Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Talking With My Readers

As an erotic author who is active on Twitter and has some followers who have read my books (as is the case with many erotic writers, the majority of my followers/mutuals are other writers!), I recently reached out to ask, who are the people who are reading my books, what made them choose to read them, what do they like about them – and what do they think they would like to see in the future?

I was interested because I think my two novels occupy a small but distinct niche in the world of erotica. Many erotic authors write erotic romances, many write stories where explicit sex (in all sexualities) is the point, but I don’t consider my books either romance stories or red-hot passion tales (they have romantic and passionate elements, of course). I suppose I’m writing for a fetish audience, where the particular fetish is for nudity (whether public nudity, or clothed-person-naked-person, or other exhibitionist behaviour), but I’m also aware that in doing so I’m a little outside the mainstream and likely to appeal mostly to readers who already know that they like the sort of material I write.

I suppose if this were music the big, successful writers of romance and erotica would be the likes of Guns ‘n’ Roses or Beyonce, whereas I’m the guy playing ambient noise to a basement show of twenty people!

But this made me curious enough about my readership to want to invite them to interact with me.

Obviously not all my readers are going to want to use a forum like Twitter to talk about how they like to read books about naked ladies. Consuming erotica is taboo, and thus a private pastime – most of my readers probably wouldn’t want their friends and families to know they enjoy literature with this particular subject matter. So I was not expecting a deluge of replies.  But I received a few, either publicly or by DM, and I’ll talk about some of the things I have learned about my readership since then.

Firstly, it probably will not surprise anyone to learn that most of the people who interacted with me have some interest in nudism, whether because they admire it as a lifestyle or because they find it good fuel for their own fantasies. I’ve often promoted my books as being “about” nudism (although to be more exact they are about the sex lives and social lives of people who also happen to be nudists) and I think there are certainly people out there looking for sexy stories where young and beautiful characters get naked a lot.

(I’m conscious that with characters like Becky – a gorgeous young woman who can’t keep her clothes on – I’m “sexing up” nudism in a way that runs counter to the reality. Certainly in my experience real nudism/naturism isn’t particularly sexy or really anything to do with sex, and I do understand the point of view of nudists who seek to distance their lifestyle from any sort of porn or erotica.  All I would say in response is that my nudists are no more like real nudists than the plumbers and pizza delivery guys in porn films are like real plumbers and delivery guys.  I’m giving a fantasy version of a real thing, but that isn’t to say that I mean for people to interpret the fantasy as reality.)

That aside, some of my readers would it seems like me to focus more on the nudist side of things and perhaps set scenes in my books at nudist camps or clubs, or on clothing-optional beaches.  I’m not ruling that out 100%, I might one day have a brilliant idea for such a story.  But for the most part those types of settings don’t appeal to me. There are limited stories you can tell with a nudist setting, and while some writers have done good work with them, that in itself is what puts me off; I kind of feel that if I wrote a story about a nudist club, I’d be doing something other people have already done, and I’d rather follow my own path in terms of settings and scenarios.

There is also the fact that one thing that personally appeals to me as the writer of this stuff is conjuring up scenarios where a person is naked in places and situations where nudity would be unexpected or even shocking. A person being nude on a clothing-optional beach or at a nudist camp is not that, they are in a place where nudity is kind of the norm. Even Brave Nude World, which imagines a society in which public nudity is legal, stresses repeatedly that in social terms, being naked in the city is still considered unusual behaviour and people are still processing and adjusting to this social change.

I still intend one day to write a “straight” nudist story; ideally one which can be read by all ages and doesn’t contain any sexual elements  (I want to do this because I feel it hasn’t been done before there have been novels about nudism which don’t contain sexual elements, but these are in the realm of literary fiction and aimed at mature adults, or are fantasy fiction again aimed at mature adults – I would like to write something more universal) but in my erotic work, I prefer nudity to remain to a certain extent taboo or out-of-place in the setting.

