Friday, June 06, 2008

No, I Didn't Forget. The Next Question.

I know it's been a month since my last question to erotica writers about our craft. I didn't forget. I have an excuse. You know how it is when a terrible, awful, horrible, shouldn't even think of it story pops into your head? Something so transgressive and flat out wrong, like the Night Porter where sensuality and brutality converge into train wreck eroticism, and yet so compelling that you can't forget it. Crash is a good example too, but since I'm thinking about real torture, not BDSM play (yes, I went there), the Night Porter seems like a better example. This is when I have the sick puppy talk with myself. But damn, talk about temptation with a capital T. I'm babbling. But this brings me to my current question:

Do you have a dark story lurking in you? Is there a tale so edgy you won't touch it even if you thought it up? Erotica is probably the most self-policed genre out there. If you slapped the label literature on your work, would you feel free to go there? Go where? How bad is your bad self?

5 comments:

Helen said...

I remember fighting with a story for ten weeks, trying to make it have a happy ending, when it was really a dark, dark, unhappy story with elements of bestiality in it. I couldn't finish the damn thing until I accepted that, and when I was done writing it I was both elated and ill. It's some of the best writing I've ever done, but it was also the farthest I've ever veered into forbidden territory.

nine kinds of sunday said...

I've actually alrady wrote mine. Several of them... I like testing the boundaries of my own self-censoring; not being brutal for the sake of it is the thing, it has to be an organic part and then you realise 'oh, this is one of /those/ then'. Re-reading it later reminds me of what I can do.

Donna said...

This is an excellent question, Kathleen, and after some musing I'm sure I'll have a long list of self-censored topics. But the obvious one concerns any sexual thought or feeling under the age of eighteen. I have a lot of stories I'd like to tell about that part of my life, but that's only allowed in the literary genre, and it can't be fun or celebratory, it has to involve abuse or shame or at least soulless disfunctional families. I understand why we have to do this--to keep the thought police away--but it leaves erotica rootless in a way. A magic button of sexual knowledge and desire does not switch on the moment we turn eighteen, right ;-)?

Kathleen Bradean said...

Donna - Andre Aciman's Call Me By Your Name is a great example of this. The boy is obviously a minor, although his age is never stated, and the man he has an affair with is a college professor (albiet a young one), which brings in another questionable dynamic. And yet, because it's literary, no one raises an eyebrow. I have no problem with the book (other than it circling around saying not much of anything for thirty pages like a dog trying to get comfortable in a bed before he finally got the story going) but it seems unfair that he can tell the truth about human sexuality while we're left in make-believe land with 18-year old virgins because we're labeled erotica and he isn't.

BrennaLyons said...

I'd like to say I do a lot of self-censoring...and I did, in the beginning. That didn't last long.

I didn't write Fion's Daughter for months, because I didn't think anyone would accept something that dark, no HEA...etc. When the readers demanded it, knowing full well how it had to end, I wrote it.

I was already known for dark. I'd already written (and had accepted) near rapes, a rape not between H&H ON SCREEN, war, murder (including murder of a child and of a septuagenarian)...

When I wrote my first anal scene I did an "OMG...no one is going to appreciate that but me." I said the same when I wrote my first come massage scenes. I said the same thing the first time I had an aphrodisiac-induced rape scene. Okay...I was wrong. They were well-received by test readers and/or editors. Once I got positive feedback, I calmed slightly and waited for the reviews to roll in...and comments from readers.

I was never really worried about young characters, since NY does it so often with non-human characters, and I write a lot of fantasy and horror worlds. If Sherrilyn Kenyon's Apolites are adult at 12 and having kids, my Night Warriors can be adult at 15, and my Keen can be sexually adult at 15 and allowed to marry at 20. They're not humans.

Same thing with writing historicals. If you're going for anything remotely resembling reality, there are times and places in history where the bride would have been 14 or 15...16 or 17 at the most. Doesn't seem to hurt NY, even in genre fiction, let alone literary.

The only things I really stop myself from writing these days are things that may mess with a contract. For instance? I'm writing the second book (The Rules of Polite Society) to Bride Ball (currently on submission). I have an idea for a third, but the prospective publishers for the first two will NOT accept some of the content in the third. As much as I'd like to write the third, I won't write it, if I can't even seek publication on it, because the publisher won't take that content and the contract states I can't take my world elsewhere. So...#3 may be censored out, but that's more them censoring it out than me censoring myself.

I am not the type to gut a story for someone else's sensibilities. I've got a character driven process. I follow where they lead.

Other than someone else's self-imposed ideas on acceptable content, I find that I've given up stopping myself. Rather, I bite my nails and let the test readers and editors decide if its still palatable.

Brenna