Friday, August 23, 2013

Romance, Erotica and Romantica - How dirty do you like it?

Most people know I write romance. It really comes as no surprise because I grew up reading it, in the G-PG white cover kind of way. Most of the heroines were virgins and the HEA meant the hero finally figured out he loved the heroine so they could commence to the marryin', forever after and gettin' busy portion of the story. This was conveniently NOT contained within those safe romance covers back when I was reading them in the early 1980s.

Judith Krantz was as scandalous as I got back way back when. I remember opening up that book to select passages to read, with a great deal of titillation, the naughty bits that weren't in all the "Good Girl" novels. I graduated to V.C. Andrews when I became a teenager, and her subjects were taboo even if the prose wasn't that explicit. Back then I had to write my own sexy stories based on very limited knowledge, should the desire hit to read about all things dirrrty and forbidden.

As I got more experience, I started to see how I could use my natural talent to turn a phrase into a powerful tool in my seduction arsenal. Find out what a man wants, write the story, let him read it and voila. He's putty in your hands.

Because of this, I started writing straight erotica for a male audience. I've danced around in the areas of taboo to further push the envelope because that's the kind of writer I've always been. I'm a Scorpio. When it comes to sex I want to unearth all the dirty little secrets. And I got quite the following because of it, in various formats. It's always been done anonymously because of the whole "image" thing. The sanctity of a pen name of a hotter than hot sex siren when selling this kind of erotica is fairly important - if you're selling to men, especially.

As a result, I ended up keeping my romance more mainstream and PG. Anyone who has read Love Plus One or Picture Postcards can tell you that it was all about the meet, the chase for that HEA BEFORE the deed went down. The only books where I broke this rule were Under Texas Skies and a couple of earlier, unpublished manuscripts.

I decided to make Groupie more explicit and sex-positive, a "romantica" if you will. You can't really write out a rock star fantasy without having "the moment" - and I guarantee you that's going to come way before any thoughts of a HEA.

After that, writing Fierce in the same way was a given. It's more widely accepted than it used to be when I was growing up. In fact, in this post-50 Shades atmosphere, anything goes, really. Women are open to it, just as open as any man who tackled the taboos I used to write about.

In honor of this discovery, I'm going to "out" my "evil twin" who writes straight erotica. I protected her identity for a long time because the erotica I write handles things normally frowned upon under the more rigid "romance" or "romantica" rules. When we pick up a romance or romantica book, we expect the two leads to end up together at the end, in either a Happily Ever After or a Happily For Now. My erotica? It's a *wee* bit more sexually liberated than that.

Case in point, my story "Raven Walks." I created a character named Raven Crow, who is a vampire who feeds off of the sexual energy of his prey. He's done this for centuries and by the time we meet up with him in modern New Orleans, our bad boy alpha male is bored. He wants to find a partner who will challenge him. It's written from his point of view as he stalks the balmy southern nights for something that will make him feel alive again.

It was originally written for Literotica, where I fully intended for each chapter to have its own "meet/chase/capture" moment just for the fun of writing it. Somehow a book grew from this with a plot I discovered right alongside Raven as we walked these dark, seductive paths together. I realized that my readers STILL wanted him to have a HEA or HFN, and were VERY unhappy with me when I colored outside the lines.

I ended up rewriting it with a lot more purpose when I decided to release it for publication, where it walks the line of romantica/erotica from chapter to chapter. Ultimately it's an erotic horror story that deals candidly with all types of sexual situations and partnerships. It's not about a HEA, it's not about finding love and sweetness. It stars a vampire, an apex hunter, who dances between life and death with every encounter, driven by blood-lust... or just plain lust.

That's what the vampire legend is about. Vampires are the ultimate sexual fantasy. Not love... pure, raw sex and the dangerous power of seduction. My novel was written to be the anti-Twilight. The heroine of the book (named Ginger, because I can't get away with that in any OTHER book except that which is written under a pen name) understands that falling for a vampire is a HUGE no-no. She has to protect herself from getting too close, and I think the way I figured out how to do this was rather ingenious if I do say so myself. Imagine wanting, more than anything, the thing that could harm you most of all. THAT is a vampire book.

And girlfriend is POWERFUL. She has to be to survive in that world.

To me, the biggest turn-on is power. Not so much dominance, but someone in control - who can yield it when the situation calls for it. (Both sides.)

Some future titles will actually blend the erotica into romance titles, such as The Undisciplined Bride, The Leftover Club and The FFF Handbook: Rules for the Full-Fledged Floozy.

But, in the meantime, IF you are up to the challenge to read a book that has very explicit sex, in very liberated combinations, where falling in love is an afterthought and HEA's are not required...

Check out "Raven Walks" by my evil twin Ivy Greene.