I feel blessed to be living in one of the freest flowing times in history. What do I mean by that? Well, honestly, I mean that writers can pretty much write about anything they want. There was a time when sex and violence were taboo, but today it’s almost expected. Not that everything I write is sex and violence, but I have the freedom to write it, publish it, and expect that I’ll have some readers that want to read it. Hell, I want to read it! As long as it’s couched within the plot and is true to the characters – my caveat.
It is a fabulous thing, but it once wasn’t, and I hope that it isn’t taken for granted, especially by those of us who chose to write it. In the Victorian era, sexuality was, if not taboo, than at least a questionable topic. The 1960’s started to change people’s ideas about sex, but really it hasn’t been until the 80’s and 90’s that we’ve seen a rise in sexuality in print, and only in the past decade have people started reading stories that border on pornographic. Perhaps what is considered acceptable pornography in print has changed? We all know that 50 Shades of Gray would not have been printed, let alone a best seller in earlier years. That success was all about timing and what the public was willing to accept.
But, I submit that 50 Shades was not a breakthrough novel in our sexual genre, but that society was finally willing to let this degree of sexuality hit the mainstream. Surely, BDSM erotic had been building in the world of print (Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Siren, and Hot Ink Press) for years. Beyond mainstream romance, we all know sex sells.
The point of all this is that in today’s market where eBooks, Amazon, and the Internet thrive and allow people anonymity of purchase, authors can expect their sex books to sell. Oh, and violence isn’t any different. In fact, violence is less taboo than sex (unless it’s violent sex). As a society, we want to see violence in our movies, and we want to read about it in our books. The only thing more tantalizing than good sex, is good violence. Don’t deny it. I’m sure you’ve watched Rocky or an MMA fight or just a scene where someone gets the shit beat out of them or someone is killed violently (CSI much?).
That brings me back around to the freedom of writing and authors taking it or granted. I don’t know if they do and I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that 100 years ago, 50 Shades of Gray would not have been published. Hell, 9 1/2 weeks wouldn’t have been a movie and neither would Scent of a Woman. What is available today in print and in movies is phenomenal compared to that. Of course, we would expect evolution. Yet, we often don’t stop and appreciate it.