Breaking the ceiling and letting the sky in. . .
I was reading an article the other day about writing erotica, and one of the points the author mentioned is how much freedom there is in this genre. In erotica, we can put things in our stories that you never find in other fiction novels. How many straight fiction novels deal with gay relationships? Or handle polyamorous romance with grace and humor instead of confusion? I’ve read some books where LGBT issues were touched upon, but usually in a tragic manner. What about interracial marriage? When was the last time you read a book where the heroine was a bit plump (and I’m not talking about a diet self-help book)? In a way, even sci-fi and paranormal erotica do this, often by dealing with inter-species relationships and having characters that grow up feeling different from everyone else (because they’re werewolves, or witches!). This is a mirror of our own life and the issues we face with fitting in and learning when we need to be true to our inner selves, despite the pain it may cause.
Erotic novels get to play with these issues and show readers that there can be a happy ending for these relationships. It may be a strange happy ending, something you’ve never encountered before, but the ability to write about them means they’re in some way possible in reality. We can make what we imagine come true, metaphorically and emotionally. In some ways, despite the fantasy of love and fun that is so important to an erotic book, these novels are more realistic than traditional romances, because life is messy. We fall in love with the person (or people) our hearts want, not the person with the biggest paycheck or the most sedate background, or the one your family likes. These novels help push aside the barriers we as a society so often parrot because of peer pressure and fear.
A friend of mine finished my book the other day and emailed me with a note about gay marriage and how so much of what we think relies on what we know: “Just an odd thought that popped up as I read your book, that society deems what is acceptable relationships, and anything outside of that norm is immediately considered taboo. I like that your book explored a healthy relationship outside of the norm.” Unfamiliarity breeds terror, usually. The first time I ate guacamole I felt like I was eating snot! But I love it now, and I like to think that romantica authors are in the forefront of the movement to enrich our society and promote love instead of fear.
Erin M. Leaf