I came across an anthology of erotic lesbian fairy tales while looking up lesbian books online, and I had to buy it because that is right up my alley, plus I’m working on writing a lesbian fairy tale right now. It’s good to see what else is out there, right?The description of the book provided online goes like this:
In this sexy, erotic anthology of twisted fairy tales, the damsels are the ones doing the rescuing! Full of ancient, adapted tales that were changed to include female/female pairings and also some brand new stories of feminine heroics and sexual dominance, this collection of stories will leave readers under a spell of lesbian love!
If you’re a lesbian who’s ever searched for erotic lesbian writing, then you’re aware that it’s hard to find anything that’s actually good and that’s actually lesbian. It’s really hit-or-miss out there, since there are people writing “lesbian” books who aren’t lesbians, and since women who write erotica tend to be sex-pozzies, and sex-pozzies tend to present sexuality as something artificially performative and kinda weird.
I was willing to take a chance, because here’s my attitude toward erotic writing: if it’s good, it’s really good, and if it’s bad, it’s still weirdly entertaining. Well, this anthology turned out to be an eclectic collection of the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were some stories I enjoyed, and there were some that left me baffled and shaking my head.
For entertainment purposes, I’m going to tell you about some of the mistakes I saw in some of the writing. Although, do keep in mind that there was something to like about each story, and some of them I enjoyed all the way through, even though I’m bringing up these criticisms here.
One mistake I saw a few times is that authors introduced their characters as disliking each other and then they suddenly wanted to have sex with each other for no apparent reason. I’m puzzled as to why an author would decide to make their characters hate each other first before having sex. I can understand that this provides a plot twist, but that only works in a longer piece like a novel where there is time for the characters to interact with each other long enough for them to change their opinions of each other. In a short story where everything moves quickly, it’s really unrealistic that someone hates someone on page 3 and then on page 4 she’s feeling aroused at her touch, with no actual character progression in between. If you’re writing a quick sex scene, with no character development beforehand, you should be establishing immediately that your characters actually like each other. I can’t say this about heterosexual couples or queer sex-pozzies, but lesbians only have sex with women we actually like.
The worst example of this was the story where a woman was riding along in a carriage, and she was attacked by a robber queen who killed everyone who was travelling with her, and then the robber queen’s daughter pulled her away for sex. In that situation, you would be really upset about the fact that you just got attacked and everyone you know murdered. You wouldn’t be at all interested in having sex with anyone in that situation, but certainly not someone related to the robber. It’s okay for fiction to be imaginative, but it shouldn’t be completely preposterous.
Oh, and that story gets so much weirder. The woman who gets robbed, she turns out to be part wolf, and her canines lengthen when she’s aroused. The robber’s daughter seems to be part wolf too, I think, because she’s also described as having sharp teeth. A red cloak is mentioned briefly in this story, so I think the author has made a weird version of Little Red Hiding Hood where the protagonist and her love interest both turn out to be the wolf? Anyway, I guess because she’s part beast, when she is riding away on a reindeer with her captor, she can’t help humping it as they ride. Maybe reindeer-humping is normal behavior for an imaginary half-woman, half-wolf creature, but it’s not related to actual human lesbians in any way and that’s not something I can get into.
You know, I always assume that the purpose of erotic writing is to arouse your reader. But some people seem to think that the purpose of erotic writing is to baffle the reader with the weirdness of your imagination. And call me old-fashioned, but I think the way you arouse your reader with a sex scene is by creating palpable chemistry and sexual tension between the characters so that the reader is emotionally invested in the consummation of their desire, and feeling desire along with the characters. The reader has to therefore identify with the characters and relate to what they’re feeling.
I did enjoy the stories where princesses or witches saw each other naked in beautiful forest pools and found each other arousing. It can be an imaginative situation, it just shouldn’t be completely bizarre.
Anyhoo, onto the next writing mistake I saw a couple times, which was abrupt and nonsensical changes in tone. All of these stories were meant to be fairy tales, and the almost universal thing about fairy tales is that they take place in the distant past. Now, sometimes people write modern fairy tales (and there was a very cool version of Rapunzel in this book that took place in a condo in San Francisco, and that was one of the good stories, thanks for that!) but if you are writing a fairy tale where you mention kingdoms, medieval armor, magic spells, living in forests, etc, then you are writing in the past, and you need to use old vocabulary. Or, at the very least, you need to avoid using words and phrases that are specific to the modern sleaze culture of the last four decades. If you are writing about old-fashioned situations and then all of a sudden you start throwing in words like “pussy,” “asscheek,” “panties,” and “clit,” then you are using incorrect vocabulary for the piece you’re writing. It’s jarring for the reader to think they’re reading about the year 1600 and then suddenly realize that no, it’s actually 2017. It also lowers your work to the level of amateur fan fiction when you make this sort of mistake.
I checked out who the writers of these stories were, and many of them were bloggers, and not all of them were lesbians. A small number of writers said they were lesbian. Some of them didn’t mention their sexual orientation at all in their bio. Some of them called themselves by unspecific labels that I inferred to mean bisexual. One of them was a man.
If I were editing an anthology of lesbian erotica, one of the very first things I would do is weed out any non-lesbian authors, and then after that I’d choose the best submissions from the lesbian authors. If men submitted stories to my anthology, I would either not answer their emails at all, or I’d tell them to fuck right off, depending on my mood that day.
I conclude that this is an anthology of writing with female-female pairings that may or may not relate to lesbians and that is intended for anyone with an interest in “queer” fairy tales. I have enjoyed reading it because I love this genre, but if you are a lesbian who isn’t particularly interested in fairy tales and just wants good erotica, then I don’t recommend it.
As a side note, if you are a lesbian looking for good erotic writing by a real lesbian, check out the novel Bishop’s Run by B.D. Gates, which has absolutely spectacular sex scenes.
I am happy to report that I am more resolved than ever to keep working on my own fiction. I have six chapters written so far of my novel—just give me about another year or so and I’ll try and get the thing published.