Jamie Joy Gatto
Jamie Joy Gatto

Erotica Author * Editor 
Columnist * Sex Activist

My Relationship With Books

"...Literature is the most noble of professions. 
In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. 
For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path." 

~ Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

When I was little towheaded three-year-old I began pre-primer, which is a kind of pre-kindergarten class that is not a play school, but a learning experience. Usually only four-year-olds are admitted, but I was already able to both read and write by age three. I have recollections of my babyhood, of being in a high chair; of a violent fight between my father and mother where my jar of baby food was thrown and splattered in green globs against the kitchen wall; of crawling over a hot floor furnace grate; of lifting myself bravely in the dark night over my crib rail and dropping into a seeming abyss in order to reach a carpeted floor, then crawling into my parent's warm bed. Those are the only memories I have before I began to read sometime between the toddler ages of late two and three years. 

Books have been my lifelong companions, and I have reverently respected their authors. I did not choose to learn to write and to study writing professionally until I was in my early thirties. I thank my friend, Bronwen, for the encouragement to do so.  I began formal study in a New Orleans-based short story fiction workshop setting at her suggestion. 

Later some members of the workshop formed a writer's support group with several local writers and published authors. I eventually split from the group when I realized that the erotica genre could not be nurtured by writers who were not sex-positive, had little or no understanding of the SM community or principles, and had little or no exposure to writing in the genre. The last piece I wrote and presented to the group was poorly rated, yet I knew I had written something special.

I garnered the courage to send this unloved story, Quarter Past Four, as my very first submission to Black Sheets editor, Bill Brent, in 1997 who accepted my work for publication in 1998. He liked the piece so much, he then sent it to Marti Hohmann of the now defunct and once acclaimed Masquerade Press who accepted it for Best of the Underground an anthology of "cutting-edge underground erotica." Unfortunately, the book never made it to press, as Masquerade folded within months. I was heartbroken, but I didn't give up.

I later published "Quarter Past Four" in Greg Wharton's first issue of suspect thoughts: a journal of subversive writing, and the story will be included in my forthcoming collection from Circlet Press, Sex Noir: Stories of Sex, Death and Loss. Four editors just can't be wrong. I knew I had something special, regardless of my rejection within the New Orleans writer's support group.

Other short works that were written during my writer's group years are to be published in early 2002 in a psychology textbook for graduate studies by Haworth Press entitled The Use of Personal Narratives in the Helping Professions: A Teaching Casebook. It seems even my non-erotic work written during my learning years had literary merit. I'm so very glad I didn't give up. Reading kept me alive, and kept up my drive to be published and to continue writing. I now have over a hundred short stories, poems, essays, columns and articles published, and I haven't stopped writing.

These are some of the authors who also inspired me to write, and who inspire me to keep reading and writing. More authors, links and commentary will be added as I develop this page. Don't be afraid to play with the links; they'll each open into another browser page. There is a world of writing out there to explore!

Authors Who Inspire

Maggie The Cat Southern Authors

As an accidentally Mississipi-born baby, I still consider myself a native New Orleanian by dictate of heritage. My mother's family has resided  in New Orleans proper for six generations, and had I arrived on time, I would have been born properly in Baptist hospital just like the rest of uptown New Orleans. I hold a special place for Southern authors, yet I admire so many writers.

best Dorothy Allison

best Fanny Flagg
I can't believe this woman doesn't have a Web site! She's the author of my favorite Southern memoir-style laugh-out-loud-til-I-nelly-peed-myself novel Daisy Faye and the Miracle Man as well as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

best Carson McCullers

best Margaret Mitchell

best Flannery O'Connor

best Tennessee Williams
In 1983, less than a year after I finished my year-long painstakingly researched senior thesis in high school about the Master of Southern Decadence, the Mississippi author died. My favorite play by Mr. Williams is "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" which explores lies, mendacity, male bisexuality, sexual impotence, sexual blackmail, death, intra-familial jealousy and of course, drugs and alcoholism.

Literary Poets & Authors

best Jonathon Ames
After diving into What's Not to Love?, I've been greatly affected by this funny, quirky, honest-- even embarrassing-- work. We need more frank writers, and Jonathon Ames is a truly lovable underdog. He inspires me to dig deeper in my own work, to tell the truth and to do it well.

best William S. Burroughs

best Allen Ginsburg
I saw Allen Ginsburg speak, perfom, play bongos and sing to us, beseeching us all to "Smoke Dope Not Cigarettes" at Loyola University in 1991. Here's a link that defines the origins of the term "Beat" in reference to Beat Poets or the Beat Movement-- interesting stuff.

best Ernest Hemingway

best Dorothy Parker
I was only two-and-a-half on June 7, 1967 when this wicked-tongued savant died of heart failure. Known for her wit and strong personality, Dorothy Parker was a fiction writer, a screenplay writer, a critic and a poet. Here's a site dedicated to her life in NYC. I identify with Parker as a woman who's had a life long struggle with chronic depression. The following Parker epigram epitomizes the predicament of suicidal tendencies with humour and wit:

"Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; 
Acid stains you; And drugs cause cramp. 
Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give; 
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.
best Patti Smith
"I don't consider writing a quiet, closet act.
I consider it a real physical act.
When I'm home writing on the typewriter, I go crazy.
I move like a monkey.
I've wet myself, I've come in my pants writing."

