‘Author Showcase’ Featured Genre for June ‘Children’s Books’ Featured author Maretha Botha.

Hello and welcome to Author Showcase! I will be featuring different authors & genres each month. I interview each author, and showcase their featured work.

WHY? Simply because I enjoy supporting other Indie Authors every chance I get.

This Month, “Children’s Books” are being featured.

Please welcome my guest, Maretha Botha.

AUTHOR SHOWCASE CARD MARETHA BOTHA

MEET AUTHOR MARETHA BOTHA.

Maretha Botha 2013

AUTHOR BIO

Proud grandmother, happily married for 37 years, retired librarian who writes and illustrates children’s books most suited to readers between 9-13 years; confirmed bookworm, chocoholic and unapologetic coffee drinker, keen gardener and bird watcher, who occasionally walks on the moors, joints permitting.

INTERVIEW WITH MARETHA BOTHA

1.     What motivated you to write books for children?

This is a difficult question with no quick answer, but I like to see children happy. When I read to them, their imagination often takes flight.  The why’s, how’s and what happens next, make for lively discussions, building more stories. I experienced this with my niece and nephew, and then my own children, as well as at work, having planned reading activities at the school library.

Then too, I carried a lot of stories around in my head, but only after my post as librarian was localised, did I find the time to gather these thoughts together into proper stories.

2.     Most children’s books are written to impart life’s lessons to children. Was this your goal?

No, I seldom consider a specific life’s lesson when writing anything for children, but often the character’s choice or actions highlight an important lesson.  For example, the working-dog hero in “Flame and Hope” forgets his promise to open the red gate for the goats.  He learns a valuable, but painful lesson when a stubborn old goat picks him up with his horns and throws him down on the “WELCOME” rug.  Early the next morning, he apologises for barking rudely at an older animal and remembers that, “A PROMISE IS A PROMISE”, no matter what – restoring peace in Fauna Park.

3.     What life’s lessons does your work contain?

Apart from the one above, Fauna Park Tales is about living in peace – rescued animals and birds who would not normally be together, live up to their promise to protect helpless or vulnerable ones, often doing so at their own risk.  Many of the stories are based on fact – martial eagles’ fledglings removed from their nest, or large birds flying into moving trains at night, how drought effects the lives of everyone living on the savannah – yet both animals, birds and humans learn how to protect the environment, caring for each other – and they always have hope for the next day as their first little motto assures us.

‘HOPE REMAINS ALIVE AND KEEPS OUR FEARS AT BAY.

‘LET’S KEEP OUR HOPE ALIVE FOR MANY A DAY,

‘WHILE IN THE DARKEST NIGHT, OUR HOPE WILL LEAD THE WAY.

4.     What was for you the most challenging part of writing for children?

Writing a “true” story within the imaginative world which I created, doing so in language which is clear and understandable, age appropriate, yet enough to still be a challenge – not talking down to them – think of Beatrice Potter describing Squirrel Nutkin as “impertinent”.  So, I don’t mind occasionally using words like, ‘Are you a pachyderm?” The word has a nice memorable ring to it as does “conspicuous”, but the challenge is to explain it via the text without changing the story into a grammar lesson.

5.     All authors are aware of the need for reviews, yet I imagine an author of books written for children would face an even more challenging time, simply because these are children.  Have you found it challenging?

Yes, it has not been easy to persuade adults to write reviews for children’s books.  Then too, the way an adult looks at a children’s book might be quite different to how children would view the story.  When I review a children’s book, which is more difficult than you might imagine, I always get input from my grandchildren and based on their views, I’ve often changed my review to rather highlight their thoughts and ratings.  However, I mention that I read and discussed the story with them.

6.     Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes and no.  I’m writing the follow-up to book 4 – “Trails and Trials: An African Adventure” which is called, “The Bird Mission”.  This will probably tie up everything for the whole of the series, but I might keep the backdoor open and let the villainous poacher, Tall Leader escape . . .

Then too, I’m involved via my blog, researching and writing short stories about small, often lesser-known, wild animals and birds in Southern Africa – especially those who are on the threatened and/or endangered list.  I intend to compile an anthology of about twelve short stories when everything is written after a year – definitely a long-term project with illustrations.

TRAILS AND TRIALS: An AFRICAN ADVENTURE (book 4) in Fauna Park Tales Series –

Category: Children’s books>Action and Adventure>Survival Stories (ages 9-13 with illustrations). On pre-order till 18th July 2017

 

Book Blurb:

Four trails – one destination – the waterhole closest to the best place to cross the Tukani River into a neighbouring country. This adventure takes Flame and his furry friends on a thrilling, dangerous quest, but they always have hope. Were it not for the help of a meerkat clan, a gripe of sandgrouse and other feathered friends such as Mars, a martial eagle and Vera, an eagle owl, their trail might have had a different outcome. This fast-paced adventure takes place for one week and is told from four different viewpoints, because friends as well as foes race to get to the waterhole, and in striving to do so, experience their own personal adversities and trials.

These illustrated adventure stories will provide endless hours of reading pleasure to better readers who also enjoy seeing some illustrations of the characters, increasing overall reading pleasure. Book Three and Four should ideally be read in sequence and are most suited to readers 9-13 (Middle Grade), but younger listeners will enjoy being read to just as much.

·        Book 3.  The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure Purchase ‘The ORPHANS’ PLIGHT’ On Amazon– Category children’s books>Science, Nature & How it works>Nature>Environment and Animals>Birds This book is discounted to 99p to be bought and read before book 4.

BOOK COVER ORPHANS PLIGHT

·

Book Blurb:

Bad humans are disturbing the peace in Molodi valley, and two small orphans are in danger. One of them, Larita, speaks the bush creatures’ language – Faunalang – a rare and wonderful talent that they want to use. Alone in the desert, who will help them? Young and old will enjoy reading about the furry and feathered friends’ latest thrilling adventures, when Molodi’s bush creatures meet friends and foes in their quest to stick to The Promise to protect helpless ones in Fauna Park. Plump-Grump, the stubborn goat, and his harem do their bit, but what will happen at the farm while Flame and his friends are on a dangerous mission? His Handsomeness, King Rat returns, but is he a friend or foe?

REVIEW:Of The Orphans’ Plight.

Furry and Feathered Friends – Delightful!

