Noam de Pluma
An author of written gay erotica who’s a little bit embarrassed to be an author of written gay erotica, Noam de Pluma is a man who enjoys mediocre puns, cock growth, and porn that focuses on the sensations and emotions of its characters rather than a play-by-play of the action. He is an avid practitioner of auteur theory (attempting to catch someone shoving art up the crevices of dreck) and is very grateful to time-to-occur for providing the opportunity to contribute to the inaugural edition of PLOTHOLE.
You can find him on twitter at https://www.twitter.com/NoamdePluma
This interview is part of a series with the 10 contributors to the PLOTHOLE: Loregasm Edition bundle!
time.to.occur: Hello hello!
Noam de Pluma: Hi!
T: Thanks for being here with me, Noam!
N: Thank you for the invitation 🙂
T: Let’s jump right in! What is the origin of your pen name?
N: Ah, a bit of a long walk to start us off. This is actually my second pen name since I started writing on GSS/GKS.
My first one was a mostly meaningless alphanumeric string designed to be as nondescript and anonymous as possible – I think it was “torguy1234” or something. (Because I’m a guy who, at the time, lived in Toronto. Clever!)
T: Oooo, you have a discarded pen name! I remember torguy but I though it was about the Tor browser — dark web privacy stuff.
N: Oh, my, you give me far too much techie credit. I appreciate your misplaced faith in me though!
Before long, however, I got over my initial shock at having taken the plunge into actually writing and publishing my work, and wanted to take a bit more ownership of my presence, and that work started with my pen name. I wanted something that suggested what I like to highlight about my personality, the goofy, it’s-terrible-but-mildly-brainy vibe that’s worth a groan, or maybe a charitable chuckle.
In other words, I needed a pun.
T: Yes, yep, that tracks with what I know about you.
N: So I started searching about the list of people I knew for names that sounded like other words, as well as words that might be fun to play on, and I was thinking… pen name… the first set-piece song from Disney’s Aladdin… nom de plume… someone in my contacts list named Noam… et voila!
No regrets, truly.
T: I do find it very charming and Noam is a lovely first name.
N: At least, I’m fairly certain it was that first song, the one where Aladdin is running away from the guards for stealing bread.
Aw, thank you.
T: So, you talked about being pretty guarded about publishing your smut. How did you get your start writing (and writing smut specifically)? How long have you been writing, and how long have you been writing smut?
N: Heh, this one is also gonna be a bit of a hike. Strap in.
I’ve always been good at writing — a strength in school since I was a kid. My reading level was always far, far above grade level, and I remember creating very involved worlds and stories when playing with my Legos.
T: Do you remember any of your Lego worlds?
N: Oh, they were always the science-fiction sets. The spaceships. I’d take whatever the set was originally (space police, giant robot, ice-planet ship, whatever), and go off of that as a base. Or I’d destroy the sets and kludge things together into a new design. I don’t recall any specific stories though; the general vibe was epic battles with minimal character. Much like the trailers for the new Top Gun movie, in fact.
Unlike most (all?) of the authors you’ve interviewed for PLOTHOLE so far, I never actually sat down to write anything unless I had to, for school or some other external reason.
T: That is pretty different from the other folks we’ve chatted with so far!
N: As I got older the stories I’d come up with in my head were usually fanfic of whatever book or TV show or movie I was obsessing over at the time, but I was always content to leave the stories in my head. Never had the urge to get them on the page or screen, let alone share them.
So I got good at storytelling, at least to myself.
T: I wonder if that contributes to your writing process. But we’ll get to that!
N: Lol, yes, I’ll avoid that particular rabbit hole. This is already a long walk!
I did take a couple of creative writing classes in high school, and joined a creative writing club in my first year or two at university, but always found it kind of… I dunno, I always looked at my own ideas askance with a raised eyebrow, like… yeah, I can tell I wrote it relatively well and whatever, but is the core idea really, on its own merits, worth anything?
In my professional life, I got into writing for business purposes. I do extremely well when given a project, a goal, and parameters, and the freedom to navigate my path towards achieving that goal.
