New release from Big Ed Magusson

I’ve always been suspicious (and not-so-quietly envious) of writers who can throw out a whole novel in a matter of weeks. When I come across others who’ve finally launched their story into the wild after much agonising, re-thinking and revision, I feel as if I’m among other mortal humans. I find that far more encouraging.

Big Ed Magusson is a seasoned author who is also fellow member of my online writing group, Storytime, over at the Erotica Readers and Writers’ Association. I’ve seen this story in its first iteration, and then later as a fully-developed novella, so I was delighted to see that it has finally gone into print.

Here’s the blurb!

Master James, seasoned Dom and gourmet extraordinaire, craves a taste of something new. The BDSM scene bores him the way warmed over scrambled eggs disgust him. Once known for his creative food play scenes, he now wonders why he’s even attending BDSM events at all.

Submissive Sapphira, also food obsessed, seeks a strong guiding hand. Emotionally expressive and with a fondness for spankings, she’s heard the tales of Master James and hopes he still ‘has it.’

James happily shows her how food, spankings, and bondage can delightfully mix. But to win her heart, he must overcome his scars from the past and her secret compulsion, while walking the line between too much control and not enough.

I caught up with Big Ed a few days ago to see how he’s doing now that ‘Hungry’ is available for purchase.

Emotionally and psychologically, ‘Hungry’ seems incredibly real to me. Did you find this story prodding you and hassling you until you got it written?

Ed: Absolutely, as you well know. 😉 This story started out with the vision of James walking into the dungeon in Chapter One. I based it on the Thunder in the Mountains BDSM convention, which has had a huge play room in the evenings. Before I knew it, my subconscious had introduced him to Sapphira and we were off.

So nice to have such a cooperative subconscious!

Ed: Originally, the story was a novella (the current Part One). But after sharing that with ERWA and others, I realized the story wasn’t really done. We had a happy-for-now ending, but it was awfully quick.

Your story shows James overcoming an unimaginative slump and bringing himself back to life as the revered Dom he once was. Redemption and self-reinvention are themes that will resonate with a lot of readers, though a tiny proportion will find themselves walking in James’ shoes in their lifetime.  Many a writer may need help being hauled from the depths, though. What’s your best advice for people suffering writer’s block?

Ed: We have two ‘types’ of thinking: creative mind and analytical mind. The critic lives in the analytical mind. Most of the time when I see someone who’s blocked, it’s because they can’t make the transition to creative mind and let the subconscious spill out through their fingers. You have to shut that front part of your brain up. There are a lot of ways to do this, from setting the mood (background music, etc.) when you write, to giving yourself permission to have a ‘crappy first draft’ (if that’s what the analytical mind is scared of), to simply writing every day at the same time so it becomes a reflex.

The big one that works for me is switching stories. If I’m blocked on a particular story and don’t know what comes next, I’ll go write something else. That usually frees up the stress and then a week or two later, I’ll be in the shower and go “Oh! That’s what comes next in the first story!”

What was the first thing you got published?

Ed: Ever? An article for a game magazine when I was in junior high. Under this pen name, my first sale was “A Mall Tale” to Ruthie’s Club, about a middle-aged guy who gets rewarded for covering for a young woman having sex with her boyfriend in a changing room.

James is allowed five items to make up his Dom’s treasure chest. To make his dreams come true – what’s he allowed to put in there?

Ed: James would want a blindfold and his gloves. That’d give him the most flexibility for teasing his sub and for administering over-the-knee spankings. After that, he’d probably add handcuffs. The last two would be food of some sort, and the exact food would depend on the scene he had planned. He’s particularly partial to very flavorable bites that are hard to eat while handcuffed. 😉

 

If you could learn any foreign language fluently in six hours through dodgy science, which would you pick?

Ed: French. I’m the only one in my household that can’t speak it.

For me it would be Dutch so I could do a better job of teaching my son, and cope better while visiting the out-laws! Okay – so with ‘Hungry’ on the loose, what’s your next project?

The next project out of the gate will be a mainstream fantasy novel under a different name (which means, alas, I can’t talk about it here). As for erotica–that’s hard to say. If something grabs me like James does, that’s next. Otherwise, I expect to dabble here and there as the mood strikes.

