Sex and books: London's most erotic writers

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  • 58 Rude books X.jpg 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

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    Molly Parkin

    ‘I came to writing books because Hunter Davies, my editor on The Look pages of The Sunday Times, went to lunch with Blond & Briggs, a tiny ublishing house. They said they were looking for writers and he said, “Well, Mol’s driving us fucking mad in the office saying she wants to be doing novels now and she doesn’t want to be doing fashion. I’ll have a word.” So he had a word and they asked for a sample. I went home and wrote 750 words, the opening of my first novel “Love All”. The first line was: ‘“Lick it,’ he said, and took his teeth out, put them on the mantlepiece and lay down on the cold lino with his legs apart…”

    ‘Blond & Briggs didn’t like it, but their secretary started reading it and she said to them: “This is fantastic, no women are writing like this.” The only woman who was writing anything vaguely sexy was Jackie Collins, who had just done “The World is Full of Married Men”. I hadn’t read that; it was too trashy for me.’

    ‘Love All’ was an immediate hit, and the reviews were mostly good. ‘Quite the funniest novel I’ve read in a long time, written with the lightest of touches and a mirthful sense of its own libidinousness,’ said The Daily Telegraph. ‘Molly’s approach to sex is that it is fun and funny,’ said Cosmopolitan. ‘I did have a negative review in The Irish Times which said it was “disgusting”,’ she recalls. ‘My novels have been called “downright filth” and “outright porn”, but that doesn’t bother me. I choose to call them “comic erotica”.’

    The twinkly eyed Parkin says she’s always found the raunchy side of life very funny. ‘I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to start writing; I would laugh out loud as I wrote. Everything was autobiographical. I had a lot to draw on: I’d had most of Real Madrid in my bed and I’d fucked an entire rugby team on a trip to Scotland. I even used to sleep in older men’s beds when I was still a virgin. I always managed to pop an 80-year-old in [a novel] if I could. They may not be good at getting erections but they are very good at cunnilingus; you know, gums on soft tissue.’

    Parkin’s second novel, ‘Up Tight’ (1975), got a lot of publicity on the back of fashion photographer Harry Peccinotti’s provocative cover photo. ‘I told him I wanted a close-up of knickers and I wanted broderie Anglaise knickers, but he got some French model who was wearing see-through knickers so Hatchards kept it under the counter.

    ‘Somebody said to me once: “You changed the face of publishing.” Well, I jumped from publisher to publisher to get the best deal. In me they had an author who was willing to go out on the road and do signings. Up until that time it had been quite a rare thing to have a female author and get her to do things. I loved it: this was my public.’

    The last of her novels, ‘Breast Stroke’ (1983), was the hardest to write. ‘The alcohol had taken over by then,’ she says, ‘and I only had a fortnight to write it. I did that with chocolate and cigarettes living in a hovel in Wales after my second divorce and my mother was dying. Things weren’t good, but that didn’t affect the writing.

    ‘I never planned the books; you don’t know quite where you are going. Some characters who you think are going to be your main characters fall by the wayside, and others who are in the shadows come forward. Then suddenly someone is fucking someone you never imagined!’

    Interview: Maggie Davis. Portrait Rob Greig.

    30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

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‘Blond & Briggs didn’t like it, but their secretary started reading it and she said to them: “This is fantastic, no women are writing like this.” The only woman who was writing anything vaguely sexy was Jackie Collins, who had just done “The World is Full of Married Men”. I hadn’t read that; it was too trashy for me.’‘Love All’ was an immediate hit, and the reviews were mostly good. ‘Quite the funniest novel I’ve read in a long time, written with the lightest of touches and a mirthful sense of its own libidinousness,’ said The Daily Telegraph. ‘Molly’s approach to sex is that it is fun and funny,’ said Cosmopolitan. ‘I did have a negative review in The Irish Times which said it was “disgusting”,’ she recalls. ‘My novels have been called “downright filth” and “outright porn”, but that doesn’t bother me. I choose to call them “comic erotica”.’The twinkly eyed Parkin says she’s always found the raunchy side of life very funny. ‘I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to start writing; I would laugh out loud as I wrote. Everything was autobiographical. I had a lot to draw on: I’d had most of Real Madrid in my bed and I’d fucked an entire rugby team on a trip to Scotland. I even used to sleep in older men’s beds when I was still a virgin. I always managed to pop an 80-year-old in [a novel] if I could. They may not be good at getting erections but they are very good at cunnilingus; you know, gums on soft tissue.’ Parkin’s second novel, ‘Up Tight’ (1975), got a lot of publicity on the back of fashion photographer Harry Peccinotti’s provocative cover photo. ‘I told him I wanted a close-up of knickers and I wanted broderie Anglaise knickers, but he got some French model who was wearing see-through knickers so Hatchards kept it under the counter.‘Somebody said to me once: “You changed the face of publishing.” Well, I jumped from publisher to publisher to get the best deal. In me they had an author who was willing to go out on the road and do signings. Up until that time it had been quite a rare thing to have a female author and get her to do things. I loved it: this was my public.’ The last of her novels, ‘Breast Stroke’ (1983), was the hardest to write. ‘The alcohol had taken over by then,’ she says, ‘and I only had a fortnight to write it. I did that with chocolate and cigarettes living in a hovel in Wales after my second divorce and my mother was dying. Things weren’t good, but that didn’t affect the writing.‘I never planned the books; you don’t know quite where you are going. Some characters who you think are going to be your main characters fall by the wayside, and others who are in the shadows come forward. Then suddenly someone is fucking someone you never imagined!’30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

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