latest erotic book – Picture This
Great NEWS!! PICTURE THIS is now available as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk with great reviews!!!
For fans that love good looking book to hold, I’m really proud of this one – looks great and I believe Unbound did an excellent job with editorial – a very racy, compelling read – A great thriller for all…
FELIX:’There’s no space for artists to doubt, Artists are like psychopaths; the constructs they build become their truths. They have to convince the world and in order to convince the world they have to live the myth. One whiff of fake and it’s over…’
Taking the B/S out of Art – New novel by Tobsha Learner
One of my inspirations behind the writing of my new novel Picture This was the fascination I had for how quickly any kind of rebellion to the mainstream becomes incorporated by the arbitrators of ‘good taste’ and ‘high art’ then made into a commodity.
It seems to me this process of assimilating visual or creative rebellion then transforming it into a commodity has accelerated over the past century.
It took the Impressionists a good twenty to thirty years to become accepted by the establishment then finally celebrated.
In turns of the YBAs (Young British Artists) of the early 90s it was less than ten years.
Mainly due to the nature of advertising, the art ‘industry’ and the speed of electronic media – the sudden growth of art as a serious investment – ‘a stock worth buying’ is also a spin off from both the crash in 2008 (when people find themselves looking at alternative investments to straight bank stocks) and sudden wealth of the IT generation.
In much the same way the Impressionists benefited from the upsurge of the emerging middle-classes born out of the Industrial Age. They all needed something to show off their newfound wealth.
Just look at the odyssey of Tracey Emin’s The Bed – from a confrontational finger-up at all that is traditionally seen as art, a semen stained, menstrual-blood stained unwashed momentum of one night stands and lost love (and very powerful with it) inherently personal and inherently female – and I would argue perhaps created to be inherently ephemeral – to becoming a sacrosanct art shrine shipped meticulously across the world to which people pay homage as the embodiment of an movement. A little like Duchamp’s Urinal, I doubt that the artist ever imagined that it would stand in museums as great art.
The other inspiration was the emergence of conceptual art and how the meaning and subtext in this post-post modern world has now come to mean far more than the craft involved in the actual execution of the work.
As a young art student I trained with Carrara artisans in Italy learning to carve marble, and craft has always been incredibly important to me – as a writer I have always endeavoured to work my craft – (many rewrites, and certainly my sculptor training taught me the translucency of marble happens only in the final stages of carving when you start polishing the surface with wet and dry paper, writing is like this for me. The real work only happens in the last couple of drafts – the polishing of the prose.
In this way as an art lover the best work combines both. Great subtext and historical/cultural resonance and fantastic craft, some of Wei Wei’s better works for example, or the sublime side of Anish Kapoor – to name a couple.
Does Susie, my character’s work, fit into this definition? I hope so; I’ve given her that obsessive fascination for details, as well as a lateral imagination that can jump sideways in an original manner. She also has a coherent politic born out of life experience – An essential ingredient for any good artist – or writer!
PICTURE THIS is currently 99% crowdfunded, if you want to contribute to the final 1% and get your name in the book click on this link: https://unbound.co.uk/books/picture-this
Rave Review in Publishers Weekly for Tremble
The Zipless Read
Ah, the challenge of the Zipless read, as a seasoned erotic writer and not one of your recent Johnnie-come-lately, I am a serious believer in the craft of erotic writing. I’m not talking about the mildly erotic/romance pap of Fifty Shades and the wannabes following (although more power to her) but the more implicit literary form of the genre – think Anais Nin-meets-Henry Miller-meets- Roald Dahl with bells (or should I say bondage straps) on.
Good erotica just like good sex is not easy to find or write, as anyone who has struggled with finding a sexy word for vagina that doesn’t infantilise that noble organ, – something that purrs as well as has claws. English in particular seems limited. Think pussy, twat, the C word (classically Anglo-Saxon but a little brutalist I feel) la la, the Bermuda triangle and My Fair Lady. Male genitalia has certainly faired better over the centuries, at least in terms of choice of names, but the vernacular is very regional, use willy or dick in a hot sex scene and your male readers will wilt.
