erotic anthology

Pouring Your Soul Onto The Page

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

People who know me know I write horror and dark fiction as well as erotica and erotic romance. I’m going to meet writer Jack Ketchum in mid-October at the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat. That’s the hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where Stephen King stayed that inspired him to write The Shining. While Ketchum is a horror writer, what he had to say about digging down into dark recesses of your soul to get to the meat of your characters applies to any genre. This excerpt is from an essay he wrote for the book Horror 101: The Way Forward:

“Dig into the dark mean night of your soul.” Remember Peter Straub’s line in Ghost Story? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Well, what its it?

What god-awful things have you fantasized doing but would never do?

What’s the worst thing you can imagine actually happening to you? To your loved ones?

What breaks your heart?

Use your damage. Write from the wound.

Go as deep as you dare. Stare into your own abyss and report back. No need to reveal everything – children have to learn how to lie a little, or else they grow up without protection, and so do we writer types. But you need ot embrace the damage as a co-conspirator, as uniquely you, as something you can use. Throw it out there into the light, to a place where it can do some good for others and maybe even for yourself.

You need to be honest. Really good fiction is always an attempt at total honesty. Be true to both the good and the
downright dangerous inside. See them as clearly as you can, use your empathy, search out your characters in your own heart and write them as though they were you. They are you, you know. Every one of them, if you do it right.When I dig down into my soul to get to the heart of my characters, I feel exposed and vulnerable. There have been a few stories I’ve written I decided against publishing because they feel too close. Too personal. Some of the stories I have published make me feel over-exposed. Although a publisher liked the story enough to publish and sell it, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable letting people read it because I feel like the reader will get a glimpse of me I’d rather keep private. My short story Longing in Coming Together: Among The Stars and my novel Don’t Call Me Baby are excellent examples of my picking at a festering wound in my soul I won’t let heal, and I allow everyone on earth to read about it.

Longing is about my fear of growing old and forgetting who I am. Or my husband losing his faculties and losing his memory of me. The story is about a woman whose husband suffers from dementia and he can’t remember who she is. I based the husband on my husband and on a friend who suffers from dementia. I watched this friend devolve from a vibrant and genius-level intelligent human being to a shell of his former self. I don’t like to think about it anymore, but I needed to express my profound distress at watching what had happened to him. Likewise, I am over 50 and my husband is over 60. Aging is very much in the forefront of my mind, and I am terrified of losing the sense of who I am and who he is. I know it’s a normal rite of passage for someone my age, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Don’t Call Me Baby is semi-autobiographical. I deal head-on with two affairs with married men I had when I was in college. What possessed me to do something as self-hating and stupid as that? The book was in part about my fear of losing my identity to another man’s wishes and demands. I watched some of my girlfriends turn from independent and interesting women to creatures who lived to please their boyfriends and fiancés. I didn’t want to turn into a Stepford wife. I was afraid that to fall in love meant having to turn my will completely over to a man, and I didn’t want to do that. So I chose men who were not only unavailable, but who also couldn’t complain when I chose to date multiple men at once. I couldn’t get too close to them, and they couldn’t get too close to me. I’m very much aware of how selfish this all sounds. Catherine Stone, my heroine in the book, is also very selfish as well as a bit pig-headed. She does meet a man who doesn’t interfere with her freedom, and how she learns to trust him is an important part of the book. At that time in my life, I had not yet met that man, and I wouldn’t meet him for several decades.

I’ve noticed the common thread between both stories – my fear of losing the sense of myself. Growing old, losing my sense of myself, ending up alone surrounded by my dozens of cats, and becoming homeless are four of my greatest fears. I’ve looked into them in some of my stories, especially the horror stories.

What are you afraid of? What fears drive you throughout your life? How would you answer Jack Ketchum’s questions? What god-awful things have you fantasized doing but would never do? What is the worst thing you can imagine happening to you? To your loved ones? Use the raw emotions behind the answers to bring your characters to life. Like Ketchum said, you don’t need to reveal everything in your writing. However, you need to know that side of your character to make that person human.

Escapism is a wonderful thing to enjoy, especially in erotica and erotic romance. Every woman who enjoys a good sexy story likes being swept off her feet and taken to a fantasy world. I’ve written escapist fantasies as well. These stories are driven by some of my fears but they aren’t gut-wrenching.  My two erotic fairy tales Trouble In Thigh High Boots (Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (Rapunzel) as well as my short lesbian erotic romance Like A Breath Of Ocean Blue and my erotic fantasy A Dance Of Ocean Magic fall into this category. The main characters in those stories have their weaknesses and faults, but the stories have an otherworldly and magical quality to them that helps the reader escape her mundane, daily concerns. She can get lost in another fun world for a few hours.

