I’m really thrilled to have a guest on Superotica today – here’s an interview with Xan West to celebrate the publication of Show Yourself to Me. This is an outstanding collection of queer kink short stories, and Xan’s writing was a revelation to me – it’s so visceral and so good. Even if queer kink isn’t your world, please don’t make the mistake of thinking this isn’t a book for you to read. There’s so much in it. After all, which of us doesn’t benefit from some insight into other people’s lives? Especially lives that might be different from our own? Read Xan’s interview and then I urge you to read this wonderful book.
1 How did you come to start writing erotica and what was your very first story about? Was it published or do you still have it hidden at the back of a drawer?
So I started writing erotica by writing down a detailed erotic dream I had about co-bottoming, because it was too delicious not to write, and shared with my friends in installments. I never finished that story, though some of the spark of it became a piece I wrote years later, “Baxter’s Boy”. (That’s a flash fiction piece included in Show Yourself To Me.)
Around the same time, I wrote a short flash piece describing a fantasy I had, to the first top I played with, the day after our first scene, while my neck was still aching and bruised from the bites he’d put on it. That piece is “Alley Obsession,” and it is also included in the collection. But it’s not a full length story.
For a couple years, I had a hard time stretching to over 2000 words, I’d spent so much time writing short vignettes in my non-erotic fiction that it was a difficult transition to longer works. (I don’t mean novels, but full length stories, like most of the ones in Show Yourself to Me.) But I did finally get there, when I had a more complex story to tell, and a really compelling reason to tell it.
As a heads up, I’m about to start talking about my first full length story, which means I’m going to be referencing intimate violence, including sexual assault, and am also going to be describing a story that includes age play, edge play, Daddy play, and rape play.
The first full-length story that I finished writing is about an adult survivor of child sexual abuse pushing her edges and exploring age play that includes rape play, with a Daddy she loves and trusts. It is also the first erotica story that I published, a couple years after it was written. It’s called “Dancing for Daddy”, and it is included in the collection.
I wrote it from hell, in an attempt to imagine my way out. I wrote it to tell myself a story about how this sort of transformative play could be: if it were consensual, if you had a Daddy that was worthy of your trust, if you pushed your edges with care and within a safe-enough container. I wrote it to show myself that kink didn’t have to be what I was experiencing, that it could be careful and mutual and consensual, that dominants could be responsible and caring and careful, that what I was experiencing was masquerading as kink but was actually abuse. I wrote that story to promise myself that deciding I didn’t want to do this anymore with my abuser did not mean I was choosing to stop doing kink. I wrote that story, and within a few weeks I had left my abusive partner. Writing “Dancing for Daddy” helped me get free.
The story is a survivor fantasy, an imagining of the sort of cathartic play that I ached for. It is a reclaiming of my desire, for myself, at a moment when I thought nothing could be mine. It is a vow to honor my desire, even when it comes loaded with so many landmines.
I submitted the story a year later, and it was accepted to the first anthology I submitted it to, Best SM Erotica Volume 2. I was floored, and a little freaked out that my first erotica publication would be that story and in a collection with that title, edited by M. Christian, a writer and editor I’d admired for a long time!
“Dancing for Daddy” is the only story I’ve published that I never considered re-reading. Until I was putting together Show Yourself To Me. I almost didn’t put it in the book, because that would mean giving it a close read, and I wasn’t sure I was up for that. I chose to at least give it a look, before making a decision.
When I looked at it again, and especially when I edited it to make it better, I could tell how intense and powerful it is, kind of like wrapping your hands around an electrified barbed wire fence. It’s a gorgeous, deeply hopeful, jolt of a story that’ll knock you on your ass. Hermia Swann has this to say about it, on her blog tour stop: “’Dancing For Daddy’ punches me straight in the cunt–or, more accurately, manipulates my clit until I’m dripping, while telling me that only disgusting little girls get wet like that.” It may be the hottest thing I’ve ever written, and I couldn’t leave it out of my very first solo collection.
This collection is the book of my heart, and part of what that means is that I put my heart on the page. This story is full of heart, and desire, and yearning, and I am glad I chose to share it again, a dozen years after its first publication.
2 Some of the stories in Show Yourself to Me are new and some have been previously published. When you look back over the stories can you see a development in your writing and your narrative voice? Have you become more confident in expressing yourself over time? And how do you see this process continuing in the future?
