Release of Beauty’s Kingdom by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

Long before the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, Anne Rice was writing a raunchy series of erotic novels in the 1980s under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. The Sleeping Beauty series contained the following three novels: The Claiming of Sleeping BeautyBeauty’s Punishment and Beauty’s Release. The trilogy has been very successful for Anne Rice, and in the 1990s, she revealed her identity as the author behind the pen name A.N. Roquelaure.Beauty's Kingdom A.N. Roquelaure

The latest and most exciting news is that a new book has just been released, and Beauty’s Kingdom is the fourth in the series and the first in 30 years. Before I tell you about the latest release, let me give you a brief overview (or reminder) of the series in case you haven’t come across it before. And if the erotica genre is not for you, then click here for some art therapy to cleanse your mind, and I’ll bid you farewell.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is certainly not your typical fairytale, nor is it appropriate for children. Beauty is woken from her 100 year sleep, not with a kiss from a handsome prince, but with copulation. The prince takes her to his kingdom and in gratitude for waking her from her spell, Beauty is trained to become a plaything and sex slave. Don’t worry though, Beauty enjoys her encounters and falls passionately in love with a male slave. The sex is submissive and features elements of BDSM and pony play.

In Beauty’s Punishment, Beauty is punished for her affair with a fellow slave and is sold at auction. She is purchased by an innkeeper and captures the attention of the Captain of the Guard, who takes over her ‘education in love, cruelty, dominance, submission and tenderness.’ At the end of the book, Beauty and several other slaves are kidnapped and sent to serve in the palace of the Sultan.

In Beauty’s Release, Beauty finds herself in a new realm and a prisoner within a harem belonging to an Eastern Sultan. As the title suggests, she does escape her predicament and marry, but to tell you any more would be a spoiler. As the blurb says: ‘Anne Rice makes the forbidden side of passion a doorway into the hidden regions of the psyche and the heart in this final volume of the classic Sleeping Beauty trilogy,’ and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Throughout the Sleeping Beauty series, themes of desire, discipline, pleasure, pain and surrender are all explored, and the writing is evocative and erotic.

Beauty’s Kingdom is the latest release, and is set 20 years after the events at the end of Beauty’s Release. Other than that, I don’t know much more, but I can’t wait to read it.

Player Profile: Natasha Walker (aka John Purcell), author of The Secret Lives Of Emma Trilogy

Natasha Walker (aka John Purcell), author of The Secret Lives Of Emma Trilogy

574488-erotic-book-authorTell us about your latest creation:

The Secret Lives of Emma: Unmasked is the final book in The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy. After getting herself into trouble Emma breaks free and heads off to reclaim herself and live the life she always meant to live. Leaving her husband David facing a challenge – accept her for who she is or lose her forever.

9780857980434Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Sydney and now call the northern suburb of Davidson home.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

When I was a kid I wanted to be involved in politics or be David Bowie.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The Secret Lives of Emma: Unmasked is my best work. I really enjoyed letting Emma be as wild as she liked.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write in a tiny room I call the library. It’s a room which is too big to be a cupboard and too small to be a spare bedroom. I lined the walls with bookcases, filled them with books and plonked a desk in the middle. A perfect little writing room.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

At the moment I am reading outside my comfort zone. My job requires me to keep up with the latest trends, prize winners and blockbusters. Unobserved I retreat to my true love, the classics.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The book which I consider to be the catalyst for my reading life is Catch-22. If a friend hadn’t handed it to me I don’t think I would be the reader or writer I am today.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Zorba. Because he is everything I am not.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I am a homebody. When I am not reading or writing I am building bookcases, or painting the deck, or fixing something (probably something I broke). I love to paint pictures, too. But I haven’t found the time recently.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My wife’s Toad in the Hole (look it up) and beer.

Who is your hero? Why?:

I don’t have one hero. I suppose my heros and heroines are scientists, great writers, philosophers, politicians and lawmakers.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

Big data. Algorithms which mine our use of the internet to predict what we shall want to buy next. Eg: If you read this you’ll like this. I see such a service as reductive. We should never be our own teachers. I think it was Constable who said, A self-taught individual has a very ignorant teacher.

Blog URL: http://secretlivesofem.tumblr.com/
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/thesecretlivesofemma
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/NatashaWalkerAu

Publisher pounces on mummy porn

HarperCollins has moved swiftly to sign up a new erotic fiction author, Indigo Bloome, in a bid to cash in on the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

HarperCollins paid the author a six figure sum in a three-book deal, brokered by literary agent Selwa Anthony with Harper’s publishing director Shona Martyn. The first title, due out July 1, is entitled Destined to Play.

If you’re a straight woman over 30, there’s a good chance you’ve already succumbed to peer pressure – or been driven by curiosity – and bought a copy of the internationally bestselling “mummy porn” novel Fifty Shades of Grey (you can buy it and the second and third novels in the Fifty Shades trilogy for $10.82 each here).

