Shorter Sometimes Sweeter

From CRA newsletter:

People have often been surprised by the number of anthologies I’ve edited over the years, which has now easily passed the one hundred mark. My only excuse is the fact that I worked for several decades in book publishing as a commissioning editor, and editing anthologies is my way of keeping in touch with my creative roots, alongside my fiction writing.

In some instances, publishers approach me with proposals, in others I conjure up a theme and try and place the project. I’ve been lucky enough that most of collections have been marginally profitable (anthologies are never big money-makers) with a handful even going on to reprints. But they are books I just enjoy putting together and that allow me to introduce new voices to readers, offering a shop window to writers.

The majority of my anthologies consist of new material, which I commission, if only because reprint volumes would require me to rely on my memory of stories read in the past, and there have been too many to recall with any degree of precision, apart from the fact that I never take notes as I know some of my fellow anthology editors do with an eye on the future.

I’ve been lucky that on five occasions stories published in my collections have been awarded the CWA Short Story Dagger, putting me on a par with my friend Martin Edwards. I could even claim to have technically overtaken his tally with this year’s winner ‘Flesh of a Fancy Woman’ by Paul Magrs which even though it appeared in Criminal Pursuits, an anthology by Samantha Lee Howe (alongside a story of mine), was first published in a collection I edited for an American publisher a few years previously!

Sometimes ideas for anthologies come to fruition slowly but in other cases they just rush out of nowhere like a lightning strike and you think ‘why didn’t I think of this earlier?’ as it’s such an obvious proposition. Daggers Drawn happened that way. I have been a CWA member since the mid 1980s and on the board for several years now. It dawned on me that no one had actually collected the winning Dagger stories of the past decades. Why not?

Inspiration struck in the middle of the night, as it always does and in the cold light of morning the idea even survived. A telephone call to George, my editor at Titan Books, generated an immediate two-page pitch and we had reached contract stage within a fortnight.

After all, every single story was a winner and I had my pick of some of the biggest names of crime fiction: Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Denise Mina, Jeffery Deaver, John Connolly, Peter Lovesey, Martin himself… Some were multiple winners so I allowed them to choose which of their stories they would prefer to be included and very quickly had a line-up of 21 absolutely wonderful stories. One of the easiest books to assemble I’d ever had to do! Sadly, winning yarns by Reginald Hill and Robert Barnard were unavailable due to rights complications, so I ended up with 19, and each one an absolute gem as the judges of the Dagger over the years had done all the hard work for me. I was even able to hunt down and clear the rights for the very first winner, a story by Modesty Blaise creator Peter O’Donnell (written under a pen name) when the award was not yet a Dagger but sponsored by a champagne manufacturer through a competition in a newspaper, with the prize an ample supply of champagne.

Titan have done a wonderful job with cover and design and the ensuing hardback, which appeared simultaneously in the UK and the USA, is a lovely book in its own right. Here’s a trailer:

Sales have been positive and the paperback has been delayed by an extra six months to allow the hardcover edition to keep on moving, and the publishers are so keen that they have commissioned a follow-up volume, Ink and Daggers, which – have a guess – will feature stories shortlisted for the CWA Dagger and the line-up will be as stellar! Again it’s a guarantee of quality.

If I had a choice I would never write novels but would spend all my time writing short stories. It’s a different discipline, an art in its own right and so eminently enjoyable to read. And Daggers Drawn shows crime fiction at its very best in this most satisfying of formats.

Blogging with Elizabeth Cage

Elizabeth Cage asked me to be a part of her “Sexy Stories: fiction that turns me on” series. Here’s a snippet from the article:

The Ties That Bind by Vanessa DuriesI’ve always been a great believer in the virtues of popular fiction.

I began my writing career in the science fiction & fantasy field before making a diversion later in life into the world of crime and thrillers. However, my own efforts in these wonderful genres tended to attract mixed reviews and barely average sales due to the fact that it was always self-evident to me that even if I was working in genre, this was no reason not to have believable characters constructed out of flesh and blood rather than cardboard. So, my characters always felt real to me, and in order to make them even more real and credible they shared many of my own tastes, obsessions, quirks, whatever, and as a result sex often reared its pesky head in my writing, which didn’t help in making me overly popular to genre readers.

This explains how I eventually came to erotic fiction.

