Tanith Davenport, author of The Hand He Dealt:
Do we write what we should be writing?
One of the first things I was told about writing, after “finding your voice”, was “finding your genre”. Write what suits you, they said, pointing to the example of a sombre middle-aged man who wanted to write chick-lit and was now a successful crime novelist. Find the right genre and everything will fall into place.
Well, I wanted to write women’s fiction. Nice broad range there, I thought. Serious or frivolous, romantic or tragic, plenty of opportunities and probably the best chance for a shot at a prize. What’s not to love?
Except I didn’t read women’s fiction.
And my first novel was rejected by three agents for having too much sex.
Pitch it as erotica, I was advised by a book doctor. Erotica, I thought? Isn’t that the stuff at the back of the store that everyone thumbs through and doesn’t buy?
Well, no, it’s not actually.
But because I felt that I should be writing women’s fiction, with grand ideas about more substance and having something to say, I had completely ignored the fact that I actually rather like writing erotica.
I read it, of course, and always have, but always viewed it as having one specific purpose – to titillate. Not something a serious writer should be doing. Certainly I’m not alone in that view. I’ve heard many times that what I write is considered “junk”. Rather like having dessert for dinner instead of a proper meal.
But hey, if I like it, why shouldn’t I have dessert for dinner?
Erotica doesn’t have to have only one purpose. Sex is a complicated part of our lives. Erotica writers use it for character development, for plot, to make a statement, to show the beauty and tragedy of life. And sometimes we also write it for fun.
So if I hadn’t decided to pitch my novel as erotica, I would have shot myself in the foot. Because it would never have been accepted, and I would have spent years struggling to write what I considered literary while secretly wanting to write about sex.
I’ve barely begun, and I’ve already been asked when I’m going to write a real book. And I wonder how many other unpublished writers are struggling with genres they aren’t suited to, being told that romance is junk and horror makes them “weird” and erotica is “filth” by people who know nothing about it, although they may well say they could write a book too if only they had the time.
I’ll stick to what I’m good at, thanks. Anyone for dessert?
Tanith Davenport lives in Yorkshire with her long-suffering husband and pampered cat. She loves to travel, listens to rock music in her spare time and likes to pretend she is as innocent as she looks. She writes erotic romance and has just had her debut novel The Hand He Dealt published by Total-e-Bound Publishing.
Astra Scott likes to live life to the full. A sorority girl and Gaming Management student, she spends her days studying and practising guitar, and her nights partying or working at the Fountain Casino, where she has an internship as part of her final semester. The only blot on her landscape is Ash Drake, her best friend Sasha’s boyfriend. Arrogant, physical and blond, Ash has never forgiven Astra for her rejection months earlier and enjoys annoying her at every turn.
But when Astra’s boyfriend Harry reveals a shocking secret, Astra responds in the only way she can think of: by finding a way to take on a more attractive, masculine role in the relationship. Her experimentation with sex toys finds a surprising outlet in Sasha, but when Ash discovers their secret and wants to get involved, Astra finds herself torn between dislike and desire… and as their undercover relationship grows, Astra finds herself falling in love, a path she feels can only end in heartbreak. For Ash may be the only man whose own fantasies are a match for hers, but can she knowingly steal his affections from her best friend?
BTW: Like Tanith, I don’t write women’s fiction: at least, it wouldn’t be labelled that way by any publishing house.I always find that label peculiar anyway. I mean, half the population is made up of the female gender. Heck, I’m a woman. I like good erotica, I like good genre fiction, I like good crime fiction, I like good YA. The truth is, I like good story, and I write what I like despite genre: I like good characters and I think that’s what I deliver in Secret Language of Crows. No formal reviews yet on Amazon, but two on Goodreads and the buzz is good.