For the past fifteen years I've been a Romance author, writing in every sub-genre from a Paranormal Young Adult to Contemporary Comedy. I've gradually become frustrated with the limits of traditional Romance, however: there have been too many times that a scene I thought was sexy had to be heavily edited for fear that for someone, somewhere, it would be over the line.
A finger up the butt? No, no, no! Too perverse for the gentle reader. Most disheartening of all was when what I thought was a funny scene about split-crotch panties and pubic hair was removed because, "pubic hair is an 'ick' factor." Really? But I loved that scene; it was hysterical.
I still mourn the loss of that scene.
Here are the top five reasons I now write erotica, and the benefits I hope my readers get out of my stories.
1. Rebellion against the thought police.
I hate being told it's not okay to think a thought in the privacy of my own head, or to get aroused by whatever oddity my imagination dreams up. I can't be the only one who gets kind of turned on by that Hokusai woodcut print, "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife." But believe me, bestiality fantasies are a hard sell in traditional Romance.
The external world tries to tell us what our sexuality should be, and worse yet, so does our internal censor. Reading erotica is an act of rebellion against those constraints. The seemingly perverse fantasies that I once thought belonged only to me have been normalized as I've found them in stories written by others, and discovered that human sexuality is a widely varied thing. The more I read erotica, the freer my thoughts and my own writing have become. I've learned that the fantasies others would have us suppress as perverse or politically incorrect are, actually, normal. There's no reason not to let them loose to roam our imaginations and bring us joy.
2. I want to give women fresh material for their sexual fantasies.
We've all had it happen: the tried and true secret fantasy we use to send us over the top during sex or masturbation starts getting smudgy and faded from overuse. The zing is gone. But what to replace the fantasy with? Reading erotica exposes us to the wildest sexual imaginings of other people, giving us an exotic repertoire to choose from when next we hit the sheets or "on" button. I love the thought that there are women out there reading my erotica, and taking scenes from it to use for their private entertainment.
I'm also working on a children's book, where not the faintest whiff of sexuality may touch the pages. Basic reverse-psychology here: saying no in one area creates a big need for yes in another. I suppose I'll have to publish the children's book under a different name... It wouldn't do to have someone pick up one of my erotica titles, like "Siren of Gaul," thinking it was a story for little girls about a French mermaid.
I suspect there's an equal need yes-no for balance in our daily lives. Obeying the rules of civility required for harmonious human life is exhausting. There's a reason we're all so happy to return to the shelters of our homes at the end of the day, where we can throw off our public faces and be ourselves. The Internet can be even worse: make a comment with the slightly wrong tone on a forum, and get your marshmallows ready, honey, because there's about to be a flame war.
Erotica gives us a place where wild, 'improper' impulses can express themselves and do no harm. No rules need be followed... Except, of course, when disobeying the rules is part of the turn-on.
4. It jump-starts our sex lives.
Erotica acts as foreplay on the body -- both reading it, and writing it. Spend half an hour reading an erotic novel, and you'll find yourself aching for sex, and only minutes from orgasm. You'll leap on your startled partner (or your hands, or favorite toy) for immediate satisfaction; it's like you've already been fondled for half an hour, and yet no one had to lift a finger except to turn a page. When you get the mind going, the body will follow. Your desperate hunger will probably go over well with your partner, too, as nothing makes someone happier than knowing how badly you want them.
I know a sex scene I'm writing is turning out well when I have to shove the laptop aside and hunt down my husband.
5. The body is beautiful.
This is what my mother always told me: "The body is beautiful." Thank you, Mom, for having raising me not to be ashamed of my body or its sexuality. It's because of her that I'm free enough to write erotica. She's gone now, but she would have been proud of this shift in my career. She did, after all, like to put out birdseed in the spring just so that she could watch the birds having sex.
Well-written erotica turns sex into literary art, and art lets us see the beauty of its subjects through the eyes of its creator. I can imagine no greater gift to my readers than to help them celebrate their bodies and their sexuality as works of art.
Those are the five reasons I write erotica. I hope they're also five reasons for you to read it, if you've never tried it before. You can read my erotic novella "Slave Girl" for free through Mar. 16 at http://xoxoafterdark.com/free-reads/.
Lisa Cach has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and is the USA Today bestselling author of over 25 Romance and Erotica titles.