Erotica and romantica fiction in today's market place -- one author/reader's take.
Article first appeared on Awe-Struck's SIN (Spice Is Nice) Page, March 9, 2003.
"Keep The Bedroom Door Open, Please!" © 2003 by Gracie C. McKeever
As a recent fan and lover of romantica and erotica fiction, I speak from experience when I say I want the steamier side of love scenes between my heroes and heroines - every little silky, smooth, hard, rough, muscular, satiny, gentle, round, curvy, voluptuous, rich vanilla piquant musk evocative detail spelled out for me. The more well delineated the love scene - like any other aspect or scene of a book - the more I enjoy it.
If I'm willing to follow a h/h through the emotional and dramatic mine-fields of their story, into the trenches of whatever their profession might be - doctor, teacher, lawyer, Navy SEAL, FBI agent, corporate raider, narcotics detective, or captain of a starship - then I'm certainly willing to follow them through their hard-won and usually gratifying trip through lovemaking. Others may find having a bedroom door slammed in their face at the point of consummation good clean fun, fair play and proper etiquette, but I find it downright rude, and tantamount to being cheated out of my just desserts. After going through a couple of hundred pages of misunderstandings, sexual tension and titillation, I think I've earned the right to be right there during the point of fulfillment.
Sure my imagination is pretty vivid, and I could probably come up with a love scene to match the characters and the situation, but why should I do the author's job and entertain myself?As a writer, I foster a healthy curiosity about the human element - every facet. This includes sensuality and sex in most of its forms. I can enjoy a sweet romance that closes the door in my face, but, and as long as the sex isn't gratuitous, my preference is for the graphic and realistic.
Some would argue: "I don't need to read every detail; I can get it all at home". Can you really? Every scintillating, thoughtful, rugged, romantic detail? Why pick up a book, if not to experience the ultimate in escapism and fantasy (and maybe pick up a few pointers)? Why read a romance if not to experience the visceral thrill of delicious hot lovemaking with an expert partner who fulfills your every need and want without ever having to ask you what they may be - all the pleasures without any of the risks? For you romance authors who think I have set the genre back thirty years, and you readers now sitting on high, arms firmly folded across your chests screaming "Ah-ha! I knew it all along!" and that romance books are just about sex, think again. I'm talking about only one aspect of a good romance, just as a car chase, violence and gunplay are some elements that make up a good mystery or suspense novel, or bloodletting and gore are elements of a good vampire novel, so too is an explicit love scene but one element of a good romance. And like any other element, when a love scene is well-executed I can accept and enjoy it like any other element of a good novel.I think most humans are voyeurs and romantics at heart, with an appetite for the provocative, sometimes controversial.
Witness the recent spate and popularity of looking-for-love theme reality TV: Joe Millionaire, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Star Date - all built on the premise of finding the perfect mate - translation: sexual partner (Of course we all want a life partner, someone to share our joys, hopes, dreams and even sadness. But remember, we're talking "reality" TV, which gets down to the basics and that's sex.). Romance, erotica, or other books that include spicier scenes in their pages are another forum that feeds our curiosity, thirst for entertainment, and need for fulfillment and titillation - whether it be with sex, action/adventure, or food, sometimes all three at the same time. Perhaps because I, for a long time now, have enjoyed stories and books that leave the bedroom door open, it just stood to reason that my own book(s) would include scenes which leave the bedroom door firmly unclosed, and heroes and heroines who unabashedly embrace their sexuality along with everything else they either love or hate about each other and life. I never expected, however, to be included in a page where the spicier side of romance is highlighted, didn't think that my own work came even close to being "spicy".
I consider the love scenes in my romance(s) as just an extension of the characters and their situations, something in which to celebrate and rejoice, something to appreciate like life, a good meal or fine wine, not something to spurn like dirty laundry. I am honored to be included on Awe-Struck's new Spice is Nice page and hope that FLAMES PAST lives up to the page's - and its own - reputation. And I urge all publishers - e-, small press and conglomerates alike - to keep the bedroom door open, please!