This month, Cleis Press is running an ebooks sale, with a wonderful list of titles you can get under 2 bucks. What an awesome deal. Among them is Backdraft: Firemen Erotica, a gay erotica collection edited by Shane Allison in which my story “Facing the Dark” appears. Now is your chance to get this book for $1.99. To entice you, I thought I’d share some backstory to the writing of this piece, and a couple excerpts.
In late 2007, Shane Allison wrote to me out of the blue, requesting that I write a gay firemen erotica story for his upcoming anthology. It was the first time I had ever experienced an editor seeking out my work, and one I’d never worked with before! In a heady rush of excitement, I agreed to write a story that I really wasn’t sure I could write. I knew next to nothing about firemen.
I did a lot of research, of all sorts. I talked to firemen I knew in the community, and talked to friends who had firemen in their family. I also read books about firefighters, trying to learn about firefighter culture. (This book was invaluable.) I haunted internet forums, both ones for firemen, and ones for folks wanting to be firemen. (For a while I played with the idea of an initiation story that begins with training to pass the physical exam. I knew I could use what I found out about kettlebells somehow…)
In the end, after a few false starts, I realized that I didn’t, and really couldn’t, know enough about firefighter culture to attempt an insider narrative, like the initiation one I had been contemplating. That instead I needed to own my outsider status, and dream up a character who had something to offer a fireman, a character that lived solidly in my own expertise and knowledge base. A dominant sadist who liked to play with firemen. But why did he desire firemen? I knew he didn’t have a rescue fantasy, so what was it that drew him? That’s where I started, and where my story began:
“Here’s what I like about firemen. They have plenty of muscle, and they use it, it’s not for show. They know about loyalty and hard work and earning your way. They don’t just give respect—you have to earn it. They are tough and disciplined, in both mind and body. They have faced darkness, and go back to face it every time they are on the job. They know what darkness can do, are afraid of it, and know that courage is not about the absence of fear, but what you do in the face of fear. They know what it’s like to be helpless against something more powerful, and they choose, again and again, to put themselves at risk.
It is an honor to have a fireman choose to submit to me. It means he sees discipline and strength he can trust in my dominance. That he wants the feral force of my sadism unleashed upon him, and knows how dark a ride that can be. It means that he wants to be under my boots because he knows that I will not fail to exact from him exactly what he longs to offer: his precise control, his intense will, and his immense power. He knows that I’m capable of taking all of that, and, for right now, he desperately wants it off his shoulders, wants to face a different darkness and find his feet again, so he knows they are there. He wants to know that he can do this, that he is indeed capable of such psychic and physical courage.”
OK, so I had my top. Now I needed to figure out what kind of fireman would want him. I started to play with the idea of a cathartic scene, one where the fireman sought out a top who would push him. A top that other firemen had bottomed to, so he knew he was safe. Because he wanted to test himself and find his courage after a bad fire. Now I had something that I knew I could sink into: a trauma survivor wanting to test himself, a trusted top who still was a stranger, a cathartic scene that would give me enough inner conflict to work with.
That’s what I look for, what drives an erotic story for me: inner conflict. Internal struggles are more interesting, I think, and they make for really hot intense kinky sex. I want my characters to push their edges, work hard to be careful with each other and meet their own expectations of themselves. Characters that struggle: to take the pain, to let up on the leash of their sadism, to trust themselves and their desires. I want them to transform shame into pride, to grapple with their own experiences of trauma and oppression and celebrate their desires in the face of those things. In the majority of my erotica, the conflict builds during the scene, and is resolved (as much as it is going to be) while the play is happening. Which is why the bulk of the story is about the play, at least most of the time, and the things that lead into the play. Like negotiation.
I knew that if I were to have two strangers do cathartic play that I needed to establish trust and consent, to show the reader how this might be possible and why these characters might choose to risk together like this. So this story has one of the more lengthy negotiation scenes I’ve ever written. I love that part of the story, it’s the kind of negotiation that builds anticipation and sexual tension, that I think shows the ways that negotiation can be hot.
The meat of the story is about the top pushing the bottom, dancing deeper then retreating, building to the culminating element: fire play, which is where fear really lies for this fireman. It’s an intense ride of a scene; in fact, one reviewer said that this story “ought to come with a warning for the faint-hearted”. This story is definitely one where I push my characters to dance with fear. I have a hard on for playing with fear, and this story shows it.
Here is a taste from near the beginning of their scene. As a heads up, this excerpt includes descriptions of rough body play, breath play, and edgeplay.
“My hands gripped him, and I plundered his mouth. I slid one hand into his hair and gripped it at the roots, pulling it in time with my thrusting tongue. He tasted sensitive and surprised, his mouth almost innocent. My cock swelled as I twisted my hand in his hair, my tongue violating his mouth.
I slid out of him, and took his breath, covering his mouth and nose with my hand so that all he could smell was leather. I watched his eyes widen, watched him clench a fist to prevent himself from struggling. I waited as long as I dared the first time and then gave him his breath back, my hand sliding to his chest to feel it rise and fall. Then I took it again, this time biting down on his shoulder as I did, feeling his body react to the pain. His hands reached for me slightly, but he stopped them. I ground down onto his scarring, sending jolts of juicy pain right to his nerve endings, as he began to tremble just a bit. I lifted up, still blocking his air supply, meeting his eyes. I breathed in deeply, savoring the control.
“Your breath…is mine. Yes. I have it. You have given it to me. Let go.”
His eyes shifted, even settled a bit. I could tell he had started to float. And then I let him breathe. I stepped back and grabbed my SAP gloves. Now I could really get started. Punching on the pecs is one of my favorite things. With a guy like this, who is so strong, to make the kind of impact I want, I needed to up the ante. My lead shot gloves do that nicely. I rammed my fist into him, and felt the difference. Punches on the pecs are hardest on the mind. Blows are coming dangerously close to your face, but you are supposed to offer yourself to them. The deep impact jolts the wind out of you, and makes you feel like you have no defenses, like your strength won’t protect you. I could see it register with him, now, as I slammed force into him—that he was giving up his armor; that he had no control, had given it to me; that he was naked before me, and I was going to reach inside and take what I wanted from him.
My dick was throbbing as I watched him take it. He kept balanced, breathed with it, but his eyes just looked so raw and young all of a sudden, like I had reached past his toughness, slid through whatever was haunting him and found the part of him that was vulnerable and hurting. I just kept pounding him, knowing it was going to break through, watching for it, until it burst through his eyes. Tears slid down his face and he just kept standing there and taking it, letting it bubble out and through. It was gorgeous to watch. What courage that takes. I soaked it in, not holding back, relentless as I slammed into him, letting the dam wash through him and out his eyes.
I slid off my gloves and rubbed my cheek against his chest, feeling the heat come off in waves. I reached my head up and tenderly licked up the fruit that had fallen from his eyes. I slid my tongue into his mouth deeply and fed him back all the pride I had for him, that he was so brave for me; just rushed all of that out of my mouth and into his. I closed off his nose and breathed it into his lungs, willing him to take in the vision of him in my eyes.”