Oh yes! Putting this collection together helped me see so much about my development as an erotica writer. When I first started writing erotica, I had to push myself past what felt like a lump in my throat, to write explicit sex, especially dirty talk. It felt a bit like pushing through a barrier, to actually write those words down, to describe, in detail, the kind of sex and kink I had my characters doing. To put filth in their mouths pushed it even harder. Because I had to work at it, I focused a lot of my craft energy on learning how to write detailed descriptions of how things felt and what they were like, and making my characters say incredibly filthy things to each other, the kind of dirty talk that got me off when I read it.
I’ve got a lot of practice at that now, from doing so much cybersex, from writing so much smut, from teaching about sex and kink for a decade, from reading my erotica aloud for an audience for years, from negotiations with lovers. I don’t have that sort of lump in my throat around describing sex or writing dirty talk or showing the reader what it feels like to cane someone. I’ve also got a hell of a lot more experience with kink to draw from now (as a top and a bottom) than I did when I first started writing erotica as a novice attempting to articulate my fantasies.
When I first started writing erotica, I spent a long time studying erotica as a genre, the norms and expectations, and writing to specific calls, honing my craft so that I could produce a story that I thought would fit the specific market I was writing for. I wrote a lot of stories that mostly stayed within norms, in terms of story structure, especially because I knew I was pushing the edges of the genre in other ways (especially by my insistent inclusion of trans characters, but also because I mostly wrote edge play stories). I’m less attached to that sort of thing now, feel comfortable to push more.
Several years ago, I began a new writing project, that was focused on creating a new body of work centering disabled characters in my erotica. I decided to try a few particular things that shifted my narrative voice quite a bit. I decided to write in the third person and to write from multiple perspectives within the story. I also wanted to more explicitly mark the identities of my characters, and make those identities more clearly central to the story and the choices characters were making in it. I also decided that I wanted these new stories to situate characters more in the multitude of their relationships, especially within community and chosen family. And, I wanted to write characters that were explicitly politicized, who did kink in a way that included their politics. My stories were always political, but now I wanted my characters to be political. I also decided that I wanted the majority of these stories to center disabled people playing with and fucking other disabled people.
There are several of my newer pieces included in Show Yourself To Me. You can read a long excerpt of “The Tale of Jan and Tam” on Tasha L. Harrison’s blog tour stop, and the entirety of “The Tender Sweet Young Thing” on Sinclair Sexsmith’s blog tour stop.
3 Show Yourself to Me is a collection of queer kink erotica, so who should be reading it? My answer to this is simply, and very emphatically, ‘everyone’, as I’m sure yours is too – but I think you’re probably the person best-placed to explain why.
The stories in this book were written for kinky queers, and are an attempt at documenting queer kink culture, communities and realities, as well as dreaming a future. These stories were written for trans and genderqueer folks (not just kinky ones) who want to see themselves on the pages of erotica in a way that’s not about fetishization. I wrote this book for trauma survivors, to center the desire of survivors, including the desire for edge play and cathartic play, particularly because trauma survivors often face prejudice in kink communities. A number of the stories in this collection were written specifically for disabled and sick readers, centering disabled and sick characters. Show Yourself To Me was written for the kinky folks that are weary of the image of tops as invulnerable, the folks that want to read stories that illuminate the strength and work of bottoms and submissives.
That’s who I wrote these stories for, but it’s not the only folks that can get something out of this book. This collection has so much to offer folks who don’t fit those descriptions. There’s a lot that’s hot, and there’s a lot that is moving, powerful, and beautiful in these stories, for people who don’t see themselves centered in this book.
This book is deeply and unabashedly kinky, on the more intense ends of several spectrums as far as BDSM goes. So, I would say that this collection needs readers that are up for reading kink. This isn’t the sort of book where you can skip the SM or the D/s to get to the other stuff; most of the “other stuff” (character development, romance, internal conflict, sex) happens in the context of the BDSM. You don’t have to do kink or be curious about kink or fantasize about kink or be kinky in order to read the book, but you do need to be up for reading stories that center kink, where kink is threaded throughout the story.
4 What’s next? Are you writing new stories, working on a novel, or is there a top secret project lurking that you can’t tell us anything about? If you’re anything like me, the answer to that will be ‘yes, to all three!’
I’ve got a few new stories in the works, including the one I wrote about in this blog post about revision. I’ve got another one that was inspired by a pic I found on Shutterstock while searching for cover images for Show Yourself To Me. I’ve had a couple requests for Daddy stories that I intend to write. But my main next fiction project is Shocking Violet, a polyamorous kinky romance novel set in New York City. It centers a trans butch and a queer femme falling for each other amidst the intensity of trans-inclusion activism. I started it during NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m excited to start working on it again. I did some work on it in the last few months, but most of my time has been taken up by this collection.