So I wrote nothing creative, at all (except for editing some friends’ creative stuff), from 2003 until 2020 when I started at GSS.
That’s part one of the answer to your question!
T: Wow! A 17-year gap!
N: Indeed! But I never stopped telling myelf stories in my own head.
So, fast-forward to, oh… 2018? 19? And as I got into my mid-late 30s, I started to get what could only be described as an entrepreneurial urge. I wanted to do something of my own that wasn’t given to me by someone else. And I toyed around with a lot of ideas.
T: It makes sense to me for you to want that.
N: I think a lot of people get the confidence to strike out on their own around that age. Not everyone can be a 22-year-old wünderkind.
Anyway, eventually I settled on doing some kind of entertaining, explainer YouTube video channel, researching topics I found interesting and, well, explaining them in what I hoped would be an entertaining way. Something like Wendover Productions or Casually Explained; I wanted to model myself off those.
And then — and this is key — pandemic time!
And Nutiper, in his interview, articulated the joy/frustration of looking through the erotica on offer and either finding, or not, the thing that exactly smashes a particular kink button.
T: That’s a pattern — the Pandemic bringing new authors in!
N: At the time, I was searching for stuff that didn’t just include, but actively focused on, giant nuts. Like, hyper. And nothing did the trick!
So I took a hard left turn in Albuquerque and started writing smut instead.
T: The beginning!
N: That too.
T: What is something unique to you — a special skill, a particular experience, or a challenge that you face — and how do you think that it has shaped or impacted your writing practice?
N: A quirk of my personality that dovetails rather nicely with how my ADHD manifests is that I’m very good at abstracting things, looking at them objectively, and getting a very instinctive feel for how they operate at the big-picture level.
T: That’s a very cool skill to have!
N: This allows me to pick up on the broad strokes of things and get pseudo-conversant fairly quickly, ask decent questions, and ‘fake it’ fairly well.
On the down side, I can really get ahead of myself and say some things that make me look foolish, or abstractly summarize something to the point that nobody else can understand what I mean, even though it’s crystal clear to me.
T: Ah, like knowing the “language game” of a thing ala Wittgenstein!
N: What means Wittgenstein?
T: He’s a philosopher who talks about theories of knowledge and, in this case, about how knowing the right terms and language to use can make you look like you know a lot about a topic even if you don’t. Like knowing the language of cars even if you don’t know the actual mechanical knowledge. [Editor’s Note: Not exactly, but close enough!]
N: Ah, gotcha. It’s kinda like that for me, except actually faking it is wholly unsatisfactory for me. I try to use the terms or general concepts I pick up to develop a broad, but functional, working understanding of what I’m talking about. I’ll be very short on details, but I’ll have an instinctual ‘grasp’ of the forest, trees be damned.
T: If you know the rules of the game, you can make sense in it even if you don’t have the substance.
That makes sense! And it also makes sense with a person who was thinking of developing an educational YouTube channel!
N: Lol, doesn’t it though?
And this works well with how I like to be given a goal and boundaries; let me figure out how to get things done within those confines… or even better, figure out when the confines don’t have to apply!
T: So, your special skill sounds pretty useful in general, as a life skill. How do you apply it to your writing?
N: Where this is a real strength in writing is that because I can reduce something to a very glib, over-simplified summary that, to me, suggests all the nuances and details I failed to mention, I can actually keep a massive amount of the story I’m trying to write in my head while I’m writing it.
T: You’ve got like a shorthand “document” on your own story?
N: So I visualize a story in terms of the world (how it operates, what its rules are), what the beats are that absolutely must be hit in order to advance things to the conclusion I have in mind, and then I trust myself to fill in the blanks and know what will work, what won’t, and how to modify it, on the fly.
As I write, I’m literally projecting everything I put on the page ahead to see how it impacts the conclusion. If I get a new idea of something to add or a change to make, I can feel my way through what changes I need to make to what I haven’t written, and what changes I have to make to what I have written. Then I’ll stop, fix what’s already on the page, pick it back up, and move forwards again. I’ll do this countless times as I go.