Happy dabbling, and thanks for talking to me! Keep me posted on that mainstream fantasy novel. 

Folks – this is a great read. Buy links and cover immediately below 🙂

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hungry-Big-Ed-Magusson-ebook/dp/B076VLTMXS/

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hungry-Big-Ed-Magusson-ebook/dp/B076VLTMXS/

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Hungry-Big-Ed-Magusson-ebook/dp/B076VLTMXS/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/hungry-24

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hungry-big-ed-magusson/1127308462

Hungry-Cover

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You don’t scare us…

I think deaf people suffer as viewers of movies. And no, I’m not talking about access to cinemas, though I could rant from 9-5 about the lack of access to subtitled films showing at family-viewing times.

But! That’s not the thrust of this article; I just want to talk about how subtitles can make or break emotional engagement in a movie, depending on the level of effort invested by the captioning team.

Briefly, let’s talk about Titanic. There’s not a great deal of mystery with this film; the boat is going to sink. Visually, it’s fantastic, but of the several times I’ve seen this on TV, I’ve seen very different moods in the way that the dialogue and plot are conveyed through the captions. Phrases like the ones below suggest that the subtitler is beginning to resent the length of the film:

“Jack!/Rose!/Jack!/Rose! Etc”

“Rose STILL screaming for Jack”

“Hoarse Rose whispers ‘Jack’ repeatedly”

The last one tickled me because the tone suggests that she’s given herself laryngitis with all that screaming. However, there were some really diligent efforts to convey the many noises produced by the ship just before it snaps in half and plummets into the icy depths (alarming groan; unnerving creak). The iconic sound-track was given minimum attention with the repeated phrase “solemn music” bracketed between two little note icons.

So… what happens with horror movies? A few months ago, Netflix arrived in my home, along with the limitless supply of horror movies in their back catalogue. I’ve seen a few films that made me want to hide under my blanket, but I’ve largely been thwarted by less-than-invested captioning. Examples:

  • Creepy music [splendid]
  • Unconvincing ghostly laughter [unconvinced viewer too, now. Cheers!]
  • Dull thud; disturbing creak; indistinct muttering; sinister whispers; guttural moan; rasping sort of sound [coming from where, please?]
  • Creative descriptions: fearsome squeak; wet, slappy sounds; hums like possessed vacuum.

Wow. Those just have my blood running cold.

There is also the slight problem of subtitle placement. They can be a little over-generous in size, thus entirely obscuring any poltergeist activity taking place on the screen. I sat through much of ‘paranormal activity’ while wishing that more spooky stuff happened on the ceilings. I couldn’t watch more than half an hour of Blair Witch Project because of the vertigo-inducing combination of stationary subtitles against a constantly jerking background of shocking camera work. That said, at least the subtitles saved me from the limitless supply of nostril close-ups and snot that put so many other viewers off.

So what horror movies are really good for genuine shocks, regardless of the quality of the captioning?

  1. Cloverfield: Like Blair Witch Project, also filmed with a hand-held camera effect for that ‘live horror’ feel, but you can actually see what’s going on. The horror in this film is wondering how long the main characters will last before they get eliminated.
  2. Amityville horror (original and/or remake featuring Melissa George and Ryan Reynolds): Lots of visual horror all over the screen, and the creeping feeling that the house is turning the stepfather eeeeevil.
  3. Paranormal activity: the graininess of the film might get on your nerves a little, but it’s high on tension.
  4. The Ring/The Ring 2: The frequent ABRUPT appearances of the perennially wet girl with the hair covering half her anaemic/dead face will give you the creeps.
  5. Ghost ship; yes, it’s corny, but there’s many a moment to make you leap out of your seat, particularly if you’ve not had the benefit of the ‘creepy music’ warning. It’s a good movie if you select English subtitles (just not English SDH)

 

Overall, I can’t help thinking that subtitles in horror movies should be automatically stripped of the SDH option. Just give us the dialogue and let us create the creepy music/creaking floorboards/ghastly winds for ourselves.

I’d love to hear different opinions on this – and other people’s stories about horror subtitles which have inadvertently produced comedy gold.

