by Kathleen Bradean
While I agree with Remittance Girl’s assessment of the state of erotica, I also wonder at times if there ever existed such a genre as literary erotica. There were exceptional works: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Little Birds, Story of the Eye. But was it really a genre? Have we been forever looking back to a golden age that never existed, and did we do that while we were in our own golden age for erotica?
Must over those questions if you wish, but what I’m more interested in is the future. If erotica – literary erotica – is forever changed and not in ways that we like as writers, what the hell are we supposed to do? The publishing world is in a constant state of upheaval. Most of the publishers who put out literary erotica aren’t supporting it anymore. So many annual anthologies are falling by the wayside.
Under a different pen name, I write a series of science fiction thrillers. I’ve kept it rather clean since my father, kids, nieces and nephews read them, but I feel constrained. There are scenes I imagine going much further. It feels dishonest to fade to black when I could so easily scorch the pages instead. I’ve even thought about doing fanfic of my own work and writing those scenes to purge them from my imagination. I’m sure some of my fans wouldn’t mind reading those scenes.
But what about other writers who don’t have an alternate outlet? Or what if writing fanfic of my own work isn’t in the cards for me? Things look bleak.
I’m tired of bleak. It isn’t a good look on me. So here’s what I plan to do:
Many of you know that I’ve long wondered if erotica is really a genre. Sometimes it fits into other genres, but generally it’s literary fiction. Meaning that it’s written in the genre style of literary fiction. (As opposed to the genre style of romance, which is the style erotic romance is written in). So I’m going to (after I write the next two books in my scifi series) write a story. A literary novel. It is not going to be a series of sex scenes loosely tied together by a story. But unlike my scifi novels, it will not fade to black when and if my characters have a sexual moment. It will probably use sex and sexuality to explore my characters. Most of all, it will be decadent with desire and sensuality. It will be lush. It may never be published. I’m fine with that. Really, at this point, I’m only writing erotica for myself.