Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Nyki Blatchley, whose novel At an Uncertain Hour was released this spring by StoneGarden.
When Nyki was in his mid-teens, he started writing a fantasy trilogy and he's nearing the end of it now, nearly forty years later. It has expanded into a fantasy world that now consists of hundreds of countries and thousands of years of history, and the majority of his fiction is set there. He has also written a lot of poetry and had quite a bit published.
"I also performed it live a lot, mainly around venues in London, often backed by my own pre-recorded music which I dubbed The Invisible Band," he told me. "One of the venues I appeared at a lot was Bunjies Coffee House, which in the sixties hosted people like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and David Bowie. In the past few years, though, I haven’t been writing much poetry – I’m not sure why, but hopefully it’ll come back to me.
"I’ve recently expanded into erotica. I had three books published by Dark Eden Press before its unfortunate demise, but I’ve found an excellent new home with Lyrical Press Inc. I’m always looking for new areas to expand into – recently, I’ve been working on a script for a TV series."
I asked Nyki how he distinguished between erotica, erotic romance, and pornography.
"Well, the sound byte answer is that porn is about sex, erotica is about sexuality and romance is about relationships. Erotic romance is an in-between which, I suppose, could be described as exploring relationships through sexuality.
"Perhaps the easiest illustration is to take a situation. Two people (John and Mary, Mary and Jane, John and Paul, whatever) meet in an otherwise empty lift. In a porn story, they’re overcome by wild animal lust and have sex an improbable number of times, while the lift goes up and down and, miraculously, no-one gets in till they’re adjusting their clothes. The sex is described in explicit physical detail, but we learn very little about who they are.
"In an erotic story, they have sex in the lift, and feel an overwhelming urge to continue meeting and doing similar things. The sex is still described explicitly, but a lot more emphasis is given to the feelings and emotional reactions, and the story explores what drives them to take this kind of risk.
"In an erotic romance, they probably don’t have sex there and then, but they flirt and both feel very aroused. Subsequent meetings, where they do have sex in various situations, make them realise they’re in love, leading to a HEA ending. The sex is probably a little less explicit, though still steamy, with a lot more emphasis on the emotions.
"In a straight romance story, they definitely don’t have sex in the lift, but the meeting leads to a courtship (probably having to overcome problems) as they fall in love and achieve a HEA ending. If they do have sex during the story, it probably won’t be described explicitly."
Nyki sees erotica and porn as fundamentally different things, with the only similarity being that porn always and erotica usually involves explicit descriptions of sex. "Otherwise, they’re not the same at all," he said.
One misconception he sees about erotica is that people think women read and write erotica, while men read and write porn.
"Like most stereotypes, this has a kernel of truth, in that the traditional audience for porn has tended to be predominantly male, whereas the rise in erotica’s profile came with the development of a female market," he explained. "It’s also true that women tend to be more interested in the emotional side than men, but that’s only a tendency, not an absolute. Men both read and write erotica, just as (I presume) some women read and write porn."
"How do you judge what makes a good erotic story when writing your own fiction?" I asked.
"Well, the most obvious sign is whether I get... let’s say, distracted while I’m writing. Although arousal isn’t the main or only purpose of erotica, as it is with porn, a good erotic story should certainly be arousing.
"Other than that, it’s much the same as with other types of story – are the characters people who I’d care about if I were a reader, are the events sufficiently exciting or moving, are the scenes described so that the reader can see them?"
Nyki told me that he's not generally a big researcher, or rather—he tends to write then he does any research he needs to do afterwards. Since he writes about a sorceress in a fantasy world, it might not seem as if it leaves a lot of room open for research.
"There are things I need to have at least a basic grasp on, such as how magic has been believed to work in the real world, or what kind of weapons are effective in what situation," he said. "I draw on a lot of knowledge I have anyway; otherwise, I look things up on a need-to-know basis.
"As far as the erotic side goes – well, I’d like to say I go out and try everything I write, but the truth is a bit less exciting. Some is from experience, of course – not only direct experience but, for instance, knowing how partners have reacted and how they’ve described their experiences. Where I’ve nothing like that to draw on, I read accounts of what particular types of sex are like. And where even that fails me (there aren’t too many reliable accounts, for instance, of what sex with a faery is like) I use my imagination. Those tend to be the bits that are most fun."
"Have fun" is the advice he would give to someone wanting to write erotica. "Although there’s a serious side to erotica, you’re writing about the most enjoyable way of playing known to humankind (or to bonobos, the only other creatures who appear to enjoy sex purely for fun)," he told me. "You don’t have to have experienced directly everything you write about, but you need to draw on your own sexuality to write erotica. If you haven’t experienced something, has your current or former partner? You could either discuss it or judge from their reactions – this can be invaluable if you’re writing about the opposite sex.
"Oh, and one other thing – don’t try to write erotica in public. If you’re doing it right, the results can be a little embarrassing."
On a personal note, I asked Nyki, "If you could be anyone, who would you choose to be?"
"I’m really pretty cool with being me, though I’d certainly like to be me-with-more-money. If I could have a short-term experience being someone else, it wouldn’t be one specific person, but I’d like to experience being a woman," he replied. "Not permanently – I’m certainly not looking for a sex-change – but just for a while, to see what it’s like."
For eating off the tummy (or other body parts) he prefers something a bit sticky and a bit runny, such as cream, chocolate sauce, or honey, so it takes a lot of licking to clean up thoroughly. Another benefit is they tend to run elsewhere, which then also needs to be cleaned up.
"Other places – well, licking chocolate sauce off the boobs is always great, or fruit served up in the pussy. Strawberries and cream, preferably," he said.
He has too many favorite foods to choose just one, he said, admitting he likes variety. Some of his favorites include chocolate, ham sandwiches, mushrooms, roast beef, pretty much anything Chinese, chicken fajitas, and steak and chips. There's also a local make of sausages, Braughing sausages, that he says, "knocks every other sausage into a cocked hat."
He continued, "River cobbler (a fish from south-east Asia I’ve recently discovered), cheesecake, real Italian pizzas, roast potatoes the way I do them, Chicken a la Westria (my recipe), apple pie... I’ll stop there, I think."
There is one food he absolutely cannot bring himself to eat, though. "Swede," he told me. "I think it’s called rutabaga in the US. It’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, and it got the worst of both. Yuck."
Finally, I asked Nyki what advice he would give to a writer just starting out.
"I have two pieces of advice, really. One is just to write. Write everything and anything, and don’t worry about the quality – it’s all practice. Of course, if you read it back and realise you’ve come up with a masterpiece, so much the better.
"The other is (again) to have fun. For instance, it’s common to advise would-be writers to 'write what you know'. No – write what interests you. If you have a fascinating story to tell about something close to home, that’s fine, but if 'what you know' is a bit dull, as it is for most of us, then by all means write about international espionage, medieval knights or adventure in a galaxy far far away. And if you don’t have the information you need to write about such things, it’s a perfect opportunity to learn. Most people have a local library, and Google is just a click away.
"Oh, and the third of the two pieces of advice – try to finish at least some stories. A lot of beginning writers start loads of projects, then outgrow and abandon them. The problem with this is that they get lots of practice writing beginnings, but none at all writing endings, which is one of the most difficult things. Even if you already know the work isn’t going to be publishable, at least use it for practice."
You can keep up with Nyki on his blog, http://www.nykiblatchley.co.uk