(Censored–Sort Of) Singapore Crime Fiction


Today’s blog post is on Jake Needham, whom I interviewed in December!



Jake Needham writes crime/noir fiction set in Asia, including squeaky-clean Singapore.

He is a lawyer by education and held a number of significant positions in both the public and private sectors. He has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years.

And he posts great, snappy updates on Facebook.


Described by The Straits Times as “Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction.”

Described by The Bangkok Post as “Michael Connelly with steamed rice.”

Wikipedia: Jake Needham


Libris Reviews describes Inspector Samuel Tay as “a world-weary Singaporean homicide detective.”

Tay is a senior inspector in the elite Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID. He’s pretty much the best investigator the Singapore police have, albeit he is somewhat of an outsider.


THE DEAD AMERICAN is the third book which features Inspector Tay.

The blurb for the book mentions the following:

“A young American software engineer hangs himself in his Singapore apartment. At least that’s what the police say happened. Emma Lazar, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, thinks otherwise. She thinks Tyler Bartlett was murdered to keep him quiet, and the Singapore police are covering it up.”

That description immediately brought to my mind the case of Shane Todd, an American engineer who was found hanging in his Singapore apartment.

The author does mention in a blog post that the book is not a fictionalized account of the death of Shane Todd. It is, however, set in Singapore, which Jake Needham feels is a “country whose rulers have perpetuated themselves since its first day of nationhood through ruthless censorship and the relentless suppression of effective dissent.”


Jake’s readers have noticed some spooky parallels between the Shane Todd case and a novel he first published years ago about the death of another American in Singapore.

One would think that there would be a natural market for Jake’s book in Singapore, since all the Tay books are built on real events and real places related to Singapore.

However, the content of the Tay books cut Jake off from his publisher in Singapore — he can’t get any local press coverage either. One can assume that this is due to two factors:

(1) the controversial content of his Works of Fiction, and
(2) the unsavory depiction of Singapore authorities in his Works of Fiction.

After all, we are all told that Singapore is to be recognised as clean and incorruptible.

STDesmond Wee-CPIB

“Singapore is [a] clean and incorrupt system and country.” — excerpt from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the CPIB’s 60th Anniversary celebration, 2012.

And if you’re like Alan Shadrake who published a well-researched, non-fiction book about the human rights abuses in Singapore, you get thrown into jail at the very least for “scandalizing the Singapore judiciary.”

This makes it difficult for Jake Needham to connect with a Singaporean audience and introduce them to his characters and stories set in Singapore, since his books have disappeared from local booksellers and he receives virtually no local press coverage because everyone knows they are expected to toe the party line.

It brings to the forefront the sense of self-censorship in Singapore.

Can you imagine a scenario where Mike Connelly’s books cannot be sold in California because some of the cops he writes about are stupid, or motivated by politics, or even downright crooked?


In an interview with I-S Magazine (original link and blog link), Jake said:

“When The Ambassador’s Wife (the first Inspector Tay novel) was published, all my contacts abruptly stopped returning my calls, and not another word about the book ever appeared in any publication in Singapore. . .

I certainly don’t consider [the Inspector Tay books] to be negative depictions of Singapore. Quite on the contrary, I think they are authentic and honest depictions. That’s always what I strive for, regardless of where I set my novels.”

Jake’s reply to my email on the situation:

“As I recall, it’s very difficult for Singaporeans to buy from Amazon and almost everyone there is forced to source ebooks locally from locally controlled sources. Needless to say, none of my ebooks are available through any of those sources. There is very little popular fiction published internationally that features contemporary Singapore, and I have little doubt a fair number of Singaporeans would enjoy meeting Inspector Tay and seeing their city though his eyes if only they knew he existed.

I’d be happy to support any source in Singapore who could make the Tay books available there — heck, I’d even give a bunch of them away if that was the only way to get them into the hands of people in Singapore.”



Screenshot of Amazon page in Singapore — Kindle edition unavailable (thanks to my friend in SG who took this screenshot)

At the moment, Kindle books in the Amazon US store are unavailable for purchase or download for people in Singapore.

