July 23, 2008


When I meet someone new, I tend to proceed slowly in revealing my work. You know, I don't just whip out the pornographer business cards right away. See, I'm in publishing—my backlist of non-porn books is more extensive than my smut—so I can hide behind my day job when I want to.

But last week, I tried to take a friendship to the next level. This woman knows I'm a writer, but she's never expressed much interest in what I write. After debating a bit, I told her that I recently landed a book deal with Harlequin. No response. Zero. Zip. Then today she called me up to say, "I'm not surprised that you're going to be published, but I am shocked at what you're writing."

And I thought to myself as I mentally crossed her off my list of potential closer friends, "That shocked you? Hell, I could give you a fucking heart attack."

I don't have anything else to say. I just wanted to put it out there.


P.S. More guilty pleasures? I've indulged in several of mine today: I ordered six pairs of fishnets, bought red licorice ropes, and painted my nails cobalt while watching one of my favorite movies.


jothemama said...

This is the nice thing about the internet. No small talk. Sure, I haven't even met you and I know All About your Vagina, as it were.

But what if we did meet? Could we chat about little nothings, have a cup of tea? Or would I be wondering how riven you were feeling on a scale of one to ten at any given time.


Alison Tyler said...

I like to think I can hold my own in a chat over tea. Course my cunt likes coffee, black, but I only ever invite her to the table if she's truly wanted.


EllaRegina said...

Well, maybe don't put this "friend" in the Cardiac ICU quite yet but surely cross her off your list for potential deeper diving, so to speak. She really used the word "shocked"? (Nice shocked peach, by the way).

I, for one, would actually love a discussion of the prejudice harbored against writers of "erotica" and the dissing of the genre itself.

Big congratulations re the Harlequin deal!!!!

Angell said...

Ah well - it's her loss. Personally, I'd love to meet in person and chat over tea. Out of all the people I've ever "met" online, you are definately one of the most fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I posted before and edited myself. I didn't think that I knew you well enough. But what the hell, since you titled the next posting "Shocking" I just had to spill my bean.
I like to dress as a pony girl about once a month. I put a bit in my mouth, hoof-like high heels on my feet, a corset/harness that makes my butt stick out, blinders that prevent me from knowing what's going to strike, and nothing else. My boyfriend has a dressage (long, light) whip, and he works me as I prance. It leaves a lovely lattice-work of marks on my bum, and leaves me hot to trot.
Jean Marie

jothemama said...

Once a month, you say, Jean Marie? Pony Menstrual Syndrome?

jothemama said...

Heh, Alison, now we'll be having tea and a chat, and I'll be thinking 'oh my god, is she holding her own under the table??

Saskia Walker said...

Blimey, her loss. How rude! Most people I know are interested or impressed by what I do. Mind you, my oldest pals are goths and fetishists. lol. But even Mark's workmates are respectfully curious, no put downs.

Suzanne said...

That's a little spooky, Alison. I just bought the movie you linked for my husband. He had it on his Wish List for a long time.

I'm surprised that person was "shocked" by Harlequin. One of my best friends since elementary school and I don't talk about sex really though. I think it's because our relationship started before sex came into our lives, and we just never started talking about it. I can have a friendship with someone where we don't discuss what we do sexually. But I get the difference between not being able to talk about what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom, and not being able to talk about what you do, not only for a living, but because you're passionate about it. Being judged can suck. I'm sorry to hear that happened to you.

Neve Black said...

Hmmm...shocked in a judgemental way, or shocked in a I need to get used to the idea way. It makes a difference.

She obviously respects you professionally b/c she wasn't surprised that you were being published. Did you mention how
many times you've been published? Nah...that wouldn't be nice, huh? Rubbing her nose in it a bit.

Well, I think I speak for everyone that tunes into get a AT fix daily, when I say, Congratulations to you, and please keep on doing what you're doing. I love the shock effect you give me. ;-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Heh, Alison, now we'll be having tea and a chat, and I'll be thinking 'oh my god, is she holding her own under the table??

Jo, you've got me holding my own (belly), convulsed with laughter.

Alison Tyler said...

Hmmm...shocked in a judgemental way, or shocked in a I need to get used to the idea way. It makes a difference.

See... I'd like to know that, too. But there was nothing after that. No, further explanation. So I'm doing the guessing thing. Shocked that I'd write fiction. Or about sex. Or sexy fiction. Or...

The lack of any additional comment just sort of closed the door to me.


Anonymous said...

Alison, It would be fun to know what else you write/edit in your non-sex-related publishing.

Kristina Wright said...

I had a "friend" who professed to be "shocked" and embarrassed (for me!) because of what I wrote. Then I found out she was reading my stories to her boyfriend as a little literary foreplay. Needless to say, I was "shocked" she'd insult me to my face and then use my words to get off. We're no longer friends for other reasons, but that steamed me to no end.

There are plenty of people who are impressed all to bits by your writing talents, Alison. A lot of them are posting here. :)

Alison Tyler said...

