We’re all aware of the old adage, “write what you know.” For some writers, that wisdom is like a mantra. John Grisham, attorney, writing legal thrillers. Same with Dr. Robin Cook on the medical front. They have the expertise and credentials to write novels in their chosen fields, and readers trust that the facts relevant to their backgrounds are correct. Those authors are, indeed, writing what they know. But when that logic is shifted to writers of erotic romance, should the adage even apply?
Let’s begin by stating the obvious. Erotic romance authors presumably “know” their subject matter, at least to a degree. Statistics provided by the Kinsey Institute indicate that by age 24, 92% of women and 89% of men have had sexual intercourse. Given that, for the most part, we’re all in or above that age bracket, we can statistically state that we have first-hand relevant knowledge of our topic. However, have I participated in wild sadomasochistic orgies, or copulated outdoors? Maybe. Do I retain card-carrying member status of an alternative lifestyle underground sex club? It’s possible. Or not. The truth is, there’s not a chance in hell that I’m going to publicly air any of my street cred on those fronts. No way, Jose. Those are secrets I’m keeping to myself.
I recently had a conversation with someone where we shared with each other how we respond to the age-old question, “what do you do for a living?” In his case, his job is so highly skilled and technical that the follow-up questions are more along the lines of an effort to understand what the heck he’s even talking about. But for me, if I reveal that I write erotic romance, what follows is a certain lascivious gleam in the eye that tells me the person is simply bursting with wanting to know where and how I get my ideas. After all, I must be writing what I know, right? So, gee, how do I actually know all of that naughty stuff?
It’s interesting how boundaries will sometimes evaporate when people learn that we write in the erotic romance genre. The respect for personal space disappears and people seem to think it’s perfectly OK to inquire about how I get my ideas on crafting sex scenes just because I’ve revealed that I write them.
The question I never get, but which I would willingly answer, is why I write in this genre. Why erotic romance versus inspirational romance, for example? The simple answer is because I like it. I sometimes cook up a pot of bolognese because I like to eat it, just as I write erotic romance because I like to read it. I’m fascinated by the psychological association between relationships and sex, and the complex range of emotions that go along with the decision to have a physical relationship with someone. When I’m reading a romance and things start heating up between my hero and heroine, there’s no way I’m going to be content if the scene ends by closing the bedroom door. Say what?! No way. Not only do I want that door to stay open, I want a play-by-play of the action. What’s going on physically in the couple’s bodies and emotionally in their heads. I want to know it, and I like to write it.
A year ago I wrote a post about the fact that I’m not, contrary to what some people may think when they learn I wrote erotic romance, a sex goddess. I’m a writer, plain and simple, and erotic romance is my genre. But where exactly I get my ideas for those deliciously naughty scenes and whether or not I have relevant first-hand experience is a secret that stays safely with me.
What do you think, writers? Are you ever asked crazy questions about where you get your ideas? Find your inspiration? Sound off below, and don’t forget to follow us at Lady Smut. We’ll keep your secret.