Friday, June 8, 2007

R*manc*ng the Ast*r*sk

I've started making enquiries about getting reviews and interviews for my October 2007 release, Forbidden Shores, and received this strange correspondence from a review site (which shall be anonymous):

Since it is a historical erotic romance, my only question is about the language. Is it graphic in a contemporary sense? or at least used the word c*ck at some point? I know it sounds like an odd question, but bluntly graphic language is a requirement. If you did use very graphic terminology please feel free to send us a copy.

I find this intriguing. First, why someone should assume that because it's a historical it may not have dirty words? And why, from a site specializing in erotic romance reviews, the coy asterisk use? It may be an anti-spam device, or it may be to spare my delicate sensibilities.

Of course I could have written the novel without using the word in question once--as we all know, their are many alternatives, particularly for historicals. I could have used lobster, thistle, Old Harrington, poperine pear, or potato finger (or should those be l*bster, th*stle and so on, to spare the innocent?)--just some of my favorites from our very own Lacy Danes' list of historic dirty words.

And I guess that's why they wanted to know if I was using that word since, despite its honorably ancient usage, readers would know what I meant.

The whole exchange--I wrote back that the book had c*cks coming out of its ears--has left me unsettled. It brings up a whole lot of issues with me: the dumbing down attitude I've encountered among romance writers (so what if it's escapist reading? It can, and should be, well written); the girlish coyness about erotic romance (yes, it's meant to turn you on); the belief that if you write a love scene with the 3 Cs it automatically makes it erotic romance (yes and no).

So my question is: could you, have you, would you want to read or write a hot love scene that has no body parts or euphemisms at all?

The pic, by the way, is titled Man With Large Cock. No asterisk necessary.


Pam Rosenthal said...

And how did you search for the pic in Google, Jane?

I wouldn't at all mind reading erotica without body parts, graphic or otherwise; Story of O, the gold standard for me, has very few of them. And the imprint that book made upon my youthful sensibility was so strong that the sexiest word I can think of is the French sexe for penis.

And yes, I have written an erotic scene with no such words -- just a few weeks ago, in fact. In an erotic romance. The hero and heroine exchange hot and heavy eye-contact among the Elgin marbles; the hero goes ahead and keeps the appt he has with a courtesan that night; the sex is told from the courtesan's pov. The description is lite, more about what a splendid sort of guy my hero is than about the intricacies of the act; we'll save that for my heoine.

I don't know if it worked, but it kept me entertained, and seemed to me an interesting place to go, re my continuing time-space adventures.

Elizabeth Parker said...

Oh, too f*nny! And the cock pic is good, too!

Kate Pearce said...

Love the picture!

Old Harrington?
OMG-that's my maiden name-(the harrington bit not the old)-how peculiar. Obviously it was my destiny to be an erotic romance writer.

Some of the best erotic scenes I've ever read are all about sexual tension and hot dialogue not about the mechanics of what goes where, although personally I like the word cock in any time period. I'm not too keen on vagina and penis because they shout science class to me.

Cory said...

As long as it is well written it can have the words or not. It's all about the scene gripping the reader, and the word may or may not be necessary.
I do find it very interesting that they have such a requirement though.
And I love the picture!

Kalen Hughes said...

I don't really care if a sex scene has graphic words, but I DO care if it has euphemisms that make me roll my eyes, or worse, cringe and/or laugh. And it totally throws me when really modern words (like “clit”) show up in erotic historicals. Just pushes me right out of the book, it’s like a rabbit vibe just put in an appearance hundreds of years before it was invented. LOL!

Pam Rosenthal said...

And then there's the old Patrick Henry quote, best read aloud: "my only regret is that I only have one * for my country"

Kate Pearce said...

um Kalen...better not read mine then :)

Celia May Hart said...

Bwahahaha. Love the pic title.

I suspect it wasn't coyness, but spam.

Ok, I'm stuck. I can come up with, oh dear, should I use asterisks? Why not, in honor of your post

C*ck, c*nt and ... hmm, is it cl*t??