Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fava Beans and Light Bondage: My Safe Word is Elephant

Check out this article by Philly Voice magazine

Some time ago, but not so long ago, my cousin’s wife sent me a copy of an ad she saw on craigslist – a couple were looking to unload their hand-crafted BDSM play room. This confused me. Why would she be sending me this? And that’s what I asked her.

“I know you read the Fifty Shades books.” Was her answer, to which I replied, “I also read the Hannibal Lecter books. Want to come over for dinner Saturday?”


She laughed.  And the awkward moment was over. But this interaction has lingered on the edges of my subconscious since. Why is there such a stigma on romance, especially erotic romance?

No one assumes I’m a cannibal because I read Thomas Harris’ books. Or that I practice witchcraft since I’ve read the Harry Potters. That I abuse my children (I have every book by V.C. Andrews); or intend to kill all my neighbors in a televised fight to the death (Hunger Games).

I have eclectic taste in books, as evidenced by my extensive collection (Stephen King novels? Got ‘em all), but because I read [and write] primarily romance – clearly I’m a fetishist?

And she’s not alone in her assumption, society on a whole denigrates the readers and writers of romantic fiction. Novelist, William Giraldi makes us all out to be idiots. Thankfully the Washington Post doesn’t agree with his opinion [read that article here] but most people who don’t read romance fiction [and don’t think this is limited to men either I read a scathing article by a female psychologist insisting romantic fiction is the lonely woman’s refuge*] seem to share that opinion.


Another cousin, read my first book. An erotic novella about the First Daughter seducing the head of her Secret Service detail. It’s filthy fun and nothing more redeeming than that, I admit. Seven years and multiple books later, that cousin still thinks I’m a sex addict although my three bestselling full length novels have a behind-closed-doors sensuality. And a former boyfriend’s long-time wife buys my books then deletes them from her Kindle unread; she wants to support my efforts as an author but is afraid she’ll recognize some of her husband’s “moves” in the sexy parts.

For the record – I don’t engage in BDSM, I am not a sex addict and I write fiction.  If I wrote about zombies would you think I’m a zombie?  No? Didn’t think so. You’re smart. I’m smart. So be smart.

Stop vilifying romance novels and their fans. BookStats estimates that in 2013 romantic fiction totaled $1.08 billion in annual sales and Nielsen BookScan reported that 34% of fiction sold in the United States in 2015 were romance novels. It’s beyond arrogant to believe them the sole purview of the stupid, the lonely, the repressed and/or the deviant. They're written in large part by smart, educated women and read, in large part, by their peers.


*I’m not linking you to that article because I refuse to validate her ass-backward opinion by spreading it.


UPDATE: See this article by Philly Voice magazine; this post by the Washington Post; and check out this 2014 post by The Guardian.

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