Victorians: Hysteria and the Vibrator, Part Two: The Vibrator

In Part One of this blog miniseries, we learned how Victorian doctors defined “hysteria” and how they treated it. Spoiler alert: doctors used various methods of stimulation to bring women to achieve the “hysterical paroxysm”, i.e., an orgasm.

Around 1879, the electric or electro-mechanical vibrator was introduced into doctors’ tools of the trade for treating hysteria. Vibrators were first used in France, then this method spread to the rest of the European continent, England, and America.

But what did the Victorian vibrator look like? One perhaps imagines corseted women cowering as a mustachioed doctor approaches with some bizarre Steampunkish contraption… Continue reading

Victorians: Hysteria and the Vibrator, Part One: Hysteria

I recently saw a revival of the play In The Next Room, Or The Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl. In case you haven’t heard about this play it takes place in upstate New York in the 1880s. A doctor provides treatments for hysteria – to both women and men – using the latest technology, the electric vibrator. In the course of the play there is emotional and sexual discovery amongst all the characters, along with several orgasms.

I originally saw the play in February 2009 at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California. The play had been written for the Berkeley Rep and made its debut there before being launched on Broadway. I’m not a theater regular – I do see shows from time to time – but when I heard about this play, I absolutely had to see it.

“Had to” because I had already started my notes for Dr. Christopher’s Device (later The Pleasure Device). Perhaps I should have subtitled that book, Or, The Vibrator Erotic Romance. Continue reading

Rewriting the Persephone Myth

An excerpt from “Hot as Hades,” my story in Naughty Flings: Twelve Naughty Little Romps, is up today on our Naughty Literati blog.

When I was thinking about what to write for Naughty Flings, an anthology with the theme of springtime, the quintessential springtime myth came to mind, i.e., the story of Persephone. I decided to revisit this myth, but to put a new spin on it, which proved pretty easy.

Because I’d put a new spin on the story once before. Continue reading

Personal Reflection: In memoriam, Carl Degler

I thought I’d end the year by starting at the beginning, and by doing so, I have to start with the end of a life. Carl Degler, professor emeritus of American history at Stanford University, died on Saturday, December 27, 2014, at the age of 93. It was an article by Degler that was influential on my embarking upon a career writing Victorian erotic romance. Continue reading

New Releases: Victorian Pleasures

I’ve mentioned my 2011 National Novel Writing Month novel, Dr. Christopher’s Device, a few times. I’m totally excited that it will be released on November 27, 2013, by Ellora’s Cave as The Pleasure Device. In October, one of my short stories (actually a short, short work of flash fiction), “The Demonstration”, was released as part of Go Deeper Press’s Dirty Little Numbers anthology.

What I’ve not told anyone yet is how the two stories are related. Continue reading

Personal Reflection: On Beauty, Reading, and Writing

This week’s blog post begins with an exhortation from the delightful Mandy B., The Well-Read Wife:

I see this advice to writers a lot. I see it coming from readers, bloggers, and other writers. It does seem to be fairly common in the romance genre, both textual and visual, to have beautiful heroes and heroines and I am terribly guilty of it, but for my own personal reasons. Continue reading

Snippet Sunday: The General’s Wife: Mr. Bridgers

The General’s Wife is erotica in the sense that it is Clara’s sexual journey. It is also a romance, but more on that in another post.

Trapped in a loveless marriage, our heroine Clara develops a crush on a man who works with her husband. Paul Bridgers is an unlikely hero. For today’s Snippet Sunday*, I’ve chosen a passage where Clara goes out of her way to meet “Mr. Bridgers” — as she calls him — in the village near where she lives. Continue reading

Victorian Sex: My Secret Life (Part 2)

Who was Walter?

In order to answer this question, we need to establish if there is indeed a question here to answer.

Uh, what?

Well, is My Secret Life an autobiography or a work of fiction? If it is a work of fiction, then trying to ascertain who Walter was is moot. If it is autobiographical, then someone (or perhaps several someones) wrote it, and, the question then becomes, who? Continue reading