On a final note, so that we get to see these subtitling gaffes live at the cinema, I’d be grateful if people could sign the petition below, and share it onwards.

https://www.change.org/p/uk-cinema-association-cinemas-to-show-more-subtitled-films-at-reasonable-times

The Curse of Gotten Wood (sample)

So, I’ve been having a little fun going back to my writing roots (silliness) to move out of editorial mode and into creative mode for the next few months.  Last night I got more done in one go than I have done for aaaaages. So, I’m very happy.

In light of the fact that my last post raised wide-spread concern about the hearing loss (and thank you all very much who responded so kindly on facebook) I thought I’d lighten things up a bit around here. 

And yes, I’m deliberately writing in the omniscient voice. Gasp!

All thoughts, comments etc very welcome… please save me from the sound of the crickets!


15th March 2018, round about sixish

“I’ve been fantasising about my husband dying.” Emily twisted her ring and searched Matt’s face for signs of horror. He gave one of his earnest, sober nods and put his pad to one side, a gentle smile tugging at the corners of lips that she would launch herself upon if they didn’t belong to her trauma counsellor. Still, a smile—ovary-searingly-gorgeous though it was—struck her as an incorrect response. It looked like the response of a man who probably wasn’t listening. She cleared her throat. “You did hear me say I wanted my husband dead, didn’t you?”

“You said you fantasised about his death,” Matt corrected, hoping that the minute hand on the clock of the hired room would reach twelve before he had to delve into her more frightening follow-up statement. He slipped his glasses off and soothed his eyelids with the pads of forefinger and thumb. “You know, it’s not at all uncommon for people to fantasise about the deaths of their spouse. Especially a spouse like Brendan.” Oops. Badly put.

Emily grinned. “So much for objectivity.”

“I just mean… he put you through a great deal. It’s natural to want to escape a relationship where your sanity is continuously being challenged.”

“So… other people fantasise about their husbands driving their trucks off Grubberty Bridge?”

“Well… that’s quite a localised example, but—”

“What about stairs? Has anyone mentioned the convenient-yet-fatal plunge down the stairs or the terminal faceplant into the pon—” she brought herself up short, heat thundering through her cheeks.

Just because something was true, it ought not necessarily be expressed. One of her mother’s many truths. But then… why else had she asked her GP to refer her to a counsellor? Things needed expressing or she’d pop, and it wasn’t as if she’d get a fair or gentle ear from anyone who wasn’t paid to listen. Brendan was like the local no-discussion topic. The mere mention of his name was enough to send most people into the kind of shuddering fit you associate with a gin bottle shoved up the nostrils. And she was bloody married to the git.

Matt’s navy-blue eyes gleamed attentively, even as they flicked six feet NW of her left shoulder to the clock on the rear wall of the community centre’s mini-clinic. Once the local, unfriendly loan shark, he’d discovered himself in prison. Now, he was a reformed soul, the evidence of his reconnection to his conscience oozing from every sexy, compassionate pore. His collection of thin, clingy sweaters did nothing to hide the build lurking under his remodelled, conservative exterior.

She took his covert bum-shuffle towards the edge of his seat as the gentle hint intended. Session over—he was just too polite to slam the shutters down. She managed to force out a smile.

“I imagine that spousal death fantasies aren’t a recommended part of the ‘path to healing’.”

“They don’t feature much in the NLP practitioner’s manual.” He grinned as he gathered the papers on the tiny coffee table between his chair and her couch. “But it would be daft to pretend that people don’t have them.  Look, I’m not going to give you any stupid homework—”

“Like, ‘list the top ten most satisfying Brendan-deaths this week’?”

“Nope, none of that.  But there is something I would like you to think about until next Thursday. When you find yourself getting lost in these… escapist thoughts, I’d like you to pull yourself up short and think about what has happened to you in the hours before the fantasies started creeping up on you. It’s an efficient way of getting a handle on the marital issues that cause you the most frustration.”

“And then?”

Matt sighed, knowing there was no solution to Emily’s problems other than divorce, or her fantasies coming to life. He stood, reaching a hand down to her to haul her from the couch. She was fit and spry, but the bloody thing had come cheap with the community centre’s ‘rebuild’ and had a nasty tendency to trap octogenarians and anyone with arthritis. He felt Emily’s expectant, trusting gaze upon his cheek and guided her towards the door.

