'I'm not really that kind of writer'
Continued from page D1
Jules Torti is a 24-year-old lesbian writer and one of Felix's star pupils. She works by day as a massage therapist in Dunnville, Ont. "I write about rubbing bodies at night and then I rub them during the day," says Torti, somewhat mischievously. She publishes under her own name because she is proud of her work. She has even invited her parents to a public reading of her erotic material.
She is in the middle of the course now and has already published some short stories, most recently one called Day Turns Into Night in the Mamoth Book of New Erotica from Robinson, a British publisher.
The story is one long sex scene between a woman and her femal lover. "There was a time when I used to lie still, quietly enjoying the delicious pleasure of her touch, my body silent, my moans suppressed," begins the story.
Torti prefers short stories, but part of the course work requires that she write a novel. She sent an outline through the mail to Felix for a novel she wants to write with her friend Toni. They will write about how they discovered they were lesbians and all their sexual adventures along the way.
Felix wrote back to Torti: "Suppose you impose just the tiniest bit of planning. Alternate chapters. You address Toni telling her of your comming out and she reciprocates. The chapters progess through your lives with reportage of some steam about those you have loved up until the time you meet in the flesh and we climx with the torrid sex scene between you told twice, once from each point of view. There would be an interesting compare-and-contrast element. You might sell it to one of the lesbian presses or even a mainstream house."
Torti finds Felix's advice to be useful although she doesn't always accept it at first. "Certainly he's pushed me to be more of a slutty writer. And I've written back saying, 'I'm not really that kind of writer,'" she says. "He's sent me some of his work to give me an idea of what he means because he's written as a lesbian himself. So he seems to know more about the world than I do at times."
The students are eager to make money from their writting but most acknowledge that it won't be a fortune and may be a while coming. Stories for magazines usually pay only a few hundred dollars. Novels often pay little up front, but Felix explains that few erotic novels go out of print and so generate a constant source of royalties.
Michael Montcombroux was one of the first students to go through the course. He was working as a teacher in the Nortwest Territories and decided to take the correspondence course to give him a diversion in the evening.
In two years he has published two novels under the pen name Jennifer Justine with British publishers, is awaiting publication of his third, which he co-wrote with his wife, Genevieve, and will publish with a U.S. publisher, under the name Cassandra Colt. He has a fourth novel in progress.
Montcombroux has a master's degree in English literature, but he wanted to learn to write popular books. He says the course taught him to write fresh, arousing stories without authorial intrusion or pompous story lines. "The erotic element in any writing is a very volatile situation. I suppose it's like an erotic situation in real life between people. You can break the mood very quickly by saying the wrong thing," he says.
Both Myers and Felix remark on how well-balanced and sane their erotica students are. Felix said that many students in other creative writing courses have come to work out their angst in print. Too many of them tend ti treat literature as therapy. But the erotica students are generally marries people who just want to write about their sexual fantasies.
Montcombroux agrees: "Everyone I've known to write erotica including myself is perfectly normal and we have ordinary sex lives. We just have a vivid imagination, and there's nothing wrong with that."