Guest Post: Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West

I’m thrilled to welcome Xan West on Queer Books Unbound to celebrate the release of Eight Kinky Nights. This F/F chanukah romance releases today!

Eight Kinky Nights final coverSynopsis

Sometimes the perfect Chanukah gift can change everything.

Newly divorced stone butch Jordan moves into her friend Leah’s spare room, ready, at 49, to take on a new job and finally explore kink and polyamory. But moving to NYC during the holidays sends grief crashing through her, and Jordan realizes that when she isn’t solely focused on caring for others, her own feelings are unavoidable. Including her feelings for Leah.

51 year old queer femme Leah, an experienced submissive kink educator who owns a sex shop, has recently come to terms with being gray ace and is trying to rework her life and relationships to honor that.

Leah has a brainstorm to help them both: she offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, and to create a structured space where Leah can work on more deeply honoring her own consent, now that she knows she’s gray ace.

She’d planned to keep it casual, but instead the experience opens cracks in the armor Leah’s been using to keep people at a distance and keep herself safe. Now she needs to grapple with the trauma that’s been impacting her life for years.

Can these two autistic queers find ways to cope with the changes they are making in their lives and support each other, as they build something new they hadn’t thought was possible?

This kinky polyamorous Chanukah f/f romance includes a friends to lovers, roommates to lovers, kink lessons, seasoned romance and getting your groove back tropes, and polyamorous, gray ace, pansexual, Jewish, fat, autistic, disabled, arthritis, PTSD and depression representation.

Goodreads | Gumroad | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Angus & Robertson
Release Date: December 16th, 2019
Content Warnings are >here<
Cover illustrator: Hannah Zayit

Representation:
Jordan: autistic fat pansexual Jewish stone butch trauma survivor with arthritis
Leah: autistic fat Jewish gray ace queer femme trauma survivor with depression

reader-break

My Gray Ace Protagonist Comes Out at Age 51

(aka Of Course This Holiday Romance Novella Became A Novel)

Note: This post discusses trauma but doesn’t share details. It also discusses having sex that’s technically consented to but not actually wanted. It discusses complexities of consent and honoring your own consent in particular. It references consensual kink and sex.

In my early plans, Eight Kinky Nights was going to be a rather lighthearted, friends to lovers, kink lessons oriented Chanukah romance novella. I got excited about the kink lessons element first, because it was an opportunity for me to write kink education, something I did for a long time but didn’t have the spoons for anymore in life. When I dug into the story, and started thinking about who these characters were, I started asking questions like: What would make someone with a kink educator best friend not come out as kinky until she was almost fifty years old? What would make an experienced kink educator learn new things about herself from teaching introductory kink to her best friend at 51? What has kept this pair from dating/falling in love/doing kink together through thirty years of friendship that would change with kink lessons?

The answers lead me to more questions, like: What would it be like if a stone butch got together with a gray ace femme? What would it be like if two people who mostly didn’t advocate for their own needs got into a relationship with each other? What if I wrote another book about autistic trauma survivors in a long term significant connection changing how they do relationship with each other? How do I write a friends to lovers romance that truly avoids even hinting at the idea that romantic relationship is better/more important/more significant than friendship?

What emerged from all these questions was a novel that is more complex and quite a bit more angsty than my original plan. My first finished novel. A novel that has so much of my heart. A novel that draws deeply from my own experience of coming out as demigray ace as an autistic survivor.

When I first started questioning whether I was on the ace spectrum, I had a thorny complex set of issues to sort through. I hadn’t known ace spec identities existed, and had come up with other language and understandings of myself based on what I did know. My early impressions of ace spec identities was that they couldn’t possibly apply to someone like me, given my wide and varied sexual and kink history, my erotica writing, my investment in kink education. This was supported by folks I knew who were ace spec and who thought it was pretty clear I wasn’t, based on those things. There is an idea of what it looks like to be ace spec, and I definitely didn’t fit it at the time I started questioning (in my early forties).

I devoured ace spec fiction, and blog posts by ace spec folks, trying to spot glimpses of myself. It got a bit easier when I started talking about what it could look like to be both kinky and ace spec, with kinky ace spec folks; what the split attraction model might look like for folks like us, what non-sexual kink was like in our lives, the difficulties of being ace spec in kink communities where many people assume kink is always sexual, and what it was like in kink spaces where that wasn’t assumed.

