Sunday, June 24, 2007

BDSM and Erotica...

We've had two reviews on Master of Obsidian in the past two days. The first was at The Naughty Bits. Teddy had this to say:
Gideon is suddenly dominating Jesse in the most forcefully HOT, sexy as hell, BDSM sex scenes I have read in a long while. I mean Shit! this book is Damn hot. Gideon is of course ashamed of himself when he wakes up the next morning after having been pile driving and sucking his assistant into complete submission throughout the night. Jesse on the other hand loved every nasty, bad boy, fuck me harder, minute of it. In fact he wants more, a lot more and he is gonna make damn sure he gets it and Gideon as his Master to boot.
The next day, Cassie at Joyfully Reviewed had this to say:
I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes all that much. The first scene, in the alley, was just too rough for me. I like to read a bit of light BDSM now and again, but Master of Obsidian shows a lot more pain than I like to read about in a sex scene.
So, I guess, the moral of this story is different courses for different horses?

That seems like an easy answer. And that's the response I more or less had this morning when I read the second review. I'm not mortally offended by any means, and Cassie did like the story overall. But Master of Obsidian is only the first in a series, and Jesse and Gideon don't all of a sudden get fluffy. In fact, we're writing a scene right now for book 4, Seduction in Black and White that involves a tasty little number called The Impaler (Image NSFW!!). So, because we're working on book four, and editing book three, I want to take some time to consider this question. Or maybe I think too much.


Reading other blogs makes me wonder what readers expect from a BDSM book? I personally expect Bondage, Domination, Sadism, and Masochism. I'm not trying to be a smart ass about this. I genuinely expect a master and a slave, chains and ball gags, and real pain. BDSM is not everybody's kink. Some people don't enjoy rough sex at all--reading it, writing it, having it, or watching it. But if you get a book that is categorized as vampire/dark fantasy/bdsm, is there any reason not to expect something dark, something with a bit of rough sex and pain? What does the current culture in the erotica and eromance publishing world encourage?

9 comments:

December/Stacia said...

I don't know what they currently encourage, but reading a review where the hero is referred to as having been "pile-driving" the heroine all night makes me want to buy this book as fast as I can.

If I want BDSM, I expect and want pain to be involved.

Jamie Craig said...

That's what I'm thinking, December! I can't help but wonder why Cassie read the book if she doesn't like that sort of book?

Anonymous said...

I go in expecting the author to be accurate with their warnings. Some people might think the warnings are exaggerated and therefore surprised when something is, as it is actually stated. But if the warnings are taken at face value then you are less likely to be surprised.

On the flip side of this is when in fact the warnings are exaggerated. I've read many stories and came away feeling disappointed that what was warned (aka promised), was not delivered.

Sharvie

ZoeGrace said...

I expect BDSM lol. I expect pain and humiliation and often master/slave. Sometimes it doesn't go master/slave and even though that's okay I find that I'm disappointed when it doesn't.

I think if someone thinks the sex is too rough or too gross, they shouldn't be reading that genre. I recently read a book: "Topping from Below" by Laura Reese (fantastic book IMO) that had beastiality and golden showers and while it's not traditionally my kink I didn't whine and cry about it because I knew the variations of "humiliation" that could be used when I picked the book up.

I think its possible for a writer not knowing what their doing to make almost anything squickworthy, but I think it's also possible for a writer to make something erotic that might not ordinarily be so for the reader.

But I think often it's a case of someone not having the first clue about what they'll be confronted with thinking they'll read something "naughty" and then not being able to handle it. A few people out there are vanilla and they should just embrace that and stop complaining, it's taken long enough for BDSM to go mainstream and I'm glad to see it out there in whatever form it takes, whether it's all my particular kink or not.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't understood the horses for courses part of being reviewed, seems you have a way to go. It's not about the warnings, or how far you go with the sex in your story. It's about the author standing by her convictions rather than blaming the reader/ reviewer for not liking what she writes. You want to write hard-core BDSM porn, you need to be able to handle that, and the fact that it's going to offend some people. I do understand, believe me and this isn't meant to offend you as authors, believe me. It just seeemed that this post was more about that old chestnut, I've just got a bad review and it's made me question my writing and thus I need some friends to rally and leave comments telling me I'm a wonderful author (so far all the comments have been supportive pats on the back). Sorry if that sounds harsh, but as writers of hardcore porn operating also within the confines of the regular romance community you can't be surprised that it's not roses and accolades all the way. Implying that the reviewer should have known because of the warnings is like saying you only want reviewers who like your books to review them. You asked her opinion, she told you. As authors you need to be secure enough in what you write to be able to handle that. Reviewers say all sorts of stupid things that have authors gnashing their teeth with frustration, it's part and parcel of the process. If you endorse BDSM as entertainment whether literary or visual, lifestyle or whatever, you have to be prepared to stand up and say this is who I am, and I'm proud of it. Otherwise you're just playing at being naughty and throwing stuff in to sell books. Write it because you believe in it, and not because you want to proudly display those naughty warnings. It's controversial stuff, you can't be surprised when it offends people.

