CCK memories by Senta Holland

CCK memories by Senta Holland

It was a cold, dreary winter in London when I first discovered Coffee Cake and Kink, then a coffee shop in Endell Street. A coffee shop with a difference, that's why I went there.

But it still took me several walks around the block, looking into the windows from far enough away so that I couldn't be accosted by the friendly staff, to get up the courage to push open the doors and satisfy myself that this was indeed a non-hostile environment for a single woman.

I was convinced by the light, stylish interior, by the moist, flavourful, very British cakes, and of course by the classy coffee. So much so that I came back many times. I even felt comfortable enough to write some of the first draft of what later became my True BDSM novel 'Out of the Shadows and into the Darkness' (read exclusive excerpts).

It felt good to write at Coffee Cake and Kink. I didn't have to hide my screen just in case saw the kinky words. I was in the company of my peers, and I was also safe from unwelcome attention. My writing didn't flow as easily then as it does now, so I had to look up and look around many times, catching nobody's eye but knowing others were there, and take many sips of the superb coffee, as my mind journeyed to the wild and wonderful world in my emerging book.

I also went to several workshops at CCK downstairs where I met many interesting kinksters, including other single women, a population that is not always well served by the BDSM events. I believe I also attended an author reading – and fantasized about having my own there, one day, reading from the book I was writing.

I met Sonia and Alana, the heart of CCK, and I admired their vision of creating this safe space for us. I also felt inspired (and sometimes excited) by the art work and the many books, the effortless matching of kink and sophistication. They made a difference to so many of us.

BDSM is very much about identity, about finding and living your true sexuality. In my case, that involved travelling all around the world and connecting with many people, and it also meant finding my own beautiful darkness in a very strange location. BDSM is an art form, in my view, and a very contemporary one. So I felt right at home.

It is hard to be a writer. You have to allow your deepest dreams to emerge, you have to turn up every single day at your laptop, you have to trust you can do it while you never know where it is going to take you, and – you have to do all of this alone.

I refreshed my body and spirit those during tearly drafts in Coffee Cake and Kink, and it reminded me many times why I was putting myself through all this.

I worked on my book for over three years, both in London and in Asia, and I managed to get it published, and by a big name publisher: HarperCollins, through their Mischief imprint. Yes, this is my wildest dream, come true.

Editor's Note: The original image by Henri Rousseau, adapted by Senta.