As an editor with a long career in traditional book publishing, I have always subscribed to Sturgeon’s law that states that ‘90% of everything is crap, which leaves 10% of quality’. A simple piece of maths that applies to all literature, whether it be deemed literary/mainstream or be within recognisable genres such as those evoked earlier.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been passed this set of questions by my friend and fellow author Ian Watson, as part of THE NEXT BIG THING, which is an interesting initiative mostly circulating in the world of science fiction, fantasy and horror, but we all know a touch of sex adds spice to any piece of writing…

1) What is the working title of your next book?

La Dolce Vita

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

7 years ago I published OHH LA LA!, an anthology of contemporary erotica by French women authors with Thunder’s Mouth, coedited with my French editor Franck Spengler. The book had been selling continuously ever since, and consistently backlisted, to the extent of achieving minor bestseller status albeit drip by drip, particularly on the export side, where it has been one of the top sales at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport bookshop non-stop for 5 years! The imprint has since been subsumed into the Perseus’ Group Running Press list, so I suggested to them a follow-up covering Italian authors. It took two whole years for them to agree and the book is now at galley stage for publication April 2013.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Literary erotica

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

So many women, so many beautiful Italian actresses!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Hot sex under the hot Italian sun

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Running Press have acquired world rights, excluding Italy, and the book didn’t go through an agent

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

5 years since the concept, until the right editor finally began noticing how well the previous volume had done and even then it took a further 2 years for him to convince his marketing guys and editorial board. Assembling the stories took six months through approaching all my favourite Italian women authors.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Naturally, the French version OO LA LA! but also the many anthologies of literary erotica I’ve compiled over the decades, particularly THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF INTERNATIONAL EROTICA.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The fact that European erotica is so much more interesting than most Anglosaxon one, so much more sensual and emotion-laden and abundant and well-written

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sex always piques!

‘Sex change’ Author Wins Erotic Writing Prize

Judges of Xcite Books Escape to Erotica short story writing competition were shocked to discover their prize-winning female author was actually a man – top writer and editor of crime, mystery and erotic fiction Maxim Jakubowski.

Maxim, who reviewed crime fiction for the Guardian and was named in the Time Out top 30  best erotic London writers of all time, decided to enter the competition anonymously by using a female pseudonym.

His story, which told of a romantic liaison between a woman selling olive oil and a journalist at a Paris food fair, was written so sensitively and beautifully that judges were convinced it was penned by a woman.

On notifying the winner that she had won the top prize of a seven-night holiday for two to the Hedonism resort in Jamaica, they were surprised as Maxim revealed his true identity.

He said: ‘Writing can be a lonely and isolated business and I felt I wanted my work to be judged impartially, that’s why I entered under a pseudonym. I’m delighted to have won the Escape to Erotica story competition. Not only do I love Jamaica, but am gratified that a story that I submitted anonymously was judged on its own merits!’

Maxim Jakubowski is one of the country’s leading writers in the erotic genre. He has published nearly 100 books and his short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines published by Constable Robinson and Headline in the UK and Perseus and Akashic in America.  He has edited best-selling anthologies of British mystery stories and the Mammoth Books of Best New Erotica for Robinson, the Sex in the City series for Xcite Books and contributes to the Times, the Bookseller and the Evening Standard.

Judge and Xcite editor Antonia Adams, said: ‘There was only ever one winner in my opinion. It was so beautifully written and poignant, and it felt so real. It was a contemporary Brief Encounter. It really read like it had been written by a woman, so I was amazed to find out it was by Maxim Jakubowski.’

Maxim’s winning story will now take pride of place in Escape to Erotica, an ebook anthology of the five best stories entered in the competition, published by Xcite Books on Valentine’s Day, February 14 2012. The collection will also feature four stories from the runners-up which include new writers Ellie’s Present from Charlie by LW, Swept Away by Demelza Hart, The Flight by Ian Perrott and Escape by Kitty Luscious.

Launched in November at the Erotica adult lifestyle festival at Olympia, in London, the Escape to Erotica competition was a joint venture between Xcite Books and the Erotica organisers. It invited new writers and previously published authors to unleash their creative inhibitions by writing a 3- 5,000 word story on the theme of escape.

Miranda Forbes, Editorial director of Xcite Books, said: ‘Our judges were very impressed by the diversity and quality of writing among the entrants. To be fooled by Maxim only proves what an excellent writer and deserving winner he is.

‘The competition has also uncovered new writing talent among our runners-up and hopefully this competition and the Escape to Erotica ebook will be a great showcase for their work.’