EL James has become a publishing sensation over the past year, not because her books are brilliantly written or encompass generation-defining themes, but because as works of erotic fiction, they contain dozens of detailed sex scenes, many featuring bondage and discipline and sadism and masochism.

For those who are squeamish about the riding crops and floggers, the ordinary, bookish heroine (Anastasia) and incredibly sexy, powerful, wealthy yet troubled hero (Christian) help on the aspirational side.

Which girl hasn’t at some point dreamt that a hot billionaire might sweep them off their feet? Especially if said mogul has a good heart and the potential to be saved from decades of internal turmoil by her love and support.

The New York Times reports more than 10 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey have been sold. Universal Pictures and Focus Features won a bidding warn for the film rights. Publishing houses are desperately seeking erotic fiction authors in the hope of cashing in on its popularity, which is partially attributed to the fact that ereading devices make it easy to read such titles on the sly, even if you are travelling on a bus or train, for example.

HarperCollins’ Martyn told a Sydney Writers Festival event audience last week that her publishing house’s regular meeting to discuss digital projects had been plotting an erotic fiction strategy the very week Anthony approached her with Bloome’s book.

Bloome is a thirtysomething mum with kids in primary school, and therefore publishing under a pen name. HarperCollins is rushing her first book into ebookstores by July 1, with a print edition to follow September 1. This is remarkably fast for a legacy book publisher.

Incidentally, Martyn said the biggest seller of her ebook titles to date had been John Howard’s Lazarus Rising, at 9000 copies, which is about the same number that Fifty Shades of Grey sold in Australia within its first week of reissue through Random House last month.

Fifty Shades was initially published as an ebook and print-on-demand paperback in May last year by The Writers’ Coffee Shop, a indie publisher and book community based in NSW. According to Wikipedia, it was originally developed as a Twilight tribute and published episodically on fan fiction websites, then on James’s own website, FiftyShades.com. The author is a London television executive, wife and mother of two.

I’ve just finished reading the book on the Kobo platform as an exercise in research into social reading and was intrigued to note that the Kobo Pulse “pulse”, which tells you how many others are reading at the same time as you, was at full strength most of the way through. There were only a handful of comments, including one deleted by the author – perhaps she was embarrassed by her initial thoughts on the book – and one comparing it to Twilight.

Even as I write on a Sunday morning, some 16 people are reading the Australian edition of Fifty Shades on Kobo. 1600 have read it on the platform so far. Of those, 41 have clicked “like” and 3 “dislike”. Readers have selected parts of the text and clicked highlight 250 times. You can bet many of those are sex scenes, though I also highlighted a couple of opera titles – Christian is a classical music buff. I liked this line too, “One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books”.

So, is it any good?

Honestly, not really. I have friends who gave up because they read the first few chapters and wondered what the fuss was about (the first sex scene is in Chapter Eight of 26).

It does remind me of the Twilight books, but also of a Sweet Valley High spin-off series I read as a teenager, Caitlin (the Love and Promise trilogies), in which the heroine is an incredibly wealthy and beautiful individual with issues, just like James’s Christian. From memory she has a boyfriend with steel grey eyes just like Christian’s too.

The characters are card-board cutouts, their dialogue wooden and repetitive. I cared so little about them that I would prefer to read a dot point summary of the second and third books than actually read them. Anyone want to send me one?

The only interesting things about the central couple – their careers – are touched on but never examined in depth. Christian’s business sounds intriguing, but we never learn more about it than that it is staffed by good looking blondes, includes research into sustainable farming and is facing a major challenge. Anastasia is a literature graduate who wants to work in publishing, but we’re oblivious to what sorts of books she wants to publish, or why.

The plot revolves around their relationship and sex life, which frankly, is boring. Sure, he’s a little kinky, but most of these are standard sex scenes. I’m wondering why any woman who was feeling frisky would bother reading a book like this rather than taking their husband or boyfriend away for a dirty weekend or, dare I say it, hunting down some free iPad video porn.

There is that old issue that perhaps with the exception of James Deen the men who star in porn vids are usually the opposite to a woman’s fantasy, and the women hardly aspirational … but that’s another story (and business opportunity if the sales of Fifty Shades are any indication!).

One Kobo reader, Linda Thornton, summed it up quite nicely, I thought, with this comment on the final page:

“What can one say, “holy crap” would probably cover such a senseless stream of clichéd drivel. The author’s relentless pursuit to see how many times she can cram yet another sexual exploit into a page in order to exploit the reader into buying two more volumes can only be marveled at. Triple crap.”

But hey, it’s a publishing phenomenon, and these are always intriguing to read to gain insights into what does turn readers on.