In the derby community, we’re pretty much all familiar with the success of Shawna Cross’s Derby Girl, which was recently made into the popular film, Whip It, directed by none other than the totally fabulous Drew Barrymore. Whip It’s commercial success was modest, but it did help increase the visibility of our sport, and resulted in a fresh wave of recruits – my own league, Red Stick Roller Derby, has doubled in size since the movie, and most of these new derby girls started skating with us right after it came out.
There seems now to be a quiet trend towards publishing books about roller derby. These include books about the sport itself, aimed towards the derby fan or the derby-curious, including Down and Derby: The Insider’s Guide to Roller Derby, by Alex Cohen and Jennifer Barbee, Rollergirl: Totally True Tales from the Track, by Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan, Roller Derby: The History and All-Girl Revival of the Greatest Sport on Wheels, by Catherine Mabe and Ivanna S. Pankin, and others. This is most awesome, and I’m excited about this newest indication that the world is taking serious notice of us.
But even more thrillingly, roller derby is now the stuff of more published fiction. I was in Barnes and Noble the other day (we’re short on independent bookstores here in the Rouge, don’t judge me), wandering through the “Literature” section (y’know, the area with the books in it) to see what might catch my eye. And there I found Going in Circles, by Pamela Ribon. On the cover, a lady skater. It took me a moment to accept what I’d found. A book about derby, just sitting there in a major retail branch, in the most mainstream of locations, that I hadn’t heard about through some underground derby channel? Could it be? It was even TURNED OUT, its cover rather than its spine displayed to entice the casual browser like myself. (I will say that said cover is confusing – see figure A. You can see why I needed to pick the thing up to confirm its connection to derby.) I’ve yet to read the book, but it looks decent, and, more importantly, it suggests that derby fiction might be gaining a little foothold as a trendy publishing niche. And while, as an aspiring author, I’d like to think that it’s the best books, regardless of topic, that get published and reach the well-exposed shelves of retail giants, I’m clued in enough to know that publishing is a business, and, like any business, it is susceptible to trends and gimmicks.
So, I’m about to start this insanely expensive degree, and I’m thinking maybe I should cash in on this trend. Why not? I could write about what I love, and give further exposure to the sport, and have a refreshing little side project to work on when the emotionally heady memoir I plan to write at school is proving too taxing for me. Thing is, I don’t often write fiction, so I have to have an angle that will be sure to spark my imagination, while filling a gap in the existing derby literature.
Yesterday my beloved trAC/DC and I were talking about these derby books, and in about eight seconds we came up with the angle: sex! What seems to be missing, glaringly missing, from derby lit is derby erotica. Imagine: skates and sweat and queer sex (and, sure, some straight sex), all done with a bit more literary flair than your average bodice-ripper. A little something for the derby community and for the rest of the world. Brilliant, I think. And we’ll keep each other motivated and on-task, so we’ll actually get these things written. And we’ll get to read and laugh at our ridiculously overblown sex scenes over glasses of bourbon. The idea is to make this a series about two best friends who skate, and their romantic adventures on and off the track. Sort of like a derby version of Sweet Valley High.
I wrote about 2,000 potential words of my potential book today and am having a great time, even though it got a little hard to concentrate because I started somewhere, let’s say, in the middle of things. As I continue, I welcome your suggestions: what would you like to see in a work of derby erotica? What sorts of fantasies have you had involving mouthguards? Got any adventures you would like us to memorialize (anonymously) in print? Email me so we can keep the comments section of LDG fairly clean. My address is TrickyLaRougeATredstickrollerderbyDOTcom (protecting myself from spam-bots here). We’re also taking suggestions on names for the eventual series.
Until next time, happy practices – and post-practice evenings – to all!