An MFRW Author Post – And check out the other blogs on the hop!
I wish I had enough reviews to learn from the bad ones. Over the last four years, I’ve encountered the same struggle as many independent authors – reaching my audience, getting feedback and sharing my stories. While the scope of my author-influence has increased, it’s still an uphill challenge to get those reviews, good or bad, so I haven’t exactly had the opportunity to learn from my reviewers. The worst review I ever received was a 3.5-star review and it was so complimentary that I cannot fathom what her 5-star review might have looked like.
Still, while I don’t have the specifics of bad reviews, I do write in a genre that many people have a lot to say about. Erotic romance, despite being a genre as old as time itself, can be very divisive, even in today’s world, and I’ve encountered a remarkable amount of ignorance, backlash and shaming to go along with it. That being said, I’ve also encountered support, acknowledgment, and recognition that, yes, erotic romance is a feminist genre and oh hey, we didn’t invent the wheel.
One of the most frustrating pieces of feedback that I’ve received ad nausea is the eternal reference to 50 Shades of Grey. Now, I understand. 50 Shades is the most recognizable piece of erotic fiction that most people know of. It’s a safe bet and so wildly popular that most readers – and non-readers – can use it as a touchstone when entering a genre they don’t fully understand. And to a point, I do appreciate that 50 Shades has normalized erotic romance and put stories like ours to the mainstream and the big screen.
The problem being, however, that 50 Shades isn’t a story like mine. I have written BDSM romance, I have written Dom/Sub romance, I have written exhibitionism, voyeurism, menage and many other facets of the lifestyle. And the fundamental basis for this genre – at any level – is respect and agency.
I’m not going to turn this into a 50 Shades post because that’s a story for another day, but as an agent of this genre, that sort of representation is a mixed bag. Yes, we’re in the mainstream, but we’re not really. If you think you enjoy erotic romance because of that series, you will likely be quite shocked by some of my stories, and they are by no means the darkest depths of erotic romance.
There’s a great quote by Robert A. Heinlein that goes as follows, “Each generation thinks it invented sex; each generation is totally mistaken.”
Oftentimes, as a young woman in this industry, I’m looked as being the rabblerousing youth with her mind on sex. Young people and their Snapchat and their swearing and their coitus.
Erotic romance is as ancient as the mountains and here to stay. My stories, the sex included, are part of a much larger narrative of history, of coming together, of the depths of human desires and the ways we find what we truly want.
I write erotic romance as a feminist manifesto. I write erotic romance to say that I am not afraid to embrace all that which was taken from my great grandmothers and their great grandmothers. I write erotic romance because for so long and up unto today, sex and promiscuity and eroticism has been used as a brand to punish women and to keep them under the heel of the everpresent patriarchy and I want to turn that very weapon against them and say no more. I write erotic romance because it gives my heroines – and me – the agency to live our lives, tell our stories and embrace our desires.
I write erotic romance because there is truth and beauty and love in a thousand different relationships and there is no one way to find it. I write erotic romance so that the next generation knows that for women, sex, desire, and lust are natural, beautiful and to be embraced. I write erotic romance for me, for them and for all that come after.
So no, not like 50 Shades of Grey. ♦
When That Book came out, I displayed it on my table at signings with a note attached: “If you read this and liked it, you’ll really enjoy Kenzie Michaels’ books!” Women flocked to my table in droves….sales of two of my books shot through the roof.
But the next year, it didn’t have the same reaction. Oh well….
I enjoy reading erotic romance, but draw the line at most BDSM. I know what I like and how far I’m willing to go in entertaining myself with fiction; however, that also means that I won’t blast an author for writing something I find objectionable, especially if the writer offers forewarning.
Almost a sense of relief to read this. Erotica has a wide range, crosses genres. Tired of everything being compared to 50sog.