Emmanuelle de Maupassant is surveying erotic writers and will be doing a series of articles on her findings. You can find her here if you want to watch out for them.
I thought I’d share some of my answers for those of you interested in my relationship with writing as I see it.
How would you describe your writing style and your choice of sub-genres?
I write Victorian erotic romance. It’s lush, sensual and has a darker underbelly than the usual historical romance. It boarders on gothic eroticism and dark romanticism, yet when the line is drawn in the sand it falls into erotic romance.
Have you written fiction or non-fiction without erotic elements?
No. Love, intimacy and sex are core themes in all my work. I don’ see that changing in the near future.
Do you have any major cultural influences (eg. in theatre/ film/art/music/theatre)?
Not consciously, no.
Conscious cultural influences I feel lie more often in the academic side of writing. Writing to express a point or explore an area/idea/topic with intent.
There are subconscious influences that drive us and come out in repeated symbols and themes, I certainly find them coming through my work.
I think by nature writers with a high erotic content tend to be sensualists and respond to mediums where that sensuality is engaged. I use visuals a lot and music. I watch a lot of films, I paint (badly) and I play music (poorly).
Do you tend to read works by other authors within the erotic genre?
What appealed to you about their work?
Make me feel it. I want deep point of view, immediacy and deep visceral responses… and I’m not talking about the fast flickering tongue or that hard thrusting… thumb, I mean the emotions. I want to feel a heart ripping out of its chest, a stomach churning and twisting with the fear of anticipated rejection and judgement, the deep slow burning of want from a distance. There are lots of ways to write sexy and turn people on, or be clever about the nature of sex and to show what’s behind it. But the writers who make me feel the emotional landscape leave me breathless.
How far does your writing reflect :
a) your own emotional/sexual history/experience?
Sexually it doesn’t. I write things I have done and things I haven’t. Thriller writers don’t kill to write well about murder.
Emotions and life experience including sex, create values and themes in your life, I think we gravitate to or receive themes and values that reflect us and our journey.
b) your own fantasies?
It doesn’t, I think readers would find my fantasies rather boring.
I write to reflect my characters and their fantasies. Stories take something and amplify it. Sometimes my characters and their journeys confront me and I am out of my comfort zone writing or publishing their stories – but I do, and will continue to do so in the future.
c) experiences you have read/witnessed/been told about second-hand?
It’s possible. We are bombarded with information and stimulation and when stories come who knows what has informed their crafting. Again this question speaks more to writing from the brain down to the page… get an idea, research & explore then write a story. I write from the gut out. I believe I experience the flow of the story from the formless to the page as a thread from the collective unconscious. Story and writing is a nebulous feeling that travels through me onto the page.
I think this relationship with the collective unconscious in the writing process and our role to translate it is part of the writer’s role. That we reach down into the archetypal waters and bring those waters back in the form of images, words and story. For me that’s writing which is alive. Each story is a quest of some kind given to the writer to transmute into words as free from their own filters, limitations and fears as possible. That process is a part of living writing.
What inspired you to begin writing fiction with erotic content?
I had no intention of writing erotic romance. But I shouldn’t have been surprised when it became a strong focus of my work; it’s an area of people and life I find the most interesting.
Have your motivations changed since first writing? If so, how? What do you primarily wish to accomplish through your writing?
When I started, writing was a vehicle to tell story. It still is but as I developed, the writing process became a profound vehicle of experience in itself, something to pursue in its own right.
Are there ‘taboo’ areas you are interested in exploring but feel constrained by current regulations / commercial viability / social conventions?
My motivations are not academic, I don’t consider that I write erotica or eroticism, all of which have boundary pushing intentions.
I write erotic situations as a consequence of my characters and their stories. I am not driven by the erotic landscape in and of itself. My characters may yet lead me to controversial boundaries but they haven’t yet.