My first title for this was “Erotica and Society” but then I figured I need to work a lot harder and write something a lot more coherent to earn that title ;).
When I was about 17 years old, I wrote my first erotic novella. Yes, it was real person fan fiction (what can I say, I was terribly into Viggo Mortensen at the time), and it was in a way the culmination of pushing the limits of adult scenes for a few years in the little fan writing community I was part of at the time. Even then, I never thought that erotica was the height of my ambition as a writer, but it was something I thought I was good at, something I wanted to do.
And so I did some research, I stumbled across sites like Ellora’s Cave and other just emerging digital erotica publishers – this was before the big eReader revolution and long before 50 Shades of Grey pushed it further into the mainstream. I would be lying if I said that this illicitness, the writing on the fringes, the slight punk-rockishness of erotica hadn’t weaved its own spell on me.
Now, here we are, 10 years later. I wrote a novel that got published by a small imprint of a mid-sized publisher and with every project I work on, I want to get better, less tied to genre, hone my skills more and more until maybe, one day, I might be called literary and then I might die happy. And still, I love erotica, I love it in a way I love no other genre – and I may not always love the actual products that do well, I may only really like one novel in over a thousand but I still adore the idea, the point of erotica. For me, the point is to take the idea of sex, of gender roles of arousal, of what turns us on etc. into our own hands (lol literally and figuratively). It’s honest and raw and in a world in which female desire is still oddly taboo while at the same time ridiculously fetishized and objectified, this means a lot to me.
And I believe that erotica can be written well, can feature deep and honest characters who are more than bland puppets to act out fantasies. I believe that erotica can express more than that, can tell real stories driven by sex, not just featuring it. It’s a challenge and it’s fun and yes, I like it because I’m not bad at it.
The issue is that I get bored when I only write erotica and I have other stories in my head. Some of them are YA and I love those ideas. So now I find myself having to wonder whether my writing erotica might become an issue and this both scares and angers me. When my first erotic short story was accepted into an anthology, I had a choice whether or not to go with a pen name different from the one I use for my novels – the clean solution many reach for to protect their privacy and their writing reputation. I decided not to. I suppose it was that punk-rockishness of it all: I don’t believe being good at writing about sex makes it less likely that I am good at anything else, nor do I believe does it cast a bad light on me. But then sometimes, we want the world to be something that it might not be.
I want to live in a world in which nobody censors erotica searches or porn tumblers and where the very idea that someone who writes stories for teenagers might be a full human being with varied interests, some of which include video games, other of which include writing erotic stories, doesn’t make the hairs of certain people rise with indignation. I am just not sure this is the world I live in. Not in times of the UK porn ban and blogger deleting blogs that refer to anything even remotely adult.
Why is this so scary? What is it about sex that makes people lose their minds like that?
All of that is a very round-about way of saying that Violet Blue, a porn blogger and activist I have long admired, accepted a story of mine into her Best Women’s Erotica 2014 anthology today. And I jumped up and down and danced around the flat, I was so happy and so proud, because I believed it was a good story and I loved writing it and it’s fun when that is recognized.
This is the 10th erotic short story of mine that has been accepted for publication and as such, erotica is clearly the area that I am most successful in at the moment. It just works for me, and it makes me happy and I need that in between all the worries and the rejections for everything else I produce.
So here we are: I’m an erotica writer. And I’m proud of it.