As a writer of both erotic fiction and erotic memoir, the lines
between the two can often become blurred. All memoir, even though it is ‘true’
is tweaked and filtered to fit a coherent narrative and while it may be truth it
is a subjective truth. Certainly with erotic experiences; we may be feeling
something completely different to how other participants remember the
encounter.

Fiction,
of course is ‘made up’ yet most writers whether consciously or unconsciously
write from the ground of their own experiences and knowledge. Certainly when
writing sex scenes, which is why it’s often especially difficult to write an
erotic scene from the perspective of another gender! In fact in my upcoming
writing guide, ‘Passionate Plots’ published by Compass Books late 2013, I
include a writing exercise that uses memory to craft a sex scene for writer’s
new to the genre. Our own experiences are always a good starting point when it
comes to writing erotic scenes. The beauty of fiction however is the reader
doesn’t know which experiences are or aren’t your own. Of course, if you’re
writing good fiction then the reader will be too immersed in the characters to
think of the author at all. You can let your imagination go where it pleases. I
recently wrote an erotic scene involving oral sex in a stable with a cowboy.
Although I used my own sexual experiences as a springboard, creativity took over
from there, as – unfortunately – I have yet to have sex in a stable with a
cowboy! I love writing paranormal and historical erotic romance in particular as
I can take real flights of fancy.


When it comes to writing memoir, it’s a very different process.
As the writer you’re constrained to a certain degree by the facts as you see
them, and this leads to a spiralling inwards rather than a creative leap –
digging down right into your own dreams and memories and feelings. Although I
found writing my memoir ‘Wicked Games’ a cathartic process, it was also an
unsettling one that left me feeling vulnerable. There’s no hiding behind your
characters when you are in fact the character! It’s tempting to gloss over the
most revealing parts, but that often takes away from the intensity of the scene.



Erotic memoir is very popular at the moment, although as a genre
it’s nothing new; in fact we get our word ‘pornography’ from the Ancient Greek
‘pornographia’ which means the ‘writings of prostitutes’ referring to memoirs
that popular courtesans of the period often wrote to entice future clients – and
probably, in time honoured girl talk tradition, share with each other too! Anais
Nin’s erotic memoirs became literary classics, in stark contrast to today’s
somewhat patronising ‘mommy porn’ labels.


Erotica as a genre is so enduring because all of us to some
degree like stories and like sex. Put them together and you’re onto a winner.
Erotic memoir, as distinct from its fictional counterpart, is I believe so
popular because it gives us the forbidden feeling of delving into someone else’s
most personal thoughts and deeds. It’s almost an act of voyeurism, and that’s
partly what makes it so hot for the reader and sometimes unsettling for the
writer; it’s like inviting the world into your bedroom. Of course as the writer
you can pick and choose what to include, but leave too much out and it will feel
inauthentic to the reader. Include everything, and you feel as though you’re
walking around naked.


Often when writing ‘Wicked Games’ I struggled with including
particular scenes that left me feeling raw, yet I knew would be brilliant for
the book. More often than not I included them, and I think that feeling of being
exposed made the writing better. I do wish my friends wouldn’t insist on reading
parts of the book aloud when we’re in a public place
however!


Of course there’s the option to ‘fictionalise’ a real encounter;
I recently published a piece of ‘flash fiction’ that was originally a journal
entry, and very real, but with longer pieces this can mean losing out on two
counts. The writing lacks the appeal of being a memoir, but is more constrained
than fiction. My advice to anyone considering memoir is just do it, but consider
leaving the country afterwards.


Having said that, I’ve found that if you tell people you write
erotica, no matter how fictional your work, they will still assume you have
indeed had all the experiences you write about. So I would just like to take
this chance to state; the scene in the sex club with a pack of shape shifters?
Most definitely fiction. Mostly….

 





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