THEREFORE, if you’re in Singapore and would like to support Jake Needham’s work of authentic/fresh/exciting fiction set in Singapore, you can help out by doing one of the following:

— Buy his books from iTunes

— Buy his books from Smashwords (coupon code available for people reading this post: see below)

— Sign up for his awesome newsletter

— Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Share on social media. Here’s a sample tweet.



Here’s a Smashwords coupon that’s good for a 50% discount on any ebook edition of THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE (first book in Inspector Tay series) until February 28, which will take the price for you lovely readers down to US$2.50:

Link: The Ambassador’s Wife, by Jake Needham (Smashwords)

Coupon Code: DX49S

* The first two Inspector Tay novels — THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE and THE UMBRELLA MAN — are available on iBooks and Smashwords. THE DEAD AMERICAN is exclusive to Amazon until March 1 and won’t be available on iBooks and Smashwords until March 2 or just after.

To Singapore, With Love



Tan Pin Pin’s To Singapore, With Love, a documentary featuring Singaporean political exiles, will not be allowed for public screening. The Media Development Authority (MDA) said the film “undermined national security.”

The biggest feeling in response I have to the MDA’s statement is disappointment. As a person with a functioning brain, and a person who was born in and grew up in Singapore, I also feel insulted with the MDA’s official stance on the matter.

This isn’t a fictitious movie that depicts a disrespectful portrayal of Singapore’s people or its culture. It is a documentary that includes content pertaining to certain “periods in Singapore’s history that are fraught with controversy.”

A documentary is defined as follows: “A movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.”

It is sad and shameful that Singaporeans are not being allowed to hear these people’s side of the story.

Are Singaporeans too dumb to handle the facts? Can they not be trusted to make their own conclusions from a variety of sources?

Why continue to hide and keep things covered up, when there is, according to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s 2013 New Year Message, a “clean and transparent system of governance”?

As Alex Au wrote in his blog post, “Trust can never be restored by concealment and gagging. Only openness will do.”

Historian Dr Thum Ping Tjin had this to say via a Facebook status update:

“In its statement, MDA said it had assessed the contents of the film, and decided that it undermined national security. It added that legitimate actions taken by security agencies to protect the national security and stability of Singapore are distorted as acts that victimised innocent individuals.”

The MDA’s statement is wrong. Research has proven that the primary aim of Operation Coldstore and other instances of repression was to remove political opposition to the Singapore government. If the MDA disagrees, they should ask the ISD to release documentary proof and allow us historians to revise our research. Having seen this film last week, the one thing that all the interviewees have in common is a deep, abiding love for Singapore. This movie reinforces national security by demonstrating the deep loyalty and commitment of Singaporeans to Singapore, even those forced unjustly into exile.

People deserve to know the facts pertaining to their own country’s history.

I, for one, always appreciate facts from sources other than watered-down, sanitised social studies textbooks which sometimes present only one side of the story.

UPDATE #1: There is a Google form set up by the film and art community to collate more signatories in support of this film. More information on Google and Facebook.


Tan Wah Piow’s statement on the banning of the film:

To ban the film would be an infringement to Article 14 of the Singapore Constitution which protects the freedom of expression. The only way to circumvent Article 14 of the Constitution is to invoke the security threat mantra. This would be implausible in any democratic country where the rule of law interprets “security threat” only in the strictest and narrowest sense.

But Singapore is a different story. That is why the Cabinet has to be very highly paid, because our ministers and Prime Minister are very clever.

But the people are not stupid either. One day, the people will know who is the serial abuser of the Singapore Constitution.

NLB: Censorship and Intellectual Freedom


“And Tango Makes Three” is a children’s picture book which features the true story of two male penguins that raised a baby chick in a New York zoo.

Here is my short commentary on the Singapore National Library Board’s (NLB) recent actions to destroy three books (including the aforementioned title) that were deemed unsuitable for young children, because of “non-traditional” family themes.

* * *


Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP

I would like to take this opportunity to direct NLB to the American Library Association’s (ALA) page on censorship and freedom of information.

In a Q&A on these subjects, the ALA states:

“Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas considered the “restriction of free thought and free speech” to be “the most dangerous of all subversions.”

It does not take great imagination to understand why.

We need look no further than the comments of Young Artist Award recipient, Cyril Wong, who said:

“As a queer writer, I think I have reached a limit of some sort, in the light or dark of recent events. I don’t know why I’m bothering anymore. By sometime next year, I’m just going to stop; yes, stop publishing, stop working with governmental organisations, even stop writing.”

