Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Adam Nevill GuestBlog: Never Underestimate A Woman

Contest!!! One lucky commenter receives a set of Black Lace novels!

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.


What types of erotica work for you? What kind of imagery and language do you find erotic?

***

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.

91 comments:

Portia Da Costa said...

What a wonderful summary of Black Lace, both then and now. Since the very beginning, I've been longing for us to reach a wider audience, and with you at the helm, Adam, we've finally broken out! Wahey!

And I for one am *thrilled* by the return of the romantic voice to Black Lace. I've been writing my Black Lace novels with a romantic sensibility from the very beginning, and it's liberating to be able to give full rein to a synthesis of romance and eroticism. I adore the HEA, although I must put my hand up to having written my share of 'sexy hotel' and 'secret erotic society' stories in my time. :)

I'm looking forward with optimism to seeing Black Lace grow and evolve ever more in the years to come, with more and more women all over the world enjoying our books!

Wendy Wootton aka Portia Da Costa
Continuum, Black Lace, Feb '07
Gothic Blue, Black Lace, April '07
Suite Seventeen, Black Lace, June '07
- and writing for the line since 1994!

amy*skf said...

We actually talk about imagery and language alot here, and it always seems to be agreed upon, that, in the right hands anything can be erotic.

I like to be surprised by words and by what might suddenly seem so sexually charged, that in other circumstances would be considered innocent. Other times, I want the language right there, in my face--

Not making much sense--it's in my brain somewhere, maybe after the second cup of coffee...

Adam Nevill said...

Wendy

Thanks for your kind words, and for all of the electric fiction. And I highly recommend Portia's fiction to any reader of story-and-character-driven fiction with an erotic edge.

Hi Amy, you make sense to me.

Explicit language from a character from whom you least expect to have such a vocab', in dialogue, during the height of passion or anticipation, can be dynamite in erotica. And erotica has moved on from the old adult magazine vernacular, though it's reputation is still cursed with such a tag. But overwriting and euphemism still crops up, again and again, in the slush pile. Writing erotic material convincingly is hard - writing erotica is hard. It requires all of the same skill and craft that any other genre of fiction requires, only it sets out to be arousing to the reader's imagination as well. It's a tall order and there are so many tastes and fantasies to consider. And an erotic scene is often more about who is involved, what is at stake, 'I really shouldn't but I just can't help it' ... than what actually occurs. Stripped down, clear language that sustains intensity is any writer's best bet. Any hint of the clinician and it's over. It is so hard to write adult scenes without it appearing absurd, but it can be done.

Playground Monitor said...

Welcome Adam! I remember seeing you in Atlanta and asking who you were.

I'm a Virgin virgin :grin: but I just dug through my box of books from RWA and found "Sex.. on the Move -- a Wicked Words short story collection edited by Adam L.G. Nevill." Guess I'll move that from the box to the TBR pile. Sounds like it will warm up one of these 18-degree nights we've been having.

I've read a little erotica/erotic romance/whatever you want to call it and some left me cold (it was mostly tab A into slot B with no passion and sensuality) and I've read some that was tab A into slob B with loads of passion and sensuality. I definitely prefer the latter.

Writing erotic material convincingly is hard - writing erotica is hard. Amen, brother! From my own limited writing experience I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to write foreplay and/or sex so that it's not just a jumble of words on the page but instead are words that convey an emotion and an atmosphere and (here comes those words again) passion and sensuality. In erotica, they just convey it with more grit and the emotion is a little rawer and the atmosphere is rife with lightning bolts and earthquake tremors.

Marilyn

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Good morning, all, and thanks, Adam, for joining us on you London schedule. I appreciate your delineation of erotica v erom, as well as why fogging things up a bit by stating that adding "romance" to the label, makes it easier to sell, especially in the current market.

I'd been aware of Virgin erotica for years when it was tucked away in those delightfully forbidden sections of the bookstore. So, I'm happy to see it become a prominent house now that erotica's become somewhat more acceptable.

I wonder if you might describe your experience "reintroducing" Virgin erotica to a US audience rather than your steady European one. I can only imagine the hassle working through our double standard about sexuality and in which mediums they may be depicted acceptably. Not to mention the shifting definition of pornography

I often think that erotica is seen as more literary than romance because it doesn't entertain the facile ending as a rule. But it's interesting to note that from w/in your genre, you deal w/ the ghost of Playboy Advisor and those horrid men's confessional memoir pieces.

Yet one really could separate erotica into women's, men's, and gender neutral, no? And I wonder, in your own Lindsay Gordon erotic novels such as "The Bond," whether you simply write what you find erotic or shift your sensibilities in appeal to women readers.

MaryKate said...

:MK stammering: Portia de Costa! Wow! Wendy, you wrote one of my all time favorite erotic pieces, "The Tutor." I recommend it all the time as one of the finest examples of erotica.

Adam, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the decision to "re-cover" the Black Lace books? I've noticed at my local Barnes and Noble that they are now shelved right with mainstream romance, which is great. I love the new covers.

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Adam to RBTB!

Woot! Portia DaCosta in the house!!!!!! I recommend to anyone who want to try erotica and haven't yet...get yourself a Portia book. Extremely well written and smokin' HAWT!!!

I also really enjoyed Michelle Pillow's Fierce Competition in the Cheek line.

I'm a big fan of the menage...give me a sammich any day of the week...I'm partial to a little spanking, I like a little rough sex, but not into D/S or bondage. I have to have adventure in my books...so stranded on a deserted (or so everyone thought) island, or running from bad guys...

I need that extra stimulation to be satisfied. I like a lot of action and some intrigue mixed in with my sex...

Adam, you should open an erotic-adventure line...Damn! I have a million books for that line...I could write one after the other after the other...LOL

amy*skf said...

Michelle, good point about erotica being deemed more literary than romance or erotic romance--I always see: The Best Erotic Fiction of the Year books at the library, I've yet to see The Best Romance Fiction of the Year books.

MK, you just recommended Portia's The Tutor to me yesterday!

Adam, we've talked about euphamisms--purple prose, sometimes I like it--a smattering, just to soften the edges.

LISA WILLIAMS said...

I prefer the erotic romances with the sex not too vulgar like continual use of porn words.

Nikki Magennis said...

I wanted to write something about how I believe love and sex are inextricable - how any sexual encounter has emotional force (even if its not the standard sugarsweet love affair, though they're good too). That's what I love about erotica - the interplay between the physical and the mental. That and the fact that it's sexy, bien sur

I also wanted to say why I love Black Lace - for constantly striving to push the boundaries, and for being the cheeky-but-sophisticated renegade among publishers.

But I keep scrolling back up to that picture! Hallo, Adam, halloooo! You do scrub up well, don't you? Why, I could just plant a big kiss on that shiny pate of yours!

