On why I’d really suck as a vampire …

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I’d make a really rubbish vampire. Not because I’m particularly squeamish, or because I’m not actually hundreds of years old, living by night and afraid of crumbling to dust in the daytime. Or because I don’t have fangs. Just because I can’t quite get a hold on all that blood taking business.

Some time ago, I blogged about warfarin home testing in It’s only a little prick, sir…! and the frustrations I was experiencing in getting my GP to accept NHS prescriptions for a home testing kit. The good news is that after contacting my Clinical Commissioning Group, I was able to clarify that test strips for the machine are available on NHS prescription, as long as I have completed a ‘training’ on use of the machine and able to provide the Doctor with evidence. The good news is that I’ve completed the training. It lasts all of 20 minutes and is actually  me just doing the Haematology Nurse’s job for her – ie, taking my own blood through a fingerprick lancet device to test my INR to gauage how much warfarin I need. They train for years, of course, and I got 20 minutes. Which is how I know I’m not a natural vampire – I don’t have a knack for collecting blood. Since the training, I haven’t been able to get a single result at home, having now used up all the test strips I had.

It seems simple enough, especially if  you’re as butch as I am and don’t get squeamish about blood. You insert a lancet into the fingerprick device, prime it, stick a test strip into the meter, warm it, up and then dangle your arm to get blood flowing to the tips of your fingers. A gentle massage of your finger and then you have to whack in the lancet (without screaming) to prick the finger (quick, mind, as you only get 15 seconds  before the blood starts clotting) and then you squeeeeze the blood onto the test strip for a count of two. If successful, the machine beeps loudly  and hey-ho you get all sorts of wonderful magic test results. I haven’t managed this at all yet, and just spent an evening swearing and sticking plasters on finger after finger after finger until I ran out of test strips to play with. It looked like something out of Saw by the end of the evening.

I ended up having to go to hospital to get properly trained nurses  to draw blood out of me and do another test. Since then, I had a message  from the GP about my ‘test strips’. I rang back, armed with all the info from I’d got from the CCG, anticipating a battle  over the prescription again. They were just letting me know the prescription was ready – including a sharps box (I’ve always wanted a sharps box, it makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Casualty.) So, I’m going to have to try again.

Unless you’re a vampire, or a murderer, or a trained nurse/heath professional, it is actually quite hard to draw your own blood without making a complete and utter hash of it so that you either fail to get anything at all, or you end up spewing out blood like some crimson geyser. When I had blood tests before my chemoptherapy treatment for testicular cancer, someone accompanying me fainted and had to be looked after by the nursing staff. Guys, aparently, are much more likely to faint around blood than women, which is why they make you sit dwn when they take any. I have never fainted, dear reader, for I am a man’s man.

Vampires are a favourite for erotica stories, and series like Vampire Diaries and films like The Twilight Saga, contribute to an increasing popularity of their mythic status. I’ve always found vampires faintly ridiculous and don’t quite understand the fascination. I wrote a vampire strory, ‘The Ward’, for a collection of vampire erotica Blood Lust, and which is included in my own anthology A Happy Finish. It’s a modern take on vampires, and was based on my experience of heart surgery. You wouldn’t believe the amount of blood they take from you after surgery ! Well, it has to go somewhere …

I need to hone my vampiric nature as I’m not giving up on the home-testing. I’ve booked a long weeekend in Transylvania in the hope that on a dark night, on a lonely country road leading to a moonlit gothic castle, some handsome Eastern European aristocrat might seduce me with his vampiric charm…. MWAHAHAHA.

links:

ACSMA is the Anti-Coagulation Self-Monitoring Alliance and campaigns to support self-testing, and for home slef testing to be provided on he NHS. It lists the benefits for individuals and theNHS on its website, and suggests how you might help.

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Yes, you can judge a book by its cover…

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My publisher, Sizzler Editions, has recently chosen the cover of my anthology of gay fiction, A Happy Finish, as part of its Cover Cavalcade of ‘Loveliest Covers’. Now, it is indeed lovely for me to be part of such a delightful, saucy and sexy cavalcade, and to pick up an honorary ‘title’ of Loveliest Cover, but sadly this has got nothing whatsoever to do with me. I didn’t design or make any suggestions for the cover. The only comment I was able to make about it was to ensureg that my name was spelt correctly – at some point I’d become ‘Lucas Scott’ and I was having none of it. However, I will take the tiara for the title anyway, thank you very much,  and sit here with it on my head . Look at me, I’m a princess, wearing my invisible crown.