When it comes to raw and uncomfortable emotion, I prefer the realistic approach, even if the story is fantasy or science fiction. If I wonder if the reader will disapprove of me or not like me, I know I’m on the right track. I know the reader may criticize my character’s choices, but those choices led my character down the path toward her maturation. Sometimes that maturation is found through trusting a partner in a vulnerable sex act. At few other times are we more vulnerable than when we are spread out, naked and exposed, before someone we care about. How will your partner treat you? Will you be cared for or abused? It’s all a matter of trust.

My story Longing appears in Coming Together: Among The Stars.
Amazon – US
Amazon – UK

Don’t Call Me Baby
Amazon – US

Trouble In Thigh High Boots
Amazon – US

Climbing Her Tower
Amazon – US

My story Like A Breath of Ocean Blue appears in Best Lesbian Romance Of The Year, Vol. 1, published by Cleis Press.
Amazon – US
Amazon – UK

A Dance Of Ocean Magic will soon appear in the erotic anthology Forbidden Fruit, to be published by Sweetmeats Press.

Erotic Inspirations: A Very Personal Reading List

Recently a novice writer asked me to recommend some of my favorite erotic authors and books. I realized that I could answer this question quickly with a list of editors and publishers I love because they appreciate me, but part of me pushed back against a “commercial” answer, because, well, part of me is sick of anything that smacks of self-promotion. Another part (I am, apparently, a woman of many parts) was reluctant to claim authority on the subject because tastes in erotica are especially personal. Of course, the evaluation of any writing involves personal taste, but let’s be honest—the “best” erotica stimulates our unique turn-ons. 

Then I got to musing how very intimate it would be to share my favorite hot-button stories with a lover, putting together a personal anthology of tales that sink deep into my flesh and my imagination. In other words, the stories that I could read again and again (and you all know what that means). I’d be even more interested in reading my lover’s special anthology. Communicating through stories would, I think, convey a flavor and sensibility that direct description—I like being bossed around by billionaire CEO’s, I’d love to be tickled all over with feathers, etc.—can never fully capture.

This project felt a bit too personal to share with my erotica-writing friend, but then it also hit me that as an erotica writer, I share my sensibility with my readers with every word I write. So much for privacy.

However, I suspect the question also invited me to suggest works of erotica that would inspire good writing as much as erotic response. I’m not in a position to endorse the erotica canon blindly. Henry Miller and The Story of O didn’t really do it for me. Fanny Hill was interesting historically, but the style is of a different age. Anais Nin is the mother of modern erotica, and a lovely, poetic writer, but she needs no recommendation–we all find her on our own.

Yet, in thinking back, there was a list of books I read when I first started writing that made me say, “Yes, I want to try this, too!” Many were published in the mid-to-late 1990’s, which is when I began writing myself. Thus again, there is an inescapably personal element to my list. How can it be otherwise? Indeed, it could well be that one’s formative erotic stories rely more on timing than quality. I was ready to be awakened to erotica, and certain stories found their way to me that might be far less memorable now.

All that said, I eventually did have myself a good time remembering the stories that turned me on as a writer sixteen long years ago. I still stand by these recommendations as a writer and a reader. They made me what I am today.

Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane DiPrima

A renowned Beat poet, DiPrima originally wrote this erotic novel in the late 1960’s for the money. In spite of the title, it was “based” on her own experiences rather than a true memoir. She proudly admits in the afterword that she made most of it up. Fortunately, she, like Anais Nin, was so talented, she couldn’t write badly, even for such a practical purpose. My very favorite part is chapters one and two, “February” and “February–continued” which describe her first intimate encounter in the West Village with a sexy revolutionary named Ivan. Is there anything sexier than a gorgeous Bohemian who’s great in bed? This scene made me realize that erotica can be smart, beautifully written, romantic, edgy and hot all at the same time. Many of the later chapters do indeed read as if they were written for money, but that first chapter is seared into my imagination. I didn’t only want to write it, I wanted to live it.

The Mammoth Book of International Erotica, edited by Maxim Jakubowski

This volume was reissued in 2006 with some changes in the table of contents, but the book I fell in love with was the 1996 version. Many famous names are included in the table of contents, but the two stories that inspired me to write were “Fourth Date, First Fuck” by Dion Farquhar and “Watching” by J.P. Kansas. Both are realistic and involved emotionally intimate relationships, which was a new thing for me to see in “dirty” fiction. “Fourth Date” describes a delicious mutual seduction between two people who’ve been hot for each other for a while—again a scene I wouldn’t mind living out in real life. In “Watching,” a husband comes home early from work to find his wife masturbating to one of his porn videos. What really delighted and intrigued me is that we get both sides of the story, first his, then hers. The humor and the heat are irresistible.

Actually, I would recommend any of Maxim’s Mammoth erotica anthologies to a new writer, because they provide a varied menu of possibilities in sexual and literary expression. Some will touch you more than others, but they’re all well-written. Maxim also appreciates longer stories, which is not so common in our Internet age.

