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'08 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations

by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft

Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons

2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Im Easy, But Im No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel

Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics

On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank

Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Between the Lines

Ashley Lister talks to Debra Hyde

Debra HydeDebra Hyde has been writing short erotic fiction for more than a decade. Her works have appeared in a variety of acclaimed anthologies published by Alyson Books, Cleis Press and many other well-known houses. The content of her stories include most variations on the themes of sex and sexuality from lesbianism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, cross-dressing, male domination, female domination. Now, although she continues to write short stories, Debra has written and published her first full-length novel: Inequities.

But I wanted to talk about one of Debra’s short stories. I wanted to ask about a story of hers from Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthology: She’s on Top. I wanted to ask about "By a Firm Hand."

Ashley Lister:"By a Firm Hand"is a story of female domination and male submission. Your central characters, Judith and Robert, are a happily married husband and wife. The focus of the story is their sexual relationship where Robert receives punishment from Judith for minor transgressions within the marital home such as untidiness and thoughtlessness. Judith’s punishments for Robert vary from humiliation through to sadomasochistic spanking.

Where did the idea come from?

Debra Hyde: From the start, I've been writing BDSM fiction. It's my first love. But until younger editors like Rachel, Violet Blue, and others came along and brought with them a fresh interest in BDSM fiction, I had hardly sold a BDSM story to an anthology. One editor actually told me it was passé! So you can imagine how elated I was when I received Rachel's call for the On Top anthologies.

By this time, though, I'd written enough stories that I couldn't just slap together a story any which way. I had reached a point in my writing where I'd “been there, done that.”

You know how agents and editors talk about a hook to catch their interest? Well, I needed a hook just to write a story. I need to be captivated by an idea to compose a tale. I suppose that's why I'm not as prolific as other writers, but I'd like to think it does help me produce solid results.

In this case, I sat back and thought about all the variations of BDSM erotic play that exist. I wanted something that was atypical, maybe even esoteric, and largely unknown to the reader. That's how the idea of a domestic discipline story came to me.

My first challenge was whether I could write a domestic discipline story without blaring THIS IS A DOMESTIC DISCIPLINE STORY. Could I write an explicit story subtle enough to present and play with the concept without ever having to overtly name it? Which became Hook Number One.

Ashley Lister:"By a Firm Hand" is skilfully layered. At the beginning of the story Judith has Robert scrubbing pots and pans. As the story progresses the punishments she inflict become more severe and go through humiliation before moving onto physical discipline.

Was this progression a conscious choice? And why did you pick this particular hierarchy?

Debra Hyde: You're right, it was a conscious choice. The short story is, by nature, a brief and highly concentrated drama. It springs upward from the initial story platform, arches towards its climax, then slides to a satisfactory resolution. If you think about it, a BDSM scene parallels fiction in the sense that it, too, employs drama as its course of action. And sex itself arches towards climax and resolution.

Perhaps that's why I like writing erotic fiction so much—it's literary foreplay. Where else can you write a story in which the physical human experience so closely matches the story form? The story requires a climax, one or more characters must climax, and, if I'm lucky, some reader somewhere gets a climax out of it!

"By a Firm Hand" specifically requires the domestic chores because it's about domestic discipline. Robert needs to learn his lesson, and he needs to learn by doing. The story's arch springs, in one sense, from Judith escalating his erotic learning.

Ashley Lister: One of the reasons I enjoyed this story was because it does so many things. Aside from exciting the reader, maintaining strong characters and well-paced plot progression,"By a Firm Hand" shows a loving husband and wife enjoying a power relationship that is enforced and yet consensual.

How did you manage to bring that balance to the story?

Debra Hyde: Remember when I said Hook Number One? Hook Number Two was whether I could write a domestic discipline story through Judith's all-knowing eyes. She's a remarkably aware person and has a high emotional IQ. She can read Robert like a book and, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphors, play him like a puppet.

I'm strongly fascinated by people who can expertly read the sexual language of their partners. It's an amazing gift, and I wondered if I could properly capture and portray that in a story.

That said, it's Judith who provides the balance because she knows Robert's every move. Whether it's overt or nuanced, she knows exactly what he’s thinking and reacting to. But she also knows why they engage in these games. It's ultimately for mutual erotic fulfilment. Her dominance is, I suppose, a means to an end and that end is sexual satisfaction—neighbours be damned!

Ashley Lister: Were there any elements of "By a Firm Hand" that appeared in the early drafts but had disappeared by the final version?

Debra Hyde: Nope, not a one. But it's not because of authorial prowess. Basically, stories stew in my head for quite some time before I put fingers to keyboard so when I start writing, the story's pretty well cooked. I just have to thicken up the gravy.

However, to thicken that gravy, I edit a lot. So much that I bet readers would find it either horrifying or wildly neurotic. Thanks to a demanding journalism professor many years ago, I learned that words aren't sacred, every draft has its defects, and if you want to be a working writer worthy of professional respect, you write and rewrite until you get it right. After decades of writing in several different professions, I'm afraid I'm an old dog about editing.

