Writing erotic literature makes me think a lot about the kind of men I find attractive. If you read my books, you’ll notice, I hope, that I don’t try to make every single man sound like an unattainable porn fantasy, for the simple reason that I don’t find those guys sexy. The zero-fat, over-defined, tanned-shaved-and-plucked look doesn’t work for me – and although I like a large penis as much as the next man, I’m equally turned on by small and medium. A lot of ink is spilt in erotic literature about thick, tousled hair, perfect teeth, dazzling ‘grins’ (men in erotica never smile, they always grin), six packs etc. I can’t be bothered. I give a few indications of the kind of bloke I’m thinking about, and try to let the reader supply the rest.
What I actually find sexy is masculinity in all its forms – and that, to me, is synonymous with naturalness. The more groomed and tweaked you become, the less masculine you are. Dan Stagg, the hero of my new novel The Hardest Thing, is an ex-marine fighting machine, so obviously he is physically fit – but I made him bald on top and hairy everywhere else, just to buck the trend. His dick does the job, but I don’t go on and on about how massive it is. The other main character in the book, Stirling, is exactly the sort of primped-up supermodel that I don’t really fancy – he’s got fabulous hair, no body fat and gym-perfect muscles. He uses moisturiser, and he shapes his eyebrows. Dan finds him kind of repellent at first, but the inevitable happens (this is porn, after all). From that point on, Dan and Stirling have to find some kind of common ground – and that means, at the very least, that Stirling has to grow out the hair dye and stop depilating.
As the plot progresses you’ll meet older men, younger men, fit men, fat men, cocks of all sizes and shapes. This reflects something I think is true about sex – if you stop obsessing about rigid criteria and types, you can have a lot of good loving with a lot of different people. In erotic fiction, you need certain things to trigger a response in the reader, so dicks have to be hard, arses and mouths have to be open/wet/tight and so on – but that aside I try to make the men and the sex pretty real. Obviously there’s more of it than there is in real life, just as there’s more bloodsucking in a vampire novel than there is in real life. But apart from the frequency, I hope this is more than just another fantasy.
—JAMES LEAR is the nom de plume of a prolific and acclaimed novelist. As James Lear, he is the author of The Back Passage, The Secret Tunnel, Hot Valley, The Low Road, and The Palace of Varieties. He lives in London. Follow him on Facebook and WordPress.