5.0 out of 5 stars Furry and Feathered Friends – Delightful! 19 Feb. 2017

By Gracie Bradford, Author on February 18, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The illustrations are different than you see in most children books but effective and very well done. This story is suitable for all ages but primarily written for elementary school age children. Looking forward to book 4 of the series.
Pets take on humans. A delightful story of furry and feathered animals who listen to the strange conversations of people. Everyone, people as well as the furry and feathered friends, join in the search to find the orphans. I haven’t read book 1 and 2 yet but book 3 is definitely a good read.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Flame and Hope on FACEBOOK U.K
The Author on FACEBOOK

https://marethabotha2013.com

The Author on TWITTER

Thank you for joining me here and meeting my featured author today.

My featured Genre for JULY will be, Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. Are you interested in being featured here in July? Send me an email at Email link

Please include links to the book you would like featured. I will respond with the details of your author interview and other requirements. Each Showcase will run for one month. Beginning the 12th of each month.

 

 

 

 

What Mother’s Day means to me: “Mothers In The ‘Hood.” #RRBC

The ABSOLUTE Privilege of Motherhood.

‘Mothers in the ‘Hood!’

HER child.

Yes, I did say privilege. Why? … Because it must be so!  Motherhood must be regarded as the greatest joy of your combined life experiences.

We hand out special licenses to folks wishing to drive a car. A car is a potentially lethal weapon.

A child created and raised by unfit parents is also … a potentially lethal weapon.

I have written much about the woman that gave birth to me. For that is all she ever was. I spent many, many, soulless, and empty years hoping to find a different, a more palatable and convenient truth. For I so badly needed to believe, that She was damaged, and accordingly had no control over what she caused to come into being.

That thought kept me reasonably sane, in a violent, pain-filled world … that hated world, that world that made no sense to me at all.

But the years have peeled back the blinders that I used for safety, and I have come unwillingly to believe, that rather than an illness that caused her to inflict pain, I was instead her living sacrifice, to be punished upon the ‘altar’ of the train-wreck of her own life.

In order to accept that, I needed to lose the hate. Whilst I’ll never be indifferent, to even the mere mention of her name …  that bitter bile of hatred has been tempered over time. Not ever fully understanding what caused her to inflict such vile pain, is simply now just something I have learned to bear. Losing the hate I have accomplished. Forgiving her is a whole other journey I have at last been at least willing to begin.

My Child.

Amanda and MUM together ashfield
My daughter and I at the outset of our new adventure together.

The joy of giving birth will never leave my mind. Into my freshly awakening soul, a precious girl-child was permitted entry. I have yet to feel a more all-encompassing need to protect another living being. For the very first time in my life I was grateful to have been born a woman.

The greatest love I’ve ever known erupted into my unprepared world.

Her laughter and that boundless lust for life colored my planet with sunshine … as did the never ending fear that I would somehow let her down. That reflected in much darker corners in sombre tones.

My husband and I created ‘Magic’ for her newly awakened self. Her fathers’ loving parents, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews all became our willing accomplices, as they fell captive to her joyous laughter. We reconstructed ‘Neverland’ and housed her as the reigning princess within its seemingly impenetrable walls.

All those marvelous days we’d celebrate with the ‘Magic’ element firmly in its place.

Christmas, and Birthdays, Easter egg-hunts, and Halloween. We never granted any excuse to miss a single one.

We sheltered her like a fragrant Frangipani, never allowing even a hint of the cold touch of frost to damage those tender flowers.

And when unheralded, the end of the reign of the King and Queen ruling together united …  stormed into her life, at the as yet untested age of eighteen; that precious ivory tower melted like chocolate into  untried sands.

She staggered into a world she was unprepared for, for we’d never handed her the weapons or the skill with which to use them.

We lost some years she and I, whilst each of us learned to both grow, and let go. Time was an ally then, and softly the healing leaves were sown.

Please know we’ve journeyed far in those intervening years, and know too, that life is joyous now, and we share our tears  our truths and fears.

She asked me to be there, in that precious, priceless, unforgettable time as she gave birth to her son. How lucky am I to be so loved.

My Child’s Child.

Jacob Birthday
My Grandson on his 3rd Birthday.

He came screaming into his world two weeks earlier than expected. My child’s child … my grandson. I had the utter joy of seeing that look on her face as she craned to see and experience that ageless ‘falling in love with your first child’ moment.

We live together now, my daughter, my grandson and I. She has done me the great honor of asking me to assist her to raise her son.

Wise beyond her years she knew that living with my grandson’s daddy would only end badly for all three of them.

I’ve watched on proudly as she works tirelessly with the little ones’ father to be as utterly fair to each other as is humanly possible.

You will never hear one negative word about him. NOT in the house where his son lives, and grows. The young one loves his daddy unconditionally, which is as it should be for now. My child, grants, to her child, the right to ask questions, and she answers them with as much honesty as an almost five year old can handle. She gives him the ‘fairy tales’ with a hefty dose of magic …. but she also reads to him the darker ones, age appropriate to him.

Which does he prefer? I’m smiling here. For as long as there is no blood shown, or discussed, he’ll choose the dark stuff, every time. He’s relentless in the joy that he sheds when he’s just being a boy.

My daughter yesterday repeated something she says on occasion, which I will never tire of hearing. “Mom, I had the happiest childhood of any kid ever.”

She gives to me freely the greatest compliment I have ever heard.

Her way of parenting is uniquely her own, she teaches and creates using magic, and world truths tempered by her own life experiences, and above all things her all encompassing and unconditional ability to show and give love.

We’ll make quite the proud trio on Sunday Mothers Day May 14th  …. My Child … Her Child … and I.

I’m here and overjoyed to be so.  I have so many marvelous reasons to celebrate.

I wish you happiness, and the ability to share it with people that you love, on that special day. I am,  and will remain, forever grateful for the privilege of being graced with the title of  “Mother”.

It is possibly the hardest earned and most rewarding of any title you may have been granted.

Happy Mothers Day roses

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Book Review: “Paper in The Wind” by Olivia Mason-Charles.

Book REVIEW Paper in the wind by Olivia Mason Charles.

book-cover-paper-in-the-wind-olivia-mason-charles

Blurb

Paper in the Wind is a compassionate and riveting story depicting a single father’s dedication to his daughter. In the midst of the overwhelming struggles that accompanied autism, he continues to persevere. Her father’s love enabled her to overcome insurmountable obstacles, discovered the power of love and embraced the gift of life.

MY REVIEW. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Read, learn and be inspired. An amazing journey.

This book is written with a deep understanding of Autism, and a thought provoking, and inspirational message of hope. It is not written blindly … it is not written without great thought and the exploration of human failings and tribulations, for it truly encompasses all that and much more.