I don’t know the cover artist for my book, and don’t really know what decisions they made or why,  in creating the cover image. But I do really, really like it. (Of course, I should point out that’s not my torso on the cover – I wish! And the snow topped mountain in the background isn’t where live, or write – again, I wish!) Yet, it can’t be an easy job coming up with any image for an anonymous author, whose selection of short stories sprawls from vampires to butchers to full moons and London buses  and science fiction clones. What I like is that there is a sense of mystery and beauty  about the image which I would hope is part of my work, an eroticism that encopasses  place as well as person. there’s an exciting and passionate naure to the cover which, again, I like and recognise in what I hoped to achieve in the stories themselves.

Authors rarely get any say in their cover images. And, to be frank, that’s probably as it should be. We can be precious, and contrary, and – well, quite illiterate in the Art Of A Good Cover. Only rarely have I been involved in choosing a cover picture for either my fiction or my non fiction work. And, yes, some of the covers I’ve hated. But, really, my job is to write the damned things, not wrap them up to sell. My publisher and the artist know much, much better than I do what is likely to sell, or what makes a good image. That’s their job. To be honest, for A Happy Finish I couldn’t even come up with the right title. Originally,  I’d sugested something clever, and wittty, and self-referential, and then my editor gently and sagely suggested something much simpler – like the title of a story that was actually in the cllection.

I chose not to go down the self-publishing route for A Happy Finish because I know there are other, more professional , more knowledgable and more experienced people who  have better insight  into the ebook trade than I do. On average, an author needs to write 48 books a year just to make the minimum wage! So you will see why it’s important to seduce you, dear gentle reader, into cooing and whooping at my sexy, exciting, intriguing covers as you browse through endless novels and books on the interweb, and for that cover to catch your flirty eye and poersuade you to part with your hard earned cash (or credit card, or bitcoin).

Some writers may well be control freaks, and want absolute say at every stage of the publishing process. In which case, you probably do need to self publish, and good luck writing those 48 books a year, or waving the magic wand that creates an overnight bestseller. For most of us, we need to recognise that you, gentle reader, most probably do judge a book by its cover, and then also decide if you like the writing .. or not.

Do feel free to tell me of your ‘lovely covers’ . In the meantime, A Happy Finish is available direct from sizzler .

And yes, I’m still wearing my invisible crown.

Now Was Not Like That Then

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Once upon a time, in a universe far away, I landed my first writing contract. It was all terribly exciting. Getting a real book into print, ad being commissioned. I was a post-grad student terribly excited by ‘gay theatre’ and ‘gay drama’,  the new ‘queer politics’ that had emerged in the 1990s and which seemed to inhabit different areas of my life – politics, friendships, relationships, culture. I was in the process of trying to make sense of all this when Cassell started its own pioneering ‘queer studies’ publications list, and I was invited to be in the first round of authors to contribute. My research enthusiastically – and probably, naively – coalseced around an idea of ‘gay theaterical manoeuvres’ – the notion that sexual identities are created through our body, our language, and the spaces we inhabit/invade. A clumsy, but idealistic way, to try and marry some of my lived experience as a young queer writer and activist following a backlash from the AIDS crisis, and new(re-emerging) prejudices and homophobia. No equal age of consent, no equal marriage, no gays in the military, no ‘promotion’ of homosexuality.

What strides, what leaps there have been since then. And, for me, that book – Impertinent Decorum – was published in 1990, and I was then  offfered a second commission, for a collection of oral histories on the theme of ‘Young people and HIV/AIDS ‘- an area I was doing work in as a dramatist, activist, and writer.  I got the opporunity to write another book, and to sit and listen to many inspiring life stories. ‘It’s like talking to a counsellor’, one of them told me. Which is what I also eventually became.

My third commission from the same supportive editor/publisher was to document the rise and history of the direct action group we both belonged to, OutRage! I had lots of chats, listened to a whole load of gosssip and rarguments, from people I barely knew and people I knew well – ‘including ‘the busiest gay man in London’. Even then, we found we were looking back at a world that was changing and disappearing, hence the title of my introduction to the book ‘Now Was Not Like That Then’, after a comment from a vociferous anti-gay contributor on a television talk show. Much of the time we were being vindicated and ‘str8’ society was coming round to a rather more liberal  (or assimiliationist) vision of ‘equality’. It wasn’t exactly the ‘Queer’ agenda we’d started off with, but if that got the police to investigate homophobic murders rather than hanging round toilets trying to entrap gay mean, it seemed an imporvement. OutRage! was published in 1998, at a time when the organisation itself was changing and diminshing, but before the real impact of its arguments and campaigns saw fruition. Many will argue that OutRage’s direct action was counter-productive and it was the more measured politicking of groups like Stonewall that were responsible for the change.Wotevs.

