Live! Nude! Tentacles?

Or, what happened when Nathan Crowder read his Cthulhurotica story, “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly”, in public this past weekend. In his own words:

There I was, slated to read something at Foolscap 12, my favorite little literary convention here in Seattle region (specifically in Redmond). I had a 9:00 time-slot, and a raft of impending publications to choose from. What to use to win over a room full of strangers, a few friends, and a few regional spec fic luminaries? Why, how about “The Fishwives of Sean Brolly?”

First off, I warned the audience. “This is the darkest thing I’ve ever written. It’s disturbing. It’s Cthulhu erotica and while there are no tentacles, I feel it only safe to warn you.”

A few people left. Those people are still my friends. Many more stayed. To the best of my knowledge, I made enemies of none of them. Though I was aware of some nervous shifting as I read and a few genuine gasps of something that translated to “That’s not right!”

This was my first experience reading erotica out loud to a room full of people. It was really my first strong erotica story. After a host of grotesqueries and the words “hard on, manhood,” and “erection,” through the course of the narrative, my penis-euphemism meter redlined. I found myself self-editing a brief paragraph towards the climax (no pun intended) when I spied the word “cock.” All things considered, that was really the least of the offences being perpetrated by my story, and I have no idea why I suddenly got coy. But it happened, and I kept going, straight up to the grisly, horrifying, and deeply satisfying (pun VERY intended) end.

I talked to a few of the audience the next day, almost as much to make sure that we were still on speaking terms as to say “Thanks for sticking around for the reading.” That regional luminary I mentioned (but not by name, because I’m coy here as well)? She sat across from me while I read, and I was worried about her reaction. Turns out she enjoyed how the language was used beautifully, to describe something so ultimately horrible and horrifying. And another was still squidged out by the story the next day to the extent that discussing a particular bit provoked a flinch reaction.

All things considered, I couldn’t have hoped for a better debut of my story from Cthulhurotica.

-Nate

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