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This article was written on 05 Feb 2014, and is filed under Events.

Hazel Cushion: Sex – Between the Covers

Wednesday 5 February 2014.

Hazel Cushion_0002Hazel Cushion delighted those of us who weathered the storms and ignored the tube strike and resultant traffic jams to listen to a thoroughly engaging, frank, honest and fun talk from a lovely publisher working in what is now a crowded market. We were well-rewarded with an insight into a genre which we haven’t really explored before:- the fine line between pornography and erotica; the guiding principles of safe, sane and consensual; the ‘Aural’ range (or was it ‘Oral’?); that spanking is very popular – a genre in which discretion naturally favours ebooks (70% of their income last year was digital). As one of our members commented to Hazel afterwards: “We’ve never had so many questions before.”

Hazel founded Accent Press in 2003 and Xcite Books in 2007 and it is now one of the UK’s largest erotic imprints. Xcite Books has since won ETO Best Erotic Book Brand for the last four years and received the IPG Specialist Publisher Award 2013. Hazel started Xcite because she realised there was a gap in the market for thinking girls’ erotica – feel-good books that celebrated female sexuality in all its forms.

Originally the company produced Five Minute Fantasy short story collections because these offered women a great way to switch out of day mode and into play mode – the tagline was “Five minutes from mother to lover….” Sex therapists recommended the books as they offered body positive content and helped introduce new themes and ideas into a long-term relationship. As Hazel says: “There’s a reason that monogamy and monotony are such similar words!”

The range has now extended into three imprints:

  • The Secret Library offers romance novellas with hot sex;
  • Xcite publishes mainstream erotic short story collections and novels;
  • Xtrm publishes fetish, BDSM, and Femdom novels.

Last year, Fifty Shades of Grey caused a complete sea change in attitudes and got erotica off the top shelf and onto the supermarket shelf. E-books and audio also offer a new discreet accessibility to the genre.

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