In this way, by the time I finish a draft, it’s extremely close to final. Easily like version 10.0.
T: Impressive stuff — and even more impressive that you have awareness that you’re doing it and can analyze it.
N: Good thing, too, because I despise rewrites!
Editing and punching up? Love it. I’ll do it a million times. But having to outright rewrite something? Blech.
T: I imagine that your brain prefers the novelty of moving to the next thing?
N: It enjoys making whatever it’s working on the absolute best, most concentrated version of itself it can be. If there’s a major overhaul or rewrite though, then I have to go back and figure out all the knock-on effects it has through the entire piece. Much harder for me to do the closer I get to finishing the draft, than when it’s, say, half to even two-thirds done.
T: Ah, I understand. I fully get that. When things are really tightly woven at the level of the sentence, I often find myself thinking of a metaphor of “breaking open” the draft again, unweaving the way it connects together.
And that is very, very hard to do! (But often necessary in the editing process.)
N: I know! I’ve had to do it twice on GSS, and I resented myself ever so much for the trouble I caused me.
T: To me, it’s just part of it, but my spirit was broken long ago in the creative writing workshop ;). (Kidding!!! Probably.)
N: Aw, poor Time.
T: While we’re on the subject of process…You bet your Hass that you know what I’m about to ask you 😉.
Robert Hass says, “It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.” Discuss. Or, to put the question another way, what’s your writing practice like and how do you hold space for it?
N: First, a question for you: Who’s this Robert Hass fellow?
T: He’s an American poet-laureate currently in his 80s who is known for his subtle but compelling poetry style.
N: Ah. That tracks.
Well, for me, I don’t have that “must…get…ideas…on…page…” drive like other authors, so I feel this less keenly than has been expressed in previous PLOTHOLE interviews.
However. Once I’ve made the decision to write, and have begun, then I really don’t get that hit of, “aww, yeah, that’s the stuff,” until it’s done. So, I do (eventually) relate!
My actual writing practice is a bit of a disaster, frankly. Highly irregular. Because I’m not driven to actually, you know, write, I’m not 100% sure what actually motivates me any given time.
Part of it is the engagement and comments and ratings, because: vain.
Part of it is sharing what I’ve done with people I’ve become friends with.
Part of it is that surprising little entrepreneurial urge that reared its head a few years back.
I have any number of ideas floating about waiting in the wings; I pretty much have to decide that, “Yes, this is the one I’ll do next,” and then wait until my schedule is free enough that I can devote the energy to it without putting anything else at risk.
I learned a long time ago, the hard way, that just because the calendar is open doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to fill it up with mental work. Could be the ADHD, could be just the human condition, but when I over-extend myself, it shows up in a bad way in the bread-and-butter stuff that makes up most of life.
When I do it though, I enjoy it! I’m a writer of pragmatic opportunism.
lotus-silk (Author and Audience Member): I feel that Noam ❤️
T: Thank you for this deep-dive into your process! It’s really interesting to hear what it’s like for you.
N: Oh, good! I spent enough time dwelling on it!
T: So, you started to participate in the GSS community around 2020. What has been your biggest surprise about joining a community of gay kink authors?
N: Firstly, that I allowed myself to become a part of it at all!
Second, that most of what the people in it talk about isn’t sex.
I’ve learned to be outgoing in many social aspects, but GSS was one where I steadfastly didn’t engage. I joined the Discord out of curiosity a month or two after I started writing – still as torguy – and very determined to just lurk.
God bless the NSFW channels.
But then NANOwriter, the author whose world I
borrowed outright stole for my first series, contacted me to say hi, and that was my first conversation, ever, with another gay guy, about kink.
(And I’m gay married!!! My actual sex life is quite vanilla.)
T: Wow, that sounds incredibly special!
N: It was a head-scratcher, lol. But refreshing. I really hadn’t engaged with the queer community at all to that point. I’m the token gay in my group of friends, and my husband is on the quiet side, so my outlets for this side of myself were few.