Justifying the removal of books because they “do not reflect existing social norms” provides me with some questions to ponder.

Is a person less of a human being because of their sexual orientation?

Does a perpetually bitter, jealous married wife promote more “family values” than a single mother who dedicates all of her time and energy towards providing the best for her family?

How is a public library serving the needs of the public if members of the public are only allowed to peruse publications that reflect the social norms of only one group or community, at the exclusion of all others?

When people are not allowed to think for themselves or express their views, their voices are effectively silenced. Their self-identity is compromised along with the likelihood of having an authentic dialogue with other human beings.

And it’s too late for society once people don’t have a voice, or are prevented from being heard if they do.

* * *

More Information:

(Singapore Media)

Author Justin Richardson responds to NLB removing his book (The Online Citizen)
Author Jeanie Okimoto responds to NLB removing her book (The Online Citizen)
NLB CEO saddened by protests against gay book pulping (Everything Also Complain)
Ink Spilled on NLB Book Banning (Extensive collection of links by Robin Rheaume / Facebook)

(International Media)

Singapore Provokes Outrage by Pulping Kids’ Books (TIME)
“And Tango Makes Three” appears routinely on the ALA’s annual list of most “challenged” books (Wikipedia)
What Does Singapore Have Against Gay Penguins? (The Washington Post)
Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name (on homosexual behaviour in animals; New York Times)

Erotica and Pornography


Erotica and Porn: A polite request for clearer distinctions to be made — and how you can help :)

* * *


I recently came across a blog post titled Survival Tips for the Pornocalypse

The latest news is that books by (some) erotica and erotic romance writers are being filtered and excluded from Amazon’s “All Department” search feature.

The post also mentions that porn is what sold Kindles. Direct quote from the post:

“Porn. Face it, Jeff Bezos [founder of Amazon]. You owe the success of Kindle to me, and to every erotica writer out there making a living writing ‘porn’.”

But…what about the readers and writers who like erotica that’s more artistic and/or personal than pornographic?


“Erotic” Photography by Phillip Ritchie

I host a (sporadic, but in-depth) series of erotic interviews on my 4:Play blog. Those writers write erotica but have their works categorized together with pornographers because there’s little differentiation in the marketplace.

I would really like to see the mainstream retailers come up with an elegant solution to make a clear genre separation between “erotica” and “porn”, when it comes to reading material. Especially in the era of digital publishing, where anyone can write and publish whatever they desire.

I’ll rely on a couple of images in the next section. Time needn’t be wasted showing the clear distinction between porn and erotica.



The above picture is a “pornographic” picture.  Here is a link to the uncensored version of the image.

In the above image, I blanked out the explicit parts in order to showcase the point that commercial pornography is about explicitness (and making money via the customer’s arousal at the graphic content). This applies to pornographic literature/books as well.

erotic art

This is a lovely painting by Malcolm T. Liepk.

Doesn’t it make you want to slow down and let your senses take in the scene?

While there’s nudity, this image is more sensuous/erotic than pornographic.

Let’s go through a few word definitions.

(1) Sensuous: Relating to or affecting the senses rather than the intellect.

(2) Pornographic: Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal.

(3) Erotica: Erotica has high-art aspirations, differentiating it from commercial pornography. The value is in the story and how it’s told, not the number of explicit sex scenes.

There is a powerful difference between each of these terms. Society is not going to progress much in terms of intellect or sexuality if people are not educated or motivated enough to separate erotica from porn.

Quality erotica is a genre I’ll always be passionate about because I believe in the following quote:

“. . .it is vital for good erotica to be published, so that we can see for ourselves the difference between the life-enhancing, and the sordid and destructive.”

~ From Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature, by Charlotte Hill and William Wallace


I sent the following email to BISG’s customer service. It is a polite request for clearer distinctions to be made with regards to erotica and porn.

BISG is the organization that compiles the BISAC Subject Codes List — the official genre categorization used by major companies and retailers. I have listed contact pages of various retailers at the end of this post.

Feel free to copy and paste so that you can be heard too :) It is the total sum of everyone’s efforts that really matters in the end.

