Last night was no exception. It was there, in the mysterious rows of one-step meals, I discovered cauliflower mac and cheese. It is supposed to fool people into thinking they are eating regular mac and cheese while they actually consume some strange cauliflower noodle.
Sure, I thought, why not? (See how hungry I was?)
|See? It looks like regular|
mac and cheese too.
My taste buds thought I was eating mac and cheese, but I wasn't - not really.
Now, you are asking yourself, why is she talking about this? How is this related to genre labels?
J. Ellen Smith from Champagne Books recently spoke to my writing group. She mentioned that if a story had oral sex in it, the book was shifted to their erotica line. Since then, I thought about the heaps of romance books I've read - some printed more than 25 years ago. (I'd prefer that you do not do the math on that. Let's pretend I was two when I started reading those.) Most of what I read can be categorized as mainstream "romance" not "erotica" and a lot of them, though not all, have included oral sex.
Does this mean that all this time when I thought I was reading one thing, I was actually reading something else? As a reader, I don't remember being surprised these scenes were included. I didn't feel misled by the genre label on the spine of the book. If oral sex was included, I didn't mentally mark it as something "different" from what I had anticipated. Am I atypical? The way I see it is that as long as the intimacy scene has a purpose in the book, I am happy to read it. On the other hand, if the scene is gratuitous - included solely for the purpose of having another sex scene - and doesn't further the plot or the character development, I often flip past it.
Does the label matter? I enjoyed the books I've read, just as I enjoyed my cauliflower mac and cheese. In the end, a cauliflower noodle and a regular noodle are still both noodles.
But, as a writer, I wonder about these things.
I've written stories where the characters have closed the bedroom door. There was no plot or character reason for the reader to follow them into that situation. The actual particulars of the sex scene weren't necessary for the story's development. Would people like to read it? Perhaps. Or, would they skip over it knowing it was just gratuitous? Perhaps.
Have I included oral sex in stories? Yes. In one book, it was the trigger of an important emotional realization in the main character. Has it happened in all my stories where the sex scene has been included? Honestly, I have no idea. I've never seen it as a line in the sand before, so I never really considered the implications of including it or not.
What do you think? Is mainstream romance actually an erotica cauliflower noodle dressed in cheese powder?