BOTM January – Phantom: The Immortal

It was definitely my pleasure to read Phantom: The Immortal by Mitzi Szereto and Ashley Lister, though I’ll be honest in that I didn’t quite know what I was getting into with this before I started. Though my work featured in books by both Mitzi and Ashley, I hadn’t read anything they’d written before Phantom. I’ll certainly be checking out more from them in the future.

Before I get into it, I’ll say this: I do love a good Phantom adaptation, but they’re not easy to find. that’s not to say adaptations of Gaston LeRoux’s book are scarce, because there are a lot of them, but note I said a good Phantom adaptation. The majority are Mary Sue fanfics in which Erik meets yet another beautiful soprano in present day and it all begins again with some sex thrown in. Ugh.

Not this one. Oh boy, not this one.

5102eamxm8l-_sy346_It begins with a snippet from the diaries of Christine Daae in which she finally consummates her love affair with the unnamed Phantom, and then the story immediately introduces us to a new Christine at an auction house, where she both bids on Christine the First’s diaries and meets a new Compte. Through his string-pulling, she finds herself at the very same opera house where Christine I met her Angel of Music, and it doesn’t take long for Christine II to capture the Angel’s attention.

There’s so much to love in this adaptation. Giry, the descendant of Mme Giry, is a gay man with clear feelings for the Opera Ghost and, though obedient, doesn’t shy away from getting his digs in at Christine in the hopes of discouraging the Phantom’s infatuation. Like Christine I, this one is torn between the Compte and the Phantom, but unlike Christine Daae, it’s clear where this Christine’s true desires lie and her head isn’t turned by a pretty face and lots of money. My favourite part of this story is the Phantom’s background. I won’t give anything away, but I preferred this explanation to all others put forth, including the original.

As for the smutty bits, they’re not overdone. The Phantom’s penchant for bondage is there, but it’s doesn’t overrule all the other action in the book. Phantom: The Immortal is a fully-fleshed addition to Phantom-inspired literature, and while I do think it could have been longer, it was a welcome addition and a very fun read. I absolutely hope Mitzi and Ashley take on a few more of the classics together.

BOTM January – Figment

I was going to post earlier, but I have a totally valid excuse for not doing this — reading another dirty BOTM! I’m actually taking the time to read in the last little while, and this month I read two fantastic dirty books by three excellent authors, but I’m going to save the other one for a separate post.

First up, right before the Christmas break ended, was Figment by Alison Tyler. I think I mentioned this book in my last post. As with every single word I read from Alison, be it tweets or Patreon posts, I’m never disappointed. Figment was no different.

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This book is written from the perspective of a woman who writes smutty things. This author is constantly driven to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards, her thoughts skipping from one story to another when her muse demands it (or sometimes in defiance of that muse.)

Her muse? Well, here’s where it gets interesting. Her muse is a handsome dom who lives in her mind. He tells her what to write. “Tell me a story,” he says, and she obeys. He constantly challenges her, sometimes an unforgiving punisher and other times a petulant brat.

And then there are the stories she is compelled to write, too many to list here. Sometimes they get their ending, and other times they are left suspended in time. It was unique from virtually every other dirty book I’ve read and with Alison’s unabashed wicked ways with words, and while it would be easy to say that Figment would most speak to other writers of dirty words I think that would be an incorrect assumption: Figment would speak to anyone who has ever been compelled to do something naughty, almost as though there’s a devil whispering in their ear.

Back soon with my other dirty BOTM, Phantom: The Immortal.

Misnomers

I’ve been thinking a lot of the name of this blog, “I Write Smutty Things.” It’s a bit of a misnomer. I mean, I have written smutty things, but one thing that’s clear going into 2017 is that there is likely to be much less of that this year. I only plan to be publishing two things this year — one, an anthology of my shorts; two, one of my shorts will appear in an anthology that, up until recently, I thought was DOA.

But every time I think I’m done, I get nibbled. There are still stories sitting in the back of my mind, still filthy-minded characters demanding to be let out to play. It’s becoming clear what while I’m pretty much done with doing the smutty things the way I used to — writing on deadline and submitting to publishers, churning the smutty things through Amazon and whatnot — it’s not done yet, because there are a multitude of ways to tell stories and I’m more interested in telling stories versus the business side of things.

And the characters are getting even more perverted, which can only be a good thing.

I hated having to claw back words or soften language when prompted by an editor, no matter how much of champion the editor was when it came to being true to my voice. I hated having to write with an audience in mind. I hated having to adjust my writing because Big Giant Heads suddenly decided that they wanted to change the tone of their books from one that had made me want to publish with them to begin with. I hated all the know-it-allness some authors consistently regurgitated and all the back-biting and, yes, the sudden arrival of Fifty Shades of Grey to hijack the term erotica (and in case you think I’m shitting on FSOG, it is a perfect example of give-no-fucks erotica of the old school variety that hasn’t been replicated since its publication, and it’s the idea that the formula used is the only kind of erotica that gets this old broad pissy.)

I took a chance with the YA and clawed it back from the slush pile to post it entirely for free and I’m happy with how that turned out, even if I haven’t made a dime to date. I have readers who want more and are eager to have a physical copy of the book in their hands. I took a chance and wrote some niche erotica under a different name and didn’t cull anything that I otherwise would have considered “too far,” and as a result I find myself in a position where I don’t have to worry about whether there will be money in my account at the end of the month —  I’m outselling “myself” by about 500%.

I’ll say it again and let this sink in: I made more in one month on 30,000 words than I did on five novels in six months.

Doing things the way I was supposed to be doing them and writing things I was supposed to be writing have not served me well either professionally or emotionally, and it does not allow me to buy the shiny things I want to buy. In short, A.M. Hartnett was not nearly as successful in a decade as these other two writing personalities have been in less than a year.

I’m learning from this experience, but I’m also learning from the best. Alison Tyler, frequent editor of anthologies I’ve been in and veteran in the dirty words game, has started writing on Patreon. Alison the writer is like Margaret Atwood, trying new things, constantly evolving, and ever producing content. Her novel Figment (which will be this month’s BOTM) was a spectacular piece of writing and not at all like anything else I’ve seen out there. It is in my opinion a perfect piece of writing from someone who is as bold and experimental as her characters. Giselle Renarde is another writer who doesn’t fit into anyone’s box. She writes, pure and simple as that, and she publishes. Her work is filthy, unapologetic, and fabulous. She doesn’t go looking for an audience, but lets her work find the audience.

So I’m learning from Alison, from Giselle, and from my other pen names that I can write the smutty things and be happy to do it, but only if I’m willing to forget the rules I adhered to before. The name of the blog doesn’t have to be a misnomer if I don’t want it to.

Up next: Dirty BOTM double-feature planned. One-clickers readers have been warned.