Request for Division between Erotica and Pornography

Dear Sir/Madam:

I would like to request for a separate genre category for “erotica” and “pornographic” books.

I am making this suggestion as the two genres are distinct from each other. Pornography focuses on explicitness and commercial value, while erotica focuses on artistic merit that isn’t defined solely by explicit content.

It is confusing and distressing for both readers and writers when genre categorization is unclear.

Separating “erotica” from “porn” would have a threefold effect:

(1) Readers of both genres get to FIND and BUY what they WANT,

(2) Retailers retain the customers of both genres, and

(3) Authors of both genres can continue to do what they do without having their books banned, missing from search results, or lumped with works that don’t serve the same readers.

Please refer to this blog post on Erotica Vs. Pornography:


Thank you for your time and consideration.

* * *

[1] CONTACT: BISG (Book Industry Study Group)

BISG (compiles the official BISAC Codes List — the genre classification standard used by major companies and retailers):

Website | Twitter


Amazon USA: www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/contact-us

Amazon KDP (authors): www.kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us

Amazon (authors): www.authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us

Amazon CS (authors): www.createspace.com/Member/Support.do

Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/customerservice/contactus

Smashwords (click the customer support link at top of page): www.smashwords.com

iBookstore: ibookstore@apple.com

Kobo: www.kobo.com/help/customer-care-phones/

* * *

[3] FURTHER READING (brought to you by JCS / jessINK)


Art of Erotic Writing (promo eBook by Jess C Scott on erotic fiction — literature which deals openly and excitingly with sexuality as a part of human experience)

“Quality Erotica” Series (recommended books — fiction, non-fiction, poetry, erotic art)

Interviews with Erotica Writers (blog series)

Pornography Vs. Erotica (jessINK)

Media Mentions re: Erotic Writing (jessINK)

Censorship and Artistic Integrity


primal scream

Introducing the first installment of Primal Scream.

* * *

With all the drama going on, I thought I’d scribble down some quick thoughts here (I’m about 50% done with Rockstar — the easier the reading is, the harder the actual writing -_-).

Quick Summary: Amazon started banning/deleting incest erotica in Dec 2010; PayPal suspended my account in March 2011 for selling incest-themed stories directly from my website (that’s my deduction, since none of the retailers give specific reasons for their actions); and B&N is suspected to be currently “fiddling around” with the rankings of erotica books (such that they no longer have high rankings and visibility in the B&N store).

Sooooo to avoid all this trouble, I think I’ll continue to focus on the story > explicit scenes (though I might throw in a little bit of the latter, now and then…).

Fashion Icon is the “special edition” of Incestiable. In the special edition, the characters are established as “step relatives.” Now the fact that they are step relatives cancels out the incestuous relations (they’re no longer blood-related). I include a note to the reader at the beginning of the book to “please use your imagination,” if the reader/customer enjoys incest-themed fiction.

I’ve been feeling quite tired/burned out lately, so I’ve been a bit out of focus for the past week or so.

It was partly due to the Amazon + PayPal “censorship” issues, and re-categorizing/re-branding my ‘erotica’ titles as ‘erotic fiction’ (since most buyers who are seeking commercial erotica are seeking the eroticism in the form of explicit content, which isn’t what my erotic fiction is about).

I sometimes wonder if I wasted all my time writing deliberately deviant / not neatly commercially categorizable fiction, but in the long term, I think it’ll be okay. My erotic fiction contains, maybe, a ratio of 20% of explicit content to 80% of “the story,” so if ALL the retailers decided to ban all “erotica” titles one day, I’ll be able to tweak the material and present it as “contemporary/erotic fiction” (which is what I’ll do with future material).

I like sidestepping / doing new things, and I understand it’s “problematic” for the major retailers.

For this reason, the Primal Scream full anthology will showcase an, uh, interesting “range” of content (from some explicit content, to erotic love, to very subtle/implicit eroticism). It reflects what I started out with (stories with some explicit scenes), to something more “lyrical/complex,” to something less lyrical/less complex (on the surface), but that still deals with contemporary issues in a contemporary way.

The less discerning commercial erotica/smut readers/customers are likely to scoff at my brand of erotic fiction.