The four runners-up in the competition win a year’s supply of Xcite books.


For further information, interviews & review copies, please contact: Alison Stokes, Media and Publicity Manager, Xcite Books Ltd, Tel: 0207 858 1024 or email:

Ekaterina and the Night Blog Tour

Here are a selection of blog posts I wrote as part of the month-long blog tour to promote my latest erotic novel, Ekaterina and the Night.


A decade or so ago, I wrote a novella which I titled THE STATE OF MONTANA over the course of a 2 week break in the Maldives. If that sounds like the perfect waste of a holiday, it wasn’t altogether the case. I had promised my then (trusting) publishers a new short novel and somehow the deadline got dangerously close, so I felt that writing the book away from home and all its daily distractions might help. The fact that the book’s cover had already been designed and printed before I had even written a single word of the book was incentive enough.

Read the rest of the article here.



I’ve always been struck by how few recognised contemporary male authors of erotica there are right now whose stories and novels appear with some degree of regularity. Think: Thomas Roche, M. Christian, Mike Kimera, Jeremy Edwards, Chris Garcia, Michael Hemmingson, Robert Buckley and myself spring to mind, and then you have to direct a microscope at all the websites publishing fiction, anthologies and ebooks to find a few more names drowning in the sea of oestrogen.

Read the rest of the article here.



I don’t plan my novels, let alone my short stories. They all begin with the germ of an idea, a title and an opening line, and then it’s in the hands of fate and my imagination as I improvise my way down the sometimes rocky and winding road, serenaded by the flashing cursor on my screen. A bit like a journey into the dark, although I sometimes have a glimpse of the finishing line, a sentence, a feeling, something I’m moving towards.

Read the rest of the article here.



In the UK we say tomato; in the USA you say tomato. However, it sounds different. But it’s the same word, of course. Just another indication of the ever widening gulf between our two cultures. In other instances, words are spelled slightly differently, or expressions can have different meanings depending on which side of the ocean you are standing.

Read the rest of the article here.



I sadly missed the recent Erotic Authors’ Association conference in Las Vegas (I only learned of it being organised barely 48 hours after I’d booked and prepaid our annual late summer holidays) so have not yet experienced being  on a panel at a specifically erotic convention. But I have been invited to the forthcoming Italian equivalent in Zibello, and I am sure that for once, unlike at equivalent science fiction and crime events I have participated in, I will not be assigned to the customary ghetto of the obligatory sex and violence panel, or even sex without violence. With the sort of things I write and my activities in literary erotica, that is the panel I’m always assigned to, unsurprisingly enough.

Read the rest of the article here.


How did you start writing erotica?

It feels as if it was the moment I was born. But, seriously, somehow an evident form of eroticism was already present in the science fiction I wrote when still a teenager and it quickly spilled over into all my later writing, irrespective of genre and category. I insist on making my characters credible and, as a result, they cannot escape the spider’s web of sexuality which has always surrounded me and, surely, everyone, or am I an exception?

Read the rest of the article here.


J.S. Mr. Jakubowski, it’s a real privilege to have you here today! For the readers who aren’t familiar with you or your work, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?

MJ: Just an English writer who was educated in France, hence a certain sense of disconnect between what I write and the majority of other stuff being done in English-language erotica these days. Just a question of background and sensibility, I reckon. I worked for many years in publishing and now divide my time between writing, editing, translating, and working for film festivals.

Read the rest of the article here.


Do you ever wonder if people read your work and judge you as a person?

Of course, and sometimes I know what they think. Being an erotic writer does give you the sort of reputation that precedes you when you walk into a room, to say the least. I find it amusing. But I smile knowing they could never guess half of what I do or am!

Read the rest of the article here.


Article no longer available online.


  • 21st October: Liia Ann White

For those who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself and how your career started.

I’m deeply ashamed to reveal that my first book was published when I was only 18. It was terrible and should never have been printed and I will not allow it to be reprinted, ever! I should not have been encouraged so recklessly, as a result of which I’m now at the stage where my book publications have actually reached 130. Most of these have been anthologies, but among the crowd are 11 novels, 5 collections of short stories, two reference books, a film book and a travel book. But as they say, quantity is not necessarily quality and I’ll leave that judgment to my readers.

Read the rest of the article here.


1) First, tell us a little about yourself so the readers know who you are?
MJ: Just an English writer who was brought up in France and worked for many years in publishing and alternates crime thrillers (with a strong erotic content) and erotic books. I write and edit full-time and seem to publish much too much, even though I still feel I am twiddling my thumbs most of the time, so it’s deceptive.

