Jan 142010

In many ways, I’m the odd (wo)man out here at WriteSex. After all, I don’t write erotica or even romance. I write the Jane True series: mainstream, mass market urban fantasy for Orbit Books, a publisher famous for its Sci Fi/Fantasy rather than its sizzle. Here’s what I write:

So why am I here?

One reason is that, while I don’t write romance, I do write sex. Urban fantasy is a fantastic genre in that it’s like a pick and mix: authors of urban fantasy get to cobble together whatever elements of fiction they like, as long as somewhere, somehow, they have some mixture of the “real” world and some element of the supernatural, paranormal, or magical.

When I started putting together my world, my version of UF, I knew that one of the elements I was definitely going to utlilize was sex. Not romance, per se, but I knew I was definitely going to have sex. The reason being, quite frankly, that I think sex is important. And not merely because I’m a lascivious little wench; it’s also because of my philosophies regarding sex.

Before you roll your eyes, let me assure you that, when I say “philosophies,” I mean philosophies. For one of the other reasons I was asked to participate in WriteSex is that I am a Ph.D. in English literature, whose academic background includes the conjunction of sex and power in contemporary British and American fiction.

As any literary theorist can tell you, sex has never been just about pleasure: not in life, and certainly not in fiction. Humans have sex for so many varied, complicated reasons, most of which we can never understand, nor even know exist.

That said, as thinkers such as Freud, Lawrence, and Nietzsche understood, we reveal so much about ourselves in the ways that we conduct ourselves, sexually; how we communicate about sex; and how we think about sex.

So when I sat down to write my first book, it was important for me to write about my protagonist’s sexuality because my whole book is rooted in her character. Of course plot is important, but Tempest Rising is as much character study as anything else. I couldn’t bring Jane to life without including her unique view of sex and sexuality.

And yet, as I’ve said, this book was published to be shelved, as it says on the spine, in either Fantasy or Horror, not in Romance. So, when it came to writing about sex, I had to make a lot of interesting choices, and defend those choices to myself and others, along the way.

These issues, and why I make the choices I make when writing sex for mainstream publication, are what I’m going to be talking about in my future blog posts for WriteSex. I’ll talk about such topics as how much is too much (learned that one the hard way); why none is too little for me, personally; building, or reducing, character through depicting sexuality; and there will definitely be something on the Dreaded Euphemism: or, “When a Lotus Blossom Should Remain Just a Lotus Blossom.”

Sound good? Let me know if there are other issues you’d like me to address and don’t be shy. I am here for you. ;-)

Nicole Peeler


Jan 072010

My name is Sascha Illyvich and with the help of M Christian, Oceania, Jean Marie Stine, Dr. Nicole Peeler and Thomas Roche, we’re going to explore the daunting aspects of erotica in all its forms. This blog will discuss every aspect of writing sexy fiction from what makes a story erotic even if there is little to no sex involved. Writers will come away with writing tips that will benefit their careers. We’ll cover author marketing, what defines a story as erotic, things new writers need to consider and the business angle of writing erotica.

I’ve been writing for almost ten years, starting out with erotica before I made the transition to erotic romance. I’ve written everything from the 100 flasher to the 100,000 word novel and am with two very successful publishers. I have a few stories with other publishers; teach courses on BDSM to romance writers as well as my famous Writing from the Male POV course which has been a success with local RWA chapters. I write full time and host the UnNamed Romance Show on Radio Dentata Mondays at 1 PM PST.

Every week we’ll focus on a different aspect of writing erotica. Our other authors will do own introductions. Some of them have a rather unique way of letting you know who they are! I’ll be covering writing style in general for starters.

Beginning with technique, I’m going to break down what makes a story erotic and how we craft those scenes that leave us squirming in our chairs. Let’s start with the story idea.

We have basic components to every story.

Characters – Who the story is about
Plot – which happens TO the characters
Setting – Where this all takes place
Conflict – Part of the plot that makes the story interesting. This is really the driving force behind the plot.

In ANY given setting we can add erotic elements. Let’s define what makes an element erotic.

Word Web defines erotica as Creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.

This definition is a little harsh. Let’s pair it down a bit.

Erotic: the act of being stimulated sexually through the senses of taste, touch, sight, smell and audio.

With this broader definition, we can now begin to understand that our brain is our largest sex organ truly as what arouses me will differ from what arouses you, but our bodies respond to the stimulation the mind finds erotic.

In a scene, we have setting. With characters, we have actions. With plot, that’s a little more complex.

With the scene, we can utilize descriptions by just giving enough detail to create a picture in the mind of the reader while giving them license to view it their way. Since our stories in any genre don’t rely precisely on location in most cases, then we want to limit our scene descriptions. The mind focuses on what’s right in front of it anyway.

Meaning, the mind focuses on the characters and their interactions. Tell me, do you pay attention to the breeze in summertime OR do you pay attention to the cologne/perfume wafting towards you from the attractive person that caught your eye?

The day may play back in your memory later on when you’re telling your friends but the real question is going to be about the person, not the scene.

Next time we talk, we’ll go into the characterization part. There is a lot to be said about characterization so that will take up a few parts. I leave you waiting for next week’s installment with our next fabulous author!