a secret subliminal wish on my part?
I also love Felicity Brandon’s writing, especially Submission at the Tower where Janie is given a number instead of a name, and is assigned to Shaw to take control of her at the interview to admit her as a submissive to the Tower. It is where women are trained to submit to the members of the organisation. I find the premise where a woman becomes an anonymous number and is trained in the art of submission intensely erotic. I do like the fact, however, that she develops a powerful connection to the man who trains her. The romantic in me demands some human emotion. I’ve read books where the story is entirely about the submission and there is little emotion involved—and these don’t particularly appeal to me.
I can’t leave out Malin James. Her book Roadhouse Blues is one of the best books I have read for a long time. It’s a series of short stories of people who all have connections to the same US town, and whose tales are in turn happy, sad, desperate, and compelling. There is rough and dirty sex in some stories, but it’s not gratuitous. I’m a people person. I love strong relationships, whether they be love or hate. I like good dialogue and genuine emotions and feelings. This book appealed to me in so many ways, and made me despair that I will ever be able to write as well as this.
I could go on to include many other writers like the above, who have (I hope) helped me to improve as a writer of erotica. They inspire me to want to produce better work, and the stories they write have helped me discover the secrets within me that were locked in for so many years. I am so grateful that Rachel de Vine was born, and gave me access to such a deep, profound, enjoyable world of erotica—and a connection to the wonderful authors who write it.
Rachel’s—and Juliette’s—website can be found here,