Moving away from nudism, it’s clear that my readers are as interested in the exhibitionist side of my writing as much, if not more, than the straightforward nudity aspect, which is good because I make it clear that my characters are exploring exhibitionism and not just innocent nudity.  Becky in Best Friends… states she is an exhibitionist and outlines what she sees as the difference between the comfortable nudity of her nudist lifestyle and the exhibitionist nudity she does for a thrill. Likewise, by the end of Brave Nude World, Rachel has found a way through play with her lover to reconcile her exhibitionist side with the side that simply seeks to embrace the opportunity to be free and nude in her world. So exhibitionism in my characters is what drives my stories.

One comment I particularly liked is that I make exhibitionism seem fun. That’s really great to hear.  A lot of stories about public nudity focus on the humiliation/embarrassment angle, which is fair enough if that is the particular kink you are going for in your writing, but I have always felt like I didn’t want to write stories like that (some of my short stories notwithstanding. For me, the motivations of my characters to do the things the reader wants them to do (i.e. get naked in public) are the positive emotions they experience from such activity, and so in many respects it’s easier for me to write about characters enjoying themselves than it is for them to be having a hard time. I’m also a very sex-positive person and I don’t want to accidentally “punish” my characters for exploring their own sexuality in ways that make sense to them. So I deliberately avoid having them hurt or humiliated because they got naked. Even when they do end up outside their comfort zone (such as when Rachel’s bag gets lost on her flight and she’s left naked at the airport) everything soon turns out alright for the character.

Lastly, I’ve also been told by readers that I write good strong female characters and that they like that they take the lead in my stories.

I’ll admit that this is in part a commercial decision. I choose to have female protagonists because I understand that (gay and bi males aside) men who read erotica prefer female sexuality to take the lead over male sexuality in their choice of stories. Women who read erotica might have a personal preference, but they certainly aren’t put off by books about women the way (many) male readers are from reading books about men.

It also makes sense given my subject matter. If you were to write a story about a male exhibitionist who was constantly getting off from showing his genitals to unsuspecting members of the public, it would be a lot more difficult to make it not sound creepy or predatory – especially in this #MeToo era where the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK have been accused of just such behaviour. So to make my exhibitionist character female is at least a way to sidestep the concerns about consent and sexual predation which might arise were the protagonist male.

More than either of those, though, I really just like writing women. I’ve said before but one of my biggest influences in becoming a writer has been Terry Moore’s graphic novel series Strangers In Paradise, and one of the main reasons I enjoyed that series so much was the characterisation of the two female leads and I’ve always said that if I could write women half as good as that, I’d be happy.

Thank you to all my readers, both those who have been in touch and those who prefer to just enjoy my books and other writing in their own way.  I promise you I won’t be stopping writing any time soon!

Friday, 6 July 2018

New Story! NIP - Nina In Public

After a long break (I was working on my next novel, and then I was laid low with seasonal allergies that left me with little energy for writing), I've returned to where I started, and posted a new short story on Literotica.com, where anyone can read it for free.

This time I've actually done so to enter a contest the site is running in honour of National Nude Day, which is apparently a real thing and takes place on July 14th.  The contest requires authors to submit a story which is themed around nudity - suffice to say I had no difficulty there!

My latest story is called NIP - Nina In Public.  The title is a little pun - NIP usually stands for Naked/Nude In Public, which is certainly the premise of the story; but I called the main character Nina, so that works too. 

Nina is a camgirl/self-employed erotic model and she finds herself going off to fulfill the video request of a particular client with a fetish for public nudity; needless to say, things don't go according to plan, and when she has her bag with her clothes in stolen, Nina's left with no choice but to go out in public naked, no matter how embarrassing it gets.

You can read the story here.

