Kinky books: Erotic fiction is having a steamy renaissance and its hottest authors are women

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My first thought when I embarked on this project was: do women write porn?

The answer is, of course, yes. And more of them than ever, I discovered – as the erotic fiction industry has, in the past couple of decades, moved from being driven by men writing under female pseudonyms to a dominance by women authors. I was intrigued: who are these women? The women who make a living from writing 'zombie porn', male-on-male graphic sex scenes and vampire-werewolf love triangles?

I found my answers. Mostly they describe themselves as shy, introverted woman with a love of reading and writing. They could be your mother, sister or girlfriend, the woman sitting next to you at church on a Sunday...

'I write in secret, using words I'd never, ever say'

KAY JAYBEE

39, part-time admin assistant, lives on the South Coast

I didn't set out to be an erotica writer. It happened by accident six years ago. My youngest child had just started school, and suddenly I had a little time on my hands. I was daydreaming out of the window of a coffee shop one day when an incredibly naughty story popped into my head. The urge to write it down took over, and I scribbled my story on to a paper napkin. By my third cup of coffee, I had also written a very smutty poem.

It took me a while to be brave enough to send my efforts to possible publishers and if those early napkin-scribbled works hadn't been taken, I probably would never have had the confidence to write anything kinky again. Since then, I've had over 70 individual stories published, including my recent e-novel The Perfect Submissive, and several solo anthologies, such as The Collector, Yes Ma'am, and Quick Kink One and Two.

My speciality is BDSM [bondage and sadomasochism]; it's not my thing at all but I think that the more you bring into a story, the more interesting it is. Not hardcore sex toys, but everyday objects that people can relate to – ropes or hairbrushes.

Though I was thrilled to have found something I enjoyed doing, I wasn't sure how people would react. I was wary of being assumed to be a slut. Sadly, many people can't separate the art from the subject-matter – but if I wrote murder mysteries, no one would assume I went round shooting people.

So I largely write in secret and take a salacious pleasure from sitting in my favourite coffee shop, notebook in hand, writing down words I'd never ever say, about things I'd never do. Everyone just assumes I'm either studying, or planning a shopping list.

From 'The Studio Girl', published in the anthology 'The Collector' (Austin & Macauley)

Slipping a hand into mine, he whispered in a throaty voice, "Can I tie you up? I am sure you would look fantastic. Will you trust me?"

I nodded; right now I would take any attention he was willing to give. I waited, the tension growing within me, as he fetched some artists' cord and some rags from the chaos of his desk...

'It's a myth that erotica authors must have done everything we write about'

REBECCA BOND

28, executive assistant from London

The first story I had published was for an anthology called Uniform Behaviour. At the time I was working in policing, and I'm sure some of my former colleagues, who now know about my writing, must have wondered what had been going through my mind while I was at work.

Yes, they probably did think I'd been fantasising about them but it's a common myth that, as writers of this genre, we must have done everything we write about ourselves. But it is absolutely not the case; that's the power of imagination.

I'm a very emotion-fuelled writer; I studied forensic psychology, which I think is an influence. The psyches of my characters are key and how I can use those to induce the feelings they're supposed to in the reader.

For example, that first story was about a female NYPD cop and the criminal she was chasing; when she eventually captures him they end up doing the deed down an alleyway and there's a switch in the power. She has to battle in her mind between what she wants and what she knows is right.

There is a 'Mr Bond', yes. My fiancé is very supportive and it hasn't had any impact on our relationship apart from the same sort that any hobby can have on your time together. Sometimes I do smile at the irony of having been up till the early hours finishing a story – and then getting into bed next to him, too tired to do anything...

I'm not precious about telling people about what I do – though it was by accident that I told my mum. She is a talented writer herself and, last summer, was encouraging me to start a book.

"I've already been published!" I blurted out. When I explained what, she said, "So, Mills & Boon with grit?". I thought, "Yeah, go with that mum". I have no idea how much she's read but I know she reads my blog. We're very close, more like best friends so it wasn't too awkward, but I did say, "Please don't tell dad".

From 'Sin City', published in the e-book anthology 'Uniform Behaviour'

"You like that Officer?" he chuckled. "Mmmmmm, yes sir..." I began before my words were swallowed by a kiss. Sir? When did I become so subservient? His lips appeared brutal and punishing but were sweet and spongy against my own. I felt consumed, overpowered and perhaps most significantly, I felt controlled, my body waiting and eager.

'A conversation, a waft of aftershave can inspire me'

LEXIE BAY

40, insurance accounts manager, Eastbourne

I started writing in my teens; pretty tame stuff, more romance than smut. Every encounter ended the same way, boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl jumps into bed with boy. My female characters were all beautiful, curvaceous and wildly sexy, everything I wanted to be, and the guys were based on celebrities I was in love with. I suppose as a shy teenager I was living out my fantasies through my stories.

It was a late-night conversation with my husband that led me to look into the world of erotica properly. I'd written a couple of children's stories for my eldest daughter and been thinking about sending them to a publisher. We got on to the subject of my early work and my husband suggested I send that out instead.

