Like many authors of erotica and erotic romance, Samantha Young and Carmel Lockyer, to name just two, I also write in another genre. In my case: literary/women’s fiction. I had been writing in this genre for some time before I attempted ‘active romance’, as WHSmith are calling it currently.
When I announced that I had signed with Xcite, for my romance, All of Me, many of my friends and colleagues were surprised. I was surprised they were surprised. I’ve made no secret of my love of smutty fiction, and have spoken about the ridiculous snobbery concerning the genre in some quarters. So how did I come to write the hot stuff? I enjoy reading it. A not-so-guilty pleasure. The naughty bits on my teenage reads – Jilly Cooper, Jackie Collins and the like – were well-thumbed. Annais Nin blew me away with her tales of illicit couplings at executions and sex with strangers. So far, so normal. But then I did a degree in literature and those much-loved dirty books took a back shelf for a while. The founding of Black Lace in the 90s introduced me to contemporary authors, like Portia da Costa, and it was great to see the imprint sold in good bookshops. In the 00s I was editor of reading: writing magazine hagsharlotsheroines.com. My fellow founders – two women – and I jostled for roles. Harlot defined me, I thought, but as the oldest of the triumvirate Hag I became. Interestingly, none of us were keen to adopt the mantle of Heroine; and yet we all defined ourselves as feminists as any self-respecting 21st century woman would. After this, erotica dropped from the forefront of my literary scene as I worked on my own mainstream women’s fiction stories and novels.
And then there was EL James. I began reading erotica again (though I was slow to pick up Fifty Shades funnily enough, hurtling myself at other works first). And in 2012 I worked on a number of erotic MSS in my capacity as editor for literary consultancy, Cornerstones, and thought to myself, I’d like to have a go at this. A story that had been swimming round my head for years was perfect. It went on to become All of Me.
My novel is an erotic romance and even without the steamy bits it should stand up as a strong story with involving characters. The sexual relationship between Flick and Orlando adds to our understanding of them – at least it should do! – and I believe the book would lose something without these sections. After all, as Mae West famously said: ‘Sex is emotion in motion.’ And emotion is at the core of romance. But, and this is important and something that those who look down their noses at the genre fail to understand, good erotic romance has all the ingredients of good literature: a powerful story; likeable leads we can root for, with obstacles to overcome; a satisfying ending. And writing that doesn’t read like a 12-year-olds.
It’s a challenge to write good sex scenes and as a newbie to the genre I look to – i.e. read – the masters for guidance and inspiration. It’s a big market with a discerning audience and there are lots of fantastic authors working in it. I’m proud to join the gang and will work hard to produce the best novels I possibly can.
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