In other blog locations I've waxed on about a writer's need to research. Yes, erotic romance authors need to do research as much as the next literary artist. And we're not talking about research in bed, thank you very much. In the course of creating my stories I've needed to study mountain climbing and motorcycles, the Denver zoo and Appalachian dialects. I've searched street maps in cities I've never visited and looked up trends and articles about polar ice cap melt and global warming. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (like the ice cap humor? -- grin).
Despite these diverse needs, the simple fact of the matter is I do write about sex. And as much as I pick up all sorts of wonderful images and ideas from reading the stories of other erotic romance authors, sex deserves it's own share of research. Again, I'm not talking in bed. If I want my characters' sexuality to reflect their identities in a genuine manner and fit with the complexity of their general internal conflicts and movement toward growth, I need to be a student of human sexuality.
There are any number of fascinating non-fiction books out there on this subject. I thought I'd offer up two recent ones I've run across. One I'm in the process of reading and the other going into my to be read pile.
A friend called up the other day excited because she'd just heard an author by the name of Melissa Febos featured on NPR talking about the release of her memoir, Whip Smart. In it she chronicles her move from Boston to NYC to attend college and the subsequent years she found herself working as a professional dominatrix in a Midtown dungeon. Given that I write BDSM romance, my friend thought I might like to check out the interview or order the book. I did so and although I have yet to finish it I find it thought provoking and engaging. Rachel Resnick, author of Love Junkie, had this to say about the book. "Mesmerizing. A brave, darkly wild, and powerful memoir...Melissa Febos's fearless journey through drugs and dungeons into the uncharted territory of true intimacy will shock, inspire, and leave you breathless."
There are many great non-fiction books out there about the kink lifestyle and culture, but it's always nice to run into something new.
A second book on my TBR pile was referenced in Dan Savage's Savage Love column last week. When he was replying in his sex column to a wife's shock discovering her husband's kink for women's running shoes, he suggested a volume by Daniel Bergner entitled The Other Side of Desire. Judging from reviews of Bergner's book, it examines how humans become who they are sexually, whether common or uncommon, and does so with empathetic sensibility. If you are interested in understanding more about the role fetishes play in human sexuality, this might be a good place to start.
So whether you are an erotic romance author who is predisposed to be interested in human sexuality or a reader of the same, do you have any non-fiction suggestions for others? Any information that surprised you or led to new story ideas? Let's point each other in new directions to share the educational wealth.