I’ve always maintained that the difference between erotica and pornography is that one is subjective and involves psychological foreplay and the other is objective and involves no psychological foreplay at all (unless you count the obligatory three-word exchange with the erection wielding cable guy). And, despite the ubiquitous presence of implicit and readily accessible pornography on the net, I don’t believe this basic principal has changed.
The erotica reader doesn’t just want to look; they want to be in the skin of the protagonists. They need to feel the aching frustration and longing and then the blissful release of orgasm, both in the emotional, physical and sometimes spiritual sense.
Like all good writing this does involve setting up the attraction, the obstacles, the psychology (as well as implicit physiology) of the characters. Personally I like to make my characters normal people with fallible normal bodies of all ages, although some of my stories do involve a supernatural element (I’ve even written sex with a mermaid – more on that later). The premise being that lust, sex and love is not just something that happens to gorgeous under thirty year olds with ridiculously youthful and beautiful billionaires with a couple of skeletons in the cupboard, but to us all, and that there is a certain joyful bawdy finger up to the Heavens when such coup de foudres fall upon our heads whether we be 80, 50, 30 or 16.
Another important thing to bear in mind as an aspiring writer of erotica is that sexual obsession or fetish always has another underlying psychological motivation – i.e. many very powerful businessmen like to be tied up, (the controlling wanting to finally lose control). Illustrate this psychological motivation (often a paradox in a very human and poignant way) and you will already have potential empathy for that character. I have one story about a sound engineer obsessed by sound who falls in love with the alto voice of an older woman when she accidentally dials the number of his recording studio, the tragedy is that when he later secretly records her orgasm, she finds the recording and wrongly assumes it’s the recording of an far younger woman – such are her insecurity over the age difference. The way a character relates to their body often reflects in how they conduct their sex lives and erotic choices. It’s a rich field. .
Other challenges? Visual details and the balance between what the character is feeling during sex and how that character is looking during sex. My rule is get explicit enough to get aroused and emotional enough to care that they all have a good time. And I like to go into implicit details on the actual caresses, I mean hey, if I’m in the bed (and the reader is by this time) I need to be able to imagine exactly how that caress/mouth/organ/digit/whatever feels without losing sight of my character’s emotional needs. This is harder than it appears; repetition is very common in bad erotica – often the repetition of the actual sex act. I consciously go over the draft and make sure I haven’t repeated myself in terms of foreplay, positions and acts of simulation (kinky or otherwise). Back to the mermaid…put it this way, I had to think long and hard about where to actually put her….la la. Disney, it ain’t.
Tobsha Learner’s collections of erotic short stories are published this year by Plume, Penguin US, the first – Quiver is due out on the 30th of April, Tremble 27th of September and Yearn – the 31st of December.
So the year has shot past at the speed of light, most of it I’ve spend writing the next TS LEARNER THRILLER ‘THE STOLEN” (TS Learner is my other writing persona – known to UK, Australian and European readers and hopefully my fantastic American readership). On the erotica front QUIVER has just been re-released in the US by PLUME/PENGUIN , TREMBLE is to follow this summer and YEARN in the fall. If you enjoyed Quiver you are going to love TREMBLE – the original sub title was ‘ sensual fables of the mystical and sinister’ and this sums the stories up well, TREMBLE is my personal favourite (like having a favourite child! Not political correct!) I guess because of the magical mythical quality to the stories, as well as the bawdy humour. ROOT (a very funny story about a lonely Welsh spinster who receives a mandrake root that turns into a penis!) is particularly powerful. I also worked hard on weaving in real history into these stories. And the reader will be able to see a connection to my historical fiction ‘THE WITCH OF COLOGNE'(Tor, US) in these stories.
