Writing Voodoo Fetish

Voodoo Fetish cover picture You may have noticed the second novella in my Voodoo Trilogy was published last week. Since it draws, at least a little, on voodoo (or vodou, or voudun) practices I thought it would be worthwhile giving you some background.

Not being a practitioner myself, I drew on a bunch of sources – books and interweb stuff I’ll mention later.

The first thing they told me was that voodoo is a religion that probably started sometime in the mid-1600s but became more developed in Caribbean slave populations in the 1700s, based partly on Christian (mainly Catholic) beliefs and partly on older West African religions, generically labelled as vodun or voudun.

The second thing they pointed out was that there are several more or less distinct branches of voodoo, with both Haitian and Louisiana (or New Orleans) versions, plus santeria (in Cuba, and based largely on Yoruba rather than Fon and Ewe religious beliefs) and candomblé (Afro-Brazilian).

And the third thing was that the voodoo diaspora has spread worldwide as its adherents have migrated out of the Caribbean. So there are populations of believers in the US (particularly New York), Montreal, London and probably almost any other ‘world city’ you can name. Plus there are believers in West Africa where the original Fon, Ewe, Yoruba and other religions also still exist.

As it’s spread, of course, it’s become more varied. It started as a syncretic religion, putting together elements of other traditions. And it remains such, since it’s been taken up by a number of people who don’t (as far as I know) have roots or heritage in Haiti or New Orleans. So it’s still evolving, and that’s a feature I confess I’ve used to excuse a certain latitude in the way I’ve dealt with voodoo in the novella.

If you want to know more than Wikipedia will tell you, you should find (or at least I did) some books in your local library. Probably around shelfmark 299.67, which is where they are in my local library (you’ll find that shelfmark referenced in the novella).

I’d also recommend, from among a range of things I’ve read, Voodoo: Truth and Fantasy by Laennec Hurbon. You’ll probably only find it sporadically in Amazon’s ‘used’ lists, but the author’s written other similar books that I imagine are equally good. You’ll find this book name-checked in the novella too.

I can’t even begin to list the websites I looked at. A Tumblr blog, effyeahvodou.tumblr.com is a mine of information. Haunted America Tours is a page primarily for tourists to New Orleans and thus based on Louisiana voodoo, but contains a wealth of information and links. And in the UK, there’s a musician who’s also a voodoo practitioner whose blog is at www.doktorsnake.com. If you’re interested in visuals, the majority of stuff you’ll find on the internet is not of any serious interest. Some of it is Christian preaching against voodoo; some is deliberately sensationalist, and some is perhaps intended more for the low-end horror film market. However there’s one interesting documentary on Youtube that’s more anthropological in nature – Maya Deren’s 1945 ‘Divine Horsemen’ film of actual voodoo rituals, with a very open-minded take (it’s probably duplicated elsewhere on Youtube as well).

And so to the novella. Following on from part 1, ‘Ridden’ (also on Amazon.co.uk), our heroine Eloise finds herself back in London teaching English as a second language. Despite her change of location and culture, the lwa have a job for her. They don’t know the ultimate significance of it (which will have to wait for the third part of the trilogy) but they know it’s important. She’s nudged – in fact, thrown bodily – in the direction of doing their bidding. Eloise has certain supernatural powers that aren’t particularly flashy and spectacular in themselves, but only come into play in the course of sex that involves bondage and more. Hence she has to create the situations in which sex with very strong bdsm and fetish elements can take place. Which she does.

I’ve borrowed syncretically (i.e. mashed together) a number of real-life locations for the action, including a cemetery I know, and a magic shop (as in, it sold products for magical workings) that no longer exists but used to be close to where I lived in the days when I lived in London.

I might add that some of the scenes in the book are written from (ahem) personal experience, bearing in mind my connections with pagans who have been involved in sex magic. Not that I, or even they, have demon-battling experience or anything. But as a writer of imaginative erotica I’m entitled to stretch a point…

Find my novella Voodoo Fetish at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

BDSM Fiction and Authenticity

As you’re all aware by now, we write a lot of BDSM fiction. We’ve noticed a lot of concern about the non-consensual writing that’s around being a ‘poor representation of the BDSM world.’ (this came from an Amazon review of another author).

Fiction is fiction, and I doubt this same complaint would be levelled at a murder mystery or a sci-fi novel in which characters are treated badly and not as we would like in an ideal world. What is important, I believe, is that if a story is non-consensual, it is honestly marketed as such. The reason for this is so that newcomers to the scene, many of which learn through reading, (and that’s often fiction), can see the clear boundaries which should not be crossed in reality. After all, you wouldn’t really expect a zombie to stomp round your living room or a vampire bite you, would you?

