ARTS & LIFE


Everybody thinks they can write erotic literature, but this hot-to-trot market requires skills, unabashed fantasies and knowledge of the guidelines

And a climax would help


By Jeannie Marshal

Felix Baron is a man of many names. He is also known as Lady Gwendolyn Fairchild, Morganna Baron, Michael Grey and Michael Kitt, to name a few. "Felix" sometimes even uses his own name but he has asked not to be identified by it here in order to spare the sensibilities of those who are not famil­iar with with the antics of Morgana and Lady Gwendolyn.

"I write allot for the Web and there I go through names like pretzels. For differ­ent Web sites I have to be different people. I have to be constantly changing voices. I have been South American, black, Ori­ental and a variety of blond bimbos," laughs Felix. "But I would hate for the little old ladies to whom I am teaching romance writing to read my real name."

As well as being a successful writer of erotica, or pornography depending on your definition, Felix also teaches corre­spondence writing courses in erotica and other genres through the Ottawa-based writing school Quality of Course. He takes a practical approach to his instruc­tion on writing explicitly sexual material, and has structured the course so that his students publish as they go.

In fact, Quality of Course offers to re­fund the $729 course fee if the student has not earned back that amount through publishing by the end of the program, which should take 18 months to two years to complete.

Quality of Course was founded about 15 years ago by Alex Myers. Originally from England, Myers noticed upon coming to Canada that there were few correspond­ence educational programs of high quality. She started out by offer­ing a comprehensive writing course that would give students a chance to sample different kinds of writing. Later, Myers hired more staff and offered specialized courses in novel writing, memoir, and business writ­ing. She added erotica to the list about two years ago.

"I must say I was a little nervous at first. I was afraid we might attract the raincoat brigade. But the students have been completely prosaic about it," says Myers.

She explains that the market for erotica is voracious and potentially quite lucra­tive for the writer. And she knew that Felix, who was teaching other writing courses, was publishing erotic novels. Once Myers overcame her squeamishness, she asked Felix to devise a course outline.


'WE JUST HAVE A VIVID IMAGINATION, AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT'


He came up with a 20-part program to be conducted entirely through the mail, although increasingly students are sub­mitting their homework by e-mail. Student and teacher never meet face to face. The course starts by teaching the potential writer how to identify markets and how to write for those markets.

"Everyone thinks they can write what they want and someone will buy it. You have to know the market and you have to fit the guidelines exactly. … If you are going to write for Black Lace, for example, you better put in an awful lot of spanking. It's an English publication and everyone knows people in England get spanked three or four times a day," explains Felix, only part in jest. He is originally from England himself.

Once they get over the boring aspect of marketing and into the process of writing out their wildest sexual fantasies, Felix's students find the process amusing.

One of the exercises is to write confes­sional letters of the type printed in magazines such as Penthouse and Playgirl. Many magazines actually pay the writer for the letters.

Paige Bennett is the pen name for one of Felix's students. (She says she works in education just outside Toronto and fears for job if her identity were to be revealed.) Bennett wrote a letter for Felix that she intended to have published in Playgirl. "It's supposed to be me coming in off the beach and discovering my lover sprawled asleep on the bed. I wake him up in an interesting manner," says Bennett. She went though four drafts of the letter before Felix felt it was ready to be sent to the magazine.

"The letters are very difficult to write because you have to be a writer and write sentences that make sense, but you also have to sound a little like you are ignorant and not a writer. It's got to sound authentic, but you need to have subjects and predicates," explains Felix. "It can be something like, 'My name is Jim and I happen to have 12 inches but I never thought much of it until I was trapped in the girls' locker room and the cheerleading squad came in and caught me.' Now, that cannot be well-written."

See EROTIC on Page D2

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