T: So this was a new experience in a lot of ways, it sounds like!
N: Definitely new.
And then Kuro reached out to me, introduced me to you, and suddenly I found myself trying not to fangirl over realizing I was talking to the Nutiper and the S.Q. Neemie, and trying to keep up in conversations quoting obscure academics I knew nothing about, and… it’s been a gratifying ride!
I still don’t reach out to new people much. Massive group chats like the chatty-chat channel always seem so big and overwhelming, but I truly appreciate the more small-scale interactions and friendships I’ve developed.
T: I hear that — it’s nice to have small pockets to chat in. The pace of things can move very fast!
N: (Plus being able to appreciate the prospect of Bad Dragon dildos with other people is… nice!)
T: So, staying with the theme of community, what is the kind of community feedback that keeps you writing? What’s a comment or reaction that has stuck with you?
N: That’s a good question. Probably my favourite, all-time comment has to be one that reads, in full, verbatim, “wow so jot”.
I mean, take a moment to appreciate that.
The enthusiasm so potent that the writer didn’t, nay, couldn’t, take even the scantest moment to proofread.
The complete lack of detail about what they found jot.
Not that I wasn’t being serious there (I was!), but to be serious in the way you had in mind when you posed the question: I like comments that make me feel seen. The ones that point out an aspect of the story I took a lot of deliberate care to get right. It’s very gratifying to know that someone saw it, articulated the exact thing I was going for, and appreciated it.
One comment on Haunted Haircut did that, talking about how I managed the sexual intensity of the story and slowly ramped it up as I went. Or maybe it was Ethan Goes to the Laundromat.
T: I hear that — it’s nice when people notice the little flourishes and techniques.
N: Another that just interests me academically was on my least-read story ever, Wild Nights.
I think it was Martin who reacted very strongly to it, almost angrily, at the way the subject characters were forced to hide and flee.
I keep wondering how much of what he was reacting to was stuff that was actually in the text, versus what he projected onto it, versus that phenomenon you get in English class where people criticize, “Oh, you can read anything into it!”
(To be clear, he was angry at the situation I concocted in sympathy with the characters, not at me or the story!)
Because some of what he said in his comment definitely assumed, I think, that the characters were in trouble because they were gay, when I actually took pains to make one of their genders very ambiguous and also to make it more of a Romeo and Juliet (family feud) driver of the drama.
But who knows? It interested me, nonetheless.
T: I like it when a comment makes me ask questions of the work that I didn’t see before.
N: Yep. I never anticipated anger as a response, but it made me see a new side of the story when he said what he did.
T: Okay, I was going to ask this question much later, but I think it belongs here! In your bio, you talk about Auteur theory, or, as you graphically put iT: “attempting to catch someone shoving art up the crevices of dreck”. Tell us about this interest.
N: Baaaahahahahah, auteur theory…
Ok, so I came across that quote in a Roger Ebert movie review, in which he was quoting someone else, who was quoting someone else.
And it always stuck with me.
Mostly, I think, look no further than my pen name, or why I love the “wow so jot” comment so much.
I love things that are absurd, that colour outside the lines, but that aren’t pure chaos. Things that are they way they are for very specific reasons and that are crafted. Even if the work itself is inconsequential, I just like when you take something silly and light and do it artfully.
T: So, this is about cleverness and the self-conscious recognition of it?
N: Oh, absolutely.
Like taking cheap pop songs and turning them into orchestral works or jazz, like Vitamin String Quartet or Postmodern Jukebox.
A couple of my stories operate on that premise, actually – specifically Stud Spray and the Adventures of Ethan Masterson series.
T: I’m sort of thinking about B Movies now and homages to them.
N: Yep, that vein too, very much so.
I’ve gotta give props to Dace for inspiring Stud Spray – I wrote it for him as part of a gift exchange, and his prompt was “a couple of guys in a locker room have an aphrodisiac and get it on themselves and fuck right there in the locker room”.
