Xan West

When You Poke the Sex, What Comes Out?

One of my favorite erotica stories is by Patrick Califia. (No surprise there.) “No Mercy” (which can be found in his collection of the same title) centers Terry, who is in an abusive D/s relationship with Heather, and on the cusp of finding her way out of it. The... read more

Considering Group Sex and Conflict

Folks often talk about non monogamy as more advanced sex, or more advanced relationships. As if its extra work, takes more from you, is harder to do. It has that reputation in all its permutations, from group sex to open relationships to closed triads to... read more

On Planning a BDSM Scene

You know how on Project Runway, when the contestants are creating a collection, they keep being urged to make it cohesive? Cohesion is a big part of how they envision each piece of the collection being connected and part of a whole. So it doesn’t feel disjointed. So... read more

Representation of Novices in BDSM Erotica & Erotic Romance

One of the best kink education panels I’ve ever been part of was a group of experienced queer tops being real about our experiences back when we were new tops. We told stories about mistakes we made, how afraid we were, how much pressure we felt to act confident. We... read more

How Sex Scenes Are Like Show Tunes

I love musicals, have for most of my life. There’s this thing that people sometimes say when you talk about musicals, usually rather derisively: “I don’t understand why people just burst into song!” The folks who say this often don’t care for musicals much, and don’t... read more

What Spoils It: Carelessness in Doing BDSM

I read a lot of BDSM erotica and erotic romance. While what I write is fairly specific, I enjoy reading a wider diversity, all different sorts of pairings and groups. I enjoy the sort that is all about building a fantasy for the reader, from the billionaire natural... read more

Character Work: What Sparks Desire?

One of my favorite moments to write (and read) in erotica and erotic romance is when a character’s desire first gets sparked. It’s often the kernel of a story that comes first, that sparks the story for me as a writer. I love stories that sit in that moment, let me... read more

Describing Pain in BDSM Erotica

In BDSM erotica and erotic romance, I often find very little description of pain, of what it feels like to experience it. Even in scenes that include descriptions of pain play, the writer often shifts focus to action and reaction instead of sensation, or to how things... read more

What To Take In

The second time I thought about giving up writing, I was 16 years old. I had been thinking of myself as a writer for half my life, ever since the third grade, when I was in my first writing workshop. I carried that sense of self long after I left the writer’s workshop... read more

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