When you think about authors of erotica, do you automatically think of female authors? My guest, Maxim Jakubowski, is here to give us the male point of view and a peek at his new release, Ekaterina and the Night.
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And now, here’s Maxim…
LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE GUYS
I've always been struck by how few recognised contemporary male authors of erotica there are right now whose stories and novels appear with some degree of regularity. Think: Thomas Roche, M. Christian, Mike Kimera, Jeremy Edwards, Chris Garcia, Michael Hemmingson, Robert Buckley and myself spring to mind, and then you have to direct a microscope at all the websites publishing fiction, anthologies and ebooks to find a few more names drowning in the sea of oestrogen. OK, so Ashley Lister, Adam Neville and a few others have discreetly written under female pseudonyms and I know of a couple of other notorious female writers on my bookshelves who also happen to have the wrong genitalia in real life!. But, even accounting for the fact I'm probably ignoring a handful of worthy gents, it's a terribly meager harvest when you consider the veritable avalanche of female erotica writers at work and play today. Are we men being discriminated against? In earlier decades splendid French authors like Apollinaire, Mandiargues, Calaferte, Aragon, Bernard Noel and many others led the field in innovation and orginality (until Pauline Reage alias Dominique Aury turned the tables with STORY OF O and the field has since, even in France, been dominated by female writers). In the USA there was Henry Miller, after all. So why are we now in such a minority?
My initial thought was that our publishing scene is not only female-dominated in terms of the amount of writers busy scribbling away at words of lust, but also on the editorial front where imprints like Cleis, Ellora's Cave, Samhain, Ravenous Romance, Xcite and other leading brands are also operated/edited by women, and in addition tragically over-populated by practitioners who began their career in the romance field. But surely this is not the only reason for the scarcity of men writing erotica, is it?
For 17 years already I've been editing the Mammoth Book of Erotica series, which for the last 13 volumes has featured the best short stories published in the field during the course of the preceding calendar year and there again, my ratio of female to male author story submissions has averaged 6 or 7 to 1 - although in the final published volumes I've managed, with great difficulty, to bring this down to nearer 4 to 1. And call me prejudiced, but I have found the average quality of male submissions generally higher than female ones, but then, as the involuntary owner of a penis, I would say that, wouldn't I?
So, why are so many guys seemingly scared of writing erotica?
Like women, they have sexual urges and fantasies and experience, but somehow seldom express it in their writing or, at any rate, don't make it available for public consumption (I except gay writers of course...).
Actually I can't pretend to have an answer and would welcome your ideas and suggestions. Lack of leisure writing time? Lesser empathy?
A task unworthy of machismo? Shyness? Pride? Self-censorship?
As for me, I still write under my name, and to compound my infamy many of my stories and novels feature central female characters, and even more so, sometimes in their own voice. Bridging the great divide between the sexes is actually one of the reasons I write erotica on a regular basis. By putting myself under the skin of, or imagining female characters, my ambition is to understand the complexity of women. Madame Bovary, c'est moi!
In my new novel, EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT, a young Italian woman called Ekaterina (a Russian name, I know, but you have to read the book to get an explanation...) has her first sexual experiences and the story follows her coming of age through almost a decade through the prism of sex and emotions. This involves a Lolita-like affair with an older man, consumated and unconsumated love stories, sadness, adventures in Paris, Barcelona, New York and Venice. And then there's a secondary female character called Emma, who makes her first appearance during the Middle Ages and whose odyssey crosses centuries and intersects with Ekaterina and the main male character towards the book's ending. While Ekaterina has a definite submissive nature, Emma is a dominant force of nature. But, by examining the two women's differing attitudes to sex, I was allowed to survey my own feelings about women's sexuality and desires. And at no point did I feel this was territory forbidden to a male author, far from it.
After all, that is what we all write about: emotions, sex as catharsis or epiphany, even if scientists tell us that women and men experience orgasm in different ways. So let's have more male perspectives on what happens in the bed (or elsewhere, let's not be restrictive...) and the mind.
And before you try and call me sexist, let me reassure you that I hold many female authors on a personal pedestal and I still happily publish the better ones. Further I have even committed an anthology of French female authors under the dubious if commercial title of OOH LA LA! and am about to follow that up with an Italian equivalent titled, don't all sigh, LA DOLCE VITA!
Good erotica is good erotica, irrespective of origin. Imagination should have no gender.
