Queerotica: Inside the Mind of BD Swain
That secret book smuggled into bed, the Kindle discretely tucked away from fellow commuters or a late night Google search with nimble fingers. Erotica is never far away. When 50 Shades of Grey was thrust into the mainstream, erotica quickly shifted from a taboo to a sought after genre. Fondly coined ‘Mummy-Porn’ it carved out a niche for itself, opening doors for other writers of erotica.
Those of us who have no desire to read about a domineering man and a whimpering young woman find that on the internet, erotica is merely a click away; but it does take a bit longer to find something that exudes pure class.
It takes real skill to craft erotica, as it lends itself to imagination – one has to be able to see characters, smell, taste and feel them. Therefore finding queer, believable erotica that does just that is a task in itself.
One such spectacularly effective author of queer erotica is 40-something, self-confessed butch dyke, BD Swain. Her blog showcases awe-inspiring, knee-quiveringly good erotica, and here, we pick her brains about sex, fantasies, identity and gender…
Your Instagram showcases snippets of skin, hair, fabrics and various body parts. Your name, to those who are unaware, gives no indication of gender, age etc. To an outsider it seems mysterious and sensual. Is anonymity something that you revel in?
At first, anonymity was all about freedom for me. I felt free to explore absolutely anything behind that mask. No one knew who I was. Being anonymous allowed me to never hold back and see what would happen. I chose the name very deliberately as well. I knew I wanted something anonymous, genderless. I liked referencing my roots with BD, one of the earlier terms for a queer woman being bull dagger or bull dyke. I encourage people to ask me what BD stands for but I always give a different answer. I like to play with this identity. To flirt.
Now it’s more than that. I think of it almost like a striptease. It’s about the slow reveal. Tight shots with small glimpses of skin, only showing part of the scene is sexier than exposing the full image. I think my writing is like this as well, more about stolen glimpses than a full scene. You have to use your imagination to fill in the rest. I think it’s hotter than giving it all away. I want it to draw people in.
Similarly, the characters in your stories are often without identity, sometimes only physical attributes like skin, hair, clothes mentioned, what do you feel this offers for your reader?
Yes, exactly! I do this very intentionally with my writing. I’ve been told that I don’t always flesh out characters enough. It’s true. I don’t. But I do that intentionally and unless the story really requires it, I prefer it. This is smut. It’s designed to get you off. I’m a very visual person and I like to draw images in my mind when I read. I want the reader to do the same. I have a very real image of what’s happening when I write but I don’t want to narrow a reader’s vision. I want you to be able to imagine that it’s you inside the story. I almost never use names for the same reason. When I read erotica, names jump out at me and break the action. Too often, the names feel wrong. If I was writing longer pieces, I would be much more descriptive. But for what I do and the nature of these stories for now, I prefer to write more of a sketch.
Are your ideas created from real life experience? Fantasies of your own? Others’ fantasies?
There have been periods where everything I write is pure fantasy and periods where almost every story is grounded in real life. Honestly though, I just have a really dirty mind and I pay attention to it. Maybe everyone does. I hope so. Ideas often hit me in the middle of the most mundane activity. I’ll be stopped at a red light or getting groceries and an image or a string of words will come into my head. The only time I’ve tried to go looking for it and ‘think something up’, the story was terrible. So I just pay attention to all those fleeting little thoughts that creep up on me and get inspired.
I also ask readers to send me fantasies. I’ve gotten some amazing requests that really pushed my writing and my own fantasies into new territory. It’s amazing when that happens. I’m a very sexual person. I love to fuck. I love to think about my own and other people’s fantasies. I love to push the boundaries of my own sexual desire. And it’s been incredible how much the writing helps me explore that.
Is sex and erotica important to you outside of the writerly sphere?
Absolutely. Sex is essential to me. It’s at the core of so much of who I am. I almost don’t know how to talk or write about it. It’s just something that flows through everything I do. I’m a passionate person and I have to feel passionate about what I’m doing. And while passion isn’t necessarily sexual, it’s connected to that same essential truth for me.
Do those close to you read your writing? What reception do they give to your stories?
My girlfriend reads my writing and I like sharing it with her. My sister is also incredibly supportive and reads my stories. My friends are very open people, sexually, so we generally talk about sex and not necessarily my writing. They come to readings and sometimes I’ll talk about a particular story with a friend for one reason or another. I don’t really care if my friends read my blog regularly or not. Every so often a friend will reach out to let me know that a particular story really hit them and that does feel pretty great. My friends are incredibly supportive of what I do and celebrate with me.