; )

(Having successfully lowered the tone, I'll bow out gracefully...)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'm so glad you joined us, Wendy, and pleased that you've found an atmosphere in which you find your creativity valued. You've become a bit of a legend 'round here.

Especially here at RBtheBlog, we embrace the right of the individual to choose what turns her or him on, which is why we're exploring the worlds of erotica and erotic romance.

I find it interesting that you're happy w/ the "return of the romantic voice" to BL. I wonder, what is it you missed about that component of the erotic stories being published.

Marilyn,the Virgin anthologies are great ways to sample new work and authors' styles. Really bad writing about sex leaves me cold, too, no matter the genre. Pathetic, clinical writing is almost too much to bear.

I generally think of (good) erotica as being stark, brisk, and driven by intense emotion which probably doesn't include soft emotional intimacy, love, or romance. But there's something very exciting about finishing a piece feeling emotionally battered as well as physically raw or on edge.

Ames, I'm gonna say it for you ,Bella. It turns me on to hear the rough alpha tell me (cause I'm the placeholder), "I'm going to fuck you like you've wanted me to since the first time I kissed you."

And then, perhaps in a Regency, the peeling back of a portion of glove to stroke the underside of the wrist, given all historical dynamics and constraints, is outrageously hot.

Or did I truly misunderstand you?

Cathryn Fox said...

Hi Adam,
Welcome and thanks so much for chatting with us all! I really enjoyed meeting and talking with you in Atlanta.
Portia, I loved entertaining Mr Stone!
Vivi, you do write the best erotic-adventure stories!

kristina lloyd said...

‘Perfectly bent’ and ‘brutally fab’! Thanks for your comments on Darker Than Love, Michelle. I’m thrilled. I wrote it some years ago and it’s just been reissued along with my other BL novel, Asking For Trouble. I had a break from writing erotica for a few years but Adam’s brought a fantastic new energy to the imprint and he’s lured me back. Actually, I didn’t take much luring! It’s great to work with an editor who cares about the quality of writing and is prepared to take risks.

Writing erotica can be tough and it does require a lot of focus. Coy language can sometimes, paradoxically, be more vulgar than a few well-placed Anglo-Saxonisms. It can seem unseemly and squeamish – vulgar in the sense of ‘tasteless’. Ultimately, the language always has to work with the characters, the pacing, the background of the story, and you have to try and strike a balance. The sexiest thing, though, is always going to be what’s going on in the characters’ heads and hearts. For me, everything starts with character, and I love putting my characters in situations they’re not always comfortable with. As a writer I always want to explore and learn, and I’ve found myself in some strange imaginative spaces through writing smut. Heck, it’s great fun though – especially when you realise your editor has a face and is actually quite cute!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Nikki, trust me on this: you'd be hard pressed to lower the tone in this joint on some days, especially during the World Cup.

Anywayz, it's that not-necessarily-love-but-intense emotion-nonetheless aspect that I was speaking of earlier; the thing that makes good erotica rock. Sometimes one cringes reading a piece, but that's the glory of it, the fact that one can read about sex and feel divergent emotions that makes the erotica reading experience desirable and satisfying.

I enjoy most the novel that melds humane emotion and intense sensuality, which is, to me, erotic in the true sense of the word. I think we could happily debate why the term erotica was coined, and why a genre not necessarily about loving emotions was labeled in such a way.

Vivi, are you shamelessly promoting your action erotica line again? Good for you. Menage, rough sex, and spanking. Here I thought we only had sammiches in common.

HI, Cathryn! We feel the same about Vivs. You know, somehow I rec'd one of your notepads w/ the "bound gams" image on it at RWA. I had to write a note to my son's teacher one day, grabbed a sheet from the pad and scrawled on the reverse. Luckily, my husband noticed before I sent it off to school. That would have been, perhaps, a bit inappropriate for 4th grade.

You're so welcome, Kristina. Great words on language, because nothing stops a scene cold faster than a proud manhood or the creamy petals of her flowering sex.

Mae Nixon said...

It's good to hear from so many fans of Black Lace fiction. It's great to know that BL are so popular in the US. Black Lace novels are as diverse and complex as the women who read them and I'm sure readers appreciate the mixture of hot, steamy sex and characters you can relate to that we authors try to create.

I believe that erotic fiction works best when it has a strong thread of romance running through it because it's tenderness and intimacy which give sex so much of its power and intensity. I'm also a strong advocate of HEA, even though, in my novels, its quite likely to be a downbeat, non traditional, 21st Century version of HEA.

Adam is right when he says that writing erotica is hard. I think sex is one of the most difficult types of fiction to write because a single, misplaced word can ruin the rhythm and mood. Likewise it's difficult to get the romantic element right without tipping over into mawkishness or stereotypes. It's nice to know that readers think we're getting the balance right.

I try to imbue my novels with romance, sensuality and interesting, believable characters because I believe that's the key to helping the reader engage with the story. I've contributed several short stories to Black Lace anthologies (check out Sex at the Sports Club, Sex and Shopping and Sex and Music) and my first BL novel "Wing of Madness" is out in the spring.

Mae Nixon

Vivi Anna said...

Hey Cathryn!!! *long wet slobbering kisses*

I agree Kristina, it should always be about character.

Michelle, I agree...I love it when a man says that... *blushing, cuz Michelle said fuck*

Cathryn Fox said...

Michelle, that is so funny! I'm laughing over that! I'm pretty sure that would have made for great conversation during parent/teachers!

For those wondering what Michelle is referring to, at RWA I gave out notepads with the image of my Pleasure Control cover, the one posted here.

Michelle Pillow said...

*waving at Adam*

I also really enjoyed Michelle Pillow's Fierce Competition in the Cheek line. Ah, thanks Vivi Anna. You made my morning. I'd tackle you with hugs, but the "boss" is watching and the coffee cup seems to be glued to my hand, lol

Unlike the amazing Wendy, I'm newer to Virgin, writing Erom for thier Cheek line. Fierce Competition was my first, then Opposites Attract--which released during Adam's taking of the helm. :)

As a US author writing for thier side of the pond, I love the Cheek line and what Adam has been doing with it. It's a very exciting time.

I'm a sucker for the HEA's. I love watching people fall in love, no matter the story. As an author, it's wonderful to be given freedom in a story and the authority to "tick" the boxes I feel the story needs while quietly pretending the others don't exsist.

Has everyone seen the newer covers they're doing for Cheek? I can't be the only coverart addict here, lol. Like Alison Tyler's With or Without You posted in the blog? I LOVE THEM! My newest cover, Bit by the Bug, part of a series I'm starting for Cheek, should be where my profile picture goes.

Happy Holidays everyone! Wonderful blog topic, thank you for hosting.

