1. An exclusive interview with erotic author Wendy Swanscombe

    The Island of Dr Sade

    If you like your smut on the strange side, you won't find it much stranger than Wendy Swanscombe. Nexus has never been afraid to mix the bizarre with the erotic, but Wendy's world pips even Aishling Morgan for out-and-out weirdness. You want tulip girls? Read The Island of Dr Sade (and spare a thought for poor old HG Wells). You want anaemic sisters trapped in the vicelike grip of a Teutonic master? Try Disciplined Skin. And if you want fresh flesh… well, see what Fresh Flesh holds in store for you.

    We asked Wendy a few questions about her smut-peddling activities, and true to form she's thrown us some intriguing and bizarre answers. We wouldn't have it any other way…

    How did you first come to start writing erotic fiction?

    For money, honey. A kind editor in London persuaded that nice Mr Branson to part with some for Disciplined Skin, my first book for Nexus, and it carried on from there. But I prefer to think that I'm writing porn rather than erotic fiction.

    Could you tell us a little about your influences?

    It took me a while to see who my biggest influence has been, but now I know who to blame: Joris-Karl Huysmans of Against Nature infamy. As my well-thumbed French edition says: C'est la Bible de l'esprit decadent et de la 'charogne' 1900. Charogne apparently means both 'carrion' and 'slut', which is reassuring. Apart from Huysmans, de Sade taught me a lot about how to go far too far with a smile on more than just my face.

    Do you practice what you preach, or do you prefer to work purely from the imagination?

    The characters in my books are made of ink and words, so they can get away with a lot more than I can, as a frail female of flesh and blood. My rule of thumb is: 'Don't try everything you write about… and don't write about everything you try.'

    Why should people read erotica?

    For amusement, for arousal, for whatever they like. Written erotica has the advantage of not involving real bodies, so real people don't get hurt or exploited.

    Can you make a living from writing erotica?

    If you're Penny Birch you can. But her body's fully booked till 2017. No, don't get your hopes up if you start writing erotica: fame and fortune will not generally come your way.

    Is there any other contemporary erotica you rate highly?

    I like Arabella Knight best of the writers I've seen: her stories are humorous, intelligent and have lots of bouncing breasts, well-fladged fesses and lesbian lechery. Her love of women and women's bodies really shines through.

    Do you have any tips for aspiring authors on how to write erotic fiction?

    If you can turn yourself on, you'll have a good chance of turning readers on. How much you use your own experiences and how much your imagination will be up to you.

    And remember how strange and powerful what you're doing is. Written porn, erotic fiction, whatever you want to call it is a unique branch of literature. It's a form of magic, really: just black symbols on white paper, yet it gets organs tumescing and juices flowing and hands working and pleasure-centres humming. No other genre is quite so physically direct.

    Have you used sex toys in your stories, and if so which ones?

    Something that comes easily to mind is the trildo - "Which is, of course, a dildo with three heads. One, two, three. One for you, Gwen, and one for you, Beth, and one for you, Anna." They're the three sisters who starred in my first three books, Disciplined Skin, Beast and Pale Pleasures.

    The trildo makes its appearance in Beast. In the same book there were transparent dildos with unscrewable heads, so gems could be put inside for an eroto-mathematical game based on 'The Lady or the Tiger', and pussy-whips and nip-whips, delicate whips of human hair for use on pussies and nipples, respectively. If large albino mosquitoes count as sex toys, they're in Beast too. I got less inhibited and more twisted in later books.

    Are there any sex toys you've enjoyed using in real life?

    I'm too much of a lady to answer that.

    Finally, do you have any message for Lovehoney customers?

    As one of my old lovers always used to say: "Wendy, a teaspoon of borax in the water helps cut flowers stay fresh longer." (Eh? Ed)

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