We hope you’ve been enjoying Mid Air Collusion week. Good news – it’s not over yet. We are extremely excited to welcome Charming Man as our very first guest here at So The Story Goes!
So The Story Goes: We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. We’ve been wanting to pick that clever, and rather charming, brain of yours for quite some time now.
Charming Man: Thank you very much, I’m very humbled to be here…I think the idea behind So The Story Goes is fantastic and I’m truly honoured that you asked me along to kick off the launch…Not sure my brain is ripe for picking right now though…Pickling maybe…I trust you’ll go easy on me… 😉
STSG: We’ll try and be gentle.
Have you always wanted to be a writer or was this an evolving passion?
CM: This is a very interesting question and one I often ask myself throughout my life in fact! And by that I mean I always seem to be re-evaluating my life. A close friend once commented that I am like Madonna, in that I always seem to re-invent myself every 5-7 years! And he’s right to a certain extent, I do, but often the change is forced upon me.
I grew up not really knowing what I wanted to do in terms of a career. I loved English at school and enjoyed writing stories, but I never thought beyond that, except maybe once, when I briefly considered a career in journalism. I remember one fateful day at school, I was offered the chance to do an O level in Computer Science, which sounded fascinating “back then”. O level became Alevel and A level became degree and suddenly at the age of 21, my options seemed limited and I found myself in the world of IT. I’m not knocking it; I’ve had a very fulfilling career to date, worked on some very interesting projects in some very exciting parts of the world. But with hindsight I wish I’d given the matter a little more thought! It seems the older I get, the more the geek wanes and the artist emerges! Better late than never as they say!
STSG: Indeed. When it comes to your stories we’ll take late over never any day! Now give us a moment here CM as we try and shake the image of you in a cone bra out of our heads.
Your bio explains how you started down the path of writing erotica, do you find it difficult being a male writer in this genre?
CM: Do you know, until the fact that over 90% of erotica is written by women was pointed out to me, I had no idea! Do I find it difficult writing erotica as a male, or difficult being accepted as a male erotica writer? Either way, the answer is no! There is the generalised argument that men prefer porn, whereas women prefer erotica, so maybe that explains why the erotica market is predominantly female driven, but it puzzles me that there should be this black and white divide. Sex is a massive industry and I think it fair to say, it’s a subject that touches each and every one of us throughout our lives. Sex makes the world go round just as much as money does (and often the two meet of course!). If I want to refine it further, romance and love make the world go round. Virtually every film made today has a romance element to it. We all crave love and romance and ultimately that happy ending! Porn doesn’t address any of these issues. It deals with the sex and for many (ok, the majority being males), that’s the only escape they require. For me, erotica goes that step further in uniting that desire for romance, the thrill of the chase of meeting someone and the sexual hunger that develops. For me, erotica is porn and oh so much more! And I don’t see why this should be any more difficult for a male writer to express than a female. It’s just the perspective that changes! And I have to say, rather than finding it difficult gaining acceptance as a male in a predominantly female industry, I find the complete opposite in fact. I’m often told by women how refreshing it is to read erotica from a male point of view. So in a way, it’s a feather in my cap!
STSG: Well said CM. As readers, we too find it refreshing and rather intriguing to read erotica from a male point of view.
Do you yourself read erotica and if so, do you have a favourite author or book?
CM: This is going to sound awful, but I’m actually not a great reader! It’s not that I don’t like to read, I just don’t seem to have the time! I always seem to be on the go! When I do make time to read, just as when I do make time to sit down and watch something on television, my body seems to take the opportunity to shut down and I doze pretty quickly! But I do love escapism. I do love to get lost in a story, be it a film or a book. Once I’m hooked, I’m hooked.
Having said that, I have read several works of erotica of late, since developing my fan base on Twitter and rubbing shoulders with other like-minded erotica indie authors. And I have to say I am both overwhelmed and impressed with the volume and quality of the work out there. The only trouble is, because I write erotica too, I find myself analysing the whole time, comparing writing styles!
STSG: Where did the inspiration for Mid Air Collusion come from? Was there a particular real life incident that prompted the idea?
CM: I think it’s pretty well documented on my website and blog posts that I thrive on the notion of encounters between strangers; that intimate eye contact, perceived smile or knowing look that conveys a connection and possibly asks the “what if?” question. I unashamedly have encounters like these all the time and I openly admit that nine times out of ten I’ve probably imagined the connection! But it doesn’t matter; whether I imagined it or not, the point is, it’s fueled my imagination. And once my creative juices start flowing, my mind whirs into overdrive. As I explained in one of my blog posts, I love to take the seed of a perceived connection and hone it into a finely tuned fantasy, playing it out in my head over a matter of days or even weeks until it’s perfect!