Michelle
www.michellepillow.com
Cheek Books:
Fierce Competition
Opposites Attract
Bit by the Bug - Coming USA Feb 2007
Along for the Ride - Coming USA Fall 2007

adam nevill said...

Good to have a playground monitor here in case things get out of hand ;-). Hope you enjoy Move, PM. A good collection. Though it should ahve read Edited by Lindsay Gordon - my psued' for erotica. I use my own name for supernatural horror.

And thanks for having me ya'll, and asking so many good questions. Let me try and address them, but forgive me if I digress too much or forget to answer any - male habits, and I admit to being hopeless at multi-tasking.

Michelle - good morning. Re your question on the literary, we do publish a variety of styles and approaches to the genre. Some are straightforward and popular and sensational and in line with the great populist tradition, others are far more idosyncratic and use a more sophisticated style. And it's great when those two approaches come together in a book - with the pace and ease and story of popular fiction, but with the style and language skills of a poet. Now and again it happens.

The Story of O actually has a sad ending, as does Gordon by Edith Templeton, and these are giants of the genre and considered literary classics too. Sometimes a great erotic novel can be just the study of a woman's inner life, her thoughts, her fantasies, her physical relations with men, good or bad.

In terms of a gender separation, we do find that men are the primary readers of Nexus, for whom I used to write (and now also edit). Far greater interest in fetish and male interests in this imprint, and the focus is on male fantasy. Though a surprising number of women do read Nexus too. But the tone and level of detail is much different to BL.

Same with BL - I have no doubt men read it too. How could a man resist erotic fiction written by women?

Re Lindsay Gordon - I went for story, erotic themes, ideas and settings primarily and then made sure the content matched the series expectations as I went along. I had to invest my imagination into things I had no personal taste for, or experience of, and at other times I did write according to my own interests, though I shan't say anymore about that here. It was a split. But writing erotica came naturally to me - thanks Anais Nin, you rocked my world. The Bond was written for a male readership, though curiously, most of the letters I received from readers were women.

Hey Mary Kate - thanks for the input. Yes, Portia is a star. Good question re the covers. When they made me editor I wanted to make them look more sophisticated and contemporary and designed, with a male presence on there too. I learned a great deal by studying romance covers - what to do and not to do in equal parts. And it was time to make the books author-led, because they deserved it, as opposed to being series led (Black Lace is a very strong brand name in the UK and Europe). I also wanted to make it more Anglo-US in design, as we'd like a much better profile and presence in the US. And I'm so pleased readers and booksellers have responded so positively to the new look.

Vivi Anna - thanks, will tell Michelle Pillow. I was only just emailing her earlier about her new erotic-romance, Bit by the Bug. It's the first of a series and very funny and romantic - def' erotic romance and in our Cheek line.

Thanks also for sharing your interests and being so candid! That's about pitch perfect for many BL novels. Darker, harder action can be found in Nexus, though it's all relative. Sometimes if a writer can do it really well, harder content slips under the wire in BL - see Private Undoing of a Public Servant by Leonie Martell. Oh boy, what a book. If it's good and well written and the author is genuinely female, i'll take a long hard look.

Action and intrigue are good - I'm happy for writers to cross any genres within BL. Our paranormal line is the only one actually classified as such (starts Jan 2007), but BL has a wide milieu for setting and storyline. I'd recommend every author invest just as much thought to the story and plot, and character viewpoint, as the erotic action. Get the story and setting up and dancing first, then let the action arise as naturally as possible from the character dynamics and situations.

Well, I better go back and see who else has posted ...

Portia Da Costa said...

Wow, thanks for the kind words, ladies! Warms the cockles of my old heart to hear that people like my books! I always aim to please... :)

What is it that makes me happy about 'the return of the romantic voice'? Well, everything really... And I don't think it completely went away. One of the great beauties about Black Lace is that it changes and grows and becomes more varied as the years pass. Many of the earliest books were lushly romantic. I'm thinking particularly about authors like Cleo Cordell, whose books were unashamedly and luxuriously hedonistic and always featured a great love story as the bedrock for hot and kinky sex. Later, the emphasis swung towards a harder, grittier, almost pulp fiction style, and also books with a 'Sex and the City' vibe - and the old school romantic style books were less prominent.

But now, I think we've got the best of all worlds with both edgy books and erotic romance in the mix, as well as paranormals, which haven't been featured as much in Black Lace in the past, but which are now hot, hot, hot! I did one back in 1996 - Gothic Blue - but it's only really now that Black Lace authors are being given full scope to write about the spooky magical side of erotica and romance. Which is so cool!

Alison Tyler said...

Just quick because I'm on my first cup of coffee out here in chilly California. But I was thrilled to see Adam describing what he looks for in an erotic novel: "...the situation and setting and main female character has to be conducive to the expression of female sexual fantasy."

Previously, I wrote for publishers who insisted on that sex-on-every-page style, and I am so grateful for the Black Lace and Cheek philosophy. I'd much rather write mind-blowingly hot sex scenes that build up realistically for both the characters and the readers rather than ones that need to happen simply because I've reached page 10.

And Adam, you're just as deliciously sexy as I imagined.

Cheers,
Alison

www.alisontyler.blogspot.com

Portia Da Costa said...

I completely agree with Alison about the natural build up to erotic scenes. There's nothing I hate more in so called erotic novels [and erotic romance] than the sort of sex by numbers, 'it's page 10, they must be doing it' approach. I love to develop the tantalising mindgames that people play and the dance of power exchange that's oh so much more sexy to me than just a lot of 'plumbing' and gynaecological terminology.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Jayzus, yes, Adam. "Pvt Undoing of a Public Servant" is striking.

adam nevill said...

Nikki, Kristina, Alison - thank you. My pate is really shining now!

My conceit and vanity aside, hip, electric, edgy are words you could safely use to describe the work of said authors.

And good to see so many fine authors tuning in. I really am blessed as an editor and the genre on both sides of the pond is fizzing with excitement.

Now that's a fine line of dialogue, Michelle. I did do a double-take.

Alison Tyler said...

Honestly, without turning this into a total kiss-fest, we're quite lucky to have you and Donna to work with (and Kerri Sharp previously). You offer thoughtful suggestions for improving plots. Your notes are never callous or cruel. I seriously did have a publisher call up my boyfriend once and tell him he should spank me for mucking up a deadline. (And while that's sexy to blog about, it does cross some sort of line.) I came to Virgin over the transom with "Learning to Love It," and have been thrilled to find a safe writing haven for my novels ever since.

And Wendy, you're my hero. I adore your books. Just adore them.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I SO need to toss out this question to everyone since we have so many writers and fans of erotica today. It's fairly simple:

When does erotica become pornographic?

Discuss.

kristina lloyd said...

