literary fiction

Holiday Special: Literary and Media Figures and Their Favorite Drinks

Elizabeth Black
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
 

Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.

For The Love Of God, Montresor!

Literary and Media Figures and Their Favorite
Drinks

Since ’tis the
season for festivities, I though it would be fun to not only write about famous
literary and media characters and their favorite drinks, but to include
recipes! During this holiday season, feel free to be like Phryne Fisher or
Ebenezer Scrooge and toss back one of their favorite cocktails. I found some of these cocktails at The Cocktail Chart of Film & Literature at Pop Chart Lab.

These first three
aren’t meant to be taken seriously, but they’re so amusing I had to include
them. I’m not encouraging you to throw cigarette ash or downers into your drinks,
but if you insist on doing that, at least be creative.

Moe Szyslak – The Simpsons

The Flaming Moe

Drops of various
liquors

Cigarette ash

Krusty Brand
non-narcotic cough syrup

Charlie Chaplin – The Adventurer

The Dregs

All leftover
cocktails in the bar poured into one glass.

Alex – A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

Alex and his cronies
downed this drink before engaging in some wholesome, clean ultraviolence where
they’d beat up strangers, rob stores, and the like. It’s nothing more than milk
and downers.

Moloko Plus

Milk and
barbiturates – Vellocet, Synthemese, and Drencrom

The following are
classics. I enjoy drinking Amontillado since I am a huge Poe fan. I could drink
this stuff and argue with writers as to who is better – Poe or Lovecraft? That
always ends up being a very heated discussion. When I went to the Stanley Hotel
Writers Retreat in October, 2015, I passed on drinking bourbon on the rocks
despite that being Jack Torrance’s favorite drink since I detest bourbon. That
said, I can’t let this article continue without mentioning those fine
beverages.

Montresor and Fortunato – The Cask Of
Amontillado – Edgar Allan Poe

Amontillado.

Jack Torrance – The Shining – Stephen King

Bourbon on the rocks

Harry Potter – Butterbeer – J. K. Rowling

Butterbeer is
generally thought of as non-alcoholic but there are boozy varieties of the
drink. There is even a Starbuck’s version. I’m here to give you both.

From Food52, the alcoholic version
includes ½ stick of unsalted butter, light and dark brown sugar, freshly grated
ginger, dark rum, ginger beer, and other ingredients. Go to the link for the
full recipe including ingredients and instructions on how to make it.

Here’s one of the many
versions of a grande butterbeer
for Starbuck’s
. Just save this blog post page on your iPhone and show it to
the barista who will make the drink for you. Please don’t do this when it’s
very busy because you may annoy the staff with a special order.

Ask
for a Creme Frappuccino base. Don’t skimp on the fat by asking for skim or 2%
milk as whole milk is required for the right consistency.

Add 3
pumps of caramel syrup.

Add 3
pumps of toffee nut syrup.

Top
with caramel drizzle.

Phryne Fisher – Miss Fisher’s Murder
Mysteries – Kerry Greenwood

I have enjoyed Benedictine
for many years, but I was sold when I discovered Phryne Fisher likes the
liqueur. My husband’s late father used to declare it on his taxes as medicine
and he got away with it. Maybe it’s because he lived in Europe. Ha! Kerry
Greenwood, who created Miss Fisher, talked about Phryne introducing herself in
the forward to her books.

Forward
from Kerry Greenwood
, about Phryne Fisher for the books Cocaine Blues,
Flying Too High
, and Murder On The Ballerat Train.

Thank you for buying this book. I have a wizard and three
cats to feed. Picture the scene. There I am, in 1988, thirty years old and
never been published, clutching a contract in a hot sweaty hand. I have been
trying for four long and frustrating years to attract a publisher and now a
divinity has offered me a two book conract about a detective in 1928. I am
reading the ads as the tram clacks down Brunswick Street. They are not
inspiring posters. I am beginning to panic. This is what I have striven for my
whole life. Am I now going to develop writer’s block? When I never have before?