It is written with all the damage exposed of a couple coping the best way they know how with their autistic daughter. They fail and they falter in the face of all the pain, stress, and worry for the future of their beloved Alexa. In short, the author makes them very human, so human in fact that I caught myself nodding my head in sad tears of understanding. Life throws such massive challenges in the path of these parents. The author permits us to see how constant stress and unrelenting concern for their child rips apart the fabric of a love once a towering wall and now forced to crumble into ruin … exhausted by circumstances.

Olivia Mason -Charles doesn’t ease you into this story, you are confronted and challenged every step of the way. The length of the book should not to be judged by the number of its pages, but rather for the incredibly powerful messages imparted within each page. How many of us would not turn to something, anything to help deal with the unrelenting stress? Whether that something is a spiritual guide to support strong held beliefs, or a substance that gives temporary relief, such as alcohol, we are not asked to make judgement here … we are invited to try and understand.

This author invites you into the world of an Autistic child, in all its complexity. She shows the debilitating effects and the incredible and naive cruelty of those that do not, and cannot, even begin to understand.

Alexa is wonderfully characterized with all the intricacy of learning to comprehend a world that she perceives differently to others.

We are invited to cry for her, and rejoice with her, and cheer her on from the sidelines!

Yet despite the confrontations these marvelous characters face, the overwhelming message within these pages is hope. Hope that exists because of the unrelenting love of a father, a human man, a man with all the imperfections that simply being human can bring. Take this journey Olivia Mason-Charles invites you on with her inspiring words; I believe you will find it a truly memorable one.

Paper in The Wind on Amazon here.

The Author On TWITTER:

@omasoncharles

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RRBC Holiday Train “Book Trailer’ BLOCK PARTY!

rrbc-trailer-block-party-1-badge

Hi and “WELCOME” to Rave Reviews Book Club’s HOLIDAY TRAIN “BOOK TRAILER” BLOCK PARTY at Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke in Sydney: AUSTRALIA.

 quotes-jessie-jackson-empty-chairs

 This is a celebration. I am here, living, loving and laughing each precious day. I look forward to every sunrise, for it is a gift to be treasured. I could never have done this alone. My capacity to survive would never have been enough on its own. At times it only took the smile of a stranger to help me through another day.

My memoir is written under my pen-name of Stacey Danson.

My memoir “Empty Chairs ” is not an easy book to read. The subject of ‘Child Abuse’ will never be an easy topic to discuss. But, if we, as caring, loving, human beings are ever going to have a hope of making a difference, we all need to stop hiding ourselves away from what is undoubtedly a painful and confronting issue.

I have lived it. I ran and hid from it for too many years. It took the love and understanding of people just like you to help me confront and deal with my demons.

YOU … yes …YOU, CAN make a difference, but first you need to remove the shield you hold to your eyes and the protective layer you hold to your heart, and take a look.

Help the children, by helping yourself to understand.

I’d like to introduce you to my book trailer and I do hope that you will take the time to check out my book.

To be eligible to win one of the many prizes on offer please leave a comment on the BOOK TRAILER site.

VIEW BOOK TRAILER HERE

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Stacey Danson, lived through and beyond horrific child abuse. This book tells of her brutal beginnings, the streets of Sydney at the age of eleven were preferable to the hell she endured at home. She ran, and those streets became her home for five years. She was alone, ill, and afraid. Stacey also had an unshakeable belief that she would do more than just survive her life. She would not allow her future to be determined by the horrors of her childhood. She reached out for something different; there had to be more to life; if she could only find it. She had a dream of a life where pain and humiliation had no place. She was determined to find that life. Empty Chairs is the beginning of the journey. Now she is living the dream.

Once again, thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments on my trailer and also, at the bottom of this post if you have a moment.  Good luck on winning my giveaways!  I’ll see you at the next stop of this awesome “BOOK TRAILER” BLOCK PARTY!

EMPTY CHAIRS on AMAZON

Purchase Empty Chairs on Amazon U.K

Purchase Empty Chairs on Amazon.com.au

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Preparing the Listeners for my spot on RRBC Tag Team 2* 4* 5 Blog Talk Radio!

G’DAY! … I am so excited to have been invited to take part in the upcoming edition of RRBC TAG TEAM 2* 4* 5. Airing on Saturday 22nd October at 12.00 Midday CT in the USA. (It will be 4:00 am Sunday 23rd here in OZ)

In the spirit of forever being helpful (Plus the fact that I’m just really strange) I decided that you lovely folks may need a little bit of assistance in translating  “Aussie Speak.”  (Hell I’d never even heard of some of these myself!) The word ‘CRIKEY’ is missing from the list…’cause not many people apart from the late Steve Irwin (Croc Hunter) ever use it.

rrbc-kangaroo-funny

I’m sending a copy to the hosts of the program Bill Ward and John Howell so they are well prepared for the utter confusion talking to me about anything, anywhere, and at any time often brings.

(Disclaimer) If I DO actually sound like this … PLEASE ignore! I’ll send a translator before I ever do a Radio Interview again. I kid you not.

 

Ace! : Excellent! Very good!

Arvo : afternoon
Amber fluid : beer
Aussie : Australian
Beaut, beauty : great, fantastic
Big Mobs : loads, a lot of
Bloody : very
Bloody oath! : that’s certainly true
Blue : argument/mistake
Bodgy : poor quality
Bonzer : great, ripper
Bottler : something excellent
Bottling :
his blood’s worth:
he’s an excellent, helpful bloke
Buckley’s chance :
(you’ve got)
no chance
Bull dust : rubbish
Cactus : dead, broken
Cark it : to die, stop working
Chocka : full up
Click : kilometre – “it’s 20 clicks away”
Come a gutser : a bad mistake or have an accident
Come good : turn out ok
Cooee, not within : figuratively a long way away
Cost big bikkies : expensive
Crack a fat : get an erection
Cream, to : defeat by a large margin
Cut snake :
(mad as a)
very angry
Dead dingo’s donger :
(as dry as a)
dry
Deadset : true / the truth
Dingo’s breakfast : no breakfast
Dinkum / fair dinkum : true, real, genuine
Dinky-di : the real thing, genuine
Docket : a bill, receipt
Doco : documentary
Drink with the flies : to drink alone
Dunny rat :
(cunning as a)
very cunning
Exy : expensive
Fair dinkum : true, genuine
Fair go : a chance / break
Fair suck of the sav! : exclamation of wonder, awe, disbelief
Furphy : rumour
G’Day : hello!
Give it a burl : try it, have a go
Give it away : give up
Going off : good fun
Good oil : useful information, a good idea, the truth
Good onya : well done
Grouse : great, terrific
Heaps : a lot
Iffy : dodgy
It’s gone walkabout : it’s lost, can’t be found
Kangaroos loose
in the top paddock :
Intellectually inadequate
Kick the bucket : to die
Knock back : refuse
London to a brick : absolute certainty
Lunch :
(who opened their?)
OK, who farted?
Mate’s rate : cheaper than usual for a friend
Mate’s discount : cheaper than usual for a friend
No worries! : no problem / its okay
Nun’s nasty :
(as dry as a)
very dry
Piece of piss : easy task
Pig’s arse! : I don’t agree
Plate, bring a : Instruction to bring a plate of food to a party
Pozzy : position
Quid, make a : earn a living
Rack off : get lost! get out of here!
Reckon! : for sure
Ridgy-didge : original, genuine
Right : okay
Ripper : Great
Rooted : ruined, broken
She’ll be apples : It’ll be all right
She’ll be right : it’ll be okay
Sparrows fart : dawn
Strewth : exclamation
Stoked : very pleased
Stuffed, I’ll be : expression of surprise
Too right : definitely
Turps, hit the : go on a drinking binge
Zack, not worth a : not worth anything