Ah, Michelle. Some HAD to ask, didn't they?

I think porn aims to stimulate nothing but genitals whereas erotica wants also to stimulate imagination, emotion, intellect and so on. Porn is fairly one-dimensional; erotica offers a whole lot more. I'm not sure where the tipping point is, when one becomes another. I think so often it's down to personal taste.

That's my short answer to a pretty big question!

Portia Da Costa said...

Yikes, that's a tough question, Michelle! Speaking personally, I think that a book seems like pornography to me when I don't feel a sense of heart and emotion shining through the sex.


Alison, at the risk of going even more kiss-fest here... You are one of my writing heroes too!!! :)

Vivi Anna said...

When it's all about coming...who comes first and what it looks like...

For me that's the line.

When it loses emotion and just becomes a physical act...

Julie in Ohio said...

HOLY COW! What a great discussion going on today.

I have absolutely nothing to add but wanted to come on and give a Bella welcome to Adam and all the wonderful writers here. I am a certified lurker today but am learning alot. Thanks. :o)

Cathryn Fox said...

When it only stimulates me physically, I consider it porn, when it stimulates me physically and emotionally, I consider it erotica/erotic romance.

I've read both and have enjoyed both but when it comes to my own writing, I want the emotions and the HEA.

Alison Tyler said...

My own work has been described as smut, erotica, pornography... I think the terms are defined by the people who use them. One of my most "vanilla" friends swears the book "Hot Monogamy" is pure porn, and I know other people who seem to find "Sex in the City" absolutely X-rated.

When I edit stories, though, I tend to find that if you drop some of the more explicit terms, the piece becomes hotter. Ending a line, for instance, with "thrusting inside her." Rather than saying just what he's thrusting inside. Does that count?

kristina lloyd said...

"What it looks like"!

Ah, viva anna, that's fantastically funny. This is such a great blog!

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, but on Wikipedia, Black Lace is listed under the following categories:

Book publishing companies of the United Kingdom
BDSM
Erotic publishers
Pornography

Hmmm....

Jo-Ann Power said...

Hello, all!
I see BLACK LACE as the definitive, break-through imprint that inspired so many to write intelligent, character-based sensuality. Your comment, Adam, about superficial encounters (on islands and in hotel rooms) made me smile. These types of scenes are fewer these days, I think, but the striking individuality of the people involved --as in all sound fiction--is the element that makes erotica and ER believable. And is that not the primary element of all fiction? To take the reader to a believable place with characters who resonate with the breath of life????
jp (who also is proud to be the publicist for BLACK LACE and CHEEK and many other titles for VIRGIN here in NA)

Jo-Ann Power said...

Wonderful to see all these terrific authors of BL and CH here, too!!!! See me waving hello!
Many of you, I met with Adam in Atlanta at RWA and we hope to do it all again in BIG D in July. (Could they pick a hotter place than Texas in July, she asked.)
I have read so many of your books--and LOVE THEM!
jp

adam nevill said...

Well, someone had to mention the "P" word eventually. Thanks Michelle

I like Susan Sontag's line, that the erotic is a balance of the transgressive and the sensual (expressed with literary craft and merit too). Whereas the purely transgressive or pornographic tends to brutalise innocence and appeal to the sexually damaged.

Stephen King also recently commented that people dislike pornography because it uses the dream pool of creative ideas as a toilet.

I don't think the issue will ever be fully resolved, or is such an issue with the books we write and read here. Porn is mainly the preserve of visual media these days - where it's so often a sudden, violent expression of unthinking animal lust. Both has it's place.

Again, it's too relative, and has huge gender and cultural ramifications (so much of the world doesn't suffer from religious guilt for starters). But the spectrum of adult interests is broad, so broad now it makes your head hurt just trying to keep up with all of the tastes and genres out there.

I like Kristina's take. And so many of you identify it as being personal. But the erotic inquires and recreates to stimulate and arouse the imagination - it requires skill and an artistic temperament and sophisticated use of language. These means make it more than just porn. Whereas the pornographic tends to just represent the most basic urge, or is politically motivated (politically motivated pornography has long been used in Europe to fell kings and disempower the church, so it had a practical use for rebellion at times). Generally, I find pornography repetitive and undemanding. And it never has much of an inner world.

It's odd how sexuality is judged against the 'norm'. What is the norm these days? Vanilla sex in the missionary position for the purposes of procreation in a monogamous relationship? Who actually restricts themselves to that? Which would make it just about the biggest perversion of all these days when compared to what actually goes on between lovers. Maybe vanilla monogamy will be the next big fetish.

adam said...

In English, I guess what I was trying to say is: erotica has aesthetic value and style, pornography doesn't (and if it does it's accidental).

Hope I left the toilet seat down.

kristina lloyd said...

He's cute AND he quotes Susan Sontag! >swoons!<

Actually, what I wanted to say was that there's a line which goes something like: erotica uses the feather whereas porn uses the whole chicken.

Which is funny but I tend to disagree. Erotica is too often regarded as being porn that doesn't dare. Again, I think it's that there's a whole lot more going on in erotica. Good erotica can be down 'n' dirty and beautiful at the same time. It's a corn-fed, free-range, crimson cockscombed bird as opposed to that poor old battery hen who can do nothing but lay eggs!

Olivia Knight said...

Without meaning to come over all linguistic - any attempt to pin down an absolute definition is going to fail, it's more a question of usage. As I see it, erotica means "posh stuff about sex that clever people like me read" while pornography is "crass stuff about sex that other, less sophisticated people read". One man's meat...

Madeline said...

Hi, can I play too? It's nice to put a handsome face to your instructive, encouraging words, Adam.

My first Black Lace book, Wild Card, was published in June 2006. Adam said it was 'a blizzard of sex', which I took as a complement.

I also write screenplays, and there was quite a discussion about a script of mine on Copolla's 'Zoetrope' site. Was it porn or erotic? Finally, a cameraman who worked in the porn industry said it simply wasn't porn because it was 105 pages of script, whereas a porn script has a page or two of dialogue, then five blank pages, representing five minutes of SEX, then resumed for a few pages of dialogue, then ten blank pages for SEX, etsexera.

We don't have that luxury with books, if we did I expect there'd be a lot more porn writers!

I remember when, for a brief moment in time, the feminists and the fundamentalists were on the same side of the fence where porn was concerned! This caused the feminist movement to step back and THINK hard about the issue. And as we all know, hard thinking is much better than soft.

I go with Felix Baron's definition: Erotica is what you like, porn is what you don't like.

Olivia Knight said...

Out of curiosity - who would define De Sade as porn, and who as erotica?

Nikki Magennis said...

This is fun, isn't it? Great question, Michelle. I wrote a witty and insightful screed about porn and erotica, but the computer ate it...