“And then,” he said, making it all up as he went along, “we work together to develop non-murderous coping strategies for your frustrations.”

Must not indulge feelings for client. Certainly must not fuck client. Repercussions—terrible.

He’d nearly herded her to the front doors when she came to a dead stop in front of the painting that had been hung behind the reception desk. He jerked his gaze towards the hazel bushes hemming in the entire building so he didn’t have to notice the way her bottle-green, jersey wraparound dress made her waist so neat or her backside so… cuppable.

Emily grimaced at the ‘artwork’ someone had seen fit as decoration for the otherwise inoffensive wall. It was a head-and-shoulders portrait without the impressively flake-free hair. In fact, nothing about the portrait’s sitter was even vaguely impressive. Against a nearly-black background, a haggard man, who she estimated to be in his late forties sagged under the weight of a fur coat. The coat’s collar deprived him of a neck and made his chin look poky and tiny between two foreboding jowls. His lower lip was overly fleshy and moist—eugh!—and his nostril arches were high. Above two watery grey eyes sat thick, unruly brows which would’ve made perfect convalescent homes for ill caterpillars.  The portrait’s sullen glare tugged her in for just a second, giving her a better peripheral view than she wanted of the warts lining his sideburns and the left side of his jaw. She blinked and turned back to Matt.

“Who,” she asked, pointing to the portrait, “is that?”

“I spend as little time looking at it as possible.”

“Wise.”

“He’s the Marquis of Grab.” The voice came from a blonde, tight-bunned receptionist who’d appeared behind the desk as suddenly as if she’d been hydraulically launched from the basement.  The blonde slapped a shiny, colour-printed brochure onto the counter. “ ’parently, the villages of Grubberty, Gotten Wood and Lower Lickbourne were all part of this Marquis-bloke’s estate. Din’t read past the fifth paragraph but ‘s far ’s I can make out, ’e was a right dodgy type.”

“If he was so dodgy, why’s he on a wall in a community centre, in a commemorative, hard-to-avoid sort of location?”

“Read the brochure.”

“Right,” Emily agreed. “But how long’s that painting been there? I don’t remember seei—”

“Again, luv—the brochure.” The receptionist swung her ever-weary gaze over to the squash courts, from which exploded a riot of youthful male sounds and, shortly after, some lively bodies to accompany them. “It’s back to the coal-face for me—I’ve got to check all them scouts out from their regional sports night.”

“Okay.” She turned to see Matt staring fixedly through the front doors of the community centre and put a light hand to his upper arm. He’d gone a little pale. She squeezed and tried not to feel hurt as he pulled away. “What’s up?”

“Brendan’s here to pick you up. He’s seen me,” he added, like a trained ventriloquist.

“Oh… Christ. Just scuttle off somewhere. I’ll handle this.”

“You sure?”

The concern in his face and the tension in his shoulders would keep her sense of over-active romanticism happy for weeks. Her over-active romanticism was easy, that way. She nodded without moving her head—a long-learned skill—and strode towards Brendan with a smile of gratitude for saving her the bus-ride home. As Brendan’s hand gripped her elbow, towing her towards the car, she felt a great thump of relief to see Matt pretending to flirt with the receptionist as the Scout troop clustered around them, pointing up at the picture, laughing, and making assorted disgusted sounds.

 

Just pass it to Herod and his hairy shirt

That’s what I thought the cashier at Lidl said to me as I was packing up my bags. Most likely not, but my life has been rather confusing lately. I’ve had to battle on without my hearing aids, you see. And without them… it seems that I’m a rather crappy lipreader.

This comes as a competence shock, because I used to be excellent at it. Once upon a time, I could decipher the drunken mutterings of South Africans in dark corners at parties—even when they were elecutionally handicapped by slices of pizza.

But since Wednesday, it seems like all my skills have gone into hiding. Either that, or I’ve been dropped into a parallel universe in which everyone else suffers a particularly dire form of aphasia. It’s possible, I suppose; it could be global brain trauma caused by the loudness of my voice when I don’t have as much control over it. I don’t have an ‘inside voice’ at the best of times (unless ‘inside a rock venue’ counts).