And I just read so much dumb, bro-y energy into that idea, like characters who were incredibly shortsighted. And so the story really is on the short side for me, but in making a couple of characters act dumb while not being a dumb story, I had to take care with figuring out their motivations, characteristics, and a storytelling conceit.
So it’s a dumb little story, but judging from the comments, people got the sly little winks of humour and appreciate the craft of it.
Meanwhile, Ethan is just a freaking moron. Too stupid to be alive. It’s a real challenge to come up with scenarios for him to work his magic. Absolutely inconsequential, but done well, dammit!
T: We treasure him! ❤️
Let’s turn that auteur theory lens outwards. What do you like to read in queer porn? How do your tastes in reading differ from your tastes in writing?
N: (Ethan also owns my two big failures of having to rewrite my story once I’d finished it.)
That’s a very interesting question, because it’s evolved over time. As one’s tastes do.
I discovered written erotica through the Nifty archive, as so many of us did. And I lived there through most of my adolescence, 20s, and 30s.
What I always appreciated about the written version of porn is the way you can just focus on a specific part or aspect of sex. Traditional, audio-visual porn is great and all, but if you have a thing for, say, the moment of penetration, it’s way easier to focus on it and lengthen that moment in writing than it is in a picture or video.
As you may have gleaned from my taste in Lego, my favourite category on Nifty was sf-fantasy.
So through that I got into subject matter like transformation, curses, uncontrollable urges, cock growth, hyper, impossible insertions, etc.
As a reader, I tend to gravitate towards overlarge equipment and the stretching that’s required to work with it.
Though I will say, one thing I appreciate about Nifty as opposed to, say, GSS or Metabods, is the fact that it’s objectively terrible. No story tags. No synopses.
Just click on a title for the true Forest Gump box-of-chocolates experience.
Do you get a great little story? A novel-length thing that’s not remotely up your alley? An unreadable wall of text?
T: Well, I’m glad you appreciate that about the user experience.
N: It really forces you to give everything a try. There’s no book cover to judge by.
When I think back to Nifty, the stories that jump out at me are ones that actually don’t do giant dicks or any of the easily taggable stuff I mentioned. They had excellent stories. Honestly, I’ve emailed a couple of Nifty authors to tell them to take out the sex and try to get their work published, because the sex was a complete distraction that had no place in an otherwise captivating story.
T: Rude! But it’s good that you appreciated their writing.
N: No, for real! Sex doesn’t fit into every story! A lot of them you could tell the authors were like, well, I’m writing this on Nifty, guess it’s time for sex… it had a real “eat your vegetables” vibe to me.
T: That makes sense.
N: When I’m on Metabods or GSS though, I find myself following tags. For better or for worse.
T: Given the option, it’s a more streamlined experience.
N: Lol, yes, there are major perks to tags and synopses.
T: All right, so I think we’ve got a sort of view into what you like to read.
N: Lol, yes, I’ve gone on at some length.
T: Well, I guess you’re just fulfilling your own size kink! 😉
Here’s question from another author: “Who are some of the smut authors who have been influential on your work? Are you in dialogue with any authors who influence you now?”
N: The first one that sticks with me…. argh, I’ve forgotten the name! He wrote the Headshop series on Nifty, which has since been deleted, but you can find it on the Wayback Machine if you’re so inclined.
Again, great story.
Excuse me for a minute; I’m sitting outside and it’s getting quite buggy. Need to move inside before I get eaten alive.
T: Not one of your stated kinks!
N: No, vore is absolutely not a kink of mine!
Anyway, Headshop had such an amazing fix on its characters, their motivations, and making them deal with some fascinating situations that were impossible to navigate towards a happy ending. It wan’t unhappy endings, per se — not in the sense of “person A fucks over person B and his life is ruined hahaha” — but in a way that person B had some measure of control and agency at the end, and a way to make peace with where they wound up.
I like happy endings (both kinds!) as you might tell from my work, but I really appreciated the grit and realness there.
On GSS, I fell in love with Nutiper’s work for the depth of character, the lore (Linden’s Throne), the zaniness (Bubble Butt)… Freckleman64 absolutely blew me away with Curse of 100 Bottoms and the romance he included there.