Here's a few additional bits of information about the story, if you're interested (you may want to wait until after reading it in case these count as spoilers):

  • Nina isn't based on anyone in particular but her perspective on sex work and the way she got into it are inspired by an old friend of mine who is an online sex worker and has been for several years now.  Girls who make porn are people and sex work is real work, I have nothing but respect and support for women who do that work through their own choice.  Be nice to camgirls, don't steal their vids or abuse them.  And don't look down on your friend who does it.
  • This is the first time I have written a classic ENF (Embarrassed Nude Female) / forced public nudity story (the typical 'person gets naked outdoors, loses or is cut off from their clothes and ends up having to go naked in public view' tale).  I haven't done one of these before because it's hard to come up with interesting and original ways to have a person be naked and lose track of their clothes outdoors.  The all-time classic is the person whose clothes are stolen while skinnydipping, or the "locked out naked" scenario.  I have read some very good stories where the central character experiments with a little impromptu nudism or nude sunbathing and their clothes are taken then.  Or, a couple who get amorous and their clothes are taken while they're making love.  And that's about it.  So, Nina doing a sort of "dare" (for money) and filming it is a slightly different take on the scenario, which I haven't read elsewhere before.
  • Often in these stories, exposure/humiliation seems to be a sort of karmic punishment for the woman as a result of them transgressing sexually (exploring nudity or sexuality).  I was trying to avoid that here, so of course Nina ends up having quite a good time and getting hella laid despite her initial embarrassment.  I wanted good things to happen to her, not bad.
  • Originally the story was going to be a tale with a twist, I abandoned that as I couldn't make it work.  I figured in the end a more light-hearted story was better so I introduced Ryan and had him and Nina getting it on (because it is porn, at the end of the day!).  See if you can guess what the twist was going to be though!
  • Although I don't say, the story takes place in July.  That's why Ryan is home, he's actually finished college for the summer, but Nina forgets this.
  • Nobody has two computer chairs in their bedroom but I wanted the two of them sitting next to each other so that's what we ended up with.
  • I've no plans for further stories with these characters, sorry!  Like most of my short stories this is a one-off.

Monday, 11 June 2018

'Brave Nude World' and the World Naked Bike Ride

As someone who recently published a novel about a world in which public nudity is permitted under law, I thought I would write a short post here about an event, which takes place in cities all over the world, in which public nudity isn't just permitted, but is largely the norm - the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR).

I've participated in the WNBR once, in London a few years ago, and I found it a mostly positive experience.  I'd do it again except my calendar never seems to align with the event, but maybe next year or after I will be back there.

The book Brave Nude World, and the social change that it depicts, was in part inspired by things like the WNBR. At the WNBR, you see people who might well balk at the prospect of being naked in public at any other time seeing the event and thinking, why not?  Either because they want to help support the ride's message, or simply because it would be a new experience to ride a bike naked through the streets of one of the world's major cities; the participants go outside the social norms and (hopefully) find something positive in that.

That concept inspired my writing because I wondered about the experiences of those who took part in the WNBR and went fully naked (not everyone does), having never done anything like that before. Were they inspired by others to join?  Were they fearful or uncomfortable?  And did that fear pass?  Did the experience prove enjoyable, and did it lead to them re-evaluating how they felt about being naked in front of others?

These ideas, in part, led to the character of Rachel in Brave Nude World, someone who has previously not ever considered behaviour as radical as going naked in public but, now in an environment where this is more acceptable and where others are doing it and enjoying it, opts to not be a bystander but a participant, and as a result changes her worldview.

That said, however, the fictional world of Brave Nude World would, perhaps, not be compatible with the message of the WNBR.

In Brave Nude World, the nudists want public nudity to be not just legal (which it becomes) but unremarkable.  "As normal as putting on a sweater on a cold day" is a phrase which the book uses often.  The normalisation of public nudity is a key theme of the book.

But an event such as the WNBR demands resistance to the idea of public nudity as "normal". In order for its message (calling for a world in which cyclists are more numerous and, crucially, safer, as a means to encourage an end to dependence on fossil fuels) to be heard, it must stand out from the norm.  That is why the cyclists ride nude.  Because naked people are not the norm, and it makes them difficult to ignore.