I have no problem with writers or readers who produce or have fantasies of non-consensual play or sex. What is of more concern is passing those fantasies off as acceptable sex or BDSM practice.

We try in our stories to make these things clear. My fiction is always consensual, primarily because non-consensual is too far off my radar and I wouldn’t be able to write it convincingly as a result. Fulani stretches the boundaries a little more, but always makes this clear for the reader so they can make an informed choice.

What we are proud of is the inclusion in our fiction of safety awareness. I like to include some details of things to be aware of, such as characters having some way of communicating their hard limit if gagged. A safeword of course cannot be used when gagged, so characters are given a ball or something similar, which they can drop to alert their dom to stop the play. I feel it is important that anyone thinking of tying someone up, making them helpless and creating pain for them should be very aware of their responsibility to that person.

This has all come from personal experience. I know how it can feel when someone does something to you that you did not want to happen. I know how it feels for someone to try and push you to use your safeword, thinking this was the way to play. It is not. Safewords are intended to STOP play for whatever reason. For either the sub or the dom, a safeword is just that. A word to use to keep you safe. And that means safe physically, mentally or emotionally. It is used in extreme situations and not as a goal for the dom to reach. A responsible dom would set up a scenario in which he/she could PLAY at pushing a sub beyond their safe limits, but not as an aim in reality.

There are types of BDSM play a few people wish to indulge in that are not safe, such as choking, or breath play, which can result in death long after a session due to heart attack or stroke caused by the interruption to normal heart rhythms. There is no doubt that breathplay ranks among the more dangerous practices in BDSM, and infosar as you may find a little of it in a few of Fulani’s stories, you’ll also find commentaries in the text that make those dangers crystal clear.

So, reader beware. Ensure you realise that what you read in fiction is not always acceptable BDSM practice. Nor is it always a fair representation of the BDSM world any more than crime novels always accurately depict how detectives work.

Tips For Writing Erotica

There is a great deal of erotica out there these days, and Fifty Shades has broken down some of the mental barriers people had about reading erotica and fetish. Whether you are writing romantic , mystery, fetish or paranormal erotica, the same basic principles apply.

How many stories tread the well worn paths of hackneyed plots? You know the ones. The plumber who seduces the middle-aged housewife, the delivery guy who delivers more than a parcel, the secretary and her manager on the office desk. Boring! Sorry, but I lose interest very quickly if the plot is too obvious. So try and think outside of the box, or even throw the box away.

For example. I was working to a call for submissions on the theme of ‘Sex At Work’. So, rather than the office or the plumber, I decided my place of work would be a zoo and the characters two of the keepers. Surprised? That doesn’t sound like the setting for erotica, does it? But my story ‘Tropical Paradise’ had my couple  getting together for clandestine meetings in the steamy, romantic setting of the tropical house in the zoo after hours. Birds copulated above my couple, amongst palm like trees and gorgeous tropical flowers. It was duly accepted for the collection Xcite published, was used as the lead story and inspired the cover for their five story collection and titled Tropical Paradise. It has had great reviews.

(If you want to find alternative sources for Sex at Work and Tropical Paradise, check out the ‘Our Publications‘ page on this blog.)

So try and find your own, unique take on a theme. Readers will thank you for it.

Another common mistake writers make it to tell you what is happening. Show, don’t tell the reader. Your goal is to fuel their imaginations, especially in the field of erotica. They want to go on a journey, escape real life and do stuff in their heads they can’t do or get in reality. If you tell them what is happening, there is no room for them to imagine. For example:

‘She was very excited.’

OK, you’ve told them she’s excited. But can they feel it? How about this instead?

‘She gasped. Her heart pulsed wildly, her eyes widened and her skin tingled as she lay there.’

Are you with her now? Can you empathise with her? If you can, you’re in the story, living it with her. Which is as it should be.

OK, you have a setting that’s fresh and exciting, maybe even surprising.  You show the reader what’s going on. But who are these people inhabiting your story? They must have personality. Although you may not actually describe them in detail, you must know who they are to write their narrative successfully. Have an idea how old they are, how much experience they’ve had, where they are from and are they characters the reader can have some empathy with?

It is not enough that they have supermodel looks. By the way, most of your readers are probably not gorgeous (and know it), don’t have perfect bodies and probably are riddled with insecurities, as most of us are. When they read, they want to be in that wonderful fantasy world where everything is fantastic. They will fill in the looks of their characters to suit themselves with little encouragement. So keep descriptions of looks brief, and give a hint of personality through their narrative.

