Source: Inktober #1 – Jo Henny Wolf
My new short story, Mistress Marlene is out now. The inspiration for it was something really personal.
Sometimes, I’m wondering if the reason why I can’t let go completely during kinky sexy-times is that I know ogre is doing it to please me. He does his best to impersonate a dominant for me. It doesn’t come easy to him, and there’s always a palpable insecurity underlying his act.
As the feeling of faking it is always present, it’s impossible to truly relax into a scene; I can’t trust him to always do right. And he never dares to even approach my limits out of fear of crossing them. I never get the spanking I desire, never the power play I yearn for. And because I know that he doesn’t mean it when he gives me an order, I can just shrug it off and refuse. Knowing that none of it is serious irks me and provokes my rejection. (Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to be forced to do things I didn’t consent to. He has my consent to force me into things I did consent to, however.)
I touched upon this incompatibility when I wrote about my anorgasmia. We’re too different in too many aspects; I’m kinky, he’s vanilla as fuck. Part of why we work as a team despite our vast differences is that we respect them. I’m not forcing him to spank me, but he loves me enough to try.
When I thought about our situation, it sparked the idea for a new story. What if, instead of trying to be something we’re not, we would get our fix another way? What if a partner had the strength to admit that this is not for him, but instead of denying his partner to experience the things she desires, he encourages her to seek them out – just not with him?
It’s an arrangement that wouldn’t work for me and my ogre, but it was fun to explore the idea, and it’s a personal story for me. Hanna, my main character, isn’t me, is not even like me. She’s at the same time more vulnerable and innocent and more daring than I am. And her husband, Christoph, isn’t my ogre either. He’s opener, more accepting, of himself as well as of his wife.
The working title for this story was A Matter of Taste, as it hinged on Hanna’s and Christoph’s incompatibility – a difference in taste, if you want. I changed the title to Mistress Marlene, the name of Hanna’s professional domme, because of her importance for the relationship of Hanna and Christoph. She changes them, and changes their relationship.
Read on for a sneak peek of Mistress Marlene. Buy here.
Excerpt “Mistress Marlene”
“Good. Now, tell me: how hard do you want to be spanked? Do you want bruises to show to your husband?”
The question set fire to Hanna’s core, and she was almost too distracted by her mistress pulling her panties down, slowly, to remember how to speak. She was hyper-aware of her exposed flesh, and drowning in embarrassment as Marlene cupped her buttocks and spread them apart. Hanna had never been so acutely aware of her nether parts as just then, when Marlene pulled her open and she had no way of covering up.
“Please, Mistress,” she whined in distress, not even sure what she was asking for.
“Answer me first. How hard is it going to be?”
Closing her eyes, Hanna allowed the answer to surge up from within, from her guts, and she let it spill over her lips like a moan. “Bruise me.”
I’m mourning the death of my last surviving Aloe polyphylla seedling. It must have been eaten by slugs while I was away. The pot is as empty as if there never was a baby aloe in there at all, and I’m frustrated. What used to be my green thumb is now a charcoal black stump, and I’ve laid more plants to rest than I managed to keep alive. In that regard, I’m very different from Poppy Baines, character in my story “The Black Orchid” which is featured in the Sinful Press anthology “Sinful Pleasures”.
Okay, not just in that regard.
Despite my many losses, I try myself at gardening again and again. I even wanted to become a gardener when I was still in school, and did an internship in a nursery (where the employees lived in a draughty old castle and succulents were weeds my fellow gardeners stuffed into their pockets to take them home). Once upon a time, I managed to keep all my little babies alive. I was so good at it, in fact, that my family trusted me with the mother plant of all our Pilea peperomioides plants when my great-grandmother (who’d owned it for decades) died. I’m ashamed to admit that I did not manage to keep that ancient plant alive. Even more ashamed that it took me only a few months to let it die.
Still, gardening remains endlessly fascinating to me, and I wish I had the same green thumb as Poppy. Live thrives around her, sprouting from cracks, so rich and green it’s almost like magic. I envisioned her as a modern Persephone, if Persephone were a gardener and an orchid breeder. It fits, as gardeners have to be ruthless too. Maybe that’s what I’m missing: I like to watch things grow, and I miss the moment when it’s time for a new pot or a trim, or time to get rid of the weeds, or in the case of orchids, time to water them.
Poppy Baines is ruthless, in a way my other character, Donn, doesn’t immediately catch on to, but she won’t let her plants die. The beautiful thing about fiction is that it’s incredibly easy to fill a whole Victorian greenhouse with a jungle of plants and keep all those plants alive. In a way, I did become a gardener after all; as George R.R. Martin put it:
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
My gardener-heart throbs with joy that one of my babies has found a home in the Sinful Pleasures Anthology, and I’m so excited it came out this week! Go read Gail B Williams’ guest post about her story on my blog! And rememeber when I talked about a bit of writing that captured the power of humiliation so perfectly? I’m still fangirling over the fact that I’m in the same anthology as Janine Ashbless, the author of said book! This anthology is chock-full of goodness, so definitely take a look.
Excerpt of “The Black Orchid”
Poppy smirked, with a sparkle in her eyes that made him feel transparent and naked. He stuck a finger into his shirt collar to get some air onto his heated skin. It was entirely too hot in this hellhole of a greenhouse.
“Maybe you should take off your coat before you collapse,” she prompted gently. Donn’s cheekbones burned right through his skin as he followed her suggestion and shrugged out of his coat, folding it and depositing it out of the way on an empty rack attached to the table, while she plucked another black orchid from her tree shelf. She placed it side by side with the first plant. “Mostly, I just split them into clones, since I have already reached perfection with this breed. I used to pollinate though, to get this dark black.”
She waved him closer, and Donn followed her order. It was like a reward when she placed her hand on his arm, and another jolt of electricity tingled through him, sizzling hot in his lower belly. The heaviness in his groin increased.
“Give me one of the toothpicks from over there, please,” she murmured, leaning closer, and Donn sucked in air like a drowning man who’d broken through the water. His lungs only filled with more of the orchid’s earthy fragrance. As he reached for the toothpicks she had indicated, his head was swimming, as if the orchids had wrapped their roots around him like mangroves to pull him under again. His hand, so steady usually, shook. Poppy let her fingers slide along his much longer than necessary when she took the toothpick he offered. He wished she would touch him even longer.
“Alright. Do you see this little thing at the centre of the flower?” Poppy pointed the tip of the toothpick at a black blossom, and Donn bent down to look at it closely. “That’s the column. You have to insert the toothpick here, carefully…” She demonstrated it to him, but Donn had a hard time concentrating. “You have to push the tip into the stigma to get it sticky, then pull it out along the anther cap…here. Do you see those little yellow dots? They’re called pollinia. The gonads, basically.” She pulled the toothpick out
of the column and showed him two tiny yellow blobs sticking to it. “Now comes the fun part.” With a grin, she moved to the second plant.
Donn swallowed. Poppy’s voice turned throatier with every word, softer, and he leaned closer so he wouldn’t miss a single syllable. “This time, you want to get the pollinia to stick to the stigma. So you gently—gently—push your pick into the column, all the way to the back…and there you deposit your load.” The toothpick came out clean, and she turned her face to smile at him. Her breath tickled against his cheek, warm and damp. Squeezing his eyes shut, Donn tried to get rid of the images of Poppy on her knees, her mouth hot and wet as she sucked his cock into her throat.
“Do you want to try it?” she asked, and Donn wasn’t sure if she meant pollinating an orchid or fucking her throat. The answer was the same for both.
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My foray into writing taboo erotica.
Last week, I started an experiment: I want to see if I can make enough money through writing erotica to sustain our current situation as it is without making drastic changes (like getting a day job. The horror).
I’ve started publishing my stories a year and some months ago, but I’m not exactly raking in the cash. There has been an upswing, yes, and I start seeing things move into a positive direction, but I’m still leagues away from the pair of shoes I gave myself as a first tiny goal (which I then had to replace with new glasses, because boy, my eyesight is the worst).
Writing is my passion, the love of my life, and if I could do it for free, I would. But fact is, if I want to keep writing like I do – more or less full-time – then I have to earn some money with it, otherwise this is not a sustainable life. Continue reading
If my husband refuses to read women writers, is it a preference, or a prejudice?
My husband — I call him ogre, lovingly — doesn’t read books written by women. He made an exception for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Harry Potter, and the first Twilight book. Continue reading
About Erotic Humiliation and Princess Kali’s “Enough to make you blush”
I have written about shame in the context of writing and reading romance before. But shame is not only something I had to overcome about my writing, it’s also a huge theme inside my writing. Erotica offers a safe space to explore erotic humiliation.
Shame and guilt as tools for social and moral control aren’t new. Back in the day, clerics created so called penitentials, detailing what constitutes a sin and how one should repent for it. Those penitentials dealt extensively with sex, outlining what was okay and what wasn’t. Basically everything but missionary intercourse between consensually married people put you in the sinner camp. Sex on certain days or during daylight hours could land you there as well.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
AAAAAAAAHHHHHH What do I do with my life now that I’ve finished this book?!!?!?!
My daughter once said after reading Red Queen that she never wanted to read another book, because what if the next story would replace the feels she now had? – Now I understand that sentiment. I want to stay in the world of Uprooted for a little longer, I want to feel the story and stay immersed in the magic. I don’t want to leave.
Uprooted is just beautifully written, with a rich atmoshere and palpable magic, and a plot that kept me turning pages without stopping for breath. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
Now that Salt is finally out, it’s time for me to get on with the next twisted fairytale — after all, I want this to be a series. I have a short list of fairytales I want to write, but as all of them are rather dark and in the realms of erotic horror, none of them seems a good fit for a continuation of what I started with Salt. Especially not since I want the next story to revolve around Durwin, Aiden’s gruff and rough man in Salt. He’s a difficult character to begin with, so I don’t want to put him into a story that makes him fully irredeemable and unlikeable — only a little. After all, I’m all here for complex and complicated characters.
