21 Jan 2014

From contemporary to erotic romance by Jane O'Reilly

Writing romance – it’s more than just boy meets girl. Ok, so boy meets girl has to be in there (although it could be boy meets boy, girl meets vampire/alien/dinosaur, girl meets quite a few boys, actually, and likes all of them). There are, to coin a phrase, many shades of grey within the genre.
I started out writing contemporary romance quite a few years ago. This is very much boy meets girl, in a fun, contemporary setting. She’s young and funky, he’s gorgeous and has far too much attitude. There’s angst and romance and lots of sex before they finally get their happily ever after. There might be a proposal, or marriage, or a baby, or all three. I’ve written a book about a girl who works at an auction house, a book about a girl mechanic and a rally driver, a book about a journalist stranded in the snow with a survival expert. All lots of fun, lots of flirting, and some sex, though not too much.
I had been writing contemporary romance as an unpublished writer for several years before I made my first foray into writing an erotic romance. I started out writing contemporary romance because those are the sort of stories that I love to read, and because I wanted to write sexy books with sexy men in them. For me, a strong romance element is the most important part of the book. I don’t care what else is happening, if there’s no sexual chemistry, no will they-won’t they, no chance of a happy ending, the book doesn’t work for me.
My move from contemporary to erotic romance occurred in late 2012. I was unpublished at the time, although I was starting to do quite well in writing contests and get positive feedback from editors. I had several books out on submission, some of which I had been waiting on an extremely long time. As anyone who has been through that stage will know, this is emotionally a very difficult time for an unpublished writer. You’re not there, but you’re close. Every day is another day crossed off the calendar, another day of waiting, and you have no control over the situation. I wanted to write, but I wanted to write something a little different to the contemporary romances I had been working on. It was about this time that Black Lace ran a competition with the Daily Mail – they were looking for erotic short stories, about 4 thousand words in length. The winner would be published by Black Lace.
It presented a new challenge, plus it involved writing more sex. Over the years, once the embarrassment had worn off, I had discovered that actually, I like writing sex. I like it a lot. I’ve only written one book that didn’t have sex scenes in it, and the whole experience was so disappointing that I went back and put the sex in. Anyway, the competition was running, so I decided I would have a go. I wrote a story about a young temp working in London, who has sex with her boss in a train station waiting room with other people watching (like you do). I emailed it off, and several weeks later I had a very nice letter from Gillian Green saying that it had been shortlisted. It didn’t win, but it was enough to make me think that maybe I had something, so a few months later I wrote a novella about a dyslexic photographer with a secret sideline in boudoir photography. I indulged my Tom Hardy crush to the max. It was a lot of fun.
I feel I should point out here that an erotic romance is different to a contemporary romance. It is more than just a contemporary romance with a bit of bondage thrown in (although it is true that you will find things in erotica that you won’t find in contemporary romance). An erotic romance is a sexual journey – the characters learn and change through sex. In a contemporary romance, the characters learn and change through their relationship with the other person. The tone is very different, too. An erotic romance is not just a series of explicit sex scenes strung together. The characters still have to grow and change. It still needs a plot (yes, really) and the characters can’t be 3 dimensional cardboard cut outs (3 dimensional in the case of the hero). A truly well written erotic romance has the power to educate, to excite, and to shock.
So what do contemporary and erotic romances have in common?
The one thing we’re all looking for. A happy ending. And my publishing journey has one of those too, as in 2013 I sold 4 contemporary romances and 3 erotic romances to Harlequin. 

Witty, clever, and sharp. It's going to be the holiday from hell...and that's just how Erica wants it.
When tabloid journalist Erica Parker is forced to take a holiday, she's determined to make it the most miserable holiday she possibly can, but not even her impressive imaginative powers could have come up with sharing a tent with survival expert Nathan Wilde.
Nathan was a married man with a successful TV show before Erica got to work on his life. Now the hottest man she’s ever met is single, furious, and he’s got her alone in the wilderness for three long days…
You can find me on twitter as @janeoreilly, on my website www.janeoreilly.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/janeoreilly author. 

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