Thursday, August 6, 2009

The character of S-E-X!

S-E-X - that teeny-tiny three letter word. I find people's reactions to the subject so very interesting. It can be the dirty little word that causes ears to perk and eyebrows to raise. It can make blood pressures boil and cheeks blush. Sex breeds such controversy and shame. Such excitement and satisfaction. Sex garners attention, and at the same time, resistance. Sex, in itself, is a character.

Some believe the natural law of sexual intercourse was for purposes of procreation within marriage for formation of the family unit. The male has an orgasm and if all goes well, the woman gets pregnant. Her orgasm (IF she had one) was intended to aid him, and to assist the meeting of the sperm and the egg. Times have changed, though beliefs still linger in our heads that cause much guilt. All and all, the bottom line is, without sex, all else simply isn't. It's how we all got here, yet it's such a hush-hush subject. Though it is, pleasurable.

In November of 2008, I released my first erotica book, Erotic City, under the name Pynk. I knew that I could not simply write a book in the genre of erotica that's just sex, sex, sex - a writer must have well-developed characters, risk, conflict, and all of the pieces of the puzzle that make for a great story. In spite of those who say sex sells, an erotica book won't sell if you don't work hard to develop the story, and make sure that the sex scenes reveal a lot about the characters; how they react to sex, whether or not they talk in bed (or in the backseat), do they take the lead, scream, give, receive, are they repressed, etc. All of these actions should tell a reader about the individuals themselves.

Erotic City revolves around a woman who owns a swingers club, yet I didn't write a book about swinging. I wrote about the lives of swingers. The second book, Sexaholics, is about four women who are addicted to sex. Sex addiction, just like alcohol or gambling, is an illness. Writing the book required a lot of research to develop each character's specific arc. I even attended a few Sexaholics meetings just to learn as much as I could. For me, writing erotica is fun, yet just as challenging and just as much work as my mainstream titles. It still requires adherence to craft.

During my erotica talks, we do discuss my characters, but also, men and women also ask about sex toys, swinging, cyber-sex, oral sex, squirting, etc. The ones who start out looking reserved and shy, eventually tend to let their hair down. I love it when we can talk openly amongst each other about such important, yet still taboo subjects. Especially women, because we've been taught to not embrace our sexuality, that we won't get a husband if we're not "good" girls who save themselves for marriage, even though we desire to enjoy ourselves to the fullest extent, too. After all, bodies are built for pleasure. I try to encourage readers to be sexually confident, and remind them that whether they're alone, married, committed, single, gay, straight, whatever; to be mindful of protecting themselves through safe sex, first and foremost. Healthy sex amongst consenting adults can be a beautiful thing, and it's really no else's business. It basically depends upon one's spiritual and moral beliefs, and one size does not fit all.

I hope that through my erotica writing, I can give readers a peek into what it's like to live lives that are considered risque or erotic. I try to allow folks a voyeuristic view into the daily lives of my characters - living through them even though most times we wouldn't dare, and maybe heat up the libido of a reader or two. I always joke that reading erotica does not equate to freak-hood, :-) any more than writing erotica does. In the meantime, I hope that we women, especially, take time to live our sexy dreams. To me, as a writer, that would be orgasmic!

Here are a few books that Oprah recently recommended about sex. Please feel free to check them out. Smooches!


Liane Spicer said...

I've read a couple books that purported to be erotica, but they disappointed me. There was so little character development, so little 'story', that there was no reason for me to get invested.

One was the famous Delta of Venus which I could not bring myself to finish reading. Character-less people running around banging everything in sight, including animals and corpses, is not my idea of a good time - or a good story. I think good erotica should be as much about strong characters and compelling story lines as any other novel, but with more explicit erotic content. I'd be happy to find good examples of the genre.

I agree that writing sex isn't easy. Several reviewers mentioned that they liked those scenes in my first novel, but by the time I got to the second novel they seemed a lot harder to do.

Stefanie Worth said...

I've never read erotica (ssssh!), but I remember my editor's instructions to "spice up" the romance between my heroine and hero in my debut. You're right, Marissa -- it isn't easy. I save my love scenes for last because by the end of the story I know so much more about who my characters are and how and why they react to each other the way they do.

I've used Cosmo, GQ, Dr. Drew and a few other resources for reference. I'll have to check out your suggested reading list. (And not leave those books on my desk for the kids to investigate!)