Since there is no story on my list that is a good fit for Durwin, I spent the last days searching a home for him in another fairytale, and I think I found the right one. Apart from being not too dark, the story had to fulfill other conditions as well: I don’t want to lose any momentum I may be able to build up by writing in a completely different niche, so apart from having kinky bdsm elements, it also has to be hetero (I’m so sorry, I promised my dear friend Ann to finish the lesbian fairytale I started forever ago… I will do that next!) and predominantly mdom. I hate to limit myself too much in terms of what to write, but I also have to eat, so there is that. Additionally, I don’t want to tell the ever same stories that are repeated over and over again, so Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are out.
#retelling not repetition
I get the draw of those stories, I do. They’re familiar, like your favorite pair of sweatpants, cozy and worn in and you know them inside out. On one hand, this makes it easier to get an “oh wow what a twist” effect, because they’re everyone’s favorite sweatpants, and people see it instantly when there’s something different about them. So it’s much easier to get the “oh clever” reaction this way. On the other hand – there’s hardly a twist that hasn’t been done, so it’s difficult to come up with something new and exciting. It’s hard.
With fairytales that are are a little more obscure and not on the forefront of everyone’s childhood memories, it’s harder to create the big revelatory wow-moment (provided that’s what you’re after) when dressing them up in a new way. But then, everything about them is new and exciting, and it’s even more satisfying if someone does find the easter-eggs and meta-moments in your stories. Salt, for example. It’s a retelling of the Love like Salt trope: folktales of Aarne-Thompson types 923 and 510. One of its iterations can be found in Shakespeare’s King Lear. That’s where Delia’s name comes from: Lear’s daughter Cordelia. In the play, she’s courted by the King of France.
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account History of the Kings of Britain written in the 12th century, she’s said to have married the king of the Franks after Lear banished her. In Shakespeare’s play, he doesn’t get a name, but legend/history (which, to be fair, is nebulous since it’s far back in the past and also part of 12th century legitimization fiction identifies him as King Aganippus of the Franks. Now, that name is a mouthful, so I passed on naming my male main character after said king. Instead, I named his horse after this king of the Franks. But that’s just a little anecdote on the side.
#reexamining the fairytale
Back to Durwin and his fairytale. He’s not only a gruff grumbler, he’s also very much anti-fae, so I want his story to force him to reexamine his stance on this matter. I didn’t find a tale that would force him to get over himself by falling in love with a fairy, but I found the next best thing: a werewolf.
The tale I’m talking about is The She-Wolf, a Croatian fairytale found in A. H. Wratislaw’s Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources (London: Elliot Stock, 1889), pp. 290-291. It’s a story of Aarne-Thompson type 402, Animal brides, and it’s relatively short:
Once Upon a Time there was an enchanted mill haunted by a she-wolf. One day a soldier went there to sleep and watched from a hiding place how the wolf came and took off its skin, turning into a woman. When she lied down to sleep, the soldier took away her skin and nailed it to the mill wheel. Then he woke the woman (shouting at her!).
She woke up in fear and called for her skin, but since it was nailed to the mill wheel, it didn’t come to her. And then — I kid you not, there is no in between, it’s literally the next sentence! — the pair married and had two children. But the woman was always unhappy, for she used to be a wolf. One day her son, who’d heard about the story, asked the father if it was true, and the father told him where the wolf skin was. The son told this to his mother, who thanked him for rescuing her and took off with her skin to never be seen again.
#it’s all about the ellipsis
Now, this story has a huge dubcon factor to it, with the soldier stealing the wolf skin and forcing her to be something she is not. And the fact that she disappears as soon as she learns where he keeps her skin points strongly into the direction of forced marriage and marital rape. So why would I choose this story as less dark than the other ones on my list (stories like Bluebeard, The Robber Bride, or Hänsel and Gretel)? It’s all in that empty space between the soldier waking the wolf and them marrying.
It’s a lot like Kleist’s The Marquise of O. who’s rescued from an attack but then, while unconscious, is raped by her rescuer and finds herself pregnant with no idea who did it. The rape of the Marquise happens within the space of a dash; just like this dash, the possibilities in The She-Wolf lie in the ellipsis.
However, I’m not going to turn this into a rape story. Durwin is a rough character, yes, and there will (probably) be rough sex, but I will figure out a way to make the story less rape-y. The beautiful thing about fairytale retellings is that I can take the bare bones of a tale and shape it into a new story that reflects on the problematic aspects of its source material. For this, The She-Wolf offers a lot of room, and I’m absolutely positive that I can turn a 1 1/2 page story into a 40 -50K book.