Discussion: ‘The Relevance of Sex in Literature in 2016.’ Guest Eden Baylee.

I’m delighted to welcome Author Eden Baylee to the discussion. This is the final post in the month long series, thanks to all of you for participating.

   The discussion from the original post in 2011.

As sex exists today as it has since the beginning of time, I’d say it’s absolutely relevant in literature. If I didn’t think it was, I wouldn’t be writing contemporary erotica.

We all know that sex sells, but even in the genre I write, more sex does not necessarily make the story better. Given this, I’d like to approach the question a bit differently and ask “To what extent should sexual content be included in literature?”

What guides me in answering this question is simple. Does sex contribute to the story? If it’s included to develop the characters, then it’s relevant. If it’s a gratuitous scene that adds nothing to advance the plot, then it should be edited out. Sex without context is meaningless. Not only does it detract from the story, but it could also turn the reader off. Why? Readers are not fools, and they don’t like to be treated as such.

I’ll illustrate this point by using the medium of film.

Let’s start with car chases as representative of sex in literature.

Everyone loves a good car chase scene. It’s exciting, gets your heart racing, and should move the plot forward (even if only metaphorically). Some of the best car chases I’ve seen are from movies such as: Ronin; The Bourne Identity; The French Connection; and the classic—Bullitt.

Why did I like these films? Because they had a plot and characters I cared about. There was an intricate storyline that involved more than just a speeding car, but when the car chase did happen, it was integral to the plot. I didn’t feel as if the director added it as an afterthought or filler to make the movie more “saleable.”

That’s exactly how I view sex in literature. Page after page of sex is like watching a two-hour car chase on the big screen. Though it may be exciting for a little while, it quickly becomes tedious if you can’t answer some basic questions: Who are these people? What have they done? Why are they being chased?

In a well-made film, the requirement for car chases is balanced with the need to advance the story. This is the same balance needed for sex within literature. If you can’t answer the questions: Who are these people? Why are they having sex? Why are they having this type of sex? Then my prediction is you really won’t give a damn why they’re having sex at all.

The second point is realism. Any work of fiction is only successful to the extent that the audience can willfully suspend their disbelief. When the filmmaker pushes too far, the work fails—the same goes for authors, especially when it comes to writing sex. Most adults have experienced sex. For this reason alone, it’s essential to keep it real. The challenge is to write it in a way that is creative and yet sensual. Maintaining believability means characters are not engaging in acrobatic moves that even a contortionist could not muster. It’s sex, not gymnastics! Unless your writing involves the paranormal or shape-shifters, characters should not possess superhuman powers when having sex. That includes the frequency, type, and amount of sex they have.

The third comparison to film is genre. If you watch a comedy, you expect to laugh. If you watch a horror movie, you expect to be scared. The same expectations are inherent in literature. No matter what genre you write in, there is opportunity to include sex in your story—if it’s appropriate. Expanding on the car chase analogy, inclusion of one in a “heist” film would be expected, but not so for a mystery or science fiction film unless it makes sense to the story.

Erotica is a genre that obviously contains sexual content. Often misunderstood, some equate it to pornography, thereby discrediting it as nothing more than “just” sex. Because of this negative association, some writers of erotica have taken to calling themselves romance or erotica/romance authors—myself included. It’s not that I think romance is more credible or respected as a genre, but it does give me a wider audience. Some readers want more sex than is provided in the “happily ever after” romance novels. Good erotica delivers more sex—along with a strong storyline, riveting plot, and interesting characters.

It’s important to know what you’re getting when you buy something, and perhaps that’s the main reason to define the genres. At the heart of it though, does it matter if you call yourself a romance author, erotica author, or author of fiction who writes with strong erotic elements? I think not. Call yourself what you like, but if you are writing sex in literature today—do it for the right reasons: To draw your readers into the plot of the story; to arouse them to connect to your characters; and finally, to have them fully commit to your book, awaiting the next one with bated breath.

Eden’s update. 2016.

 

When the lovely Suzanna Burke, asked me to pen an update to an article I wrote for her series, “The Relevance of Sex In Literature in 2011,” I was shocked to realize how much time had passed.

I don’t usually re-read my old blogs because they tend to sound dated. Either my writing style has changed, or new information has come to light since its writing. In this case, I re-read the article only to provide myself with context. In the process, I made an interesting discovery. It was as if I were reading my words for the very first time. The post still resonated with me—five years later!

Of course, much has changed since I wrote that piece, both in the world of literature and in my own writing. What did not surprise me though, is that “sex is still relevant in literature,” and I’d wager that if Suzanna asked me to update my thoughts again in five years, I would give the same answer.

As long as we live, serious literature must at least acknowledge that sex exists. How this acknowledgment insinuates itself into the pages of a book is up to the author. Not all writing about sex will be good. For example, when I wrote my first article, Fifty Shades of Gray had not yet been released. Since then, opinions on the book have run the gamut. It’s been called:

The best thing for the erotica industry

A book that will get women in touch with their sexuality

A misogynist tale that has turned back the women’s movement

A dangerous and inaccurate representation of the BDSM lifestyle

The worst thing for the erotica industry

 

Confession time.

I never read past page 98 of the first book, so I won’t speak to the merits of the story. What I can say is the book came along at a time when people were open to a dialogue about sexuality. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook made it possible for everyone to voice their opinions. Good or bad, the book allowed for conversation about sexuality, and denial that it existed was futile. Everyone was talking about it. It may have taken a popular (if not a great) book to kick-start the conversation, but it was a conversation, nonetheless.

