Monday, September 07, 2009

All change

Today I'm waving goodbye (from a wee distance) to the lovely Shanna who's off back to the States. It's been such a joy to meet you, S, come back soon, and may you have many wonderful adventures back in the States!

Plus, as I get steadily bigger and the nesting gets steadily more frantic, I'm left with very little time and energy to blog, let alone write. So, I'll just give you all a little wave for the moment and declare myself off on maternity leave. Hm, yes, think of it like a 'happy ever after' post. ; )

Phew!

See yous all later!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Glass Woman Prize

... I stumbled on a fascinating website. Beate Sigriddaughter is now reading for the Glass Woman Prize. It's a fiction competition, details here.

What I found wonderful and interesting were the FAQs about the prize (which, I should add, Sigriddaughter funds from her own income):

"I want to help along the cause of women expressing themselves authentically and fearlessly and passionately. It has something to do with a contribution to justice and soul growing in the world.

One of my ex-husbands once said that women don't support each other. I want to either change that or prove it wrong. This is my small gesture of changing the world."

More power to your elbow, lady.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How to get over the war

“She gave him the baby and he cut the baby’s head off.”



In some ways, the soldier cut off his own head. In some ways, he cut off mine.

Years after the attack, I want superpowers. In dreams I skew time, take the baby from the soldier, cut off the soldier’s head with my free hand, turn his face to let him watch his own death, stem the blood flow from his neck, let him rewind his own guilt endlessly over the story that never played, the baby that was saved, the life that was never taken, yet still lost.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Right. Bring on the dancing boys.

So, at last we practically have the keys to our new flat in our sweaty little paws. I'm practically finished the last edits on the last story I'm going to write before I bugger off and have this baby.

So.

Let's be having those dancing boys:




Who says this is not super-shiny promotional blog? And more:



Lastly, yes they may be wearing questionable leather trousers and be as camp as a row of tents but nevertheless I find their hips pretty hypnotic. So, here is the stompy stompy grand finale ...



Coming soon - a fabulously phallic finale of the tree porn series. Probably.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheer up



"Not too soon, but not too damn much after"

- Hemingway, I think

You know

It's probably best not to piss off a woman who is twenty nine weeks pregnant and has just given up her last remaining vice.*

Apologies for the lack of a substantive post today. I am having one last teeth-gritted determined effort to finish all the shite that needs to be finished before I give up even pretending to be part of the human race and go and dribble over some blue chintz curtains.

As I was just telling Shanna:

Yes, normally I am sweet and polite and patient but oh my god in heaven I need to motherfucking NEST.

Right. Am off to phone the tax office. Hoorah.


*caffeine, aka tea, drink of the fucking gods. Which I can't have anymore either for fucking sweet fucking Jesus's sake.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Somebody else's shorts, and also

I'm knackered and losing the power of speech today, so instead of one of yesterday's half-done flashes, here is a fabulous flash site. All the stories are written in six sentences, which maybe rather obvious given the title ...

There's a whole free online magazine that is beautifully presented, too.

***

Also, here's an interesting article on sex in fiction. The author is asking for a return to coyness. Could we not perhaps find an elegant balance somewhere between prurience and blushes and actually have sex in fiction at least somewhat as it usually is in real life - an important part of the whole? Oh maybe not even elegant, fair enough. Just acknowledged.


***

And Shanna Germain writes a storming post about genre here. I'm an ex genre snob. Luckily I'm curing myself of it - in part by reading fabulous writers who are considered 'genre' and in part by growing up and admitting to my crime habit.

I mean, crime novel habit.



Anyway. I have just burned the hot chocolate I was making. If you don't believe that it's possible to burn hot chocolate, likely you haven't ever been seven months pregnant. Am off to open the windows and think about word patterns. Back soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Add it up

Our eyes met across the dance floor and locked for forty-one seconds. You licked your lips twice.
Over the next five days, we kissed six hundred and two times, with tongues two hundred and fifty. You ran your hand over my left breast with sixty-three urgent strokes, like you were trying to polish my heart.
We fucked four and a half times, you came twice, I faked it five times but retracted once. I think we came out even.
I watched the phone for twelve long nights.
Afterwards my heart hurt for fourteen months, three weeks, two days and counting.



Friday, August 21, 2009

Noah's wife, name forgotten

Dropping her coat on a chair she went out into the back yard and turned her face up to the sky. The rain was a soft drizzle.

She remembered all her mistakes, the hundred sandbags she’d gathered and stacked around her sandstone house built on the thick slipping local brown sand. She remembered the regrets she’d borrowed from others and hoarded like treasure.

She remembered most of all whispering over the drone of an engine that she’d been broken, hasn’t everyone been broken? And she realised, as the sun broke like honey, that ‘yes’ is the hardest word to say.




I realised the other day that I keep posting these little flashes with mostly no explanation. All the short short pieces I write are 100 words long, not including the title. It's an arbitary discipline, but I enjoy working within that restriction. Right now, with hormone-brain sapping my concentration, 100 words is also about as much as I can manage ...
Anyway, I was saving this piece for the collection I'm (secretly) trying to put together, but I thought it was somehow relevant to the discussion about Bukowski and the artist and the work and whatnot, and I wanted to say thanks for all the fascinating and thoughtful responses to that post.
The title is as yet uncertain.


Edited to add: In fact, the whole piece is as yet uncertain. Heh.

And also: Sorry if you came by looking for erotica. I appear to have taken a side road this year. I'll probably circle back there at some point.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Insex




Like they're painted on the wall. And just in case you can't see the image well - it is quite delicate - here's the technicolour version:



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Everything is poetry

I went to look for Bukowski poems and found a film of him kicking a woman and calling her a whore, complete with canned laughter.



Underneath the clip, the comments are brutal. Bukowski's face is brutal, and broken.

