I’ve been writing explicit erotic stories for a long time now. Started out with m/m, moved to some m/f (though m/m is more fun for me to write). Sometimes for money, sometimes for the sheer joy of storytelling. Of the two releases I have coming up (Blue Plate Special in the Naughty Literati anthology Naughty Flings this week, and Lodestone from Dreamspinner Press a couple of weeks later) one is erotic paranormal m/f and the other is PG-13 paranormal science fiction m/m. Maybe more than PG-13, but not by much. I’m not sure I’m much of a judge of such things any more.
In short, I have no idea whatsoever where I’m headed at the moment. My big project (which has been sidelined a bit by a flood of smaller ones and life in general) has virtually no romantic or erotic content at all. In many ways it’s bringing me back to my roots. I’m a spec fic writer who wandered into romance/erotic romance/erotica and decided to hang out and have tea and cookies. When I’m working on Phoenix, I sometimes feel like I’ve looked at my watch and realized how late it was and that I really need to go home now. (But OMG the shortbread and chai are wonderful! And such lovely people!)
One thing my sojourn on the erotic side of the writing world has done for me is to open my writing up to possibilities I never would have considered in the past. A few things have happened in recent weeks that got me thinking. First there’s Lodestone. My guys, Al and Nick meet up on a space station, sparks fly and things happen. Both have paranormal abilities, which they have to hide due to prejudice in the larger society. The fact that they are attracted to other men is a complete non-issue in their culture.
Then I thought about one of my works in progress. It was going to be a submission for an anthology, but got too big. It’s either going to be The Glass Spinner’s Tale or Bastard’s Fee, I keep changing my mind. My two guys in that one have known each other for years. And they’ve loved each other for years, too, but their respective guilds would strip them of everything and toss them out were they to be involved with each other. Again, their attraction to one another is a non-issue. Instead a century old (though it could be longer–another thing that keeps changing and growing in my head) guild rivalry keeps them apart.
A discussion on a mailing list (it covered quite a few topics) reinforced something I’d realized years ago. While writers are perfectly able to write about experiences they’ve never had (how boring would fiction be were that not the case), I do not feel comfortable trying to address certain things outside of my personal experience. Specifically, speaking to modern racial and GLBT experiences. I don’t feel I have…not the right, but the necessary insight to address such complex and inherently intimate matters. If I bungle a space battle, big deal, A few physicists and SF readers (there’s a Venn diagram for that) will be pissed off at me. But bungling something so personal to so many isn’t something I’m willing to risk.
Part of the problem is that I find it baffling that it is an issue in the first place. The last time I checked this was the 21st century. We should be beyond worrying about the color of someone’s skin, what their gender (or gender identity) is or what consenting adults do behind closed doors. That we aren’t beyond it is a sad commentary on the human race. There are enough actual problems in the world without having to make them up.
I think this is why I keep writing about other ways my same sex couples are at risk if they’re together or if some intrinsic aspect of their being were known. Guild rivalries or maligned paras make just as much sense as racism, homophobia. misogyny, or anything else someone derides for no good reason…and there is never a good reason for bigotry.
I think I need more coffee.