First off, I think porn is changing and has changed, due not in a small part to the revolutionary attitude of things like Black Lace - Women are now playing the boys at their own game. And loving it!

As for a distinction between porn and erotica...the only thing really going for faceless porn was the shock value. Now we're getting over that, and sex in all its many-splendoured glory is celebrated rather than hidden, the challenge facing erotica is both simpler and more difficult. Good stories that arouse. (Not limited to the naughty bits.) The erotic palate is easily jaded, and Adam's right about most porn being repetitive.

It's like junk food - cheap, quick and leaves you with a nasty aftertaste. Whereas erotica is a never-ending feast that stimulates the mind as well as the body! (Hey Kristina, we should write a nerotic cookbook!). Still, everyone likes chips (I mean, fries) once in a while...

And while I agree that the line is sometimes tricky to pin down, if you look at 'gonzo' porn like the 'true confessions' in a magazine, and then something like a Black Lace novel, I think there is a difference. Porn is aggressive and blatant, whereas erotica tends to be more various.

Nikki Magennis said...

I wouldn't define De Sade as either. I'd call him political, or a satirist, or a philosopher...Angela Carter wrote some fascinating stuff about the subtexts of his work.

adam nevill said...

Kristina, thanks for the zing. And what a chic haircut you have in profile: very mysterious.

Ladies, thanks for having me. I have to disappear and do some Virgin erotica work now, before heading off into the cold and dark of London town (would swap it for CA anyway, Alison). Will check in again later from my garret to see how things are going.

In addition, can I say how delightful it is to see that so many witty, intelligent and insightful comments have been made. Some real substance here. I've laughed, smiled and nodded thoughtfully throughout. Now, there's nothing like a smart and sexy woman ...

One question I have - what do US readers thinkof UK erotic/romantic fiction? Do we have a special relationship.

Alison Tyler said...

From DH Lawrence:

"Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it."

Lawrence admitted, however, that the definition of pornography varied according to the individual: “What is pornography to one man is the laughter of genius to another.”

*******

So this dialogue has been going on for some time, hasn't it? I'm totally fascinated by all the opinions!

Nikki Magennis said...

This is such an interesting discussion, Michelle. Thanks for hosting it. If we all (mis)behave, can we come back again another time?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thanks so much for this discourse, everyone. It's exactly what I want viewers to read when they're exploring this subject. i like taking advantage of your brains and eloquence, which is why I asked the "Question which cannot be answered." Not in one blog, anywayz.

Sade? I want you to read what Wiki has to say about him: a French aristocrat and writer of philosophy-laden and often violent pornography.

Ah, yes, I get so tired of the Platonic and nihilistic themes we're subjected to in today's skin flicks. Makes me long for those old bootlegs of Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee. Good times.

Madeline, I'm glad you make the point re feminist reaction to porn. We find the same thing w/feminist support of romance fiction, which for years was seen as harmful to women. Romance readers still bear the backlash from that, women being especially tough on one another.

Now feminist research supports romance fiction as being empowering because -- surprise -- it allows women to decide what they find appealing and arousing, that is, what fuels thier fantasies and enhances actualization.

a+i: can it be you're a Byatt fan,too?

Nikki: you may return only if you promise not to behave. But I think you'll enjoy the rest of this Hot Topic Week, as well.

Tomorrow, Jaid Black, Author/CEO Ellora's Cave
Thursday, Ian Kerner, Ph.D., Sex and relationships therapist, author of "She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.
Friday, Emma Holly


I hope you Virgin chicks will hang her more often. The Bellas are always a good time and have lots of great stuff on their minds they want to talk about.

I surely appreciate everyone who's checkin in today.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Teresa Noelle Roberts, also known as half of Sophie Mouette (Cat Scratch Fever, BL August 2006) here. I had just finished composing a long, considered response--and my computer ate it.

Fascinating discussion. Sorry to have missed "chatting" with Adam. As someone who writes both erotica and now erotic romance (what's out under my own name is mostly short erotica), I love hearing other people's take on the differences between the two genres, and about what makes something erotic rather than ludicrous or crass or pornographic. I'm only echoing what others have said when I chime in with: emotion. It doesn't have to be love--I've read some very effective erotica centering on sorrow, or anger, or confusion--but it has to have more to it than merely the urge to fool around, unless the author can use the simple lust to show something about other sides of the characters'.

That being said, in certain moods I find the better versions of Penthouse Letters-style plays to simple lust to be quite ...effective. Face it--we may prefer gourmet meals and Godiva chocolates, but sometimes fast food or a Hershey bar hits the spot.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Mi scusi. I meant to continue that calling Sade pornographic suggests sophistication not found in any definition of pornography I'd care to put forth. Capiscano?

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Almost forgot: Hi, Alison!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Well said, teresa. I'm a big 1st Amendment fan, and always feel strongly that -- short of kiddie porn or depiction of child sexual abuse/sexual abuse in general -- depiction of "erotic" content in various medium should be given wide berth.

Like you, I also don't mind a little more pedestrian fare. I totally celebrate its more particular merits.

May I remind everyone that this blog is linked from my nationally syndicated romance fiction column, Romance: B(u)y the Book http://www.WNBC.com/romance. I'd love for you to take a look around.

Olivia Knight said...

Michelle - only time someone's recognised my pseudonym! Regarding De Sade - his violence puts him outside the "box" which most of us would label erotica, but his sophistication puts him back in, which is back to erotica being a label of individually bestowed respect rather than a hard-and-fast genre definition. Personally, I call my work 'erotic' to my mother, and 'porn' to my mates, to suit the sensibilities of each. I'd make many definitions among the various writings about sex, but find those two terms too fraught and narrow. Two thoughts: firstly, if one has sex ten times in a year, that's not a great deal, but a book can easily cover a year, so if it has sex ten times, that's moderate by our living standards. There's no need for elaborate contrivances to create a character who has sex occasionally. Secondly, we frequently read elaborate descriptions of dust motes swirling in the light (I'm not sure why this is, but it's alarmingly common) or of litter swirling around cold bus-stops. If dust and litter make the cut, why not sex? Rather than fretting whether it's porn or erotica, we should be wondering why sex is *excluded* from most literature. It's a long time since the ban on Lady Chatterley was lifted...

Kalen Hughes said...

Wow, I go to NY for a few days and you ladies have lots of dirty fun behind my back. LOL! I LOVE erotic romance. In fact, I think it's what I write (even if I was told I wasn't "filthy enough" for Aphrodesia. *GRIN*

Olivia Knight said...

