Saturday, February 21, 2009

Welcome, Alessia Brio

I'm incredibly pleased to have Alessia Brio join us this week. She's been editor as well as the cover artist for most of my work published at Phaze. She's the power house behind the Coming Together anthologies and an amazing author herself.

What Alessia has to say about genre:

Genre. Such a little word. Two syllables. Three consonants. Two vowels. Other than the exotic pronunciation of its first letter, there's nothing special about it. I mean, writers like words that have some oomph, some hue, some style. Nouns that taste like chocolate-covered bliss rolling off your tongue. Verbs that make readers tingle in hot, pink places. But, alas, genre is not one of those words. It's merely a pretentious word for "category," which is just the fancier cousin of "type."

So, what type of books does Alessia Brio write? Damned good ones. Beyond that, I make no promises, and I accept no boundaries. Fiction? Um, usually. Not always, though. (Knead, for example, is damned near autobiographical.)

Throughout the past week, I read each of the posts on this subject with interest. The general theme seemed to be that no one's work consistently fit any particular category, and most spanned several categories, often at the same time. I sensed a grudging tolerance of genre labels in the interest of publication and subsequent sales. Yeah, I get that. It's a matter of pragmatism. A necessary evil.

A decade and a half ago, my son was born with a host of medical issues. For years, I fought the labels that professionals wanted to stick on him. Cerebral palsy. Mental retardation. I learned the hard way that those labels were the key to unlocking critical services he needed in order to maximize his potential. And yet, while opening some doors, they also closed others. He was herded into segregated environments for "special" care, cutting him off from interaction with "normal" peers. He became a second-class citizen, a parasite feeding on the bloated carcass of public assistance, a burden in the eyes of society, with nothing of value to add.

Much like the erotic romance genre is regarded.

I understand the need for labels while simultaneously bristling at the limitations accompanying them. Over the years, in the course of advocating for my son, I've learned that there are really only two types, two genres, of advocacy: in-your-face and under-your-skin. Neither is "better" than the other. Both are, in varying circumstances, powerful and effective. I think the same holds true of writing. A good book makes you feel or it makes you think. And, if it's damned good, it does both.

peace & passion,

~ Alessia Brio


Sapphistocated: Four Tales of Mirror Geography
ISBN 978-1-60659-115-4
Phaze, February 2009 (print & ebook)

Buy now

Four rising stars of women's erotica come together in this sometimes funny, sometimes heartwarming, and totally engaging collection of stories about women who love women.

Double Decker by Alessia Brio: Tess is determined to win the big Karaoke contest at the Double Decker bar, and the heart of the woman organizing it. Will her evening end on a high note?

Also included in this anthology are the following authors and their stories:

I Know What I Want by Jolie du Pre: Allie is an up-and-coming model who catches the eye of a wealthy, dominating woman. While the attentions and money from "special" modeling sessions are welcome, Allie wants more... but how much is enough?

Better With Age by Beth Wylde: After nearly twenty years, Olivia runs into her first love, Aleesha. While time seems to fade as they reunite, Olivia isn't sure passion could possibly have survived. It takes a surprising discovery at home to convince her to find out for certain if she's gotten better with age.

Drawn by Yeva Wiest: Manga artist Sydney loves 'em thin and leaves 'em shortly afterward, so why is she obsessing over the big, beautiful daughter of her publisher? As her Yuri artwork torments her and friends advise her, Sydney struggles with these new feelings and learns that where love and passion are concerned, she doesn't have to draw the line at any particular size.

If you'd like to look Alessia up, here where you'll find her:
(Coming Together)

And these:


  1. A hearty welcome to the Grip, Alessia!

    Your linking of the genre issue with your son's condition spotlights the double-edged nature of labels and categories. We need them in order to make sense of a complex world. At the same time, they limit our responses and our options, and condition our reactions, pushing us toward damaging stereotypes.

    I wonder if there is a way to get the benefits of order and clarity without the costs of prejudice and fear.


  2. Lisabet said: ...the benefits of order and clarity without the costs of prejudice and fear.


    There will always be a dark side to the Force. Just as there will always be those who gravitate toward it. It's up to us, the Erotic Jedi, to set an example. To be the change (to quote the Peace Jedi).

    peace & passion,

    ~ Alessia

  3. Alessia Brio! You were the first one to give me a break outside the corridors of ERWA.

    As Stephen King says "The book is the boss". You write what the story fairy gives you, and figure out how to label it later, as long as its true to something. If its true, then you've done your best. When people ask me what I write I tell them I at least try to write true stories.

    I was surprised to hear you have a disabled child. These things always come as a surprise to me. I always have this dumb idea that everybody out there is having a smoother ride than me but everybody is fighting it out in some way or another.

    C. Sanchez-Garcia

  4. I didn't get a chance to comment on this when it first came live. Had to do that fancy 'post later and pray thing' but I really do want to thank Alessia for taking a little time away from her insane life to share a little of herself here. Genre, category, type, a perfect simplification of a slippery beast. And, I guess no matter how much we dislike forcing ourselves to conform, it's something we'll do if we want to sell. At least for now. (No matter how much we squirm and kick)

    Alessia, I so understand where you're coming from with your son. We went through the same process, trying to find the right 'label' for our son. We were never completely satisfied with the the outcome, but we did what we could. It sucked then and I don't imagine it's any better now.


  5. I think your right, if a book makes you think and feel it doesn't matter what label anyone puts on it.

    Sapphistocated sounds great!

  6. Sounds like your son is darned lucky to have you in his corner, Alessia. Thanks for being our guest blogger this week!

  7. I've looked at several web sites that list genres and describe what each one means for readers. There are several that cross lines and I was left more confused than ever!

  8. Alessia,
    The blog blew me away. OMG! Just the way you write about the word genre is erotic. You just proved that words themselves can be erotic even if they don't refer to sex.

    My wife and I used to take in foster children. We wanted to adopt one who was slow at learning to speak. Her mother didn't interact with her. We had her for a year. In that year she went beyond her chronological age in speaking. Social Services would not allow us to adopt. She would lose her handicapped designation and Social Services wouldn't get the money for what they do. In their infinite wisdom she was placed for adoption with a family that had four other special needs children. They didn't want her to be normal.

    I absolutely understand where you are coming from about classification being a two edged sword in literature and in real life.

    Peace, Sex, Love and Rock and Roll


  9. Thanks, y'all.

    peace & passion,

    ~ Alessia

  10. I loved this when she read it to me in bed the night before and I love seeing it here.


    Sometimes it ain't so bad to be the second-best writer in the house...

  11. It is part of the human condition to slap a label on everything and call it done. What was the first thing Adam did after God created him? He named all the animals and plants. Pretty damned pretentious of him, I think, but there you go.

    I wrote my master's thesis on stereotypes and symbolic convergence. While stereotypes may not hold true for individuals or even whole classes of people, they get used anyway because people have a limited capacity for handling information (i.e. we are too lazy to use the full potential of our brains). So we use shorthand terms that immediately tell us everything we think we should know about a particular item or person. Gay, lesbian, straight, trannie, white, black, woman, man, yuppie, old, teen, retarded, genius... Simple words loaded with agreed upon meanings because we can't communicate any other way.

    Maybe our biggest job as writers is to reinvent language and force people to use it better?


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