Someone says they'll throw out his books now they've seen that clip.

Can one seperate the writer from their work? I suppose this argument resurfaces every so often - Ezra Pound, Gunther Grass - writers with dubious political affiliations or loathsome personal lives. Picasso burned one of his wives with cigarettes. Hemingway was a misogynist shit, wasn't he?

Even so, I don't think I can lose Bukowski's work no matter how foul he was. There's a good discussion of his work here.

I can't quite tell - is Bukowski a skewed creep, or is he just so honest it's both awful and sublime? Maybe the key is in being unable to tell, when someone is so openly broken and unsettling, when they are cruel but also sometimes tender, when at last all you can really probably say is that they are human.

The future

Since Black Lace folded, I've felt a bit like I'm flailing around.

Yesterday I went for coffee with a friend who's a book rep. He travels round bookshops and other places touting his publisher's stock. His thoughts? Bookshops are sinking. His job is dying 'the death of a thousand cuts'.

I love bookshops. But I don't love the big shiny monolithic chains. Nothing allowed in there without a Richard and Judy sticker, no space for grubby little curiosities. I think they're successfully killing themselves off, really, by squeezing all the pleasure out of reading.

What's next?

Alison Tyler has launched a series of ebooks, available as pdfs or for the kindle.

Shanna Germain has launched Mindfuck Fiction, also selling ebooks, including a collection from Jeremy Edwards that I'm just about to nip over and swipe, 'Laura the Laugher'.

Because I'm now two thirds of a mother and because I'm about to get up and start packing to move house and because I'm not sure what the future really holds, I'm thinking and listening. I hear iPhone thoughts and long tail rumours and the possibilities of a brand new brave new world.

I still love books, I'll always love books, only it seems that books are about to change, along with just about everything else in my life.

I can't wait to see where this is all going.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tripping



Sorry for the silence, have not fallen off the face of the earth. Have been on a Road Trip.

Went up and a little to the right with the lovely Shanna to explore Scotland, eat sweets, talk the hind legs off a field of donkeys and see family.

I can't think of a more charming travel companion. It's such a treat to have good conversation with a fellow writer, especially one as thoughtful and intelligent as Shanna.

It's a shame that there seem to be so many miles between me and most of the writers I've met online. I think everyone needs time talking about their work, about writing, without a keyboard inbetween and with the opportunity to make rude gestures when necessary.

I can't wait for the Eroticon in Iceland.

(No, it doesn't exist. But one day it will when we are all rich.)

(That in the background is my shiny little stallion, that got us there and back mostly in one piece. Well done wee car!)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The tenth muse



Sappho, found at Jupiter Artland today.

The sculpture's by Ian Hamilton Finlay, who created an incredible garden full of poetry and sculpture at Little Sparta.

Apparently Plato gave Sappho the title the 'tenth muse'. Hamilton Finlay describes her here as 'the poetess of erotic lyricism.' It was nice to find a friendly face in the forest.

Anyway, as well as high brow arts and scultpures, there was dirty trees.



I don't know, those filthy beeches. Right out in public, completely shameless.

I asked Sappho nicely to help with the idea I've been working on for a collection of shorts. I didn't ask the beeches for anything, because they seemed quite occupied.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Actually ...

I think my previous post was a 'hurt but magnanimous' phase. Now I'm moving into pissed off territory. Let's just say I read some more of the blog that critted my work, and I'm not going to dwell.

While I still think it's valuable to consider criticism, and while I believe that
'you can be the being of being
only if love should pierce you deep inside.'

[- Salvatore Quasimodo]

- by which I mean I think it's worth being open to being hurt - I also think it would be disingenous to give away all one's self respect to any random person who tries to tear you apart.

In short: screw it.

Next!



Oh, and just for balance, here's a nice review for The New Rakes at GetmePleasure.com:


Rock n Roll gasm!

"fast paced, sexy and extremely erotic"

Hoorah!

Criticism

I know you're not supposed to talk about bad reviews. But I think sometimes it's almost dishonest not to.

Ego is like an open wound. Easily soothed, easily stung.

I spend so much time writing, editing, rewriting, considering ideas, and then also trying to self-criticise, self-edit, judge what I’ve done. I get lost in uncertainty. And then I go trawling for reassurance, validation – google-hunting. And sometimes I find a lovely review, and sometimes a really fucking bad one.

Erotica attracts the worst from our writing brethren and a few examples slipped under the radar of Alison Tyler's normally excellent editing. The worst was 'Madrid', by Nikki Magennis - an interminable erotic contrivance that was both pretentious and amateurish to boot
.

I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. Last night I read that and my heart pounded and it felt a bit like I’d just been attacked. Of course, the reviewer is attacking the work. But it’s hard for a writer/artist/whatever to separate the work from themself, from their life, because in some senses there is no line of separation. So I’m dropping the pretence of professional detachment for a moment, and just saying, yes, no matter who it’s from or why they’ve written it, harsh criticism does hurt.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. Of course, a certain amount of distance is necessary. But if one is not involved on more than a detached, professional level, the work gets a bit dry. I wrote this story the other day, for example. There’s a lot I like about it. But it’s almost more of a technical exercise than a story with a beating heart.

He calls the story pretentious. What does that really mean? I think it means dishonest. Grandiose, perhaps? Takes itself too seriously? As in – will obsessively dissect a three-and-a-half-line review in order to prove or disprove its great worth? Fair enough.

Maybe I’m just trying too hard here to disprove what the guy said. And maybe it does just fucking hurt, whichever way you cut it.

Then again, hurt is not always a bad thing. Usually when I feel like crying it means I’m approaching something worthwhile. Because what matters most of all is not good reviews. It’s making work that excites me. That is unutterably selfish, isn’t it?

Maybe work isn’t worthwhile if it doesn’t translate. If it doesn’t reach further. But how does one find a place between selfish and detached? Between honesty and artifice? Is it possible to be honest without being self absorbed? Could I learn a new way to write?

