You’re an erotic writer. How did it begin?
Well, that’s so personal I can’t wait to tell you. At university, my professor, we call them Dons in England, made awful remarks about my first essay on Jean-Paul Sartre and said, and I quote: you deserve to have your bottom spanked. Now this is not the sort of thing you say to a first year student of eighteen, is it? Or is it? Anyway, my Don invited me out to dinner at a little French restaurant on the River Cam. He gave me red wine and a book by Georges Bataille. He asked, politely, being English, if I would like to go back to his rooms and I didn’t answer. I just went. After reading Bataille’s book on erotica, I was persuaded to write an erotic short story for a magazine. The story was published and I had taken my first step on the slippery ladder of literature.
In what way has your knowledge helped you to face the sexual (r)evolution?
I learned early that sex and love do not have to go together. That love is in many ways a prison from which you never escape. And that the erotic is the path to freedom. If you are sexually liberated, you become intellectually curious and physically free.
You’ve read books of Marquês de Sade, Anais Nin. What kind of influences did they have on you and your work?
It was Anais Nin who had the big influence. De Sade writes about debauching virgins and whipping nuns; it’s all a bit melodramatic. Nin writes as a woman with a woman’s desire to explore her sexuality and dark side. She was my guide up that ladder. I am her shadow, her clone, her literary daughter.
Writing erotic tales, exploring sensuality and sexuality is important to you?
We are all sexual beings and our sexuality is often repressed by convention and culture. It is important, to me, to reach my fullest potential as a woman, a human being, and a writer.
What fascinates you about being an erotic writer?
What fascinates me most is the response I get from people when they know I am an erotic novelist. Strangers think I am a sex maniac, which may or may not be true, and men get this funny little expression as if they know some secret, which of course they do not. Women get a different sort if expression, one of fear touched with anger and jealousy; they hold on to the arms of their men as if I might leap at any time and take a bite out of their neck. Thank heavens I am not an erotic vampire writer, that would be messy.
How did you overcome that brief moment when you were severely stereotyped, facing other’s anger about your writing?
The first wall I had to climb was the giant figure of my mother. It was a long time before I realised that she, in fact, was a little envious that I had the sort of free spirit that she thought she had but had lost along the way. Some friends thought it was wonderful and others that I had betrayed them in some odd sort of way. All those friends who were condemning at least read the books, and that is what writers want most: to be read.
Knowing you had a strict education (convent school), how were you able to open your mind and embrace sexuality and eroticism? What can you advice other people who are facing the same issue(s)?
I would never seek to advise anyone except to say be yourself, go with your instincts – more than your heart – and if it feels right, do it, spanking, threesomes, lesbian sex, bondage – it’s all completely human and totally natural. As Bella in my novel The Secret Life of Girls says: ‘People take sex far too seriously, it’s only sex.’ There is something the nuns and strict parents do not seem to understand: the more repressed you are but their rules and regimes, the more you want to break free and try all the things they are warning you against. I was a late starter, I have to say, but once I shook off the dust of the convent, I lost five kilos and grew wings.
Your first books’ theme are about young girls sexual self-knowledge and exploration. What motivated you to write about this specific matter?
Ah that would be The Secret Life of Girls, of course; how serendipitous. Well, I guess it was a little bit autobiographical, but don’t tell any one.
Thank you for your time!
Project For The Pleasure Genesis
Interview: Pedro Marques
Translation and Correction: Mariana Dias