It was kind of exhausting  wirting non-fiction about things I felt so strongly about. Writing the books was a way for me to re-imagine, but also to record, what was happening around me. After those books, I took to greater flights of fancy with queerotica and sci-fi. But it was glorious to have a commision, and to have space, simply to write,with a supportive publisher backing me.

As with gay rights, publishing has moved on and Now Was Not Like That Then. My publisher was acquired by a much larger publisher, so I find myself strangely housed within the Giant Halls of Bloomsbury, who have recently confirmed that they will be e-publishing those early books. E-publishing! My edior and I talked about such a thing in the 1990s and we both thought there might be something in it, but at the time the publishers themselves weren’t so convinced. All that business about licenses and formats seemed too complicated. So I continued to take a train down to That There London and the gleaming and daunting publishing houses, with a big fat print-out opf my latest 200 page book, Ofcourse, I LOVED going down to the Big City with a physical print-out of my latest  book. It was so …. heavy and impressive. And, even better, to get the print copies or proof-copies through the pose, so I could hold MY BOOK in my hands. Mmm, Precious ….

I still write. Mostly, these now get e-published in the first instance. Which is equally exciting, for me, but it’s rarer to go to a bookshop in Vancouver or wherever I travel and find one of my books on the shelf. But, for me, those first three titles remind me of the many thoughts, conversations, arguments and struggles of a young writer. I’m welcoming their return, and hope I can forgive myself the mistakes which will be so evident to me today.

My first published words were It’s Cool To Be An Artichoke which have also been quoted in the blog. Recently, professional footballer  Thomas Hitzlsperger and Olympian Tom Daley have come out. Moves are foot for equal marriage. Now was not like that then. Later today, I have an appointment with a space station. Funny where your writing and (re) imagination can take you …

What?! No boobies?!

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Coventry has just welcomed its giant 2012 Olympic puppet mascot of Lady Godiva back into the city, wearing her Zandra Rhodes designer dress.

Which I find disappointing. The story of Lady Godiva is that she rode naked through the city in protest at the imposition of additional taxes on Coventrians. The story behind the story is that this was as an invention many years later to discredit a wealthy and successful woman landowner – a political smear to make her appear cheap and tawdry.  The citizens of Coventry decided she was a hero to be celebrated.

I like my heroines dirty. Forget princesses and virgins. One of the reasons for writing erotica is seeing sex and sexuality as potential sites for resistance, revolution, redefinition. A battleground for pleasure and empowerment, sex positive reimaginings in a world of increasing commodification and fetishisation.

Godiva is still a powerful narrative, whatever the true story. A naked revolutionary using the political power of her sexuality and gender. The Pussy Riot of her day.

It seems such a shame to cover her up. I want a naked puppet with huge wooden nipples defiantly on display. She looks quaint but powerless. She could be anyone.

Today, London demonstrates against Russia’s latest homophobic laws as Sochi prepares to host the Olympics. How brilliant would it have been if Coventry’s Olympic mascot had ridden naked in support of her Russian sisters and brothers, defying a convention that worships the Olympic Ideals of corporate commercialism above human rights.

In my mind, she did. Here’s to the true revolutionary spirit of Lady Godiva, and dirty heroines everywhere.

Free Reads from Lukas Scott

I’ve added a couple of links to some of my queerotica  (adult content) short stories. They’re both included in the collection A Happy Finish. You can read more about my work on the Lukas Scott page.

Scar was written based on experiences in hospital. I was tended to by a rather dishy and handsome nurse who used to eat crisps in the morning hand-over meetngs. He was planning his wedding, and I often overheard some of the plans between him and his fiancee (also a nurse on the ward.) He offered me a bed bath, and I felt embarrassed. I’m hoping he’ll still be working there when I return in a few weeks. This time,I’ll say yes to the bed bath.

The Clone Zone is a darker sci-fi and erotica work, originally published at the MindCaviar website. What happens if Narcissus creates a clone? In my mind, it’d be a great short film. So do get in contact if you have a vision …