I don’t know.

Maybe today I’ll try.



The point of this post is not to plead for sympathy, although yes, my instant reaction was that kind of "say it isn't so" denial. The point of the post is to illustrate, and record, how writing works for me. It breaks things down, it allows them to fall apart. And then there’s a fabulous still point, and it opens up the possibility of somewhere new. It’s all that matters, really.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

And so they rejoiced ...


... Because in 2010, all the very naughtiest fairies and elves declared a book would be published and it would be with Harlequin Spice and the Queen of the Book would be Alison Tyler and it would be called her Wonderland ...


And just look who's coming to the ball!



The Red Shoes (Redux) by Nikki Magennis
Fool’s Gold by Shanna Germain
The Three Billys by Sommer Marsden
David by Kristina Lloyd
Managers and Mermen by Donna George Storey
The Clean-Shaven Type by N.T. Morley
The Midas F*ck by Erica DeQuaya
Sleeping with Beauty by Allison Wonderland
Unveiling His Muse by Portia Da Costa
Always Break the Spines by Lana Fox
An Uphill Battle by Benjamin Eliot
Moonset by A.D.R Forte
Mastering Their Dungeons by Bryn Haniver
A Taste for Treasure by T.C. Calligari
The Broken Fiddle by Andrea Dale
The Cougar of Cobble Hill by Sophia Valenti
Wolff’s Tavern by Bella Dean
Slutty Cinderella by Jacqueline Applebee
Kiss It by Saskia Walker
Let Down Your Libido by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Dancing Shoes by Tsaurah Litzky
Gold, On Snow by Janine Ashbless
After the Happily Every After by Heidi Champa
Cupid Has Signed Off by Thomas S. Roche
The Walking Wheel by Georgia E. Jones
Rings on My Fingers by Alison Tyler
The Princess by Elspeth Potter


(Yes, you may have a special occasion sweetie. Just leave me the red stripey one, okay?)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Apologies ...

But I just can't stop playing this.



Go on, admit it. You love it too.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sad Refrain




The pearl of her lipgloss against a perfect tan. She has a well turned heel. Impossible wasp waist. Outside her husband walks back and forth behind the lawnmower, laying down strips of sleek green.
He longs, as he treads miles and goes nowhere, for endless lawns. The right balance of sun and water. A glass of gin to take away the dry thirst. He looks up, sees her at the window, and lifts his hand to wave.
Every time he kisses her the colour sticks to his mouth. It tastes sweet. He licks his lips. Shadows stretch across the grass.

Repeat to fade

I recall a room with green walls, yes dusty green that unravels into a forgotten series of Sundays, days set up like dominoes, the way you hardly had to tip your smile at me and I’d tumble, repeatedly, like a chorus without a hook, yes you only had to ask
- I’d make the same mistakes again, yes I’d kill for another shot at that afternoon, when you put your hand in the crook of my legs and tried to stem the flow of time, but all you did was make my knees weak and goddamn you, break my heart.

Repetition



Oh you would take it in the morning in the fag-ash haze when the day hurt your face, wouldn’t you? You would lie back there and think of everything you’d lost as I bent over and my hair made a curtain and hid from view what I was doing.
What I was doing was taking your prick in my mouth and milking it. For kicks, for old times sake and for the chance I might squeeze a drop of real emotion out of those soft balls. Even your contempt was like a salt lick, and me the poor hungry cow.



(Unfortunately there isn't a better quality version of this song on youtube)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Morning

Oh, I have Things to Share!


First of all, a lovely review of 'Pleasure Bound', edited by Alison Tyler, in which the reviewer says:

"Nikki Magennis kicks off the collection with "Handfast," a half-page reminder that bondage doesn't necessarily have to involve whips and chains – and also that it can be utterly romantic."


(Thanks to Shanna and Alison for pointing that one out.)

I never can be sure where my work fits on the love/sex/romance spectrum. Or even the proper differences between being a Romantic and being romantic. (And it's far too early on a Monday to try and work it out.)

***

Publisher's Weekly has an interesting article on the state of eros/romance/sexssay books, here.

***

Shanna Germain has just announced the launch of MindFuck Fiction - which promises to be an organic, hands-on, interactive, lolapaloozalovely type of press. And for which I shall write stuff.

(Once the wreck that is my train of thought has realigned and does no longer just say babybabybabybaby all day. (Yes, I know that may be some time!))

***

And lastly, boyf and I went and bought some baby stuff. I don't know the last time I felt less adequate and more bewildered. Anyway, although baby clothes for the most part fail to move me, I thought this little thing was really cute. Unfortunately, in the picture it seems to look mostly sinister ...



Black Lace books contain fantasies. In real life, always practise safe sex or you, too might end up lost in Mothercare ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

buzz.



Oh, you can never have too many bees, can you?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ooh, look. Swimsuits.

Tight, wet cozzies.

That's perked me right up.

Alain Bernard is a definite Baywatch/Crimewatch, but I think Mark Foster does us quite proud.

6 am, the world turns

Nobody will remember this. Nobody will witness the redness of your mouth, or how it’s both tender and cruel.

Even as the gold starts pricking the sky, I’m forgetting. Even as you settle into that rhythm, that old back and forth, as the tree above us rocks and the fruit hangs and the legs split, mouths cleave, eyes close, the hearts beat out into the day the same old song, the same old song.

And afterwards everything is spilled, and we’re too old to play, and we’re losing everything in spite of ourselves but oh, god, was it worth it.

5.30 am, day breaking

And the rose clouds bloom overhead, and the trees soften. So quiet I hear your breath, the pull and push, the warm bellows. Now it’s a blackbird; that inquisitive song, that rushing, flowing tumble of brittle voice.

