The Taste Of Her is the first book of lesbian erotica by Melbourne author Jess Lea, published in two parts by Ylva Publishing. Part one features five well-written short stories about strong women who dare to let their guards down.
Several of the stories are BDSM heavy, for those who like the dominant/submissive dynamic and a bit of pain with their pleasure, plus there’s plenty of oral delight, finger-f***ing and strap-on action.
In “Severina”, an ambitious salesgirl at a high-class lingerie store struggles to please her demanding boss. A frustrated lesbian poet discovers how much fun a writer’s festival can be in “A Literary Lesson,” two Medieval nuns experience a forbidden, secret spark in “Illumination," “The World Turned Upside Down” takes us into a decadent 1930s cabaret bar, where the jaded star watches her back-up dancer rise to fame, and “Making Up” brings all the drama of a daytime soap opera.
“These stories were inspired by two things: the fascination that lesbians often feel for powerful women, and the way that different artistic settings provide beautiful backdrops for tales of lesbian desire,” says 38-year-old Lea, who says she fell into writing erotica by accident, when some lesbian anthologies were calling for submissions.
“I thought: why not give it a try? And while I shouldn’t get too serious about stories with so many naked ladies in them, I do feel sincerely grateful to be writing at a point in history when lesbians can publicly share our stories of longing and pleasure – and with happy endings, too!”
Lea is an avid reader of erotic fiction, and lists the founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Joan Nestle, as one of the writers she most admires. “She wanted us to have a voice, and recognised that desire and passion are integral to our stories.”
Lea is a history buff who thoroughly researched the different settings for each story. “I delved into the production of medieval manuscripts, the storylines of midday soap operas, and the sort of outfits that might be sold in a high-class lingerie shop…I have a lot of fun building these fictional worlds; sometimes I have to force myself to return to the story!”
Like many introverted writers, “living in worlds of our own imaginations,” Lea’s creative process often started with the setting as inspiration. “What would a tale of lesbian lust and longing look like if you set it in a Depression-era cabaret bar or the punishment cell of a medieval convent? Then it’s a process of imagining characters who would thrive or struggle in those settings, and who would experience an erotic friction with each other. The actual ‘action’ comes last, for me.”
Talking of action, Lea says writing sex scenes was genuinely difficult, especially choosing the right language. “You have to be frank enough to hold the reader’s interest, without putting people off. I’ve witnessed some furious and hilarious debates over the suitability of words like “moist” and “engorged” – and everyone’s got an opinion on the C-word!”
“When writing erotica, you present an idealised version of sex – no one ever has a sneezing fit or falls off the bed! – which also has to ring true for women’s real experiences of fantasy and pleasure.”
The Taste Of Her Volume 1 E-book is available for download now and costs $2.99.