One of my other pseudonyms publishes erotica. It's really nothing weird, and you can figure out who it is with a little sleuthing, but I didn't want to publish contemporary erotic romance under the same name that does paranormal fiction for young adults. (For the eagle-eyed writers out there who are now wondering: When I share sales figures on this blog, I'm only sharing SM Reine's sales. Just for the record.)
What I'm getting at here is that I do write explicit sexual content. It's not my favorite thing, but I'm not a stranger to it. I embarked on writing erotic romance as a personal challenge rather than as a business decision, since it is so far out of my comfort zone and I want to be a great writer who can write anything that the situation calls for. You can consider erom part of my cross-training for the writer Olympics.
Well, Damnation Marked was the Olympics I've been training for. There are two sex scenes in the book. One of them is explicit. It's the first time SM Reine has published explicit sex.
Frankly, erotic romance did not prepare me for the experience.
Now, before you get all excited, you should know that the sex in Damnation Marked is plot stuff and not for purposes of titillation. In fact, both scenes are pretty... ew. In totally different ways. So I wasn't trying to evoke arousal in the reader. I also couldn't use the same verbiage for, you know, "the anatomy." Or even the description of the... ahem... mechanical act. Which makes the whole erotica thing completely useless, basically.
Both sex scenes involve Elise, and sex requires a certain level of emotional vulnerability that she is not good at. Getting into that place with her was hard. Elise, being so distant and stony, is always hard to take on a journey, but getting into the parts of the journey requiring sexuality was a special level of difficult I couldn't have anticipated.
I had debated writing sex between Elise and Anthony in the past, and always balked because I couldn't justify its plot-worthiness. But this was different. I always strive for emotional honesty in my books, even when the situations are ridiculously implausible, and I wouldn't have felt right fading to black for the scenes.
But more than the issues within the story, I've found myself questioning the decision to include the sex quite a lot, too. I mean, I do write stuff for young adults. Should I really have sex in any of SM Reine's books? Even if it's meant to serve the plot, totally un-glamorous, and not really sexy?
Obviously, you know at what conclusion I arrived, given the content of this post.
My books are violent. There is yucky stuff in all of The Descent Series, from what a writer friend called "the meat pit" in Death's Avatar, to slaughtering demons wholesale, to skull-cracking and intestine-spilling and anything else you can imagine and would never hope to see. There are four episodes in the series so far, and each one has something terrible in it. Damnation Marked is no exception.
If I'm comfortable having dead babies, rotting zombies, and brain-splattering violence in my books, why shouldn't I be comfortable having consensual sex between adult characters?
|Random smoochy photo for illustrative purposes only.|
I'm pretty optimistic about the book. Even though I'm biting my nails over whether it's going to be good enough or not, initial reader reactions are very positive. I've had a few people tell me it's their favorite of the series so far, which is pretty stiff competition against The Darkest Gate. And one of my readers, Tina, said the sex was pretty good. ;) Hee. (Love you, Tina!)
I'll be hitting "publish" on it tonight. Wish me luck. :)