The shock started on Thursday morning when I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast, and he assured me that all would be fine after the passing of the lime penguin.

I fetched him some Coco Pops, which appeared to come as a surprise, but was thankfully satisfactory nonetheless.  He was very good about my silence in the car (only a seven-minute drive in the car) and as I waved him off, he partly fondly with “elephant juice, bum.”

“I love you too,” I hazarded, and headed off to the co-op to sit in my car with my book until the traffic had calmed enough to drive home. There’s something extremely unsettling about driving with absolutely no noise. Anyway, I passed the day aid-free and problem-free, since I work from home. Picking little man up from school was a further challenge. I greeted him cheerfully as he exploded towards me from the rear door of his class as if fired from a cannon. He went from sprinting to stepping back rapidly. He wiggled his finger in his ear.

“Still no hearing aids, mummy?”

“’Fraid not.” I grimaced apologetically. “Sorry. Am I being loud, again?”

“A teeny-weeny bit,” he admitted. “If you could bring it down a little bit…”

I uttered my next words more normally.

“Well done, mummy. That’s less like the noise of a plane landing.”

“Pardon?”

“You sound less like a plane landing now,” he reassured me, slowly and clearly, with a helpfully-angled forearm in graceful descent.

“Yes…. That’s what I hoped you hadn’t said,” I muttered. Then I noted that he was wearing a sticker saying ‘Musical mention’, which was lovely and surprising, since he doesn’t play an instrument. “What did you get that for?” I asked.

“I dusted monkeys in the shadows of the cliffs.” He looked so proud.

I encouraged him to talk all the way back to the car, hoping that something he said would add context to those mysterious syllables, thus enabling me to unravel the true facts of the matter. I just got more and more lost as lions hopscotched up the curtains to the sound of violins. His story involved lots of arm-waving and not many gaps between words, and our journey to the parking of the Skoda was enlivened by my detour into a tree. This happens when you’re lip-reading. I still have a tender patch above my right eyebrow.

“…and we followed caterpillars into the valley of the damned just before lunch,” he concluded, stepping into the car.

I’m going to blame that last bit of lipreading ineptitude on my ash tree headbutt.

A couple of days on, my skills are coming back to life. Bas’ breakfast request was Marmite on toast, which was far more normal. But frankly, re-learning to lipread with no contextual sound at all is a bit like learning a new language by being dropped into the culture. I’m working out that to lipread successfully, I need to be aidless for at least four days, which is a rather long time to put up with the situation.

I think… the time has come to start thinking about learning sign-language properly, and getting my husband and son to do it with me. I can’t spend this much of my life following the caterpillars into the valley of the damned.

And no, I still have no clue what he’d actually said… though I did get a better gist of the story when he repeated it for his daddy.

PMT + FedEx = Bad combination

At the moment, the world’s favourite ring-and-run service should be sighing a breath of relief. Why? Because I can’t phone and complain at them.  And if I had enough hearing to complain over the phone, I would add to my pre-existing complaints the fact they don’t allow complaints to be made online.

Let me walk you through this little cloud of dust I’ve kicked up by jumping up and down on the spot with indignant wrath.

My husband is expecting a package. It’s an important one. We were expecting delivery from today onwards. But what do I find at the delivery address? I find a Fedex failed-delivery card which has been stuck to the front door using a hastily-printed sticker. This sticker is itself a triumph of customer annoyance.

Firstly, it says ‘final attempt’ at delivery on it. Bollocks! I was at the delivery address the day before, and there was no hint of a note showing a previous attempt at delivery. I find that claim suspect at best. Secondly, it threatens to return the item to the sender unless we provide them with re-delivery instructions. But it doesn’t give a deadline for this. Thirdly, the ‘final attempt’ was made on friday afternoon, but their phone line for redeliveries is shut most of the weekend, as the delivery guys would’ve known when they stuck their grim-o-gram to my door.

