I just uploaded my short piece “BlackStone Woman” to Amazon, and tossed a copy to my friend who likes to read under the covers with a flashlight. “But, Liz…” the text turns up on my phone, “This is het! EW!”
Ew is not the reaction you want readers to have, especially when the tale is supposed to be sexy and (just a little!) sappy and sweet. I was kind of hurt, honestly. Ew?
Bracing myself for creative injury, I messaged back. “Ew? What do you mean ‘ew’?
Well, it turns out that not only is the story plain old male/female missionary position sex (give or take the wings), but the reader was also enamored with the idea of one of the characters actually hooking up with someone else. Plain old het sex, AND I had to go mess up the dreams of my readers? Oh, the inhumanity! Well, okay, that second part will happen to any author. Readers make plans that we can’t follow. That’s what fanfiction is for. It takes on the side-scenarios so I can pack up and move on from the ‘but he should have done x’ complaint. I trust my characters know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
But why not het sex? I did a quick tally of the FeyWarden stories that I’ve cleaned up enough to present thus far. There are two M/F/M, one M/M (or Elf/Kobold with man-parts at any rate) and one M/F.
I know that some authors have one thing. That’s their thing and what they’re known for. Lacey Thorne, for example, writes one chick and a gaggle of men. One chick, many guys. All steamy and all tasty. Z. Allora writes M/M, and often angsty M/M with happy endings. (I’m not sure about the Zombie thing that’s coming up, though…) The rule for ‘standard romantic erotica’ has always been one man, one woman. And there are other authors who declare that the only real romance is one man with two women.
Part of my decision to self-publish had to do with what I write. Was even the hardest hard-core erotica publisher going to pick up a book full of alien encounters that run the gamut from het sex with a robot to a mad melange of blue alien babes? There are tentacles, for crying out loud! And I don’t even like tentacles. (I love Schluvenph, though, and I can’t wait for you all to get to meet him.)
Here’s the thing, though. I write what inspires me. I write what falls out of my brain and my fingers at the end of the day. Sometimes, that’s going to be plain old heterosexual male/female humptinumpty, and sometimes it’s going to be man-on-man blowfest, and once in a while it might be ladies night at the cunnilingus corral. A virgin might be seduced. A man might be kidnapped by dark creatures that take advantage. It might be one woman, all alone with an oak tree and a handful of acorns. I don’t shy away from BDSM scenes or scary things. Now, I won’t even mention the tentacles here, but hey, I have aliens! Aliens with extra manparts and prehensile tongues, aliens with giant breasts and belly-button vaggies. Naked aliens and furry aliens. And don’t forget the robots! Oh the wonderful things that robots can do… *sigh*
Sure, I could limit it. I could ensure that my readers get exactly what it is they want to read. I could probably even poll here or on Facebook and say, “Hey, look, should So-And-So get with You-Know-Who?” and cater to specific audiences.
But I’m a bisexual woman living in the Bay Area. I love choices and being free to make them. And I want my readers to have as many choices as I can give them without limiting my own imagination.
In the future, I’ll try to be very clear about labels. “This is M/M”, “This is M/F” This is “M/Tentacles/F”. And if you need to ‘Ew’, that’s okay, too. Everyone has ‘ew’s, and even reviews with ‘ews’ are better than no reviews at all. As to getting ‘so-and-so’ with ‘you-know-who’, well, I’m afraid that’s just something they’re going to have to work out all on their own. Variety is spice.