I was chatting to someone recently who asked why I write erotica. I told them I didn't write erotica - that yes, my stories contain moments that readers might find erotic, but the books are not erotica. And they found it a little hard to grasp that concept, so I thought I would explain what "Erotica" actually means to me, and what writing my own sex scenes means to me:
By default, my work (The Witching Pen series, Eye Of The Storm and 'Til Death Do Us Part) has erotic elements because I like to write sex scenes, but it is not erotica. It is important to note that "Erotica" assumes that you have written the book for the "purposes of titillation". I do not write any of my sex scenes for the purposes of titillation. I write them because they are a heavy part of the plot and of character development. I make my sex scenes explicit where I feel it is important to get inside the characters' heads during the act to understand their pleasure or pain - again, a part of their development that needs to be understood for the storyline. Those familiar with my stories will know that during or after a sex scene, some pivotal point within the character/storyline will have been established - those scenes are the catalyst for change. I always, always write for the story. Whether anyone is actually "turned on" by what I write has absolutely no bearing on me as an author, or on the stories themselves. I don't think about whether my audience will be turned on - it is only important to me that the characters are, when they need to be, and that they are not, when they shouldn't be.
When I wrote Releasing The Wolf, I didn't even really think that readers would consider the book to be that hot. Some of you might remember I was a little late in the day getting all those 'hot male torso' promo jpegs out on Facebook after the book was released! I was not anticipating readers' reactions because I had not seen in the story what they had seen. Of course I knew that I had written a whole bunch of sex scenes and that it was more than could be found in any of my other books, but I wasn't thinking about sex in the "hot" sense when I was writing it - I was thinking about the behaviour of dogs when they are on heat and how I can portray that in my characters (seriously, that is what I was thinking - doesn't sound so hot now, does it!).
I've also faded to black when a presumed sex scene will serve no purpose to be told in an explicit way (in The Last Dragon, I think there were two instances where sex is hinted as about to take place, but I didn't go there because it wouldn't have enhanced the story).
Now, a related point, is that I have also steered myself away from calling myself a romance writer, even though my stories are choc-a-bloc full of romance. This is because "Romance" assumes that you are writing for the romance - with the romance being the central theme. While there are characters in all my series for which I do write a romance-focused plot line, the story arc of any series as a whole is not focused on the romance. I began to feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a romance writer, because, truth be told, I wasn't writing any of my stories for the sake of the romance. Even my upcoming 2014 novel The Spell Of Summer, I've called "romantic fiction" rather than "romance" because as soon as you say "romance" there are presumptions about how the story will go - presumptions I may not be able to fulfil.
In summary: I LOVE reading good erotica and I LOVE reading good romances, but I do not feel comfortable pinning myself with either of those labels for the above reasons. I have called myself a fantasy author. This encompasses a wider range of sub-genres that I can use (paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, etc.) and I also don't have to stick to any traditional happy ending or other such rules when I write. I don't write to any rules. I write wherever the stories and characters take me.
I hope that clears things up for anyone who might have had the same question :)
Some of you may remember that I had a series called Project Veil in the pipeline (a steamy, urban fantasy, vampire/angel dystopian romance). This series is permanently on hold.
The idea is still there, and it is strong, but what happened was this:
I went back to take a look at it in September last year, and I tried to re-write it because my writing has actually changed a little since I started the project back in February 2011. But the werewolves (Eye of The Storm series) were calling louder and Releasing The Wolf is what I started writing after The Demon Bride was released, not Project Veil. I tried to go back to Project Veil again in December 2012, after I'd written Releasing The Wolf, but a bunch of family stuff happened back then, including a death in the family, that I couldn't focus on the theme of that series... and the werewolves were still calling!
So, Cry Of The Wolf got written instead, and it seems to me now that Project Veil will have to wait for the "right time", and I have no idea when that will be, if ever. After the Eye Of The Storm series, I have a "secret new series" that I want to start on. I'll probably start it mid-2014 (werewolves permitting), and I am REALLY excited about it, but the writing of it will be quite complex (in that it'll be hard to communicate the story in a way that I'd like it to be understood), and it's a whole different feel to writing Eye Of The Storm. The Eye Of The Storm series is intense in a hard-hitting, raw, sexual sort of way; this new secret series will also be intense, but in a tortured, very damaged sort of way, that is a little different from the slightly blasé style evident in Eye Of The Storm.
