I'm very excited to have the wonderful erotic writer Malin James here today on the Brit Babes blog - I have read some of her work and I'm a-tellin ya, it blew my literary socks off! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts...
Before I get started, I just want to thank the Brit Babes, and most especially the lovely Tabitha Rayne, for letting me loose on their blog today! I’m really thrilled to be here.
So, are you going to write about Malin? The sky’s the limit! Go!
That is what happened in my head as I sat down to write this post. My brain has never been good at performing on command, and this was no exception. So, I made a cup of tea, (I might be American, but I still drink a hell of a lot of tea), and thought about my options… which is when I remembered a conversation I had with a friend last week about tropes in erotic romance. Like many people, I have some feelings about this. So, let’s talk romance.
Most people equate romance with one sort of ending - “happily ever after.” In fact, that trope has become the standard to such a degree that it has its own abbreviation. If you see HEA in a submission call, odds are it’s for erotic romance.
But real romance isn’t HEA dependent. Real romances—intense, life-changing, sexy romances—end in break-ups all the time. The lack of a wedding or permanent commitment doesn’t lessen their power.
When I was in my twenties, I dated one of the great loves of my life. Our affair was extremely intense, so much so that my sexuality was permanently influenced by that relationship. In fact, it’s been nearly twelve years and I still can’t drink Johnny Walker Black or kiss a certain way without part of me thinking of him. This, my friends, was a romance fit for a novel…a filthy, filthy novel.
But then, slowly, over the course of several years, the relationship stopped working and we broke up. Or rather, I left, because the love had begun to change into something darker and more dangerous. It became clear that I if I didn’t leave him, I would lose myself. After much soul-searching and a lot of hurt, I left that relationship and started another—this one with myself.
Now, I realize that sounds terribly narcissistic. What I really mean is that I slowly and cautiously redirected all the love I’d put into my relationship with this man back to me. I took myself out to quiet dinners. I bought myself flowers. I sat in cafes and drank wine on my own. I did for myself all of the things that this man had done for me. In short, I learned to love myself and, to quote Oscar Wilde, “to love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance.”
Would my story sell novel if that novel were erotic romance? I’m not sure…. The entire relationship was packed with romantic tropes—a younger woman’s sexual awakening, an older man, obsessive love, endless amounts of hot, intense sex—but in the end, the relationship ended. The hero was not redeemed, and the heroine left, not for a different romantic partner, but for a relationship with herself.
That said, just because it wouldn’t get published doesn’t mean it wasn’t romantic. From the moment he met me to the moment, two years later, that I met myself, the entire thing was a romance—it just lacked a fairy tale HEA.
This is why I would love to see an expanded definition for erotic romance. I’ve no problem with “happily ever after” – HEA is a lovely thing. But it might be nice if, on occasion, the “ever after” were to include something other than the protagonists making a go of it together. After all, just because a romantic relationship ended, doesn’t mean it wasn’t profound and hot while it lasted...
Thanks for this wonderful and very personal post, Malin.I took these pictures from Malin's Pinterest and website - which is full of thoughtful essays just like this one - well worth a visit.
And a quick plug for Chemical [se]X - an anthology edited by previous guest Oleander Plume which contains stories from Malin and I among many more :D - it's gonna be hawt! :D - I'll keep you posted.