Best American Erotica 1997

This single volume remains my favorite in the long and impressive “Best Erotica” series, possibly because it was published at the right time, but maybe just because the stories are great. I know, I’m on the record as disliking reviews that merely mention favorite stories, but I warned you up front this was very personal! Mark Stuertz’ “Lunch” totally blew my mind because the author juxtaposed a “Twin Peaks”-esque secret lunch club performance–complete with a dwarf and a languid beauty infusing a spinach salad with her womanly essence–with an exploration of the sexual sensibility of “Drew,” the man who recommended this unusual meal to the less-worldly narrator. For me it was the first time a character was portrayed so powerfully through his sexual history and tastes. It was a little creepy and very sexy at the same time. Would I want to be with this “Drew”? (Sure, what the hell!)

By contrast, “She Gets Her Ass Fucked Good” by Rose White and Eric Albert is, in spite of the raw title, a sweet love story told in dialogue. I love dialogue in erotic fiction. I love the way a focus on dialogue allows the reader to add in all the good parts. I’m tempted to go write a story right now that is only dialogue. Maybe I will. Thanks to White and Albert for teaching me its power.

Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature, volumes 1, 2 and 3 edited by Charlotte Hill and William Wallace (Carroll and Graf, 1992, 1993, 1996).

I discovered these beautifully illustrated anthologies of erotic excerpts at Good Vibrations way back when there was just one store on Valencia Street in San Francisco—another well-timed discovery for a budding erotica writer. I started with the second volume and quickly had to stock up on the others. The editors chose selections from a wide variety of classic erotic tales, presenting a nice overview of the scribblings of the erotic pen. The wide historical range of the illustrations also confirms that humanity has been fascinated and inspired by sexuality since, like, forever. They say women aren’t as fond of visual erotica, but these books prove this is not the case for yours truly when the images are artistically conceived, but no less explicit. Hill and Wallace put out a new volume in 2011, The Collected Erotica: An Illustrated Celebration of Human Sexuality Through the Ages. I’m figuring it can’t be all that different from the content in the three volumes I have, but it might be a good introduction and easier to order new at a reasonable price.

Now please let me to ask you–which books first inspired your erotica writing adventure?

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at

The Allure of Sex at Work

By Lucy Felthouse

When Tiffany Reisz decided to make her joke about an
office-supply erotica anthology into reality, I was very excited. I, like many
writers and creative types, adore stationery. I love to go into Staples and
Ryman (UK stationery chain) and wander around, looking at things, even if I
have no intention of buying anything! Also, back when I was at college, many,
many years ago (*feels very old*) I actually used to work in a one of the shops
belonging to aforementioned UK stationery chain, when it was still called
Partners. It was just a weekend and day-off-college job to earn me some cash
which I was supposed to spend on my education, but inevitably spent on booze,
clothes and, of course, stationery! So, okay, I did kind of spend it on my
education, then 😉 I enjoyed the job, and many years later it provided the
inspiration for my story in Felt Tips, A
Stroke of Peach.

And now I’m getting to the bit about the allure of sex at
work! Back then, I sadly did not have sex on the premises of the stationery
shop. Thinking about it, I’ve never done the deed of the premises of any of the
places I’ve worked, and I work from home now, so that opportunity has been
lost. Damn. Anyhow, the allure has always been something I’ve been aware of,
and it is a very popular fantasy amongst males and females alike, so when I
thought about my potential Felt Tips story, I was leaning towards the topic of
sex at work very quickly. But I wanted to do something a little different from
sex in the office, and that’s when I decided to pull on my experience of
working in the stationery store.

Just like any other kind of workplace, having sex there
would be risky, forbidden and guaranteed to get you fired. And therein lies the
allure—whether or not someone will actually take that risk, if it’s something
that floats their boat, they’ll think about it, fantasise about it. Their boss,
a colleague, someone else altogether… everybody loves a little bit of the
forbidden, don’t they?

So if this is something that appeals to you but you don’t
want to run the risk, then why not grab your copy of Felt Tips quick-smart and
check out A Stroke of Peach? You can
live vicariously through the characters, and as far as I know, you can’t get
sacked for doing that!

Happy Reading! x


Shoshanna Evers, Kelly Jamieson, Karen Stivali, Karen Booth, and forty other authors share their office-supply-inspired fantasies in Felt Tips, an eclectic anthology of erotic literature. This collection is edited by bestselling author Tiffany Reisz, who contributes “Teacher’s Pet,” a brand-new Original Sinners short story. All proceeds from the sale of Felt Tips will be donated to an organization that helps struggling schools supply their classrooms.

More info, excerpt and buy links.


Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best
Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women’s Erotica 2013. Another string to
her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies.
She owns Erotica For All, and is book
editor for Cliterati. Find out more at Join
her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her
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