Distinct physical places root a narrative into our world, into the tangible, smellable, tasteable reality around us. Especially in erotica, I have always felt that if I am to smell the sweat and the odours of sex through the prose, I want to smell the rest as well: the sheets, the food they eat, the air they breathe, the flowery shampoo in her hair and the acidity of the wine on her lips. I like texture and detail because the tighter a story is bound to these hooks and bolts of reality, the less it is a fantasy between two plastic mannequins in a sterile room, and the dirtier, the grittier it is.
Choosing the right place does this. The right place puts a narrative into perspective, into a framework of emotional connection. One story fits only into certain spaces – or sometimes a certain place can only house one single story; they belong together, can be interwoven throughout the narrative. And so I scour my memory, the internet, movies and tv shows for just such places, places that inspire me, places big enough, real enough, interesting enough to house a story.
My taste may be a little off-center – I don’t feel drawn to mansions, sparkling hotel suits, to rooftop pools or luxury yachts. I click past them, without a single thought, a single hook that might spark an idea. Give me a ruinous industrial building, a graffitied train station or a cavernous old castle that stands tall like rotting teeth; give me a rubbish-strewn pebble beach over the silky white sand of the Caribbean. I like places with grit, not postcards or advertising shots that hang in the windows of travel agencies.
For Driftwood Deeds, that rubble-strewn beach is taken from a visit to the coast of England, down in Kent, in a place called Dungeoness. I omitted the nuclear power station, the trailer-like empty café; I exaggerated the place, contained it into a smaller area. But in essence Driftwood Deed takes places just off a beach like the ones in Dungeoness – where fishing nets and rope seem to grow out of the sand like vines from the ground.
I chose it because a boyfriend took me there once upon a time; because it felt aching and sad and savagely beautiful like the sea; and because I thought it set the right mood for my characters, gave them a chance to find common ground and to foreshadow the mind of the male protagonist. But I also chose it because it’s beautiful in its faded splendour, and because it houses a hundred stories in its treasure-lined shores.
Driftwood Deeds When journalist Iris Ellis visits a sleepy seaside town to interview recluse screenwriter Paul Archer, he offers her insights into never acted upon fantasies of dominance and submission. Too curious to deny herself a taste of them, Iris gives herself up to Paul’s gentle guidance, but when she realizes that a taste can never be enough, she must find the courage to ask for what she needs or risk losing it all.
Laila Blake (lailablake.com) is a linguist, author and translator. She writes character-driven love stories, whether in romance, erotica, YA or mainstream, co-hosts the podcast Lilt and blogs about writing, feminism and society. The first installment of her Lakeside series, a paranormal romantic fantasy, was published in early 2013 and since then, a good dozen of her short stories have been selected for publication in erotic anthologies. She lives in Cologne/Germany with her cat Nookie, adores obscure folk singers and plays the guitar.