                --Patti Smith on writing

best William Shakespeare
As the father of the erotic tragedy, I can't appreciate another writer better. You can follow the link to read his complete works online. There's a good reason his works are still being studied, read and performed. My favorites are Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet and TitusAndronicus, the latter of which makes our modern day Hannibal look like a silent little lamb.

best John Steinbeck

best Kurt Vonnegut
"There is no art without a dance with death," a favorite quote taken from a Vonnegut character, has been a mantra of mine for decades. I actually saw Vonnegut & Joseph Heller speak in New Orleans in 1991.

Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors

best Robert Bloch

best Ray Bradbury

best Roald Dahl Yes, this is the same author who is famous for writing children's books. But he also wrote strange and horrific, disturbing  little stories for adults that always seemed to deal with schemes gone awry. A master! An absolute idol of mine. While other children were being raised on his classic,  James & The Giant Peach (which I've never read-- shame on me!) I was up watching late night episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents which featured many Roald Dahl screenplays derived from his short fiction.

best Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Mythology

best Robert A. Heinlein

best Shirley Jackson found and uncovered the evil in ordinary things. Her subtle style was masterful. She skillfully portrayed madness, and used her grasp of human psychology to create believable and insidious plots and characters-- not to mention adding a strong balance of humor and suspense. I find her brilliant; I've read all her works. I was almost exactly seven months old the day Shirley Jackson died of heart failure August 8, 1965.

best Ursula K. Le Guin

best C. S. Lewis

best H. P. Lovecraft

best Edgar Allen Poe

Erotica & Sex Authors

best Susie Bright
No one familiar with the erotica genre can deny the impact that Susie Bright's annual series, The Best American Erotica, launched in 1993, has made. It is the paradigm for the flurry of "Best of"anthologies that have recently flooded the market. It is also a pinnacle for which I strive: to be included in one of her popular anthologies. I've been turned down three times, but I will continue to cross my fingers and submit work each year. Not only is this book one of my primary inspirations for concentrating my work in the erotica market, but it proves that after nine annual books, erotica is not just a flash-in-the-pan, but is here as an important literary mainstay. Susie Bright's smart non-fiction books and essays on sexuality are amazing. I particularly enjoyed her Sexual State of the Union and Full Exposure, which inspired me to develop my own sexual awareness workshops.

best M. Christian
"M. Christian" was a household name often mentioned before I ever had the opportunity to meet Chris and to work with him. I first read his work in Susie Bright's The Best American Erotica. He is by far my favorite living erotica author, blessed with the gift of story-telling in many genres, including gay erotica, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and crime. His prolific tendencies are enough to impress anyone, and I hope he never stops. It is my honor to know him, to be supported by him to to work as a co-editor with him on Vixens & Villains (Black Books 2002). He's not only a fantastic writer, but a wonderful man and a true friend.

best Anais Nin
Pioneered erotica, bringing it to light as a true literary genre. No longer is the frank, explicit, sexual word hidden as pillow books and bought in the back rooms of seedy establishments thanks to this French-born author of the early twentieth century. After worshipping her works for years, it was my honor to be included alongside Anais Nin's work in my first hard copy sale to The Unmade Bed: Twentieth Century Erotica. I cried, shaking, as I read the roster of authors in this anthology. While I hate-- to this day-- the edited version of my story, I cannot deny the personal importance of being included in this important anthology. Besides, I later sold my best version to Unlimited Desires, a UK press international bisexual anthology, so my good version is out there!

best Carol Queen
In The Burning Pen (Alyson 2001) Carol jokingly refers to herself as "Rebecca of SunnyFuck Farm." I couldn't have said it better. Her bright, cheerful fuckfests inspire anyone who reads them to feel happier and better about themselves and about fucking. Her story, "Sweating Profusely in Merida", a memoir about a MMF encounter in a Mexico bath house was inspirational in that, at the time I read it, I'd never heard of another woman who enjoyed the erotic company of bisexual men. Her novel, The Leather Daddy and the Femme, had me horny for days. Some erotic writing is written solely to inspire lust, and her's is the very best at getting the job done.

Authors Who Make Me Try Harder

There are also many authors whose poorly crafted best-selling works, having prominence in the public eye, inspired me to begin writing because I truly thought I could do better. I'm not sure if I've managed to prove this yet, but at least I am satisfied that I work hard to be the best writer I can be, and I'll never stop learning the craft as long as I keep trying. I won't mention these unloved authors by name at the risk of being in poor taste. Sometimes I wonder exactly how people become "famous" and lauded after producing frankly bad writing. Having a minor in marketing helps me to understand  how some of this process works. 

Even if I never become a household name, I pray one day I'll at least become widely respected for my efforts. I also hope to cross genres and to work strongly in the literary fiction market and in the fantasy and horror genres, all combined with an unabashed exploration of the sexual. I don't think I'll ever stray far from sex writing. I do so hope you enjoy my work. If you do, please email me to offer encouragement. Writing is a lonesome job. It's great to hear from anyone appreciative.

~Jamie Joy 

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Page Updated June 27, 2002