Keep the pages turning. What does that for you? Usually for me, it boils down to action and suspense. What will happen next? If the plot is hot, I will want to know, so I’ll keep reading. Also, if I don’t care about the characters, I won’t care what happens to them, and I’ll put the book down. You obviously don’t want this to happen. So give your readers characters they can identify with or love or hate. They key thing is that the reader cares about them.

Example: Amanda is thirty-four. She’s not new to sex, and she’s not new to her particular fetish. Which is being tied up, blindfolded, teased and given forced orgasms. She’s a woman with a sense of humour, a job in retail and a partner who loves to see her struggle when they play their games. He’s a sweetie. Really very gentle, but when they play he takes on a role and sounds quite menacing. But you don’t have to tell the reader all that. Let the story and their characters unfold. If you know your characters, like you know your friends, they will come to life. Having an ‘edge’ to one of your characters (like Amanda’s partner in play mode) helps to add that sense of suspense. If you’re not sure what he/she will do next you’ll have to keep reading to find out, won’t you?

Now, how did you start your story? Are there pages of preamble, long descriptions of place and time, preparation and other not-too-relevant details? Why not dive straight in, making the reader want to know more. Your character might already be tied to the bed, sweating and shaking and waiting. What for? What will happen to her? These are the page turning questions your reader will want to know the answers to. If you can grab them in that first sentence or paragraph, all you have to do then is deliver the answers in an exciting way.

Now you’ve sorted out your setting, who your characters are and what they are experiencing, you write your story. It starts in an attention grabbing way, and when you’re finished you’re pleased it’s turned out well. Next you’ll need to edit it. Is there stuff in there that is telling rather than showing? Fix it. Is there a boring paragraph or page that doesn’t add anything to the story? Does it slow the reader down or bore them? Remove it. Can you improve any of the narrative? Do it. Then put it away for a week and don’t read it.

Then comes the last stage in the process. Re-read very carefully. Check again for all the points above. If you’re happy with the content, you’ll want to check spelling. Don’t just rely on spell check. It won’t tell you if you have used the wrong spelling or word for the context. So if you meant frigid and wrote fridge, or wrote bean and meant been, it will be missed by spell check. Then check for punctuation. Are speech marks in the right place? Are commas used correctly? If you’re not good at this it’s worth drafting in someone with a good knowledge of English and a keen eye, because it will put off a lot of readers if you publish with lots of mistakes.

Remember, it’s better to hold back from submission or publication until you are sure you have the best story you can write. I hope I’ve been able to help a little in your achievement of that goal.

– Velvet Tripp

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If creative writing is your thing, there are plenty of more detailed ‘how-to’ guides around. You could look at Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Basics of Creative Writing, or Neil Gaiman’s eight rules, or find any of dozens of other sources from around the internet. They’re general guides about writing fiction but they apply to erotica just as they do to any other fiction. Or you could take the plunge and read M Christian’s guide, How to Write and Sell Erotica.

New Novel Corporate Slave

Corporate Slave Cover

It’s out. It’s finally here! Fulani’s latest Novel Corporate Slave will be available from Friday 2nd November. After Twelve months of Slaving away over a hot Mac, editing, proofing, then finding a delightful cover, it’s ready for you to enjoy. And I’m sure you will enjoy it. Fulani’s top quality writing (I know I’m biased, but see for yourself) will keep you turning the pages, stopping only to cool down!

You’ll be able to find it at Erotic Book Network initially, but later on Amazon and on lots of other websites such as Smashwords. 

Here’s the lowdown:

Life isn’t easy for Cassie. She’s a sales assistant in a convenience store, in a society where sex is used to sell everything and is one of the main commodities for sale.

When she buys one of the new Intelligent Dresses to wear when she’s out clubbing, it sparks a sequence of events that lead to her being accused of using the garment’s on-board computer to carry out industrial espionage. Her captors assume she’s part of the resistance movement, seeking to bring down the group of multinational corporations that rule the country. She is imprisoned, interrogated and tortured, and ultimately sold as a slave to a senior corporate exec, Mistress NightMaire. She becomes a pleasure slave to be used for the entertainment of guests and clients.

Meanwhile she discovers a friend of hers, Lorne, is also being held by Mistress NightMaire. And Lorne, it turns out, does have connections to dissident groups.

Cassie begins to plan her escape. But will she be able to find Lorne? Will she be able to join up with the dissidents? Can they change the world? And just as importantly, now she knows the capabilities of the Dress can she get her hands on another one?

