Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How Sexy is That



It seems these days that the lines of demarcation between romance and porn are blurring. Since I write across the board, not paying attention specifically to what level of intimacy my stories will express, I have the advantage of tiptoeing back and forth across these lines.

This is one of the aspects of being an independent author that I enjoy most. Sure, I must forfeit some sales and notoriety, but I get to experience the freedom to write what I like - and what I like changes from time to time.

But, you might ask, where are the clear distinctions between romance, romantica, erotic romance, and erotica?

Truth is, I don't personally think there are clear distinctions ... anymore.

A great recent example of this can be found in the recent phenomenon called Fifty Shades of Grey.

I remember clearly, the first headlines about this best-selling series. They said things like: Bringing the erotic genre to the mainstream, The newest mommy porn.

There were many more, I'm sure, but none of them stand out in my memory.

But, a strange thing happened as this series gained popularity with the general buying public ... it moved from the erotic category at Amazon to the romance category. Strange how popularity affects what genre a story falls into. This series, once seen as an underground success, is now sold in places that state they abhor erotica like Target stores. Why? Because there is money to be made in an otherwise starving platform.

Some of the romance stories on the market today would have been labeled as erotica or even pornography just a few years ago. On the other hand, there have been some works seen as literary art, such as the Vladimir Nobokov classic, Lolita. I've written about this story before and still believe that, if put before a publisher today, would be seen as bordering on the sanctioning of statutory rape and rejected. Instead, it was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest literary works in history.

I personally feel that a story could fall into all of these genres within the span of romance at one time. Of course, it should be clear that one cannot have erotic romance or erotica without the sexual element being the main thrust (pun intended) of the story.

I also understand that there are those that simply do not want sex in their romance story, or do want to buy erotica for the sexual element only to find out it is mostly some mushy romance. While I do not personally pay any attention to, or even care about genre when I am writing a story, I do try hard to properly classify the story after it is complete. So in order to explain this method of classification (kind of) I'll use my own body of work, which, by the way, is for sale at all major retailers.

I'll start with my most recent work, Lexi's Run. I would classify this story as purely romance, albeit paranormal romantic suspense. This story is all about the development of the relationship between Alexis and Joseph. Sure, this story runs along the backdrop of hiding from a powerful man hellbent on making Alexis pay for rejecting him, running from, and then, taking down a major crime ring, and, of course, turning your love interest into a werewolf so you can be together (although this is not done on purpose) all without expressing, overtly, the sexual relationship between the two main characters. Was there sexual tension? I certainly hope so, but when all the problems are solved and the main characters finally have the chance to fully develop their relationship, Lexi is still a virgin. How's that for romance without the sexual element.

Now, going back to the novel that took place before this one, Lovestruck Succubus, it's all about the sex, at least at first. Hey what can I say, Azra, the main character of this story, must have sex to survive. Sure, she'd love to have a relationship like all those mortals do, but her demon physiology just can't handle it. That is, until she has a run in with Raif, then the story takes a turn toward romance. I would classify this story as romantica or erotic romance. My full description is: paranormal erotic romantic suspense.

Next is the sex in public series, Window Treatment and All the Right Places. This storyline follows our main character, Wendy Parker through self discovery. From a simple mistaken peek into someone elses apartment, she is brought into the world of voyeurism and exhibitionism. So, this series is themed on sexual discovery, but running right behind the main theme is her relationship with Rick, her boyfriend. First she simply draws into her new discovery but at all times, running in the background, is their growing relationship, which culminates in a marriage proposal in the second story. In the upcoming story, Center Stage, Wendy takes a step into uncharted territory and promises to amaze all the readers of the first two stories with just how far she's willing to go.
Believe it or not, this story was hard to classify. I list it as erotica, but I think it could fit reasonably well in erotic romance.

I think, in the end though, one must decide on their own, just what type of stories they are comfortable reading, and never judge an author by just one story because they may be, like me, an author that writes among more than one genre.

1 comment:

Brandie Buckwine said...

Great post, Ellison! The lines between genres do seem to be blurring. I always thought a romance with explicit sex and 'vulgar' language would be classified as erotic, but the other day someone told me my erotic romance story wasn't erotic to them. So I guess it often comes down to the reader. Makes it hard to categorize sometimes.