Saturday, November 5, 2011

You Decide

by S M Johnson

What talented company I am keeping this weekend, with these marvelous six, and all discussing one of my favorite subjects – erotica – with the question is it erotic?
Mmm. Delightful.

This topic is dear to my heart because it is no secret that I am a writer, and not much of a secret that I write erotica and fiction with erotic content. The tricky part is when vanilla or mainstream acquaintances ask, "Are you published? Where can I buy your books?"

Wonderful, terrific, thank you so much for your support. Here's my card. I write gay vampire erotica and BDSM. [Exit stage left. Quickly.]

I used to have a hot flash whenever people not in my intimate circle asked about my writing. My mother. My in-laws. Those curious people at work who noticed me scribbling away during down time. You know – the people who know us mostly by the social masks we wear.

And then. My first book with strong erotic content got published. And people around me were buying it. People like including my mother. Egads! And they were reading even the naughty bits.

"You bought something for me? Like what?" Daniel's smile grew brighter, if such a thing were even possible, and quicker than a blink he dashed up the iron spiral steps that led to the loft, leaving Reed to follow. Daniel hung over the iron balcony and stared down at Reed. "So what is it?"

"You'll see. Patience, young one." Reed held up the small brown bag and crinkled it in his hand. "It's nothing big."

When he reached the loft he went to Daniel, wrapped his arms around him, and claimed the boy's mouth with his own, tongue sliding past Daniel's lips to explore his hot wet warmth. Daniel moaned and pressed his body against Reed, dropping one hand to seek Reed's cock through his pants.

"Whoa there, boy." Reed pulled slightly away from Daniel, capturing Daniel's hand and holding onto it. "Not yet." He crackled the bag. "First things first." He slipped the thin leather band out of the bag and held it up, staring into Daniel's eyes and feeling the glimmering zap that traced its way down his spine whenever their eyes made direct contact. It was something he'd never felt with anyone else.
Daniel reached out a hand, fingering the leather. "A necklace?"

As if he'd forgotten the whole discussion they'd had last night. Maybe he was being obtuse on purpose.

"No." Reed pulled Daniel to him, turned him around so Daniel was facing away, his back and butt against the front of Reed's body. He stroked Daniel's throat gently as he placed the strap against his neck, fastening the shining silver buckle at the back, then turned Daniel by the shoulders so the boy faced him, his hands lightly looped behind Daniel's neck. Reed stared into Daniel's eyes. "It's a collar."
Daniel reacted physically to the word. His eyes widened and pupils dilated, nostrils flared, and he recoiled into Reed's hands and would have stepped back if Reed had not been holding onto him. "Collar," he whispered, and his posture slouched the faintest bit, almost as if he became smaller in that moment. His eyes went soft and unfocused, even as his cock went rock hard against Reed's groin, and he leaned his head against Reed's chest, letting his body relax and mold against Reed. "A collar," he breathed.

Reed gently fingered the leather at Daniel's neck with one hand and wrapped his other arm around Daniel's lean body. He thought he might laugh at Daniel's drama until he looked through the bathroom doorway to the mirror that reflected their images back to him. Eyes on the mirror, he slid his hands beneath Daniel's t-shirt and pulled it up, over the boy's head. Now the reflection was pure porn, man and boy, and the raw beauty of it brought a rush of breath up from his very center.

**** (Note: the "boy" referenced above is NOT a minor).

Okay, well, my mother didn't read actually read that. She got to the part on page 7 where two boys kissed and she was done. But I digress.

It's a book that is a mix of genres – gay paranormal romance. I tell people it's gay vampire erotica, although it doesn't fit even my own definition of erotica. But it's a little bit disconcerting when a co-worker comes up to me and says, "I read your book. Oh. My. God. Why didn't you warn me?"

Okaaay. Consider yourself warned.

Eventually I had to give up being embarrassed about my books, no matter the content. I am an author, and it is my right to push the limits of literature.
My stories evolve as the characters tell me where to go. Sometimes they tell me to leave the bedroom door open, because what's going to happen in there will propel the plot forward or increase the reader's understanding of the character. Sometimes they assure me that they're just going to have a wee bit of vanilla sex, and it's a good time for me to fix another cup of coffee.

Sometimes the characters want to tell me, in great detail, about what turns them on. Or perhaps I build characters with the express purpose to explore an alternate sexuality, one that is denied to me in the dreaded realm of Real Life. And these are the stories that I tag, label, and market as Erotica. They turn me on when I'm writing them, and my intention is that they be read with one hand beneath the table, in a manner of speaking. And maybe my story people will live on in the imaginations of readers, my fantasy bleeding into their fantasy repertoire. That would be awesome. That's what I call Erotica.

Erotic doesn't necessarily equal explicit, but I feel that for a work to earn its place in the genre of Erotica, it should, eventually, be explicit. And yet, often something is erotic purely by my own emotional and erotic response, and that's impossible to measure for other people.

I still want erotic reading to be surrounded by plausible plot. That's another part of what fuels the fantasy – at least for me.

I have one WIP that's a self-challenge to write "clean" – minimal sex, minimal cursing, and part of the challenge is to keep it erotic, which is also part of the fun.


"I've said my piece, and given you my last request," his mother said. "Now... tell me about this boyfriend."

His eyes go soft as he watches a memory, brain searching for appropriate words.

Hot...tight... wet. Mouth...ass... skin... sweat.

He sits in silence for too long, then says, "He's, um... ah... blond."


I think the availability of e-publishing gives writers a lot more leeway for erotic content in all genres. Readers are buying books privately and wirelessly. Anita Blake isn't the only tough girl having threesomes with vampires and werewolves. Mainstream romance is much more explicit than it used to be, although sometimes I find myself cringing and skulking past the open bedroom door, because, frankly, too many sex scenes are formulaic.

I market one of my books as pure erotica. Almost every chapter contains an explicit scene designed to arouse. And then I wrote the sequel. Which isn't. Erotica, I mean. I wanted it to be on par, erotically, with the first book. I like to give my readers what they expect. But I'm not much of a formulaic writer, and my muse chases my characters and drags me into their story logic, be that whatever it turns out to be.

So… is it erotica?

That's up to the reader. Always.

SM Johnson hibernates in a conservative community of northern Wisconsin, where she writes characters who aren't exactly mainstream. Her novels include DeVante's Children, DeVante's Coven, Above the Dungeon, and Out of the Dungeon. Find out more at where things go naughty in the night.


  1. Welcome to OH Get A Grip! And thank you for the excerpts.

  2. Thanks for having me! I peeked at the other posts to be sure quoting myself was in bad form (grin!).

    The first excerpt, Daniel and Reed, is from DeVante's Coven, btw, and the 2nd from the serial fiction I'm posting on my blog on Sundays, called A Year of Sundays.

  3. wasn't in bad form, I was trying to say.

  4. Great post, SM! I especially like the conversation with your character's mother!



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