Now that I’ve spent the last couple of months using this blog as a way to communicate what’s new – a function I can now gleefully relegate to my mailing list! – I thought it was high time to start actually blogging. You know, writing like a human being and not a marketing machine. And what better place to start than with the question I get asked most often?
When people stumble across my books, I am almost unfailingly faced with a curious query: “Of everything you could possibly write, how did you get into writing erotica?”
Fortunately for me, I have an answer for that. It starts out practically, and then veers into a bit of the existential, I think. Judge for yourselves.
When I was in university, I had a mad crush on a man who worked at a few of the nightclubs my friends and I would frequent. Oh, he was gorgeous. And, to my just-turned-nineteen-year-old mind, he was completely inaccessible. Older than me, beautiful, aloof, a little bit dangerous, constantly surrounded by pretty girls… My few exchanges with him were usually punctuated by nervous stutters and coloured by a lot of blushing. I was always a confident young woman, but there was something about this man that turned me to hopeless mush any time I found myself in close proximity to him. (Don’t we all have one person in our lives who’s had that effect on us? I think it’s universal.)
As months passed and I’d still not had the nerve to truly befriend this object of my desire, I found myself confronted with an interesting assignment in one of my English classes: pick a genre from the given list, and write a short story. Make it something you’ve never tried writing before. One of the options? Erotica. I went for it, and as soon as I started mulling over how I wanted to write it – and about whom – I knew my inspiration lay in that handsome, devilish fellow. When I settled in at my keyboard, the words flowed so easily that I knocked the assignment out of the park in one sitting. It garnered me an “A” from my professor.
One winter night, after a birthday party (and a few celebratory drinks), my housemate Chico and I stopped in at our campus computer lab, wanting respite from the cold before we continued our walk back to our apartment. We can blame liquid courage (and silliness) for what followed: my housemate was teasing me about my “spicy side” (I had, after all, let him proofread my assignment before turning it in), and he dared me to go one step further that night. “If I can find Hot Guy’s email address,” Chico said, “you have to send him a message to tell him you wrote a sexy story about him.” I resisted, naturally, but Chico upped the ante by adding, “C’mon. It’s my birthday. Do it as a gift to me. I just want to see what’ll happen!”
I suppose I underestimated Chico’s Google-fu and the high profile “Hot Guy” was afforded due to his occupation, because I agreed, smiling smugly, thinking I was just indulging my friend’s tipsy demands. You can imagine the panicked feeling that settled in my stomach when, moments later, Chico stood from one of the computer stations looking triumphant. He shoved a scribbled note into my gloved hand. I was doomed, obligated to fulfill his dare.
Still, though, the liquid courage was running strong enough to allow me to sit myself down, set aside my gloves, and fire off a brief message to “Hot Guy.” It was a fairly straightforward email. I wrote something to the effect of, “Hey, [Hot Guy] – you don’t really know me, but I wanted to thank you. I had an English assignment that required me to write a short piece of erotica, and I used you for inspiration. If ever you want to read it, I’d be happy to share it. P.S. I got an A!”
I hit ‘send.’ My housemate was thrilled at my nerve and in stitches at the thought of how this might turn out. I, content to live in whiskey-fueled delusion, convinced myself “Hot Guy” would probably never even check his email, let alone read mine or, god forbid, respond. We walked the rest of the way home in a blizzard, crashed for the night in our own beds, and by the next morning it was all a dim memory.
Until, that is, I checked in online.
There are no words sufficient to describe the myriad feelings upon seeing a “From: [Hot Guy]” sitting in my inbox. I think I was mortified, terrified, and giddy all at once. I know my hollering woke Chico up from a dead sleep. He came into my room and was still blinking himself into consciousness as he read the email over my shoulder.
“Ella…hell, yes…send it on…don’t make me wait any longer! -[Hot Guy]”
Oh. My. God.