Shocking Violet jumped the line ahead of another novel I was working on, about trauma and kink and music and ghosts and gender and desire and disability. This year, that novel has shifted some, in my mind, and I think it needs to cook a bit more before I seriously tackle it.
I’ve also started a couple of blog series that are really important to me, and I want to continue them. I have been posting about stone sexuality ever since a fellow kink educator and sexuality empowerment coach asked me for resources about stone to share with clients. I’d been teaching classes, but hadn’t written a lot of essays. I’ve got several posts up, and have had a tremendous response to them. There is very little written and available about stone sexuality, and folks are hungry for language. I’ve had a few people share links to my stone posts on their dating profiles!
More recently, after beta reading for an awesome erotic romance author who was interested in making her representation of a character more accurate, I decided to do a series of posts about writing characters that are trauma survivors, specifically for erotica and erotic romance writers. I’ve had an amazing response to those, from both writers saying they were valuable, and survivors saying they were really moved by how much my descriptions of trauma resonated with their experience. This blog series is a way for me to take my decade of experience doing full time work in the trauma field, training folks who worked with survivors, and make what I know accessible and usable for other writers. That’s an exciting thing to tackle.
I talked earlier about pushing myself to write down the filthy parts, and especially focusing on writing dirty talk. I thought I would share an excerpt of the sort of dirty talk you can find in Show Yourself To Me. As a heads up, this excerpt describes Daddy/boy dynamic, getting off on tears, cocksucking, leather worship, and sexual service.
In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.
Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.
Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.
Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.
This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.
Excerpt from “It’s My Job”
“Such a good boy for Daddy. Such a sweet mouth, so eager, so open for me. That’s my good boy. Get your mouth over here.”
He pulls my mouth onto his jock. I almost come, right there. His boot slides between my thighs and the heel grinds into my cock. Tears well up in my eyes. His hand again grips my hair tightly, pulling it as he drives his bootheel into my cock, harder. I whimper and tears fall onto his jock. He grips my head, rubbing my eyes into the jock to soak up the tears.
“That’s right, boy. Cry for me. Cry on my cock. That’s my good boy. That’s what Daddy needs. Your tears. Be a good boy for Daddy and cry onto his dick. Daddy’s dick is the only one that matters, isn’t that right, boy? The only dick in the world is the one you are crying on, boy. Daddy’s dick. Do you want to taste it, boy? You better lick that jock real good if you want to feel Daddy’s dick in your mouth.”
I move my mouth eagerly. I breathe in, savoring the scent and taste of Daddy. My whole being becomes centered on this small piece of cowhide separating me from Daddy’s dick.
It’s my job to please Daddy with my mouth. I will succeed. I ignore my dick. The only thing that matters is pleasing Daddy with my mouth. I am in the zone now. Nothing will distract me. Daddy’s hand strokes my hair. I hear his growling groans faintly as I work my mouth on his jock. My focus is so intent that I start to whimper when his hand grips my hair, pulling my head back. I blink open my eyes and, as my vision clears, I see it: Daddy’s dick.
“Do you want it, cub?”
“Yes, Daddy. Please, Daddy. Please let me suck your cock.”
“You have earned it, boy. You may suck my dick.”
I eagerly move my mouth to him and take my time, licking around the head, taking it into my mouth to suckle. I lick along the leather straps holding it onto his body, breathing in the musky scent of Daddy.
“You do a good job pleasing Daddy, and you just might get a reward, boy.”
I lick my way along the shaft, coating it with my spit, and then I start taking Daddy into me. I moan as I thrust my lips onto him. My eyes lift to his, and I begin to take him down my throat. All I care about is sucking him, for as long as he will let me, with as much skill as I can muster. He is hitting the back of my throat, and I struggle to take him down, gagging a bit, my eyes tearing, and then he’s there—deep inside my throat, my nose buried in the silver fur on his stomach. I swallow around him, rippling my throat on his cock. I could stay like this forever, my mouth locked on Daddy’s dick.
For ebook or print copies go to Go Deeper Press
For ebook or print go to Amazon
Also available from Barnes and Noble
About Xan West
Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, a recent transplant to Oakland from Brooklyn, who has been doing community kink education for over ten years. Xan has been published in over 35 erotica anthologies, including the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since,” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan’s work has been described by reviewers as “offering the erotica equivalent of happy ever after” and as “some of the best transgressive erotic fiction to come along in recent years.”
Xan refuses pronouns, twists barbed wire together with yearning, and tilts pain in many directions to catch the light. Xan adores vulnerable tops; strong, supportive bottoms; red meat; long winding conversations about power, privilege, and community; showtunes; and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds. Find Xan’s thoughts about the praxis of sex, kink, queerness, power, and writing at xanwest.wordpress.com.