By Lisabet Sarai
When I was in my mid-twenties –
during my sex goddess period – I sometimes went out without
panties. Walking around bare beneath my skirt, every current of air
caressing my naked flesh, was thrilling to the point of addiction.
It’s not that I’m an exhibitionist (although perhaps we erotic
authors all share a desire to expose ourselves). I wasn’t interested
in treating strangers to a flash of my pussy. Indeed, I would have
been mortified if I’d accidentally revealed my bottomless state.
The appeal had more to do with a sense
of freedom and a consciousness of risk, a heady appreciation of my
own delightful recklessness. Most of my life I’d hewed close to the
rules, an overachiever always trying to please others. I’d been shy
and timid, dutiful and diligent, the quintessential good girl. When
my hormones took over the helm, that changed. I found that I was far
braver and more brazen than I (or anyone else who knew me) would have
believed. And I loved that feeling, the notion that I was treading
the edge rather than keeping to the straight and narrow.
My panty-less state focused my
attention on the sensual. I became acutely aware of temperature and
texture. Arousal simmered through me, ready to be sparked into flame
by a chance encounter with a kindred spirit. Erotic possibilities
waited around every corner, and, bare-bottomed and moist with
anticipatory desire, I was ready to take advantage of them.
Writing my first novel felt very
similar to “going commando”, though it came more than a decade
later. I didn’t worry about markets or reader sensibilities. I wrote
what turned me on: wild, kinky, transgressive scenes, every
assortment of genders, twosomes, threesomes and foursomes, floggers
and spankings, nipple clamps and butt plugs, public sex, pony sex,
anal sex, even golden showers. I pushed the limits of acceptability
to the point that my editor actually made me tone down a couple of
scenes (and this was back when Black Lace was billed as “erotica”,
not “erotic romance”). My personal fantasies provided the energy
to move the book forward. Craft issues were secondary. The book had
already been accepted on spec, and I wasn’t really thinking about
what happened after it was published. The writing process itself was
I didn’t know anything about genres
back then., though reading Raw Silk now, I realize that it
follows many of the conventions of modern erotic romance – except,
of course, for its omnisexuality. The inclusion of F/F and M/M in a
book that is mostly M/F will evoke criticism from many romance
readers, who seem to want a sort of genre purity. They’d probably
judge my heroine as promiscuous too, for having simultaneous sexual
relationships with three different men, although in the end, in
typical romance fashion, she chooses to commit to just one.
None of this concerned me back then. I
wasn’t so swept away that I lost sight of the story. Indeed, even now
the novel’s plot strikes me as quite tight and well-paced. I guess
that was instinct, though, because my focus was squarely on the sex.
Like those days when I eschewed undergarments and opened myself to
adventure, I wasn’t concerned with what others thought. I was free,
writing for the pure joy of vicarious experience. I was in my
heroine’s mind and body, living my dreams through her. If others
disapproved, so be it.
If you think catch a hint of
wistfulness in my description of those times, you’re not wrong. I
don’t go commando anymore. The notion embarrasses me – a
sexagenarian exposing her graying pubic hair to the world? But I
remember that intoxicating feeling of lightness and power. I miss it.
And my writing? I’ve had fourteen years
of education on the tyranny of genres, what sells and what doesn’t,
what you can and cannot include in a book aimed at a particular
market niche. I’m constantly tempted, for instance, to let my
straight heroines indulge their occasional Sapphic inclinations, but
I know that will be the kiss of death for any book aimed at the
erotic romance market. Meanwhile, I have a difficult time keeping my
erotica from becoming to “mushy”. Although I’ve had my share of
zipless fucks, I’ve never found sex without some emotional connection
– love, tenderness, loneliness, shared kink, whatever – to be at
I yearn for the freedom – the
innocence – of my first years writing erotica. I’ve started to
realize I’ll never be a best seller (and I’m not even sure I want to
be). So why should I care about pleasing a mass of readers? I know
there are some people who’ll appreciate my particular approach, my
personal blend of romanticism and filth. I should strip off my
official author’s uniform and just write to please myself, and them.
I can already feel the breeze.