Wrecked on the Isle of Wight (Minus a Ship)
Let me just say that rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
It was like a scene from out of an Agatha Christie whodunnit: an old manor house, a howling wind blowing in from the raging sea, mysterious and menacing creaks in the night. Whispers of “Let’s kill the erotic writing tutor” could be heard emanating from dark corners – corners where hands might jump out at any moment to wrap around your neck.
Or rather MY neck.
Six women and one man, all locked up for Literotica, an erotic writing weekend on the Isle of Wight. Sure, they looked so innocent and friendly on arrival. So who would suspect that beneath these civilised veneers lurked a bloodthirsty desire TO KILL? I myself suspected nothing. (Mind you, I rarely do.) I conducted my workshop just as I’ve always done, imparting a bit of professional and personal wisdom, and inspiring participants to write freely, to strive high, and to leave behind their erroneous assumptions that erotica is nothing but poshed-up porn. I could see I was winning the battle. These people were actually creating work that would have been equally at home in a respectable literary novel as it would in a respectable sexy novel. “Get rid of the top shelf!” I cried. “No more one-handed reads!” I cheered. And the crowd roared back, hanging on my every word.
So why should one of these nice people wish to kill me – and to kill me in one of the most slow and agonising ways possible – by poison? Was I too hard on them? Did I give too much homework? Did they take offence at my bear’s critiques of their work? Or indeed, was it even one of the workshop participants at all? Perhaps the mild-mannered Greek proprietor of our windswept country house was behind it. Now I’ve heard of not wanting to pay someone for services rendered, but come on – isn’t this taking things a bit too far? (Actually, I did kind of wonder why that plumber’s van hadn’t moved out of the car park for the entire weekend.)
I admit they were clever. They waited until after I’d signed their copies of Getting Even: Revenge Stories
-(Christ, I knew I shouldn’t have brought that one along) – and The New Black Lace Book of Women’s Sexual Fantasies. Just think how much these copies would have fetched on eBay had their sinister murder plot actually come to fruition!
It’s hard to believe that the people with whom I’d enjoyed a friendly Saturday night pint at the local pub could, within only a matter of minutes, turn on me like that. I was fine up until then. Had they put poison into my untended pint while I nipped to the loo? Had they coated the rim of the glass with some deadly nectar so that when I raised it to my unknowing lips, I’d ingest the substance? Had someone truly NOT enjoyed reading their copy of Getting Even? I mean, everyone kept saying how they couldn’t wait to get stuck into it, especially the story I wrote. So what gives?
I suspect the physicist. As the only male in a group of women, he was already anticipating the worst from before he’d arrived on the island. Yet I did my best to make him feel welcome and comfortable. I even spent extra time with him chatting about such things as parallel universes and cloud computing as we sat drinking cups of milky tea. What more could I have done? Hey, was it MY fault that someone said (no it wasn’t me!) that all men are crap in bed? Okay, so I nodded to be polite. I mean, wouldn’t you have done the same if you’d been in my shoes?
As you can see, I survived the weekend, albeit quite the worse for wear. And yes, I’m booked again for yet another erotic writing workshop weekend next November. I wonder though if someone might be trying to tell me something. For on the final leg of my journey home, the man seated behind me on the train kept singing about Nosferatu.
Hmmm… I have been looking rather wan of late.
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