Ekaterina and the Night
Lolita meets Story of O, another memorable tale of love, sex and feelings from ‘the King of the erotic thriller’
When Ekaterina meets Alexander a shockingly sexy but tender romance develops.
She is a young Italian trainee journalist, who dreams of wild sexual adventures. He is the older Englishman who she believes can fulfill her fantasies. When Ekaterina is sent to interview the ageing writer Alexander in London, she is blinded by his charm and experience. Their relationship explodes in a sensual orgy, which defies society’s acceptance.
When a mysterious angel of death who calls herself Emma enters their lives, Ekaterina and Alexander know their days together are numbered.
A shocking climax set in Venice in winter brings the three protagonists together.
A tale of sex and tenderness that ranks alongside Jakubowski classic The State of Montana.
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ekaterina-and-the-Night-ebook/dp/B005PQIJ1Q/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317114839&sr=1-4
Erotica and Romance ebooks: http://www.erotica-romance-ebooks.com/ekaterina-and-the-night.html
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-ekaterinaandthenight-598651-144.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ekaterina-and-the-night-maxim-jakubowski/1102213975?ean=9781908006967&itm=1&usri=ekaterina%2band%2bthe%2bnight
MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI worked for many years in book publishing as an editor (including titles by William Golding, Peter Ackroyd, Oliver Stone, Michael Moorcock, Peter Ustinov, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Paul Ableman, Sophie Grigson, Marc Behm, Cornell Woolrich, etc...) and launched the Murder One Bookshop, which he owned and ran for over 20 years. He now writes, edits and translates full-time in London.
Find Maxim on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maxim-Jakubowski/109554975730521
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Maxim-Jakubowski/e/B001H6WV7G
I absolutely love reading erotica from a male point of view. It's richer and much more detailed. They beat the women hands down, by coming from a place of deeper though and details we women don't ever believe they notice.
it occurs to me that the vast majority of men don't write erotica simply because they are afraid of the essential emotional subtext that would render any observation regarding a superficially purely sexual encounter valid. "We screwed, I went to sleep" may be accurate as far as it goes, but it completely misses the point of the emotional stresses and synchronicities that brought these two (three, four, seven, your favorite number here) people together. Many men fear to admit their own emotions, never mind (throws hands up in mock horror) acknowledge that their partner may have feelings as well.
I think the argument could be made here, as with so many other things, that quality versus quantity rules the day. Women as a species (and ladies, I apologize for the broad brush with which I'm painting here) tend to be more open about their desires and feelings on the whole than men. For that reason alone, is it any wonder they've all but taken over the genre?
To get to the damn point, I think your question could fairly be answered with: All of the above. Personally, I don't feel myself to have been discriminated against; quite to the contrary. The question here, I believe, is who among us is "man" enough to stand up and put his true feelings and desires on display for all the world to see.
The ones who do will stand the test of time. The ones who don't ... eh, who were they again?
To me it matters little the gender of an author as long as the story is exciting and well penned. Ekaterina And The Night sounds as good as they come.
Thanks Gale for inviting Maxim to your blog.
I may read men writing as women. I don't know. I read for the content, not the gender of the author. But I wonder if more men don't write erotic because, though they have the sex down, maybe they aren't quite fully connected to their feminine side?
One of the greatest fantasy writers ever--Andre Norton--had to publish at first under a male name, since "only men" could write fantasy or science fiction, much less write for young males. It took a lot of fortitude on her part to break that barrier. It might be the males who write erotica just have that extra bit of drive to write in the genre.
Monica Stoner w/a Mona Karel
I think society has trained a lot of men to be visually oriented, and to express and experience their mediated sexuality through visual means.
A lot of men don't write erotica because a lot of men don't read it. Most writers start off as readers, get frustrated by not finding the sort of thing they want, and decide to write it themselves.
For a lot of men, erotica is like quiche (real men don't consume it). So, only men who are fairly secure in their masculinity either consume it or produce it.
I differ with a lot of people in believing that there is a brightline difference between porn and erotic fiction. And I think that codifying this difference may make it easier to attract more men to writing in the genre. Because it will make clear that erotica is not 'porn for women'. Porn is porn (and useful and delicious it is). Erotica is erotica - a genre of literature, not a gentrified version of pornography.
On a personal note, male writers of erotica offer me a landscape of sexuality in context, that I cannot find in female-written erotica. It's terra incognita, exciting, scary, wonderful. We need much more of it.
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