Guest Post – The Truth and the Taboo, by Henry Corrigan
I am excited to participate in my first ever blog article exchange! Today I have exchanged with Henry Corrigan, a fellow contributor to the ERWA, as well as an erotica blogger. I have found his articles to be as intriguing and finely-crafted as his stories, so I am proud to share some of his words with you here today!
A teenage boy has sexual fantasies about his cousin (I know this is an odd way to start, but humor me). Now, these fantasies are not only explicit, they are practically all consuming. He dreams about his cousin night and day. He imagines incredibly detailed scenarios involving positions he doesn’t know how to properly perform. Nothing matters more than to see his fantasy fulfilled.
Unfortunately for him, he has both the odds and social convention against him. He has no outlet for his urges and the pressure in his…mind, is driving him halfway up the wall.
But then one day, this frustrated hormonal teenager, goes online and stumbles across a very particular story. One that features a protagonist he can identify with. Now, he still may not be able to fulfill his fantasy, but at least the story gives him an outlet.
This is part of the nature of erotica. It knows that we all have secrets, no matter how taboo they may be. It understands that secrets need to be indulged.
But this idea does not only apply to readers of erotica. Authors are tied to it as well. For readers, the concept of discretion is simple. So long as they are careful, no one needs to know that hiding behind an “Eat, Pray, Love” hardcover, is a well thumbed copy of “Step-Dad Knows Best.”
However, an author is an entirely different kind of creature. Authors seek exposure, they want to be known for their work. But what happens when that work includes graphic depictions of incest? Or bestiality? Forced consent, underage characters or crypto-zoological pornography? Is it possible to write taboo stories and not be pigeon-holed along with “stroke porn?”
The purging of Smashwords made the news recently because it saw the titles of several highly successful crypto-zoological authors buried or outright removed due to what was termed as a “violation of content.” Given this, and the tightening of Amazon’s filters now making it more difficult for readers to find new erotica, an author would be within their rights to worry about the exposure of their work and any potential revenue that could be lost.
However, despite these issues, it is still more than possible to become not only successful, but also respected in mainstream literature with taboo topics. In George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” (or Game of Thrones for those of you not into fantasy), the incestuous relationship between two royal siblings is a major plot point that drives much of the conflict of the story.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude,” long considered to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterwork, is packed with depictions and references of multi-generational incest within one family.
The one thing that each of these relationships has in common, is the devastating consequences that arose from them. In Game of Thrones, it gave birth to a crippling war that killed thousands. One Hundred Years, saw another birth. That of a genetically deformed child followed closely by the destruction of the entire family and I probably should have called Spoiler Alert! before I went into all of this, huh?
Now, let me be clear about something. In literature, not all incestuous relationships are portrayed as wrong or have negative consequences. You can find works at the opposite end of the spectrum just as easily as examples similar to the ones I mentioned. You can also still make a living writing taboo stroke porn. The monthly sales of “Moan for Bigfoot” or “Taken By The Monsters” may not be what they were before the restrictions, but they are nothing to be laughed at either.
But if this isn’t the kind of story you want to write, don’t be disheartened. You don’t have to trade explicitness of description, for acceptance into mainstream literature. So long as you remember that the taboo is not the ultimate goal of the story. It’s fine if a major plot point hinges on it, but the story should be able to stand on its own as well. A strong plot, fully fleshed out characters and conflict still need to exist no matter what story you are writing.
Will it be easy? No, absolutely not. Just because it’s been done before, does not make it any less difficult. If the balance of the story is off you risk either offending the reader, or having them continue to read for the wrong reasons.
Yet your concerns over being blacklisted or pigeonholed, should not prevent you from trying to break in and be accepted. You will not be the only one at the party, and I guarantee there will be plenty of esteemed colleagues there to rub shoulders with.
Henry started writing erotica for the same reason that gets most people into trouble; Because of a girl. Several years ago he decided to turn his passion into a professional career. By day, Henry is a full-time federal employee, and several nights a week he works towards an MBA in healthcare. Whatever time is left over, is devoted to family and writing. His work has appeared at everynighterotica.com, and twice been featured in the Erotica Readers and Writers Association Gallery. He just finished the first draft of his first novella and his short story “Play The Tin Man Blind” was just selected for the Best Men’s Erotica 2014 Anthology coming later this year. Updates and more of his work can be found at: henrycorrigan.blogspot.com