Alex Beecroft, accidental erotica writer

So, according to this article in Library Journal

http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2013/02/books/genre-fiction/erotica-full-frontal-shelving-genre-spotlight/

I am a popular erotica writer (much like that other purveyor of full on steamy smut, Josh Lanyon.)

I have mixed feelings about this. It’s nice to be called a particularly popular author of anything, particularly in a respected publication like Library Journal. But on the other hand it’s kind of grieving to be constantly associated with a genre I don’t think I belong to. Surely I would know if I was writing erotica?

They define it this way in the article:

In a sexually explicit romance, the development of the emotional relationship drives the story. The sex scenes are integral to the story, but they are not the primary way in which the relationship develops. For erotic romance, the development of the relationship again is the focus of the story,…

“Erotica is not a romance at all,” explains author Hart. “The content is graphic, and the plot has a sexual premise, but the movement of the story is not about the emotional relationship or ‘happy ever after’ of the characters.” Berkley’s Hwang agrees. “I think the difference is really about how the sexual component is used.” An erotica story can be about anything, but the journey of the main characters is generally shown through the lens of their sexuality and sexual practices.

Right? So erotica is about the sex, while romance is about the love story.

Now I refer you to the review I had for Blessed Isle yesterday:

there’s a subtlety about Beecroft’s writing and her efforts (and total success) at keeping the sex out of the book. In doing so … the focus was shifted to the love story and the time period, which really only adds to the story.

Admittedly there’s more sex in most of my other books. But  the sex scenes don’t drive the plot, the romance does. By LJ’s own definition, what I write is “sexually explicit romance,” not “erotica.” They even reviewed the Under the Hill books in their own magazine with these words

The sexual encounters are mild, and the emotional encounters enhance the plot. Those who enjoy complex fantasy stories with nontraditional pairings will enjoy this ebook duo

So I don’t know. I’m grateful to be mentioned, but I despair that I’ll ever be seen as a writer of the kind of stuff I think I write. Sometimes I wonder, am I really writing what I think I’m writing? Have I got it wrong? As @suleikhasnyder said on Twitter, maybe I’m an accidental erotica writer – maybe I really did slip and fall on it?

After all, I’ve been reading along with a sporking Gehayi is doing of 50 Shades of Gray, and from what I’ve read of it so far, I certainly wouldn’t call that erotica. There’s far too much angsting and conversation, and angsting about the conversation, and conversations about the angst. I may have blanked the sex scenes from memory, but I only remember there being one of them so far, and I didn’t think that was very sexy.

So if that’s what the mainstream literary world considers erotica, perhaps – by their standards – my stories about battle, religion, self-acceptance and angst, with some explicit sex scenes, really are erotica too?

Perhaps my perception of what is a ‘normal’ level of sex in a story has been warped by too much exposure to the outer reaches of slash fanfic, (where I scarcely bat an eye at incestuous tentacle porn any more) and because I’m nowhere near the extremes,  I wrongly think I’m not within the fringes?

I don’t know. I do think that, if I can’t shake the label, perhaps it’s time to own it. Hence – Alex Beecroft, Accidental Writer of Erotica. I apologise in advance if you come to my books and are horribly disappointed by the lack of sex. But I’ve decided that after 5 years of protest, I cannot stop the world with my own two hands.


Comments (21)

C.C. WilliamsFebruary 13th, 2013 at 8:48 am

Congrats on the recognition!

I think that those of us who write m/m get lumped in because of the whole guy/guy aspect, which is racier to the mainstream. What they focus on–no matter how much angst or conversation or battles we throw at them–is the two guys gettin’ it on.

Love from the trenches!

Alex BeecroftFebruary 13th, 2013 at 11:33 am

Well, that’s just (excuse my French) bollocks :) If that’s the only reason then I’ll go on protesting. As if m/m was somehow dirtier because it’s two men instead of a man and a woman? That’s (I shall say it again) bollocks. (But I sadly have to agree with you that there may be an element of that in there. I would hope not, but it would be hope against the evidence.)

Thank you! Back at you :)

Lillian FrancisFebruary 13th, 2013 at 3:32 pm

How strange that we were having a similar conversation recently on Goodreads.

It’s the hypocrisy that gets me, that the same person who will happily read 50 shades on the beach looks at me askance when I say I write gay romance.

LOL Maybe you’re right and over exposure to tentacle porn has numbed our ability to see as other people do ;)

Alex BeecroftFebruary 13th, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Yes, you hesitate to call them homophobic, because they’re probably not consciously aware of where that double standard comes from. But it’s hard to see it any other way. I’m happier about the people who would look askance at both equally, because I understand that books with sex scenes in are not everybody’s cup of tea.

Sandra LindseyFebruary 13th, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I wouldn’t have called your stories erotica, and I think that anyone who does ought to go out & read more books!

…and I don’t know how you managed it, but you placed that “incestuous tentacle porn” bit *right* where I was taking a drink from my mug of tea!

Alex BeecroftFebruary 13th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Incestuous tentacle porn should always come as a surprise ;) You’re clearly not too jaded yet!

