Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Cut My Teeth on Adultery (Erotica)

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.
You can read this story in my free ebook 6 Erotic Shorts, if you haven't already.


  1. Ah, the need to be unique! Especially unique in a transgressive, fuck-bourgeois-respectability way! (I was going to to say "the need of the young," but I've never outgrown it, and in fact I suspect that the urge becomes all the more desperate in middle age for those so inclined.)

    1. Now I kinda want to write FUCK BOURGEOIS RESPECTABILITY all over all my clothes...

    2. Conformity! I should have said Bourgeois Conformity! I was actually searching for that word, but it eluded me until you said CONFORM.

    3. My master got so depressed by FSOG, because all at once it made kinkiness totally banal. No longer a secret, scary, taboo set of feelings or activities, but (choke) mommy porn instead.

      But oh, Giselle! This quote expresses that notion so beautifully!

  2. My story "Flukes" was rejected by a publisher for the "cheating" aspect. I had no idea infidelity was verboten. Available now in "The Gonzo Collection".

    For those of us who like to push the envelope, whether in our writing or in our private lives, the transgressive thrill is an erotic bonus. I was into that for a while. At a time when Momma and I weren't living together, a friend and I called ourselves the Love Bandits. We'd try to screw some guys wife without getting caught. We kept score, or at least told each other our experiences. Sometimes the timing was off and somebody would get threatened or even punched out.

    More than twice ;>) I had sex with a woman while the unaware hubby or boyfriend was in another room. Hot, hot, hot.

    My buddy got caught once, but the poor cuckold had a broken arm in a cast. He couldn't hit anybody. Good thing. Those casts are hard.

    Hmmmm... And I thought I already had my post on this subject. But now that I think about it...

    Wasn't it Fellini's "81/2" about a guy who liked to be nearly caught in the act?

    1. I remember you mentioning that story, Flukes, and saying you were surprised that it was deemed unpublishable because of the cheating. That's totally how I came into erotica: not knowing I was writing what I shouldn't be writing. But I'm glad I didn't know about those taboos, because I probably wouldn't have started writing in the first place if I thought I'd have to CONFORM. heh

    2. I really like "Flukes", because it captures the truth about sexuality--we're not necessarily monogamous. Even when we love someone, we can't always let go of the desire for novelty, or simply the attraction to someone different.

      Actually, "Flukes" is quite romantic, since the couple involved end up confessing to one another and moving to a new and better stage in their relationship. Maybe that's the biggest problem, from a moralistic perspective. They don't get punished for their infidelity, but rewarded.

    3. I try to make my characters' foibles acceptable. They usually enjoy some whacked version of HEA.


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