Don’t miss this one! VelvetTripp

[Edited 1st Nov to add: read a short sample of the novel, which sets out some of the setting and characters, over at Fulani’s other blog – fulanismut.blogspot.com]

Museum of Deviant Desires – cheap, for one week only!

Cover image, The Museum of Deviant Desires

Cover image, The Museum of Deviant Desires

For one week, i.e. until Weds 17 October, The Museum of Deviant Desires is available at the lower price of $0.99 in the US (plus any taxes applicable where you live, like VAT or GST – so it may show at a slightly higher price e.g. $1.24) or £0.77 in the UK. Because it’s not in the Kindle Select programme that’s the lowest price Amazon allows it to be, due to their internal charges etc. So get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk before it goes back up to the regular price.

What you’ll be buying is a novella-length collection of 11 short stories ranging across men’s adventure magazines with their sleazy sexploitation and politically incorrect pictures of tortured women; sex and bondage in an abandoned building and a burned-out car wreck; sex, photography, and the internet, the technosexuality of vacuum cleaners, and what characters in bdsm stories think about the painful pleasures the author inflicts on them. The title story explores the late-night weirdness of sex, perversion, and fetish at a music festival.

And the review on Amazon.com describes it as: sexy and cerebral; breezy, thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly addictive … establishes fascinating new paradigms for the next generation of erotic fiction … a trenchant critique of contemporary erotic literature with its finger firmly on the g-spot of popular culture; a tasty treat, not to be missed.

It’s published by 1001 Nights Press, which has been busy building a reputation for publishing mostly shorter collections and stories in various niches of erotica.

Tricks for Kicks – now out

Tricks for Kicks cover (Xcite Books)

Tricks for Kicks cover (Xcite Books)

You might remember Fulani had a short story, ‘Filthy White Dress’, that appeared as part of the Making Her Pay ebook from Xcite – this was a short five-story collection. ‘Filthy White Dress’ was slightly unusual in terms of erotica because it was inspired by ‘Nu Fetish’, something we’ve previously blogged about here – and maybe a little, too, by some themes from French experimental writers such as Robbe-Grillet, who deliberately set out (in Project for a Revolution in New York, for example) to associate colours with particular cultural meanings. If you’re into experimental literature, Project for a Revolution in New York is kind of interesting because it includes a huge number of hardcore torture scenes of a nature that  most erotica publishers these days wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, or any other implement.

But we digress.

The same story is also now out as part of the longer Tricks For Kicks: Sex with Rewards 20-story Xcite collection, edited by Elizabeth Coldwell.

Stories by: Veronica Wilde, Mary Borsellino, Fulani, Victoria Blisse, Maxim Jakubowski, Catelyn Cash, Landon Dixon, Tabitha Rayne, Heidi Champa, Dominic Santi, Kay Jaybee, Kathleen Tudor, Marleen Yong, Giselle Renarde, Cecilia Duvalle, Alanna Appleton, Cynthia Lucas, Sommer Marsden, Scarlett Blue and Elizabeth Coldwell – 224 pages all told. Available as hard copy at £7.99 or as an epub format at £6.49.

In short, what you’ve got in this collection is 20 pieces by a bunch of the most talented and innovative erotica writers you can hope to find.

If you want a sneak peek at Fulani’s story, one was included in a previous post on this blog.

The naked house – short free fiction from Fulani

Continuing the moving-to-a-new-house saga. It’s quite short, just 1100 words or so, because it was done quickly in between finishing off some other stuff. The first two stories on this theme are here and here. There will be another couple of stories on this theme eventually, split between this blog and Fulani’s other blog.

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The Naked House

 

The previous owners had removed everything, of course: carpets, curtains, furniture, even the light bulbs. Of course they had: they’d stripped the place and it had been empty for months, the agent had told us, because they’d emigrated. It was ready for new paint, new carpets, new furniture, new possessions. It was ready to be adapted, remodelled, to fit our own tastes, ideas, lifestyle.

That wasn’t going to happen quite yet. With the delay in the house purchase, we’d had to let our stuff go into storage and wouldn’t see it until the removal company had a truck available in five days’ time. Until then, we had a bare house. Clothes. Kettle and mugs. Sleeping bags. Our imagination. We could plan, and we could paint the walls.

No house, though, is truly empty after it’s vacated. There were still traces of the previous owners. We didn’t look in the bathroom mirror and get glimpses of them, anything like that. But we did get glimpses of them from the patterns of wear: the patches on the walls where pictures had been hung or furniture placed, scuff marks on the bare floorboards, the way the empty space moved and flowed.

