An exclusive interview with erotic author Portia Da Costa
Portia Da Costa is one of the most popular Black Lace authors, with her latest novel Suite Seventeen adding a wide range of sex toys - everything from vibrators, nipple clamps and restraints to a slave collar - to her trademark sizzling sex play. It's the perfect read for Lovehoney fans, and the ideal introduction to Portia's impressive back catalogue, which also includes the bona fide classics Continuum and Gothic Blue. If you ever wondered what all the Black Lace fuss was about, Portia's books are a great place to start - and we're honoured to have her views on the craft that has made her famous.
How did you first come to start writing erotic fiction?
I started writing by accident, really. I've always been a science fiction fan, and at one time, I used to go to sci-fi conventions and meet up with friends who wrote fan fiction and drew fan art. One of my buddies wanted me to write an erotic story that she could illustrate, because nobody was writing about her particular hero. She thought that because I read a lot, and I was a librarian, I could automatically write too. I decided to have a go, and found out that I really liked writing, especially the sexy stuff, although the first story I wrote was about a hero of mine, not my friend's…
After a few years just writing for fun, and also trying about half a dozen times to get a romantic novel published, I switched back to erotic fiction and got my very first attempt accepted by Nexus. That was Adventures in the Pleasurezone, back in the early 90s, and I haven't really stopped writing erotic fiction and erotic romance since.
Could you tell us a little about your influences?
I think my earliest influences were probably Anais Nin, Pauline Reage and short stories by various other female French erotic writers. After I'd been writing a while myself, I discovered the novels of Cyrian Amberlake and his Domino Trilogy for Nexus. These stories really blew me away, and pretty soon they were my gold standard of erotic writing, and read them repeatedly.
I've sort of moved on from them nowadays, but they're still pretty fabulous examples of erotica, in terms of style, characterisation and content. At the moment, I wouldn't say the writing of any other erotic writer influences me, but I find inspiration for stories and characters from all sorts of sources. Films, television, photographs, other people's stories, actors and film stars, music, things I hear people say… that sort of thing.
Do you practice what you preach, or do you prefer to work purely from the imagination?
That'll be a big fat 'no comment' on that one… it's much more fun to leave it to the reader to speculate on whether I have or haven't done the stuff I write about.
Why should people read erotica?
I don't know, really. The same reason they do anything… just because they *want* to!
Can you make a living from writing erotica?
I think some people can, if they write quickly and have lots and lots of ideas. But I'm a fairly slow writer so I probably couldn't make my entire living from writing erotica. Part of it, yes, but not all of it…
Is there any other contemporary erotica you rate highly?
I really enjoy the erotic romance writing of fellow British authors, Saskia Walker and Madelynne Ellis. They both write really hot fiction, that's full of depth, heart and emotion. I love the descriptive powers of both these wonderful writers, and they both always have great ideas for stories that I always wish I'd thought of!
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors on how to write erotic fiction?
Not really. I don't actually find writing easy myself, so I don't feel very qualified to tell others how to do it. I suppose the only thing I can recommend is not to make it all about the 'plumbing'. I know it's a cliché, but the most powerful sex organ in the body is the brain, so I'd say, let the reader know what your characters are thinking and feeling, as well as what's going on physically.
Have you used sex toys in your stories, and if so which ones?
Oh yes, a lot of my books and stories have featured sex toys. I can't remember the details of older books, but there are definitely quite a few sex toys in my latest Black Lace novel, Suite Seventeen. It's a pretty kinky tale, and the heroine Annie experiments with vibrators, nipple clamps, restraints and wears a sort of play slave collar in one scene. I actually had lots of fun browsing the Lovehoney site, looking for suitable new toys.
Are there any sex toys you've enjoyed using in real life?
Again, no comment… see my answer above about 'what I've done'.
Finally, do you have any message for Lovehoney customers?
Yes… I hope you'll all enjoy reading my erotic fiction *and* enjoy using Lovehoney sex toys… either separately, or at the same time! ;)