Read the rest of the article here.



You are what you eat. I think Bob Dylan came up with that saying, or maybe it was attributed to him. In essence, it means all of us are a product of what we have seen, experienced, intellectually digested, so to speak.

On the occasion of the publication of my new novel EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT, I’m now part way through a 21 installment blog tour to promote and publicise the book, a combination of features, credos, cries from the heart and assorted interviews. The most commonly asked questions are, as ever, where do I get my ideas and how do I conduct my research. Surprisingly, no one to date has asked about my influences.

Read the rest of the article here.



I think a lot of authors write erotica because they one day came across some by intent or trial and error on a random bookshelf and it appealed to them and they thought ‘why not me?’ or ‘I can do that’. Which is as good as reason as any. Or, if they are professional writers were given the opportunity to write erotica for the money (as happened to Anais Nin) and then hopefully found out that they were actually quite good at it. A smaller proportion of writers chance upon erotica by accident or even, I have come across some authors/friends who didn’t even realise they were writing erotica until it was actually pointed out to them.

My path to the holy grail of erotica was different.

Read the rest of the article here.



Having agreed, on the occasion of the publication of my new novel EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT to participate in a 21 day blog tour, which means coming up daily with a new subject or angle to discuss, rather than boring you all to death in promoting what is, naturally, a wonderful novel full of lust, travel, deeply troubled characters and explicit passion set all over the world and the centuries (end of advertisement…), truly sharpens the mind and has made me think quite deeply about why I write the sort of things I do, my motivations, my past involvement with writing erotica and also, I fear, about some of what irritates me most in our field these days.

Read the rest of the article here.


How did it feel to be voted the “second sexiest writer” in 2007?

– Most amusing. Although I’d preface this by mentioning this was actually the second sexiest crime writer. I was leading the poll for a whole week until on the final day a whole block of votes came in for the lovely Peter May and I was pipped at the post. Seems my wife and daughter voting for me just wasn’t enough. Anyway, it was a fix: Peter is hairy white-haired and bearded Scot who has been to wear a kilt at literary events and his legs weren’t even that good! And, amongst crime writers, surely ladies like the delectable Mo Hayder, the fragrant Alex Barclay and Pocket Venus Megan Abbott are prettier than us ugly blokes?

Read the rest of the article here.


Speaking in your role as editor of the annual Mammoth books of Best New Erotica, what are the hallmarks of an outstanding erotic story? – In jest, one that keeps me reading beyond the opening paragraphs! I have a profound dislike of stories that, in fact, have no actual storyline and are just wish-fulfillment episodes or adjective-full streams of consciousness. A good story should be original and a good story with believable characters in evidence long before the sexual element even intervenes. But I feel I should not be dictating any steadfast rules;, insofar as when a good story is set in front of me, I immediately recognize it, and its uniqueness. Some authors achieve this on every excursion on to the page, others more rarely. But when a story ‘talks’ to me, you’ll hear a woop of delight.

Read the rest of the article here.



I’ve mentioned in another blog as part my blog tour for my new novel EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT how one of the most common questions I’ve been asked on the occasion of interviews is ‘how do you do your research?’ in view of the fact that most of my novels and stories are erotic.

Let’s get over the sex part of it: I might not have personally experienced/experimented all the combinations and variations in sexual activity that appear in my books (although you might be surprised when the unlikely time comes for someone to write my biography…), but I read, observe, speculate wildly, spend much too much time on the internet and, come on, if there is one thing I am not short of as a writer, it’s imagination!

Read the rest of the article here.


Say Hi Maxim 🙂

-Hello out there in the electronic wilderness

So, tell me, what made you write ‘this’ story?

-The bittersweet memories of certain people I have known and the desire, as I grow older, to write about death but make it sexy enough to entertain readers

Read the rest of the article here.



I sadly was unable to attend the recent EAA conference held in Las Vegas (I’d only heard of it a couple of days after prebooking -and paying- for a family holiday for the same week…), so when the opportunity arose to travel to its European equivalent, I jumped at the occasion.

The first ever Un Po di Eros Festival was held in Zibello in Italy over the week-end of the 8th and 9th October. Zibello is a beautiful, if somewhat sleepy little town, on the Po River, just a half hour from Parma. The event was organised by local author Rosalba Scaglioni whose writes her erotica as Liviana Rose and who, with her parents, owns and runs one of the most famous restaurants in the region, the Leon d’Oro.

