by Giselle Renarde
When I started writing erotica almost 10 years ago, I was in an adulterous relationship. You know this. I wrote about it two weeks ago. That's probably why so much of my early work focused on the emotions (and actions) around infidelity.
I wonder how many erotica writers are readers who went pro? I can think of at least two other erotica authors who, like me, started their careers on a dare. I didn't read erotica (much less romance), so I never knew what was expected of me. I wrote my experience and I wrote what appealed to me. A lot of that fiction involved cheating.
Didn't take long to realize I wasn't producing the kind of work publishers wanted. I submitted my early books all around town. I got rejected. Not surprising, considering I have no fucking CLUE what I was doing.
But I always read publishers' guidelines with an eagle eye, and I started realizing I COULDN'T submit my books to a number of imprints. "All the usual no-nos" seemed to include not only incest, underage sex and bestiality, but INFIDELITY too.
Good thing Selena Kitt created eXcessica fairly early in my career. Selena gave eager consideration to the kinds of manuscripts that were often rejected by other houses, not on the basis of quality or style, but content. I'm so glad I came across eXcessica's call for submissions in 2008. It's one of the only publishers I still work with after all this time (and, trust me, I have worked with A LOT of houses).
I don't know who else would have published my Audrey and Lawrence collection, for instance, which is ALL ADULTERY ALL THE TIME.
Well, that's a bit of a lie, because many of my short stories involving adultery WERE published... but not by erotic romance imprints. They were published in anthologies of literary erotica. They were published on websites like Oysters and Chocolate, Ruthie's Club, and others whose names I've forgotten because they fell out of existence long ago.
Readers enjoyed my adultery. Comment sections teemed with accolades. I don't say that to brag. Trust me: glowing reviews are not the norm, in my writing life. But maybe that's why I found it so perplexing that all these indie erotica publishers that were popping up in the days before self-publishing was the respectable profession it is today (?) wouldn't look at manuscripts involving infidelity.
I guess they knew what they were doing.
Except for all the ones that crashed and burned...
Anyway, as I mentioned two weeks ago, my newest novel is also about an extramarital affair. I just can't get enough adultery, I guess. Those illicit affair feelings still fascinate me, and I'm sure they always will, since I was involved with a married man during my formative years.
Nowadays, I appreciate adultery more through the lens of fiction. In real life, my story sounds a bit like Lisabet's: Sweet and I are technically in an open relationship, but we've been together more than 7 years and I haven't wanted anyone else. Neither as she, as far as I'm aware. Even when we talk about other people we might be attracted to, it all feels very pie-in-the-sky.
The other day, I came across my short story Secret Mercy. It's about a young woman hooking up with a married ex:
At nineteen, Mercedes thought she was the only woman of her kind, unparalleled in the civilized world, leading a life of opulent vulgarity. By twenty-three, she’d realized she wasn’t the only woman in the world to sleep with a married man.
For Mercedes, hooking up with her ex is out of the question (at first) not because he's still married, but because now she's engaged to another guy. What makes Simon exciting? Why does she decide to go for it?
Because he offers cash. That's new.
Secret Mercy begins:
It happens when we fear there’s nothing special about us: we allow our secrets to make us special. With our secrets, we set ourselves apart from the crowd. And when the secrets we’re hiding are known by all, or when we realize our misdeeds are so commonplace our secrets aren’t even all that remarkable, we set out to make new secrets. They make us feel important, unique. And the more insidious our secrets, the more distinctive we feel.