So I did it. And out of that was born a back-and-forth online relationship between me and this man to whom I’d never been able to say more than five coherent words in person. By night I’d still see him at the nightclubs, exchanging brief but friendly hellos; by day I was fully engaged in this super-charged “getting to know you” phase of things, peppered by frequent requests that I write more for him. And more. And more still. He didn’t have a clue that the girl to whom he was writing every day was the same polite, innocent-looking young lady he’d smile at every Saturday night.
Eventually, of course – after many more non-academic erotic stories had been written at his behest – the online thing wasn’t enough. He asked that I come to the club and introduce myself. He said he’d put “Ella” – which was not exactly my legal name – on the guest list that coming weekend. I was absolutely petrified, wondering if he’d think I was a psycho stalker for never having ‘fessed up before now, and it took everything in me to gather the guts I needed to live up to this dare. It was infinitely more intimidating than the one Chico had tossed in my lap a couple of months earlier.
But I did it. I walked into that nightclub that Saturday night, head held high, and bought him a drink. When he saw me he smiled, as usual, knowing me only as a regular patron. He thanked me for the drink, seeming not only grateful but very pleased that I – the real-life me – was finally doing more than saying “hi” and “bye” and “isn’t this song great?” to him. I will never forget the expression on his face as he took a sip of his drink and I dropped my bombshell.
“The beer is my way of saying thanks for putting me on the guest list.”
And with that, I was “outed.” No longer could I remain the mysterious, faceless “Ella” hiding behind a computer screen. I became the real thing right before his eyes.
Instead of being freaked out or disappointed, though, “Hot Guy” was impressed with my nerve…and he didn’t seem the least bit troubled by the realization that the girl standing in front of him had read some of his hottest, most private thoughts in response to the torrents of sex-in-words she’d been sending him. If anything, it broke down whatever barriers there were between us. We became friends that very night. And evolved into maybe a little bit more than that as time went on. (A lady doesn’t kiss and tell!) Every subsequent birthday and Christmas, all he wanted from me was a new story, about me and him. And I thoroughly enjoyed giving him such a gift each and every time.
“Why erotica?” is, as you can see, a deeply personal thing for me. There was something about using the medium that made me more confident, and allowed me to disarm willing recipients. It’s a strangely intimate contract into which you enter with someone when you hand over a written fantasy about them. Over the years, as “Hot Guy” and I found ourselves more seriously involved with other people, I started writing for my boyfriends, too. One long-distance relationship in particular was…well-maintained, you might say…by my creative approach towards letter-writing. And the more I wrote, the better I got at it. (Good thing, too; I read that first story from way back when and cringe now. Goodness.) Friends of all sorts – especially “Hot Guy” – asked me over and over, “When are you gonna start doing this for a living? I’d buy your stories in a heartbeat!”
So…here I am. My daytime writing career is primarily in magazine features and other freelance work. But I finally decided to unleash my inner lioness upon the world at large, writing stories that aren’t about me or the men I love (and lust after) anymore, but are instead about what-ifs and situations I’ve never experienced but am curious enough to explore. And it’s strangely addictive, really. Writing erotica is like being handed a key to every imaginable grown-up playground on earth. I can walk in, look around, marvel at the giddy excitement to be had there, and then move on to the next one. I write every story with the hope that the people who are reading along – that probably includes you! – are having as much wicked fun in those playgrounds as I am.
“Why erotica?” Well…everyone has an imagination. Everyone fantasizes about something, or someone. Putting it all down on paper (or screen, as it were) is its own special brand of kick. I’ve encouraged so many friends over the years to try it, whether it’s for a partner or a crush or just for themselves, and those who’ve done it have all told me how liberating it is to let those steamy thoughts escape. It’s something I’d encourage everyone to do at least once in their lives.
And in the meantime, while those who haven’t yet found their muse are waiting, I try to put a voice to their inner angels and devils. It’s so much fun! I owe an awful lot to “Hot Guy” for being the first man to awaken this side of me, and to my dear friend Chico for making me go public with it. I’d love to think that, someday, I might be the reason some shy person sits down at his or her own keyboard and put words to their desires.
I suppose, then, my short answer to, “Why erotica?” is very short indeed.