Note: Susana is offering a deck of playing cards with yummy Ellora’s Cave covers for one lucky commenter on this post and the previous one, with Julie Shelton. Be sure to include your email address in your comment!
First of all, thanks to Susana and The Morning Room for letting me visit. It’s a pleasure to meet you all. 🙂
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Diana Hunter and I write erotic romance.
There. I said it.
Sounds like I’m coming out of a closet, doesn’t it? In a way, I am—and have been for the past ten years.
When I first started writing erotic romance, there were varied reactions to my chosen genre. Since the kink that I explore involves the various flavors of BDSM, raised eyebrows has been the smallest response I get when I tell people what I write. Remember, I started publishing in 2003, long before 50 Shades of Gray made headlines.
The first inkling I got that what I wrote was a little outside of normal came in a conversation at my very first Romantic Times Conference in March 2004. Another author and I had been talking about the conference and writing in general and then she asked me what I wrote. I replied, “Contemporary bondage.”
Well. She just looked at me and I watched her swallow hard before she managed a very strangled, “I didn’t even know that was a genre,” before making a rather quick getaway. In my naïveté, I had assumed, since I’d heard of the genre, that everyone had. Silly me.
Then there was an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She asked what I was doing with myself now and I told her I was writing and had several books published. She laughed and then said, “Just don’t tell me you write romances. I can’t stand that stupid stuff.” Our conversation grew decidedly cooler when I told her that was exactly what I wrote.
People have pre-conceived notions about the concept of what an author is or does. The requisite attic garret, the lonely lifestyle, the heavy drinking—all these seem part and parcel of the lifestyle—if you write the Great American Novel. If you write romance, then obviously you’re an unfulfilled, mousy little spinster who lives in a dream world where all the men are hunks. And if you write erotic romance, then you, yourself, are young—and sexy, too.
Interesting stereotypes. Of course, like all attempts to generalize a population, totally untrue as well. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have greeted my chosen genre with rolled eyes and total dismissal. They see no value in the books, therefore there is no value in what I do.
It used to bother me. It doesn’t any more and I’ll tell you why.
Because I’m better than they know. Their choice to remain ignorant means they don’t get to meet my great characters—or the characters of tons of other authors also writing erotic romance (or heck! Straight romances, for that matter). They don’t get to lose themselves in cool plots and interesting settings. Sucks to be them. As Shakespeare would say, “This we should rather pity than despise.” (Helena, A Midsummer’s Night Dream)
So I don’t get angry when people diss my chosen genre. I don’t get mad when they leave a bad review. I figure life’s too short to concern myself with those who have other tastes. I’m not a fan of the modern American novel, nor am I a fan of horror novels. While I have better manners than to dismiss those genre, I’m not going to think ill of those who prefer it over mine.
I’ve never hidden my writing from my kids (I have both a daughter and a son). My daughter loves to brag about my books to all her friends and co-workers, although she’s never read one. We had always agreed that she wouldn’t open one of my books until she was eighteen. When that birthday passed and the books remained untouched on my shelf, I was curious and asked her if she wanted to read one.
She gave me that long-suffering look every child gets on her face when she has to explain the obvious to a parent. “Mom,” she said, “I’ve been reading the sexy stuff for a while now. I really like it.” She paused and scrunched up her face as if she’d just eaten something distasteful. “But I can’t read yours. I do not want to know that my mother even knows about those things, let alone writes about them.”
My son, on the other hand, first denied my existence, figuring, if he ignored my writing, it would all go away. As he got older, however, and discovered that Chandler’s mom on Friends also wrote “sexy books”—he would confide the information to a chosen few in his circle as if imparting a great secret. Now that he has also reached his majority, however, he just shakes his head and goes back to his video game.
Yes, being an author of erotic romance—and admitting to that—is a bit like coming out of a closet. People look at you askance, make rude comments (oftentimes out of ignorance, but occasionally out of meanness), and sometimes don’t value what you create.
But then someone leaves a good review, or sends an email thanking your for understanding the BDSM lifestyle and life is good. You open up a new file on your computer and a new story starts to take shape under your fingertips.
Thanks again to Susana for inviting me to her blog. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into what it’s like being an erotic romance author who has a decidedly out-of-the-normal kink in her books.