Fourthly – yes, there’s more! – the sticker truncates the telephone number, chopping off the last couple of digits. Really helpful. So now I have to find them online and see if I can track down the last two digits on that sticker.  But… wait! Hope! There’s a little note, saying ‘cut wood in yard’. Could they have tucked the item in the pile of kindling under the veranda by the front door, I wonder? In hope, I check. No, nothing.  And that doesn’t make sense anyway; why print out a ‘final attempt’ sticker letting me know they hadn’t been able to deliver if they’ve left it in what they think is a safe place?

So, I think, ‘sod the sticker’. I turn over the card the sticker is stuck to, and spend a moment feeling foolish and relieved to find their redelivery website tracker address on the back. Aha! All is not lost. I take a deep breath and set up the laptop. Ommmm. I just got flooded with impatience hormones, that’s all.

I log in… to find that their package tracker is literally just a tracker.

Well, splendid. What a chocolate teapot of a site.

You can’t give them re-delivery instructions on this site, you can only note with chagrin that your package is lurking at the Camberley depot (which is *&%!!!! miles away) awaiting imminent return to its sender.  And of course, to give them actual re-delivery instructions, you can always call their helpline number.

I have managed to convey the situation to my other half, who will call first thing on Monday morning before they can do anything dastardly with the package.

In the meantime I’ll do some boxing and try not to take it personally that so many businesses just assume that people can use the phone.

Gah.

The magic of unpredictable words

There’s nothing like spending a few days with people whose first language isn’t English to remind you how bloody awkward English can be.  Especially colloquial English.

If a native says, in passing conversation, “see you at ten-ish,” they mean “see you at approximately ten o’clock. Not necessarily on the dot, but within ten minutes either side of it.”

My in-laws grasped this early.  So, while were watching some particularly silly spaghetti western and a stand-off ended prematurely (I didn’t quite grasp why—no subtitles), my mother-in-law queried why the bad guys were being so standoffish.

My first attempt to explain the meaning wasn’t particularly successful, partly because I was fighting a fit of the giggles.

I got a grip while back in the kitchen, giving dinner another stir.  I wasn’t laughing at her, you understand.  It was a perfectly reasonable question, based on faultless rationale. But I couldn’t rid myself of the mental image of a group of hard men unfolding themselves from behind their various barrels and doorways with a collective, “fellas, I ain’t in the mood for this siegin’ bullcrap today. Let’s skin out.”

My second attempt was more successful. Being Dutch, they’re familiar with the word ‘Amish’ and they know that it does not mean ‘very much like an arm.’  I think I finally managed to demonstrate ‘standoffish’ with varied contrasting pictures of cats and dogs.

So, colloquial English can be sticky, but it can also be wonderful for evolution. I’d quite like to introduce the following couple of words into wider use:

  • GRIVING: A motional verb combining grimacing and jiving, most commonly performed by those wearing brand new shoes. You will find grivers out in force at any wedding or graduation ceremony.
  • URMERING: Speech verb. Urmering is very much like murmuring, but louder, and typically the result of someone being drunk. If you’re lip-reading, you know someone is urmering and not murmuring because when someone’s had a few too many, their consonants tend to go missing.

Please share the post 😊  And if you do, add words of your own creation to the list. That would be fun.

Author Spotlight: Belinda LaPage

As some of you may know, I’m a member (and currently Editor in Chief) of the Erotica Readers and Writers’ Association (ERWA) Storytime list, where people email their work for enjoyment and feedback from others who like a steamy tale.  If you’re interested, the subscription link is at the bottom of this interview.

Belinda joined Storytime as a member in April last year, and rapidly proved herself to be an excellent writer, generous provider of critiques, and to have a wicked sense of humour. I think she’d been a member for all of four months when I made the kitten eyes at her and persuaded her to join the Storytime editorial team. So now, when she’s not writing and marketing, and not helping others to improve their craft, she’s keeping a beady eye out for really good stories to put in the ERWA gallery (with the writers’ permission, of course).

So – here’s the low-down on Belinda, who is absolutely one of my favourite contemporary erotica writers.

Now, many a time I’ve heard you describe yourself as a relative ‘noob’ where this writing malarkey is concerned.  Do you mean that you’re fairly new to the joy of story-telling, or fairly new to the business of actually selling your stories?