It’s rare to find ace spec rep where the ace spec MC has a very active sexual history that’s rather complicated and includes sex that was technically consented to but not actually wanted. I can name two romances that have this representation, and they both mean a lot to me: Thrown Off Track by Tamsen Parker and That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert. They both have demisexual heroes, and as a demigray ace person who has this kind of history, they resonated deeply for me, and helped me feel more comfortable claiming my ace spec identity.

It took me a long time to reconcile my own demigray aceness with my own complex sexual history, erotica writing, and kink/sex education work, and I wanted to write an MC who was grappling with similar things, and with the reality of reworking sexual boundaries and learning to deeply honor her own consent. I’m hoping this representation helps other ace spec folks see themselves on the page, and especially folks who may have been told that they can’t be ace spec because they’ve been too sexually active or are assumed to be too into or comfortable with sex. I need an abundance of stories that counter that myth, and hope mine can be one of many.

Eight Kinky Nights begins after Leah already knows that she’s gray ace, and has accepted this aspect of her identity. What she is still working on is coming out to her existing play partners—all of whom she does sexual kink with—and collaborating with them to set new expectations for future play. She’s also working on ways she can honor her gray aceness as someone who runs a sex shop and does kink and sex education; she has already been strategizing about this some when the book begins. In order to make these changes, she needs to work on more deeply honoring her own consent, which is a complex fraught thing for her as an autistic trauma survivor who isn’t in the habit of doing so.

Leah has a complex arc around this, and it’s that arc—which intertwines coming out, grappling with consent, and trauma recovery—that’s at the core of the novel. She wants to give her best friend kink lessons for Chanukah because the structure of them gives her a lot of room to try out advocating for her own consent, and building it in from the beginning. What she finds in Jordan—an autistic stone butch novice who spent most of her adult life working at a non-profit oriented towards supporting survivors of abuse—is a partner who is deeply invested in creating consent. A partner who is very careful about consent because she’s a new top and doesn’t want to do harm. A partner who has grappled deeply with consent and its complexities for many years. A partner who cares a great deal about what play is like for Leah, what she needs and wants, because that’s part of how her stone sexuality works. A partner who gets, on a very deep level, what it’s like to have sensory needs met and how certain sensations just feel wrong. A partner who can support her in this work of honoring her consent more deeply.

In writing this novel, I attempted to tread with care around the reality that for some folks, the praxis of honoring their own consent is substantially difficult. I wanted to represent that reality in the truest way I know how, while still creating a story that is written for survivors, with survivors in mind. There are certain vulnerabilities that create this kind of difficulty, and Leah and I share many of those, much of her difficulty around this comes from roots rather similar to my own. I wanted to create a story that imagined ways someone who struggled with this, could learn tools for honoring her own consent, find ways to heal enough that she could advocate for herself in that way. Not be healed by love or by her love interest, but reach for healing for herself, do the work on her own recovery, so that she could trust herself enough to seek a romantic relationship with her best friend. A story about an autistic survivor coming out as gray ace at fifty one and working on being true to herself that felt real and resonant to me. A story that I needed when I was trying to figure out my own ace spectrum identity.

About_the_Author

xanalleyXan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.

Xan’s erotica has been published widely, including in the Best S/M Erotica series, the Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “Trying Submission,” won the 2018 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Their collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself to Me, will be rereleased soon.

After over 15 years of writing and publishing queer kink erotica short stories, Xan has begun to also write longer form queer kink romance. Their recent work still centers kinky, trans and non-binary, fat, disabled, queer trauma survivors. It leans more towards centering Jewish characters, ace and aro spec characters, autistic characters, and polyamorous networks. Xan has two queer kink romances currently available: Nine of Swords, Reversed and Their Troublesome Crush. Their next book, Eight Kinky Nights, a kinky polyamorous angsty foodie Chanukah f/f romance, is due out 12/16/19.

Website | Twitter | Newsletter

Genre: Contemporary Genre: Erotic Romance Genre: Romance Identity: Polyam Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Pansexual Pairing: F/F Self Published Tag: d/s Tag: Disability Tag: Friends to Lovers Tag: Guest Post Tag: Holidays Tag: PTSD

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