Not only is Virgin Books Erotica Editor Adam Nevill a smart and talented guy, he's got a job most men would kill for -- he hangs out with chicks and reads erotica all day long. Of course, the St. Andrews grad takes his work seriously, which is why Virgin produces consistently fine erotica and erotic romance which you should try if you haven't.
Last summer at RWA, Adam told me his reading Anais Nin in early adolescence strongly influenced his understanding of the types of erotic language and imagery women appreciate. Let's offer a grazie to L'Anais for her making the impression that helps him turn out great erotic fiction, and offer a warm buongiorno to Adam.
It’s a really interesting time for the erotic in female fiction. It’s out of the ghetto for a start and not automatically shelved in areas of bookshops that some browsers feel uncomfortable within. Great to see it having a presence at RWA and in Romantic Times too – it’s achieved a validation, and will not be automatically dismissed as ‘porn’ because the fiction explores adult sexuality and female sexual fantasy. But I’m constantly asked what the difference between erotic romance and straight erotica is.
At Black Lace and Cheek we’ve published a mixture of both for a long time, though Cheek is now strictly ER and the Black Lace list a combo of the two. Though putting the romance after erotic makes it easier to sell – because it appears more acceptable to booksellers, reviewing publications and readers – we’ve based our selection criteria on publishing the best adult fiction written by women that we receive, whether it has a traditional romantic fiction story development and conclusion (HEA), or not.
Sometimes these stories explore a female character’s fantasy life, her inner life and quest for experience, and her goal isn’t to find Mr Right and she may not end up ‘happy ever after’ with dream man, but will nonetheless be wiser, stronger, confirmed, liberated by the end. In these erotica novels the explicit adult content arises out of the situation or story, and is not confined to vanilla or monogamous relationships between characters. This would be deemed as part of the erotic genre, particularly in the US, and not erotic romance.
Black Lace, for much of its life, never aspired to be romantic – it was the only alternative for a long time to trad’ HEA novels, and was fundamental in exploring female sexual fantasy. Never underestimate a woman! we always say here, and all of our books are written by women.
But I actually think it’s easier for many authors to write erotic romance – imagining the hero, and the pitfalls of achieving HEA is an easier framework and structure in order to insert erotic content. It is the most natural scenario in which to deal with adult relations – the anticipation, courtship, striving to find the right partner, the experimentation … just like in real life – it’s the aspiration for happiness that most people have.
To write good erotica, without HEA, and without it seeming contrived with a sex scene shoe-horned in every 2000 words, then the situation and setting and main female character has to be conducive to the expression of female sexual fantasy. A world has to be built in which the action is consistent to that world. Hence the plethora of private island and hotel and secret society/academy stories of the nineties – it used to get authors out of jail in terms of plausibility. You would be transported out of this world where different rules applied – and I think this is why paranormal settings and storylines have become popular with authors.
But as an editor, I will always start with the writing. I like to see craft, and voice, and an imaginative flair for the erotic or romantic. A harder erotic novel has a better chance of publication than a mediocre erotic romance that ticks all the boxes. It might not sell as well, but it’s a better book. And we strive for variety. I don’t like production-line writing where it almost seems as if the same writer has written every book on a list. We have guidelines, for sure, but encourage imagination and diversity and style.
Hot Topic Week continues tomorrow with author/Ellora's Cave CEO, Jaid Black.
Encore! Please visit Black-Lace-Books.com and cheek-books.com
Encore due! I just finished "Darker than Love," by Kristina Lloyd, released under Virgin's Black Lace imprint. Well-written, wicked arousing -- romantic, smart, and perfectly bent. Brutally fab m/f/m scene.
Encore tre! File under "Before you start writing asking for info about Adam Nevill." Adam lives in London and has a BA (Hons) in English Literature and a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. He began writing professionally for magazines and newspapers in 1995, before switching exclusively to fiction. He is the author of nine erotic novels under the name Lindsay Gordon, published by the Nexus imprint at Virgin Books, and of the occult thriller Banquet for the Damned under his own name. His short supernatural fiction will be featured in this year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies in both the UK and US. He began editing Nexus in January 2005 and became Erotica Editor of all fiction imprints and erotic memoirs for Virgin Books in June 2005. He currently commissions and edits around seventy books a year with his assistant editor Donna Condon.