Anyway ... that is what happened to Project Veil. I hope I haven't disappointed anyone too much, but I have got to go where the muse takes me in this instance, and as popular as steamy vampire romances are, I have other, very complex beings on the brink of ruination, waiting for me to tell their stories so that they can be set free ;)
Can't wait until 2014 - you are in for some very dark treats :)
Day Two (the last day)
Let me start with a slideshow of views across the river and across this eastern area of London. These are similar to some of the views that Gwain will have been able to see from his top floor penthouse.
My views are via Emirate Airlines (cable cars)
If you have not yet read Day One of my posting, you kind of have to to understand this post. Read it here.
After landing on the other side in North Greenwich, I made my way to Canary Wharf. I was keen to get inside the financial “stone circle” (see yesterday’s post) to experience it for myself.
Well, it was very interesting. After taking a brief stroll through Canada Square shopping mall, where I did actually purchase a little something for my daughter, I ended up in Canada Square park
. The park is literally a tiny square of grass that is extremely well looked after (as all the area is) to the point where I was offered a free mat to sit on upon the grass (which I politely declined as I like to feel the grass under me).
Now, I’ve done a bit of work with stone circles, and I have been inside Stonehenge. When you are inside
Stonehenge, the feeling of it is completely different to when you see it from a distance. When you see it from a distance, it’s all majestic and powerful and there is this sense of deep energy running through it and around it. When you are inside it, the feeling of [almost] overwhelming power is much, much less, and there is a kind of stillness that is difficult to describe.
Canada Square / Canary Wharf is exactly the same. I didn’t expect it. I don’t know what I expected to be honest, but that’s what I found. Everyone meeting up for their lunch break in a peaceful kind of stillness.
Have you ever been to a Pagan festival? Or a Wiccan festival? Or a Green / Eco festival? You know how everyone gathers together for lunch in little groups and there’s a sense of unity and everyone shares their day with each other, whilst others may choose to quietly reflect on their own? And everyone is accepting of whatever anyone else chooses to do – everyone recognises each other because they’ve seen them often at the festivals, but there’s a respect of space and privacy as well as smiles and greetings?
This was what I felt from Canada Square today. In the centre of the glass and metal stone circle sat magicians (those who utilise energy) taking a break from their day. This isn’t me singing the praises of bankers, by the way. Just as there are good magicians powered by good intent and just actions, there are also bad magicians powered by greed and fear. This is me reaffirming (because today I was reaffirmed) that there is no difference between spiritual energy and financial energy – it’s all just energy. What makes it different is the people who utilise it.
What, might you ask, has any of this got to do with my writing? In The Witching Pen
series, I write about an angel who chooses to live in (and high above) the financial district of London – not a place where most people would expect to find angels, but he was there for a reason. And he is a billionaire. When I wrote him looking over the office buildings (in The Demon Bride
), I never got the feeling that he was just watching the nice view, but that he was overseeing his work
I was told by someone once, over ten years ago I think, that those who put on suits (armour) and commute (march) into the centre of London (the battlefield) to work (do battle) are today’s *warriors. I didn’t fully understand at the time what he meant. I understand it now. *Please know that I am not talking about the armed forces or wars in conflicted countries here, or intending any correlation between the two types of “warriors”. I am coming at this from a totally different angle. I don’t blog often, ‘cause I say weird shit like the above – I usually prefer to keep my far-out thoughts woven into my books – thank you for having an open mind.
After the weekend, I shall collate all my pictures and post them on Facebook and maybe write one more blog post that will mainly be a slideshow.
I'm going back home tomorrow :) On the writing front, I’ve made good headway the last two days, not just in word count, but in a deep, deep way. Being here has sort of opened a portal inside me. I have truly been inspired, and on a personal level, I feel that I have said both hello and goodbye to this beloved city that I adore on so many levels, yet have still never felt completely at home in. I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up next.
Dianna xxx Interesting fact – what inspired Gwain’s penthouse?
Pan Peninsula – these are the two towers that inspired Gwain’s penthouse into creation. Much of The Last Dragon takes place here. In the book, I don’t refer to them as Pan Peninsula, but Pan Towers, and I don't write it exactly like you see it - I wanted to retain an element of fantasy, rather than use the name of a real complex - but this is where the idea came from.Gwain lives on the 47th floor. In real life, I'm not sure the 47th floor exists as a residential floor, but for the purposes of my book, it does.