Jen and I laid out our sleeping bags in the big front bedroom. Huddled in them, with a hot tea for Jen and hot coffee for me. We’d eaten dinner at a nearby restaurant, and bought an electric kettle earlier in the day. The room was cold because the central heating guy hadn’t finished fitting the new boiler. No curtains, just reflected light from the street lamps and the occasional car. We let ourselves relax: the move had been stressful, we wouldn’t see our possessions for a few more days, and the plan was to use the emptiness to get some redecoration done.

Something kept glinting at me, catching the reflection of passing headlights. A hook in the ceiling, there, by the bay window. Looked like it would be anchored on a joist.

I pointed it out. Jen arched an eyebrow.

I shrugged. ‘Who knows? One of those Sixties globe seats that hangs from a chain? Heavy flower basket?’

Jen looked around. ‘That wouldn’t explain the eyebolts in the skirting boards, though.’

Either side of the bay window, large bolts that would be sunk well into the brickwork behind the skirtings.

‘If we find a use for them, they’ll stay. If not, I’ll take them out when we redecorate.’ But my imagination notched up a gear. I could definitely find a use for them.

The twist at the corner of Jen’s lips means she already knows what use I’m thinking of. She can read my mind.

‘We’re going to need heavy light-tight curtains in here.’

Well, yes we are. Unless of course we’re going to be exhibitionists.

She puts her mug down and her head in my lap. I stroke her hair. I have my tender moments.

After a while, she tells me to look at the wall behind me.

‘There’s a shadow on the wall. I can’t see what’s casting it.’

From this angle, there’s a clear outline of an X, from floor to ceiling. I run my fingers over it. Where the X is, I can feel the wallpaper is slightly compressed. When I tell Jen this, she looks up at me wide-eyed in the darkness. A car goes past outside and the reflection of its headlights make her eyes flash wickedly.

‘Now why,’ she says with a mock innocence, ‘would the previous owners have a big cross mounted against the wall…?’

I think the answer is the obvious one. But I take her wrists, stretch them wide across the floor. She arches her back and chuckles. But then she says: ‘It’s too cold in here. You can’t expect me to strip naked.’

She has a point. On the other hand, the eyebolts are right there in the wall and I have a couple of thin webbing luggage straps around my suitcase. So it’s not long before her wrists are tied to the eyebolts with the straps, she’s lying on the sleeping bags, and her jeans and panties are bundled up and tossed into a far corner of the room. I’m considerate enough to leave the thick woollen socks on her feet. They look cute. I could easily become a sock fetishist, I suspect. There are Goosebumps on the insides of her thighs, where the tendons are hard and outlined against her flesh. I warm them against my hot tongue. Taste all the mixed emotions of the day on the lips of her pussy; sweetness with an underlying mix of tension, hope, frustration, anticipation, relief. Use my fingers to spread the lips and circle Jen’s clit. I can feel the little spasms and jumps and twitches inside, coming from midway between clit and navel.

It’s always amused and gratified me that the moment I tie her wrists, she goes into that alternate, submissive headspace.

I fuck her, slowly and deeply, watching her face in the sodium lights from outside. I see the screwed-up eyes, the way her lips part and her jaw sets as she pushes determinedly towards orgasm. I see the tension of the day slipping away from her, replaced by an altogether different and more urgent tension. She’s beautiful like this.

I feel the increasingly impatient thrust of her hips against mine.

Nine times out of ten, sex for us involves ropes, chains, whips, floggers, gags and blindfolds. And multiple partners. As far as we’re concerned, this is as close as we’ve got to vanilla sex in quite a while.

Don’t knock vanilla sex; it’s a refreshing change.

And then I feel her back arching, legs and arms tense, see the rictus of climax on her face. Eyes open wide but they’re not looking anywhere, focused inwards on the slo-mo explosion of pleasure.

Takes me another couple of minutes to get there myself, my own rictus of pleasure. Jen doesn’t care, she’s multi-orgasmic.

And eventually we sleep spooned together, stroking softly, the straps released from the eyebolts but still on her wrists. I listen to Jen’s even breaths, feel her ribs move with the inhale/exhale, and watch headlights flicking across the wall, high up, hitting the top right hand side of the X like a big tick winking at me.

 

In the morning, now we know what to look for, we find more evidence. The light spatter of candlewax on the lounge floor, a rough pattern suggesting the outline of a now-absent object. Half of a mail-order catalogue from a sex shop, caught among brambles in the back garden.

We know now what attracted us to the house in the first place.  

The lingering clues about, and traces of, the previous owners.

 

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By the way, this just in: a new review of Seducing the Myth, the Lucy Felthouse collection with a Fulani story in it. It’s over at The Pen Muse.