I met you in the gap between night and day, in the opening of a shell, in the sliver between knowing and choosing.

Ugly word, choosing. Like something lewd. Something coy, a word that hides its obscenity behind frilly lace curtains, a word that lies about itself.

The birdsong we think is so pretty – it’s all fucking and fighting, after all.

5 am, all still

Remember this, all this, all the years? The early mornings, the woodsmoke and the red-eyes and creeping around trying not to wake him, even though my skin was roughed with excitement and the day outside was breaking.

I might slip out the window. Careful not to snag.

We could stand outside, then, in the wet grass, while the pigeons cried. Our feet would go numb, remember? We could kiss under the elder tree, even though it was forbidden, even though we were drowned by the noise of the river and nothing we said was right. Your hand over my mouth.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Writing a novel

Will almost certainly not:

  • Work out as any kind of revenge on anyone. (Least of all that bastard that you haven't seen for fifteen years who is, I'm afraid, virtually guaranteed not to idly and quite by chance while browsing in the basement of his or her local bookshop, pick up a copy of your book, read it and be suddenly and uncharacteristaclly overcome with remorse.)
  • Make you rich.
  • Make you successful.
  • Make you an authority on anything.
  • Prove anything.
  • Buy you love.
  • Make you famous. (To be a famous author you have to get famous first by going on Big Brother and having sex with someone before leaving for a very public breakdown, and then get a real writer to ghostwrite your autobiography.)
  • Make anyone respect you.
  • Make anyone like you.
  • Mean that you will never be rejected again.
  • Give you confidence.
  • Make you wise.
  • Get you laid.*

*(I believe that a friend of Janine Ashbless's once got laid by virtue of knowing said author, so I'm not discounting the possibility of cheap thrills by association.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



This is for Sommer.

For those trolls out there and the people who, for some reason, like to visit sites that excite their outrage glands - if ever you're tempted to get creepy/vindictive/threatening with an author using your keyboard ...

We do this for a living.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yes, because ...



Because, on a rainy day, we need songs like this. Because three years ago I couldn't leave the house without collapsing, sweating and trembling. Today I can drive myself to the local village and buy groceries.

At least, with agoraphobia, as and when you recover, you find the most enormous satisfaction in the smallest of things. I come home with a pound of mince and half a cabbage and feel like life is shimmering and wonderful.

Because I am studying Molly Bloom's voice and I love her 'yes' and I tried to record a version of it myself and managed five pages before I had to stop, being dizzy and unable to breathe without punctuation, but now I do wish to start saying 'yes' more.

And also because I am apparently blogging like a crazy fool to avoid writing a story ... don't mind me, go and watch the slugs down there, they're amazing ...

(last but not least because is this not just the best fucking song ever? And are they not beautiful?)

Slug porn (m/m)

Last night, boyf and I nearly stood on a leopard slug. I don't know if I've ever seen one before - I mean, this was a slug with style. The more I learn about them, the more I'm glad we lifted it off the road so it wouldn't get squished:

"The mating habits of Limax maximus are considered unusual among slugs: the hermaphrodite slugs court, usually for hours, by circling and licking each other.

After this, the slugs will climb into a tree or other high area and then, entwined together, lower themselves on a thick string of mucus, evert their white translucent mating organs (penises) from their gonopore (openings on the right side of the head), entwine these organs, and exchange sperm. Both participants will later lay hundreds of eggs."

(from Wikipedia)



(I'll leave it there where it seems all nice and slimy romantic, and not say anything about apophallation.)

Monster from the black leather lagoon

Just how I like them - skinny, sweaty, and rolling around on the floor.

(Photo of Lux Interior c/o The Cramps)


Oh, I so do.

Monday, July 20, 2009


No, these are not my books. They're for sale on ebay.

I'm tempted. Don't you sometimes just want to build a house out of books, with walls smelling of that sweet old-paper smell - or maybe a labyrinth you could lose yourself in? The windows could be bucolic murder mysteries set in Devon, and novels of the high seas, and the fireplace would be erotica and the kitchen would be -

- hold on, this is a Richard Brautigan story already, isn't it?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Writing that Touches - Alana Noel Voth




It's been a long while since I posted one of these interviews. But if there's one writer I'd come out of retirement to hear more from, it's the awesome Alana Noel Voth.




Why do you write?


Because, generally speaking, I suck in person. Until I've had a few drinks or am simply in a position where I have no choice. Otherwise, I'm a hermit who prefers her own company. I enjoy hanging out with my son, and once in a while a friend or lover. Otherwise, eh. Don't get me wrong: I like people, perhaps too much. I'm obsessed with humanity. Socializing though, small talk, that's painful—sometimes a waste of time. Maybe because I'm getting older, I find a lot of people uninteresting.

I like to watch, listen. I like to ask questions. I like to record. That's where the writing comes in, you know? Anyway, once a upon a time, there was this girl whose father beat her every time she opened her mouth, etc., etc. Writing is my defense. Also, everyone needs to communicate. Everyone deserves self expression. No one likes throwing their soul out to the ether and then receiving nothing back. I've written for spite before, obviously, and as a way to reclaim a sense of power. I've also written when I was feeling hopeless, depressed, terrified, helpless. Oh and horny. Angry. High emotion mainly.



Is there something in particular that you'd like to express?



Simply humanity. But moral ambiguity for another. Those types of stories make the best ones. You know, good is also bad, and bad is also good.

I'd also like to prove if you're in tune with human rhythms, if you pay attention, if you mean it, and you do so with respect, you can write outside your gender. You can be a middle-aged woman and write as a gay man.

I say this because I often write as young gay men.

Shane Allison once told me he forgot I was a woman once he began to read my stories because my characters were convincing enough he heard them, not me. Awesome compliment. In graduate school, one of my peers said, "If I didn't know you Alana, I'd think you were a gay Mexican boy." Another great compliment, really the best. Susie Bright said much the same thing to me once.