And it was one such encounter that sowed the seed for Mid Air Collusion. I was with a work colleague at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands; we had been working at the airport in fact, carrying out some condition monitoring on a fleet of helicopters (all very technical stuff!) and we were in the departure lounge on our way back to the UK. And it was the briefest of encounters. This young woman, sitting opposite and reading a book, suddenly looked up at me. We stared for a split second longer than normal; she smiled and returned to her book. But it was enough for me! From that brief encounter, my idea for Mid Air grew!
STSG: Wow! And to think, that woman has no idea what an incredible book she inspired!
We like how you tied in Sex, Lies, and Videotape to the story as it carries the similar theme of sharing intimate stories with strangers. How much, if any, inspiration did the movie provide when developing the idea?
CM: I do love that film! But it wasn’t a conscious decision to base the idea of my two characters on the plot in any way. James and Nikolina needed to engage each other and it had to be erotic! I simply threw in the reference to Sex, Lies and Videotape to get the ball rolling! In the film, the character played by James Spader very much got his kicks from interviewing women about their sexual fantasies. In Mid Air, I think neither James nor Nikolina had a pre-disposition to wanting to hear about other people’s fantasies. The reference to the film simply guided them down that intimate path and helped them establish a connection.
STSG: James and Nikolina share stories of a very intimate nature with each other, making for an incredibly hot read by the way. Why do you think the idea of such a personal exchange with a stranger is so intriguing?
CM: A good question! What I think is so appealing is the very fact that the two are so diametrically opposite; one would normally expect only close friends or lovers to discuss such intimacies. But for two complete strangers to engage each other in this way is highly flirtatious and provocative. It’s all part of the delicious cat and mouse game; that thrill of the chase, the inner desire for erotic excitement that I believe lies within us all!
I also think that once the connection between James and Nikolina was made, they were both keen to convey that understanding to each other, let the other know they were on the same wavelength. And they were therefore willing to lower their guard to each other, daring each other on!
STSG: I’m sure inquiring minds are wondering, how much of your own fantasies/experiences are reflected in your stories?
CM: Ha ha, if I had a pound, dollar, yen, whatever, every time I was asked this question! For sure, all my stories are based on my fantasies. I think I’ve made that very clear. I’m constantly contriving ideas in my head, often based on the flimsiest of contact with someone in the real world. I think you’ll find if you read the opening 1000 words of my teaser for “An Affair Of The Mind”, you’ll be left in no doubt! I recently proclaimed that this is going to be my first attempt at a full length novel. Is it semi-autobiographical? Ha ha, I’ll let you decide!
STSG: Ah, after reading the teaser for “An Affair of the Mind”, we admit we couldn’t help but feel that it may be somewhat semi-autobiographical.
CM: And again, as my website bio explains, I started writing erotica after spending a number of years engaging women in chat rooms as a means of staying sane, following the loss of my wife many years ago. Out of those encounters, the likes of “Beach Encounter”, “Ariana”, “A Greek Tragedy” and “A Country Caper” were born. So yes, very real experiences!
If the question you’re alluding to is how much of my stories are based on my actual physical experiences over the years, then I would say this: If I wrote with authority about how to strip down, clean and reassemble a car engine (random I know!), would you turn to me after reading it and ask if I’ve ever actually touched an engine before?!
Do you ever chuckle when you pass row 34 in an airplane, or find yourself waiting at Gate 25?
CM: This is an incredible question, because you’d think the answer would be yes! But no, I never have! How remiss of me! But as it happens, I am leaving for the airport in the next couple of hours, spending three days down in France. And I will most certainly take a photo of Gate 25 and Row 34 while I’m away…Watch this space!
STSG: Ha! If we ever sit in lucky row 34 of an airplane we’re sure we’d do so with a wicked grin. Thank you for the pictures.
Many readers (ourselves included) are dying to know what the future has in store for James and Nikolina. Do you have plans for a sequel?
CM: I wrote Mid Air over a number of years, long before I developed the notion that I would publish any of my work. I threw the opening chapter down on paper after having the connection with the young woman I mentioned earlier and revisited the story when I had the chance. It has quite possibly been my longest slow burner to date! When I first launched the Charming Man website and entered the world as an indie author, I only had “Night Vision” and “Beach Encounter” as completed works. When I dusted off the chapters of Mid Air, James and Nikolina had just finished telling their stories. And that was it. When I first read it I was horrified! I spent hours searching my hard drive, screaming “There must be more, it can’t end there!” But there wasn’t any more.
