I'm honoured to have been asked to join a panel of writers for a romance panel at the Wollongong Writers Festival. This is the first romance panel the festival has had, and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) have organised it. So I'm thrilled, and excited, and humbled, and terrified.
Diane Robson, from ARRA, will be moderating and she'll be asking us about the sex scenes in our stories, which should make for a great discussion. The other panellists are: Donna Gallagher, who writes rugby league romance (and goes for the warriors, but I don't hold that against her - much!). Cassandra Samuels, who writes historicals. And JA Low, who writes erotic books (or 'stuff' as it's called on Facebook!).
And then I told a few people. Me, all excited, a bit scared. Them - yeah, not so much excitement. Here are some of the comments (to be fair, some were said in jest, while I was panicking): "You're going to talk about sex in public?" "She has Lana to read? OMG. No. How can you talk about that?" "You'll have to invent someone's life and say they've told you all these stories." "I hope you don't expect me to attend." I've yet to find someone (in my real life) who says, "Oh, how fantastic. I'll be there."
And this brings me back to the Madonna/Whore discussion I began last week. I feel like I'm being called a 'whore' by doing this event. What's wrong with discussing sex? What's wrong with Lana's foursome? Why shouldn't Lana have younger men? Why can't I get up and say it's my imagination that created these characters and their sex scenes?
Why can't I say, "No, I haven't had sex with 3 men, but I have thought about it." or "No, I haven't had sex with 3 men at once, but I have had 3 different partners so I can imagine how that might be all at once."?
Is it so terrible that I have sexual fantasies? Is it so terrible that I put them to a story where others might enjoy them too? Is it so terrible that I have gone beyond my own fantasies and pushed towards what my characters might want to do (or what my editor required/suggested)?
I'm going to be a Whore. I'm going to tuck those butterflies away and be proud of what I write. I haven't killed anyone. I haven't harmed anyone. I've created word pictures. And that should be celebrated.
Any tips for calming butterflies? :)