Anyway, I'm not bragging. What I mean to do is make a point. As writers, if we take our work seriously, and I do mean serious as death, then we have this super hero type power for empathy and expression. We can take a situation and turn it into a story that presents a universal truth. That is, if we can get past all the prejudice . . .



What is the most successful piece or work you feel you've written, and why?



Far as I know, my work doesn't receive a lot rave reviews or shout outs so I can't say, "Such-and-such story has been popular." Therefore, I'll respond on a personal level, and maybe that's the way you meant it anyway.

My most successful stories are the ones in which I've spent months realizing then expressing character desire without becoming obvious, clichéd, or too vague.

My best work is always the work I've slaved over, cried over, hated. At some point, every story feels like a fucking rock in my shoe, if it's going to turn into something worthwhile, I mean. Stories are fun as drafts but then they just became painful, even tedious, until finally, I don't know . . . I arrive on the other side, so to speak.

More specifically: I wrote this story "Waif" (I is For Indecent) which I've always thought was good in that it’s simple, quiet, solid, and also written in third person, which is a departure for me. I've always felt proud of "Genuflection" (Best American Erotica 2005) for being the first story I sent through the MFA workshop, and also, I'm in love with the narrator, Manny, my number one Great I Narrator. "Benediction" (Best Gay Erotica 2007) makes me cry every time I read it. "Attempt to Rise" (Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Volume 7) was an awesome editorial experience, as in never before has one of my stories benefited more from an editor’s input. (Shanna Germain was the editor, by the way.) I've got this story called "Ivo" (Oysters & Chocolate) that I'm in love with: another Great I Narrator, and simply put, I got inside the guy's head, not to mention I stole the name “Ivo” from a friend in graduate school.

One more mention, my story "Mars with Mars and Venus," (Oysters & Chocolate) as an ode to another writer, Dennis Cooper, is successful without being a hokey imitation. To me, it’s a love letter. Anyway, the story was hard to write. Mechanically for starters.



Please name a recent thought, event, person or whatever that inspired you:



"Genuflection" was inspired by a story called "Indio" by Al Lujan and also the trailer park where my son and I used to live, and a real live place, Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado. "Benediction" was inspired by Brent Runyon's book, The Burn Journals and a real boy I once knew who lit himself on fire, not to mention Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance in Mysterious Skin. (Honestly, half the boys I invent look like Joseph Gordon Levitt.) Although the boy in "Attempt to Rise" looks like Elijah Wood, The story was originally titled "Elijah Would," until Shanna Germain said, "About the title . . ."

Oh, you said recent. Dennis Cooper will always influence my work, as will Marguerite Duras' book, The Lover. I recently saw a movie, The Living End, which has impacted my novel-in-progress, as has the show Supernatural. Any two boys kissing will inspire me. I saw this movie Summer Storm the other night and became aroused by a scene on a boat dock. I mean, it was sweet, and it was sexy. You should see it.

Anyway, like every other writer, I'm a sponge; I'm forever taking notes, making observations, cataloging things. I’m nothing if not my power of observation. I'm super sensitive to innuendo as well. It's the subtle shit in life other people accuse me of over reacting to that make all the difference in a story.





***



Thank you so much, Alana. Read more of Alana's thoughts and work at her blog.



I'm still delighted to receive contributions to the 'Writing That Touches' interviews, although this is now more erratic feature than regular series. Get in touch if you'd like to participate! Nikki at magennis dot googlemail dot com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't forget the child



Sometimes research takes me to some very odd corners ...

(If you're inclined to watch other videos on that playlist, I also recommend 'Garda beaten with bread'. )

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ta-daa...

Talk about reviews, and one pops up ...

" Skillfully written with street-smart dialogue and amazingly hot sex ... the reader will find herself coping with the emotional struggle of what’s really important in life.
"

Yay!

Allegra Alston at Romance Reviews Today Erotic reviewing THE NEW RAKES. Read the whole review here.

I especially like that the reviewer thinks that Tam is 'ultra sexy'. I'd tell him, but it'd only go to his head.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On reviews

Recently, I was looking for books on cut-paper art. In particular, I was looking at this one:



Artful Paper Dolls

Here's one of the one-star reviews:

"This was not at all what I expected and in some cases a little creepy. The idea of creating paper doll images by using different items such as photos,magazine cutouts,newspaper clips,feathers, etc. seemed like fun - but then he gets into jointed paper dolls that look more like marionettes with limbs way out of proportion, using exotic bird heads on top of female bodies, sad and angry childrens photo faces on magazine bodies and finally let's not forget the skeletons 'dressed up' in clothes and the 'ever so mirthful' shrine dolls. Some of the book is good and I'm sure the artists showcased are well respected in their fields.. but I'm involved with this type of collage art to create 'happy' or 'contemplative'designs - not stuff that makes me wince when I see it."

Fantastic, I thought. Just what I'm looking for. Because the last thing I'm interested in is 'happy' art.

So there we have an example of a one star review selling a book. You can never tell when a terrible review will actually end up working in your favour ...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pleasure Bound



Contributor copies of Pleasure Bound arrived today!

(Out in a couple of weeks in the UK)











This is a volume of true bondage stories. My short flash (Handfast) is snuggled in here cosily along with stories from many friends and fellow smutters.

I feel a little shy about reading their stories. I mean, won't it be intrusive? It might feel a bit weird finding out what my esteemed colleagues really get up to behind closed doors.

Oh, okay then *runs off to rifle through the book and check out exactly how filthy her friends are.* My word! Look at that table of contents! What a saucy lot! (Apart from Kristina Lloyd, who has written a nice story about flowers, I think.)