But the erotic life is not defined by explicitness. Pornography is. And my goal has never been to produce porn.

* * *

I received three emails this week (won’t name any names!):

Email #1:

Hello, Jess…

Nothing irritates me more than useless crap we shovel into our brains to pretend to forget how fucked we are.

Have Anne Rice’s vampire works stood the test of time? No, and neither will Meyer’s, because they are by no means Bram Stokers. Just another flash in the pan, she’ll be elbowed out by someone else when this Vampy love bullshit fizzles out.

Sad part is, the people in the indie scene who got the attention of the big wigs are writing the same kind of shit they big presses are shoveling.

I took a look at your site, and I must say I find it sad that we, in a modern world in 2011 haven’t figured out what pornography is. I’ll probably face the same amount of shit for my next book. It’s sexually explicit and contains graphic scenes of bondage, blood play and mutilation…I guess we’ll see what happens.

I would like to read a book of yours but at the moment I am finishing up my next book and it will probably another month or so until the final draft is done. I’d like to read your cyberpunk book, though.
— from, A Male Author

Email #2: Correspondence with reader/customer:

Dear Jess C,

I just finished reading “Spinning Around,” and I really enjoyed it.  However, I am somewhat surprised that it was not longer and not more intimately detailed.  I absolutely love Father-Daughter erotica…and I’m not sure why.  Of course I must keep this secret to myself, as no one would understand.  I love finding a good story to read when my wife is not around, (we are lesbians), and slowly start getting aroused, and finally start touching myself, and eventually have multiple powerful orgasms!   I so want to seduce my Dad….he is so freaking hot.

Please write more father-daughter stories!!!!!!!

A Female Reader/Customer

My reply:

Hi xxxxxx,

Thanks so much for your email — it’s always nice to hear from readers!

I was planning on a longer version of “Spinning Around,” and I might work on it some time in future. I’ll be presenting my future erotic fiction as “contemporary/erotic fiction,” because the major retailers (Amazon, B&N, and PayPal) are always targeting “erotica” books (especially those with incestuous content — I don’t understand how incest is more “offensive” than rape and bestiality, but apparently that seems to be the case).

Amazon started banning/deleting incest erotica in Dec 2010; PayPal suspended my account in March 2011 for selling incest-themed stories directly from my website (that was my deduction, since none of the retailers give specific reasons for their actions); and B&N is currently “fiddling around” with the rankings of erotica books (such that they no longer have high rankings and visibility in the B&N store).

Sooooo to avoid all this trouble, I think I’ll continue to focus on the story > explicit scenes (though I might throw in a little bit of the latter, now and then…).

I’ve had some emails from people who have incestuous desires (but have to “keep it secret because no one would understand”), so you’re definitely not alone! I personally get the biggest kick out of the brother-sister combination. I’m not sure why either, since I don’t have a brother.

Your wife must appreciate your high sex drive ;) Your dad must work out and eat well. That he’s “in better shape than guys less than half his age” = a huge compliment.

Incest can be a very delicious kink (when it’s consensual) — something most people don’t seem to get (but that doesn’t mean they don’t have “underlying desires,” HAHAHA),


Her reply:

Hey, thank you for responding as if we are both real people!  I am sorry to hear about the red tape with the major retailers.  And I agree 100% re the “rate of offensiveness” when comparing incest, rape, etc.  It’s probably safe to say that incest,(including consensual), is hitting too close to home for many, so let’s not even acknowledge this topic:  it’s too real.   Anyway, thank you for everything you do and have stood/stand up for.  (Gotta run, wife is calling for me!)  LOL
A Female Reader/Customer
PS:   My Dad is an awesome kisser! ;-) And…..

Email #3:

I don’t fantasize so much now but when I was young (say 13-33!) every night was a long fantasy for me. I thought it was a mental disease! I looked down on some of my fantasies as childish and shameful, but I remember many of them now with affection.

If you are brought up in a culture of shame it is exquisite torture that you soon learn to accept. I could write pages and pages about that tension between desire and guilt and the complications that arise from it. I could also write pages on the theme of religion and atheism. By the time I was in my teens, I was definitely an atheist and my convictions were unshakable and very deeply worked out.
— 47 y/o male, USA

* * *

These are the emails/perspectives that keep me going, when I REALLY question why I bother to care about anything in life. I can get extremely cynical at times, but I usually channel all my ego and frustrations and “desperation” (according to a recent fortune cookie) directly into my work (productivity = the antidote).

