Okay, first, you all still have to congratulate me on finishing my book, still, and go read my FAR interview linked in the below post. Because I’m afraid I sound like an idiot. So stroke, stroke, stroke my little ego please. (You don’t really have to, of course.)
I ripped out one scene and rewrote it last night, and I think it works much better–it advances the plot now, yay! And I’m about 1k words into the big 6k section replacement, so that’s good too. I don’t know if it will end up being as many words, but the book is long enough, I know I’ll add in editing, and less is sometimes more.
I was wondering, how has erotica as a genre treated you, DQ? Do authors find it difficult to get out, once they’re in? Or are you happy enough that you never want to break out into the “respectable” (society’s opinion, not mine) genres?
It’s actually so funny this question came up now, because my just-finished book is NOT an erotic romance. Oh, there’s some sexy bits, of course. There’s a sex scene I’m immensely proud of and a hero who I think is pretty damn hot. But the book isn’t exactly a romance–there’s a sort of “happy for now” ending which, if the book goes somewhere (pleasepleasepleaseplease) will continue on in the sequels–I have the whole arc of the relationship planned, and it’ll get pretty interesting, believe me.
Anyway, the book is an urban fantasy. It’s the first book I’ve ever written with a Happy Enough ending. It’s the first book I’ve ever written entirely from the heroine’s POV (with a couple of exceptions, but no major character in the book gets a POV except Heroine.) (It’s still 3rd person, though, not first. I don’t think I could write a sex scene in first.)
And now, I’m dreaming of writing an erotic romance again. My CP and I have been working on ideas–we’re eager to collaborate again, just like the French (oh come on, it’s a joke I couldn’t resist)–and I can’t wait to get going on it. I love writing romance, especially erotic romance. I love the total emotional satisfaction of writing two different people who find love and happiness together. I also love writing them doing wonderfully nasty things to each other. It’s fun.
It isn’t all I ever want to write, though. As much as I love erotic romance, and I do, I admit I get a little bored after writing three or four in a row. I want to branch out. I want to write more action, less sex. It’s really the sex. I find after writing a few books in a row my sex scenes get very flowery or very stark. Either I shy away from the physical description, or it sounds like something old men in porno theatres whisper while the movie plays.
Ideally, I’d love to do both. I don’t think it’s difficult, necessarily, for a writer to “break out” of erotic romance–if they want to. Most of the ones I know don’t seem to. They love what they do, and want to stay there. Me, I like to move around a little. My medieval (releasing tomorrow) isn’t an erotic romance, although there’s definitely some hot scenes in there–I never close the bedroom door on my readers. My January book is erotic, and intensely so. I love writing paranormals, but I can’t wait to do another historical too.
My ideal career, in my wildest dreams, is to produce one or two mass-markets a year in the series whose first book I just finished (pleasepleasepleaseplease). Then one or two erotic romances per year as well, possibly staying with ebooks and small press for those. There’s no advances, but the idea of decent monthly paychecks for those is very appealing (although most of them pay quarterly as well, EC doesn’t.)
Because the new series (pleasepleaseplease) is sexy, and contains sex, but I don’t want it to go down the road a certain author went down when she turned her books into nothing but sex, I want to keep writing erotic romance to get it out of my system. Because I get burned out writing nothing but sex, I want to have something else I do. The readership will hopefully cross over, but if they don’t, they don’t–I figure probably 60% or so will. Because I can write an erotic faster than the book I just wrote–it took me 4 months, basically, but my eroroms average about 2–and because I get antsy if I’m not working on anything for more than a couple of weeks at the most, I think I can build up a good list in a few years. (I hope, anyway. keep in mind this is all my fantasy career.)
It’s not, emphatically not, a matter of “respectability”. I’ve never bought that “romance is crap” stuff and I’ve never felt the need to justify what I write to anyone. If they don’t like it, or want to look down on me for it, I don’t give a shit. Romance is just as good as any other genre, or anything non-genre. I love it, and I love writing it. My desire to do something else is just because I like other stuff just as much as I like romance, and nothing more. If people don’t think I’m any good because my work is “just” romance, that’s their small-minded problem, not mine, and they can, as we said in childhood, go jump in a lake.
I think the trick to breaking out of a genre is pen names. Seriously. If the series sells, it won’t come out under DQ (unless the publisher [pleasepleaseplease] wants it too, of course). I’d come up with a new name for it, but not hide it either. So people know my DQ books are erotic romance, but my Other Name books are urban fantasy.
Did that answer your question, or did I just blather on?
Basically, I think the only thing holding writers back from “breaking out” of a genre is themselves–either because they don’t want to, or because they aren’t willing to do the work it would take in order to. Which isn’t to say any one genre is worse than any other, it just means they don’t take the time to explore their writing and the conventions of where they are and where they want to go. And I hope that doesn’t sound shitty, because I don’t mean it to at all. I just mean it’s hard to unlearn things. I had to struggle on a few occasions with this book to keep some emotional things ambiguous. I had to struggle to make sure my characters didn’t suddenly start behaving the way they would in a romance–big “I love you”s etc., because they really weren’t ready. It was me who wanted that, automatically, because that’s what my endings usually are.
Will it work? let’s cross our fingers. But I think we can do whatever we want, if we work hard enough.