Well, here I am on my writing holiday right in the centre of London City
, and I have to say, I’m glad I came. And this is me blogging about my stay :) Day One
I’ve just arrived at the Premier Inn in Docklands
, and the wonderful lady at reception searched for a room with a view for me on my cheekily asking, and I really need to say thank you, because this
is my inspiration for The Witching Pen
series and The Last Dragon
– this amazing view that makes me think of dragons and angels and also demons and witches all in one go. Because London is not simple – London is a blend of rich and poor, alternative and traditional, great vision, yet narrow-mindedness, and hard armour wrapped around good intentions and some hearts of gold.
And here I am in the centre thinking, aren’t we amazing? As a species, we are such a contradiction, capable of so much, achieving so much, and yet walking backwards all at the same time.
Let me backtrack a little…
When I came into Canary Wharf
on the London Overground, I saw Canary Wharf tower (One Canada Square) appear in front of me, armed by Citi bank, Barclays bank and HSBC bank. On the opposite side of the railway line was The Shard standing tall and proud, the Gherkin building (30 St Mary Axe) and both London Bridge and Tower Bridge, and it hit me so suddenly and clearly: this is a stone circle – for the 21st Century.
It was the exact same feeling that you get when you drive down the A303 towards Stonehenge and see it in the distance: this indescribable feeling of power and strength. It’s the same here, right in the centre of London, except the power is money. With Stonehenge, the power is spiritual.
But we look at it all wrong, don’t we? Because money is just energy – that’s all it is, just like Stonehenge, and with all energy, it is magicians that utilise it, that know how to mould it and shape it and make it grow and feed itself. Energy feeds power, and, unfortunately, power feeds greed – at least, it still does for us little humans who have not learnt how to manage greed. We allow it to consume us.
I do not believe that Stonehenge was any different thousands of years ago, to what Canary Wharf (or the financial capital of the United Kingdom) is now. Greed brought that era down, and it will bring this one down too – it’s already happening.
So these were all my vast thoughts on arriving here. And now I’m going to throw in a few pics before I get stuck into my writing for the day and night:
This is where I’m staying, nestled into the curve of the DLR train track – a great feeling for a wanderluster, I have to say!
Behind me, as I am looking at the Premier Inn, is London City – Canary Wharf tower (One Canada Square) is to the left, and the sun really does beam off that tip. You can also see The Shard behind the rows of pylons.
The view from my room overlooks the docks, and I’m going to take a walk by the river after breakfast tomorrow and I may try to get a cable car ride too for some pics – we’ll see how the day pans out – I came here to write, so I can’t be out too long.
And from my room window, in the sky above me, aeroplanes fly low to land in City Airport, and this reminds me of my childhood, staying overnight in the Hilton in Hong Kong before flying out to whatever destination – the aeroplanes then would fly so close to the Hilton that I would wait with baited breath and wide eyes to see the wing hit the side of the building. Thankfully it never did, but wow … what a feeling, and it’s the same feeling I have here now. Another huge plus for the wanderluster.
There we have day one, which is not over yet. I am missing my family terribly, but I will be getting my head down and typing, typing, typing and soaking in the inspiration from my fifth floor window :)
Yet here I am - working! I forgot my promise to myself. Oct - December is crazy for this household. We have so many family birthdays in October, plus Halloween and half-term (school vacation). In November it's Bonfire Night, then my own birthday, then we're all getting ready for Christmas, and really... what the hell am I thinking when I decide to cram work in each year???
Of course, I would go mad if I didn't have a project in hand; if I wasn't writing. Of course, I'm determined to get Releasing The Wolf
out for December (hopefully not at the expense of my sanity).
61,871 words written, and I don't know if I can carry on tonight. I get so deeply embroiled in my own story. Not sure if that's good or not. I mean, when you go to the library and think you see one of your own characters walking about, you've got to be a bit loopy, right? (Yes, this happened to me a few days ago.) I am currently living the lives of six people through my words. That is crazy. Anyway ... I'm down to writing the final chapter. Not much left to go now...
When I wrote The Sands Of Time, it was like I actually did have a magic pen. It just flowed. I didn't have to think about it. Writing The Demon Bride is like repeatedly hitting my head against a brick wall, and I never see the wall coming. It's like writing with a Javelin pole - not a magic pen at all! There are bits in it that I LOVE, but about 15% of it, I'm not happy with. I keep having to rip it apart as I write it, then put it back together again. But then ... maybe that has something to do with what the story's trying to tell. SIIIIIGGGGHH.