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Embracing My Inner Pornographer

by | Aug 21, 2018 | General | 10 comments

I have to apologize. Through most of my life as Lisabet Sarai (which began in 1999 when I published the first edition of Raw Silk), I’ve been something of an elitist snob. Despite having written a great many extremely filthy sex scenes, I’ve always considered myself as an author of “literary erotica”. If you’d asked me what I meant by that label, I’d have launched into a spirited explanation of how my work focused on “the experience of desire” and the “emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality”, not just on the physical acts involved. I would also have talked about how much I hate the stereotypes of porn, and how hard I’ve tried to use original premises, perspectives and characters in my erotica. Finally, I’d mention (maybe a bit shyly) the fact that I view style and craft to be at least as important in erotica as sexual heat.

All of this is true. Nevertheless, if you listened closely, you might have detected a bit of defensiveness in my exposition. My work is not porn, reads the subtext. It’s not obscene. It has redeeming artistic value. Sure, Amazon might be ready to throw me into the adult dungeon along with the authors of Gang-bang at the OK Corral and Taking Daddy’s Big Cock Up My Ass, but my stories are different—more thoughtful, nuanced and complex, less exploitative and nasty. Better… or at least more socially acceptable.

Bull turds.

Nearly twenty years after coming out as an erotic writer, I’m starting to realize that as far as the world is concerned, I’m just as guilty of writing dirty stories as the author of Lezzie Virgins Violated by Extraterrestrial Octopi or Stealing My Sister’s Smelly Panties. The richness of my descriptions, the depth of my characterization, the vividness with which I evoke my settings—none of this changes the fact that, at the end of the day, I write what most people would call smut. Furthermore, my most dedicated fans read my stuff at least partly for the arousal, not because of its literary merit.

In addition, I’ve come to understand that my fears of being viewed as nothing more than a stroke author have held me back. There have been times, especially when I was aiming at a romance market, when I’ve censored myself, turning down the heat or at least mitigating the rawness in my tales for fear of alienating my readers. My fear and my snobbishness combined to make my work less than genuine.

Last year, I started to deliberately write stroke fiction. So far I’ve published two novellas (Hot Brides in Vegas and More Brides in Vegas) that are basically wall-to-wall, no-holds-barred, every-combination-and-position sex. While these books do have a plot and what I hope are appealing characters, my main goals are to entertain my readers and to get them hot and horny. I have no deeper message, aside from the general position that sex is tremendous fun and everyone should get as much as they want.

I’m working right now on the third volume of the series, Sin City Sweethearts. It’s both easier and harder than writing so-called literary erotica. On the one hand, I don’t have to censor myself (much – I’m so tempted to introduce taboo elements like sister-sister incest into the current book, but I do want to avoid the dungeon if I can). On the other hand, it’s sometimes a struggle to turn off my inner critic and just let my fantasies out onto the page. I really have to stop over-thinking things like narrative structure, balanced POV and the Aristotelian unities, because that just slows me down.

Aside from the volume of the sex and the eager horniness of my characters, these porn books are actually less transgressive than some of my more literary work. There’s some mild BDSM, but none of the edgy power exchange action that shows up in my earlier books. I don’t know whether that will change as I continue to explore this corner of my imagination. Having opened this can of worms, I’ll be interested to see what crawls out.

One thing I’d like to try is writing some futa fiction. I’m also personally turned on by some incest scenarios, despite the official prohibition. There are other forbidden but titillating topics that call out to me.

I don’t know if I’m brave enough to respond to those calls. I’m afraid my existing fans would drop me in disgust. Obviously I could create a new pen name for the taboo stories, but I already find managing one pseudonymous identity takes more time and effort than I have available.

Anyway, I’ll have to see where my Muse leads me. She has a very dirty mind.

Meanwhile I’m forced to acknowledge that the boundary between erotica and porn is sufficiently subjective and fluid that it might not exist at all.

About the Author Lisabet Sarai

Sex and writing. I think I've always been fascinated by both.

Freud was right. I definitely remember feelings that I now recognize as sexual, long before I reached puberty. I was horny before I knew what that meant. My teens and twenties I spent in a hormone-induced haze, perpetually "in love" with someone (sometimes more than one someone). I still recall the moment of enlightenment, in high school, when I realized that I could say "yes" to sexual exploration, even though society told me to say no. Despite being a shy egghead with world-class myopia who thought she was fat, I had managed to accumulate a pretty wide range of sexual experience by the time I got married. And I'm happy to report that, thanks to my husband's open mind and naughty imagination, my sexual adventures didn't end at that point!

