‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene II by William Shakespeare
It is not just names either…for a writer it is genre. I hate them. I absolutely, positively deplore them. Detest. Whether it is Lit or Amazon, having to pigeon hole a complex story into one or two categories is ridiculous. And if you can do it easily? Well, it is not a story I want to read because it is likely too formulaic.
Look at my Ægir’s. Is it BDSM? Yes, bondage – check, Domination and/or discipline – check, submission – check, sado-masochism – check. Is it Poly? One wife and three husbands – check, so that also makes it group sex. Is it erotica…erotic romance? Both. I looked at Lit, which has 30 short story categories, these stories could easily fit into 16 of them, over half. And they make me chose just one? If you get it wrong…as I did towards the end of Ægir’s Captive…readers complain. Amazon is of course so much more generous…you can chose TWO genres.
But it is not just your books that people want to pigeon hole…it is you too. Tell someone you are a writer and the very next question is…’so what do you write?’ And fiction is not the answer they are looking for either. They want something more specific like mysteries, romance, sci-fi, fantasy. For someone like me, that is impossible to do, because the answer is…yes, yes, yes, yes and more.
The big problems come though when readers have certain expectations. When they expect erotica or romance or sci-fi or anything else to follow a certain formula. This really hit home to me a few days. As I have been promoting, I wrote a novella for an erotic, menage anthology called The More The Merrier 2. It is doing phenomenal on Amazon, having broken into the Top 1000 a couple of times. It also has very high ratings…almost a perfect 5. Except for the occasional 4, one of which was my fault. Because my story was too deep, too dark for ‘traditional erotica’ as its storyline includes the death of a beloved mother.
The thing is THAT is me. I write about REAL life… the tough shit no one else wants to tackle… abuse, bigotry, racism, PTSD, depression, autism, epilepsy, grief, body image, and all the other shit that makes life crappy. But I also write about what makes all that bearable…love…laughter…and LOADS of hot sex. My books will never be simply wank fodder or a mindless escape, because like me they are too complex to fit into one neat little box. They defy explanation…just like the woman who writes them.