Hey everybody! Malin James, Tamsin Flowers, and I are back again with our newest Pillow Talk Secrets…and this time we’ve had a lovely conversation about everything taboo—from the underaged and adulterers to the beasts and undead! Oh my! Please join us as Malin lead our highly controversial conversation. And as usual, I’ve posted a snippet of our session here with a link to continue back to our site at the end, or you can hop on over now to read Secrets in full.
Thank you so much for joining us!
Pillow Talk Secrets
Malin: Hello ladies, how are you both doing this fine day?
Jade: Great, thank you. How are you both?
Tamsin: I’m very well – we have the sunniest day here and it’s positively balmy! A bit of a shock to the system!
J: Oh, same here! I’ve got the loveliest glare on my computer screen. 😉
M: Ah, yes! My relationship to the sun isn’t quite so friendly, but I’m always happy for those who love it…. So, we’ve been thinking about discussing taboo in erotica for awhile. Shall we tackle that today?
T: Yes, let’s. It’s an interesting subject. Every publisher has a list of taboo topics – incest, bestiality, rape/non consensual sex, underage sex and so on. It’s interesting that some subjects are taboo because the acts are actually illegal – necrophilia, for example – while others are widely held to be taboo on the grounds of taste, such as scat or watersports. But that begs the question, should publishers be acting as arbiters of taste in this way?
M: I think that’s a great place to start, Tamsin. I like that you brought up the fact that “taboo” covers a lot of things, from serious consent issues (like rape and pedophilia) to different kinks and sexual tastes. It strikes me that putting rape in the same general categories as two teens having consensual sex is a bit disingenuous, but that’s how many mainstream publishers handle the issue. Better safe than sorry, I suppose, but it feels like a slippery slope. After all, rape is not the same thing as a consensual golden shower…
J: Right. And then we have lighter (and not necessarily illegal) taboos like the “dreaded infidelity.” Oh dear…
M: Exactly. Some acts are simply more taboo than others. Cheating in erotica (and certainly romance) is taboo, but you can get away with it, while incest is a much harder sell in mainstream publishing…unless you’re George R.R. Martin, of course.
T: I find the whole cheating thing a bit weird. This seems to be a reader taboo rather than a publisher taboo – and why not have it in a story if the cheater gets their comeuppance?
J: I agree – but it seems that, to increase readership, publishers follow the tendency. This is very strange to me, since it’s actually such a common event in real life. Plus, cheating is not necessarily a one-time thing for characters – often there’s so much more depth to it.
T: I’ve never seen it on a publisher’s list of no-nos.
M: I don’t think I have either. It might just be one that writers (and readers) shy away from, particularly in the romance / erotic romance market.
J: Maybe because we have to keep our good guys and girls looking good?
M: Possibly…personally, I’m more interested in seeing people be people, which means bad / grey area behavior, but that’s definitely not something everyone wants.
T: Actually, this whole discussion makes me want to run off and write a hot cheating story in which the cheating heroine always gets away with it! (Actually, I have had one in mind for a while!)
M: Ha! Yes! And I would read that!
J: I wrote one a long time ago that’s still awaiting some tender touch-up…it’s got the hint of some sort of affair going on, and I’ve never quite decided if I want to keep that or cut it. Time will tell, I suppose. It’s definitely not the taboo that the others are, though, for sure.
M: My story in Chemical (se)X is all about the dynamic in an affair. I guess it all depends…. Okay, so now, I’d love to actually tackle a taboo Tamsin brought up in a Skype – the difficulty with underage protagonists.
T: Yes, this is one that drives me mad. I think it’s perfectly valid to want to write about teenagers having sex with each other – not with adults – but within their own peer group, because of course this is what happens. And I’m sure loads of teens would want to read it – to discover more about sexuality and relationships. But it’s totally not allowed.
J: Right. We must keep the children safe, or whatever the theory is…. I get it, on one hand – but I also think it’s strange that we can have so many violent books available for teens, and yet, the concept of them having sex (which we all know is totally happening) is strongly unacceptable on the page.
M: What’s also interesting is that it really is the technicality of age that determines that taboo. Ella Dawson writes beautiful stories about college age students / people in their early 20’s and they are brilliant, but if someone were to shave the ages down to 18, the same stories would not be acceptable in most publications, and would certainly get censored by Amazon.
T: Amazon is crazy – they took down my book, Zombie Erotoclypse, because one story is called “I Was a Teenage Zombie Virgin.” The character was 18 – but just the words ‘teenage’ and ‘virgin’ in the blurb got it thrown off the site. When I changed the blurb it became once more perfectly acceptable, even though it was about humans and zombies having sex – another taboo, necrophilia!