Do you ‘out’ yourself as a writer of erotica when asked about what you do? Are you ever shy about it?
I’m definitely not shy about it. It’s not something I talk about with people I meet through my day job. I do have a few friends at work who know, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about there. But when I meet new friends or meet people at a party, yes, I tell them I write smut. It can be a fun conversation starter.
What steered you away from the more ‘conventional’ ways of writing?
The simplest answer is that this is what I had to write. I started writing out of a deep need to do so. I was stuck in a very bad place in my personal life. I had a very unfulfilling sex life. And writing these stories was a huge release for me. My writing helped me find the courage I needed to dramatically change my life. But I am interested in expanding my writing beyond what I do now. I’ve found myself writing stories that aren’t really blog material and I’m exploring that, but it’s not writing that I’m currently sharing.
Inspiration can come in many ways – a sidelong glance from someone, a smell, a sound – what provides you with inspiration?
I love hearing people’s stories. I like to watch people look at each other. I imagine their own dirty thoughts when they’re sitting at the coffee shop or walking down the sidewalk. We all have these dirty thoughts randomly throughout the day. I think about some small moment that might really turn someone on.
My stories often start with the sex or with some small moment. I’ll have this flash of an image. A belt looping around wrists. Knees dropping onto the carpet. A hand splayed on a back, shoving a woman into the mattress. Some small moment will hit me and I’ll let my imagination spin it out into a story. Something that happened during sex will stay with me. Something that was said or some feeling. I feel like most of these stories come from deep inside my head. Even the stories that are sparked by a reader request end up sinking into me and becoming my own.
You develop nameless, and often troubled characters who seem to be ‘wanting’ in their sexual prowess, do you find that your readers connect to these faceless characters?
I love this question. For me, I just try to write very queer, very real characters. And from my own experience, a lot of queers have been in some deeply troubling places. Those moments when you’re struggling through the muck before you feel good about yourself are the most interesting to me. That butch struggling to feel confident in her skin. A young woman willing to sell herself short just to get laid. I think we’ve all been there. We’ve all felt some level of shame or fear. We’ve felt inadequate. The cocky swagger is great. I love it. It’s hot. But I like the soft interior, too. The struggle and the tension feel very real to me. And I do find that people comment on this aspect of my writing more than anything else. I think it’s what takes people deeper into the stories. I hope it’s more complex than a simple story that gets you off.
Blurred gender lines and sexual fluidity seem to be prevalent in your narratives, is this distortion of gender and sexuality important to you? Why?
There’s so much blurring of gender going on around me these days that it’s impossible not to explore it. I love playing with gender. I have a natural, boyish moustache that I don’t hide and I remember the thrill I felt when my current girlfriend told me on our second date that she thought my moustache looked handsome. But I’m very much a butch woman. I love having the body I do. I’m comfortable identifying as a woman. But almost nothing is off limits for me in terms of fantasy and sexual desire. I can fantasise about having a cock while my girlfriend shoves her fingers inside me and sucks on my tits. I love feeling queer and mixing it all up together.
In my writing, distorting gender is something I can use to dig deeper inside a character’s psyche. But it’s also whatever seems hot in that story and for that moment. When you play with gender in a fantasy, it’s an easy way to really let go. When you imagining your body differently, that level of fantasy can open you up in ways that can be beautifully surprising.
Ultimately, what gives you the want, need, desire, to write ‘queer smut’?
Honestly, it’s just inside me. Or at least, that’s how it has always felt. I started writing and the stories just poured out of me. I’ve always been a very sexual person. I was stifled for several years, and then I exploded. For a period of time, I was writing multiple stories a week. I couldn’t stop writing. What I love about it is how much the writing pushes me to edge further out to the limits and explore new desires.
Do you have any advice for anyone out there who might be toying with the idea of writing erotica?
I’d say to do it. Write what you want to read. Don’t think about an audience, a reader, or anything you’ve read before. And I’d say to start by just paying attention to what turns you on. What’s that fantasy inside your head when you’re jerking off or fucking someone? What’s the thing you imagine right before you come? It can be hard to really focus on that and write it down. I think that’s a really good place to start because it’s so intensely personal. I’m not sure if that’s advice or just a description of what I did. But I don’t know how else to advise someone else.