Writing good kinky smut
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Every vibrant culture has its literature. The kink world is no different. While a smattering of kink erotica has existed for a long time, it's only during the relatively recent past that a plethora of quality kink-themed books for the popular market, both nonfiction and fiction, have emerged.
The rise in such quality literature often signals the maturation of the group of people for which it's intended. This certainly happened with LGBTQ literature and it's been happening with books aimed at the leather, kink, BDSM and fetish communities too. As our communities have thrived, flourished and become more out, our range of good literature options has grown.
One of the world's most famous and revered contemporary kink fiction writers is Laura Antoniou. I attended Laura's recent San Francisco appearance at SF Catalyst where a large crowd of fans gathered to hear her read from her works, answer questions, and, as she commonly does, espouse humorous and clever bits of wisdom and observation about all things kink. She did not disappoint.
The evening, sponsored by SF Catalyst and beautifully organized by local kinkster Leigh Ann Hildebrand, the current Ms. Santa Clara County Leather, also served as a benefit to support SF Catalyst. www.sfcatalyst.org
Since Laura was making an all too rare San Francisco appearance, I decided it was a great opportunity to interview her. Our interview ran long and she gave me so much good material that's it's impossible to cover it all here, but hopefully you'll get a taste of the wonderfulness that is Laura Antoniou.
It turns out this trip to San Francisco went rather well for Laura.
"San Francisco is a tough market," said Antoniou. "It sometimes seems like half the top teachers, speakers, entertainers in kink live here already, so there's rarely the allure of an out-of-town name. Plus, I am expensive. I don't fly anywhere on my own money to teach for free. And once you factor in the transportation and housing expenses and then try to guess how many people will come out on a given night, if nothing else was happening, both I and my hosting organizations would wind up losing money. This time, though, I had patron sponsorship guiding an exclusive, limited appearance tour, and it was clear it made a great difference. Almost 50 people on a Tuesday night? The best crowd I've ever had here."
My favorite kinky novel of recent memory is Laura's extremely popular The Killer Wore Leather, an engaging mystery set amid a modern, pansexual international leather/BDSM contest and conference that those who attend such events will immediately find familiar. While Laura will tell you that she thinks her book, The Inheritor, is her best written book, she'll also tell you that she is especially proud of The Killer Wore Leather because it's her love letter to the wacky, dysfunctional, gloriously messy kink worlds she's lived in since she was, as she describes, "just a baby dyke."
I asked Laura why this book resonates with so many readers.
"It's the colorful people and our conflicting desires to be scary and outsiders, but also have our own culture with rules and understandings," she said. "It's the contest scene and the people who love it and it's the volunteers who show up even when they know they're never gonna get laid. It's everything I love and hate about the scene - and, most importantly, it's about us, by one of us and it's not erotica or how-to. That was my biggest goal. To write a mystery, not an erotic mystery. To have my community as the characters, not the weird and scary place some outsider has to 'infiltrate' as though we don't let anyone register for our events and show up at a munch. As if we wouldn't happily talk all about our kinks given the slightest chance. Also, it's funny as f*ck."
Considering Laura's critical success and the popularity of her work, I asked her if she had any advice for writers, kinky writers in particular.
"So, tips? Other than get a real job? Finish what you are writing. Real writers finish the work. Then, choose which road you want to take. Try submitting it to the publishers who are left, once you have researched them and found out what they are looking for, and are sure your work will apply. Follow their guidelines scrupulously. Give them a reasonable time to respond. Repeat."
Antoniou continued, "Study how to make your own book using established online tools. See if it's something you can do. You can also hire people to do the work for you, if you really believe your readership will respond enough to at least cover those costs. Promote your work in every social media you can use, find ways to use that media productively. Learn to watch the way the business changes to take advantage of new venues for your work and keep trying them from time to time so you can adapt as the business model changes again."
The author also discussed developing an audience.
"Cultivate your readers and fans because they will mostly likely be the only advertising you can afford," she said. "Consider ways to get them to invest in you, if you have more stories to tell and books to write. Use Patreon, Medium, little apps that let people send you coffee money and tips. And then finish the next thing and get it out. But I think the most important thing is finishing."
Laura recently wrote a book with the inimitable Midori, a local Bay Area and worldwide kink celebrity, and the renowned Cecilia Tan. It's three novellas about magical kinky people through three periods in Japan. Antiniou said she feels it's a unique work that kinksters of all kinds will enjoy. They're going to launch a fundraiser for it in October.
Because she's decided she really needs to connect directly with her core readership and deliver new work to them first, she's putting her new writing on her Patreon site, www.Patreon.com/kvetch
By her own admission, Laura says she lives on Facebook. Following Laura there or elsewhere is easy. Her social media links are available on her website where you'll also find more information about her and her books, speeches, presentations and travel schedule. www.Lantoniou.com
Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. www.bannon.com