Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I write erotic....SO WHAT?

Yup. I'm a baaaad baaaaad girl. I write erotic romance. And if there's a 12-step program for that just keep it to yourself because I'm not interested. Writing erotic romance isn't something I set out to do. It just evolved. Yes, I've always written HOT but eventually I crossed over to the dark side and I've never looked back. Not only are erotic writers the most fun people to be found anywhere, they are kind, accepting, non-judgmental and possess a great sense of humor. Who wouldn't want to write in this genre and be around such cool people?

The other day an erotic romance writer was wondering how to respond to snarky comments from others about the kinds of books she writes. Being the generous women they are, a number of writers replied offering their experiences and some very cool responses. Many years ago, I was with a group of local women, only about five or six, and we all knew each other since our daughters were friends. At this time I wrote romance and hadn't yet begun my little voyage toward the naughtier stuff. Now, I live in a really bible-belty area in Texas. Very conservative. I seldom bring up the subject of my writing. Sometimes that is safer. Anyway, one of the ladies goes....hey, are you still writing? I smile and say...yes, I am. I'm having lots of fun with it. Nope, didn't make a big deal and that's my standard response to this stuff. Often the subject will drop right then and other times...no. This time however the questions came at me fast and furious. Surely I wrote childrens books or something, one said. I laughed and said, no, I write romances. One of the women who had been very quiet through the discourse kind of lifted her nose and smirked a little (I'll NEVER forget that smirk) and said....sometimes I like to read trash but not usually.

I swear.

A gasp went up among the other women and I honestly didn't know what to say. They quickly came to my defense saying things like...I loooooove romances. How fun! What a great thing to write! Blah blah. I swore then and there I would never be caught 'flat footed' again. I learned that day that I have a rebellious streak. It had been well hidden but she was born kicking and screaming that day. Now, when someone gives me this 'raised eyebrow' look, I am prepared.

My standard response (always delivered with a smile and using my sweetest voice)? Why yes, I DO write romances and not only that, but I write erotic romance. That usually shuts em up immediately. Sometimes they sniff and look like they've sucked on lemons and I'll laugh. Sometimes I'll laugh AND shake my head a little. That totally throws them off. Other times, I'm completely surprised by a reaction. I've been literally grabbed by the shoulders, shaken, and had someone yell in my face....OMG OMG, where can I get your books? Lately I've learned that erotic romance readers are EVERYWHERE. We have an active underground in these parts and that surprised me...pleasantly.

Do you have a standard response to genre snobbery? I'd love to hear it.


Jake - but not the one said...

Women just aren't supposed to enjoy sex, Regina. It's like a rule or something.

A totally stupid and demeaning rule, but, there it is.

I am glad more and more women refuse to live by the "rules" they learned when they were growing up. I hope they refuse to pass on those rules to their daughters. It takes real courage to buck that much social conditioning, and real faith to trust your children to be responsible with their bodies.

Sex is a gift, not a burden. Not all women see it that way, I think.


Jennifer Mathis said...

well as a reader I had a woman at church turn her nose up at me and tell me those smut books are the devils work I smiled sweetly and ask how her love life was knowing full well she was single. Course 6 months later she was asking after title recommenations lol


Regina Carlysle said...

Well, Jake, I happen to believe that erotic romances help bring women 'into the light' LOL. Lets us all know that we are sexual beings and that's okay.

Regina Carlysle said...

Oh hell, Jenn, that's too funny! Recommendations eh? I love that.

Anne Rainey said...

The thing about women who turn their noses up at erotic romance, have no problem reading thrillers. So, blood, violence, and psychos are A Okay, but love and sex is bad?

No wonder the world is screwed up!

BrennaLyons said...

The only problem I've faced is not from readers but rather from straight genre fiction writers, mainly SF/F/H and literary types. Not that I don't write in those as well, but...

"Why would any self-respecting author that CAN write straight genre write what you do?" That's their question of me, of course.

"It's...icky." Yes...a full grown woman in a long-term relationship called my cross-genre work "icky." Years later, I still laugh every time I think of it.

"It's easy...brainless. Ah, that's it. That's what you write when you don't want to think." Uh...read one of my books lately? One of my male readers turns his male buddies onto my work and tells them to read it for the plot line, if sex scenes bother them.

My answer? I invite them to write a successful (beat MY sales) erom book. Oh...the one who called it icky still has not managed to meet that challenge. She came back to me two years after the fact and tried to say she had. What did I find? She wrote a straight-genre erotica...not a hint of romance in it. Not that I have something against erotica (I write that too), but if erom is so easy, why couldn't she just pop one out and make the money I do?

That shuts them up. Either they are scandalized by the idea of writing erom or try and fail at it. I've never had one make it yet.


Regina Carlysle said...

Couldn't agree more, Anne. Pretty screwed up. What's wrong with LOVE?

Regina Carlysle said...

Sad fact, Brenna, is we make pretty damn good money. Why write the straight stuff. As one of my friends says...she laughs all the way to the bank. Something else..writing this stuff is HARD. It's tricky getting all that smokin' hot sex, a growing, loving relationship, plot and character development into a story. We have a way of doing it all and doing it very well.

Ruby Duvall said...

The first time I ever got published by Ellora's Cave, I was ecstatic. I told my roommates about it, and when I said what genre of book it was, one roommate said, "Oh. Isn't that the easiest genre to write?"

Another time a couple of years later, I was on a first date with this guy who said to me, "So... you write romance novels. What are you going to *do* with that?" Needless to say, I never saw him again. On top of that backhanded insult, he deemed the first date as the time to show me his old driver's licenses so that I'd see how much weight he had lost over the last year.

Seems that whenever I tell people I'm published, they get this surprised/interested look on their faces, but once they find out what genre of book, that expression turns uncomfortable/disappointed in a heartbeat. What is it about romance and erotica that people are so uppity about?

I often challenge whoever is putting down my genre to write a book in the first place, *and* to make the book's primary focus a convincing romantic relationship. IT'S NOT EASY. I'll go out on a limb here and say that lots of straight-up fiction writers that are otherwise wonderful at their craft will completely flub the romance. All they really end up with is a contrived attraction and then it's The End.

No genre is easy to write because it's not a simple thing to write and successfully publish a novel. And you know what? Romance publishing is an extremely lucrative industry. Demand is constant and there are always new readers to tantalize.