Here's another question - rather than what we define as erotica (as opposed to pornography), but what do we find erotic? Madeline was talking about the changing feminist take on erotica (from the sex-is-rape attitude to the Girl Power), but many of the things I find erotic appall my *own* feminist sensibilities. Esp those late night thoughts that make it past the internal censor... And then, while I'd never in a million years swoon for a commanding strong-jawed man, those stereotypes create a frisson in my mind that just isn't there in real life (when I'm usually just annoyed about being bossed around!) In fact - reading that Germaine Greer book about romance novels (was it the Female Eunuch? can't remember) - I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with her sociopolitical analysis while secretly looking forward to the next excerpt. What about all of you? What 'hits the button' and is it the same as in life?

Vivi Anna said...

Hey Kalen....I think you're filthy enough for anything!!! ;-)

What I find erotic - commanding men, a little bit of rough, a whole lot of dirty talk, spanking, voyeurism, sex in public places, menage m/f/m, or f/m/f...

In my 'real' life, I find it just as delicious.

Michelle Pillow said...

Great discussion, everyone. :)

IMO About Wikipedia...anyone can go in and add to it, so what's labeled as pornography there is subject to whoever decided to open a user acct that day and contribute, lol. I know I've added to it when bored and no one checked my credentials before letting me post to it.

Michelle

www.michellepillow.com

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yes, yes, A+I, you've just hit upon our mantra, what we here at RBtheBlog like to call the "I'm OK, You're OK" maxim of romance reading: Women often fantasize about things they don't necessarily want to experience. But even if we do want a go of it, that's fine, too.

If it works for you, Bella, don't let nobody tell you it ain't natural, or ain't OK. We've been told too long that our rape or same-sex or dominance fantasies were wrong, not lady-like, etc. So, even to take it out of the all-important "go get your somethin somethin however it pleases you," howza bout, "We're making the money to buy them, so nobody better questions what kind of smut I'm payin for."

I'm a real drive-the-market kinda gal.

btw, Possession is one of my most faves.

Thursday, Ian Kerner writes an unbelievably good GuestBlog about the relationship between sexual fantasy and orgasm in woman. Sheesh, he makes me sigh.

Truly, Kalen, whenever you're not feeling filthy enough, come see Vivs, me, and the rest of the Bellas. We'll be a marvelous influence. And anyway, I think you're perfectly filthy enough just the way you are.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yes Michelle, my point to was that, even though it's the medium I write for, one can't take as gospel what we research on the Inet. Unless it's one of my columns or posts. Those you can set your clock by, so accurate are they.

'course, I'm sure you checked all your facts first. :)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Arriving late, as always... Hi, everyone.

Ah, so that's what you look like, Adam. Cute smile to go with the sexy telephone voice. Thank you so much for letting me write historicals again.

Someone mentioned De Sade: I've always thought of him as being funny and satirical rather than erotic. For the most part I'd class him as pure pornography, but he has his moments. There was a TV programme about his life on a while back and they had a man reading some of his short pieces, and whoa, (blushes) his voice was so-oo sexy, I wanted to know if I could hire him for parties.

Teresa: I totally agree with what you are saying, but (sorry I can't resist) I have to say a Hershey bar never hits the spot for this girl. Now swap it for a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk or some Green & Blacks, and I'm 100% with you.

Michelle: I'll definitely be back, your line up for the coming week is fantastic.

Madelynne Ellis

Dark Designs (Nov/Dec'06)
Passion of Isis
A Gentleman's Wager.

www.madelynne-ellis.com

Michelle Pillow said...

LOL was I scan reading too fast again? I just wanted to have something to say, too. You know, feel special, look smart, see my name up in pretty pink lights ;)

J/K

I agree with you on the inet, which would explain the slight addiction I have to nonfiction books. (Anyone else with this problem?:D)

Thanks, M, for hosting.

Madelynne Ellis said...

What I find erotic; m/m, m/f/m, emotionally engaging characters and settings, innuendoes, lots of sexy dialogue, sex with an element of risk (eg public place).

Hmm, I sound as if I'm repeating Vivi. Maybe it's time I checked out one of your books.

Michelle Pillow said...

Oh, and LOL, yes, I posted right information. Hum, thought if someone really had a lot of time on thier hands, they could do some Wikidamage, huh? Just think of the rumors you could spread....

Michelle
www.michellepillow.com

kristina lloyd said...

Angelsandinsects, a really interesting question on feminism and erotica. What pushes my buttons in terms of erotic fantasy doesn’t necessarily sit easy with my feminist sensibilities. And I’m not really of the postfem persuasion that says, ‘Hey, we’re women, we can do whatever the hell we want.’

I generally like reading and writing fem-sub stuff but do prefer it if there’s a raised consciousness in there somewhere. When you look at the male-dominated society we’ve been brought up in, it’s hardly surprising that the classic alpha male has so much appeal. I think our sexuality is formed at such an early age and it’s nigh on impossible for us to think our way out of it. To try and understand it is the way forward. It would be the easiest thing in the world to write ‘women on top’ scenarios and call that empowerment and progress, but I think that would be distorting and dishonest. Women's sexuality has been policed for too long. We don't need to do it ourselves.

Also, I think what’s key in sexual fantasy is that we, the fantasist, can make ourselves the most desirable creature that ever walked the earth – I am so goddamn sexy that he just can’t control himself, the brute. Similarly, male porn is full of wet ‘n’ willing sluts (can I say sluts on here? I think I can, can’t I?!) – they just can’t help offering themselves either because he, the fantasist, is the most desirable creature that ever etc. No one gets rejected. It’s a lovely world!

But there is a big, big difference between fantasy and real life. I dealt with rape fantasy (and named it as such) in my 2nd BL book, Asking For Trouble, and some people who loved my first book, hated it and got angry. It seems if you dress this stuff up in silks and corsets, it’s much easier to take. But call a spade a spade and some people start getting uncomfortable. Or, umm, maybe they just didn’t like the book …

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Where are my Bellas?! Delurk, lovelies, and let us hear the low-down from you. I'm so proud of all the smart, funny stuff you say, so git on down here, now.

A+I, I can tell you I love a nice forced submission, I dig the imagery of the fully clothed men and a nude women. (oh, goodness, please don't analyze me on that one). I enjoy raunchy language and the raw, not perfect-looking alpha male. I'm w/Vivs on the spanking, and may I please say I adore a gorgeous description of a spectacular male member and the strapping man to whom it's attached.

But what makes those things erotic for me is the creation of the prose conveying them. I like the Hershey Bar (or Cad fruit/nut) analogy. I get off on lots of literary "devices," if you will, but the skilled yet understated writing that stays in my mind while it's still turning on my body is most erotic to me. It's the rich chocolate dipped strawberry of erotic fiction to me.

You, of course, must compare the epitome of erotic imagery to the confection of your choice.

Nikki Magennis said...

I think fantasy is often subversive by nature. Thus the kick-ass feminist in me abhors the submissive attitude - but something in my groin flutters nonetheless. That's the lovely freedom of fantasy - you can act as morally reprehensibly as you like and the 'wrongness' of it only ups the heat.