I mean, holy shit, if incest erotica / incest-themed fiction is indeed being suppressed because people can’t deal with it (according to this comment: “Maybe they want to keep it in the family…), then that only motivates me all the more as an artist to “continue my explorations” with regards to love, life, sex, lust, and desires.

I always focus on the characters + storyline. Obscenity is a subjective matter, so I probably will continue writing incest-themed fiction about step relatives (and whatever else I decide to ponder about).

I’ll just attempt a more sophisticated (and sneaky, but legal) route with upcoming projects. I like the challenge of writing “contemporary fiction with erotic elements” (which Lolita, which features a 12-year-old girl,  is categorized as), not “erotica.”

Suppressing an artist’s imagination is never going to work out. It’s just going to backfire ;)

A few people have questioned my morals (I sometimes reply, in a polite, concise, matter-of-fact way). I can summarize my views with the two points below:

1) My morals are related to writing, not sexual acts (as a writer, my top priority is the story, not literary morality).

2) Desire and committing the act are two completely different things. If you’re going to go around and arrest people for THINKING about SEX, I think most of us are going to end up in jail at one point or another. Just because I write about incest (or whatever else) doesn’t mean I’m telling people to act on their incestuous desires. And if I was involved in something “incestuous” (see my reply in “Email #2″ above about the “brother-sister” combination), a person would first need to have tangible proof and evidence of the fact that the ACT was committed.

And I realize that other people may question my morality (or lack thereof) more than I do. Why’s that? It’s my life, and I’ll deal with the consequences of having lived the way I chose to, after I die. The End.

P.S. Most of the nude figures in Michelangelo’s masterpiece had to be covered with drapery, and the St. Blaise-St. Catherine of Alexandria scene was cut out and redone by a different artist altogether. Also, in the ancient world, sex pervaded every aspect of life. The genitals were not considered to be obscene. Sex was considered an important part of humanity’s existence.

* * *

Footnote #1: From an astrological perspective, I’m a Virgo Sun in the 6th House, Aries Rising, and Mars Cap in the 10th House. Work = my life, REALLY, so censoring what I try to do via my work is something I don’t take lightly. I’m also a Venus Scorpio (end of 7th house / beginning of 8th house). Thinking about sex on a daily basis is an important part of my existence.

Footnote #2: If you enjoy sexual astrology, you might enjoy my factual fiction story, Jack in the Box (a personal favourite of mine).

PayPal Censorship


* UPDATE (2012): PayPal revises their policies to allow legal fiction.

* UPDATE (2013): A quick post on why “erotica” isn’t “porn”!

In the meantime, I’ll be working on a couple of psycho thrillers.

My original post from early 2011 is left below (unedited).

* * *

ORIGINAL POST (March 2011)

In December 2010, Amazon started banning/deleting incest-themed erotica from their website. Several of my erotic stories/collections are thus not on Amazon.

In February 2011, some of the “sample buttons” on my books at B&N went missing (some are still missing, as of this date). Several other authors were hit (especially those writing erotica/erotic romance) — while many of their books’ sample buttons have re-appeared, several of my books are still missing the sample button. No reply from B&N yet There was/is a technical glitch at B&N, which they are currently working on.

I recently launched my “indie publishing division,” jessINK.com (thinking I could sell material directly from my website, via E-Junkie).

On 7 March 2011, I wanted to buy the following item from Etsy.com:

(Item = Vintage dark style red collar necklace with dangling star charm with red enamel on the back. Pretty, no?)

But I couldn’t purchase the item at checkout, because I had “limited access” to my PayPal account.

When I logged into my PayPal account, I saw the following message:


Mar 5, 2011: We recently asked you to stop participating in transactions that violated our Acceptable Use Policy.

(Your case ID for this reason is PP-001-231-349-997.)

I don’t recall being asked, as I received no prior email or warning about how exactly I had violated the guidelines.

This is what I can and cannot do with a limited access PayPal account:


Due to the limited access of my PayPal account, I am currently unable to receive money via PayPal, or make any purchases using my PayPal account.

