It is with HUGE pleasure that I announce the release of Amanda Feral’s first smut foray, A Stocking Full of Coal:
As you can see at the bottom, Stocking is part of Ellora’s Cave’s Merry Kinkmas. Meanwhile, that title, and the book itself, has made me think a lot about kink.
I know, it’s a shocker.
Seriously, though, this book is awesome. Amanda Feral is the zombie socialite creation of Mark Henry, and we first saw her snarking, boffing, and eating (and not in the kinky way) her way through Happy Hour of the Damned, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies.
Now she has her own book, and it’s a doozy. Amanda has created Justine Crenshaw, a woman who gets off on people poking her in the bruise. And that’s not a euphemism. I mean a real bruise.
So yeah, it’s dark. But–considering it’s about a bruise fetishist and it’s written by a flesh-eating zombie–it’s also bizarrely romantic. For Mark’s books always work on a number of levels, and this short story is no exception. Yes, it’s a smutty tale of a woman who wants to be poked while she’s poked, but it’s also about acknowledging our own lack of control; the painful acquisition of self-knowledge that only comes with exploring all of our aspects, even the dark ones; and the sort of relationship-compromises we make that are ultimately not compromises, but about genuinely opening ourselves up to another person.
In other words, it’s about just what it says on the package…it’s about kink.
Kink is one of those words we use a lot. Well, I use it a lot. I use it as a high five–“Girl, that is kinkeh!” I use it sarcastically– “I’m going to the grocery store.” “Ooo, kinkeh.” Sometimes I use it to indicate that someone has actually managed to shock me– “Oh. Wow. That is kinky.” Kink, in other words, can mean everything and nothing to me, like so many words we use and abuse in our society.
Dictionaries, meanwhile, agree that kink is something sexual which is “deviant,” or “peculiar.” For most of my friends, however, kink is usually stripped of the negative connotation that such definitions imply. Kink’s not merely something to be dismissed as wrong; instead it’s seen as something enlightening–we focus on the act of overcoming, or at least thinking through, the affective response we get from things that we find to be deviant or peculiar. Such challenges slap us in the face with our own expectations and assumptions and make us think differently about what we consider “normal.” And that’s what kink does, and why it can’t, really, be defined. After all, what I consider kinky is totally banal to others; while things another person considers totally beyond the pale are staid to me.
But we see, in Amanda’s short story, how kink is so much more than a measuring stick by which to judge others by such terms as “deviant” or “peculiar.” Instead, kink is about exploring our dark side, accepting our lack of control, and genuinely sharing ourselves with another person.
Justine knows that she’s got “issues,” and that they’re embodied (quite literally) in her bruise fetish. But that doesn’t matter–it is what it is. It’s her “thing,” but it’s also her shame. She hides her fetish. In doing so, however, she hides herself. And she suffers the consequences.
It’s only when she shares–when she opens up both her pain and her pleasure–that she finds redemption. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but like with most romances, this does have a happy ending. And yet, this happy ending isn’t a deus ex machina easy fix to a broken person. Instead, I think it reflects a reality about sex and sexuality that is very honest and true, even if it’s “packaged” in an imaginary fashion. The bruise fetish may be made up, but what Justine goes through seems very real, to me.
For what Justine really shares, when she shares her fetish, is herself. Not the part that we all present to the world–the J. Alfred Prufrock version, with our collars mounted firmly to our chins–but the stripped-naked, vulnerable core of ourselves. Quite literally, she shows her lover where she hurts, and indicates that she can’t get over that hurt–that she needs to feel it, over and over, to feel alive.
And instead of judging, her lover attempts to understand her, both with his mind and his body. He gives her a form of acceptance that challenges him, in turn. Indulging her fetish confronts his own expectations of paternalism and protectiveness, making him think beyond normative versions of masculine kindness and love to see how an act of apparent cruelty is the real kindness in this strange situation.
In other words, he puts aside his own issues and expectations to explore a woman who excites him. They both open themselves up–an ultimate act of bravery in our often cynical, closed-off world.
So for Kinkmas, maybe explore your kinks. Please don’t think you need to run off and boff the mailman, or commit sex acts on any rooftops. Kinks don’t have to be all that kinky–they’re what make you vulnerable, not your neighbor or your best friend. Try sharing yourself, a little, if there’s someone you think you can trust and who you think deserves that trust.
It’s a hell of a lot more exiting than a partidge in a pear tree, I can assure you. 😉
And in the meantime, run out and buy Stocking Full of Coal. It’s so good, people. I’ll never look at the edge of a table the same way again, and I already looked at them funny. Meanwhile, for why I heart Mark Henry, check out his vlog on Wicked Little Pixie’s website. Hilarious!
Finally, how about a contest? If you buy Stocking Full of Coal and send me some sort of proof–a pic of you with it loaded on your ereader, the receipt, whatever–and COMMENT on this post to remind me it’s there (my inbox is a mess 😉 )–I’ll enter you to win EITHER an MP3 CD or the CD of Kate Reinders reading Tempest Rising.
Send me your proof to iheartselkies(at)gmail(dot)com.
I’ll randomly choose a winner on Christmas Eve Day, Friday December 24th. This is a separate contest from the one below, in which you can also win the audiobook of TR. 😉
So go forth, purchase Stocking and enter to win an audiobook! Fun!