I've been thinking about writing this post for a long time and putting it off because I wasn't sure what I was going to say. In other words, the thoughts that run through my mind all the time when it comes to erotic romance often clash. And sometimes it's difficult to put it all into a blog post, especially since there's a difference between erotic romance and erotica.
But I'm going to try right now. And I'm going to start by saying that I've seen more definitions of erotic romance in my time than I've seen traffic jams on the freeway in LA. So I don't want to step on anyone's toes with this post. I'm just posting what I think erotic romance is supposed to be. It's just my opinion and it means nothing, and I'm also lumping erotica into this post. I know there's a huge difference between erotica and erotic romance. But I'm speaking in general terms now, when it comes of freak shows regarding both erotica and erotic romance.
For me, one of the most important aspects of erotic romance is keeping it from becoming a freak show. And I'm not talking about porn. I've been blasted by some reviewers for writing porn. I'm fine with this; I respect their opinions. But everyone seems to have a different definition of porn these days. Sarah Palin thought Levi Johnston's nude photos were porn and I thought they were basic and very tame. Poor Levi hardly showed his behind. If anything, it was a disappointment. And I just finished reading FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen, and I'm sure there are people out there who would say that some of his sex scenes are pornographic, especially those who lean to the far right. So I'm not even going near the word porn. No one will ever agree on a specific definition and I'm certainly not going to try. I'm sticking to freak show here.
And I do think there's a difference between an erotic romance that's a total freak show and a warm emotional story with a lot of graphic sex. Even though I have crossed lines and pushed a little more than I probably should have with regard to sex scenes in certain books, I'm always striving to make my characters normal people with normal desires who always fall in love in the end. I even base most of my characters on gay men I've known...gay men who were/are, in fact, involved in long term loving relationships. And I take pride in the fact that no one can say my characters are freaks, unless I purposely want them to be freaks for comic relief or to balance the story a little(the closest I've come to freak is with the latest book, with a character named Jeff, and even he's tame). And if the sex scenes in any of my books were toned down and rewritten with pg ratings, there would still be a storyline and there would still be characters with emotion and love. Even the worst review I've ever received made a point of stating this...the reviewer hated the sex scenes, but she did say there was a solid storyline. And, though the review wasn't great, I was glad she mentioned this, because it's all about storyline for me.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with freak shows, or erotic romances that are freak shows. A lot of sex bloggers on the fringes of the Internet have found a niche writing about freak shows and they have quite a few followers. But, frankly, I'm not going to put a scene in any of my books where an overweight bi-sexual hero paints his crusty toenails periwinkle blue and presses them up against a sagging pierced breast that's surrounded with fuzzy red hair. I saw an image like this on a sex blog once and I'm still having nightmares about it. If I want to lose weight, all I have to do is think about this photo and I'll lose my appetite. And even though there are folks on the fringes who are into these creepy things, it's simply not for me. I did get lightly into foot fetish once with a few of my characters, but only as a sideline, during a love scene, and it was never the main focus of the story.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm taking love stories about normal people and incorporating sex scenes into them, and hoping the sex scenes move the story forward. Sometimes those sex scenes are graphic, and sometimes they are very tame. Like the book I'm working on right now, the fourth in The Virgin Billionaire series, where the two main characters, Jase and Luis, make love and pretend to have "literary" sex. But it's all in fun and I try hard to refrain from turning the characters into, once again, a freak show. I'd go into more detail about "literary" sex, but this blog is rated pg and I want to keep it that way.
I hope no one was offended by this post. I'm not casting judgement. I'm just stating the motivation behind my own work, especially since I think it's important for authors these days to clarify themselves so they don't get lumped into a category they didn't want to be part of in the first place. Because when it comes down the the final word, the author is the one left standing all alone, and very rarely is there anyone, from agent to publisher, there to stand behind him.