Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Dear Authors: Can We Put Some Mystery Back Into Our...

This past week saw another fun dust-up involving Phase authors. Apparently, there are a certain contingent of Phase authors and other self designated erotic romance authors who share a good deal of their personal lives online, using their literary pen names. Some authors, like Selena Kitt, post photographs of nudity (NSFW) and blog about their sex life in very explicit detail.

For some readers, this might represent a good marketing technique, but for others (I belong in this group), the blurring of the line between life and fiction is off putting. It is not off putting because I am making a judgment about adult individual’s right to choose their own lifestyle and to share it. It is off putting because I like my fiction to be fiction. I don’t assume that a writer engages in menages, enjoys being tied up and punished, or has sex with brothers simply because that is the sort of fiction that they write.

However, I don’t blame readers who see these self promotions of sexual activity and then project that onto other authors within the genre, wondering if all authors in the erotic romance genre have exactly the kinks that they write about. I don’t want to wonder.

I did theatre in college for one year. In theatre, there is a fourth wall which presents an invisible barrier between the audience and the actors on the stage. Generally, that wall is not to be broken because once it is the play loses its transportative effects. The fourth wall allows the readers to maintain a certain suspension of disbelief.

Overpersonalization chips away at that fourth wall. In romance, we already have a cult of overpersonalization where authors are encouraged by publishers, booksellers, and even readers, to share more and more about their personal life so that readers get the false belief that the author would LOVE to be best friends forever.

Each reader has her own place on the continuum of overpersonalization where she draws the line. My line is intimate, sexual details of one’s life, particularly if I ever want to read that author again. Remember my first video review?

I once read an author’s blog that had discussions about her foster child, her foster child’s deadbeat mom, and a whole host of other traumas. I don’t read said author anymore but I do check on the blog, every once in a while, to see the trainwreck. I can’t help but wonder what new readers must think coming upon those blog posts.

Erotic romance authors who blog about their sexual lives in explicit detail demolish that fourth wall and invite speculation about the intimate details of their lives. Further, because these authors characterize themselves as erotic romance authors, it allows a reader to project the speculation onto all other authors within the sub genre. One author, Eden Bradley, defends the practice of “openly discuss[ing] [her] lifestyle experience” to qualify her work in fetish fiction. Does that mean that a writer who writes about cops must be a cop or a writer who writes about Star Trek should dress up in a unitard in order to qualify their work in their particular sub genre? Not for me.

The erotic romance authors who prefer to have their personal life separate from their authorial life and thus, their fiction, are subject to, and will continue to be subject to, increasing speculation that their fiction is not really fiction at all.

BTW, I want to make one last statement here. Inspired by Selena Kitt’s Symbian Fund, I would like to invite anyone reading this blog who has enjoyed what I have written to donate to a ME Fund. Because I have no need or desire for a Symbian (is that TMI?), I didn’t think a DA Symbian Fund made a lot of sense. I tossed around a few ideas, like an Iliad Fund or Mac Airbook Fund but that kind of limits the amount of money that can be donated so I just made it a general ME Fund. Maybe if you contribute enough, I will be able to quit my job and write for TriXy Loins full time.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

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