Then she got onto the tram and sat near me. A lady with a
Lulu bob, feather earrings, a black cloth coat with an Astrakan collar and a
black cloche jammed down over her exquisite eyebrows. She wore delicate shoes
of sable glacé kid with a Louis heel. She moved with a fine louche grace, as
though she knew that the whole tram was staring at her and she both did not
mind and accepted their adulation as something she merited. She leaned towards
me. I smelt rice powder and Jicky. ‘Why not write about me?’ she breathed. And,
in a scent of Benedictine, she vanished. That was the Honourable Phryne Fisher.
I am delighted to be able to introduce you to her.

Ebenezer Scrooge –  A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

I can’t let a
holiday article about cocktails go by without mentioning Mr. Scrooge. This
drink is served warm and it’s perfect for curling up in front of a roaring fire
and listening to Victorian Christmas carols with someone you love.

Smoking Bishop

¼ cup sugar

1 bottle red wine

Juice from several oranges

1 bottle port

Strain oranges

Prick oranges with
cloves

Let sit for 24 hours

Serve warm

Edgar Allan Poe – Eggnog

I must mention Poe
one more time, since he liked a classic holiday drink. Poe loved eggnog. He
even used in in his classic tale The Pit
And The Pendulum
. Poe’s West Point roommate recalled he also couldn’t be
found far from a bottle of Benny Haven’s best brandy. Benny Haven was Poe’s
favorite place to go to drink. The jury is still out as to whether or not he was
an alcoholic. Stories regarding the cause of his death range from rabies to
being beaten to death after refusing to be used in vote rigging. The eggnog was
a family recipe.

Eggnog

7
eggs, separated

1
cup sugar

5
cups whole milk, divided

1/2
cup heavy whipping cream

1
1/2 cups brandy

1/4
cup rum

Nutmeg

Combine
the egg yolks and sugar in a medium boll and whisk until thick and pale. Set
aside. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Warm 3 parts milk over
low heat. Whisk 1 cup of warm milk into the yolk mixture. Add this back to the
milk in the pan. Stir over low heat until combined and thickened. Remove from
heat and stir in the cream quickly. Place the saucepan in the ice water. Stir
until chilled then add the brandy, rum, and remaining milk. Pour eggnog into
glasses. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks in a bowl and spoon over the
eggnog. Top with nutmeg. Merry Christmas!

Topper – Pink Lady

When I first watched
the movie Topper, I became very
interested in Pink Ladies since Marion Kerby swore by them. I have yet to try
one, but maybe this season I’ll give one a try.

1½ -2 oz. Gin

1 Egg White

1 teaspoon Grenadine

1 teaspoon Double
Cream

Fresh Strawberry for
garnish

Directions:

Combine the
ingredients with ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Garnish with ½
strawberry on a cocktail stick.

Variation:

White Lady:

2 oz. Gin

¾ oz. Each of
Cointreau and Lemon juice

1 Egg White (if
liked)

[Omit the grenadine
and cream]

Directions:

Combine the
ingredients with ice, shake vigorously. Strain into a glass. Garnish with ½
strawberry on a cocktail stick.

Carrie Bradshaw – Sex and the City – Candace
Bushnell

I am not a fan of Sex and the City for reasons I won’t go
into here, but I must give Carrie Bradshaw kudos for popularizing the Cosmo.

Cosmo

4 parts vodka

1 part Cointreau

2 parts lime juice

3 parts cranberry
juice

Shake and serve on
ice

John Steed and Mrs. Emma Peel – The Avengers

The reason my
favorite drink is champagne is due to it being the preferred beverage of Steed
and Mrs. Peel. It’s nearly all I drink aside of red wine, Benedictine, Campari,
and Amontillado. Those two drank it all the time, even when they were painting
Mrs. Peel’s flat. I recall they preferred Chateau Mouton Rothchild, but that’s
a bit out of my price range. I also like brut champagne. The drier the better.

FYI – Oscar Wilde
also preferred to drink iced champagne. At the time of his death, he was
drinking a combination of opium, chloral and champagne. He did say, “And
now I am dying beyond my means.”