'Handfast' is dedicated to boyf, whom I don't often write about because I love him so much I really couldn't fit it all in a story. And look, I get too soppy. But most days I am just dumbstruck by him, by his careless grace and his crap jokes and his beautiful smile and his endlessly kind heart. A lifetime isn't long enough, really.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On writing politically

Fabulous article here.

Every so often I wonder: what is the point in writing about two people fucking when there are wars in the world.

Then I remember that painting a picture of a computer will not make my artwork more relevant to the modern world. (And that depending on who you ask the modern world does not exist.) Being more honest might make my artwork more relevant. I think of the Frank O Hara poem, Why I am Not a Painter, and wonder if there is possibly nothing more relevant than two people fucking, why they are fucking and how, and what happens afterwards.

Outside, my neighbours are hosing down the flagstones because there is too much gravel on them. Last week, a truck brought a tonne of gravel to fill in the gaps in the parking lot where the stones had worn away. He seems to spend his life moving small pieces of gravel from one place to another. I hate his shirts. He gets drunk on a Friday and makes crass jokes. He's rich as fuck, and he worked hard for his money. His wife is perfectly styled with pink lipstick.

Futility is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Cargo



An art in itself, carrying the 'priceless cargo'. I love how the courier describes his job. The softness of his voice, when he says 'diesel'. How the painting is treated so carefully. And how Kahlo's life has become a story that feeds into the work, and how that story is polished and examined, checked and rechecked.

Some people say that all portraits are self portraits. I suppose you could take that further and say that all artwork is a form of self portraiture. Maybe only by looking hard at oneself can we eventually see the world.

Still, we all get sick of staring at our own face from time to time.

If it were possible to shed your skin like a snake and use it as a canvas, would you do it?

Monday, July 06, 2009

And then, some other days

Some days



A good song for a very rainy Monday.

(from the only U2 album that worked.)

Edit: Although I wish that Bono would blow his bloody nose.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Balls.

Warm thoughts to all the Black Lace writers, Nexus writers, and Adam Nevill.

This really is crap news.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day


I did not cry because I am hormonal and emotional. I only cried because I just drove 8 miles to a nearby village in my first ever car.
The engine is so quiet I can't tell if I've stalled or not and it is the pale, pale green of peppermint cordial. There are a few scratches and a little rust on both of us. I managed the junction okay. I did not stall except once when reversing. I am in love.


Happy Independence Day, all. xxx

Friday, July 03, 2009

Being Kreativ

I have this belt buckle that says 'Art is a dirty job but somebody's got to do it'. I'm thinking today about being creative and what it means. Whether it means anything. It's the natural state of things, isn't it? Change, at base. Panta Rhei.

Anyway, the fabulous Alana just nominated this blog for a Kreativ Blogger award. I'm really astonished and touched, and also - although don't tell her - a bit embarrassed because Alana is someone whose courage far outweighs mine and whos writing just floors me.


Okay, now I nonminate seven other bloggers for the pretty pink award, and then I name seven things I like. Here, blogs I enjoy and that are often full of unexpected pleasures:

1. Shanna Germain's travel blog
2. Janine Ashbless
3. Gina Marie
4. EllaRegina
5. T Elle Harrison
6. Danielle de Santiago
7. Charlotte Stein


Seven things I like ...

When my baby kicks. Summer mornings, early. Purple and black plants. My cat's striped tail. The feeling of learning a skill, the thrill of feeling that I'm able.
Sea air. Watching my boyf when he's asleep - the point and angle of his shoulder, his freckled back, the curve of his mouth. Is that more than seven? I hope I did it right!

To all the nominees, would you like to participate by doing the same? Seven other nominees and seven things you like. xxx

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Summer storm

















I lie still and let the heat press the air from the room. Breathing is labour. Upstairs the neighbours are fighting - her voice rises to a mosquito whine. Doors slam.

I hold onto you although my hands slip. My heart has unwound and it lies across the bed, scribbled on the sheets.

Any moment you could get up and go, trailing agitation behind you. With luck you might drag a breeze into the room.

When I held out my hands the summer rain would fall into them, warm and heavy, stinging the palms, strumming my skin like knife blades.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I miss you like cigarettes

I love you a little roughed with hair in your eyes. I love you awkward, when you grip your elbow, when you turn and don't know where to look. I love that smile, that little hook. I love your bones. How they are long and the strength you have in those arms.
Your eyes. Brown like burned sugar. Grey. Green like every kind of water. Yes, you were Mexican. Or Canadian - I didn't catch your name. You ripped a hole in my tights. You were a stranger. Broke my heart.
I can feel myself forgetting you, over and over.


***
Burning Up - Boy George ft. Tracey Emin



Friday, June 26, 2009

Just sound



This video makes me want to write differently.

Working is sometimes like peeling onions. Stripping layers away. Filling a story with colour and then obliterating it all. Rubbing it smooth. Breaking it apart, turning it inside out, chewing it up. Spitting it out, seeing what's left.

Book, interrupted

All the open books in my house, photographed where they fell:







Top to bottom:

What I loved, Siri Hustvedt
Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
The Dumas Club, Arturo Pérez-Reverte
No Great Mischief, Alistair Macleod
Sea Change, Robert Goddard
Mr Toppit, Charles Elton
Wherever you go, there you are, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh, boy.




"I was just a boy when I sat down
To watch the news on TV
I saw some ordinary slaughter
I saw some routine atrocity
My father said, don't look away
You got to be strong, you got to be bold, now
He said, that in the end it is beauty
That is going to save the world, now"

- Nick Cave, Nature Boy, from 'Abattoir Blues'



Wow. I have a son.


: )

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I can DRIVE!!!

At least, I can drive when I stop crying and find a car.

Look out, world!

: )

Monday, June 22, 2009

Man mmmm Monday


I don't often participate in Man Monday, because

1. I am lazy
2. Not always aware of the day of the week and
3. Aversion to the word 'candy'. Yes, am petty. Actually there are quite a few other reasons - copyright, distinct lack of willing models, and ambivalence about merely flipping a convention being enough to thwart the imbalance. And I like hot chicks, too.