That's why I've always disputed the idea that the WNBR is a "naturist" event, an annexation some naturists attempt because, well, naked people are naked people (ignoring the reason why the WNBR riders are naked).  But just like the "nudies" in my novel, naturists promote the idea that being naked is completely normal. The WNBR relies on it not being.

Perhaps, then, the WNBR would be a better fit for one of my other characters: Becky in Best Friends With a Naked Girl

Becky would love the WNBR, because she could be naked in public with maximum enjoyment and zero negative repercussions.  In fact (spoiler for Best Friends With a Naked Girl ahead) I almost considered using the WNBR as the setting for the finale of Best Friends..., but ultimately decided it would be more fitting for the girls to take part in an event where the number of naked people was a lot fewer and they were therefore much more individually noticeable.

In the fictional world of the novel, I like to imagine Becky as one of those people who lines up every year, naked on her bike, having a great time. 

Perhaps she even takes part in multiple events around the country where she can? And why not? Just as long as she doesn't drive to them - I genuinely have a huge objection to "naturists" driving in cars to London or Brighton in order to participate in a protest against reliance on cars, just so they can be nude in a public place. Take the train guys!

Brave Nude World and Best Friends With a Naked Girl are available on Amazon Kindle now.

Friday, 18 May 2018

FWA - Fun With Acronyms

I write a lot of fiction centred around female nudity, especially public nudity, nudism, and exhibitionism.  I'm certainly not the first to do that, and before I was a writer I was a reader. 

From the time when I first began reading this type of fiction (in the form of 'streaking' stories), and later also seeking out pictures and videos with the same themes, I have gotten to learn that there are a lot of acronyms used to describe what the scenario you are reading about or watching contains.  While they might be impenetrable to people who don't know this particular field/kink, they are very useful to those that do.

I recently contributed to a discussion on the Literotica forum about such acronyms and I thought I would expand here on some of the examples I gave and what, to me, I expect to find when reading a story with those tags.

CFNM (Clothed Female/Nude Male)
Probably the most fetish-y of the tags, this usually denotes a scenario in which a man is nude in front of a woman, and he is a submissive while she dominates and/or humiliates him.  She might mock his nudity or penis size, force him to perform the duties of a slave, exhibit him for other women, force him to masturbate in front of her or others, or masturbate him herself (usually not in a loving way!).  Of course, like all good BDSM the man is a willing participant in this, usually (as is the case with most non-consensual stories) being initially persuaded against his will before discovering that he likes it.

Less commonly, it can also mean a male exhibitionist exposing himself to a woman in a less power-dynamic based way (for example, a man agrees to model nude for a female artist friend, and through this sexy times ensue).

CMNF (Clothed Male/Nude Female)
This can also be BDSM-based; a female slave/pet who is naked for her clothed master is not uncommon.  Most people who write these type of scenarios have read at least one John Norman Gor book!  Usually an element of humiliation is involved but sometimes the nude/clothed balance is used just to denote who is subservient to who; lack of clothing 'lessens' the parts of the submissive's identity that are independent of the master.

However CMNF can also be more broadly applied, to scenarios where a woman is naked in the company of a clothed man for mutual pleasure or her own pleasure.  Stories where a man has a female partner who is an exhibitionist fit this category.

CMNM (Clothed Male/Nude Male)
Basically the gay version of CFNM.  Submissive male is naked as part of being dominated by one or more other men.  Usually the clothed male is dressed in a way that denotes extra power (suits and uniforms are common).

Less common, this can form the basis of gay first time/experimentation stories, although usually these quickly become NMNM!

CFNF (Clothed Female/Nude Female)
Can be lesbian dom/sub scenarios, even in a broad sense (strict college professor forces female student to strip for punishment, for example), but not exclusively.  Sometimes in CFNF scenarios the "dominant" character is the one naked, with their nudity denoting sexual confidence rather than submission/humiliation.