Ashley Lister: One of the (many) impressive things about "By a Firm Hand" was the controlled use of language. The narrative comes from Judith’s third person narrator and, at the beginning of the story Judith’s vocabulary is coy and almost euphemistic. However, by the time the story is reaching its denouement, the sexual language is explicit and unambiguous.

Again, was this a deliberate/conscious decision? Do you think excessive use of strong/vulgar language can weaken an erotic story rather than adding to it? Or do you think it all depends on the individual story?

Debra Hyde: I was quite deliberate my choice of language, which brings us to Hook Number Three. I knew some of the readership would be men and I wanted the tale to resonate with their fantasies.

I count a small number of submissive men among my friends. Talking to them, I've discovered there's something of a quiet desperation in their desires—I'm not speaking pejoratively here, by the way; I like this aspect of male submission—and I wanted to bring this element to the drama in the story.

Submissive men ache for attention and they have a strong need for experiences that, like the story arch, escalates from trial and tribulation to completion through orgasm. Although Robert doesn't come in"By a Firm Hand," I'd like to think submissive men would find Judith's imperious courage dreamy, and I hope they can imagine themselves under her thumb!

But you're right, Ashley, when you suggest that it might well depend on the story. I wonder if a similar posturing from a male dominant would've been over the edge. I'm pretty sure the parameters are slightly different, especially since the caring protective male dominant seems to be the preferred archetype right now.

Oh—and vulgar is in the eye of the beholder. When you pointed out the language element in your question, I had to re-examine the story's dialogue and I though, “Vulgar? Really? Where?” Judith's words are strong, but she doesn't grind Robert down with ugly insults or name-calling—which, I suppose, is my way of saying your mileage may vary.

Ashley Lister: In "By a Firm Hand" Judith is a strong woman who sexually dominates her husband in a loving and consensual relationship. How similar is Judith to Cynthia Barnett, the protagonist for your new novel Inequities?

Debra Hyde: Hmm. That's a challenging question to answer. First, where the short story is compact and intense, the novel is gregariously expansive. Because of that, we only know Judith within the context of that one scenario within one story. We learn a lot about her in 3,000 words—she's capable, emotionally aware, erotically creative, and deliciously demanding—but we don't know anything about her outside of this one moment in her life.

InequitiesOn the other hand, we have more of an opportunity to know Cynthia, Inequities' protagonist. We have 70-some thousand words to follow her through the drama of her life as she comes out of mourning and reclaims her erotic identity. Despite the hurdles she faces, she has a certain breeziness about her—so much so that I occasionally joke that Inequities is chic lit for the dominatrix!

The women are, however, stylistically different. Judith is incredibly focused and determined. Cynthia is impish and playful. Judith is unbending and haughty. Cynthia is teasing and inviting. The distinctions are, however, quite important to me.

Through both characters, I'm trying to break the stereotype of the cruel, cold-hearted dominatrix. Judith, in fact, does briefly examine it in By a Firm Hand when she considers the battle-axe. Cynthia does the same simply by facing life's dilemmas while seeking what all women want, the simpatico of a compatible lover.

I want readers to see that the dominant woman isn't a cardboard cut-out. She has a style innate to her character. She's creative and loves to orchestrate her erotic adventures. But she's definitely not a one-size-fits-all being.

Ultimately, I hope readers found Judith and "By a Firm Hand" an illuminating read. And I hope they'll find Cynthia an enjoyable, approachable character and Inequities an entertaining read.

Ashley Lister: Thank you Debra. It was a pleasure reading "By a Firm Hand," and I’m sure I’m not the only reader looking forward to Inequities.

("By a Firm Hand" appears in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s She’s on Top. Inequities is available in paperback from Amazon, or in ebook format from: Carnal Desires Publishing, All Romance Ebooks, Amazon Kindle, Fictionwise and Mobipocket).

Ashley Lister
May/June 2008

"Between the Lines" © 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms.His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753511355), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashleys non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
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Bound Brits (ebook)
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Deep Inside: Extreme ...
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Dirty Girls
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Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
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J is for Jealousy
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K is for Kink
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Lust Bites
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Open for Business
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Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
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Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
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Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
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Tasting Him
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White Flames
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Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
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Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
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Gothic Heat
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The Hidden Grotto Series
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The House of Blood
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In Too Deep
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In Too Deep
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Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
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Out of the Shadows (ebook)
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Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
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Seduced by the Storm
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Serve the People!
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Signed, Sealed and Delivered
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Sunfire (eBook)
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Templar Prize
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The Wicked Sex
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Wild Kingdom
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Gay Erotica

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Best Gay Romance '08
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Hard Hats
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Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
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Best Lesbian Erotica '08
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The Night Watch
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America Unzipped
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Best Sex Writing '08
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling
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The Book of Love
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Casanova: Actor Lover ...
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Dishonorable Passions
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Flagrante Delicto (photos)
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The Flesh Press
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Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
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The Humble Little Condom
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Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
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Man O Man! Writing M/M...
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The Not So Invisible Woman
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Swingers: Female...
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Who's Been Sleeping in...
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