I’m a firm believer that myths can only be debunked when we talk about them. This is especially true on the topic of sexuality, which is still a taboo subject for many. An open dialogue goes a long way to creating understanding and stamping out ignorance. Even if we agree to disagree, we can no longer remain in the dark.

My hope is the conversation continues.

 

+++

Eden’s updated bio:

Since penning several books of erotica, Eden Baylee has expanded her writing to the mystery and suspense genres.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her trilogy with Dr. Kate Hampton—a psychological mystery/suspense called STRANGER AT SUNSET. She is now working on the next two books in the series.

Eden still writes erotica when given the opportunity, and many of her stories, regardless of genre, will continue to explore the basic human characteristics of love, hate, and sexuality.

Connect to her via her: Website | Twitter @edenbaylee | Facebook

 

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Discussion: ‘The Relevance of Sex in Literature in 2016.’

My guest today is Zelda Jones.

Relevance of Sex in Literature

 

I have mixed feelings about the relevance of sex in literature. I think I was first made aware of it when I was in years 11 and 12 at high school. I had an English Literature teacher who seemed almost obsessed with sex and sexuality in literature. Miss T was probably one of the first people to dress in a kind of steam punk/ goth fashion. She had long, naturally black hair, big brown eyes, wore lots of thick, black eye make up, and dressed flamboyantly; often wearing a dead fox with beads for eyes, around her neck.

 

She got us to read books like D.H.Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. She would then give us lengthy questionaires to answer; the majority were about the sexual symbolism and connotations in each book. She would then encourage class discussions about these topics. Although I respected and looked up to Miss T in other ways, these questions and discussions made me feel really embarrassed and squirmy. At the tender ages of 16 and 17,  in the mid 70’s, I don’t think I was really ready to engage in discussions about sex and sexuality in literature yet.

 

The year I left school, I encountered Miss T in the local gym one day. She was wearing nothing but a skimpy little tank top and a pair of extremely revealing leopard skin g strings. It was something I could not unsee. I guess she just had no shame.

 

Personally, I prefer sex in literature to be merely hinted at and not explicit or graphic. I prefer romance, kissing, hand holding, heart beating and emotional scenes. I find it quite dismaying that so many women these days seem to be right into erotica; where it pretty much seems like anything goes. I was once asked to review an audible historic erotic novel. I only got part way through, and simply could not go on. There was very little actual story line. Every single scene just concentrated mainly on graphic, explicit, no holds barred sexual activity. People’s sexual organs and what they were doing with them were described, again and again and again. It actually made me feel physically ill, and also bored, from the very repetitiveness of it all.

 

Another popular theme these days seems to be the covers of erotica novels, and even some romance books. A lot of these covers depict so called sexy men with bare chests and exaggerated“six packs”plus scantily clad, buxom ladies swooning around them. I feel like these covers are an insult to people’s intelligence. When I see a cover like that, I just cannot take the book seriously, and think that it’s probably trashy and not worth reading.

 

I worry about how seemingly intelligent women get pulled in by the Fifty Shades Of Grey novels; which promote male dominance and violence towards women. Have women come so far, only to go backwards again?

 

So to sum up my thoughts and feelings about sex in literature: I don’t feel comfortable reading novels that read like soft porn; full of graphic and sometimes violent sex scenes. I prefer there to be an actual story line, where relationships develop naturally, and sex scenes are more subtle and not graphic. For me, this creates a more finer, delicate balance.

Discussion: “The Relevance of Sex in Literature in 2016.” My guest today Sessha Batto.

cover for Relevance Sessha

I’m delighted to have Sessha Batto as my guest today. Please join in the discussion by leaving your comments.

2016

To be honest, I didn’t think I would have much to add to my thoughts of five years ago…and then I realized that indeed, there are some troubling new currents in erotic writing. The first of these is authenticity. Lately there have been a rash of blog posts calling out author after author for being inauthentic. This can mean anything from portraying men in a way that strikes the reader as feminine, or not including safe sex as a necessity. Some readers may indeed, turn away from these stories. But, bottom line, it is the writer’s story, not the reader’s. The author can write any story they want, from any point of view, and include or exclude such modern day staples as safe sex, and that is alright. It is fiction, not reality. Fiction can take any path, no matter how dark or transgressive. It can explore consequences of these paths, or not. Either is valid because the only thing that matters is that the story plays out the way the author intended.

 

The other topic which has been hitting my hot button of late is diversity. Again, bloggers have been quick to punish authors for both including and excluding people unlike themselves. Some say you cannot write other races, others proclaim that you must. Some say women cannot write men having sex, that men can’t write women in love. Again, this is all codswallop. Writers do not experience everything they write about. If they did fiction would be hugely boring, a dull parade of workaday trivia and bland interactions. Of course we write outside ourselves, outside our race, outside our sex, outside of our tiny worlds. Why? Because it is there that understanding lies. It is at the margins that we see the truth. It is in seeing through the author’s eyes we can truly see the highs and lows of experiences we will never have.

 

2011

I’m in a confessional sort of mood, so I’ll start by saying this topic has had me floundering for weeks. I must have written fifty pages . . . and then erased them. Then it hit me, the one word that derailed me each and every time, relevance. Only one person can decide whether or not sex is relevant in a piece of literature, and that is the author. Anything else is merely one opinion. You may like or dislike a piece, but only the author knows the story they are trying to tell. Whether it succeeds or fails is always a matter of debate. Art is, after all, subjective. I definitely don’t believe anyone has the right to censor an author’s words, no matter how offensive I may find them. Yes, there are things I find offensive (seriously, there are . . . just not much), and I exercise my right to choose not to read those topics. Once you allow censorship it opens a dangerous door, who knows what will next be considered inappropriate? I certainly don’t want my writing constrained by any limits other than my own.

Since relevance is in the eye of the author, all I can really talk about is why I think sex is an essential aspect of my own writing. Now, before you start screaming about ‘the children, the children’ – nothing I’m going to say is intended for anyone under eighteen, although, frankly, I don’t have any problem with children reading about sex. I live in a city full of pregnant teenagers and, believe me, they did not have sex because of something they read. That honor goes to the media that bombards them daily – television, music, advertising, video games, those are the most powerful influences on today’s youth.

I should come clean – I write erotica, explicit gay erotica. Before I go any further, let me clarify. I’m talking about sex in all its permutations, from barely consensual sexual torture to tender lovemaking and the entire gamut in between. My only real boundaries are no children and no women. I write about men exclusively because of the wonderful shifts of power and control possible in a same sex relationship . . . and because I love men. No offense to the ladies, but I don’t think I could explore the same boundaries of pleasure and pain without seeming overly abusive, and that is at the core of everything I write. Beyond that, there is something wonderfully vulnerable and revealing about the decision to relinquish power, and the potent eroticism of two strong, powerful men being tender with each other.

