Nine of Swords, Reversed!

(As a heads up, this post discusses kink and in particular D/s at length, and also discusses representation of non-sexual kink in kink lit.)

My novelette, Nine of Swords, Reversed, releases today. This is my first self-published book, my first published romance, and I am thrilled beyond measure to share this story, which is very dear to my heart.

The D/s in Nine of Swords, Reversed is primarily about service. No sex is involved. For Dev and Noam, the core of their relationship is romance, D/s, and sharing a home. This novelette is part of a current project of mine: writing characters who are doing kink that isn’t sexualized and doesn’t include sex. I decided to focus my recent work on this because it reflects my own experience as a kinky person and because there is so little representation like this in kink fiction.

My characters do non-sexualized kink for a variety of reasons, including:

  • They aren’t sexually compatible.
  • Sex is edgy and they’re not up for edgeplay today.
  • They are ace-spectrum and rarely/never want sexualized play or to have sex. (Note: this is not true of all my ace-spectrum characters, or of all ace-spectrum people.)
  • An endometriosis flare means sex would hurt.
  • They aren’t sexually attracted but are into D/s with the person.
  • They are a survivor and sexualized things would be too triggering today.
  • They are stone and aren’t up for navigating sex with a new partner today.
  • They prefer their kink non-sexualized.
  • Sex is not central to the kink involved in the story and just doesn’t come up in the course of the story.
  • They are doing public play in a space where sex is not allowed.

Not all kink is sexual. There are many people, allosexual & ace-spectrum, who do kink that’s not sexualized and does not include sex. I want kink fiction to reflect that reality. (For more information about the intersection of sex and kink, this blog post may be a useful resource.)

I care about writing kink fiction that centers non-sexualized kink. I care about writing kink fiction that has both sexualized kink and non-sexualized kink. I care about writing kink fiction that shows folks having some partners they are sexual with and some they are not. I care about writing kink fiction that shows characters sometimes being up for sex and/or sexualized kink and sometimes not. I care about writing kink fiction that shows people having a range of different attractions, including attractions that involve kink and don’t involve sex.

Nine of Swords, Reversed is one of many stories I’ve been working on that centers kink and does not include sex or sexualized kink. I have published several others recently, and have more slated to be published in 2019. I am hoping these kinds of stories will help make room for a wider, more diverse representation of kink in fiction.

For a long time, I was writing within the strictures of erotica, where I was under the impression that I had to include sex in order to have my work published. (It actually turns out not to be the case, which is a welcome surprise! I did not find this out until I took the risk of writing and submitting that sort of kink fiction to erotica anthologies.)

If you are a fan of my erotica, I do hope that you will give this kind of kink fiction a chance. I am striving for the kind of realistic kink that you have enjoyed in my other work, with the same focus on writing queer and trans characters, centering disabled and fat characters, depicting kink in the context of community, and describing the ways that kink can create opportunities for us to be seen, held, and celebrated in the fullness of ourselves. This book in particular depicts the kind of service-centered D/s I ache to see more of in kink fiction.

Nine of Swords, Reversed centers a D/s relationship that is troubled. Dev and Noam have been together as romantic partners and as dominant and submissive for seven years, and they have hit a difficult patch through a confluence of events that have made it hard for them to connect. I love writing established relationships, particularly because there is so little kink fiction that depicts them. I’ve enjoyed writing a D/s relationship where they have all these layers of connection and intimacy, so many established ways of grappling with potential relationship issues, and they still hit rough patches anyway. That matches my own experience; there are no perfect relationships, even when characters are really right together, they still have to work on things.

This book centers an ongoing D/s relationship where service is one of the core ways the D/s works, and the characters are in D/s dynamic together unless they establish a break from that. I wanted to show what that can look like when both characters are disabled and genderfluid, are dealing with the realities of chronic pain and mental illness and autism, have genders that move and change, all of which needs them to be flexible about being in dynamic and what that looks like, and to navigate service in ways that work for both of them in the moment. There is so much that is fluid and unpredictable in their daily reality. The D/s dynamic is flexible enough to move with that, but also a foundation that they can potentially lean on as other things change. They use honorifics with each other, but generally lean less formal than most of what I’ve seen represented in D/s fiction, and that informality is partly about who these particular characters are, and also a way their D/s can stretch to hold them when the MCs are in pain and dealing with brain fog, or dealing with mental illness flares.

One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to D/s relationships, and this one was built by these two characters to suit them as people and as a couple. I wanted to show one way that kind of relationship can be built, and also show where the stress points of it might be, the places where difficulties might create trouble for the relationship as a whole. In this case, it is a combination of factors, both magical and mundane, that are putting stress on this relationship. (The MCs are mages, after all!) The core of the story is about how the MC untangles these intertwined issues with the help of xyr BFF Ezra, and finds a way to work together with Noam to shore up their relationship. It is my take on the couple on the rocks romance trope, one of my most favorite tropes ever.

Nine of Swords, Reversed is out today! I am excited to share it, and I do hope you enjoy Dev, Noam, and Ezra as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Nine of Swords Reversed cover

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Dev has been with xyr service submissive Noam for seven years and xe loves them very much. Dev and Noam have built a good life together in Noam’s family home in Oakland, where they both can practice their magecraft, celebrate the high holidays in comfort, support each other as their disabilities flare, and where Noam can spend Shabbos with their beloved family ghost.

But Dev’s got a problem: xe has had so much arthritis pain recently that xe has not been able to shield properly. As an empath, no shielding means Dev cannot safely touch Noam. That has put a strain on their relationship, and it feels like Noam is pulling away from xym. To top it off, Dev has just had an upsetting dream-vision about xyrself and Noam that caused one of the biggest meltdowns xe has had in a while. It’s only with a timely tarot reading and the help of another genderfluid mage that Dev is able to unpack the situation. Can xe figure out how to address the issues in xyr relationship with Noam before everything falls apart?

This romance novelette includes Jewish queer genderfluid mage MCs, the couple on the rocks trope, and fat, autistic, disabled, chronic pain, PTSD and depression representation.

An excerpt can be found here.

Content Warnings can be found in the front of the book and also here.

6 thoughts on “Nine of Swords, Reversed!

  1. I know very little about non-sexualised kink and I’m really excited to learn more about it through your writing. Your passion really shines through in this essay alone and I’m very eager to read ‘Nine of Swords, Reversed’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. If you want more fiction to try, my story in Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Vol 3, “Trying Submission”, is another example of non-sexualized kink.


  2. love this info, and finding your biography note w/info also on more great projects in the works!  “After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance. Their recent work still centers kinky, trans and non-binary, fat, disabled, queer trauma survivors. It leans more towards centering Jewish characters, ace and aro spec characters, autistic characters, and polyamorous networks. Xan has been working on a queer kinky polyamorous romance novel, Shocking Violet, for the last four years, and hopes to finish a draft very soon! You can find details and excerpts on their website, and sign up for their newsletter to get updates. Their Troublesome Crush, a polyamorous kinky queer m/f romance novella about metamours realizing they have a mutual crush on each other as they plan their shared partner’s birthday celebration, is due out in March 2019.” excited for fierceness in 2019.


  3. Pingback: Story Notes for Nine of Swords, Reversed | Kink Praxis

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