By Megan Morgan
I became a writer at fourteen. ‘Became a writer’ sounds as though I burst upon the literary world, educated and adroit, with a masterfully-penned bestseller in my hands. This was not the case.
You’re going to laugh. It’s okay.
I was ‘that’ teenager, the Gothy, morbid one that loved horror movies and horror novels. Anything scary and scream-y and bloodcurdling, I was there. I was a fan of the top horror writers at the time–Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Tanith Lee, Stephen King–especially Stephen King. That was why, at the tender age of fourteen, I decided I would be the next Stephen King. Nay, Stephen King times ten.
This was quite the delusion of grandeur, to claim I would be Stephen King’s nemesis, especially since I hadn’t so much as written an entire short story up until that point. But hey, it gave me a place to start.
For most of my teens and adult life, I wrote horror–apart from a brief spate in my early twenties when I became uncharacteristically religious and decided it no longer lined up with my world views. Then I wrote sci-fi and fantasy.
One thing I definitely didn’t write was romance.
I was caught up in the notion held by certain literary echelons that romance and erotica are not ‘real writing.’ That, despite holding for decades the largest share of the bookseller’s market, producing more titles, authors, and bestsellers than any other genre, raking in millions in revenue, and having books made into movies and translated into all languages, romance is the bottom of the literature barrel: the dregs, the scum. The fluff no one takes seriously.
For me, who tried in vain to keep romance from leaking into my work (and stomping my foot when it wouldn’t go away), it was a case of the lady doth protest too much.
The literary world is still full of people who don’t believe romance and erotica have any merit. We will probably never change these people’s minds. However, we can laugh at them. Laugh, because, they’re either floating on a sea of delusion or drowning in a lake of double standards.
Love and sex are everywhere, in everything. Why do romance and erotica writers garner ridicule for putting it center stage?
Love seeps into every form of entertainment we consume–movies, TV shows, books. Love stains every ‘proper, respectable’ archetype, from the bitter action hero who goes on a rampage to avenge his wife’s murder, to the warlord who saves the princess, to the misunderstood villain trying to save his family. In real life, it’s even more intense. Most people spend their lives in pursuit of love and sex: find a partner, find a mate, find someone to grow old and have children with. People move mountains to protect the one they love. Life is a romance novel. If you’re lucky, life is an erotic romance novel.
Three years ago, I finally gave in. I became a real writer. I discovered in the process I’m much better at writing about matters of the heart and matters beneath the sheets than I am about vampires. Oh, wait–I still write about vampires, they just get it on now. As vampires should and would.
I haven’t given up horror though, as I write urban fantasy as well. Same flavor, but with a little dash of love and sex, the stuff I always tried to keep from creeping in.
I’m sorry, Stephen King, it looks like we won’t be fighting to the death after all. However, if you want to go, Nora Roberts, come find me.
Megan Morgan is a paranormal romance, erotica, and urban fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. Bartender by day and purveyor of things that go bump at night, she likes her fiction scary and sexy. She’s a member of the RWA and trying to turn writing into her day job, so she can be on the other side of the bar for a change. Currently published with House of Erotica, she is also the author of a three-book urban fantasy series coming soon from Kensington Press.