Best Friends With a Naked Girl is a CFNF story in which, for the most part, the nude female (Becky) calls the shots, and the clothed female (Lisa) allows Becky to assert her wants onto her.  Becky is constantly portrayed as the more confident of the two, and the one more in touch with her own sexuality.

ENF (Embarrassed Nude Female)
The classic 'caught naked' scenario.  Character finds themselves naked in front of other people when they don't want to be, and end up red-faced by being exposed.  Of these categories this is the one most used in mainstream fiction/cinema (think Daryl Hannah locked out of her house naked at the start of the movie Roxanne, or the "character X walks on on character Y in the shower" trope in many sitcoms).  In erotica, the character usually ends up aroused/excited by the experience (again, as is common in scenarios which begin in non-consensual experiences).

While ENF could begin with a character losing their clothes and instantly plunged from comfort to humiliation, another popular scenario is for a character to begin with consensual nudity (e.g. skinnydipping or nudism) which later progresses to them being seen naked in a way they did not want to be.

CNF (Confident Nude Female)
A less common term, but basically the opposite of ENF.  Here, the woman is naked in front of others because she wants to be, and she knows exactly what she is doing.  Often the excitement in the story comes from the juxtaposition between her confidence in her body and sexuality, and the reactions it causes in others.  Usually, these are stories about female exhibitionists, although "this is me in my natural state, deal with it" nudist characters are also common.

My favourite type of character to write.  Becky in Best Friends is your textbook CNF - she has no embarrassment about being seen naked, even if it causes embarrassment in others.

Can show up in mainstream stories; think Alexis Dziena walking around naked in front of a surprised Bill Murray in Broken Flowers

OON (Only One Naked)
A progression from CxNx stories where the character is naked around and in front of a whole bunch of people.  Their nudity is more greatly emphasised because they are outnumbered by people who aren't naked.  Can be humiliating (being seen naked by many people is worse than being seen naked by one) or exciting for them (if being seen naked by one person feels good, then the more the merrier!).

Nude in School/College type stories like DH Jonathan's The 'Volunteer' use the OON scenario (nobody else is walking around naked except Dani, and she is frequently in the company of a great many clothed people); in this instance, being the only naked person "others" the character and marks them as different as usually in these situations nudity is not socially acceptable.

Stories of nude life-modelling for art classes are also in this realm.

NIP (Nude In Public)
Fairly self explanatory.  Character is naked in a public place where nudity would not be the norm.  I tend to restrict this tag to stories where characters are nude in places where it is almost certain that other members of the public will see them (for example, the street, a college campus, a shopping mall, a subway station, a movie theatre, a public park...) - a hike nude in quiet woodland might technically be public, but the expectation of the reader of an NIP story is usually for greater exposure than this.

Character who is nude might be an ENF or a CNF, or start as one and end up as the other!

F2S (Forced to Streak)
I don't see this much any more, although it used to be more common as there was a web forum dedicated to such stories.  In them, a character is naked, usually in an innocent way (skinnydipping or being accidentally locked out of a house naked are common) and then discovers their clothing is missing, or destroyed.  They are therefore left with no choice but to run naked from a place in which their nudity is concealed, through a more public setting, until they reach safety (either home or their car, or some means of clothing themselves).

Of course, as with the other stories in which the character is naked against their will, they might well find as the story progresses that they actually find the risk and/or humiliation exciting.

F2S could also be confused/interpreted as Forced to Strip, which I suppose might be one reason it isn't used much (although such stories, in which a character is undressed, or made to undress, against their will, tend to be tagged as Forced Stripping in my experience).

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I'm sure these aren't the only acronyms in our world of erotica, and I'd love to hear new ones I've not encountered before, or your take on what you expect when you see those above.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

'Brave Nude World' is now available

My second novel, Brave Nude World, is now available to buy as an e-book from Amazon (for Kindle).

