Sunday, May 12, 2013

So, What DO You Write? by Nicola Cameron

I'm currently sitting in my sister's kitchen writing this blog entry, after flying in to attend the wake of my high school band director. Our band members were particularly close-knit (night-long beer parties, shared penguin jokes about our marching uniforms, and endless stories that always started with "this one time at band camp" will do that to you), so it was unsurprising when a group of us decided to go to a local restaurant and catch up after paying our respects to our late director.

So there we were, tucking into a fantastic Mexican sampler plate and sipping margaritas, when one of my friends turned to me and said, "So, I heard you're a writer now."

I responded that yes, my first book Storm Season just came out two weeks ago.

"That's great. So, what exactly do you write?"

I took a long sip of raspberry margarita while I considered my answer. I come from the south side of Chicago; to say that the environment there was blue collar conservative is an understatement of massive proportions. I honestly wasn't sure how my friends were going to respond to the news  that I'm now writing MM paranormal erotic romance.

However, I am also damned proud of what I write. So I said, "I write romance. For adults--"

Before I could continue, one friend said, "Ooh, you're writing those pornos?"

"Er, well--"

"You mean, like Fifty Shades of Grey?" another friend asked.

I pinched the bridge of my nose and sighed. Somehow, I managed to explain the concept of paranormal erotic romance, what my pseudonym was, and what I'm currently working on, then sat back and waited for the response.

A third friend leaned across the table, a serious look on her face. "Look, I have to ask you something," she said.


"Is there a lot of sex in your stories?"

Time to bite the bullet. "All over the place," I confessed.

And then it happened. I was shocked to my somewhat tight and uncomfortable flats when her eyes lit up and she grinned at me.

The shock then rose to my hairline when she said, "Cool. Where can I buy them?"

"Can I get them at Amazon?" someone else chimed in.

"Buy them? I want a free copy!" my ex-boyfriend of all people declared.

Suddenly the table burst into a brisk discussion of the brave new world of erotic romance and how everyone seems to have it on their e-reader or in their bookcase. The guys admitted that they probably wouldn't buy my MM work, but they'd be more than happy to read any MF stories I happened to write. Even with that, I suspected I would be selling at least two copies of Storm Season that night as soon as certain individuals got home.

And I realized at that point that I actually owed E.L. James a debt of gratitude. Think of it what you might, her trilogy opened the floodgates and brought erotic romance into the awareness -- and approval -- of mainstream America. Ten years ago, an admission that I wrote erotic stories would have been met with uncomfortable smiles and a quick subject change (and possibly with a suggestion that I should go to church and talk about my choice of subject material with my priest). These days, it's old hat -- sexy stories? Pfft. People are more interested in knowing if your work includes shifters, billionaires, or BDSM.

I already had a discussion with my sister this weekend where she wanted to know how I could write sex scenes with two men. It wasn't meant in a derogatory fashion -- she wanted to know how I knew what to write about, what my characters were feeling during certain activities that require organs I don't possess, and what those certain activities should be in the first place. I explained that good old-fashioned research and a vivid imagination were key elements in any writer's toolbox. I may have also mentioned that it was good to have friends who ran gay porn websites and could supply you with free memberships and answers to pretty much any question you could come up with. But I digress.

I know erotic romance is not universally welcomed. There are still people who think that what I write is horrible, detrimental to the fabric of society, and will land me with my very own pitchfork in the fullness of time. But I don't really care anymore. This weekend has reminded me that 1) life is short and you need to follow your passion, and 2) tastes change. Even if what you're writing isn't currently fashionable, you should write it anyway, because you never know when it'll be heralded by the reading public as the next big thing.

From here on in, I won't hesitate to tell people about my work. I write erotic romance now. And to paraphrase the Doctor, erotic romance is cool.

Ian West has his summer all planned out—go down to Florida, stay in his family’s beach cottage on Olympic Cove, and work on his first novel. But his plan gets thrown for a loop when he meets mischievous twin sea gods Bythos and Aphros and discovers he’s their fated consort.
As if that wasn’t enough, something in the Gulf of Mexico is turning mermaids into legendary monsters and gods into demons. Now, Ian not only has to finish his book and navigate the complicated waters of a ménage relationship with twin sea gods, he also has to stop an insane deity from turning the planet into a wasteland.
Find Storm Season here!


Carlene Love said...

Nicola, so sorry to hear about your band director. But I wanted to say good for you, or more to the point, You Go Girl! Great post and your book sounds very interesting--I have a soft spot for mermaids :) I'll have to check it out.

Nicola Cameron said...

Thank you, Carlene! Mr. G was loved by a lot of people -- the sheer amount of memorabilia on display at the funeral home was overwhelming. I'm just glad I was able to go and pay my respects. And I'm still tickled at the reaction to my career choice, especially when my ex said, "I want a free copy." I just looked at him and thought, "Yeah, no." :-D