After some clicking around, I got to the “PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy” page, which states:


(e) items that are considered obscene, are not allowed (highlighted in red)

After more clicking around, I found the guidelines for what is not allowed on eBay (which utilizes PayPal for transactions):


“Obscene materials, while not easy to define, aren’t allowed on eBay. For some guidance, we prohibit items depicting or describing bestiality, necrophilia, rape, scat, and incest (real or fictionalized).”

Isn’t the splattering of blood and guts via stylized explosions also obscene, whether real or fictionalized? Also, according to the above guidelines, Anais Nin’s books (classic literary erotica) should not be available for purchase on eBay. For the record, her books (I’m a huge fan!) are available for purchase on both Amazon and eBay, and her books do contain pedophilic, incestuous, as well as other deviant types of erotic content.

Since I have not had a reply from PayPal as to whether their eBay policy extends to PayPal as well (since they are two separate companies — eBay actually owns PayPal, thanks @kashicat), I believe my incest-themed material that I sell directly from my website is considered by PayPal (as with Amazon) to be “supremely offensive.”

To my knowledge, I am not doing anything illegal (if it is, indeed, a criminal offence to write about taboo subjects, why is this not clearly stated in the law? How do people know if they are “breaking the law” if the law is not clearly stated in the first place?).

I have always chosen to focus on erotica over pornography (I always aim to include some kind of artistic, or social/political point, when I write erotic fiction). What is “obscene” and “sexually explicit” can vary from culture to culture and over time. But as long as companies’ policies remain vague and unclear, there’s no distinction between erotica and pornography when it comes to censorship.

I am currently “evaluating other options,” as I still fully intend to continue writing whatever I wish (for both erotic and non-erotic material). Erotica/erotic fiction is an art form I take very seriously, so I will seriously do my best to make sure it is always available for readers/customers to purchase (in the meantime, I apologize that customers cannot purchase directly from my website. Keywords = “in the meantime”).

What I actually condone and/or do in real life is separate from what I put on paper and/or express via the written word — a distinction that some people seem to have a lot of trouble making, lol.

P.S. Just bought the vintage red collar (yeaaaah), using a friend’s account.


Email Links and More Info:

Email: aupviolations@paypal.com (PayPal re: Acceptable Use Policy)

* PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy
* eBay’s Prohibited and Restricted Items rules

Email: ecr@amazon.com (Amazon.com, Executive Customer Relations)

* Amazon Censors (Facebook Page with more info)


+ Media Coverage on Censorship of Erotica by Erik Sherman on BNET +


jessINK publishing


* UPDATE (2013): A quick post on why “erotica” isn’t “porn” (and how you can help)!

My original post from early 2011 is left below (unedited).

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ORIGINAL POST (January 2011)


Update (31 Jan 2011) — Test screenshot for jessINK (above image)!

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website sketch

Some rough planning/sketches for jessINK, a “main store”/website I’d like to work on in Jan 2011, since Amazon has banned some of my books.

* Jan 2011: Affected parties include Jess C Scott, Selena Kitt, Esmeralda Greene, and Olympia Press. The issue is being tracked on Facebook (Amazon Censors). Amazon has since progressed to banning books with “rape” in the title, while still maintaining their commitment to getting as many books into the Kindle store as possible (LA Times article).

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I’m a little (just a bit — worse things have happened in life, LOL) bummed that I’ll have to “re-adjust” some of my plans, since my deviant material was quite well ranked and well set-up in the Amazon store. I was (and still am) planning an incest short story collection, but will sell it on jessINK because that way, at least it’ll still be available from me, straight (since webhosting companies allow for graphic porn vids/pictures, I am assuming they’ll not “ban/lock” my website for “questionable content”…though I’d better probably just check beforehand, and get something in black-and-white via email!).

I like to work fast and efficiently, so being slowed down a little is always something that will irritate/annoy me. But no use looking at things you can’t change — better to focus on the solutions than the problems (to quote “The Donald”/Donald J. Trump).

I’ll probably write an article over on jessINK (once it’s up) on the content in SOME of my work featuring underage sex and incest, etc (not sure about bestiality, etc — haven’t done those yet, but I might, if I feel like it some time). I grew up in Singapore, so while I am aware of differing international laws, I am  familiar/comfortable with (Singapore’s law) of  the “age of consent” being 16 years old (and that’s an interesting story all on its own — can blog/write an article on that later too).

