Welcome back folks! Today on Savvy Saturday we have the privilege of hearing erotica romance writer Brantwijn Serrah's inspiration for her lesbian romances. She is going to talk about how different the genre is from public perception, and how she took this not oft-used subject and wrote some amazing novels. Without any further introduction: here's Brantwijn!
There is an unfortunate prevailing idea out there that lesbian erotica is only for lesbians, or for men looking for a literary version of girl-on-girl videos. I've heard so many opinions boiling down to "Lesbian erotica just doesn't do anything for me."
This honestly breaks my heart a bit. Not because I'm an author of lesbian fiction...I write characters of all sorts of orientation and sexual personality, so if my lesbian stories don't catch the reader's eye, perhaps one of my other romances will. What saddens me about this idea, that lesbian fiction is only for lesbians, is that so many readers miss out on truly gorgeous works.
If you are one of these readers, and you feel it won't appeal to you because women aren't your particular pleasure preference, hear me out. Forget for a moment the gal-to-guy ratio and whose genitalia goes where. Let's talk about connection.
Be it a story about deep, abiding love, one of lustful conquest, or one of sexual experimentation, what's loveliest about lesbian erotica is the power of connection. Stories of women loving women delve into deep, aesthetic eroticism of not just the body, but of psychology and emotion. Lesbian erotica provides a setting to reflect on femininity and female-ness: characters who are expressively feminine can be highlighted like illuminated works of art, mirrored in another woman’s eyes; “tom” and “butch” lesbians—less feminine women—are given a unique stage where their own brand of beauty and identity is examined and celebrated. I’m put in mind of Boo, a self-proclaimed butch from Orange is the New Black, who couldn’t be less “feminine” if she tried. Her story to be recognized and respected, despite her utter refusal to put on a feminine mien, brings out a true beauty in her in such a way that viewers can appreciate her as her own, wonderful creation. Pairing women together, whether both parties be femme or both be butch, or be they a combination of expression and identity, makes for a unique opportunity for women to reflect on women, and how our sexuality is articulated.
What I worry about, writing lesbian fiction, is that at the most accessible level—early budding erotic writers—it is so often fetishized, relying on a perceived 'kink' of girl-on-girl action. I find it funny: it seems much more acceptable for gay erotica, featuring two men, to focus on the emotional needs and complications of the characters, finding eroticism though the emotional as well as the physical interactions. Most authors who set out to write gay male fiction understand this as part of the genre. If not taken seriously, though, lesbian fiction can easily miss the mark and be reduced merely to pornographic renditions of two women screwing.
Now, I realize lesbian erotica is not the only sub-genre to delve into the deep emotion and psychology of femininity in love. It is, however, disproportionately visited by readers. Lots of straight women will seek out gay male romance, but are ambivalent about lesbian tales.
It’s such a shame. Lesbian erotica is beautiful. It can be moving and literary. It can be so deeply gripping: Affinity by Sarah Waters left me shaken for days after I finished it. It can be fun and funny. I've enjoyed stories about fem domme cupcake bakers and island visitors sharing a relaxing evening with a stranger who becomes a new friend.
Whatever lesbian erotica is, it isn't what many people seem to think: an exclusive members-only club. If you've never given lesbian romance a chance, seek out at least one good title. Make it one you'd readily pick up if it were a traditional male/female romance. Give yourself a chance to find a new pleasure in the plethora of attractive erotic sub-genres. I think most folks will find that there's more to it than meets the eye.
When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats,
loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours penciling naughty, sexy illustrations in her secret notebooks.
Brantwijn has two romance series currently in-progress with Champagne Books. She's also had short stories published in several small press anthologies. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories and audio readings occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.