Sunday, February 18, 2007

Genre talk.

I call myself an erotica writer. At one time, I called myself a smut writer and a “chick with a keyboard.” One of my editors, Tami Parrington, threatened me with bodily harm over that. She told me, “You’re a writer, who happens to include erotic elements in her stories.”

Fine, but that’s a pretty big mouthful, don’t ya think?

What I do try to avoid is the “romance” label. Yes, there’s romance in my stories. Yes, there’s relationship building, soulmates, fluttering hearts and all that wonderful stuff that’s in fictional romance.

So, why do I resist that label? The word “romance” implies a happy ending (HEA= Happy Ever After). Recently, “romance” has pushed its boundaries to include “happy for now” at the end of the stories.

I can’t promise that. I want my couples to stay together. I want that HEA, but I don’t always get that. I’ve been known to kill off leads, let the world fall to shambles and keep characters in unhealthy relationships.

Yes, I know. Putting realism in my fiction is mean of me, but one reader told me that’s what she liked about my stories. She said that when she read one of my stories she needed to be prepared for anything and she liked that. I guess after you read a few romance books, you come to expect the two leads to stay together and the suspense is lost.

That’s also why I try not to let the fate of the relationship be the plot. If my publisher lists my title in the HEA category, then all my suspense work is lost. The reader knows there’s a happy ending before they open the file. I assume the reader will assume the relationship will stick.

I want to be known as a “yaoi” writer. This is a special sub-genre of m/m erotic fiction. Yaoi promises you a lot of things, but it doesn’t promise you a happy ending or a healthy relationship. Yaoi writers will break their characters and give them a mind-fuck that therapy can’t help. And, damn it, the men are painfully beautiful while they angst themselves into The Pit of Despair ™.

Yaoi also has a different style and tone than “gay erotica.” There’s nothing wrong with “gay erotica.” Some of my favorite authors consider their home genre to be “gay erotica.” And, I’m even trying my hand at with About to Sin.

I think taking the yaoi label is a wise choice for me. Yaoi is what I write. Beautiful headcases who need therapy damn quick, but will never get it. Yaoi is not without its critics though. Gay men are slowly discovering yaoi (a genre started by and targeted toward woman). Some enjoy what they’ve found and some can’t stand it.

I can understand that. Sometimes the characterizations in yaoi seem like caricatures of gay men. The men are emotional (on both ends of that spectrum) and some are very flamboyant. I can see where some men will look at it and feel like I do when I watch movies prior to the 70’s.

Some like yaoi and some don’t. I love it. I don’t look at it as means of understanding gay men. I look at it as a means of entertainment. I adore a dark brooding character who is so locked up in himself he can’t really relate to those around him. I also enjoy the open, giddy and happy character who simply wants to love someone. Sometimes, those who are in love with the idea of being in love are the biggest angst-fests you can find. Those are the ones who are so screwed up they no longer feel it.

Some yaoi is fluff. Some has teeth. It’s a wide-open genre and I feel right at home in it!

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