Bluesuedewho and the sheer bonkers imagination. Dace and the care with which he handles characters, like in the War Dogs series.
Soren and the way he likes to weave story with character and tie it all into a very immersive reading experience (which you do as well, for that matter).
And I like Kuro’s ability to dispense with all of that and just get to the damn sex, already. The number of times I’ve done a word count in my stories, seen 2,000, and realized I’m not even out of the introduction yet.
T: That’s very relatable. Ohhh, that segues nicely into my next question.
Which of your favourite kink/erotica tropes do you think is the most unusual? What are your top three?
N: I’ll find a lot of things hot if the story is good and if I’m in the mood…. but I’m a sucker for knotting, rutting, and impossible insertion. With a dash of mpreg in there for good measure.
Which means I seek out a fair bit of Omegaverse content, but avoid the ones focusing on fluffy bits about how socially disadvantaged Omegas are because those stories are depresseing and (often) sexless.
But there’s a common thread to those top three kinks: intensity.
What actually gets me is the momentary stripping away of reason, of intellect, and becoming just a being of pure fucking. If you can stretch some dude’s hole and get stuck in there because of a big-ass knot while you’re at it, so much the better.
T: Ooooh, yes, intensity is something I can get behind (and possibly do naughty things to)!
N: Funny thing is, with the kinks I like to read, I instinctively avoid them when writing, for the most part. In my own stories, you’ll notice that I tend to dwell on the physical sensations a lot. And on the emotions of the moment. I don’t care about the mechanics of insert rod A into hole B an then do something with a power drill or hammer until sploosh.
I like to know how an act feels to both parties. What itch it scratches in their brain (or doesn’t!) as it’s happening. What the tension is between what they want, what they need, what they’re feeling, and why it satisfies them or not.
Even in my first series, focusing on hyper ball growth (sidebar: can I tell you how embarrassed I am by the name of that series? I’m super embarrassed by it), you can see that almost instantly I put the focus on the characters. For all of the fact that I borrowed NANOwriter’s world specifically because it provided me with ‘rules’ and a very sexy, transformation-heavy concept (and his work is delightfully tf-driven), I basically told a romance.
Every tf comes out of something the characters want or would do or need, etc. Nothing is just because the tf would be sexy.
Even though NANOwriter’s work is tf-focused, and I love it.
It’s not what I want to write, I found.
T: I hear that.
So we’ve got intensity, stakes, and a focus on specificity of physical sensations.
N: I hesitate to call them kinks, but yes. My top three ‘things I like in written smut.”
T: In your own body of work, do you have a favourite story, a favourite character, or any other favourite elements? You’re allowed to pick more than one, and I promise I won’t tell any of them.
N: There are two, and neither of them are stuff I’ve written on GSS. Well, one of them kind of-sort of is, but it’s not my work.
Both are edits or suggestions I’ve made to other people’s stuff.
N: First is the most recent, and it came to me by way of Kuro. He asked some people for title suggestions for a “friend’s” story about a some guy doing a streaming channel online and he slowly gets sluttified.
Now, I’m usually not good at headlines or titles, but I got the inspiration for “Like, Subscribe, and Swallow” — and the author (Hi, Soren!) chose it!
Best title I’ve ever come up with, hands down.
This was before I even know it was Soren, or had spoken with him.
T: Nice! It’s a good one — and it fits in with the humour that you described with your username and auteur theory.
N: Lol, yep, exactly.
lotus-silk: I just wanna say that you give off so much chaos energy Noam ❤️
N: Hah! Controlled chaos, I hope.
Second one isn’t sex-related at all A friend has been writing a YA fantasy series on-again, off-again since high school. And probably 10, 12 years ago, I was editing a draft, and I re-wrote the end of one scene, and that remains my favourite thing I’ve ever written.
A rogue-type character with elemental earth magic powers (a good guy) is in an underground labyrinth with a couple of other good guys, and he’s trying to buy them time to escape from an overlarge skeleton inhabited by a god, wielding an even more overlarge sword.
