So, this week, we’re going to talk about erotica. I know the subject makes some people uncomfortable, but surely not any readers of an Irreverent blog. Still, I am aware that even those who aren’t made uncomfortable by it often feel it is less legitimate than other forms of expression. After we talk a little, I’ll tell you why I don’t agree.
You may have noticed from my attempt at amusing anecdotes that I was not an “average” child. I was exposed, at an early age, to a variety of inappropriate material. Adults seemed to find it amusing when I’d pick up the Playboy magazine. I think they forgot I taught myself to read by age 4. No one grabbed the Penthouse out of my hands either, when I would sit still for a half hour deciphering “Oh, Wicked Wanda” and trying to figure out what in the hell was going on. I think their first cause for concern was when I found the Hustler under the bed, where they had at least tried to hide it, and attempted to act out things I’d read from The Story of O.
This was not the only source of “erotica” available to a young person with a good vocabulary. Everyone and their grandma read romance novels, and those were, in some cases, nothing much but prettied-up period porn. As I grew, I discovered the clean, beautiful work of Anais Nin, and the dense lush work of Anne Rice, whose very prose was erotic, even outside of the genre. As we read, so shall we write. I wrote about sex before I ever had it. After beginning to write, often terrible things of the fan fiction variety, I discovered others who wrote such things. In the world of fan fiction, I was exposed to homoerotic literature, and devoured it as readily as any story I loved. It was pretty to imagine these things, and reality, at first, was a grave disappointment.
So, what am I saying here? Certainly not that we should perpetuate puritanical attitudes about sex, or even quash childish curiosity. However, there are appropriate levels to anything. Talking to each other is the only way we figure all of that out. Talking about sex, especially to our children, is difficult depending on one’s background and upbringing.
This is exactly why I believe erotica is as valid as any other form of expression. We are sexual beings, and if we can’t talk about it, at least we can read and understand that others have been through the same sorts of things. All human experience should be the purview of the author.
Appropriate or not, erotica is literature that seduces and arouses, as opposed to porn that is like a semi-consensual quickie in a truck stop restroom. Notice, I said literature. Hence, there must be a story, in which adult things happen to happen. If your story starts out “So, there I was….” chances are you’ve written some porn. I have no objection to porn; the internet is certainly full of it.
As I have shared my thoughts with you, I’d like to share some authors and work that I have admired and at least one piece that I think misses the mark.
One of my favorite authors of erotic literature is a close friend of mine, currently writing as T. Baggins. T. writes M/M erotic romance, brilliantly. Whether writing a grim tale of prison love, in Protection, a modern day Coming Out/Cinderella story in Something Different, or a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant love story which manages to discuss politics, coming out, and death, and in a realistic and sometimes amusing way, called “Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay)”. T’s work is heavy on character, sparkling at conversation, and is erotic to boot. If your mind is open, or you already know you enjoy M/M stories, read T.’s work. I highly recommend it.
Recommended to me by T. was Beg (Los Angeles Nights) by C. D. Reiss, and I was grateful for the recommendation. I liked the fact that Monica, the first person narrator of this novella, refuses to put her work aside for romance. Again, there’s story AND passion. Great fun.
An author new to me, Ruby Red is a name to watch. Although Fill Me Up (Hollywood Pearls, #1) is a short story, it creates fully realized characters, and hot erotic action. The adventures of Lillie Kensington will continue, and I’d recommend them.
Now, the one that I think misses, and why. I will admit I didn’t finish it, for exactly the flaws I’ll detail. Love The Sinner, by Avril Ashton, had an intriguing concept, of a cop and a criminal drawn to each other against all reason and taboo. My issue was simple. Lust at first sight is perfectly possible, but love at first sight? Don’t stretch my credulity too much. When you add in the fact that these men are from opposite sides of the law, I need a little more to believe that they’ll fall in love instead of just in bed. This one jumped ahead too fast. I couldn’t get my disbelief off the ground.
Erotica is exactly as valid as other forms of expression. An author owes the reader honesty, even while spinning talks. Honesty can be found in every genre, and creates enjoyable reading!