I’m so new, I’m still picking bits of shrink-wrap out of places best not discussed in polite company. If you go to Smashwords, you’ll find my very first erotica, The Headmaster’s Office, published August 1st 2013. I wrote that story in June or July, and it was the first fiction I’ve written since school.

I published on Smashwords and some other free platforms for a couple of years, and then the lovely Phillippa from Uruk Press lured me blinking and stumbling into the glittering world of paid erotica.

You mean folks pay to read about people fucking?

Who knew? I wrote a short ancient world piece inspired by movies like Troy, and Uruk released it in Sex & Sorcery Vol 1 in August 2015.

So there you have it. Nearly four years writing fiction. Almost two selling them. Me = N00b.

 

Do you keep the majority of your stories based in Australia, or make the settings relatively generic?

I mix it up. Some stories have a distinctly Australian flavour, with recognisable places and landmarks that are deeply woven into the story. My favourite would be Goodbye, Miss Granger, which featured a day-trip to Manly on the iconic Manly ferry.

Most of the others are generic locations that could be anywhere, and most of my action happens indoors, so that helps. Broken Vows is a good example. I think the only thing that puts it in Sydney is a mention of how the buses work.

I don’t deliberately aim to set them all here. I’m really just lazy, and it’s hard to write convincing locations I’m not familiar with.

 

I know the feeling. London and West Sussex make startlingly frequent appearances in my stories…

One of the stand-out features of your latest book, Broken Vows, is the ab-crunching humour weaved throughout.  It’s not often that I get to spend half my reading time giggling, and the other half fanning myself.  Without thinking about it too long – can you name your top seven favourite comic influences?

Seven? Lordy, I don’t think I have that many. I do love comedy, though. Let me give you a sampler, and skip to the next question when you get bored.

For TV: I enjoy the irony woven into The Simpsons. I love that it’s something you can watch and re-watch throughout your childhood and get something new from it each time. “I WILL NOT WASTE CHALK” x100. Gold, I tell you!

For audio: As a card-carrying geek, I’m privileged to enjoy the comic genius of Monty Python, which I’ll happily recite verbatim with any other Python geek passing nearby. “HE’S NOT THE MESSIAH. HE’S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY!”

I’ll bite: “Nobody is to stone anybody until I blow this whistle!” [I’ve used this as chairwoman in hostile meetings before. It’s quite an effective ice-breaker…]

For prose: Anything Douglas Adams, may he rest in peace. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for sheer frippery– “Joo Janta 2000 Super Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses … follow the principle ‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you’ and turn completely dark and opaque at the first sign of danger” –but for pure comic writing genius, I love Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. It was this book that first piqued my interest in writing fiction, trying to imagine how an author can weave all those stray threads into a cohesive whole that ties up in a neat bow at the end. I still don’t know how he did it.

I’ll look out for that. I see that a series has appeared on Netflix, too!

For film: The Castle, and indeed anything by the gang from Working Dog. They’re the very definition of Aussie humour. “Jousting sticks? How much does he want for them? // $450 // $450? Tell ‘im he’s dreaming.”

 

Which of your stories seemed to write itself most rapidly?

Oh, definitely the first one, The Headmaster’s Office. 10K words, and it just fell out of me in about three writing sessions. Everything since has felt like a 3-day labour, although each one has its little sprints in the middle.

 

Do you have a special writing ‘place’ or do you put your muse into a headlock wherever you happen to be?

I write mainly at lunchtime (such as right now!), so I do a lot of work in the type of cafes that don’t mind you sitting around for an hour without ordering much.

It’s hard to write a whole story in one-hour snatches though, so I generally fit in the occasional longer session on the weekend. Especially useful to bash through a tough scene.

I use an ultrabook laptop and can write just about anywhere. My only real requirement is relative screen-privacy. I get embarrassed by the idea of someone looking over my shoulder and reading the smut that pours from my fingertips.

 

How do you handle writer’s block? Or are you one of those peculiar souls who just don’t seem to get afflicted by it?

I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Not having my livelihood depend on writing probably plays a big part. I do love to sell a story, but I’m not (yet) so serious about it that I let it drive my writing. I think that helps. It means I can write the stories that interest me. Sadly, it does limit my audience when nobody else is turned on by semi-reformed stoners and naïve nuns.