Brave Nude World tells the story of an alternate near-future United States in which public nudity has become legalised, and protected as a right by law.  In the years following this legalisation, the practise of going nude in public rather than wearing clothes starts to become more commonplace, and a new nudist movement begins to grow and become more visible, especially in urban areas.  However, society is still catching up with legislation, and people are still adjusting to the idea of naked people in their midst, with old taboos only gradually being eroded.

The novel is told from the point of view of Rachel, a 24-year-old designer living in a big (unnamed) US city.  Rachel has never felt inclined towards being a nudist before, but in the world of the novel, where she sees naked people on the subway, in the park, on the street and in the workplace, she becomes more fascinated by and drawn toward going nude in public and, in experimenting with this, finds herself exploring new sides to herself, including a hitherto undiscovered exhibitionist streak.

My attempt in writing this story is to bridge a gap between my interest in writing about nudism/naturism, and my interest in writing erotic fiction in which exhibitionism and public nakedness figures prominently.  The world of the novel is a "realistic" nudist utopia - there are no barriers preventing people from going about their lives naked save some remaining social taboos (which are explored in the text).  However the main narrative is as much about Rachel's self-discovery and evolving sexuality as it is about her finding a place in this new and more permissive society.

I've read many stories of alternate worlds to our own in which going nude in public is permitted (and in some cases even enforced) but none which consider the gradual social changes that would need to accompany any legal changes before nudists could freely walk the streets unclad without a care.  Brave Nude World is my attempt to show a society in stages of transition, as it approaches the clothing-optional utopia imagined by some naturists, without being quite there just yet.

I hope the novel will be appreciated by naturist readers who will enjoy the premise and aren't uncomfortable with sex and sexuality (and who can understand and appreciate the discussions the central characters have about sexuality in a clothing-optional society) as well as my core audience who just like reading about girls going about in public with no clothes on.

You can get Brave Nude World here:
Amazon

Friday, 6 April 2018

"She breasted boobily" - when men write women badly

It's been a good few days if you like seeing social media moments in which some women draw attention to and make fun of something crappy that some men do, and then some men become enraged and treat this as the collapse of a free and just society into a fallen, brutal police state where being white and male is the greatest of all punishable crimes.

So, much like any other week, really.  Except that this time it's involved writers and so I've enjoyed it a lot more.

It's not a new thing to acknowledge that some male writers struggle, having of course never experienced real life as a woman, to write fictional female characters who seem authentic.  Maybe it's also a problem when women write men, although I can't say as I have personally noticed. 

What the Twitter discussions I have seen this week have sought to draw attention to is that more than a few men write women, even in first person narrative, as if they are being perceived by men; what gets called the male gaze. They proffer, before we learn anything else about them, a description that emphasises their physical attractiveness - in particular, the attributes that heterosexual men might find most appealing about them. In fact, sometimes that is all we learn about them.

And of course it's really important that we know their breast size and what their boobs are doing at that moment.

Now, plenty of good male writers don't do this.  But I've certainly read some examples that made me cringe and I'm sure these and others ring all the more inauthentic for the women reading them than they do for me. This is particularly true when the story is written first person with a female narrator - in other words, where the male author is trying to tell the story in a woman's voice.  This is where I imagine for many woman readers, as well as male readers who have at least met women, some stories can really lose their authenticity.

Where I have been thinking about this is how it relates to the genre I write in - erotica.

Erotic fiction is a genre often written by women, with the biggest selling names (EL James, Jilly Cooper, et. al) all ladies. But there are men writing erotica too, and where we do, we might well choose to write from a female point of view.  There are all sorts of reasons for that - sometimes, narratively, it just makes sense for the story we want to tell; other times it is a more commercial decision, an understanding that (in heterosexual erotica) male readers might be (needlessly) squicky about reading stories about other men, whereas both male and female readers might well enjoy a story about a woman.