Remember the old ads in the back of comic books for x-ray specs? For me, sex is my x-ray specs. It strips a character down to his core truth and spotlights who they are with far more accuracy than pages of exposition ever could. Sex is the ultimate act of trust. Who we trust, why, and to what extent reveals much of our psyche that we would normally keep hidden. Sex is the catalyst for revealing hidden baggage, all the events and experiences we think are safely buried but which bubble to the surface under pressure. Our kinks highlight our transgressive natures, throwing into clear definition the whys and hows of our alienation from society in general. In short, it’s the knife I wield to cut to the truth. What knife do you use?

Sessha Batto Website.

 

 

Discussion: “The Relevance of Sex in Literature in 2016”

Please join in the discussion with today’s guest, Maxwell Cynn.

Discussion sex

It is hard to believe it’s been five years, Soooz. Thanks for asking me back. Most of what I wrote in the post below still holds true today, though in the wake of fifty shades of everything the lines between “mainstream fiction” and hard core adult erotica have been smashed. The books and stories my wife once called porn are tame in comparison to YA romance today, and some of the current erotic literature is so graphic even an old smut writer like myself is appalled.

But I still believe it is the place of writers and publishers, not would be censors, to categorize and market their work. In todays market self-publishing is more and more common, which gives artists more creative freedom than ever—but also more responsibility. As content producer and publisher we choose how we market our work and to whom. It is our call if we promote a Triple-X narrative as YA romance or mark it as 18+.

Today there are no taboo subjects or editorial censors applied to literature. Anything goes and sex sells. It has been a long time since I’ve heard anyone even suggest parental labels or censorship. Sellers, like Amazon or B&N, have placed some restrictions on marketing by removing clearly adult content that is not marked as such. But slap on an 18+ tag and you can write anything. To me that is reasonable.

Some may say that the 18+ label is in itself a form of Parental Warning Label which I wrote against. To me, it is more akin to the old brick and mortar sellers who had a section in the back for adult lit. I think most writers of adult lit and erotica will agree the 18+ tag is often more of a marketing tool than censorship. If I’m looking for erotica I’m not searching YA on Amazon, I’m going straight to the adult section and searching 18+.

I do, however, continue to believe we have saturated mainstream literature with adult themes to the point nothing shocks anymore. The sweet little erotic romances I once wrote are tame even in the teen market these days, and I considered them to be purely Adult Only when I published them. By the same token I could not compete in today’s adult market trying to sell my works as erotica, they are too prudish, but I refuse to market erotica to teens. In a way I have censored myself by removing all my adult titles from the market.

As I warned in my earlier post, we have pushed the limits to the point that our words become impotent. The teen sex scene in a YA novel is just another scene the reader has read time and again, and watched more vividly in movies or on cable, and perhaps even experienced first hand. There is no power in our words to draw emotions from our reader or provoke thought. I mourn the lost days of innocence when a heroine’s sideline fantasy of her hero’s kiss could make a reader blush with anticipation.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but when we live in a world where anything goes, and often does, there is little left in the writer’s arsenal to shock and awe the reader. Today sex in literature is as mundane as characters sitting at the table talking. Eros has lost his magic and we have lost the power and beauty of erotic prose.

The original post in 2011.

Maxwell Cynn

Should Books Have Parental Warning Labels?

Thank you, Soooz for letting me come on your blog and rant a bit.

Censorship is ever a contentious issue in art. We bring it on ourselves: pushing the limits, trying to be hip, begging attention by being controversial. “It’s art!” is the general cry–when someone pisses in a glass or takes a picture of something in their arse. When Hemingway, and those of his generation, fought with publishers it was about the odd curse word. Hemingway wanted his dialog and prose to be real–the way people actually speak. When romance writers battled against the censors they wanted to show the sensual side of romance. But those battles were over long ago.

Today I can drop the f-bomb in a book or on my blog without anyone batting an eye. I can describe scenes that would make a nun wet or a hooker blush without fear of being arrested. But still some people push the limits. When I first started writing romance my wife accused me of writing porn. But current YA romance makes what I write seem quaint and almost prudish, and teenagers are reading it without blushing. So writers and artists go to unbelievable extremes to be controversial, and then people scream for censorship.

There will always be those who wish to draw a line and keep everyone behind it. The line itself is arbitrary and changes with generations. And there will always be those who seem compelled to step over that line if only because it is there. But there is a difference between being true to our art and being controversial simply for the sake of controversy. Hemingway wanted characters to speak as men speak (he actually had a battle over the word “swell” because it was slang–not proper English) and romantics wanted to portray love as couples truly loved, without resorting to euphemism and purple prose.

The only good censorship is that which we impose on ourselves, for the truth of our art, not that which we impose on others. I often write fairly provocative erotic romance. In the context of those stories I feel it is beautiful and expressive. I enjoy fine erotic art for the same reasons. But I also write hard science fiction, fantasy, and romance, among other things. There is a different standard, a different feel in mainstream fiction.

In a recent manuscript set in the 1920s the dialog I wrote contained virtually no cursing. That fit the sensibilities of the period, the characters, and the setting. I threw the f-bomb into a scene that was very intense and violent. It fit, and added powerful emotion to the scene. The hero and heroine never kiss, until the scene where he proposes to her, and not even the professional girls venture beyond a ‘PG’ rating in their flirtatious behavior. Yet the story is at times highly romantic, the heroine is extremely sensual, and the villains are harsh and violent. It is an adult novel.

When we use sex, language, or violence simply to shock and stir controversy it lessens our art. It also lessens the impact of our words. When a villain in the above novel says, “I’m gonna stomp your ass and fuck your girlfriend,” it’s a shock to the reader. When the hero drops the f-bomb in the midst of an intense and violent scene the reader feels that intensity along with the hero’s fear and frustration. The words have power because they are rare and unexpected.

In the same way, less is more when it comes to sex in literature. If the romantic lead goes down on the heroine in the first few pages what is left for the remainder? Sexual tension is best achieved by no sex at all–the desire, the need, the longing, restricted and contained at every turn. Anticipation builds to a long awaited and often denied climax, yet if that climax becomes common place, mundane, there is no anticipation, but only rote predictable outcomes. His tongue slips over her clit yet again, yada, yada, yawn–let’s move on with the story.

And so we are left with only the most graphic, deviant, kinky scenes with which to titillate our readers, and the would-be censors scream foul. Sex has lost its power and our words are left limp and impotent. Sex in literature is like anything else we write–too much lessens the value of all. The same happens with violence, blood, and gore. Readers become desensitized, writers ramp it up to new levels, and censors try to establish new lines of defense.