Another wonderful uplifting experience this last month was Anne Rice’s endorsement of QUIVER on her facebook page
“Quiver” — a book of erotic tales by Tobsha Learner. This is good stuff! I’m deep into it, enthralled by the fine and sensitive writing, by the beautifully detailed erotic passages, by the depth of the characters. This is just delicious. Take it from Anne Rice and A.N. Roquelaure, this is original and fascinating.
Many thanks to all her fans and my readers who joined in on Ms Rice’s tweeter feed on Quiver – you guys really made my year!!
Once the thriller is delivered (very soon now) I shall be back on some more erotica – working on a rather sexy ghost novella at the moment
Speak soon Tobsha
Quiver, Tremble and Yearn now available in hard copy!
The collections – and in addition some individual stories – are also available as ebooks and have been selling online since August to a growing audience of readers keen to explore the literary and sensuous world of Tobsha Learner – the Thinking Woman’s Erotica…
Irreverent questions with Tobsha Learner on Bookthing
To coincide with the release of a number of individual erotic short stories, there is a great Q&A with me on the Bookthing website…so if you want more of an insight into my life as a writer, likes and dislikes, what gets me out of bed in the morning then click here to read the full article.
Coming soon: Individual Short Stories on Ebooks!
Following the release of the three collections Quiver, Tremble and Yearn as ebooks, a selection of some of my best short stories will be published by PiatkusEntice on 23 August 2012 available to pre-order and download on a number of platforms!
So if you fancy your erotica more bite-sized than as a feast, these individual stories and bundles will be perfect for you.
Custodian: Alistair is a twenty-year-old virgin working at the British Museum. A beautiful older aristocrat comes in wanting to hire someone to record her collection of erotic artefacts from Pompeii used in an explicit ritual that promised eternal youth, the ritual requires a sacrificial virgin…
Weather: In 1987 Phoebe, a secretary bored with her husband, becomes sexually obsessed with a handsome BBC weatherman. Convinced he is secretly communicating to her she begins to dream his reports in an explicit manner a day before they are broadcast. Then one day he gets it terribly wrong…
The Man Who Loved Sound: Quin, an obsessive sound recordist and sensualist falls in lust with an older woman’s voice when she accidentally calls his recording studio. For her it is the sexual experience of a lifetime as later he rides her into a spectacularly loud orgasm which almost blows his speakers.
The Listening Room: A frustrated young wife of a conductor shocks her husband and titillates a whole orchestra through public rough sex with a stranger.
The Root: After a traumatic break-up with a married man, Dorothy Owen returns to the Welsh village of her mother and inherits an heirloom from her spinster witch Aunt that both empowers and pleasures her sexually but when she finally lands a boyfriend all kind of erotic supernatural happenings create mischief.
Ice-Cream: Jerome is a gorgeous hulk who likes to entertain the young mothers in his ice-cream van after school – an explicit adventure into oral pleasures of ice-cream and other illicit temptations.
Virgin: A disillusioned young nun goes to a Greek Island to renew her faith. In a parade she touches a holy relic, and this propels her into a supernatural and erotic odyssey of emotional and sexual fulfillment.
Doubt: A famous cuckolded conductor on tour sweats his self-doubt out in a sexual fantasy of submission and naughty schoolgirls, until he is awoken by strange sounds in the next hotel room.
Pussy and Mouse: Cassandra is an overweight phone sales rep who lives a whole sexual fantasy life through her avatar, who is a famous porn star on “second Life”. She is convinced all her desires are fulfilled until real like beckons.
Man of Sighs: A womanising artist is set up by a jilted lover who sets out to frustrate and undermine him through an orgy of girl-on-girl, only to find herself swept up in the explicit fantasy.
The Woman Who Was Tied Up And Forgotten: Sandra, a successful architect, regularly submits to bondage in the dentist chair of her husband’s practice, until one day the power shifts and she discovers a whole new erotic rough play…
Erotic classics every woman should have on her bookshelf (or Kindle)
“The Story of O”: Originally this was published under the pseudo nom of Pauline Reage in 1954 in France. At the time because of the S&M content and the general sexual explicitness it was assumed to have been written by a man; an indication of how regressive general attitudes towards women were at the time and the notion that women could be sexually imaginative. The notoriety served the book well and at one point it was the highest selling book in translation in the US.