Now, perhaps in some ways, it's hard to make all the same complaints when men write women in erotica. The majority of comments on Twitter about this aren't talking about erotica, after all; they're pointing out when this happens in more mainstream genres (especially literary fiction, young adult realism, and popular fields like science-fiction and fantasy).  In erotica, some of these tropes happen because they are supposed to.

For example, it is hard to see the problem with a female character seeming like a sexual fantasy of a woman in a story which is specifically about a sexual fantasy woman, and inviting the reader to picture the character in an arousing context is arguably actually necessary in a story which is supposed to provoke arousal.  The male gaze which contributes to the sexualisation of women's bodies in other media has less dominance in a medium where all bodies are sexualised by the very nature of the story being told.

But even erotic authors can fall into a trap of giving inauthentic voices to female characters and even in erotica this can be intrusive and spoil the reader's enjoyment of the story.

I say this not as a writer who believes himself to be capable of writing authentic women - I'm not on my high horse here, I'm down in the crowd with the rest of the peasantry.

(Looking back on my work it seems a mixed bag of successes and could-do-betters - I tend to avoid some of the worst and most obvious potholes of men-writing-women but as for whether the end result has any authenticity - especially given that my tendency is towards stories which can't help but objectify the women in them, because of the recurring exhibitionist themes - I cannot say).

As a male writer, I'd love to use this as a learning opportunity, to look at what women writers and readers are saying about men writing with female voices and be mindful of it in future writing.

Nobody is saying men shouldn't write female characters and female voices, or that books can't be sexy and titillating where it makes sense for them to be. You can still write about boobs.

But surely male and female readers can both enjoy better a story where the characters feel real, fleshed-out and rich in dimension, over one where all we really know of the narrator is that she has big breasts and looks good in a dress?

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Brave Nude World: A Preview

My next novel, Brave Nude World, is coming soon.

In the novel, public nudity is no longer a crime in the United States, and a new generation of nudists has begun to become visible in towns and cities around the country.  In this brave nude world we meet Rachel, a 24-year-old designer living in the big city.  Rachel has never considered nudism before but in a world where much more freedom is possible, she finds herself gradually and inexplicably drawn to the world of the nudists, and all the possibilities and problems it brings her.

Below is an extract from this forthcoming work.

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Summer, or at least the season’s earliest form, arrived in the city, and I began to take my lunch in the park.  I do the same every year – it’s pretty common for us office types to take an hour or so and catch some rays there, so it’s always fairly busy.  Some days I even wear a bikini under my work clothes, so I can work on my tan over lunch.  I’m not especially vain but I’m blonde and I think my skin looks better when I’ve caught a little sun.

Of course, this was the year of the nudie, and so for the first time I noticed that the sunbathing people in the park included some who had taken off all their clothes, and decided to sunbathe naked. It was probably only a half-dozen people – at the most, ten, although I didn’t sit and count them.  Some were in pairs or in a group together, some were solo.  Just laying or sitting on the grass, chilling out, minding their own business – men and women.  But all of them nude.

It was the most naked people I had seen in one place, but for some reason it was also the least surprising.  It made sense that if you were going to go nude in public, you would do it on a fine sunny day, in the middle of a green space like the park, to work on your tan.  The girls in the subway station or guys like Chris and Martin didn’t really make sense to me, but the people tanning in the park somehow did.

That’s probably one reason why, after not many more visits, I decided to join them.
I’d been to the park a few lunchtimes that week, and had been doing my usual trick of going to work in a sundress and bikini, and whipping the dress off for half an hour to tan, read and eat lunch before getting back to the office.  But that day, call it fate if you like, I’d accidentally dressed hurriedly, and had worn regular underwear rather than a bathing suit beneath my dress. No big deal though, I thought when I realised my mistake, I didn’t need to sunbathe every day.

But lunchtime came around, and as I headed to the park I noticed how it was particularly hot and sunny today, and it began to seem like a real shame that I wasn’t going to feel the sun on as much of my skin.  Then I reached a suitable spot, and my eyes spied nearby two blonde women, about my age or maybe a couple of years older, who as I watched removed all their clothing and lay down, naked, on the grass to tan.

