Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top Ten Myths About Erotica Writers

1. We're sex experts.

I can't tell you how many emails I've received over the years asking for sexual advice from readers who were sure, since I write about sex, I must have the answers they're looking for. While I, personally, do happen to have a degree in psychology, I'm not a sexual therapist and don't profess to be one. I've made my best attempts to answer questions, always with the caveat that I am not an expert. Writing about FBI agents doesn't make thriller writers qualified to guard the president and writing about sex doesn't make me qualified to tell you how to do it.  

2. We’re nymphomaniacs.

I'm sure a few of us are, but for the most part, no. I'm not having sex on every surface in my house twice a day. I'm a sex writer, and not a sex blogger, for a reason. I write about the sex lives of imaginary people, not my own. While the two may cross on occasion, that line is blurry and indefinable. The reader doesn't know which part is mine and which part belongs to the character. Don't get me wrong--I like sex. I wouldn't be writing about it if I didn't! But I'm not a nymphomaniac or a sex addict by any stretch of the imagination.

3. We're all gorgeous.

 Right. Sure we are. And all those pictures erotic authors put on their Facebook profiles are really them. We're all busty, nineteen-year-old nubile beach bunnies who love sex and writing about it in our books, just for you. And if you believe that, I've got some unicorns for sale... The fact is, I've been to gatherings of erotic writers and we're all pretty normal people. You'd never spot one of us in Target and think, "I bet she writes erotica!"  

4. We're immoral.

This is so not true. Most of us have very solid values and beliefs. Morality is a touchy subject, but the fact is that erotica writers do have morals and we're usually very clear about what they are. I wouldn't commit adultery, for example. I happen to take my marriage vows very seriously. They're sacred to me. But I also think that marriage can take place between a man and a woman, or a woman and a woman, or a man and a man, that the only thing that makes it a marriage is that sacred commitment. I think most erotica writers are probably more liberal in our moral beliefs than non-erotica writers, but for the most part we're not immoral or even non-religious. I know many Christian erotica writers, believe it or not. And many more who are spiritual and believe in a higher power.  

5. We're ashamed of what we write - that's why we use pseudonyms.

We usually use pseudonyms to protect ourselves from judgment, yes, but not because we're ashamed of what we write, but because other people are. I know some erotica writers who use their real names, and good for them! Most of those don't have children, or have children who are grown. There is a stigma in our culture about sex, unfortunately, but the labels pasted on an erotica author's forehead say far more about those applying them than they do about the writer. I'm not ashamed of anything I write, but I do go out of my way to protect my family and my children from any possible fallout from religious or anti-porn zealots. I also know that because there is a myth that erotica writers are gorgeous, immoral nymphomaniacs, many people believe we want to have sex with them, and some have even sought me out to tell me so. Writing under a pseudonym doesn't insulate me completely, but it provides another layer of protection from that sort of thing.  

6. We only write erotica for the money/attention/titillation ________ (fill-in-the-blank).

This may actually be true, for some erotica writers. But for those of us who have done it a long time, who have a bit of longevity in the genre, I don't think we set out to make a million dollars, or gain fame and fortune. Like authors in any other genre, we had a story to tell, and we told it. It just happened to involve human sexuality instead of vampires or CIA Agents. (Okay, I admit, sometimes those things mix... sometimes in the same story!)  

7. We only write erotica to pay the bills so we can write our more "meaningful" books on the side.

 I don't. I think I put a great deal of "meaningful" into my erotic work, and I hope that most erotica writers do the same. I think the good ones really do. Do I have another pen name for mainstream work? Yes. Do I consider it better or superior to the writing I do as Selena Kitt? No, I really don't.  

8. We condone doing everything we write.

This is a big one. I don't condone incest, underage sex, unsafe sex, rape, nonconsent, public sex, threesomes, group sex, eating uncooked beef or fish, driving at unsafe speeds, or any of the other things I may write about. This is the stuff of fiction. It's a fantasy. So if my characters don't put on condoms, please don't send me hate mail about how I must want everyone to get herpes. If my characters are exploring sex with a sibling, and you think that's sick, remind yourself that these two people are not only not really related--they're not real! I'm not saying you should go have sex with your brother. I'm just saying that reading about a sister and brother having taboo sex can be a hot fantasy. It can also open the door to an exploration of their feelings and the issues that come up if something like that did happen. As a writer, I admit, I like edgier topics. Not everyone does. But just because Stephen King likes to write about evil clowns doesn't mean he would condone the Shrine Circus having a "kid killing" act in their show. Let's keep it real. Or, in this case, not real, but fiction!  

9. We're ruining marriages and relationship with our "mommy-porn."

I heard a great quote from Dr. Phil the other day. He was talking about the EL James Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and someone basically asked him this question--was this mommy-porn ruining marriages? His response? If reading a book ruined your marriage, it was already over. In my experience, most of my readers write to thank me for revitalizing their sex lives. Husbands write about their wives' new reading habits. Wives usually say, "My husband doesn't know what hit him after I read one of your books!" As far as I'm concerned, I'm having a more positive effect than a negative one.  

10. We don’t care if young children see our books, we just want the money.

This is really not true. I have called for, time and again, clear and consistent boundaries from the companies who carry my books. I'm fine with an "erotica" section that is adults only. I have kids, too, and I don't want them seeing or reading things they shouldn't before they're ready. As a parent, I know that I'm ultimately responsible for that, and I can guarantee you that my children won't ever stumble across a "Selena Kitt" book by accident. But I can't police every parent's child, only my own. For now I have to rely on parents to keep their children safe, and maybe that's the way it should be. But it doesn't mean I'm not horrified at the thought of an underage person reading my work, because I am. I don't want it to happen, and I wish parents were more responsible about keeping tabs on their kids, and that businesses were more receptive to giving parents controls that allow them to do so.

Selena Kitt
Erotic Fiction You Won't Forget

1 comment: