The Pitfalls of doing what I do
I still think of myself as a newcomer to the world of writing, and I’m still learning new aspects to the craft every day. Not just the technical side of constructing words into sentences into paragraphs, but also the practical side – what can I put in this book that will make it appeal to readers and hopefully shift a few units?
When I reread my first draft of Peeper I realised I’d included way too much Welshness; too much comment about Welsh life, Welsh idealism and Welsh politics. Not only did this slow down the plot, it was also grossly unnecessary, and I made good use of the delete key to get rid of it all. Who the fuck would want to be lectured to about a small country they’d probably never heard of, in what was supposed to be an erotic novel?
I had to think from a potential customer’s point of view. If I went out and bought a pornographic magazine and discovered that instead of photographs of beautiful, naked women, it contained a series of patronising lectures about the social history of Yorkshire, I’d quite rightly want my money back.
There’s a side of me that strives to be an artist – to be taken seriously as a good writer, but there’s also a side of me with a mortgage to pay. If I have any hopes of ever making a living from what I like to think of as my vocation, then I need to create a saleable product. I need to refrain from badgering people with my opinions and my pretentious beliefs that I am somehow delivering something highbrow. Let’s be honest; the only reason folk buy erotic books is to get a sexual thrill.
But I can’t just ignore my calling and write what I would consider to be dismal books about downtrodden women getting liberated by sexual affairs with rich men. Surely there’s room in erotica for a plot? For a narrative that delivers an adventure, rather than a description of a series of fucks? With Peeper I attempted to mix erotica with a simple detective story, give the sex a backdrop to carry it on its way. How very foolish I was; I had inadvertently strayed into what the publishing industry describes as ‘cross genre’.
Personally, I don’t like the word genre. I find the concept of limiting yourself to a single theme to be repressive and dull. Did Shakespeare or Dickens write in a genre? Should A Clockwork Orange have been rejected because Burgess mixed social comment with science fiction? Publishers and retailers like to keep things simple; to have clearly defined sections in their catalogues in which to advertise their merchandise. They hate people like me, because they don’t know what box to drop me in.
Clearly I still haven’t learned my lesson. I like to think my latest novel The House of Fox is entirely beyond categorisation, and I hope it causes headaches to those who love to compartmentalise. It’s entirely sexual, yet isn’t really erotica; it’s funny, but isn’t really a comedy; it has supernatural aspects, but isn’t really horror. I have delivered the book I always wanted to write. The pitfall to this is obvious; nobody will buy it; I have shot myself in the foot, once again.
The House of Fox excerpt:
“Jane!” Dylan called from the stage.
She kept her gun trained on Donna a moment longer, relishing the fear that had wiped away that look of smugness, and then turned to face him. “Dylan the Dick.” She readjusted her aim, pointing the muzzle at his crotch. “Soon to be Dylan the Dickless if you give me any trouble.”
He smiled. “I’m sensing you have some anger management issues, young lady.”
Jane did a double take, incredulous he could be quite so dumb. “Oh what a great idea, Dylan: Hey, let’s make jokes at the expense of the lady who has a gun trained on our prize shlong. That’ll certainly prove you aren’t the moron everyone claims you are.”
“Have people been saying I’m a moron?” He rolled his eyes. “Not that old chestnut.”
“It’s a well known fact you have more dong than ding.” She cocked her head to one side. “Which is what got us all wondering – how could someone as retarded as yourself possibly manage to put this little insurrection together? It’s patently obvious you’re merely the puppet, so if you want to spare yourself an eternity of agony, start naming names. Who put you up to this, Dylan?”
“Funnily enough, the person who put me up to it also provided me with this.” He held out his hand to show her a silver device sandwiched in his fist. “If my thumb lets go of this button, a V bomb will take out this entire level and we’ll all spend eternity in agony.”
Jane took a step back and waved away the encroaching militia. Her bravado died pitifully inside her chest. She should have known it was too good to last.
“Looks like the moron stole a march on the Fox Girls.” Dylan waved the silver device in the air. “Guess that makes you pretty stupid, huh?”
“Put it down,” Jane shrieked, raising the muzzle of the gun level with his head.
“Put it down? Okay, I’ll put it down.” Dylan bent forward, making as if to drop the device on the floor.
“Stop!” Jane backed up another step, panic bubbling at the realisation she’d fucked everything up. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“You think so? Do you know what a V bomb is, Jane?” Dylan’s twisted smile mocked her to the core. “It’s a very powerful piece of black witchcraft that essentially turns every vagina within a hundred yard radius into a hydrogen bomb. Your little ginger quim will explode with the force of ten Hiroshimas, blowing you and everyone else within a mile into a billion pieces in the blink of an eye.”
Jane stared at him, trying to work out if he was bullshitting or not.
The House of Fox blurb:
After a drunken night on the town, four friends awake to find themselves in the House of Fox, the ultimate brothel in the universe, where every sordid fantasy becomes reality.
But all is not as it seems.
The House of Fox harbours many dark secrets, and factions are plotting against one another.
The four newcomers must choose their friends carefully and take care not to lose their minds on the thrill ride of perversion that will carry them to the ends of the Earth and beyond.
The Great Voyeur in the Sky is watching . . .
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Fox-SJ-Smith-ebook/dp/B01GF44M0S
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/House-Fox-Sinful-Comedies-Book-ebook/dp/B01GF44M0S
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-house-of-fox-sj-smith/1123824728?ean=9781910908044
SJ Smith is a neurotic recluse who lives in North Wales. It has long been his dream to become a full time filth monger.
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