I wondered to myself.  Dare I do it?

I knew the law was on my side. But here, in the park, it also seemed like culture was on my side.  While the vast majority of people visiting the park were clothed or (like I had planned to be) wearing swimwear, the two women weren’t the only nudies visible.  It felt, to me, like a place where to be naked would be considered not just legal, but within the limits of what was socially acceptable.  I decided, with a little smile to myself, to give it a try.

I’m not a prude about my body.  Get me in the bedroom with a good looking guy and I will fling myself around in sexy underwear or nude with complete abandon.  I’m never self-conscious in the women’s locker room and, hey, I live alone so sometimes I walk around naked in my apartment.  Who doesn’t do that?  But those were all one thing – taking my clothes off in a completely public place in the middle of the city is another thing entirely for me, and I felt flutters of nerves at my decision.

Not so much, though, to put me off doing it.  I decided to move nearer to where the other two nude women were – safety in numbers and all that.  I didn’t want to get too close, though, in case they thought I was coming on to them or something.

Satisfied that I was in a suitable spot – nearer to the nude women, farther from everyone else – I took a deep breath and pulled my dress off over my head.  I paused for a moment, looking round.  Then I reached behind my back, unhooked my bra and wiggled out of it.  Finally, I slipped my panties off and laid my clothes down on the grass.  I rolled over onto my stomach, using my dress as a blanket between the grass and my skin.

I looked around me, cautiously.  Absolutely nothing had changed.  No people were coming to attack me, or arrest me, or perv over me.  Nobody was really even looking in my specific direction.  They were all just busy engaging with their own lives, absorbed in their own worlds.

I was completely naked, in a park in the middle of the city, in sight of who knows how many people – and everything was fine.

I lay down and enjoyed basking in the sun for a while, feeling the warmth on my bare butt, before rolling over again on to my back.  I put my arms up behind my head.  I was totally exposed now.  I looked down the length of my body – the peaks of my breasts, nipples pointed at the sky.  My ribs, the flat curve of my stomach, dented with the well of my belly button, then leading down, a tiny, barely-visible trail of silky hairs connecting with the fine, patch of curly light brown hair on my mound.  I don’t shave my pubic hair but it grows fine and neat so it looks as though I spend a lot more time on personal grooming than I actually do.

The notion that I was nude in public was somewhat exhilarating.  I thought back to my only real previous experiences with nude sunbathing; specifically the first time I tried it – as a teenager, in the back yard of my parents’ house while everyone was out.  Then, I jumped and reached for my bikini at every noise, imagining mom, dad, my brother, the whole high school football team and the marching band about to come streaming through the gate and catch me tanning in my birthday suit to try and eradicate my white marks.  It had been such an anxious experience that I had not dared to repeat it more than a handful of times in my life, and when I moved to the city a series of apartments had meant I no longer had any sort of yard in which to tan.  The parks had become my yard instead, but I had never dreamed I would one day sunbathe not just fully nude in these public places, but with a confidence I’d never had at fifteen or so.  Who could ever have expected that?

After a while I realised that the other two women, whose examples I had followed, had slipped their outfits back on and left.  I alone in this area of the park was nude.  Yet I didn’t feel uncomfortable or worried.  I was no different to any other sunbather, other than that I had not even a bikini covering myself – but my experience had taught me that this was a safe place to lie almost-nude in the sun, why not fully nude?  Public nudity was allowed now, and it was only the social contract we observe – and my own sense of modesty – that discouraged it in me.  But here, with no friends, family or colleagues, only strangers minding their own business – here nakedness seemed a reasonable state to be in.

My lunchbreak over, I reached for my clothing.  I experienced a peculiar sense of disappointment as I dressed.

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Keep an eye on my Amazon author and Goodreads author page to see Brave Nude World when it is published.