Why Erotica?

From a writer's perspective, there are few genres that seem to result in as many raised eyebrows as erotica. Romance is questionable, erotic romance is iffy, but erotica? Well. That's just dirty. Or something.

So I'm often asked why I write this way. The thinly veiled assumption often seems to be that I'm secretly some sick, sex-obsessed pervert who just likes to write sex scenes. I suppose this is true in the same sense that Stephen King and Dean Koontz are really deranged serial killers.

I write erotica because - regardless of our puritanical roots making us balk at anything sexual - sex is a significant part of life. The pursuit of it, the absence of it, the need for it, the competition for it...it's a tremendous source of conflict. It changes people. It changes relationships. In some cases, it's changed the course of history (think kings and their mistresses, for example). I find it fascinating how something so basic and primal can have such a huge impact on people, permeating our lives as individuals and a society, even while we shake our heads and insist that it's just sex.

It can be used to bring people together or tear them apart. It can hurt and it can heal. It can trap and it can free. Sex can be used to control, manipulate, destroy, love, communicate, reconcile, redeem, or avenge. It's a powerful thing, no matter how much our culture tries to downplay it or pretend that it's uncivilized and disgusting.

And yet, because of our culture's hangups about sex, there is a common view that most (or all) sex in film or fiction - regardless of how graphic - is gratuitous simply because it's sex. It's something that should be hidden away and ignored.

Quite frankly, that's bullshit.

(And I will spare you my commentary on the hypocrisy of condemning gratuitous sex while ignoring and even embracing gratuitous violence...)

Erotica as a genre should not be brushed aside as lesser writing simply because it is rife with sex. Life is rife with sex, and erotica can be used to portray that facet of life. Can it be gratuitous and poor writing? Absolutely. But is the erotica genre, by definition, gratuitous bad writing? No way. Sex can be used to move people in countless ways, and that's what I enjoy writing about...it's not the sex itself (though you won't hear me objecting to it!), it's what the sex does to people that makes me want to write about it.

In my book, Between Brothers, all but a handful of the chapters are sex scenes of some sort. Light Switch, a character's exploration of BDSM and voyeurism/exhibitionism, is much the same in that respect. All of the scenes are different, and they all advance the story in their own way. The sex is the story. Gratuitous? Absolutely not. Without giving away the stories, the main character undergoes significant changes as a person...because of the sex. Every one of the scenes serves to further that development. There really was no other way I could portray her growth as a person. Of course it's intended to be hot and sexy...that's the whole idea, right? But if you're reading a novel, I assume you want to read a story, so that's what I aim for...hot sex that tells a story.

So I write erotica because sex can - and does - tell a lot about people. I don't claim that I'm writing some profound commentary on the human condition, I'm just doing the best I can to show an oft-neglected aspect of how people interact and how those interactions change us. Sometimes love is part of it, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's erotica, sometimes it's erotic romance.

That's not to say that erotica shouldn't also be written or read because, for lack of a better term, it's hot. It is - that's half the fun of it! My point is simply that I dislike the way our culture turns its collective nose up at erotica. It is not, by definition, bad writing, nor is it "wrong". It's simply another facet of life as reflected in fiction.

Basically, I agree with Adam Lambert's sentiment in the lyrics of the song Kiss and Tell:

"Sex is not the enemy."

And that, my friends, is why I write erotica.

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