 

I wouldn’t say that – your semi-reformed stoner is hugely endearing 😉  But, conversely, how do you cope with a glut of ideas? Do you round up those plot bunnies and play with them one at a time (like a strict, self-disciplined soul) or do you flit between projects as the mood takes you?

It was awful until I created my Ideas Folder, which is just a Word document full of story ideas. I used to let one new idea interrupt another. While I was writing Goodbye, Miss Granger, I knocked out two more short stories in the process. It was the same for the other long stories I wrote in those first two years.

Now, when my muse insists, I just take a few hours off and add a plot summary to the ideas folder. That usually cools her jets and lets me get on with finishing a project.

 

Legend says that you have a talent for buying entirely the wrong shoes. I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the word, but ‘griving’ is a motional verb, describing the movement of someone walking in brand new shoes. It combines grimacing and jiving.  How much of your life do you reckon you spend griving?

Not enough!!! Mangled, mis-shapen feet are a badge of honour—a sign of ultimate opulence. A woman who can both afford and tolerate that kind of permanent pain is not to be trifled with. Those bulging bunions and twisted toes are like tigers’ piss for marking your territory. See these feet? I’m the alpha-bitch around here, Toots, and don’t you forget it. <hobbles back to her lair>

 

That’s me told! I’m a wimp – I live in trainers, you see. Which of the following super-powers would you want

  1. Telekinesis
  2. Flight
  3. Spontaneous, superbly effective marketing?

Well clearly, spontaneous and superbly effective marketing. Marketing is a constant drain on my writing, but the only thing worse for a writer is obscurity. Every story that bombs is a little piece of my heart, so I do what I can to send them into the world with the best chance of survival.

Telekinesis? To move heavy stuff? Isn’t that what a man is for? And flight? If it comes with weightlessness, then maybe. But have you seen those birds with shitty wing-to-body-weight ratios like pelicans and puffins? Screw that. I’ll walk.

Realistically though. I’d take invisibility. For obvious reasons and comic consequences.

 

Finally, tell us about Broken Vows in your own words, and hit us with the buy links 😊

Well Sam, I’m glad you asked, but I can do better than that. I’ve got a free audiobook chapter, exclusive to your readers (haven’t even released this to my own mailing list yet). Read on.

Yay!

The original title was Sisters of Grace Sperm Bank, which give you the title and synopsis in one neat package.

I don’t quite remember how the idea came about. I’ve rounded up a few plot bunnies from the Literotica Story Ideas board, but I don’t think this was one of them. To the best of my knowledge, the idea just presented to me: what if a sperm bank offered “full service” collection? The obvious question, though—why? Possibly as a sneaky work-around for prostitution laws? Or … OR! What if, right? What if it’s the nuns trying to get men to stop masturbating, because it’s a sin?

The rest writes itself, pretty much.

Mother Mary Benedicta was maybe the most fun I’ve had with a character. (Yer not a Presbyterian, are ye? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I do love a good comic-relief bit-part.

So we have a wanker, a pretty nun, and a bit of awkward fun that goes further than either of them imagined. No problem so far. The only bit I struggled with was tying up the story with a satisfying resolution. Sending a guy to a nun-run sperm bank has a pretty obvious outcome, so I needed something to step it up from the levels of stroke-book to a hopefully fulfilling story-line. God came to the rescue—almost literally. I do hope readers enjoy the result.

Broken Vows. It’s out now on Amazon for just $2.99 // £1.99 // $0 Kindle Unlimited. Try before you buy? Listen in to the Free Audiobook Chapter on my web site, courtesy of my treacle-lipped narrator, Nikki. Tip: You might want to use headphones … and for the gentlemen, tissues.

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Belinda LaPage lives and works in Sydney, Australia. She loves scorching erotica about adventurous, curious women in new situations. Her first time (and his first time!) are favourites, but exciting new experiences like F/F discovery and beginners light bondage are a big turn on. In Belinda’s world, safety is never an issue; most of all she loves her heroine’s first experience of the explosive heat that floods her core when he finishes inside. Find her on the Web, Twitter, or grab a hot, sexy read on Amazon.