You and I was my first erotica release in 2017. It began as an experiment in steamy “sudden fiction”, then later became a five-piece series of flash fiction chapters. I was reading a lot of Literotica back then and wanted to see how things would turn out if you shot for the same level of heat but with a more introspective tone.
Hope you enjoy this little excerpt from my early foray into rude writing 💜
The credits finish. In reality, a second passes, but it seems to take forever. It’s so quiet, I can hear the tap drip in the kitchen. Should I be embarrassed? We’re not teenagers anymore. But we’ve never been this close before and my skin is burning.
“Should I get up?” I ask. I’m exposed and awkward, unsure of where this goes. What would it mean to you, if I sat up? Should we pretend this never happened? The questions in a question.
Your mouth moves, silently at first. Then you say: “You don’t have to. I mean, if you don’t want to.”
You look in my eyes and I wonder if you can tell I’ve thought about us being here. I wonder if you know I borrow the clothes you leave behind when you crash after a big night; if you know I know they smell the way you do up close. With my face pressed against you and my belly in knots.
Fuck it. I don’t want to keep wondering.
“I’ll stay a bit,” I say. I smile and move my head, press a little harder; you breathe deep. “Hey, I don’t have to be anywhere tonight. Do you?”
“Nowhere,” you shake your head. “Nothing planned.”
“Can I take this?” I ask. I tug at the waistband of your shorts. A wispy tuft peeks out from the gap between your shirt and underwear.
You look like you’re about to say something; either ask me to stop or to keep going. I wait to feel your hands on the back of my head, wait to hear you tell me, direct, to put your dick in my mouth and suck it until you come. But that’s only how I imagine you. You’re too polite for that. You just nod and wait for me.
You lift your hips and I slip your shorts off. The cut of your v-line surprises me. It really shouldn’t. I’ve seen you countless times, shirt off, passed out drunk exactly where I’m lying now. But not like this, I suppose. Not where you’re inches from my face with your eyes on me and your abdomen rising and falling like unbreaking waves.
Ever since the whitewashing controversy earlier this year, I’ve been thinking more about issues of non-white character portrayal in film and books. I know the controversy didn’t start with Ghost in the Shell, and Lionel Shriver’s infamous speech certainly kicked up quite a fuss in 2016, but it’s only recently that the smattering of feelings I’ve had about this seems to be taking shape.
See this tweet: https://twitter.com/jennyhan/status/888475968112803840
Admittedly, if I saw an ad for this film without having seen this tweet, I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid about the Asian representation thing. Maybe it’s because there’s so much racially charged emotion in the debate that I find it hard to take stock of my own feelings independent of external influences.
I am Asian. Chinese, to be specific, maybe with a little indigenous Southeast Asian thrown in the mix too (one time I was told yes, another time I was told no, so who the hell knows). As a reader, I consider myself somewhat colourblind (“colour agnostic” might be a better term), in that I don’t often think about fictional characters in terms of their race, though I have often felt a sense of novelty or piqued interest when presented with non-white main characters – maybe because it’s unusual, I don’t know.
Recently, my partner and I compared notes on how we would cast the characters from The Quantum Thief in our ideal hypothetical movie. While we agreed on Orlando Bloom or Luke Evans as Jean Le Flambeur, we had very different ideas for Mieli. For starters, he pictured her as a ScarJo type, where I’d always thought of her as more of a Tessa Thompson – quite different, huh?
I don’t tend to read character descriptions in fiction, so his depiction is probably more accurate than mine. But how someone looks has always seemed less interesting to me than how they behave.
So, personally, I don’t mind white writers writing non-white characters. Just having a variety of characters, cultures, issues, turns of phrase, etc. makes a story so interesting. That’s not to say white characters and their problems are uninteresting, but that they’d be even more interesting when contrasted against colourful elements.
But Stevens highlights an interesting point in her piece: respect.
Are you a white author trying to tell the story of a disenfranchised Mexican immigrant? Maybe reconsider.
However, are you a white author of erotica looking to cast a dark-skinned black woman as your leading lady? Please, write on!
If someone who’s never walked in my shoes started telling me what it’s like to walk in my shoes and how I should feel about it, I’d find it hard to stay immersed in the story. That’s the kicker for me. If an author has done their homework well enough, such that any racial/cultural elements in the story don’t clash with what I know from experience, then I couldn’t care less what race they are. At the end of the day, people all experience the same frustrations and feelings. As a reader, I just want characters I can relate to.
I don’t mind a little cultural appropriation. To use a non-fiction example, if a friend showed up to a costume party in a black bob wig and a cheongsam, I don’t expect I’d get offended. Cheongsam dresses are nice on the eyes, and I like seeing them around (even if it’s just a costume). If they pinned their eyes back and did yellowface, though, I’d start wondering about what they were trying to accomplish.
It’s not that I’m offended by yellowface. It’s that it’s kind of cringey and tacky. So if the rest of their costume was overtly tacky, and I knew that person to have a cringey sense of humour, I’d probably find it in character for a well-executed joke. Context is important here, I suppose.
Where I grew up, we laughed at our own little Asian eyes and accents and penchant for haggling. It was all part of appreciating our own culture in a multicultural society; all part of coming together and sharing a joke. So, I’m OK with non-Asian cultures doing it too, cos why shouldn’t we share funny moments together when we care about each other?
If the joke fails, though, all bets are off. I know it’s harsh to expect everyone to nail comedy, but jokes are a gamble. Every joker knows this deep down; if they don’t, I’d wonder if respect was ever on the table to begin with. I agree with Lionel Shriver’s point about writers being cultural pickpockets, so if someone’s going to pickpocket something for a joke, it better be hilarious to make the theft worthwhile!
What makes me uncomfortable is when a stereotype is laid on real thick and laboured like no one’s gonna get it unless you beat them over the head with it. That’s not only disrespectful to the people you stole from, but disrespectful to the audience you’re presenting it to. That poor delivery makes the joke unfunny. Who’s coming together then? Was it worthwhile?
Well, that’s just me as a reader. As a writer, I have more thoughts, but this post is long enough already and I really need a cup of tea.
I’ve been so busy lately, I didn’t think I’d have time to update this blog. But I’ve just submitted the finale for “You and I” to Noveltrove Erotica, and can now take a breather before getting on with the rest of my to-do list.
Update on the publishing thing: I have signed a contract with Siren-Bookstrand, written blurbs and summaries, and hoped to high heaven that someone will tell me if I’ve done a crap job! I still kind of can’t believe it and am trying hard to keep my fears and doubts at bay. I really hope you guys enjoy my first novel. Will share more as things progress.
This week, I’m setting up a newsletter and hope to goodness you’ll enjoy the updates, new reads and other goodies I’m putting in it. It’s short, sweet, and only once a month so it doesn’t clog your inbox. The first issue goes out in August!
I’ve been reading a lot of fiction prompts lately, and have been thinking about sharing stories on this blog. When I was in school, first learning to write essays, we’d be given a topic and have to write 150 words. Now, 150 doesn’t sound like a lot, but I remember when it felt like heaps. I love flash fiction for that reason – you can do so much with so little.
I love soup and simple recipes for that reason too, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, what do you think? Would you read romance and erotica on a person’s blog, or do you prefer story sites like Noveltrove and Literotica? Or do you prefer grabbing whole ebooks and reading away from the computer? What about getting short stories emailed to you directly?