Champagne

And now for the
hard-boiled characters. You don’t get much more hard-boiled than Raymond
Chandler. Chandler was as much of a double-fisted drinker as were his
creations. An alcoholic, he suffered blackouts and threatened suicide. He lost
a job due to drink and began writing at 44. When his wife died, he dived
further into the bottle. His alcoholism haunts his stories. He favored the gin
gimlet just like his character Philip Marlowe. Still, if you want to drink like
the heavies, go for it.

Vivian Sternwood Rutledge – The Big Sleep –
Raymond Chandler

Scotch Mist

2 to 3 ounces
scotch, bourbon, or brandy

½ cup crushed ice

lemon twist over
edge of glass

Philip Marlow – The Long Goodbye – Raymond
Chandler

Gin Gimlet

½ gin

½ Rose’s lime juice

And now for the disasters
amongst us. The Great Gatsby included drinking and excessive living. It was
mainly about the downfall of the American Dream in the 1920s. Fitzgerald
favored gin because he believed people couldn’t smell it on his breath. He ad
his wife Zelda were heavy gin drinkers. Another alcoholic writer, cocktails
figured prominently in his fiction. He preferred the gin rickey, just like his
character Jay Gatsby did.

Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott
Fitzgerald

Mint Julep

2.5 ounces bourbon

2 sugar cubes

4 or 5 mint leaves

Serve over ice

Muddle

Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott
Fitzgerald

Gin Rickey

1 shot gin

½ shot fresh
squeezed lime juice

lime zest

2.5 ounces bourbon

Here’s to the rise
and fall of rugged masculinity from Hemingway and Williams. Although Hemingway
was fond of drinking, he did not do so while writing. Also, his favorite drink
was not the mojito. He was diabetic and couldn’t tolerate the sugar so it’s
unlikely he drank mojitos. He did drink absinthe and double daiquiris without
sugar. His favorite drink was the dry martini.

Jake Barnes – The Sun Also Rises – Ernest
Hemingway

Jack Rose

2 ounces applejack

1 ounce lemon or
lime juice

dash of grenadine

Tennessee Williams
suffered from severe anxiety and drank to ease the pain. He often spoke of his
love for downers saying that they enhanced and unblocked his creativity,
although his critics disagreed. Downers did him in in the end when he choked to
death on a bottle cap to his prescription barbies. Alcohol played an important
part in the lives of his characters as well, Brick Pollett being an excellent
example.

Brick Pollett – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof  – Tennessee Williams

Hot Toddy

2 tbsp bourbon

1 tbsp mild honey

2 tbsp fresh lemon
juice

¼ cup boiling hot
water

Stir and serve warm

I can’t talk about
rugged masculinity without mentioning Bond. James Bond. While most people
associate Bond with a martini, shaken, not stirred, it wasn’t the only thing he
drank. He enjoyed an Americano in Casino
Royale
. My husband and I are huge fans of Campari and vermouth. The
Americano is similar to a Negroni, but it uses Perrier instead of gin. We could
drink either one. To you, Mr. Bond!

James Bond  – Casino Royale – Ian Fleming

Americano

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce sweet red
vermouth

Perrier

Stir

You can’t go wrong
this holiday season with all these cocktails at your disposal to drink. Celebrate
Christmas and honor Phryne Fisher, Marion Kerby, and Scrooge with warmth and
nostalgia. Don’t forget to share with your friends. Happy Christmas to all, and
to all a good night!

Cross-Fertilization

by Jean Roberta

We erotic writers have not yet been completely accepted into the literary or social mainstream. From time to time, someone in this blog points out that we Don’t Get No Respect, or at least not enough. This claim is hard to refute.

The good news is that the solid wall between Literature (which sometimes wins prestigious awards) and Porn (which was largely illegal in the recent past) seems to have been crumbling for years.

The genre called erotica can now be mixed with any other genre, not only romance. Much has been said here about the uneasy relationship between erotica (fiction that focuses on sex as a means of transformation, or the focal point of a plot) and romance (fiction about the development of a relationship, usually heterosexual, usually with a happy ending). There have been laments about the ways in which Romance, as the elephant of the publishing biz, has steamrolled over literary erotica so that brilliantly well-written, poetic, hot-yet-philosophical works on sex per se are now harder to find than ever before. There is clearly some truth in this claim.