I know I’m struggling to accept the idea that I might, but the real truth is that I still honestly don’t believe I write erotica. Not when I compare my stuff to the great majority of romance books, which – other than the inspirationals – are almost all steamier than mine.

Charlene NewcombFebruary 18th, 2013 at 3:08 am

I’ve read several of your books. Like Sandra & others, I wouldn’t label them as erotica. You write beautifully – about relationships. It’s a shame if they get categorized as erotica because readers are missing out, whether it’s your Age of Sail historicals, contemporary romance, or your fantasies.

Alex BeecroftFebruary 18th, 2013 at 7:54 am

Thank you! Yes, if I thought I was writing erotica, I would add more sex scenes and probably not go to the same amount of trouble over things like research and setting and characterisation. And I would add more kink and stuff that appealed to the id rather than the superego (if you know what I mean.) But I normally stay away from that stuff because that’s not what I’m trying to do.

C.C. WilliamsFebruary 19th, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Part of the difficulty is the whole pigeon-holing thing: it’s the quantity of sex that seems to make a difference for some people in erotic romance versus erotica versus porn.

I feel it’s based on story objectives: how the relationship develops=romance, how sex affects the relationship=erotic romance, how people are affected by sex=erotica, sex for getting off=porn.

It’s sort of a Kinsey continuum question: Just how much sex/what kind of sex moves you along the spectrum?

Alex BeecroftFebruary 19th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

The trouble is that even by the standards of quantity of sex, I don’t even come into the erotic romance category. If we’re judging my m/m romance with the same standards with which we’re judging a typical m/f romance, mine is on the ‘sweet romance’ side. Yes, there is some explicit sex in there, but it’s less than you’d expect in a typical m/f romance. I do think that there’s a perception that m/m sex must somehow be hotter or sexier than m/f sex. Which is a great shame for those of us who are not m and therefore don’t get to try it for ourselves!

Lillian FrancisFebruary 20th, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I do think that there’s a perception that m/m sex must somehow be hotter or sexier than m/f sex. Which is a great shame for those of us who are not m and therefore don’t get to try it for ourselves!

*snort*

Lillian FrancisFebruary 20th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Sorry, tea just went up my nose!

Alex BeecroftFebruary 20th, 2013 at 9:59 pm

*Evil chuckle* My work here is done :D

Lillian FrancisFebruary 22nd, 2013 at 9:27 am

FYI, I’ve linked to this post from my blog today http://lillianfrancis.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/lillian-francis-dealer-in-decadence.html

Katherine HalleFebruary 25th, 2013 at 9:39 am

First, Congrats on the mention. I like the title you’ve decided to adopt, “Accidental Writer of Erotica.”

I really can’t add much that other peoople haven’t mentioned. I do think people look askance at gay romance because it’s gay and therefore it can’t really be a romance because goodness know they only have sex. *rolls eyes*

It is frustrating that “mainstream romance” is more accepted when most of it is formulaic and predictable (and oftentimes has more sex with much cruder language).

My hope is that in time and with authors and publishers becoming more vocal that m/m romance will eventually find its rightful place – however, I fear that it will be a very long time before that happens :(

Alex BeecroftFebruary 25th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

It is frustrating that those of us who write books with less sex than your typical m/f romance still get lumped in with erotica, as though the lumpers assume the only reason we could possibly want to read about two men in love was for titillation. I like to think it’s getting better, though. Certainly when I started writing this stuff, that was pretty much what was assumed even in the genre. So it’s an improvement that people in the genre are now aware that some people are not into it for the smut. I expect the same change will come to the mainstream, it’s just that they’re 5-10 years behind us still.

Barb RameyApril 19th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I started reading m/m books when Choccy Grl published ‘Lesson Learned’. Since then I have read 214 m/m books and short stories. Favorite authors are Lillian Francis and Josh Lanyon and now Alex Beecroft. What frustrates me to no end is buying a book that sounds great in the blurb, but turns out to be page after page of explicitly detailed sex with no discernable plot, no character development, and poor grammer.

Keep writing the good stuff.

Alex BeecroftApril 19th, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Oh, Barb, thank you! That’s wonderful to hear. I wonder sometimes (all the time, really) whether I’m doing it right. It’s often not the sort of thing you can estimate accurately for yourself. So I’m delighted to know that my books are working for you.

I must admit that there’s always a temptation to write sexier on the grounds that sex sells better. It’s felt doubly unfair that I had to resist that temptation while still being called a writer of erotica ;) But in the end I write what I like to read, and that’s story all the way.

Thank you again!

Lillian FrancisApril 19th, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Sorry to butt in Alex but can I just say Barb that I’m honoured that it was my story that introduced you to the wonderful world of published m/m and by extension two of my favourite authors, Alex and Josh. In fact it gave me a bit of thrill just to be included in the same sentence as them. (I’ve met Alex and in a minute she’ll tell me I’m being an idiot to be all star struck about her. LOL)

Alex BeecroftApril 19th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

*g* Well, I might have phrased it a bit more gently ;)

Lillian FrancisApril 20th, 2013 at 8:46 am

:D

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