Monday, May 7, 2007

The Real Thing

I’m still recovering from a wonderful trip to the Romantic Times convention. By recovering I mean catching up on sleep. Yes, still. And I got back last Monday night. This was my first RT and a fascinating experience. I met amazing author Robin Schone (an icon to me). I had the great opportunity to be on a panel about erotic romance. I realized (at 5:00 in the morning the day of my panel) that I wrote erotic romance because I craved knowing what happened between the characters behind the bedroom door (or carriage door, stable door, oak tree, curtain in brothel, etc….) The sexual interaction was just far too important to leave to…well, to leave out altogether. It was just so unfair that two characters with issues, conflicts, and problems would shut the bedroom door and emerge later with a heavenly afterglow. So I decided I would explore that—I would write erotica.

My favorite scenes to write are the ones where the characters don’t necessarily have great sex, simultaneous orgasm, and blissfully float around the room. Why? Because a character is much more vulnerable when sex doesn’t work out. In the book I finished in January, Black Silk (April ’08), I wrote a scene where the hero doesn’t reach orgasm during sex. My heroine is stunned. Doesn’t that always happen for men? What did she do wrong? And of course, since they are newly married, she’s not going to simply ask him. No, she’s going to worry. That was a much more powerful and exciting scene to explore than one of perfect sex.

In my current WIP, I’ve been wondering what was missing in my sex scenes and I only just put my finger on it. It’s humor. Sex can be sensual and erotic but there’s no way twining limbs and body parts doesn’t end up being funny. Someone gets hit with a limb and someone gets squashed. In my first erotic historical, A Gentleman Seduced, my poor hero is determined to preserve my heroine’s virginity. As she blindfolds him, drops to her knees in front of him and enthusiastically explores, he decides he should be nominated for sainthood. Definitely sainthood. It was his humorous banter in his head that I loved about writing that scene.

I once dated a man who wanted to try handcuffs, but I refused. Not because I had anything against being tied up, but I knew that some disaster would happen and I would be the woman who gets left chained to the bed with no way of phoning for help. Or if I did manage to call for help, I’d probably end up accidentally calling my mother. I’d read Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game. I was not going there.

So, for all of you out there, do you like to read about realism (and humor) in your erotica or do you look for fantasy encounters? Or a little of both?

(The picture of the eighteenth century handcuffs is from


Celia May Hart said...

Hey Sharon -- sounds like RT was great for you. One of these years, I'll go.

and OMG!! Roobin Schone?! *squee*!!

As for writing less than perfect sex, I did it once in an unpublished ms that will probably never see the light of day (and it should except for that sagging middle bit), but in my erotica, not everybody gets to get off all the time.

I do have to say fantasy scenes are rather fun to write though...

Lacy Danes said...

I like both.

In my paranormals most of the time it is fantasy, but that is what paranormal is all about.

Internal thoughts are what make our characters real, especially during sex and about sex and that is a must for me to enjoy an erotic story.

Handcuffs.... Part of the thrill of being handcuffed is that huge unknown and trust... You can do very little with your hands when you are shackled and even less when you are secured to something big. So, you need to trust that if something happens, the other person will take care of whatever it is.



Kate Pearce said...

I think it depends on the book. I write futuristics for EC and for some reason they are usually funny,(I hope) whereas my historicals tend to be dark and angsty with heroes with strange sexual procilivies. The sexual scenes tend to be more hit and miss in the futuristics and contemporaries I write-not sure why!

I too love Robin Schone-a reviewer once said I reminded her of RS and I was so chuffed!

Kalen Hughes said...

My favorite scenes to write are the ones where the characters don’t necessarily have great sex . . . In the book I finished in January, Black Silk, I wrote a scene where the hero doesn’t reach orgasm during sex.

This part of the whole "who has hand" thing I talked about last month. Less than perfect can be fun, and reveling! In my current release, Lord Sin there’s a scene where the hero gets off and the heroine doesn’t, and he does it on purpose, to get her keyed up (he is assuming they have all night . . . ). It was loads of fun to write, and it just felt right (plus, I do think it’s funny, and humor is not always my strong point).

Pam Rosenthal said...

For me, the humor and the fascination have to do with how it's really always pretty much the same, and how on the other hand it isn't. It's the kind of writerly conundrum I enjoy.

Sharon Page said...

Hi Celia,
Definitely think about going to RT. I very much enjoyed the chance to network, meet authors and readers, and be a part of the book signing feeding frenzy when Kensington gave away some free books :-)

I do like fantasy scenes, because pleasure happens a lot in the head. Since the character is going to be really into the fantasy, that can make the climax so much sweeter!

Sharon Page said...

Hi Lacy,
That's a very good point about trust. It's fate I don't have any trust in, i.e. what if my partner has a seizure, or the house catches fire, etc? :-)

Sharon Page said...

Hi Kate,
I think it's true that different genres seem to provoke different tones and stories in the writer.

I deal with a m/m scene in my second historical vampire book and I just couldn't resist some humorous banter between the vampire hunting men when the big moment happens, even though the rest of the story was quite angsty. It seemed in character for the men to deal with this big emotional step with the same wry humor they'd use for slaying demons.

And congratulations on being compared to Robin Schone! That's wonderful! Susan Grimshaw, the National fiction buyer for Borders did the same for me and I was completely floored.

Sharon Page said...

Hi Kalen,
That was a terrific post of yours on "who has hand". I think it's great to write a scene where the hero gets off and the heroine doesn't because I feel as a female writing erotic romance, I'm always making sure the woman does have a climax. In fact, in my first book with Ellora's Cave, I had a scene where the heroine didn't because the hero lost control and my editor wanted me to go back and revise, as considerate heroes were preferred.

Sharon Page said...

Hi Pam,
That's a very good point, and something I want to think about more as I write. That's what I like about writing characters--the mechanics are basically the same but they all put their own twist on it.

Anonymous said...

I like stories where it's not always perfection & angels singing, earth rocking, etc. It's more realistic! However, I do like the times when it does work to outnumber the times when it doesn't. I do read romance for the fantasy/escapism. :D