What's sexy? Oh boy. Freckles. Wrists. Ripped tights. Men's hips. Men's hands. Lips. Handwriting. Rule-breaking. White cotton. Skill. Humour. Silk scarves, honey, red wine, skateboarders... (I could keep going...)

I think something that brings you right into the present moment, and hints at pleasures to come. A rich and vivid sensual image. And - the unexpected. Surprises are definitely sexy.

Elizabeth Scott said...

Test

LizeeS said...

Another one comes in late – it’s 11:30 a.m. in Alaska and just barely light! So as the sun’s come up, I’ve read through all the blog posts and what a bunch of erudite, well read women -- and men -- there are here. So many thoughtful and funny points.

The thing that struck me is when Amy*skf said very early on that in the right hands anything can be erotic. That is so true. Coming from a mostly non-erotica background, but absolutely agreeing that it can be very much fun to read, my feeling is that the sweet, caring, what’s been referred to today as “vanilla” sex (not, however, restricted to the missionary position thank you) is not the Hershey Bar at all. It is the gold standard of chocolate. Some people like nuts, fruits, crispies and layers of cookies in their candy - but if you don’t have that simple, sweet, base – you got nothin’.

Good job everyone!
Lizee

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I take for granted, Kristina, that we've discussed often here "getting right with" our feminism and our love of romance fiction. So I'm glad of what you've written about the issue.

I've been thinking this morning of the issue of submission, rape fantasy, etc., and thinking of how well you address the issue of
non-vanilla sexual acts -- even those usually performed w/out one's consent -- performed/rec'd out of love with consent.

You address the way sex is enhanced when it occurs bet people who know each other, trust each other, and perhaps love one another also. If we're honest, just like real life.

Erotica sex is hawt and dirty and ugly and awesome. But it often lacks the psychodynamics of characters, why are they having the types of sex they're having? I do not buy the hyper-sexual character who insists that the state of their libido has nothing to do with anything.

They've never been abused, never influenced by some situation. The writer just tells us they love wild sex acts, and usually has them tell us the same.

That's just so weak, shows a lack of effort on writer's part It doesn't ring true for the thoughtful reader. Unless, of course, the writer was just looking to titillate, in which case, it's still weak.

Julie in Ohio said...

Sorry, Michelle. I was enjoying the discussion and didn't want to interrupt. :o)

IMO, fantasy exists to make reality tolerable. So, no, I wouldn't want my fantasies to come to life. It would ruin my life. :o)

Some of my fantasies; carriage ride, alpha vamp, any alpha male, submission/forced seduction, any kind of sammich. Really, I'm up for anything as long as it's written well. :o)

Elizabeth Scott said...

Sorry about that last... I've had some difficulty logging onto this blog. (My problem, I'm sure!)

Today's discussion has been fascinating indeed. I've long been a fan of Black Lace, and it pleases me to see it sharing shelf space with more traditional romance.

This discussion is particularly interesting to me, because I have a trade volume coming out in January that the publisher is billing as erotica. Naughty Housewives IS erotica, most definitely, but it also has a heavy romantic flavor, so I will be curious to see if the romance reading public embraces it, or if it will tank. (I have nightmares about the latter, but I'm hoping for the former.) :)

I'm guessing the erotic romance/erotica definition will never be pinned down, because so much is in the eye of the beholder. I have friends and relatives who would be shocked by the sex scenes in some mainstream romance, let alone the subgenre stuff.

What I set out to do was write the tale of what happens on the other side of the HEA ending. I adore traditional romance and always will. But it was great fun to explore themes and emotions pertaining to the darker side of sexuality.

Is erotica easy to write?? Heck no! My agent asked me if I had to smoke a cigarette when I finished each chapter, and that was about the truth. It's intense and uncomfortably personal, even more so that any kind of writing... when you put yourself out there.

But the exciting thing about erotica is that we mine the endless possibilities in the female psyche. That wonderfully naughty organ, the brain, never seems to run out of scenarios that make us hot.

Some people say this recent widespread interest in super sexy romance and romantic erotica will eventually peak and fade. I seriously doubt it... unless we all get lobotomies!

Thanks, Adam, for being here today and for keeping Virgin Books at the cutting edge of what women love to read.

And thanks, Michelle, for knowing what all of us secretly want to dish about. :)

Elizabeth

amy*skf said...

Michelle, I've been at work all day--still am, but I have to say thank you, 'cause that is exactly what I wanted to say, just didn't know if you wanted me to go there.

This from about comments ago.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Elizabeth, join us any time. Ain't no secrets here, Bella.

I think romance readers like me and the women here will always have open minds about novels that are romantic. But, as I've remarked before, this is a business, and readers need to have a consistent way to figure out who publishes the books they like, so they look to imprint labels like "erotica," "erom," etc.

That said, any time writers of erotica and erotic romance can get before the general romance reading audience and explain what they're about, is another chance to win new readers. Especially when they find how similar erotic romance and romance are.

And from there, it's a small jump to appreciating erotica if one has given one's self permission to explore.

Lizeeeeee! How are things in the Tundra? I miss you here in MN, especially because you are always so interested in learning more about romance and erotica. Isn't it fun finding out new stuff together?

Oh, yes, JulieO. Carriage sex.

Madeline said...

Lots of intersting comments today. I forgot to Thank Adam for posting the cover of my book, WILD CARD, in the intro section to this blog. Thanks Adam!
I've been noodling the porn/erotica question today. Here's my thoughts - I'm new to novel length erotica (WILD CARD is my first Black Lace title) so for each of the three female main characters I created a set of turn ons (mental) and a style of orgasm (physical), and followed through on the rest of the novel, I hope, by continuing to expand on the metaphors I had created to describe their particular sexual nature.

I think when the writer is working in multiple extended metaphors, you're not talking porno no more.

Kate Pearce said...

Sorry I'm dropping in so late but I had one of those mornings...
Lovely to see Adam here in all his glory! and I loved what you said about it being easier for some writers to write erotic romance rather than erotica-I'm definitely one of those writers and because I write for both Black Lace and Cheek, I get the opportunity to write the stories I like-altho I think I'm the sweetie at BL!
I used to read Black Lace novels when I lived in the UK and was beyond thrilled when I was given the opportunity to write for them. Adam is a great and enthusiastic editor and very supportive.

"Sex and Shopping" Changing Rooms
"Sex in Public" Cowboy Up
"Where have all the Cowboys gone?" Cheek

LizeeS said...

Things are good in the tundra, Michelle. And I miss Minnesota. There are some hot writers up here,though. This is the land of Tielle St. Claire and Jackie Ivie so the discussion today is fodder and knowledge for me!