I don't really need to impress people. It's just that at some point, I feel dishonest if I keep what I do such a secret. I've been this woman's "friend" for several years, and I thought I'd out myself.

The truth? I think she always felt safe with me. She takes up conversations with discussions of her job and her opinions on this and that. I've always been the listener.

My guess is that she felt threatened in some way in that I wasn't so easily placed in a box.


Jeremy Edwards said...

I don't really need to impress people. It's just that at some point, I feel dishonest if I keep what I do such a secret.

I can relate. For me, it's not so much the dishonesty of omitting any reference to what has been my most important and fulfilling area of creative activity for several years now (though there's a bit of that dishonest feeling), as the awkward and unsatisfying feeling of having a big hole in what I tell people about my life. (I have told some friends a little bit about my adventures as an erotica writer, but there are many I haven't and probably won't.)

Alison Tyler said...

But maybe I can't have things both ways. I mean, I don't mind a little of the shock factor. Because, yeah, most people don't write porn. So by definition, it's a bit shocking.

But then, I've been doing this for so long. I mean, I really did start back in Latin class. So the shock is long gone from me.

What was disturbing is how, god, prissy she said it. "I'm not surprised at this, but I'm shocked at that." What was I supposed to do with that? Apologize. Oh, god, sorry for shocking you. Let me just go erase all those dirty words I've used for the past 20 years in order not to give you a shocking moment.

I don't know. I didn't have a real reason for posting. I just wanted to.


Kirsten Monroe said...

One time a brother-in-law was showing me his newly remodeled home office. On his computer monitor was a post-it note on which he'd written, "Porn is the work of the Devil. I will not look at porn." Now that was shocking...and creepy. Maybe it was there for his wife's benefit or something. I have to be careful about who I reveal my erotica to, but I know that the things I write are the things they (if they're in fact human beings and not robots) all think, whether they want to own up to it or not.

Yes Timmy said...

Hi Alison,
I have been reading your blog for a short time (LOVE it), but have not posted a comment, erotic or otherwise, because of my day job. I am a teacher, and a little paranoid, I guess. I think it's prudent to use caution, as you did in unfolding your professional story to your friend, but too bad to have to keep a really cool part of who you are under wraps.
Congrats on the book deal!

Madame Butterfly said...

I've lived an insane life. Certainly way outside of the norm and I usually keep my mouth shut about it because I know I will be judged negatively.

Currently I live a "normal" life and have a "boringly normal" job and so I can keep the conver going without having to get into my past.

There have been times when I've become really good friends with someone and have talked about my "real" self and sometimes they stick with me and sometimes I don't hear from them again. Oh well.

If I've become close with someone though, I don't like hiding who I am. But not everyone can take lifestyles of people who live outside the box.

Kristina Wright said...

My guess is that she felt threatened in some way in that I wasn't so easily placed in a box.

That's likely true. If she's been your friend for awhile, perhaps it's just a matter of giving her time to adjust to the idea? A real friend will shrug it off as not her thing while still maintaining the friendship. I hope that's the case.

I pretty much out myself immediately with prospective new friends (writing under my real name kind of requires it). I'd rather not have to explain/defend my writing-- and my reluctance to reveal all-- down the road.

jothemama said...

I'm shocked she'd known you for years. That does suck. There's such a strong puritanical undercurrent in the States. Irish Catholicism and provincialism is a lot more blatant in its bigotry, but more likely to side with the rebel underneath, in reality. Not so much with the witch birning anymore.

You know, not in terms of writing porn, but in terms of just revealing my self to a lot of people, I've found difficulty. Ok, that's not a sentence, I don't know how to phrase this thought. Meh.

I often find it difficult to reveal who I am, what I think, how I feel, my deeper emotions... people want the jolly, surface version of me, and run away from anything more complex or hard to deal with. I suppose this is the same. In terms of being hte listener too...

Kristina, that's an awful story. The hypocrisy!

Toxic friendships...

EllaRegina said...

Alison Tyler said...

What was disturbing is how, god, prissy she said it.

She sounds like an old prudish prune, and that holds even if she's 25-years-old. "Uptight" is another word that comes to mind.

JT said...


You ask, What was I supposed to do with that?

Well, I would have looked her in the eye and asked,

Really? What shocked you?

That's just me. I enjoy giving the knife of discomfort a little twist when I think someone deserves it. If it happened that she was not really uncomfortable, just surprised by something else, then you would have your answer about that too as a bonus - if not a knife then a key for a closed door.

No doubt anyone whose work has even the remotest connection to sex is going to get more than their share of this type of judgment directed toward them but there are no shortage of people willing to judge you no matter what you do.

I look at it this way... It's a good thing. I don't have time to be friends with everyone and people who take themselves out of the running, for whatever reason, just save me time.

I know I'm new around here but I suspect you will never have enough time for all the friends you have - or could have at the least. Perhaps her judgments serve you well in the end.

