I’m not a typical erotic romance writer, but I know exactly what one looks like.
I know this because over the past month, I’ve been lucky enough to attend two amazing romance writing retreats. The first, was with the Western New York chapter of RWA, where most members write historical or contemporary. Few write sex scenes “with the lights on”.
The second was just this past weekend in honor of Evernight Publishing’s 6th anniversary. Unlike the ladies of WNYRW, most Evernight authors write those steamy scenes with all the lights on and the doors and windows wiiiiide open.
As I packed my bags for the Evernight retreat, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my sisters in smut. I’d only met them online, and their baby-thumbnail-sized profile pictures didn’t reveal much.
Would they all be foul-mouthed dominatrixes in zippered PVC pants? Or would they be monosyllabic cat-ladies, hiding under layers of cardigans?
No and no.
Try bubbly event-organizers with rainbow-striped hair and sparkly high-heeled booties. Pittsburgh Penguins tee-wearing sports fans. Retired teachers with wild blond curls and a wardrobe like Stevie Nicks at her peak of dark whimsy.
This is what my retreats have taught me about writers of sexy stories: There is no typical.
Okay, admittedly, there are a lot of cat owners. And a high comfort level with using the word “cock”.
But aside from that, they are a remarkably diverse group. Young enough to get carded. Old enough to ask for a senior discount. Married. Single. Quiet. Chatty. Accountants, techies, retail clerks, graphic designers and stay-at-home moms.
I did notice a few things about my ER sisters that sets them apart, together, however.
They are passionate.
Not just about romance. Not just about writing. Their interests run the gamut from jewelry-making to hockey and modern dance to rock-climbing, but whatever they’re into, they’re into it hard-core, ‘til death do us part. These are no dilettantes.
They are open to experimentation.
I’m not talking about sex, though if their books are anything to go by, who knows? These women are not only willing to try new things, they leap at the chance, both in their writing and in their lives.
Write an M/M story about a shape-shifting alien and merman? Yes! Travel to a foreign country to hang with a bunch of strangers for three days? Heck, yeah!
They’re into embracing.
Embracing diversity. Fetishes. Alternative lifestyles. Same-sex partners. Multiple partners. Interracial love (even better, interplanetary love). LGBTQ and every other letter of the alphabet you can think of.
They may not practice or identify as any of the above, but these women are accepting.
Love who you want to love, how you want to love them. And while you’re at it, why not write a book about it?
They love to hook up.
Hook up as in connect. With their readers and their fans-to-be, and with other authors and industry professionals. These ladies are all about forging lasting connections. Not just because they want to advance their writing careers, but because connecting with other romance-lovers as one of the biggest perks of the job.
I might not be a typical erotic romance writer. But that’s okay. None of them are.
Or should I say, none of us.