Today I am delighted to welcome Emmanuelle de Maupassant to my blog to discuss a question which, I imagine, is one we all get asked on a regular basis- Why do you write erotica and not something ‘proper’? (seethe…)
Over to you Emmanuelle…
Why I write erotica
I want. I want. I want so many things.
I want to explore what might be or might have been.
I want to rewrite the past and create whatever future I choose.
I want to reshape ‘the truth’, to view the world from inside other skins.
As Sylvia Plath said: ‘I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life.’
Like many writers (I suspect), I have a laptop stuffed with snatches of writing and story outlines, ideas I’ve been exploring, thoughts I’ve spilled out, tens of thousands of words as yet unseen. Some of my most brutal writing is there: my resentments; the pain scraped from my bones and the pit of my belly; desire pushed from the slow ache of my cunt.
When you start writing from that deep place it changes you; all the creatures you’ve kept hidden in dark corners come creeping out.
It’s damn liberating!
When I write, I don’t need to hold back. The greatest challenge is only that I be honest with myself, writing what I want to rather than what someone else might think I should be writing. I’m often asked why I don’t write a ‘real’ book (in other words, one that doesn’t include sex).
Bizarrely, exploring sexuality and desire on the page isn’t celebrated in the same way as the exploration of other human themes, such as grief or unrequited love. No matter that literature exploring sexuality often does so in the context of far wider human experience. Think of Jeanette Winterson and Fay Weldon; they cover it all. They aren’t looking to someone else for permission as to what they write. They just bloody well do it.
There are things that won’t let me rest, themes I keep returning to, unpicking the knots. For me, it’s the desire for freedom, to be less constrained by social conventions, to speak my mind, and to speak the truth of my body too.
Other authors’ works which draw me back time and again explore, overtly or covertly, the themes of madness and imprisonment: as in Sarah Waters’ Affinity, Fingersmith and Little Stranger, in Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and the novels of Wilkie Collins. What is it to be ‘mad’ and are our minds ever ‘free’? Angela Carter and Michel Faber, in their gorgeously rich prose, tackle these themes too.
In my case, this search for freedom finds expression in wanting what society tells me is ‘forbidden’, and that has led me towards the erotic genre.
When I began, I remember feeling as if I were hacking off the outer layers of myself.
It felt dangerous. I was standing on a cliff edge, and that sense of stepping off the precipice made me feel sick, but also elated. I felt alive. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to turn back, because how can you when you’ve tasted freedom?
You’re pulling the words from where they resist being found but if you lock them away, they’ll squash the life out of you.
Everything I write draws on something from within myself. Yes, it’s fiction, but the heart of the story always reveals my preoccupations. My fears prowl the pages, as well as my fantasies.
I want to explore the bittersweet; those things we rarely dare look at, things intense and wild and violent and unexplainable. On the page, I can play out anything my heart desires, explore anything, be anything.
Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s latest work is a collection of tales combining eroticism, bawdy humour and horror, inspired by Slavonic folk customs and superstitions (Cautionary Tales: Voices from the Edges). She is also the author of the Noire series, set in the late 19th century.
She lives with her husband (maker of tea and fruit cake) and her hairy pudding terrier (connoisseur of squeaky toys and bacon treats).
Her works are for sale from Amazon.
You can find her on Twitter and Facebook
Many thanks, Emmanuelle, for such an excellent blog. I agree with everything you say. For me, the best thing about writing erotica is the freedom it gives. The ability to be whoever you want to be is truly addictive!
(All images are reproduced with kind permission of Alex, and comply with the common use license)