But anyway, no-one can deny that men are beautiful and sexxxxxy and that we like looking at them.

So here is a man picture.

I found it in the street this weekend, among a snowdrift of abandoned photographs. Sorry his nipples are also obscured by a torn other photo. It had rained and he was stuck to something.

I feel quite resentful even sharing this secret wonder-find anyway, can you tell? But that's how much I love you. You can look until Wednesday when I will put him away again, I think.

(I'm also not quite sure of the ethics of sharing a photo of an anonymous stranger, so I've blacked out his eyes. If that's you in the photo and you want it taken down, call me. I'm sure we can thrash something out, maybe over a glass of wine somewhere nice.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gordon, be bold

C'mon.

Gordon Brown, texture like sun.

Do the right thing

- and you might just be able to reignite this country's faith in politics.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The internet is cool and terrible #2




God, I loved this band. They only released two singles, which I couldn't get hold of as a fourteen year old misfit living out in the sticks. I wrote (wrote! remember writing letters?!) to the record company and they sent me an EP, very sweetly (EPs! Remember EPs?!).
I had no idea a video even existed. But here it is, and beautiful.

Happy weekend, all.




Edit: Oh, oops, I forgot the terrible part. Here it is:




Madelynne Ellis got her copy of the German translation of Sex in Public yesterday.

I didn't. I have a sneaking suspicion it has been sent to my old address, and a sinking feeling that the current occupant will open a parcel that to all appearances consists of cheap and nasty Europorn.

*Sigh*

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Petra two-mice


Continuuing the parade of Dead Things, here is last night's haul. Petra left them for me as an early-morning present. Isn't she clever? (I'm very proud when they're presented as a fait accompli. When I have to rescue a half-killed, soggy and shivering little creature from the kitty-jaws of death, not so much.)

Anyway, I'm going to make her a heraldic crest today, with these as the Mice Rampant. Anyone know the Latin for 'Two Mice'? Or maybe 'Fickle and Murderous'?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Don't ask what the bees can do for you ...





I'm working on images of Artemis, sometimes known as the bee goddess, at the moment.

I picture her surrounded by a swarm.

And I think how we've stripped and denuded the land of bee-food and covered it with fucking patios and sprayed the remainder of our ever-more homogenised flora with poison, and filled the air with foul fumes for no good reason and I wonder if we even deserve to share the planet with such incredible creatures.

Then again, I'm also looking at images of Kali and her skull-crushing, and maybe those old gods are a lot less serene than we give them credit for. I wonder if the bees understand the buzz of life and death any better than we do.

I wonder if Artemis smokes unfiltered cigarettes. I wonder if she'd spit on the ground and chew gum. I wonder if she'd swear, over her fifty swinging breasts, at anyone that tried to stop her from satisfying her endless appetites.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shred




One novel = one bin bag full of research, early drafts and scribbled notes.

I ♥ my shredder. Somehow, it makes destructive activity feel ... really worthwhile.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Poppy



Today it's overcast with a tense sky. The poppies came out like red flags in the grass. For some reason, the dark atmosphere and the wet flowers made me think of this film by Pipilotti Rist (perhaps not safe for work and perhaps disturbing, depending).

I'm painting my room white right now and making space for new ideas.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A is for Ace



Sing it:

She is

A - Amazing
L - eLectric
I - Indescribable
S - supersiren
She is O - oh - oh - oh - whoops, wait a minute the tempos gone wrong - keep it up and catch it on the next beat where she is -
N - eNtirely Cool

Alison!

We're throwing you this blogparty as a small way of saying thank you, for all the inspiration and the karma and the fabulous, phenomenal filth you've helped inspire.

AT, you're a star. Thanks for everything.

Happy Birthday my dear Queen of June, have a fabulous day and a wonderful month soaked in champagne and full of dirty surprises ...



with love

Nikki xxx




(Yes it's on my arm. Of course it's on my arm. Where else would I have AT's name tattoed?)

- Thanks to boyf for his ink skillz

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scarlet


There should be an excerpt from The New Rakes in this month's copy of Scarlet. I'm still waiting for the pixies to deliver a copy, as they don't stock That Sort of Thing in the local PO.

Meanwhile, I am buried under mountains of faded notes, scraps, torn paper, typed paper, scribbled, illegible, tear-stained, felt-pen, lipstick-written, piles of notebooks that make me feel like I'm going insane. (I'm clearing out my workspace)

Do all writers have this terrible cellar full of forgotten writings? There must be a million scribbled ideas here. Some of them I still like. But their manifold, cumulative existence makes me shiver and squirm and feel guilty and unhinged. Too many words, too many ideas, too many false starts. Suitcases full of notepads. Records of old debts, lovers, heartbreaks. Letters and poems and sketches and diagrams. A box full of notes and research for each of my novels, half a dozen rough and wrong drafts for each. A handful of other, unwritten, books.

I smell the bonfires of the future ...

Monday, June 08, 2009

Collaboration

I know it's been quiet here lately. Changes are afoot.

For the past few months I've been working on something a little different. It's my first ever collaboration, and the co-artiste is my lovely boyf.

Out in November, (subject to the final say of the Great Publishers, of course). As yet untitled.

And we don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl. So I think that means I can choose two tracks to celebrate, right?

: )



Sunday, June 07, 2009

Back


I've been off drifting around Scotland. See when the sun shines, there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather live.

But I get back and I have an unwelcome blog visitor. So, as it seems I have to spell it out, let me be quite clear: This is addressed to the person who posts as 'Lively Lad' among various other monikers.

Your comments are unwanted. Any further posts on this blog, emails or other attempts to communicate are unwanted. Any further communications shall be passed on for someone else to deal with.