However, if explicit sex scenes are the hallmark of erotica, these can be included in works of fantasy (e.g. rewritten fairy tales or ancient myths), science fiction and its various subgenres (e.g. steampunk), historical fiction, murder mysteries or detective stories, social satire, and every other genre one can think of. Sex is so central to human life that sex scenes don’t have to be forced into a supposedly non-sexual plot. They can now be included in a kind of organic way, so that they serve the plot and the development of the characters.

Circlet Press was founded in 1992 to publish fiction that combines explicit sex (often queer in some sense) with fantasy elements, and this combination has since been taken up by other publishers. It’s even possible to find novels that combine more than two genres.

To give an example, I recently had to replace a fantasy novel in my “Sympathy for the Devil” English course (four fantasy novels by women, all with male protagonists). Unfortunately, a novel by Tanith Lee about an immortal kind of devil was suddenly unavailable. I replaced it with Death by Silver by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold (Lethe Press, 2013), a double-authored steampunk murder mystery with double (human) protagonists who must clear away a London fog of interpersonal misunderstanding while eliminating suspects in a complicated murder investigation.

I introduced this novel to the class by inviting my colleague, the local expert in the history of detective fiction, to discuss the genre. I suspect that his colourful, student-friendly, 75-minute talk was the condensed version.

If I knew any local experts in m/m romance as a genre (with its contested origins in Kirk/Spock fanfiction or slash, based on the original Star Trek as a television space opera), I would have invited her/him/them to speak. I would have given the same invitation to an expert in steampunk if I knew of any in my town. (I can easily imagine the English Department of the university where I teach acquiring a specialist to teach steampunk classes in the future, possibly as an offshoot of speculative fiction or Victorian studies.)

Death by Silver actually features a primary relationship which is sexual from the beginning, but IMO, the novel doesn’t qualify as erotica because the sex is dealt with in a traditionally British way, behind closed doors (usually in one line of coy dialogue or a short paragraph at the end of a chapter). None of my students seem shocked, and several have told me they enjoyed reading, despite the complexity of the plot. (This, rather than the frequent hints of “unmentionable” sex, seems to be the only thing that slowed them down.)

It is easy to imagine a sexually-explicit version of a similar novel, and m/m erotic romance is definitely a thing.

Cross-genre fiction seems to me to be the way out of the impasse created by the economic and cultural dominance of mainstream romance novels. (Not to mention the cultural dominance of Romantic Comedy as a popular film genre, i.e. “date movies.”)
Not only can descriptions of sex be smuggled into literary genres that are generally more respected than erotica, the importance of sex can be shown in work that can find its way out of a literary ghetto.

Rewriting “classic” novels to include explicit sex scenes is only one way to cross-breed genres. Those of us who started out as erotic writers, and who aren’t willing to ditch the sex for the sake of respectability, might not achieve critical respect any time soon, but we can have fun spreading our wings.
————-

Taking Risks

By Lisabet Sarai

What would it take to get some respect
for erotic fiction? To transform erotica from its current scorned
status as pornography with a fancy vocabulary into a legitimate
branch of literature? Earlier this month, Remittance Girl addressed this issue, suggesting that “critical engagement” might help. In
critiquing and reviewing erotica, we need to consider the non-sexual
aspects of the erotic fiction we read, focusing on premise, plot,
pacing, characterization, thematic depth and language instead of, or
at least in addition to, whether the story gets us hot and bothered.

I wholeheartedly agree with her thesis,
which she expanded into a fantastic treatise on appropriate
objectives and approaches for critiques and reviews. I’d like to
offer another, complementary suggestion. To convince readers (and
critics) to take our genre seriously, we need to take risks.

