Definitions: What is Erotica?

People frequently make broad assumptions about what it is I write. Friends, family, and acquaintances snicker about my “porn”. Romance writer colleagues imbued with the cadence of traditional romance often bandy about the term “erotica” as if to signal the ugly otherness of erotic romance.

So I will attempt to answer the provocative question What is erotica? and by doing so answer corollary questions about misunderstood erotic-like literary variations: Erotic romance, steamy romance, smut, porn, and Romantica®. Continue reading

Steampunk Inspiration (Part 1): A Naughty Device

Steampunk? A historian writing Steampunk?

I’m used to writing about characters and situations and places that actually existed or could have possibly existed (I mean, c’mon, it is fiction). I’m definitely not used to writing stories that take place in some futuristic pseudo-past where women wear corsets — leather corsets! — on top of their clothes. Besides I know absolutely nothing about science or mechanics (except when I was young and owned a VW Bug).

What’s the old adage? “Write what you know”? When you get right down to it, what on Earth does a librarian-art historian really know about erotica, much less Steampunk erotica? Continue reading

Snippet Sunday: The General’s Wife: Pat

I missed last Sunday’s Snippet Sunday due to day-job-related craziness, plus going to see my dad for his 88th birthday. Highlights of the visit included explaining the difference between erotica and porn, and showing him the Kindle app on my smart phone. Makes me wonder what the world will be like when I’m 88 as far as cultural norms and technological achievements…

So, back to Snippet Sunday*, my revision of The General’s Wife, and the introduction of a new character. Today we meet our main secondary hero, First Lieutenant Patrick Hamilton, or Pat. Continue reading

Victorian Sex: My Secret Life (Part 2)

Who was Walter?

In order to answer this question, we need to establish if there is indeed a question here to answer.

Uh, what?

Well, is My Secret Life an autobiography or a work of fiction? If it is a work of fiction, then trying to ascertain who Walter was is moot. If it is autobiographical, then someone (or perhaps several someones) wrote it, and, the question then becomes, who? Continue reading

Victorian Sex: My Secret Life (Part 1)

This post is not about my secret life, it’s about the infamous tome published c. 1890, authored by a man known only as Walter. The book, My Secret Life, was written as a memoir and is often considered a work of Victorian erotica, which it most certainly is not. It is unabashedly an impressive work of pornography. Unlike a more famous erotic memoir, John Cleland‘s Fanny Hill which has a plot and a resolution (actually a happy ending), My Secret Life is more a series of vignettes. It does have the elements of fiction: There are running characters; there is development of Walter’s psyche; there is a progression of time. But it lacks any plot. Weighing in between 790 and 1173 pages (depending on the version; this one is cited), My Secret Life is the epitome of the rambling sexual memoir, a prime example of that particular style of Victorian porn. Continue reading