That’s a question I get asked a lot. Undertones reach from the giggly – “You’re so daring, you!” – to the reproachful – “Why don’t you write something respectable? Something you can show your grandmother?”
So first, let me say that I think erotic romance is a perfectly respectable genre. Sales numbers alone prove that it has a large following among perfectly normal people. (Even if many of those may not want their grandmothers to know about it, either.) More importantly, there is nothing “wrong,” “dirty” or “evil” about sex. Most people do it. Many of those who don’t wish they did. None of us would be here without it.
It’s a worrying trend in modern culture that sex, a natural part of life, is considered crude, wicked, and unmentionable in polite society, whereas movies that include amounts of violence none of us would want to experience in real life are rated PG-13. Which one of these do we want our children to consider “normal”?
But that only explains why I don’t oppose erotic romance. What makes me want to write it?
Mostly, it’s the artwork that serves as my muse. My writing has always been driven by people and their interactions and relationships. That’s what fascinates me. And for many people (and therefore many characters), the most important kind of relationship you can have – the one that really turns your life upside down, makes you reevaluate what matters and do crazy things – is love.
It’s certainly possible to tell a love story without including the sexy bits, but there’s a price for leaving them out: sex, if written right, isn’t just body parts in motion. A lot of it is about the character's head space and feelings. Letting go, trusting, giving and receiving pleasure, and seeing your partner come undone: that’s powerful stuff. Showing a couple only up to the bedroom door skips over the main thing they’ll be thinking about the next day at the breakfast table.
I write romance because I want to tell stories about people, and I want to include all the important bits. I write for the woman who wishes she had someone telling her these words, and for the man who has the feelings, but cannot say the words.
Poetry is much more than just words on a page. It is about what stirs up in your mind when you are directed to a particular idea, or in my case, the artwork and what it says to me. You can be erotic without being dirty. Once over the line, you have defined yourself.
Please keep it clean, but touch the hearts of your readers.