I never want to see Parental Advisory labels slapped on the cover of books, nor publishers attempt to censor Free Speech, but writers do bear responsibility for their words whether they wish to admit it or not. With YA, and even Middle Grade fiction taking on ever more mature tone, Adult and Erotic fiction push the extremes to compensate. Writers are why the sensibilities of censors are inflamed. When teen heroes are slinging f-bombs and teen heroines are playing the slut it’s hard to blame parents for being upset with contemporary fiction.

Writers need to understand that by flooding literature with more sex, more graphic language, more violence, and more controversy we dilute the power of our own words. We must censor ourselves or be censored by others. Throwing our characters in bed is cheap and easy, while not letting them quite get that far may be more difficult it is far more powerful and often more erotic. Mama used to say that people curse because they have a weak vocabulary. I implore my fellow writers to use your words. Set limits on your characters and make them strain against the bonds.

Disclaimer: Of course none of this has anything to do with Literary Erotica, which is all about the sex. The above diatribe concerns mainstream fiction. Erotica is by definition pure eroticism–the triple X of the literary world. I write that too, and enjoy reading it as well. But as purely adult entertainment, different standards apply. Erotica is already branded as Adult Only and often resigned to a child proof section in book stores. Should all books with sexual content be likewise branded?

Please join in the discussion. Comment below.

 

Discussion: ‘The Relevance of Sex In Literature in 2016’ Guest: Dan Holloway.

BOOKS RELEVANCE

 I’m delighted to welcome my first guest in this JULY long discussion; say hello to Dan Holloway.  The article begins with Dan’s responses to this discussion circa 2011 … and concludes with his thought now, five years on.

2011

Crossing the Line

I was really excited at the thought of writing this because I thought I’d have a gazillion things to fire off. I’m still excited. But the main thing I think about sex in literature isn’t really expandable on. People have a problem with sex because it’s “different” from the other things we do. Simple as. It goes back to the early Platonists and the argument was bollocks then and it’s bollocks now. End of.

So what am I going to say? OK, here’s what.

I write transgressive material. By no means all of what I write is transgressive. Some of it is just normal everyday lives, like my novel Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, which has a reasonable amount of sex but just because sex is a reasonable part of what the characters do. Some of my shorts have no sex or violence or swearing or even drugs. Not because my characters don’t do sex, violence, swearing or drugs but because the bit of their lives I’m writing about happens not to have any. Just like the way in my transgressive work the characters often don’t sit in traffic jams (sometimes they do!), not because they don’t do that but because they don’t in the bit of their lives I’m writing about.

So what *is* transgression and why would I write about it?

Transgression is basically just stuff that most people don’t think of as normal. OK, it’s more than a penchant for marmite and eggnog sandwiches. It’s behaviour that “society” considers beyond the pale. I’ll get into examples later.

Now, there’s all kinds of stuff we could say about the line between sensationalism and art, and when it’s OK to write about transgression because it’s for a “serious purpose.” But that’s seven kinds of bollocks, as I hope 1997’s seminal art exhibition Sensation showed. The wonderful, liberating thing about so-called Young British Art is that it took the whole “is this art or is it sensationalism?” debate and gave it a well-deserved finger.

So I’m not going to say there are good reasons for writing about transgressive behaviour and bad reasons, or good texts and bad texts. And I’m not going to talk about copycat behaviour because that’s seven more kinds of bollocks.

I want to talk about why I write what I write. And mention a coupla heroes along the way. The first being the not-very-obviously-transgressive Banana Yoshimoto, the author of N.P., which is my favourite book of all time. It’s about a collection of short stories by a dead writer, and the existence of an unpublished final story. And an incestuous relationship that causes quiet devastation but is – and this is the transgressive bit – portrayed as the pure emotional heart of the book.

It’s this aspect that characterises Transgressive Fiction with capital letters, and is what interests me most: the sympathetic portrayal of behaviour considered to be beyond society’s pale. It’s something that makes readers extraordinarily uncomfortable, because rather like lab rats or Pavlov’s bow-wows we are conditioned to expect certain behaviours to be treated a certain way.

What refusing to paint those behaviours the expected way, or reward or punish them as expected does is jar our expectations. An illustration of how much people can’t get their heads around this kind of thing is the Oscar-winning film American Beauty, which received its 18 certificate in the UK…because it portrayed recreational drug use non-judgmentally…if you’ve ever heard anything so ridiculous.

Which brings me to another thing, which is that to create this jar through the sympathetic portrayal of unacceptable behaviour, you actually have to do a pretty good job of the characterisation. Otherwise you don’t get the sympathy. And part of that is to show characters in the round. Which a lot of writing both on the grim and the rose-tinted side doesn’t do.

This rounded characterisation, which just happens to include things that are “unacceptable” serves two incredibly important purposes which are at the heart of transgressive writing, or at least the kind I do and enjoy. First, it makes us question where the value of a person is located and even whether the idea of a person being good or bad makes any sense.

But even that doesn’t get to the bottom of it, because we’re still accepting the unacceptability of the acts portrayed, and for me the single most important thing transgressive writing does is make us question where we draw our lines. Which isn’t to say we should shift them. Not at all – but if we leave them where they are, we do so having thought about them. Take a person you’ve grown to love over the course of a book, whose tastes run to the exotic, shall we say? Does that mean you were wrong to love them? What does it say about you and your character judgment that you did? Does it mean their tastes are OK – because it’s them who chose them? Or does it just mean everyone’s who they are and there’s a story to be told about each of us that has infinitely more nuances of shade and depth than we can ever put down in words? And is *that* the point where what we read helps us to begin to know ourselves a little better, or at least to ask the questions that will get us on the way?

Let me illustrate a point using a non-sex example. Clothes. By preference I wear t-shirts, jeans a *lot* of accessories like gloves and bracelets, braces/suspenders, and a little make-up. I know several people who’d be offended if I showed up to dinner in that (though they’d always say “it’s because of my relatives” which is seventy times seven shades of bollocks as an argument). They’d maybe tell me whilst wearing a suit. And I might tell them I found their suit offensive. And they’d laugh and say “yes, but what I’m wearing is inoffensive but you’re wearing clothes you know could offend”. Now in case the reason they’re a fucktard isn’t obvious it’s this – if you accept the principle that clothing can offend, and that you as a subjective person can be offended, then you have to accept that any other subjective person can be offended – and if you’re all subjective then what offends may well be different in every case. Now I’m a come-as-you-are type so I *know* I’m a fucktard being offended by suits just because of their connotations with capitalist oppression and the denial of individuality and years of institutional violence to the mentally ill. So I’ll take it on the chin. But the fucktard in the suit better damn well be prepared to take it in the chin back. But they aren’t. They act surprised.