According to the plot, the two other people escape, but the rogue guy has to get captured.
So, I had my objective and the guidelines.
My friend had it written as a bit of a standard run and chase scene. Summon vines and rock walls, have the skeleton smash and slice through them, etc. At one point, he had the skeleton’s head pop off and bite through the vines.
I was like… dude. If this ever gets published, you’re going to want movie rights too. And if this gets made into a movie, it needs to look cool. And however cool this looks in your head, the skeleton’s head popping off to eat the vines is gonna be silly and cartoony.
I looked at the rogue, and was like… you’re clever. You’re creative. You know you’re just buying time, and that you can’t win.
What do you do?
I rewrote it so he still did the standard vines and walls stuff, because why not, it makes sense. It’s his bread and butter.
He hits a dead end.
Back against the wall. Giant skeleton advancing on him, getting closer. And closer.
And then he grins.
And he works his magic.
And he melts into the wall.
He just disappears into it. Is he trying to travel through it to freedom?
To hide until the skeleton goes away?
Skeleton walks up to the wall. Stares at it for a second.
And then punches his fist clear through it. Obliterates a foot of solid rock in one go.
Grabs the guy by the chest.
Yanks him out.
Heaves him to the floor in a pile of rubble, where he lies, twitching and bleeding, and gasping for air.
And he looms over, looking at his prey, red eyes glowing in victory.
T: Whoa, that is very cool!
A Pos5es5ion A Day (Author and Audience Member): Skeleton man having the adventure game of his life with all these action words
N: Never been prouder of anything in my life.
T: It’s a great scene and a great reimagining.
N: I like me an externally sourced project 😁
T: Let’s turn to PLOTHOLE!
Did you work with any other authors in preparing for PLOTHOLE (either on your work or theirs)? How do you find collaborating with others on something as personal and “transgressive” as porn?
N: I love collaborating and working with people — and once I took the plunge into not doing educational YouTube, I found I didn’t feel any awkwardness. It’s just another writing project, and you approach it as technically and editorially as you do anything else.
The author I worked with the most was Soren Fitz. I believe he approached me asking for a second set of eyes thanks to a comment I left on one of his stories, and as it turns out, we work incredibly well together!
T: That’s such a heartening thing to discover!
N: In his case, he hadn’t finished developing the world for this particular era of Consummation (his alt-universe), so a lot of my help was just in brainstorming logistics and figuring out how the world would work, so he could tell his story more effectively within it.
A lot of asking questions, proposing solutions, feeling like I may have accidentally been taking over or foisting my view on him, telling him as much, him saying no, I wasn’t, and not to worry, me still worrying, and then him writing a freaking amazing story that’s just chef’s kiss, so… success, I guess?
T: Big success! Four rewrites per chapter, but what an amazing novella!
N: I’m sorry, Soren!
T: Okay, so, Brotherhood of the Travelling Tattoos is a story that you had been planning in another form for a pretty long time. With the constraints of the PLOTHOLE bundle, how did you have to change the shape of the story and what was it like?
N: Hah! Brotherhood is a bit of an outlier for me because I had absolutely no characters planned for it. At all. Blank slates, every one.
My idea kind of started and ended with the concept for the power of the tattoo. Per my brainstorming process, I knew how it worked, what the rules were, and I mapped out the sexual signposts, so to speak… the progression of the escalation of the sex scenes as the one character trait I did know — that the main character would resist the tattoo’s wishes — played out.
In my head, it was always going to be a 4-5 chapter deal, maybe 3-5k words apiece.
(Who am I kidding, probably 7k.)
When you proposed PLOTHOLE, I knew that of all the stories I had on the docket, that would be the best fit.
But I also knew I didn’t have the time to do the whole shebang by your deadline.
I also knew that just doing ‘chapter 1’ of the series I had in mind wouldn’t cut it. There would have been almost no lore in it; just a bit of characterization followed by a demonstration of the tattoo’s powers.
T: Yeah, I also definitely wanted works to be self-contained rather than teasers of a larger thing — not that they couldn’t also be a part of something larger!
