by Giselle Renarde
I didn't renew my opera subscription. I'm just too poor this year.
An opera subscription sounds too decadent for a poor writer, and that's probably why I'm such an apologist ("My seats are in the nosebleed section. When you break it down, I'm only paying like $20 per ticket. You spend nearly that much to see a movie.") but I'm glad I had the opportunity, this season, to catch the COC's production of Salome directed by Atom Egoyan.
When I first started writing, I wanted to create work that felt... Egoyanesque? Work that evoked that striking carnivalesque dreamscape of an Atom Egoyan film.
Like Lisabet, I came into the world of erotic fiction very naively. And romance? What's that? I've still never read a heterosexual romance novel. I tried once, just to get a feel for the form, but gave up pretty quickly. I read a few lesbian romance novels, but they didn't speak to me either. It seemed like lesbian couples were just superimposed on the tried-and-true form.
But I'm not a romantic, and I've already admitted that to you. For a story to appeal to me, it's got to be pretty fucked up. Have you seen Atom Egoyan's "The Sweet Hereafter," wherein Sarah Polley's character is sleeping with her father? Or "Exotica," about a father seeking solace in a stripper following the murder of his child? There's a special fucked-up-edness that is distinct to Egoyan's work. I love it. I perv on that brand of Canadian weirdness, and I wanted to replicate it in my own little way.
Amanda's post last week did a great job of spelling out why weirdness doesn't work. Basically, the fucked-up crazy-ass shit I'd most like to write (and I think some of you are with me on this) is deemed unacceptable by most publishers in the erotic fiction genre. It's all well and good to be Egoyanesque if you're writing literature, but if you want to work in this town, kid, you'd better keep it clean.
Isn't it weird that we have to sanitize our sex books? Crikey...
The first novel I wrote was a bisexual ballerina book called "Ondine." Nobody would touch that manuscript. It was too lesbian. It was too strange, too full of lies and deception. It was too this-that-and-the-other. Too unhappy-ever-after.
One editor who passed on the novel gave me a whole list of insights, and I put her advice to work. I turned a hetero subplot into a leading lady. I changed the book so it ended in a proposal. Happy-for-now is about the farthest I can roam from my desire for pain and suffering. I write it because I have to. It's almost always forced. The only exception I can think of is a trans lesbian novella I wrote called "Friday Night Lipstick." That one ends in a wedding scene that makes me cry every time I read it.
But, for the most part, I'd rather see despair, or watch characters drive themselves crazy doing things they shouldn't. Case in point: I've got a novella called Adam and Sheree's Family Vacation coming out next week with eXcessica. It's brother/sister incest--something I never considered writing until the plot came to me in an Egoyanesque dream state and took over my mind. I couldn't not write it. And how could Adam and Sheree ever see a happy-ever-after together? They couldn't marry, even if they wanted to.
Thank goodness I have a publisher who believes in freedom of speech, or Adam and Sheree would probably never see the light of day.
So, HEA? I don't often write it. Maybe if I did, I'd be able to afford that opera subscription. Opera loves the delicious, the titillating, the wicked, and the heart-wrenching. And so do I.