Originally I wanted to keep my erotic writing a secret but when my first two stories got accepted for publication in an erotic anthology, Uniform Behaviour, I couldn't keep it to myself. I was so excited I told everyone.

My inspiration comes from everyday situations – a conversation, a waft of aftershave, a look. Almost any situation can set my mind into overdrive; I love catching someone at their most vulnerable, when they have no idea you're watching them, and often study the way couples interact. I still love the romantic ideal I had in my early stories, of men who would risk everything for the woman they love, but I also like to explore the other side of sex; the easy, detached hedonism.

Of course, I don't always come straight out with my alter-ego when I first meet people. I try and gauge what people's reactions will be first and I always protect my kids from anything negative that might come out of it. But I believe that sex is a positive expression of how you feel about another human being and it's something to be celebrated. If you feel sexy, you feel on top of the world.

Extract from 'One Night, Forever'

Guy, my new manager, should be off limits, but I've been fantasising about him from the first day I met him... I watched the way his forearms strained against his shirt sleeves as he leaned across the desk and imagined what they would feel like wrapped around me...'

'I'm also a Christian – recently I had to tell the vicar about my erotic stories'

VICTORIA BLISSE

33, full-time mother, from Manchester

I never contemplated becoming an author as an actual career, but always had it at the top of my 'fantasy jobs' list – just above physio for Manchester United and paid chocolate taster.

When people ask how I started I blame my husband Kev; I had an erotic dream that would not leave me alone; so he told me to write it down, and then to post it online, at literotica.com. My fellow smut poster, Alessia Brio, also helped; she published my first story in her erotic anthology series, Coming Together. I have a lot of short stories and novellas to my name now, mainly published by Total-E-Bound, Xcite and House of Erotica.

My rather Rubenesque figure really influences what I write. I got sick of reading about slim, long-legged heroines, so I write about women like myself and am glad my readers respond positively. I've even written one starring a cuddly male character. Every person has their own brand of sexiness. Even my werewolves and vampires have human traits. The plots may be fantastic but I revel in writing characters readers will fall in love with.

I'm also a Christian – there are a surprisingly large number of us in erotica writing. I believe sex is a God-given gift. I had, however, kept them separate for a long while, afraid of what people at church might think. Recently, though, I had to 'come out' to my vicar. I'd accidentally sent him an e-mail, leaving my author sign-off ("rosy, raunchy romance") and website. As he explained that he'd looked at my work, my mind raced: had he read one of my threesome stories, one about spanking or vampires? When I argued that I saw no conflict between my writing and spiritual life, I was impressed with his measured response. After all, my stories are fantasy; I'm not doing anything sinful.

My vampires may be a bit evil but they don't kill humans for blood, they give them orgasms. I'll trust my own moral compass until I get a message from the big guy upstairs.

From 'Stopping Point', published by Total-E-Bound

Her ample breasts swung free in the crisp night air. He grabbed them and kneaded them roughly. They seemed to glow in the last pink of daylight with an ethereal paleness ... It was like no orgasm he'd experienced before... He felt as if a river of ice was sparkling in his veins and he felt invincible, then he realised that, in a, way he was. He was a vampire now.

'I can live out all kinds of fantasies with the characters I create'

ELIZABETH COLDWELL

47, editor/author, from London

I've been writing and editing erotic fiction for nearly 25 years, and a lot's changed in that time. When I started, most of the books were either written by men under female pseudonyms or credited to Anonymous – and given the quality of some of those books, you wouldn't have wanted to own up to writing them.

What really changed things was the arrival of For Women magazine and the Black Lace imprint in the early Nineties, both of which proved women had an appetite for consuming and producing erotic material. Along with Forum, the now-defunct UK version of Penthouse Forum magazine, infamous for having once had Alastair Campbell as one of its contributors, they launched the careers of a lot of well-known writers in the genre.

As time's gone on, I've found myself writing more and more in the male/male genre, which I really enjoy. That's one of the themes which has exploded in popularity in recent years, along with ménage fiction (either two straight men in a relationship with a woman or two gay men in a relationship with each other and a woman). Paranormal fiction is also huge, even though people keep predicting there's a limit to the number of vampire/werewolf love triangles readers will be interested in, and the most unusual story I've written is in that genre. It was for an anthology of zombie romance fiction, and it involved a woman trying to choose between her current lover and her old flame, who'd just returned from the dead. Making a storyline like that not come across as icky is a challenge.

There are more opportunities for writers of erotica than ever, due to the vast number of e-publishers who've sprung up in the past couple of years; it enables me to live out all kinds of fantasies with the characters I create – I can be a rock star one week, a celebrity chef the next and a grubby, shirtless werewolf the next. And how many people can say that?

From 'Everyone I Love is Dead', from the anthology 'Hungry For Your Love' published by St Martin's Press

I dropped a gentle kiss on his forehead. "The strangest thing happened today," I said. "Mark came in for a coffee."

Brody looked at me, startled. "Mark? You mean he's...?"

"Back, yes. I know, I can hardly get my head round it... and I have to tell you the weirdest part." I took a deep breath. "As soon as I saw him, I knew I was still attracted to him."

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