I have a few friends and family who have purchased my books with full intent on reading them, only to find themselves unable to get past the first bedroom scene. “It kind of feels the same as going through your dad’s sock drawer for condoms,” my father-in-law told my husband, after attempting to read The Darkness and the Night: Blood and Coffee. “You know your parents are doing it, but you don’t really want to know….”
When I began to write erotic works, the first thought that flashed through my head was, “other people are going to read this … and what will they think?” The thought of strangers reading my work was strangely exhilarating, but I do have to admit that I blush when I consider specific people reading certain works. I find myself in a strange position: I want to share my stories with those who are close to me, but some of the content is simply stuff people don’t normally share with their friends, parents, and in-laws.
With that said, it has also been liberating to write what I have. With Lust in Space, for example, I decided to push my boundaries as far as I could. I wanted to take every aspect to the subgenre I was writing and see how far I might take it. I felt that an erotic space opera merited a unique angle, and so I challenged myself as a writer, finding ways to create threesomes, foursomes, orgies, a bisexual getting intimate with her time-paradox double … and even a woman falling for an insect-sized vibrating man. I did it to push the limits of my imagination, let go of my inhibitions as a writer, and most of all to see if I could pull all of it off.
With The Darkness and the Night trilogy, I began with a series of horror stories based on that first novel I wrote back in my teens, with my twin sister, and spiced them up for the erotic romance audience. I found that the sexual journeys experienced by the main characters really complimented the other themes that ran through each of the stories, and it has been such a pleasure to hear from readers and reviewers who “got” all that I worked to accomplish in the multi-layered, heavily intertwined trilogy.
I think about books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen that contain disturbing material, and I remind myself: Someone wrote that, not as something representative of his or her as a person, but as an extension of that person’s creative self. As an author now, myself, I know the process that goes into writing something different, risky, or risqué. It’s not easy, but somebody’s got to do it. After all, what would literature, cinema, and the like be without those who have taken such risks with their art?
There are risks to be taken with all genres, but it seems to me that the biggest risks are those taken in erotic venues. I’ve questioned more than one direction my muses have taken me, but more often than not, when all is said and done, every dark turn, exploratory challenge, and disturbing twist proves its literary merit. I feel grateful that I’ve taken the chances I have, as each has allowed me to grow in my art—and in some very surprising ways.
Who would have thought I would have learned anything while writing a “trashy romance”?! Go figure.
Through the years, I’ve found there are few genres I just can’t write. I don’t write Westerns. I have yet to construct a good murder mystery. I don’t think I could pull off an epic poem. I do enjoy writing just about everything else, however, so many genres that I have considered writing under more than one alias. After all, is it a career shot in the foot for a literary fiction novelist to publish erotica, or an erotic romance writer to publish horror? Maybe a couple of authors have been able to pull it off, but not many.
The thought of compartmentalizing my collective works was strangely disturbing; I felt like doing so somehow cheapened their value. It also felt like lying. Was I to create a persona for each genre? No, that just wasn’t me; it just didn’t feel right. I realized that I had no choice but to market all of my writing under my real name. I am a horror writer, a literary sci-fi writer, a screenplay writer, a narrative nonfiction writer, and an erotica/erotic romance writer. I’m all of those; I have many muses, and I’m proud of every last word I’ve written … even if I did happen to make my father-in-law blush.
Readers and writers, what are your experiences in writing or reading erotica, horror, sci-fi, and others that happen to contain the unorthodox, the uncomfortable, and/or the just plain hot?