Some Like it Hotter
As the author of three romantic comedies, I was comfortable in my genre. I knew how to make my readers laugh with my characters and sigh at the most romantic moments. My romantic comedies are like a good Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film. So what would possess me to leave my comfort zone for something different? The answer is…Some Like It Hotter.
At a writer’s conference, I was sitting at a table surrounded by erotica writers. We had an eye-opening conversation about the number of books they’d written, their loyal following and their sales numbers, which blew mine out of the water.
When I got home, I went online and purchased one of their books. I was pleasantly surprised to find their story wasn’t that much different from mine, just with more and hotter sex scenes. The writing was superior, the plot was captivating, the characters were believable and engaging. That’s when it occurred to me; maybe I could write erotica.
The thought was sticky and clung to my waking moments like a piece of tape I couldn’t get off my finger. Next thing I knew, my overactive imagination had come up with not one book, but a four book series: Hot PurSuits. Each book would have one of the playing card suits in the title.
My first attempt would be, Stealing Hearts, to be followed by Queen of the Clubs, Pay Back in Spades, and Not for Diamonds. Then, with the help of my brothers, of all people, we created a pen name to keep the genres separate. I decided to write under a pen name so that fans of Christie Walker Bos couldn’t accidentally read one of my erotica books. But I decided to link the two names for cross promotion purposes. I don’t care if people know that Susan Ashworthy is really Christie Walker Bos. I just wanted to make sure that readers knew there was a difference between the two lines. With titles ready, a pen name in hand, all that was left to do was write the first book. Easy, right?
Not as easy as I thought. Needless to say, the edits were extreme. I had a lot to learn about erotica. Which words you can and can’t use to describe certain body parts, what to leave in, what to leave out, (what to put in, when to put out?) I had this great idea to incorporate dripping hot wax on my hero in one of the sex scenes. My editor asked, “Have you ever tried that?” Well, no, actually I hadn’t. So I tried it and guess what…it really hurts…I mean hurts A LOT. So I changed it to painting him with warm liquid chocolate. The things you do for your craft.
One thing I did notice was my voice was the same. There is still a touch of humor in my erotica, and my characters are still “real” living people who just happen to have more frequent and hotter sex. Lucky them!
So Stealing Hearts finally was published and I held my breath until the first review came out. Holding breath, holding breath, holding breath…and, YES, my first review was a good one. Yeah. Now the real test…reader feedback. I sent copies to some of my Christie Walker Bos fans to see if they would like this new subgenre. Holding breath, holding breath, holding breath…and, YES, two thumbs up. But what I really wanted to see, the point of my whole experiment into the “dark side” was if royalties would be different. And guess what, they were. That first royalty check for Stealing Hearts was about 6 times larger than first royalty checks for my romantic comedies. So it’s true, more people really do like it hotter!
If you were to write erotica, would you use a pen name? Would you link your erotic line with your current genre?