Yes, it's fabulous to hear all these opinions. I'm reading with baited breath.

And having to smoke after writing each chapter -- what a concept!

Lizee

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hey, Kate! Wondered where you were. Love the title, "Cowboy Up." I think I told you that was the motto the year my Red Sox won the World Series.

I'm so glad to have given many of you Virgin authors an op to "see" Adam Nevill for the first time. Part of the reason I wanted him here was to get the page views from his many admirers from the RWA conference. Some might call me mercenary. That would be fine. And if I may quote myself, I believe I said to Adam upon our first meeting at said conference, "2000 romance chicks and you. Pretty good odds you'll be a hit."

Can I call em, or what.

Madeline wrote: I think when the writer is working in multiple extended metaphors, you're not talking porno no more.

Yup. And you communicated that real good, too. You caught on to how things are around here quickly. :)

Mathilde Madden said...

Well I don't think I knew I was writing erotic romance until Black Lace told me so by writing it on the spine of my third book Equal Opportunities (see the lovely cover at the top of Adam's post). Then I realised. LOL.

It's interesting what Adam said in the original post about a romantic plot making it easier to write the book. I think I found plotting a lot more difficult before I got the hang of romance and obsession and unrequitedness. Working a plot around a romance story is much easier than working a plot around a sex-based story – if that makes sense.

The new three book series I'm currently writing for BL is probably best described as a paranormal romance. I've gone more deeply into that structure than ever before: Hero, Heroine, conflict, all that. At the start I was a little unsure about whether I could write a 'traditional' romance hero (yeah – I don't know what that is either.) But I think my guy has stepped up to the mark. Plus he's a werewolf – which kind of helps. It does have some very sexy sex in it. But it is - to me at least – a paranormal first, then a romance, then erotica.

Funny how things work out.

Mathilde Madden

Mathilde Madden said...

Responding to Kristina and others on the question of female submissive sex scenes. Although I have always written male-sub stuff in my books so far, I do like fem-sub stuff too, but it really has to have something more to it, like you said.

I have a short story in the forthcoming Sex in Public collection from BL in which I tried to write a male-dom/fem-sub scene that I could like without me getting really irritated. Usually male-top characters really annoy me. Anyway in the scene my heroine Laura, likes getting tied up, but, she is really very stroppy about exactly how, why, where and how tight. Her top, Miles, manages to have some fun himself, but she makes him earn it!

It was a fun scene to write.

Mathilde Madden

Amy S. said...

Menage-M/M/F, sex in public places, and spanking. I have just started reading Black Lace books. I have a bunch on my to buy list!

KimW said...

I enjoyed reading all the comments. I remembering ordering Black Lace books from Amazon long before anyone was talking about these types of books. I'm with you, Michelle, I'm so glad these books are no longer in the forbidden section.

I do like to see romance in the stories I read even if it's only a little bit. I have to feel a little something for the characters to even want to read about their sex life.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ciao, Bellas. Thank you for coming by today. And grazie mille, Adam, for joining us.

I want to address this question I found in reading agian these comments: Adam Nevill writes: One question I have - what do US readers thinkof UK erotic/romantic fiction? Do we have a special relationship.

So, buonanotte, all. I look forward to seing you here again!

Here are some impressions:

US romance and erotica readers are smart and nerdy and dig the Brit feel of much of the Vgn line, like it harkens back to the Invasion of the 60s along with the idea that the English just do kink right.

Plus, hand us something English and our collective inferiority complex kicks in. We may be the Hub of the Universe (just ask us), but if it's got that accent, the I.Q. of the piece is racheted up at least 10 points in our Anglophilic minds.

I wonder if there's a translation issue (now, don't you dare laugh at the American chick). E.g., do general population US readers, even the most sophisticated understand the difference between suspenders and braces, that the Queen's English differs from this funky, evolving version we speak here?

I had this thought when I was going over the SAM anthology. I always read with a common denominator analysis, as in, What kind of enjoyment can the average reader -- not the least educated -- get out of this piece, how will she read it. I think about what might stop a piece cold.

I also noticed that in one chicklity-er (it's a damn word if I say it is) piece set in US, the hip American herione spoke in colloquial British English. I' e not seen this phenom in best Regencies published by US houses.

All that said, the BL/Chk novels are written w/ a level of sophistication that will sell wherever it's placed -- when placed well.

Overall, I'm looking forward to the US market embracing BL and Chk, but like any line of entertaining writing for women that deals w/ sexuality (and isn't a maudlin-yet-hopeful Oprah book) the road's gonna be a little rough. What helps? Having a stable, if you will, of brainy, literate authors who speak eloquently about the lines, and speak as often as possible.

Don't you chicks need a BL/Chk Authors blog like Avon's and Brava's or something?

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, buonanotte, Bellas and new e-friends! Looking forward to seeing you here regularly.

Mathilde Madden said...

Don't you chicks need a BL/Chk Authors blog like Avon's and Brava's or something?

Yes, we do. In fact a group of us were talking about this the other day. I think it would be great.

Mathilde Madden

Nikki Magennis said...

And just while the idea was brewing over here...

Witness the birth of a brand new blog for female authors of erotica and erotic romance - check out http://lustbites.blogspot.com/ Contributors include many of the authors who've been commenting here today, Black Lace ladies and a lot of the Brit chicks.

Still in the process of becoming a living and breathing blog, but we anticipate something quite special growing out of this.

Thanks to Michelle for hosting the scintillating discussion that prompted the new blog! We look forward to more!

KimW said...

Great idea for a blog. If you do decide to start one, maybe Michelle can post the link so we can find it.

Stacy~ said...

Sorry I missed this fascinating discussion - I sure learned a lot, and might just have to be a little more open-minded about my feelings towards erotica.

One point that really resonated with me is that really good, effective erotica entices the mind as well as the body - that's why I think it works so well for women, and is the complete opposite of porn.

Thanx, Aaron, for visiting us, and don't be a stranger :)

Kris said...

I missed this too, my day yesterday was insane! But I was very interested in reading this, thank you for sharing. Stacy~ took my answer :) "effective erotica entices the mind as well as the body - that's why I think it works so well for women"

Stacy~ said...

Aaron? I meant ADAM. So sorry for the faux pas...

Gwen Masters said...

I'm sorry I missed this yesterday! Ironically, I was all over the internet for one thing or another, but didn't find my way here...

I like the discussion on erotica versus porn. I've always thought of it this way: Porn is about the body...erotica is about the body AND everything else. What attracts me to erotica is the emotional element. I believe it is possible to have porn without that element, but it is impossible to have good erotica without it.

What a great blog discussion! And what a great photograph of Adam. *wicked grin*

Liz said...

I think its wonderful these books are now easier to find and mainstream
And all kinds and language work for me