Obviously I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone yet to read it, but for sure the ending is begging for a sequel. And in fact I have more than that on ice. Ha ha, I get into so much trouble on Twitter for making promises that I fail to deliver in a timely fashion! And here’s another! If I set my mind to it, Mid Air Collusion could so easily be a full length novel. Next question!
STSG: Well you heard it here folks! The pressure’s on now, CM. It’s probably safe to speak for all fans when we say YES, Mid Air Collusion needs to be a full length novel! That being said, obviously you’re very busy. Your website lists a number of books awaiting release. Which one should readers anxiously anticipate first?
CM: Lest you remind me! I have an idea, I write the teaser, I promote the teaser, I get everyone excited and inside I’m thinking “Just when am I going to get the time to finish that?” Charming by name, teaser by nature! If anyone gets frustrated with me, please know, I am equally frustrated. But I do have a plan!
If all goes well, I hope to clear the backlog of short stories by the end of this year. So I’m hoping to roll out “A Greek Tragedy”, “The Hitcher”, “A Country Caper” and “A Tension Seeker Calls” over the coming months. “The Attic” and “The Secret Garden” are still very much embryonic; I like The Attic a lot!
Dare I say it, “A Greek Tragedy” has actually been finished for some time, but I’ve been deliberating its release. It’s a little less vanilla shall we say! “Ariana” for me was a genuine love story between a young woman and an older man, but I can see that some might’ve felt uncomfortable reading it. Following it with “A Greek Tragedy” might not be wise, just because it’s finished! Or am I being over-precautious?! Or simply teasing again?!
So if all goes to plan, I hope to complete the short stories by the end of the year and then release them as a compilation under one title. And then get back to “An Affair Of The Mind”.
STSG: Well now you really are being a tease! Fans are waiting CM, and “A Greek Tragedy” is surely burning a hole in your hard drive. It should be said though, releasing them as a compilation is a great idea. We look forward to it!
Those who know you know your talents do not end with writing erotica. In addition to writing under Charming Man you also have projects on the go with Stop Making Sense (the writing workshop of Andy Wilkins). What can fans expect from Andy Wilkins in the future?
CM: Ha ha, what’s the expression, Jack of all trades, master of none!
Long before writing a word of erotica I wanted to be a comedian. I so admire stand-up comedians for having the balls to get up there and risk dying a death trying to make us laugh. And it was that fear that held me back when I was younger. I always felt I could write the material, but it’s all in the delivery. And when fear takes over, there is no delivery!
So I set up Stop Making Sense as yet another vehicle, somewhere to park an idea that one day I might come back to. I would’ve kept quiet about it and left things to Charming Man, after all he’s keeping me busy enough as it is! But Charming Man recently suffered a couple of “unfair” Twitter suspensions and I decided to use the time to at least make people aware of the existence of this other project. It also seemed a rather apt time to “come out” if you like, put a name to Charming Man.
Some time ago I promised myself that I would write a book, dedicated to my five year relationship with my late wife. She was a wonderful woman and the story of our all too brief relationship wouldn’t seem out of place on the Charming Man bookshelf. But I will write this under my own name, through Stop Making Sense, more a romance than a work of erotica. And it will capture the essence of our relationship from start to finish.
I also have a rather lovely idea for a sequel, which goes beyond our relationship, again very much based on real-life events and a little paranormal in nature. And in keeping with current trends, I almost feel compelled to mention a third book in the trilogy, but as yet I’ve no idea what that would be about!
I do believe all these things are achievable…I’ve just long since given up any idea of retirement!
STSG: You can retire when you’re dead CM, you’ve got a lot of work to do! 😉 It sounds like there are a lot of really exciting projects on the go, and as fans of yours, we really look forward to reading your work for many years to come!
Thank you again CM for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here for our launch week and we look forward to having you back again soon.
CM: It’s been a pleasure ladies…I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking to you…I think I’ve enough ideas in me to keep me going for a few years yet…I do hope I don’t leave you with one final teaser that gets left unfinished after I’m gone! If it should happen, I’ll do my best to finish it from beyond the grave! I wish you all the best with So The Story Goes…I’ll happily support you and any other indie authors out there as much as I can…You can’t beat the kindred spirit that’s out there…And I look forward to coming back again, whenever you want me! Thank you!
You can find links to Mid Air Collusion and all of Charming Man’s erotic tales at www.charmingman.com