To all other readers, my apologies for dragging out what seems like dirty washing. I've kept polite about this for far too long. This year, I am learning to say what I want to say, when it needs to be said, even if that means being rude.

Meanwhile, the cat's been out all night and limped back to the house ragged. I'm off to see if she needs tending. Back soon!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tree pron #3

It's been too long since I dirtied your screens with uncensored footage from the wilds, hasn't it?

Here goes. This week I have mostly ... spreading shots. Erotica Cover Watch Agents, please note that I *am* keeping an eye out for phallic forestry, but lately I have stumbled mostly on:




Which really reminds me of:



The Origin of the World, Gustave Courbet

And also - avert your eyes, those of a delicate nature. This is full frontal, technicolour, close-up gonzo tree pron:



Oh my!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Drawing

Drawing

Isn't it a beautiful word? To me it suggests: pulling, untangling, using guile as well as force. It's often described as 'mapping', by which I suppose is meant a process of exploration.

Here are some of Tracey Emin's drawings, from a book that I think I'm going to have to save up for.

"... even though it is an erotic subject, I even felt distant from the sexuality of the pictures. It was almost like I was trying to get to the bottom of something, understand something."

- Quote from Tracey Emin

I like it when women can explore sexuality without creeps presuming it means their sexuality, or they're advertising a free cunt to be fucked. Perhaps sometimes that's why women's work that deals with sex can be quite violent, quite aggressive. It's a pre-emptive strike, because there will always be creeps that presume.

If this looks like a thinly veiled attack, I suppose it is.

Fuck it, lets take the veils off, shall we? I'm tired of being polite.

Recently, someone resurfaced on this blog whose comments in the past have made me uncomfortable. In the past, I moderated comments and dealt with the problem by ignoring it. This time, I shall not hold back.

This space, however small and irrelevant, is mine. I will not tolerate any comments that sit uneasily with me. I define what is acceptable, here. If you post comments that cross the line, I shall pass on your details and have someone else deal with the problem.

That is the final word on the matter.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pussy power



Wow, look what I found! A pussy whistle!

Cute. I just can't decide between that and a crochet vulva.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

There's sanguine


... and sanfuckingguine. *Two* rejections in one day! Fuck me.

I must have done something to piss off the universe.

Anyway, speaking of bloody words and words rooted in blood, 'sanguine' has just reminded me: here's the gorgeous cover for The Sweetest Kiss, which I forgot to crow about.

This'll be my first paranormal published thing, I think. It was wonderful fun to write. All dark and twisty.

And here is the ravishing TOC:

Midnight at Sheremetyevo by Remittance Girl
Wait Until Dark, Montresor by Thomas S. Roche
The Temptation of Mlle. Marielle Doucette by Anna Black
Kiss and Make Up by Lisette Ashton
The Student by Sommer Marsden
Red By Any Other Name by Kathleen Bradean
Enlightenment by Amber Hipple
Blood and Bootleg by Teresa Noelle Roberts
Fair Play by G. B. Kensington
Advantage by Ciara Finn
The Communion of Blood and Semen by Maxim Jakubowski
Nightlife by Madeleine Oh
Takeout or Delivery? by Evan Mora
Devouring Heart by Andrea Dale
Wicked Kisses by Michelle Belanger
Fourth World by Lisabet Sarai
Turn by Nikki Magennis
Cutter by Kristina Wright
Once An Addict... by A.D.R. Forte

... And edited by the lovely D.L. King

Now, excuse me, I'm going to sit and sniff my emergency cigarette for an hour or so.

A sting in the tail

Your number one useful skill to learn, should you wish to make work:

Bouncing.

Mostly, I mean bouncing back. If you want to make work the only thing guaranteed is failure and rejection. I am pleased to say that although rejection will almost always hurt a little, you can learn to handle it better. Maybe almost enjoy it.



I've just freshly been rejected, for the I don't whatth time. Half an hour later, I'm feeling remarkably sanguine. Maybe I've just got so good at failing that I've learned to speed up the process, which generally goes like this:



1. Howling emptiness - 'my work is utter trash, I've never done anything of consequence/value and never will' (make sure to include everything you've ever done, no matter how irrelevant. Hey, why not analyse your interpersonal skills too, while you're here!)

2. Anger and resentment - 'the bastards don't appreciate my skills' (try to ignore that you held the bastards in high esteem up until half an hour ago)

3. More howling emptiness, a vague inclination to self harm, a desire for cigarettes [oh fuck that one I haven't got over. In fact I have my emergency cigarette right here and it's winking at me.] whisky and thumb-sucking.

4. This is a new twist I've just started to learn. Even though you're still hurting and even though you're feeling sulky and lassitudish and useless, it IS possible to get back in the saddle immediately. Use the stingy hurty bits as emotional fuel, use the anger as tinder, use the lassitude as attitude. (And yes, make terrible doggerel if it helps.You may, even, listen to Chumbawamba although not more than once):



5. Send the work elsewhere and meanwhile make more work. More. Keep going. Don't stop. Work harder. Work harder.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Experiment

Okay, thanks to Alana for this new (to me) idea! (And thanks Shanna for pointing it out). And apologies to the gods of poetry. I wrote this in 15 minutes, and it's been a very long time.



Still life


Try to imagine how it could be -
To know just when you look at the corner
That it’s not a corner but only an arrangement
Of space, one with a cat in it, sweet-eyed and
Angle-tailed, and reaching or sniffing towards
The blossoms, the starshaped white seeds that expand
Across fields, across wet skies and cold winds
Trying to rise but also to stick, wanting at the same time
To swim forever, and be held tight, wanting anchors with wings
Kittens with gills, corners with extra space, the way that arms
Encircle you so far and tight in safety, the solace of slight love
And further in anger, motherlove and murder. How it could all be
contained in a morning.