Meanwhile, I was born writing. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, though according to family apocrypha, I was talking at six months. Certainly, I started writing as soon as I learned how to form the letters. I penned my first poem when I was seven. While I was in elementary school I wrote more poetry, stories, at least two plays (one about the Beatles and one about the Goldwater-Johnson presidential contest, believe it or not), and a survival manual for Martians (really). I continued to write my way through high school, college, and grad school, mostly angst-ridden poems about love and desire, although I also remember working on a ghost story/romance novel (wish I could find that now). I've written song lyrics, meeting minutes, marketing copy, software manuals, research reports, a cookbook, a self-help book, and a five hundred page dissertation.

For years, I wrote erotic stories and kinky fantasies for myself and for lovers' entertainment. I never considered trying to publish my work until I picked up a copy of Portia da Costa's Black Lace classic Gemini Heat while sojourning in Istanbul. My first reaction was "Wow!". It was possibly the most arousing thing I'd ever read, intelligent, articulate, diverse and wonderfully transgressive. My second reaction was, "I'll bet I could write a book like that." I wrote the first three chapters of Raw Silk and submitted a proposal to Black Lace, almost on a lark. I was astonished when they accepted it. The book was published in April 1999, and all at once, I was an official erotic author.

At this point, Raw Silk has been reprinted by three different publishers. The most recent version is available from Total-E-Bound and still selling well, I'm pleased to say. Since that initial release I've published more than fifty single author titles in erotica and erotic romance, including eight more novels, and have contributed to dozens of anthologies.

In addition to writing erotica and erotic romance, I also edit the stuff. I'm very proud of my anthologies of literary erotica, Sacred Exchange: Stories of Spirituality and Transcendence in Dominance and Submission (with S.F. Mayfair) and Cream: The Best of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. I'm also editor for the Coming Together Presents altruistic erotica series. Each Presents volume offers work by a single author, supporting a cause selected by that author. So far we've released seven volumes of stellar erotic fiction, each of which does double duty by making the world a better place.

A lot has changed since my Black Lace days. Black Lace itself has bitten the dust, as has my second publisher Blue Moon. The e-book revolution has made it easier to get published but a great deal more difficult to get noticed. Promotion claims at least as much of my time as actual writing. Speaking of which, I blog regularly at Beyond Romance and Oh Get A Grip, and offer news, excerpts, free reading, reviews and more at Lisabet's Fantasy Factory.

I still get a thrill from writing erotica. It's a never-ending challenge, trying to capture the emotional complexities of a sexual encounter. I'm far less interested in what happens to my characters' bodies than in what goes on in their heads.

10 Comments

  1. I Love your Spirit too!

    please do yourself and the World a big favor;

    Always be yourself ~

    • Thanks for your support! <3

  2. I think you should follow your heart’s desire and write what you feel. Your work will fill some with passion and others with loathing. Just like all genres, you can’t please everyone. So I say try some new things. After all, you have two decades of experience successfully steaming up libidos. You may gain more fans than the ones you lose.

    • Thanks, Darnell!

      I realized after I wrote this that it was my stint writing for erotic romance publishers that got me into censoring myself. In fact my early work was at least as wild as the stuff I’ve been writing recently.

  3. I’m glad you’ve finally released your inner self and let the bad girl have a turn at the keyboard. Or should I say “good girl” as you realize how dirty good girl really is.

    Having read both your nice porn as well as your dirty, nasty, depraved smut I agree that you can do both well but keep the nasty going. What you may find is that your readers of erotic romance will find themselves in the bathroom, door locked, reading your smut stories without daring to admit it to their friends.

    Good girl, keep up the good work!

    • You can take a lot of credit for encouraging me to move in this direction, Larry.

      • We could buy matching raincoats and hang out at the park together and give out candy!

  4. Lisabet – I forgot to mention but why don’t you try publishing your more kinky stuff on SmashWords? They are a lot more accepting of writing stuff that involves things like “sister-sister” which we love but are ashamed to admit. My best sales are typically at SmashWords and you seldom have to deal with their red pen.

    • I do publish everything on Smashwords AND Amazon. I’ve toyed with the notion of doing more taboo stuff on Smashwords only, but unlike you I hardly sell anything there.

      • “but unlike you I hardly sell anything there.”

        You need to meet a better class of degenerates!

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