Monday, March 15, 2010

Literary Agent Lucienne Diver on Erotica


Please welcome the lovely and talented Lucienne Diver to the Naughty Chicks clubhouse today. Aside from working as a successful agent, Lucienne is also a very talented YA author. Thanks so much for coming, Lucienne.

As I sat down to write this guest blog, I wondered if I had anything new to say about erotica beyond, “I enjoy it and my husband certainly appreciates when I read it.” So I wracked my brain. I could talk about the market, which boils down to, “Yes, things have tightened up everywhere, but there’s always room for original stories, well told, the hotter the better, whether they’re labeled erotica or not.”

That won’t do, I thought. They’ll be expecting more. So, I puttered. I made myself dinner. (Okay, I reheated dinner my husband had made because he’s the one with the skillz.) And I thought about it. What makes erotica so successful? What keeps us from skipping right to all the naughty bits? If any of you have heard me talk on the subject of erotica, you’ll know I’ve defined erotica vs. romantica in terms of chick-lit versus romance. Erotica and chick-lit are both more about the heroine’s search for self, whether it’s through sexual expression and discovering her deepest desires or finding the strength to go for what she truly wants, regardless of risks. Chick-lit and erotica are very much about a personal journey. Romance and romantica are a journey as well, but one in which the growth and the happily-ever-after are very much about finding the one and overcoming any obstacles to being with him or her. In romantica, whether it takes place in a sex club, a board room or a boudoir, it’s about a dedicated couple (or trio or…) finding and accommodating each other.

Ah ha! I thought. There lies the true crux of these genres – erotica, chick-lit, romance, romantica…the focus in many other fields is on what the characters have to lose, what’s at stake. It might be their lives in suspense/thrillers, or perhaps their freedom or their humanity in historicals or paranormals. But romantic women’s fiction in all its forms is more about how much the characters have to gain—their soulmates or themselves. It’s that that keeps us reading. Not just the sexy shower scenes or the hot and heavy threesomes, but the transformation, the brass ring at the end, whatever it might be, and the sense of satisfaction when the characters achieve it and the readers have made the journey with them.

So, yes, I like erotic fiction because it’s erotic. But I also love that in each novel or novella the characters haven’t merely thwarted a terror plot or brought a murderer to justice or kept from being burned at the stake—not that the word “merely” really applies to any of these!—but they’ve gained something very precious and truly to be celebrated.


Lucienne Diver joined The Knight Agency in 2008, after spending fifteen years at New York City’s prestigious Spectrum Literary Agency. Over the course of her seventeen-year career she has sold over six hundred titles to every major publisher, and has built a client list of over forty authors spanning the commercial fiction genres, primarily in the areas of fantasy, romance, mystery, suspense, erotica and young adult fiction fiction. Further information is available on The Knight Agency website: www.knightagency.net. She also blogs at http://varkat.livejournal.com.

14 comments:

Cara McKenna said...

As an external-conflict-phobe, I want to perch Lucienne and her sentiments on an alabaster pedestal and throw myself at her sainted feet, shouting myself hoarse with rapturous appreciation.

Wynter Daniels said...

Interesting. Your post struck a cord with me because I really love chick-lit and I also find myself drawn to erotica.
Thanks for hanging with the Naughty Chicks!

Laurann Dohner said...

Terrific post. I've never had the differences defined for me before but that was perfect. I love reading and writing books that don't block me from knowing ALL of their growing relationship including what happens in the bedroom and I'm a sucker for a happily ever after EVERY TIME! LOL.

Lucienne said...

Cara, Wynter, Laurann, thanks so much! And naughty chicks are the most fun to hang with!

Jina Bacarr said...

Thank you, Lucienne, for a very insightful post about the erotic fiction genre and the difference writing erotica and erotic romance.

It's that emotional core in the story that grabs us and keeps us reading long after the sexy shower scene.

Michelle Polaris said...

Lucienne, this is a terrific post. Thank you so much for coming by today. I love the distinction between erotica and romantica and the way you put it makes perfect sense to me. I must say, however, I believe I've read the best of the best in romantica when I'm left with the sense that the h or h or h... has traveled both the relationship journey as well as a sense that their personal search for self has occured simultaneously and is believable standing apart from the romance HEA. Maybe not in quite the explicit way it might be done in erotica, but still significant. I wonder if you buy into thinking this is possible or if it's just my imagination? Thank you again for joining us at the Naughty Author Chicks.

Lucienne said...

Michelle, I totally agree. I find it incredibly satisfying when both the personal and romantic journey are taken over the course of a book. I have romantica authors, like Jasmine Haynes and Crystal Jordan, who do this beautifully.

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Lucienne!
Awesome post! As someone who often finds herself having to explain the difference between Penthouse Letters and Romantica, THANK YOU!! LOL! I need to write down the link to this post and say, here! Laymen's terms! Read it for yourself!

Thanks so much for hanging with the Naughty Author Chicks today!!

Lucienne said...

Jina and Naima, thanks so much!

Roxy Harte said...

Lovely post today. Thank you

Anni said...

What a great post! Naughty Chicks rock!

Stephanie Adkins said...

I think Cara described my feelings perfectly. LOL Thank you so much for visiting us today, Lucienne. A truly wonderful post! I hope you'll come back and blog with us again soon. :)

Savannah Stuart said...

Sorry I'm a day late :) Thanks for such a great post and for visiting Naughty Author Chicks.

Dalton Diaz said...

I'm a day late, too - so sorry. Helping my SIL bail out her basement.
Thank you so much for such a great post! I love Romantica for the very reasons you listed. I want to be inside his/her/their... heads as all of this fabulous sex is happening. Is there a history that makes what they're doing with their tongue even more intriguing? Did they learn that move with her, with him, them... (wow, the sky really is endless with the people count!)