Jamie Craig said...

Dear Anonymous #2,

Actually, not so much. As my lovely writing partner can tell you, reviews bother me about as much as the color blue bothers me, which is to say, not at all. And this wasn't even a bad review. Cassie said she liked the story, she liked the characters, she didn't have a problem with the writing, she just didn't like the sex. Since I don't really think reviews affect sales too much, and since I'm not really writing to please random reviewers, I'm not losing any sleep over this, trust me. Plus, we knew damned well a hardcore BDSM romance was not going to be everybody's kink. I'm not shocked that after four fantastic reviews, I got somebody who just wasn't that into it. There are lots of kinks I don't understand, and I tend to judge books based on that when I read them.

But it is interesting to me for another reason, which is what I was trying to get at. BDSM as a genre should mean something. If Cassie had hated the book, hated the characters, hated the plot, and also hated the sex, it would be one thing. But she didn't. And there was a distinct sense of surprise, to me, in her review about the sex. Where did that come from? What does BDSM mean in Romanceland? Are we all working with the same set of assumptions when it comes to genre? Who gets to saw what defines erotic BDSM? What are the current trends when it comes to kink and erotica in the epublishing industry?

Write it because you believe it is nice, really, but publishing is an industry. It's a business. People in business want to know what their customer base wants, expects, and needs. I have read countless reviews of so-called bdsm books that indicate the book contains some light spanking, maybe bondage with furry handcuffs, and perhaps some DP or dildo action. Is that what the people who buy the books are looking for? Or is that what they buy just because that's what is out there? How much should the audience affect the writer? How long will the writer publish if they're not writing things people want to read? Where's the balance between being an artist and being practical? What sort of responsibility do I have to the readers who are looking for something "light"? And how many are there? Where do you find the balance?

These sorts of questions fascinate me, and I wanted to take this chance to explore them a bit more. You, and anybody else who reads this blog, can read in to my motivations all you want, clearly, I can't stop you. But trust me, nothing any reviewer has ever wrote about me, or my books, has made me question my abilities as a writer. And if I needed friends to rally around my brilliance, I wouldn't have posted about the reviews here, in the business blog.

zoegrace said...

anonymous #2 I don't consider BDSM of any stripe that "controversial" maybe I am jaded. I DO think it's an issue of being uptight when you can't handle the contents in a book rather than the writing itself. If you've been warned about what's in a book, you read it anyway, and you complain not about the writing itself but about the evil contents you are warned about, then yes, it's on the reader, not the writer.

And yeah, different strokes and all. Some people are tards and your audience is those who love your work. Not those who don't. You can write a masterpiece like Gone with the Wind and someone will say it sucks. That's just people for you.

And I also believe it's perfectly valid for an author to seek validation from her friends. There is too much bullshit from too many sources to act as if it's somehow invalid or a mark of horrible insecurity when an author goes: "So what is your opinion on this?" We all occasionally need to be grounded in the opinions and views of those we trust. (You have contributed to this as well, why do you act like they only asked the question for a specific answer as if your view wasn't welcome or as if our views were mere pandering? seriously, get over yourself.)

That said, it's all fine and good that you're waving your kink pride flag and stuff, but seriously why are you "proud" to be kinky? Isn't that like being "proud" to be vanilla. I've never understood the need to be proud of your orientation, it's like being proud of your race and to me it's just too divisive.

As far as I'm concerned it's the kink community in general that makes those of us who are kinky look bad, with all their self righteous rambling. Different people have different relationship dynamics and it's completely insane to act like you have accomplished something in life by being kinky.

zoegrace said...

Jamie,

Personally I want the hardcore stuff. To me light spanking and furry handcuffs isn't really BDSM in the sense of what a kinky person is really looking for in fiction.

Usually people's fiction/fantasy lives are a step above their regular ones. So to me a story about furry handcuffs and light spankings is for vanillas not kinky people. After all, spanking is a VERY common desire.

Some kinky people act like they're so special but just because most vanillas don't carry it around like a badge of honor doesn't mean they aren't engaging in spanking or furry handcuffs.

To me those stories are about making a vanilla person feel naughty and kinky but they aren't REALLY kinky. And I think this misconception and having these types of stories be representative of anything kinky creates shock and dismay when something is actually hardcore.

Also for me personally I either want to read ACTUAL kink, or subtext. Subtext with a strong growly alpha a is often found in paranormal romance is much more satisfying to me in the exploration of the power exchange, than is light spankings and fluffy handcuffs. Basically what I'm saying is...with or without props, give me REAL power, REAL helplessness, real submission and dominance, not silly bedroom games that don't mean anything the next day as they go back to their regularly scheduled program.

Teddy Pig said...

Two words for Cassie wait till the "Fisting Scene" then pass out hun.



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