Interview with Jill Elaine Hughes, Part Two: It's Not Just About Sex, Baby

Today BtO welcomes back romance and erotic fiction writer Jill Elaine Hughes for the second half of her interview. On Saturday, she talked about the rise of Ebooks and how she balances her fiction and freelance writing roles; today she discusses the line between erotica and porn, and how she got started writing erotic fiction.

In one of your various writing roles, you write erotic fiction. How did you get involved in this, and what are your tips for would-be erotica writers? And I know it's an old question, but what's your take on the divide between erotica and porn?

To me, there is no divide between erotica and porn. I don’t consider porn to be “bad.” But if you want me to give a definition of what constitutes good erotic writing, it is the combination of a good storyline and complex characters who are primarily developed through their sexual selves and relationships. Too many people think writing erotica is easy because “it’s just about sex.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s one of the most difficult genres to write, because----like horror----it’s one of the only genres that is designed to evoke a physical reaction in the reader. If somebody is reading my erotic fiction and doesn’t get aroused, then I haven’t done my job. But turning people on is only a small part of it. Like with any kind of fiction, my goal with erotic fiction is primarily to entertain, and to keep the reader obsessively turning my pages until the very end of the book. That’s not so easy to do, believe me.

I actually got into writing erotica and erotic romance entirely by accident. Though I had read both (and romance in general) for years, I spent quite a long time trying to get published as a horror/fantasy/science fiction author, with limited success. I also tried my hand at chick lit (also without success.) But I almost always found that no matter what genre I was writing in, there was always a lot of sexual tension and sexual subplots going on in my stories. One editor who rejected a story of mine sent me a nice note saying how much she enjoyed reading my story’s sex scenes, and had I ever considered writing erotica? I took her suggestion to heart and started writing erotic fiction----and soon found that I was very good at it. My first published novel, MARKET FOR LOVE (written under my Jamaica Layne pen name), published by Virgin/Random House in 2008, was eventually the result of that---and I never looked back.

Standard BtO bonus question: What are you currently reading?

I’m usually reading several books at once, and now is no exception. I’m a big history buff, especially women’s history, and right now I’m looking at several history-related titles. I’m reading Women in The Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies, as well as Anna Whitelock’s recent biography of Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I of England). I’m also perusing some academic history texts on medieval women’s issues as part of a research project I’m doing. (I write a lot of historical fiction, and I also do historical reenactment as a hobby, so I’m always reading something historical.) My to-be-read pile currently includes some Jodi Picoult novels as well as several contemporary and historical romances. Some of my favorite contemporary authors include Alexander McCall Smith, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult (see above), Sara Gruen, Alison Weir (historical nonfiction), Phillipa Gregory, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Comments

Surprising and informative, thank you.
JM said…
I just don't know where you find the time for everything. You make me tired just reading about your life...
Great post, though. Until you actually said it, I didn't realize horror and erotica were the only two genres written to evoke a physical response. I'm trying my hand at erotica now, and your
're right, it is difficult.
Thanks for the insight.
I think it depends on what you mean by "physical response." I read a lot of poetry that evokes shivers in me because of the phrasing or ideas. But I suppose the difference there is that in other genres, the physical response is not necessary, where in those two, they definitely are.

What do you think about the thriller genre, Jill? Wouldn't a heart beating faster be a physical response?

Great interview! We're so glad you joined us!
sexywriter said…
I can't speak much to the thriller genre, since I don't read it too often. But the ones I have read never evoked a physical response in me----though I have been known to stay up until 3 am to finish reading them! To me, thrillers are more page-turners than heart-throbbers. But some readers may feel differently. The main difference between horror/erotica and thrillers, in my opinion, is the former simply don't work if they're not evoking a physical response in you, while the latter can and does. But that's just my opinion.
Thanks so much for visiting the blog, Jill! It was great to read about how you ended up writing erotica and your thoughts on the genre.