To your credit, it is clear that you are not ashamed of what you do. I post my comments in the temple erected to your shamelessness. The hurdle you seem to face is dealing with those who believe you should feel shame. So I say, "Once you decide to buy, buy with pride!" Rub their face in your success as Black suggests. Rub their face in their judgment as I suggest. Reveal yourself immediately and quickly weed out the judgmental as Kristina suggests. Revel in your sexuality by telling them, "I feel lucky." Find your own way. But whatever you do make sure they know you don't accept their premise. It is the underlying premise that you should be ashamed that angers you. The premise is the teeth of her judgmental passive-aggressive attack. You don't need to recall your words to parry the attack. You don't need to alleviate her judgmental shock.

Oh, if you want to have some fun be sure to smile. It'll drive 'em nuts if they can see the depth of your belief that their judgment means nothing. I always smile.


Alison Tyler said...

Well, see... we were on the phone. And there was just nothing after the "I am shocked," line. That was her closer. And because I'm part squirrel, I then have jumped from branch to branch, I mean conclusion to conclusion.

Is she shocked because she thought my writing was more of the Herman Melville variety? (Ah ha ha ha!) Or shocked because she, herself, doesn't think much of sex and is offended by people who do. I mean, I don't know. She's not puritanical. We have similar political tendencies. She likes Sex and the City.

But the way she said "shocked" was really a slap. And rebel that I am (yes, you can be a squirrel and a rebel), my internal (if not external) response remains simply: "fuck you."


P.S. Thanks for all the nice words, btw.

kiki said...

too funny with the melville comment as my ex-boyfriend referred to his cock as moby the great white whale...

i am shocked that SHE is shocked. honestly, if a person has known you for years can just leave it like that? that blows. and not in a good way. give me her phone number please and i will shock her indeed. and really - harlequin is shocking? my mother-in-law read harlequin - ALWAYS. and yes, i know that there are many levels to harlequin, but really - shocked?

if the time comes and she opens a door, i'd let her have it. or, perhaps, because i know you to be a kind person, you could do the "so what is it about harlequin that shocks you? and do you know TRULY how many times i've been published?" or, you could get hippy dippy earthy (not judging that as i'd call myself that!) and do the "what you said hurt me" and see what happens. i'm pissed on your behalf (and not in a european way -- i'm taking vicodin, so i don't get to drink). and wouldn't it be fun to go into her house and find porn? OH!!!! maybe you can invite her over for tea and have your porn in various places?!? giggle.


EllaRegina said...

Alison Tyler said...

And because I'm part squirrel, I then have jumped from branch to branch, I mean conclusion to conclusion.

I guess this has already been similarly expressed by JT, Kiki and others but here's my two cents: see, that's just it. You really don't know, unless you care to ask her (which, at the moment it doesn't sound like you do), what part of your admission shocked her. Harlequin? Writing "porn"? Something else? It could be like you say, that she now doesn't know how to put you in a box, and in which box? People need labels more and more to "understand" things. It's idiotic.

You could call her on it and even offer to let her read some of your stuff. Hey, give her the URL to this website and let us have at her! (Kidding, sorta.)

But, it's really crappy to be judged, especially when it's for the very basic stuff: what you do, who you are, your beliefs.

It sounds like there is a missing piece here, given what you say about your similar world view and so on.

It is truly sad when our friends disappoint us.

But, you know, you're a fucking rockstar, no pun intended, and she's missing out on all the fun with her shockism.

Raven said...

Dearest Alison,

Please. Don't *ever* apologize for your porn. Or the Harlequin titles, for that matter.


Sharon Wachsler said...

First, I want to say that this sounds painful that you knew her so long and then THIS. I would have assumed you were casual acquaintances, so that must feel like a loss and trust broken.

But I read this, I thought, "Do I live on a different PLANET than this woman?" (Your ex-friend, I mean, not you!)

Like Kristina, I write under my real name, whether it's smut or smutless, so I have always been "out" about my erotica. It's true that my mom gets excited when my work is published in a non-smut book so she can show her friends, but basically the people who love me celebrate when I'm doing well enough (health-wise) to be able to write.

I wonder if it's different in the queer world? I think talking about, reading about, writing about sex is very ho-hum if you're already out about being a big ol' queer since age 18?

But Harlequin, for godsake! Since when is Harlequin shocking? It's SUCH an established publisher! I'd be thrilled! I remember they sold them in the A&P where I grew up. At some point in my childhood, our next door neighbor -- a nice, suburban housewife -- told my mom (also a nice suburban housewife) she wrote for Harlequin and gave us a copy of one of her books. None of us were shocked; we were surprised initially because it was an aspect of her life we hadn't known about, but it was cool because she was A Real Published Writer.

Congratulations to you! And I'm sorry about this sad experience.

P.S. You should definitely send her a review copy, though, when you finish editing The Big Book o' Bestiality, Scat, and Necrophilia. ;-0