After stumbling to the kitchen to feed my cat this morning, I checked my phone for the morning’s news. Lo and behold, the latest collection from Sexy Little Pages is up and available to read! It’s titled Silver Desire and I’m so grateful to have a story included in this collection.
The story that I wrote is titled “Soturi,” and it was both a joy and a challenge to write. As I recall, the call for submissions was rather straightforward: write a sex-positive short story in which the protagonist is a woman over 50 years of age. The starting point for me was a surgical procedure that happened to me almost five years ago: I had a cyst on my left ovary that was pushing on the right one, causing some excruciating pain in my abdomen. It was removed via laproscopy, and I was fortunate that some male acquaintances visited me in the hospital. However, I distinctly remember struggling to communicate my thoughts about the procedure to them. Purely by biology, they would never completely understand what happened to me.
In the long run, it was a minor procedure. Reading this call, though, sent me straight back to that hospital bed. Then, I considered what “utterly female” problems would an older woman, say 58 years old, have to face. I landed on ovarian cancer, but I wanted to make sure that the story I’d write would be both tender and honest. It is my sincerest hope that readers will feel the same.
I feel that this collection, while fun and beautiful, is also an important one for erotica. Ageism in entertainment is something that routinely creeps into media attention, but then is forgotten until Oscar season, when Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and the Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith have to remind the world that they’re #ForeverFabulous. Amy Schumer did a sketch about the phenomenon. While these are predominately concerned with TV and film, the issue is prevalent in the publishing industry as well.
This isn’t a modern issue, either. Older women have often been “put on the shelf” for centuries. In fact, Helen Mirren commented that there aren’t tons of great roles for older women in Shakespeare’s plays, and she’s absolutely correct. My theory on that, though, is based in practicality rather than simple, overt sexism: theater companies did not employ actresses, leaving young boys and men to play the female characters. As such, it was probably very difficult to turn a 13-year-old into a 50+ woman, even 400 years ago.
These days, we have no excuse.
I hope readers enjoy reading this anthology as much as I enjoyed writing my story for it. Happy reading!