I’m currently writing a full-length novel. The yet-to-be-named psychological mystery is a mix of John Fowles/Charles Bukowski/Haruki Murakami with just a dash of Pauline Réage. Erotic elements will pepper the book, but it’s a departure from erotica.
For classification purposes, I’ve always referred to myself as an erotica author, though some people have said I don’t quite fit the definition of the genre.
To illustrate this, I’ve excerpted several reviews of my book, Spring into Summer: (Full reviews on Amazon)
“… This was not simply erotica – this was fine literary writing with sexy erotic scenes that were an essential part of the story, not just added for the thrill of it … whether you like good literature, good erotica or heck, even good sex. It has all of those qualities.” ~ L. Smith
“To call this erotica is, in my opinion, an insult to Eden Baylee’s immense talent. These are not one-dimensional stories about sex. These are stories about love, loss, passion, and self-discovery … Yes, there are erotic sex scenes. But beyond that are stories that struck me deep and will stick with me for a very long time …” ~ Book Addict
“… While Baylee’s writing is absolutely everything that erotica should be hot, intense, passionate … Baylee’s tales are so much more than simply good erotica. They are stunning slices of humanity laid bare at their most vulnerable moments and shared with her readers …” ~ Tracy Riva
The reviewers highlight two important points:
- They draw attention to areas of my writing critical to me—strong character-driven stories and emotional impact. “… slices of humanity laid bare at their most vulnerable moments…” as Tracy Riva writes is exactly what I aim for.
- All three reviewers do me the great honor of considering my work as more than just erotic. Book Addict goes so far as to say “To call this erotica is, in my opinion, an insult to Eden Baylee’s immense talent.”
That erotica, as a whole, is plagued by minimal character development and negligible plot is, of course, a generalization. Bad writing exists in every genre. The difference is: erotica has something other genres don’t have—sex, sometimes lots of it, and that scares people.
I recently wrote a guest blog for author, Patti Larsen called “Intolerant Attitudes About Erotica” and was overwhelmed by the response. The truth is—even as adults, sex continues to be taboo. We can discuss sex academically, joke about it, or judge others for their indiscretions. Yet, to have an honest discussion about what arouses us sexually is—for most people—too personal. It opens up that vulnerable part of us, which many share with only one significant other—if that. Erotica can expose us (if only to ourselves) to be less straight-laced than we’ve led others to believe—or the exact opposite. Not all of us can reconcile what it means to be aroused by reading BDSM, kink, or fetish fiction. What does it say about us? Are we (god forbid) abnormal?
My answer is a resounding “no.” I’ve never been a fan of what the majority considers “normal.” The spectrum of normalcy is wide, and conventional man-made standards are often moving targets. Ultimately, where sex is concerned, there is little I consider abnormal between consenting adults. One person’s deviant behavior will surely be another person’s normal—I’d bet my life on it.
Case in point, Goodreads classifies its “Best Erotic Classics” as stories that are famous explorations of human sexuality. Readers compiled this tasteful erotica list, and included Lawrence, Nabokov, Nin, and Réage, but I also saw an unfamiliar name—Seymour J. Cohen, author of The Holy Letter: A Study in Jewish Sexual Morality.
A philosophical and religious treatise about the morality of sex?
Is this erotic?
Not in my book.
I don’t profess to have a higher moral standard than anyone reading this post right now. In my stories, I won’t tell you how to have sex or whom to have it with. I won’t judge what turns you on. If you’re aroused by reading my books, that’s wonderful, but first and foremost, be entertained by a good story.
Reading fiction should arouse you. After all, I’m aiming my words directly at your largest sex organ—the one between your ears.