In the third and final instalment of our spotlight on Tobsha Learner’s erotic short story collections, the author focuses on the inspirations behind Yearn.
SUBTITLE: The Explicit Explorations of Sir Joseph Banks
D’Arcy, a handsome young Victorian biographer, discovers his competitor is about to publish a biography of Joseph Banks the same time as his own. D’Arcy despairs until a sexy chimney sweep discovers a hidden diary of the explorer that describes a magical orgy. D’Arcy is determined to re-enact the orgy to boost sales of his book and defeat his competitor.
Sir Joseph Banks actually did record the sexual mores and customs of the Tahitians, which, at the time, seemed both idyllic and liberated to the 18th English and French sailors who were fortunate enough to visit the island. This was one of my inspirations, followed by the idea of having two fiercely competitive biographers feuding, I do think my sexy rough trade chimney sweeper is particularly inspired!
SUBTITLE: The Mile High Celebrity club
Jerome is a famous film star who has everything – except anonymity. On a flight to LA he thinks he’s finally found a woman who lusts after him without knowing who he is – hot steamy sex does not shatter his illusions.
Having lived in LA and having know a few very successful individuals in the film industry I was interested in how it might be to long for anonymity as a film star – or at least wish for someone to want you for who you are, rather that the celebrity you might be. There is a delicious twist to the end of this story that proves that celebrity is nowadays –global. One cannot escape fame.
SUBTITLE: First Temptations Linger Longest
Eddy’s a gorgeous barrow boy made good, who’s about to marry up big time. But a visit to his favourite brothel throws all his plans up in the air as his first sexual awakening comes back to haunt him.
This is a re-working of story about first love, and how it can haunt you for years. It is also about class and the disconnect a self-made man might feel on the brink of entering the aristocracy by marriage. I guess I was inspired by Soho, an area in London I know really well, and the Berwick street market and the culture of the stall-owners – which sadly, is now dwindling away due to development.
SUBTITLE: Animal Love
May’s boyfriend has a breakdown, leaving her with a pile of bills, the rent, and a cat as a parting gift. May doesn’t know whether she’s dreaming or not when the cat turns into an incredibly handsome man who takes her to the limit of her sexual fantasies.
I started thinking about the recession and the pressures on young students to make the rent but also the influence of the vampire and werewolf cultures that have sprung up via books and TV. May’s pragmatic sense of survival in dealing with her boyfriend’s mental breakdown is a direct contrast to the magical sexual events following.
SUBTITLE: Final Satisfaction
Joanna is a middle-aged art lecturer resigned to celibacy until she meets Seth, a gorgeous young artist. To her delight he arouses desires in her she thought she’d lost forever in one explicit steamy night together, with consequences neither of them had ever imagined.
This was inspired by a very brief encounter I had myself (before I was married!) with a far younger man. I developed it into a proper love story with a poignant framing.
Pussy and Mouse
SUBTITLE: Tasinis: Sex Avatar Supreme
Cassandra is an overweight telesales rep who lives a whole sexual fantasy life through her avatar, who’s a famous porn star on Second Life. She is convinced all her desires are fulfilled until real life beckons.
I know this part of California well, and I was intrigued about the disconnect between one’s avatar and one’s real life body/persona. I pushed this to extremes – using Second Life and the X rated sites that are linked to it.
SUBTITLE: Stormy Leather
1987: Phoebe, a secretary, bored with her husband, becomes sexually obsessed with a handsome BBC weatherman. Convinced he is secretly communicating to her through the TV, she begins to dream his reports in an explicit manner a day before they are broadcast. Then one day he gets it terribly wrong …
This was inspired by Michel Fish the weatherman who gave the tragically wrong weather report just before the worst storm in recent history hit Britain in 1987, I also wanted to explore the way fans stalk celebrities and the projected fantasies imposed upon them.
SUBTITLE: The Taboo Rose
Sara, a recently divorced aristocrat and serious art collector, is persuaded to buy a sculpture of porcelain vaginas by the stunningly handsome Sven, who she thinks is homosexual until their working relationship hots up into something far steamier, as both push their own boundaries.
I was struck visiting the art show Frieze one year how the vagina (painted, moulded in clay etc) seemed to be everywhere that year – and I loved the idea of creating a sympathetic female aristocratic character an art patron, swept up by the machinations of the art world – both gallery owner and curator.
The Alchemy of Coincidence
SUBTITLE: Sex Toy
Jennifer, a sculptress, uses her erotic imagination to construct explicit body parts inspired by a gorgeous man she’s seen in a magazine, as part of an art installation about lust and coincidence. To her husband’s fury the clay sex toy turns out to have a power of its own.
The only BA I have is in Sculpture, and I’ve always thought there is a power in image-making that can be both predictive and can actually make some events manifested. Hence the character of Jennifer – I was also interested in how the actual working of clay can be erotic, just as the object one makes can be found to be erotic.