Erotic Romance in the Mainstream – Hey Mom, Guess What I Wrote?
Most aspiring writers believe that once they get the good news that they’re going to be published, they’ll want to run up and down the streets telling everyone they see. They may even sing their own praises from the rooftops. I never really gave it much thought. Then it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be one of those people. Why? I write erotic romance.
I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written. I just understand that like it or not, there’s still a certain stigma attached to the genre. I don’t treat it like a scandalous secret, but at the same time, I don’t bombard everyone on my Facebook friends list with “HEY I WROTE THIS SMUTTY BOOK YOU SHOULD READ IT!” However, that begs the question – why not? Why shouldn’t I want to share my accomplishments with everyone I know and let them be proud of me?
When discussing erotic romance as part of mainstream literature, the comparisons to 50 Shades of That are going to be inevitable. Yeah, those books. You know the ones. I haven’t read them, so I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on them one way or the other. However, it’s impossible to ignore their effect on the general public’s opinion on erotica. That’s something that affects me as a writer.
My mother and I have always had a pretty good relationship, but sex was something that was not to be discussed. I don’t think I even told her some of my friends were gay until I got to college, because being gay involves sex, you know. One of my aunts finally got her to admit that maybe, just maybe, I knew what sex was a month after I returned from my honeymoon.
So imagine my surprise when, at Palm Sunday dinner with the family, we’re talking about books, and she quietly confesses to me that she read 50 Shades. And not just read them, mind you. According to her, she “couldn’t put them down!” I was rather dumbstruck, and gave her a look one might expect to come from someone whose mother has just told her about how she enjoyed reading a book about kinky sex (and which of her similarly-aged friends recommended it to her or read it after her).
The shock wore off, and I realized I had an opening to discuss my writing. Before I could muster up the nerve, another aunt interrupted to loudly announce that more toilet paper was needed in the bathroom. That’s my family for you.
A couple days passed, and I kept trying to find a way to bring it up again and confess what I had done. We went to the movies later in the week, and decided to grab some dinner afterwards. When we were a cocktail or two in (because that’s how Mom and I roll), I broached the subject again. “I still can’t believe you blazed right through 50 Shades,” I said. I don’t remember what sort of sheepish answer she gave.
It was then or never, I decided. “What would you say if I told you I’ve been writing similar books, that I had one published a couple months ago, and I have another one coming out soon?”
Her reaction was much like mine on Palm Sunday. “What?”
She processed this information for a few moments before speaking again. “Wow, that’s great! I can’t wait to tell all my friends! Are you on Amazon?”
I don’t know if that was the reaction I was expecting. Actually, I really don’t know what sort of reaction I was expecting. Either way, I’m glad I came clean. I told her that should she read them, we would not be discussing them, and so far, that’s been the case. She’ll occasionally ask me if I’m working on a book, and she’ll notice when I have a new one out. That’s good enough for me. (Truth be told, I think she’s read them – if for no other reason than to satisfy her curiosity – but despite how far we’ve come, I don’t think we need to exchange thoughts on spanking and threesomes. Or spanking in threesomes.)
I’m glad the current literary climate is such that conversations about erotica are held so openly. There is still something to be said for knowing your audience, and I’m not about to march into a church on Sunday morning to peddle my naughty wares. I do have a high school reunion coming up soon, though, and you can be damn sure I’ll be talking about my work with that crowd. I like what I do. I also like that we’re rapidly approaching the point where even those who choose not to read erotica will acknowledge and accept it as a valid genre, and will not roll their eyes and snicker at those who enjoy it. Writing about sex is a skill just like any other, and why should certain authors feel they should hide their talents?
Big thanks to Carrie Ann for letting me ramble on here! Don’t forget to enter to win an e-copy of my erotic fantasy, The Edge of the Sphere!