I don’t remember now when or where I first heard of Fanny Hill, but I read it several years ago and knew I had come across a real treasure. Unlike many other eighteenth-century novels, unnecessarily wordy and snore-inducing classics (I’m talking about you, Tom Jones!), Fanny Hill is some serious, high-quality smut. Yes, friends, even in 1748 sex was selling!
Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure tells the story of a sweet girl who falls into prostitution, and then (spoiler alert!) rises out of it once again, all while performing some shocking sexual exploits with perfumed and powdered gentlemen. Though it’s been a while since I read it, a particularly vivid group sex scene still comes to mind, not to mention charming historical details such as the way an overzealous lover throws a girl’s skirts over her head, so she can’t see who’s fucking her. Hot stuff, even in our overstimulated century. And, of course, like every good erotic romance, there’s a love story and a happy ending. If any of this has you even remotely curious, buy Fanny Hill and read it. You won’t regret it! (There are a ton of different versions; I just linked to the first two Amazon proposes. It’s definitely a public domain work by now! The author, John Cleland, is probably chortling in his grave to see his old-fashioned erotica shocking people 200+ years later.)
Why did I bother writing this? Well, when reading Fanny Hill – written by a male author, by the way – it got me thinking about how really important erotica is. It tells a lot about society, people’s dreams and fantasies, and their place in history. Actually, I would be very interested to take a history class taught through erotic art and writing. (Those Ancient Romans had some pretty raunchy parties, too!) In any case, Fanny Hill is our roots. As erotica writers and readers, it would serve us well to give it a read, think about where we come from as a genre, and consider where we want to take it next.
This past week the weather has been beautiful, and I’ve been out enjoying it! (I promise I’m not ALWAYS glued to my computer, writing erotica. Though most evenings I can be found doing just that!) My husband and I have been taking it easy, but I couldn’t resist getting a little writing in. Especially since it prevents me having to do the dishes right this moment, which is a chore I always enjoy putting off.
As it turns out, over the weekend I had enough time to finish editing two projects: a super-raunchy breeding fantasy (“Birthday!”), and the full-length New Adult novel I’ve been working on since forever. It feels really good to have them both done and on the market!
This weekend I’l be hosting a barbecue for some friends, so you won’t hear from me again until the hot dogs are all grilled, the corn bread’s out of the oven, and we’re all settling in with a big glass of summertime lemonade. Enjoy the beautiful season!
As I continue editing and revising my work, I often wonder: how do I know my erotica is any good? I think it’s natural for an author to second-guess herself, especially with all the erotica (of seriously varying quality!) out there already. In the erotica business, in particular, taste is everything; what appeals to one reader might totally disgust another. So I try to write a variety of scenarios and characters, in hopes of appealing to the maximum number of readers.
That doesn’t answer my own question, though. Is the stuff good or not?!? I believe it is, and my test for it is very simple. I write my story (or book, in the case of “An Amazon’s Equal” – my erotic romance novel coming out soon!) and set it aside for a while, preferably several months. Then, I read it again with fresh eyes. I do edit and change words here and there, of course, but the real question is “Am I getting turned on while I read this?” Because that’s the point, of course! Naturally, I write scenes I’m into myself, but occasionally afterwards a piece of old writing proves not quite hot enough, so I revise or chuck it.
Basically, I know my erotica is good because it’s sexy, it gets a physical response, and the tension builds to a climax – a very exciting one, if I can write it!
So there you have it: the purpose of erotica is to turn you on. If it does that, then what I have written is good!