Cyber Monday — Here’s what caught my eye…

The Girl with the Long Green Heart by Lawrence Block
Bank Shot by Donald E. Westlake
Save the Last Dance for Me by Ed Gorman
The Listening Eye by Patricia Wentworth
The Baby in the Icebox by James M. Cain
The Hot Spot by Charles Williams
The Spy and the Thief by Edward D. Hoch
The Swimming Pool by Mary Roberts Rinehart
The Dog Who Bit a Policeman by Stuart M. Kaminsky
Shellshock by Richard S. Prather
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by Horace McCoy
Slipping Into Darkness by Peter Blauner
Long Live the Dead by Hugh B. Cave

Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton
Shockproof Sydney Skate by Marijane Meaker
The Magician’s Girl by Doris Grumbach
Eye Contact by Michael Craft
Hold Tight by Christopher Bram
The Men from the Boys by William J. Mann
Where the Boys Are by William J. Mann
The Lord Won’t Mind by Gordon Merrick
One for the Gods by Gordon Merrick
Forth Into the Light by Gordon Merrick
Perfect Freedom by Gordon Merrick
The Sound of Heaven by Joseph Olshan
Wolverine Cirque by Joseph Olshan 

Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon
Mystery Walk by Robert R. McCammon
Usher’s Passing by Robert R. McCammon
The Compendium of Srem by F. Paul Wilson
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Lot Lizards by Ray Garton
The New Neighbor by Ray Garton
This Perfect Day by Ira Levin 
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly
Chthon by Piers Anthony
Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
Blood Music by Greg Bear
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler



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.