Monday, June 27, 2011

DREADED AUTHOR QUESTION: How can you write erotica? Won’t your family read it?

By Isabo Kelly

I did a variation on this topic in an earlier Dreaded Author article where we talked about being accused of writing “those” books—romances, the ones with actual sex in them. Shock! Horror! But I just had this conversation with one of my new neighbors, I’d like to talk specifically about dealing with the question of writing erotica and erotic romance and that second part “Won’t your family read it?”

If you’re brave, lucky enough to have an open and understanding family, and belong to a community of people who support everything you do with good grace, this is an easy question to answer. You don’t have anything standing in your way and more power to you! You simply say, “I write what I love to write and the people in my life accept that. Besides, erotica is mainstream now!”

But for some, simply writing a romance novel with sex in it is risky. Actually writing erotica? Now there’s a tough subject to tackle. I have a friend who writes very sexy scenes in her romantic fiction but she won’t step over into the realms of erotic romance (even though I think she’d be brilliant at it) because she couldn’t face her community.

So what do you do? You have it in you to write something really hot, sexual and erotic. You want to deal with topics like BDSM or ménage a trios (or more) relationships. You are called to write on the very edge of sexual exploration between your characters. You like using all those naughty words and describing all those wonderfully naughty acts. But you really really don’t want your mother to read what you write!

Or worse, you aren’t taking the risk and writing what you really love because you’re afraid someone will read it.

One option to get around this conflict is to write under a pseudonym and only have an online presence with that pseudonym. Let’s face it, a lot of your marketing is going to be done online anyway. And you can be as anonymous as you like. Be sure to check things like the name your website and domain name are registered under as that can be traced back to your real name if someone is determined. But otherwise, online is a perfect way to publish as someone else without having to admit what you’re writing to anyone you don’t want to know about it.

If you feel brave enough to come out of hiding (and I encourage that bravery), tell those you love who would not deal well with your topic not to read what you write. They may anyway (my mom did) but at least you’ve warned them.

Or just be absolutely brazen and let everyone read your work. There might be fallout. Let’s face it, not everyone is open to erotica and erotic romance despite its launch into the mainstream over the last few years (their loss). But this is your life, your art, your career and you can do with it what you please.

Remember, write what you’re comfortable writing. If you do that, it’s easy to answer this question. When people ask, “Do you really write erotic romance?” you’ll proudly say, “Why, yes I do.” When they accuse you of writing porn, you can answer, “You only think that because you haven’t read it.” And when they ask in that hushed, fascinated whisper, “What if your family reads it?” You can say with a casual shrug, “They know what I write and support me.”

Ultimate, you have to do with your writing what makes you happy, no matter what the perceptions of your subject matter are. If not for brave souls in our industry who ignored all the insulting commentary on romance, we would never have our favorite genre. Write proudly. And if you have to do it pseudonymously, remember, you’re in good company!♥

Katrina Tipton writes under the pseudonym Isabo Kelly and has published both mainstream and erotic romances. Her erotic romance science fiction novel, SIREN SINGING, won the 2009 Prism Award for best erotic romance. SIREN SINGING is now available in print from Ellora’s Cave ( For more about Isabo’s books visit

1 comment:

  1. I usually hear groans when I mention RWA, but I get the "oooooo's" when I tell them I write erotica. I ignore that; I've heard enough feedback from women who have read my work who have been hollering "we want more!" and "what else you got?" And some have admitted pouncing on their partners to "try a few things" they read in my book. Needless to say, they're still pouncing!