And that’s what transgressive fiction does – slowly makes people less surprised when individuals turn out to be, er, individuals with all the roundedness and unpredictability that entails. And step one in doing that is questioning EVERY stereotype, including the moral ones and those about the association between any two behaviours or any one or more behaviour and “character”. It asks “Is that too far?” and “OK, but is it *always* too far?” and “If it’s not always too far is it ever too far?”

Transgression doesn’t just point the finger at readers, though. We all draw our own lines and what and where they are form questions that constantly prod me in the side. There are things I will write – but not transgressively. Some forms of sexualised violence, for example. I have criminals carrying them out in thrillers. But that’s not transgressive. For me the transgression, the interesting questions, lies as much in the treatment as the material. It’s the tenderness of the incest in N.P. that makes it such a transgressive book ad makes it different from, say, Chinatown.

For me the hardest subject matter of all is nothing to do with sex. The most difficult scene I ever had to write, in The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Painted-Agnieszkas-Shoes-ebook/dp/B004QGYH6M), is when a racist is tearfully cradling her dead son. I almost certainly should have made it a more tender scene, forced readers to confront their feelings for her, but I just couldn’t do it. So she remained nothing but a monster. Racism, homophobia, things that could generically be called “hate crimes” terrify me in a way that other behaviours just don’t. I think it has to do with the sheer scope of the hate involved. The most sickening of paraphilias remain between individuals – a single, secretive perpetrator and their desperate victim. Hate crimes involve the complicity of millions in the systematic act of eradicating other millions. I think it’s that group aspect that terrifies me most. Since the first time I was surrounded by a gang of schoolyard bullies, I’ve always found groups the very last transgression, the line I won’t cross. And yet it’s a line I should cross, and I wrestle with myself daily about it.

There’s a line in Paul’s letter to the Romans that says the law made sin sinful. It took away the excuse. I don’t often find myself in agreement with St Paul, but that’s one of the wisest things I ever heard. Complacency, the belief we have it figured out, accepting the status quo but not even thinking we’re accepting the status quo because it’s somehow just “there” – that’s the most dangerous, disgusting, nauseating, sinful trait that infects every part of our society like spores of rot. Transgressive fiction does exactly what St Paul says about the law – it takes away the excuse for complacency. It takes our deepest held beliefs, the things that seem to be the very fibre and fabric of what it is to be human and reminds us that every one of those beliefs is nothing to do with “the way things are” but represents a choice we made.

Remember that next time you see the tabloids calling for censorship. What do they really object to? Some words on a page? Or having something there, in their line of sight, making them think things they would rather not. What’s really worse? The things we write about? Or it being OK for a whole society to hold moral opinions they’ve never questioned?

Dan Holloway’s thoughts now…circa 2016.

It’s fascinating reading this five years on. I guess we always know that lots will change over that length of time, especially in something so rapidly evolving as the digital world. But we never know exactly what that lots will be!

In this case, looking back over what I’ve read, the obvious development has been the flame war that’s taken place over the notion of safe spaces. I said in the original piece that I felt racism and homophobia were more dangerous than any transgressive sexual storytelling because of the extent of their reach, so I guess I was foreshadowing the debate a little.

I don’t want to say too much here, because this is about sex. But I do want to say that I find myself increasingly angry and frustrated with the discussion of content warnings and safe spaces. There is so much misinformation. By and large I have never met a group of people as actively engaged in holding difficult debates as those behind the calls for such spaces – this is not “generation snowflake” or whatever other demeaning term people want to throw at them. This is generation engaged, generation compassionate, generation activist. These are the people working to provide answers to the challenge of the cult of anti-intellectualism, the people working on eradicating hate, tackling climate change. By and large I find it is their critics who are the easily offended, the ones who want protecting, who won’t face what they can’t accept – that the world is changing and changing for the better and that maybe they need to take some accountability for the fact that change was necessary.

But back to sex. My timeline is a little hazy, but I think the original series predates the Paypal battle that nearly sunk a lot of self-publishers and small presses, and it certainly predates the most recent disputes with Amazon over the definitions of taste and decency. In those intervening years we have had cause as a community to examine ourselves. There was the outcry over the publication of the P*dophile’s Handbook, which led to rather less soul searching than it might have done amongst writers who were quick to call for its banning without wondering what the implications were for drawing lines in the sand. And we have had the growth of dinoporn and Chuck Tingle’s unique eroticization of the inanimate, which has led the debate into – a very lucrative – comedic turn at times.

At the same time, the years have seen other areas remain static. Outside of the sphere of erotica there has been very little to question our notion of the obscene. Maybe this is because the preceding years had seen so much. On screen in particular the period leading up to this piece had given us Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, Virginie Despentes’ Baise-Moi, Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, and the oeuvre of Eli Roth. What have we had since? The reclamation of the erotic with Blue is the Warmest Colour, and Lars von Trier’s descent into self-parody through Nymphomaniac.

In print, I guess the closest to a debate we’ve had has been the question of the complicity or objectification of young men in relations with older women through books like Alyssa Nutting’s Tampa and Ben Brooks’ Lolito, but to be honest neither of those books is remotely good enough to have raised more than an eyebrow. Controversy comes when the art is so good you can’t ignore it and you have to face down its content. That’s what Lolita did that Lolito failed to do, what The Necrophiliac or Wetlands did. The very best writers just seem not to have really said anything about sexual taboos in the past five years. In a way 50 Shades makes that surprising. But in a way it also explains it. 50 Shades revealed to us a world that wanted to talk about stuff the art world had done with decades earlier. A world that will endlessly dissect such poor portrayals of the mildest forms of excess really isn’t ready to have the buttons of its extremities pressed in interesting ways. It just wouldn’t know what to do with that, would probably ignore it altogether – and being ignored is what the transgressive writer fears most!

Please Join in the discussion , leave your comment.

 DAN HOLLOWAY can be found on the following links.

 http://danholloway.wordpress.com 

 Dan Holloway (http://eightcuts.com) runs the eight cuts gallery (http://eightcuts.com) literary project and is a spoken word performer and novelist. His transgressive performance pieces make up the collection (life:) razorblades included (http://www.amazon.co.uk/life-razorblades-included-ebook/dp/B003QTDLBW). His novel The Company of Fellows (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Company-of-Fellows/dp/B004PLMHYC) spent more than 2 weeks in Amazon’s top 100 fiction charts.