A great guest post by Barbara Wallace today on the relationship between sweet romance and erotica. She’s a fabulous writer (I TOTALLY LOVED her book, THE HEART OF A HERO) and a great person (and super smart!). Also, this is part of our spring blog hop, so be sure to enter at the end!
Recently Esquire Magazine published an essay by Stephen Marche entitled, “The Sex Scene is Dead” in which he noted that graphic movie sex had become old hat. This got me thinking, would the same thing happen with romance novels? Is it happening already?
When Fifty Shades of Gray first came out, the romance writing world went crazy. Granted, erotica had been around for a while, but suddenly, there was real money to be made in pushing the envelope. Grab your leather and whip, baby, because BDSM was where it was at. You couldn’t log onto Facebook or Twitter without seeing at least one reference to domination.
Lately, however, I’ve suspected readers might be becoming less enthusiastic then they were two years ago. Like with the actual Shades of Gray books, BDSM books have gotten repetitive. I saw one tweet the other day chuckling over how the characters in a book were shocked by sexual activities that she considered ‘been there, done that’. And on some message boards, a few readers have complained about BDSM and erotica creeping into their romances. (Thus denoting an important difference between romance and erotic romance, btw.) To me, these are subtle signs of reader fatigue. I predict that, in another couple of years, the erotica boom will decline. Will it disappear? Never. Subgenres might shrink, but they never truly dry up. But the wagon jumpers – the writers who piled on because there was money to be made – they’ll start to depart, leaving the dedicated erotica writers – the ones who were there all along – to satisfy their readers.
So, why do I, a sweet romance writer, care about the BDSM trend? Because, my friends, the pendulum swings both ways. You know how, when you’ve had too much candy, you suddenly want something healthy? Well, that’s how it works with romance novels too. After awhile, readers want something different. At conference this fall, a well known contemporary author commented that she saw a growing interest in sweet romances. A new trend is coming, and for once, I might actually be ahead of the curve. I’m looking forward to it.
What about you? Do you think the erotica craze is slowing down? Do you even care? Do you think readers will be looking for sweeter, gentler romance?