Read the rest of the article here.


When and why did you start writing erotica?

Because it just came naturally to me when I was writing, whether it was when I was active in the science fiction field or later penning crime and thrillers. Although eventually, and in response to the many criticisms I was getting from including sex in those genres, I decided to write an outwardly erotic novel with no elements from other genres. I now tend to alternate strictly erotic novels with others.

Read the rest of the article here.


SC: I want to welcome you all to another edition of Watch Out. This week I’m pleased to bring you author Maxim Jakubowski. Welcome to Watch Out, it is so great to have you here.

MJ: The pleasure is erotically mine…

SC: Ohhh

SC: For the readers out there who might not know about you or your work, can you please tell them a little about yourself.

MJ: I’m a British writer who spent many years in publishing, although I’ve been writing since my teens and actually published my first book at 18. I’ve now reached 130 titles although, in my defense, most of those are anthologies, plus 11 novels and 5 collections of short stories. I have written in the science fiction, crime and erotic field, and also edit for Constable Robinson and Running Press annual anthologies of the best short stories of the year in the British crime and the erotica genre. I alternate crime thrillers (albeit of an erotic nature) and erotica, and this year’s novel is an erotic one, called EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT.

Read the rest of the article here.

Welcome to My World!

I realise that I am one of the last authors to enter the 20th Century (let alone the 21st) and establish a website. I know, I know… Everyone has been urging me on to do so for years now. But, you know how things go, writing, living and all that!

Anyway, here it is.

It doesn’t mean I haven’t been active previously and I’ve in fact been blogging regularly as a guest in a variety of other venues who were kind enough to host me.

I will keep on posting all my guested blogs here, and in addition will in all likelihood begin more reviewing here on books, music and films, and whatever actually catches my fancy. How regular, I still don’t know.

I get so many books in the post and am unable to cover them all at, where I do regular round-ups of new crime, SF and erotica titles, and am sad to see how little coverage these genres get in the press and magazines these days. I reviewed crime for TIME OUT and then THE GUARDIAN for almost 20 years, so I hope my sometimes pinches of salt here will be welcomed and seen as gently authoritative (as well as opinionated…). Time will tell.

And, so that this section of the website is not seen as initially a tad anaemic, here are a variety of blogs I’ve penned over the past year or so, mostly at who give me a carte blanche of sorts to pontificate on matters criminal and literary, as well as the sometimes repetitive 21 pieces I squeezed out of my tortured psyche to promote the publication of my latest novel, EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT.

Comments are always most welcome and, if I’m in the right mood, I might even initiate a dialogue, or then again I might not.

I can of course also be seen on Facebook, with regular updates on what I’m doing, thinking, feeling or digesting culturally.

And as so many Hollywood stars said ‘let’s get this show on the road…’

No Snow but a Plethora of Deaths: Courmayeur 2011

And so a New Year begins with its likely killing fields and an abundance of good crime in prospect on both the page (whether paper or electronic as is increasingly the case) and the screen, but not before 2011 came to a suitable end with the annual Noir in Fest film and literature festival held in Courmayeur in Italy in December (for reflections on 2010′s event, click here and here). Unlike many previous occasions, this 21st edition was an almost snow free week with unusually mild weather, but the festival was as ever its usual convivial and intellect-challenging success.

Read the rest of the article here.

Science Fiction Noir

One could argue until the cows came home about the definition and origins of noir, and many have been known to do so. From the moment that German expressionist movies and cinematographers moved that extra inch into darkness or crime writers combined their vision of cities at night with the despairing existential angst overwhelming their hapless anti-heroes, noir has been with us in many forms. A concept which is also a mood and an emotion.

Read the rest of the article here.

Noir in Snow

Throughout the opening three days of the Courmayeur Noir in Fest, snow plows were busy clearing the streets of the picture postcard ski resort, creating mini mountains and snow walls of up to 10 ft high on either side of the narrow roads, which the delegates had to maneuver their way through between visits to the Palanoir complex where the films were shown and the rustic, wooden Jardin de l’Ange which served as a showcase for the literary events and press conferences. The icy roads occasioned many a spectacular slip and fall, and also a broken wrist for Stefania, the head of the Hospitality service. A heavy price to pay for the spectacular beauty of the festival’s Alpine landscapes…

Read the rest of the article here.