Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shelli Stevens on Straddling the line of Intimace scenes


Two Scoops of Vanilla Please

I remember the first book I wrote. The determination to write an entire manuscript and not just a few pages. The excitement, the fever, the absolute lack of writer’s block.
Until I hit a wall. A big old wall called: Shelli’s first sex scene. Ever. I remember typing the build up to it...

(Build up to sex in Ain’t Misbehavin’)

“You know, forget it. I wanted you and had the crazy notion you wouldn’t mind getting me into bed, but apparently I was wrong.” She almost made it to the door when he grabbed her by the waist and spun her around. “Oh, I want you all right,” he said, his voice low and thick. He lifted her so her legs wrapped around his waist. “I just had to make sure you knew what you were doing.”

I typed that little bit above, stared at the computer. And completely froze. I couldn’t do it. Write sex. I stood up, paced the house, sweating and muttering to myself. I had to psyche myself up to write the love scene. How do you write that kind of intimate moment between a man and woman? It’s so personal. Writing that first sex scene is a bit like losing your virginity, just in the literary sense.

I knew I just had to blow through it (no pun intended). I didn’t set any rules for myself on how long or hot it had to be. I’d use the zillions of love scenes I’d read in other books, and my own personal experiences. So I grabbed a beer and went back to the room and locked the door. Two hours later I emerged bright red (partly from being hot and bothered, but I’m sure you didn’t want to know that!) waving the pages for my roommate to read.

What I soon learned, from my roomies and critique groups, is that I write hot. Hotter than what tended to be on the market. Some suggested I tone it down because it was so hot. But I kept it the way it was, because that’s what I enjoyed writing. That’s the heat level I thought my characters demanded. And since then my writing seems to have found a home in the world of erotic romance.

But since my first book came out, I’ve straddled the line or erotic romance and highly sensual romance. Lately, I think the bar defining erotic romance has risen. What once was erotic, isn’t so much anymore. And after a couple of years of feeling out where I fit more, I’ve fallen more into the sensual side. For the most part I don’t write BDMS, ménages, or big time kink.

Granted, there are a few books you’ll see of mine that are still scortching (one I may have to take another pen name it’s so dirty!), and every once in awhile I still like to write something with a bit of kink.

It’s actually a hard place to be at, because my books are still hot enough to offend the mild romance readers. But those who want it hot hot hot! might tend to wrinkle their nose at my love scenes.

But I think as a writer you need to be true to your natural voice. A reader can tell when you’re writing something you’re not comfortable with. So here I am, Shelli Stevens, an author who proudly writes really hot vanilla sex. Or is that...vanilla with chili flecks in it? Hmm.... *Grin*

Shelli Stevens, Greater Seattle RWA President http://www.shellistevens.com A little bit of laughter & a whole lot of spice Tempting Adam, Available Now from Samhain Publishing