It is a fantastic tale of sexual submissiveness set in almost a gothic context (although it is, in fact set in the 1950s). The young heroine is taken to a gothic castle blindfolded by her married lover and is subjected to various erotic acts by what appears to be a cartel of powerful men who maintain the castle as their secret dungeon/brothel.
To the contemporary eye it is obviously written by a woman because of the amount of historical research and detail that has gone into the description of the medieval type costumes and décor – the costumes themselves are erotic (think McQueen meets Dita von Teese). I had the honour of meeting and interviewing the author in the 1990s (she is now deceased) I knew her as Dominique Aury, although Wikipedia claim this too was a pseudonym and that her actual name was Anne Cecile Desclas. She was a charming and very attractive woman in her late eighties, elegant and understated. One had the impression she was both bemused and still a little stunned by the success and legacy of the book. She worked as a librarian and actually did have a degree in mediaeval poetry and had written the book as a love letter to her married lover, the famous editor of Jean Paulhan as a means to reinspire him sexually. She had no intention of publishing, but he persuaded her and it went on to become a huge international best seller and arguably one of the most notorious books of the twentieth century.
The heroine’s submissiveness made not be to everyone’s taste, but it is undeniably erotic. Fifty Shades of Grey owes some inspiration from The Story Of O, which was almost as controversial and successful as Fifty Shades (although it was banned from some countries) however whereas E.L James’s tome is really B-grade romance meets soft focus S&M and has nothing to commend it in terms of prose-craft – The Story of O is beautifully written and described – and frankly hotter.
“Little Birds” and “Delta of Venus” by Anais Nin: These collections of short stories are a staple classic for any erotic bookshelf. Certainly influenced me as a young girl – Anais Nin’s prose have a wonderful economy about them, particularly in her short stories, she manages to set up the emotional and psychological context (which ranges from the 1930s to the 1950s – from Paris to Asia) in an unlaboured poetic manner as well as build up great erotic tension between her characters. Personally I think it’s a little soft focussed and dated now, and the actual sex isn’t that detailed (unlike Henry Miller’s erotic prose which is explicit, brutal and far more muscular – interesting as he was an ex lover).
“Justine”, “Juliette” and “A hundred and twenty days of Sodom” by the Marquis de Sade: An 18th century aristocrat imprisoned on counts of both sodomy and insanity, this erotica is not for the faint-hearted. It goes places that make American Psycho look tame. However, it is very sexy, atmospheric and worth wading through the now arcane language. Rather a study of a very bright man whose psyche has been hijacked by sexual obsessiveness. A film – Salo – was made based on 120 days of Sodom, made in 1976, directed by Pasolini. In those days you tended to see more people making love on screen than killing each other!
“Fanny Hill – A Woman of Pleasure” by John Cleland: Actually written in 1748, the story of an innocent 18th century virginal orphan tricked into prostitution. This is one for the historical readers amongst us. Again, the themes of wealthy men imposing their sadistic ways on poor young women might seem a tad familiar, but Fanny Hill is also quite manipulative herself…
Inspiration behind “Man of Sighs” in my collection “Quiver”
“Man of Sighs” is the second story in my best-selling collection of erotic stories, “Quiver”.
The story tells of a handsome and womanising artist, who is set-up by a jilted lover. She sets out to frustrate and undermine him through a girl-on-girl orgy, only to find herself swept up in the explicit fantasy.
The character of Humphrey is actually based on an infamous womaniser I once knew – greatly exaggerated obviously – but I loved the idea of a thwarted lover plotting revenge. I also liked the idea that all the orgasms that Humphrey – a consummate lover – has given to women should follow him around, like a faint echo, or the sound of sighing you get when you hold a large seashell to your ear.