What do I mean by that? Am I talking
about moving beyond portrayals of vanilla sex to incorporate edgier
and more controversial sexual practices? That’s one kind of risk,
certainly; there’s some likelihood we’ll alienate or “squick”
some segment of our readership. However, the risk to which I’m
referring is more fundamental. To have our work considered as
something more than gussied-up stroke stories, we need to risk
breaking the rules of the genre.

Of course, erotica already tends to be
less formulaic than genres such as mystery or romance. Nevertheless,
readers have some unspoken expectations:

  • An erotic story will include
    physical sex acts, with some expectation that the more explicit and
    varied the sex acts, the better.
  • Characters in erotic stories will
    experience at least one orgasm (each).
  • Characters in erotic stories will
    experience physical pleasure on the way to orgasm.
  • Characters in erotic stories tend
    to be at least somewhat attractive.
  • The story will end happily, in the
    sense that the participants get what they want (sexual release).

These expectations are not equally
strong. In particular, the “happy ending” rule can be waived, in
so called “dark erotica”. However, as erotic romance becomes an
increasingly powerful force in the market, it has become more
difficult to publish erotic stories with tragic or otherwise negative
conclusions.

Stories that satisfy the expectations
above are likely to sell well. To some extent, readers are lazy (we
all are) and want experiences that offer familiar satisfactions, as
opposed to experiences that challenge them to think or feel something
different. If we write according to expectations, delivering what
readers are buying now, we’ll likely increase the size of our monthly
royalty checks. However, we may be undermining the reputation of the
genre as a whole.

I’ve been writing, publishing, reading
and reviewing erotica for more than a decade. Lately, the majority of
the stories I read have a depressing sameness. Even more alarming, I
find that I myself am reluctant to write stories that violate popular
expectations. I know that choosing to write an ugly or nasty
character, or to include only a minimal amount of actual sex, or to
leave a character frustrated, may interfere with my selling the story
– to publishers and to readers.

Great fiction takes risks. It stands
out from the crowd. The books and stories that most impress me tend
to be original, surprising, outrageous, even disturbing. If I aspire
to more than hack status, I must be willing to risk following my
intuitions instead of the rules.

At the moment, I’m working on an erotic
vampire story for the charitable anthology I’m editing, Coming
Together: In Vein
. In my initial notions about the
conclusion, the main character does not get what he wants. He’s
desperate to be taken by the vampires, to be ravished, used, drained
dry. He wants to sacrifice himself to them, because he loves them so
deeply. However, his master and mistress refuse to grant his wish.
Instead, he’s left in the same state of unrelieved desire as when the
story opens.

As I considered this, I found myself
thinking, “Oh-oh. Readers won’t like that. They want everyone to
get off. They crave satisfaction. Maybe I’d better change the
ending.” I was tempted to transform the tale into a more familiar
model, to hew more closely to the unspoken rules.

All at once, I realized I was
subverting my own creativity in order to be “safe”. I decided to
stick with my original concept. Of course, I don’t need to worry
about whether this story will be accepted, since I know the editor
well. The experience made me realize, though, how often I do choose
the well-trodden path, opting for sales and money as opposed to
originality.

I’m fascinated by the idea of purely
psychological dominance in D/s. I have another story concept stewing
at the back of my mind, a BDSM novel in which the master is a
quadriplegic. He cannot directly exert any power over the submissive.
Instead, he relies on surrogates and on the sub’s willingness to
surrender and obey. In particular, I have a scene in mind where he
completely immobilizes the sub so that she’ll have some understanding
of his personal experience.

This story premise breaks most of the
genre rules. Still, because this scenario intrigues me personally, I
suspect that I could make the tale erotic. However, I’ll probably
never write it, because I’m convinced that no publisher would accept
it (and I don’t have the time or energy to take the self-publishing
route). I’m basically holding back from taking the risks that might
produce something of serious literary merit.

How many of us are falling into the
same trap?

On the other hand, the most exquisite
prose, the most amazing literary insights, mean nothing if they’re
unread. If our fantastically creative erotic books never see the
light of day, we will accomplish nothing.

I continue to ponder this conundrum,
trying to decide if there’s a way to create outstanding erotic
fiction that takes risks and still gets read.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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