Author mixes satire, wit in ‘ gentle book’ on the joys of spanking
‘In my fantasy, I bend to his knee, I am his, Entirely;
Outside, a warm breeze gathers and sighs a whisper of silk falls from my thighs;’
These lines of a poem are the opening to Spank, a book by Alan Daniels, a former Vancouver Sun reporter. It is a story that follows the surprising and often heartwarming twists and turns in the lives of George Aloysius Brown and Catherine Mallory Jones and their yearnings for the sensual pain that leads to the ultimate pleasure.
George is a middle- aged, pudgy, and endearing civil servant who lives in London with his wife, the beautiful Pem Surjani, a former flight attendant. They live an almost idyllic life. He works days and comes home to her warm embrace.
They make love often, sometimes sneaking it in before work and quickly finding a path to ecstasy through their mutual love of spanking. All this changes when Pem dies suddenly and George is left with a void in his life that he can’t imagine ever filling.
Meanwhile, we encounter Catherine, an attractive, young university graduate beginning to awaken to her passions and what it means to find love, excitement and fulfilment. She meets George at a creative writing course where they each decide to enter a contest in which the first student from their class who has a published novel wins a large financial prize. From that point on a friendship is born that sees them unlocking their imaginations and doing what it takes to write that first erotic book.
As the title suggests, the novel delves into a world that is rarely spoken of. To those who may not know much about spanking, it may be seen as a fetish, something unusual, perhaps risky.
Through George and Catherine, the reader begins to understand it, perhaps embrace it, and possibly want to try it. Daniels examines darker parts to this pleasure too, where this form of foreplay turns abusive. But, overall, it is seen as something loving and safe, as well as incomparably exciting.
And while it is unashamedly sexy, taking the reader to places they may have not even imagined, and which they may blush recalling, it is also a novel that is deeply funny and smart with characters that one can easily start to care about.
Daniels, who now lives in North Vancouver, is not new to the art of writing, having worked as a journalist for many years and for different newspapers including the Daily Mail in London, the Sunday Australian in Sydney and the South China Sunday Post- Herald in Hong Kong.
But this was all together different. “My inspiration to write this novel was to find out if I could actually do it, that is write 75,000 words when the longest piece I had written previously was 10,000 words. After a long career in daily newspaper journalism it was a challenge — and a joy — to write something from my own imagination and experience in life that other people might want to read, not to be informed, but to be entertained.”
The other challenge was to write about a subject that, perhaps until recently, has been seen as taboo.
The massive success of E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, often dubbed “mommy porn” because it explores areas of bondage/ discipline and sadism/ masochism in an approachable manner, has opened the door to bring discussion of such topics into the forefront.
While reluctant to discuss this book in particular, not wanting to be seen as drawing from its phenomenal reception, he notes that the reaction worldwide to Fifty Shades has indicated that there is a “pent- up desire to explore alternative forms of sexual expression in a safe way.”
He says that spanking between lovers “is like a massage only edgier, more tactile, noisier, with more opportunity for role playing — or role reversal — as the mood dictates.”
To accentuate this, Daniels was determined at the time to balance the steamy parts with humour, satire and wit. One way to do was to make sure that the characters are real and to make spanking something of an art form, rather than pornographic, more loving than aggressive.
“It’s a very gentle book,” says Daniels. “My novel has a theme of consensual spanking as foreplay, as a means of building sexual arousal and if people who have never tried it — or perhaps wanted to but never had the opportunity — are excited by that, I think that’s great.”