Part of the reason I don’t want to blog my thoughts (in depth, with excerpts from my work) on those topics yet is out of caution (points to the “Report as spam” / “Report as mature” button on the WordPress navigation bar). I don’t know if such an article on WordPress.com would be considered evil/illegal/immoral/unethical/obscene based on a random person’s “opinion,” so I think I’ll just save myself the trouble and have everything on jessINK next year.

I do not condone pedophilia (12 years old and lower, to set an age), because that is an exploitative nature of pedophilia (taking advantage of a minor that is unable to truly give consent, due to the innocence factor of children). Did I still enjoy Lolita? Of course! Did it make me squirm in disdain at times? Of course! That’s part of its appeal for me — navigating through Humbert Humbert’s “twisted mind.”

I have a half-done short story with an incubus and a sixteen-year-old. Is he just exploiting her due to her age? Partly (but the incubus is not wholly human, so technically, Hell’s laws would apply more to him than Earth’s/A certain society’s laws). Are they having mindless sex? Certainly not.

People who rant about me ranting about “underage sex” tell me that I should “change the story and change the characters’ ages” (then accuse me of not taking their advice, all in the same breath, before I’ve even had a chance to read their reply, LOL), and while that’s an option, I’d already have done that if I felt it’d be to the characters’ benefits (to be 18 or above).

Humans are sexual beings. A person doesn’t just turn 18 and magically earn the right to be a sexual being. I remember my teenage years being quite sex-crazed (to summarize — and there is such a thing as “fantasy” vs. “what one does in real life” — I’ve always had an interest in sexual subjects…).

Some of the things I write are in a very non-mainstream, non-conformist way (thought I strive for the elements of honesty and relatability, as much as possible). This is where indie publishing comes in for me, because I am free to write whatever I want, however I want. And maybe, someone, somewhere, will find something (in one of my projects) that resonates with them.

You will see on many erotica publisher’s websites that “incest” is one of the big no-no’s on their guidelines. But rape is okay. I am not going to bother dissecting the logic behind consensual incestuous adult sex being not okay, and rape being okay, because I don’t think logic is what’s behind it.

Some people are very quick to assume that all erotica/erotic fiction is pornographic (with no value, other than to “arouse sexually”). Which is why they’ll always keep missing out on one of the most (if not the most) powerful forces in human life, which is human sexuality. Sexual repression can, will, and does channel into other areas, such as violence, aggression, oppression, homophobia, etc. Oppressing/repressing/suppressing something doesn’t make it go away, though I understand suppression can be done out of either fear, or displeasure at really facing an issue head-on to “deal with it.”

Sex/uality is an area I intend to continue exploring, wandering around in, and pondering about, via writing. It’s how I deal with it.

And sexual repression/suppression, to me, is dysfunctional.

Which actually kind of explains…a lot.

P.S. I will mention here (just for clarification) that I don’t mean to offend all Christian/religious/conservative people with my “sexual open-mindedness” — I was born Catholic, so I have a good idea of the Church’s teachings (maybe not right down to the exact Bible passages, but in general). Not everyone likes to read about sex or graphic material and there’s nothing wrong with that. But oppressing deviant/controversial material deemed to be “immoral” (because “[the person] says so”) is something I’ll fight. If you read the “born Catholic” link, it also explains where I’d like to try to go with my brand of (NON-explicit!) Christian Fiction. I’ve had blog visitors who’ve typed in “Christian fiction erotica” — who knows. Despite my intentions, perhaps what I come up with will still not be “clean” enough (even if I try…one way to find out).

P.P.S. These are the links that explain the creation and development of jessINK. First link was a thread started by yours truly.

Original Post on Amazon: Deletion of Books / Violation of Guidelines

Amazon Censorship of erotic titles (article at TeleRead)

Amazon in the Book Banning Business

Can free speech survive Amazon’s monopoly? #amazoncensors

The Register UK: Amazon’s Erratic Policy on Specialist Smut

Amazon’s Systematic Moral Attack (by Valerie Gray)

America’s Prudish Literary Morality (Salon.com Article)