It is safe to say that our long-anticipated Eroticon 2015 weekend got off to a rather duff start. Unless your idea of a good Friday afternoon is your toasting hot coach forced to make an ABSOLUTELY ENDLESS detour along narrow north-east Somerset countryside lanes. A detour which added two and a half hours to our journey, which left us with little time to rest when we finally arrived at our hotel. Showers for the both of us, a lot of swearing from me, and off to the hotel bar for the hotel drinks.
I joked to ILB that we’d probably start running into people from the moment the lift doors opened. Sure enough, they opened to reveal Marie Rebelle and Master T, who were greeted with enthusiastic hugs. I’d say that, right about then, I was reassured that our duff start hadn’t set the tone for the weekend. I’d say that, and I’d be right, because Eroticon 2015 rocked my socks off.
The past few months – and especially the past few weeks – have worn me down to a little nub. I had lost faith in not only publishers but also my own skills as a blogger, as a writer and as a human being. Eroticon 2015, from both a professional and a deeply personal place, was something I craved. NEEDED. Yes, I am putting that in all caps because that’s how much I needed it.
And indeed, from the moment I drifted into the bar, into the welcoming arms of Exhibit A, I knew I would get all that and more.
Here are just a few of the many things that stuck with me from this amazing Eroticon 2015 weekend.
- Spotting a chap with an amazing Doctor Who t-shirt on my way to the nearby supermarket, regretting not telling him that his shirt was awesome, later meeting him at the drinks and discovering that he was Beau De Jour, there with the lovely EuclideanPoint (and getting to tell him his shirt was awesome).
- Getting chips with gravy (and chips and cheese) from the chippie and eating them on the seats outside the hotel, both of us feeling well class.
- Finally meeting Horny Geek Girl, as well as several other lovely people such as Abbie Rode, the aforementioned Beau and EP, Hermione from Vibease (check out that piece of awesome), The Boss of Doxy (which, get ready for a hell of a post about that toy) and The Head Mistress from Sextracurricular.
- Getting to properly know people who have crossed my path all too briefly before, like Charlie Powell, Girl on the Net, Helen J Perry and the vibrant ball of elegant loveliness that is F. Leonora Solomon (check out her story, Harper, in my anthology Spy Games).
- The opening panel on Saturday, a frank and open chat about the state of erotica publishing and what needs to happen.
- Zak Jane Keir probably sorely regretting wearing a lace-front t-shirt during said panel. (“Sorry, I’ve got me tit stuck to the table.”)
- Girl on the Net giving a barnstorming, honest, inspirational talk on ways to make money by writing about shagging.
- Jane Gilbert’s informative session on cover art, introducing a room full of bloggers to the wonders of Kindle Cover Disasters
- K D Grace and Lily Harlem sharing pearls of wisdom during their session (thank you for the book, Lily!)
- M.K. Elliot’s insanely detailed self pubbing talk giving me the courage to actually try it
- Charlie J Forrest and I indulging our inner rope-a-holics with DJ Fet at the kink booth demos
- The first official Kinky Brits pow-wow, recording the podcast at a nearby pub over a very worrying dessert
- The cocktail party, held on the balcony of a bar called Revolution – on the one hand, it was kind of fun getting a boogie on and shamelessly spying on the myriad of hen nights going on.
- On the other hand, retreating to the Radisson Blu bar and actually being able to chat was more fun.
- Reassuring Janine Ashbless that OMI has found himself a cheerleader and not a “hungnurrnurr”, as the hen party which lustily sang along to the song made it sound like.
- The ace sessions on the second day, especially Janine Ashbless’s session on fantasy erotica, which may or may not have inspired a collaboration…
- Violet Fenn’s Lick it and Stick it mood board drop-in, in which I managed to both make a mood board for my Anna Triplett story and have a bit of a chat with Cressida Downing, Violet herself and Ruby.
- Girl on the Net, Exhibit A and I silently agreeing that none of us particularly fancied reading our piece straight after Ashley Lister, who brought the house down with his utterly fucking filthy poetry.
- “My Inner God does a dad dance to the Foo Fighters’ Learn to Fly“, tying with “Publishing is the rectal exam of writing.” for quote of the conference.
- Girl on the Net reading a piece she wrote especially for the occasion, a piece soaked with love and longing which made me a bit weepy
- Exhibit A reading a piece which, quite frankly, made me wish I had a cold shower at hand.
- Me, reading Kicking the Habit, my voice cracking up on the last paragraph because (as Ian Jade reminded me later) at the first Eroticon I couldn’t even muster up the courage to talk to Hazel Cushion from XCite and now I was here, reading in front of an audience of amazing friends and awe-inspiring peers.
- Yeah, I cried, because it’s not Eroticon until Jillian Boyd cries. But they were tears of joy, truly.
As we retreated once more to the Radisson Blu bar, none of us particularly wanting to actually go home, I felt lots of things. Inspiration. Happiness. Sadness, because it was over, but happiness again because the end is where we begin again. Eroticon 2015 might be over, but now it’s our turn to put into work what we learned. Our turn to pay it forward, as Exhibit A said in his amazing post.
Should you come to Eroticon 2016? Yes. A thousand times yes. Be you sex blogger, erotica writer, sex educator, sex toy company, sex positive hanger-on, publisher – you are welcome and you are wanted. Start saving now. Get in touch with Ruby to see how you can help sponsor the conference. Come and meet your peers, make new friends, learn new things, experience those moments that’ll make you feel alive with inspiration.
Come next year and join in with an experience that will make you want to keep coming back for more. Because you’re going to want to, and that’s what makes Eroticon so brilliant.
A thousand thank you’s to The Boss of Eroticon, Ruby Kiddell. I owe you and the conference a heck of a lot, and I am so, so grateful you brought it into existence. You are a Star, capital S. And yes, I will come over and visit you and Imp at some point later in the year, promise.