N: What I wound up coming up with still uses the sexual signpost structure I always had in my head — that never changed — but it functions a lot more like part 1 of a miniseries. It’s a legit, self-contained story with characters I came up with on the fly, a lot of backstory to suggest the history of the tattoos, and introducing some character dynamics I had no idea would be there but seemed to fit when I started the writing process.
Everything about the main character — his ethnicity, his personality traits, his role in society – was net-new when I sat down to start writing.
T: Sounds like it turned out pretty ideal. I actually love the little bits of lore and history you made up for this story and the fragmented way you included them.
N: Wyatt didn’t exist until halfway through the draft.
T: I love Wyatt!
N: The lore was a lot of fun to write! Lots of time on Wikipedia looking up Swedish royalty and what civilizations were leaving meaningful cultural artifacts around 200 BCE.
I tried to make provide enough information to suggest how the tattoos operate, or give an ‘instinctual’ vibe of what they’re about, so as things are made more explicit when I eventually write the rest of it, it all makes sense and feels cohesive.
Without having spoiled anything or done a clumsy infodump.
T: Absolutely, it’s very deftly done!
N: Thank you!
As for Wyatt, he was originally going to be a one-off, but then when I got to Sheffield Park I realized it would resonate way more in the long run if I brought him back and made him the subject of the first encounter with the tattoo.
T: So that’s how the story changed shape. What else do you want us to know about Brotherhood of the Traveling Tattoos and any other stories in the bundle by other authors?
N: Honestly, provided you’re queer and kinky (or are at least remarkably sexually tolerant and/or exploratory) and like to travel to strange new worlds, there’s something in the bundle for everyone.
It’s well worth your time and dollars to pick up and read through, from start to finish!
T: Obviously I agree with that!
N: Gosh, I’d hope so!
T: You chose to donate your portion of the bundle proceeds to the You Can Play project. Can you tell us why you chose that charity and what it means to you? (By the way, the You Can Play project is currently going to get USD$90.75!)
N: I mentioned being the token gay in my group of friends… I also came out rather late, at 23, and spent that first year of being out steadfastly not engaging with the queer community. I had this irrational fear of suddenly doing all these different things and maybe acting differently and having people who knew me say, “Oh, there goes Noam, he comes out and suddenly everything’s different now it’s just a fad” or whatever.
So I took a year to get comfortable in my own skin… and then I figured, well, I’m comfortable now, so there’s not much point in exploring this so-called community, is there?
All of which is to say that I’m not someone who, as youth, would have reached out to an available resources like the Trevor Project, which I believe is the other charitable organization PLOTHOLE is contributing to.
T: (That’s right — the Trevor Project and You Can Play each get 15% of the bundle proceeds!)
N: I did a couple of sports growing up, and if resources like what You Can Play puts into place were more in my face, providing visibility I didn’t have to do anything to experience… I can’t say it would have made the difference, but it would have made a difference.
T: I hear you.
N: Of course, there’s way more visibility in general nowadays, so maybe it’s less crucial than it was back in the 90s and early 2000s. But still.
Young me was hungry for it.
T: I think it’ll continue to be crucial for a long, long time. That visibility is so recent!
And it’s not in every community.
T: Great charity, and a deeply personal reason for choosing it <3. Thank you for sharing.
Any shoutouts, last words, rude remarks, or requests for anyone reading this?
I’ve had how long to know this question was coming, and I didn’t think of an answer by now?!?!?!
For the love of…
T: Hahaha. Thank you, Noam, for this lovely and thorough look into your kinky writer brain.
N: I feel like I was… a lot. But thank you for the opportunity!
lotus-silk: You weren’t!
N: Both to contribute to PLOTHOLE, and to display my mental innards in this fashion.
PLOTHOLE: Loregasm Edition is a bundle of 10 authors, 17 stories, available until June 15th 2022 on itch.io. It contains porn with plot, stories with worldbuilding and lore alongside some very hot erotica.
You can find The Brotherhood of the Travelling Tattoos along with 16 other stories here.