Wiste hasn’t ever had a problem with self-bondage – until today. When the key to the handcuffs breaks off and jams the lock, she has to accept help from a source she thought long-buried in the past—Matt Carter.
As for Matt, he’d never seen this side of Wisteria Penny Lane in the past…and he likes what he sees.
Matt Carter sauntered in, taking a moment to look around. Wisteria Penny Lane. She’d taken a lot of heat for her name when they were kids. Hippie parents who didn’t have a clue the teasing they’d saddled onto their only child. He wondered if they still had that commune outside of town.
He’d seen the ropes, of course. And the marks around her breasts. She’d been tied up pretty well. Who knew when they lost their virginity together in the barn on her parents’ farm that the girl would grow up to have kinky tastes? Or that he’d grow up to have them as well?
Now she stood, defiant and proud, her wrists held out before her in challenge. She’d thrown a book at his head the last time he’d seen her, as he recalled. If Brian had told him whose lock he was going to fix, he doubted he’d have come.
“Let me see what I can do. Have a seat.”
There was a small chest on the floor in front of the window and he gestured to it.
“I’d rather stand.”
“I’m sure you would. But I need steady hands and that’s easier to do when I’m kneeling.” He smirked. “And you always did want me down on one knee, as I recall.”
“You bastard. Get the fuck out of my house.”
He drew back in mock astonishment. “Wisteria Lane, such language!”
“I don’t want you here. Tell Brian he sent the wrong man.”
Matt studied her face. A war went on there. One moment she seemed fully in control, the next she was a breath away from breaking down into full-blown panic mode. Fascinated, he watched the control side take over again. When she spoke this time, her voice was more leveled.
“Go away, Carter. I meant what I said the last time I saw you.”
“Yeah, I remember. That you never wanted to see me again. Well, here I am. And you’re stuck and I can get you free.” He held up the small case of tools. “Picking locks is something I do.”
Wisteria sat down hard on the chest, her wrists still held out before her. “Turned to a life of crime?” She sounded bitter and Matt recognized she felt defeated.
“Worked with a security firm for a while,” he explained as he knelt down before her and opened the case. He pulled out a dark blue roll of felt and unfolded it as he spoke. “They had a master locksmith as part of their crew and he taught me a few things.”
“Security firms are supposed to keep people out, not get them in.”
He snorted. “You’d be surprised at how often people lock themselves out of their own systems. First thing they taught me was how to break into a car with a slimjim.” Carefully, he reached for her hands. “Now, let me see.”
She said nothing to him as he examined the problem. The first piece caught in the lock of the handcuffs came out easily enough with a small tweezers. The second proved more difficult and he had to twist around to work the lock from her side of it. That put him uncomfortably close and her perfume distracted him.
Pretending his shoulder didn’t touch hers was another distraction. And that string bikini wasn’t helping. He remembered those breasts, how soft they felt in his hands, how he could make her purr by licking her nipple…
The piece sprang free and with a twist, he opened the handcuffs, totally shocked by the feeling of disappointment that washed over him. What was he thinking? Wiste wanted no part of him. And, if he was honest with himself, admittedly not one of his strong points, he didn’t really want a complication in his life right now. He’d just left one in the desert of Las Vegas, he didn’t need to pick up another one here in Connecticut.
Her exaltation was immediate. He didn’t say a word, only putting his tools away, re-rolling the felt and putting it back in its case. Wisteria jumped up and brushed past him as if he didn’t exist.
“Em, he did it. Emily? Em!”
But Matt knew Emily had left. He’d heard her sneak down the stairs before he’d even gotten his tools out. For reasons of her own, Emily Baker had left them alone.
About the Author
In third grade, Diana wrote a short, one-page story about a bear family. When her teacher handed it back, the paper had a great big, red “A” on the top. The teacher said to her, “This is very good. You ought to be a writer.” And in the concrete-thinking way of third graders, Diana knew she’d just found the career she was to follow.
Of course, she doubts her third grade teacher envisioned the genre Diana would choose. After she complained about not finding BDSM-themed stories that focused on the relationship rather than just the sex, she was challenged by a friend to write one of her own. The rest is just fun reading.
Diana resides in the Finger Lakes area of New York State and is grateful for the support of her husband and two adult children.