|When a male erotica author comes along|
You must whip him!
I originally wrote this as a guest post for Author/Blogger Elizabeth Delana Rosa:
For purposes of this post, I have revamped the discussion:
The question today is do male authors of erotica encounter discrimination?
The short answer: YES.
Here’s the long answer:
For most of my life I have been a fan of horror, macabre, paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi escapist fiction. I have enjoyed many an author in these genres, but some of my favorites would be Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and more recently Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, JR Ward, and Sunny.
A couple years ago, I decided it was time to take my love of escapist fiction to the next level and I started writing novels. I write primarily paranormal thriller, with a splash of erotic romance (sometimes more than a splash). Genre-wise my novels can be shelved as urban-fantasy, paranormal romance, fantasy, horror, thriller, erotica, vampire romance, or just plain ole romance.
At certain points in my writing I jumped the gap from steamy romance into burning hot erotica. I never really considered the obstacles I might encounter writing this kind of material as a man. I always knew my target audience would be female readers of the paranormal-fantasy genres, but I also write for men (for me). My work is gritty, visceral, with roller-coaster thriller intensity, and yet the sensual nature of the main characters is ever-present.
In writing this style of fiction, I found it necessary to work with erotic romance authors as critique partners. I needed female authors who can write-edit scorching sex scenes, to keep me on the right track. The ladies never hesitated to give me the smack-down when my sex scenes were not hot enough. The first thing they taught me was that writing sex is all about the emotional-sexual tensions between the characters. The sex is meaningless if no one cares about these people, about their lives, their motivations, and the connection they have must be real, tangible.
I learned to write sex scenes that make it uncomfortable to sit in my chair any longer.
My critique partners are wonderful writers and friends, and I couldn’t do it without them. Unfortunately, I also write intense scenes of graphic violence that the lovely ladies can hardly stomach.
Clueless to the problem I was facing, I encountered my first real exposure to this prejudice against male authors of erotica when the ladies of Erotic Enchants at Goodreads were bantering about me (and my books).
The subtle undertones were unmistakable.
Most women prefer their smut written by women, understandably. Of course, they don’t all admit that. No one likes to think they are prejudiced. But then I noticed it in my reviews. Women often didn’t know what to expect when they read my work. They had never read this kind of novel written by a man. Some used my gender as an excuse to bash me, but, other women were pleasantly surprised.
Here’s a taste of some choice review quotes from women:
“Travis Luedke writes like a woman… and I mean that in the most complimentary way! If you have followed my reviews, then you know I have historically steered clear of male erotic or romance authors, but over the past year, I have become less discriminating and given more books written by men a shot…”
“I feel that Mr. Luedke went down a completely different path, albeit the same story background, and reached way, way down deep in his soul and became one with his ‘female side’…”
“At times I felt it was blatantly obvious that the female main character was written by a man with all her brutally honest thoughts, but it also works, after all, she’s a hooker who was sold by her Colombian father into the trade.You’d certainly have to man up a bit in that case. The male perspective also comes into the limelight during the sex scenes. If you are looking for fluffy vanilla erotica here then you’d better walk away.”
“I went into this book with trepidation due to the fact that I only and have only ever read paranormal (vampire/werewolves and so on) books written by female authors … Although well written with a good story/plot line, I still thought that all those I’ve read – written by women, provided me with just that little bit more oomph in certain story lines and explanations.”
“Writing women well does you no good if you do not remember that we are the ones who buy the majority of Urban Fiction.”
“Nightlife: New York is a paranormal romance unlike I’ve ever read and it took me a little while to pinpoint why. Surprisingly, I think it is the fact that it was written by a man. It changed the feel and focus of the romance. There was a realism to the main character, Aaron’s, thoughts and actions that I can only imagine was born of the male author’s innate ability to relate to the emotions of a male character. This multidimensionalism is often lacking in other PNR. They regularly focus almost exclusively on the man’s alpha qualities, to the exclusion of all others. And while I enjoy these novels it was nice to come across a PNR hero who had a little more depth to him.”
“Most romance and erotica is written by women and for women. This has the harder edge of a man’s point of view that does not apologize for its grittiness and instead revels in it.”
Suffice it to say, I am now fully aware of this invisible barrier against men writing erotica. But I choose to see an opportunity to do something other men haven’t. So, I am taking a running leap at that barrier. Regardless of how many times I get smacked in the face for my audacity, I am going to keep pushing past the discrimination.
I’m trail blazing. :)