I plan to do this with many of my other, much earlier posts used on blog tours where I talk about capture fantasies and dubious consent and dark erotica.
Take me, Break me is the first book in my Pierced Hearts series. It was also my first book in the dark erotica genre. Because I normally write consensual BDSM romances, I get a few confused readers. But, but, but, they say, why is he doing things to her when she hasn’t exactly said yes?
Because, as I explain in my blurb, and my extremely long warnings, it’s dark erotica, it’s dubious consent, it’s meant to be a bit nasty and not what anyone would think of as normal.
Half the problem is that people don’t read the descriptions of the book, the other is that dark erotica is…what?
There doesn’t seem to be a good definition, even on Wikipedia, which basically says its horror plus an erotic story. Noooo. Disagree. None of the dark erotica I read will make you scream and check under the bed before you go to bed. I doubt most of these stories truly scare readers like say a Stephen King book might.
I think these books can contain horror, but most don’t.
Dark erotica is meant to disturb readers, perhaps to even creep you out, to make you wonder if your desire to read this stuff is okay. It may make you wonder if your moral compass is screwed on the right way around…and as well as this, it has that sensual, sexy, where’s-my-vibe, erotic element.
If you finish a book with your mouth open, and you sit back and go, what the hell did I just read and am I normal for liking that and getting turned on…yup, it very likely falls into the dark erotic genre. If not turned on then it’s probably a dark psychological read, a twisted thriller.
As with many emotion based definitions, what will disturb one person may not bother someone else. So your dark erotic book may not be mine. I’ve seen heavy sadism, or bdsm, or even taboo acts like incest, classed as dark erotica. I don’t think those are. You may disagree.
And of course, what does disturb mean? A story that causes anxiety, which could be even mild fear? Or is it a story that makes you question your ideas of right and wrong? Whatever it is, remember, this is fiction, not a how to live life for real story. It’s not giving the rape or abduction of women a big green tick any more than a book on serial murder says it’s okay to kill everyone who pisses you off.
Many people read those and we don’t bat an eyelid. Dark erotica is primarily the reading choice of women, which is perhaps why society sometimes frowns upon it and ordinary erotic stories more than purely violent stories. Because, you know, sex is worse than murder.
Sarcasm there, of course.
I should add that gruesome detailed violence in an erotic story won’t necessarily make it dark erotica. It has to mess with the reader’s mind in some way.
Here are a couple of fun definitions of dark erotica from readers and authors:
“I think the distinction would lie within the parameters of what makes me squirm vs. what makes me wanna puke.”
“Dark erotic is reading erotica in a cupboard with no torch. Erotic horror is reading erotica when Friday the 13th is playing in the background.”
~ Fiona Archer - author of hot, smoking BDSM menages (King's Bluff series) but not dark erotica :)
Have fun reading, and remember it’s fiction. The pages of a book stay shut until someone decides to open them.
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This goes to an article in Women24