A few years back, while I was in the middle of a seemingly intractable romantic drought, I decided to indulge myself and read some free erotica samples on Amazon.
What I found was not what I expected. As an author/grammar freak/linguistic psychopath, I take my Greek roots very seriously and get extremely agitated when they are misused. And after reading about a dozen first pages worth of violence, sadism, misogyny, and flat-out rape, I quickly concluded that ‘erotic’ is the most misunderstood and misused word to worm its way into colloquial English since ‘ironic.’
In earliest Greek mythology, Eros is the primordial god of love and sensual desire, who mated with personified Chaos to give birth to the human race. Kind of a big deal. In later accounts, he is the son of Aphrodite, goddess of love and passion. New genealogy, but still a big deal. In Roman culture, he morphed into a mischievous fat baby with a bow and arrow. Starting to get a little weird, but OK. In our modern world, he has devolved into the American capitalist who introduced the world to edible pink chalk with the words ‘U R Mine’ on it and is most notably the sonofabitch responsible for you gaining five to seven pounds every February. So now he’s just a dick.
Like any story that has been circumnavigating the globe for several thousand years, Eros’ plotline – and character – have changed. His journey from being the bearer of the human race to an international chocolate trafficker has been a long and strange one, full of unexpected twists and inexplicable turns. But being tied to the bed by a billionaire or getting gang-banged on a conference room table? No way is that the final chapter in Eros’ story. To put it in a modern cultural context, it’s like ending the First Blood series with Rambo Goes Vegan. Handcuffs are to Eros what lentils are to Rambo – completely repugnant. And quite possibly the one thing on earth that will kill him once and for all.
I love Eros. He brought forth the human race and has brought more joy to my life than any other of the non-monotheist gods. Especially Hephaestus. He’s good for crap. And Aristaeus. He never did anything for me. So go ahead and have your way with them. Hephaestusia can be the new genre for whip-wielding blacksmiths and Aristaeusiana can be the Amazon.com bucket for beekeeper-centric BDSM. But don’t mess with my boy Eros. He’s one of the best things that ever happened to me and no-one’s killing him off on my watch. As a romance author, I strive to infuse my writing with erotic content that lives up to its Greek root. And I cannot think of a better way to define the experience of sensual love than union with pure chaos. The best sex is nothing if not chaotic – messy, boundless, and out of control. Of all the primordial deities, only Eros had what it took to capture the heart of Chaos and make it so alive that it procreated. If that’s not true love, I’m not sure what is. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying billionaires with hogties don’t deserve their own literary (and I use the term loosely) genre. They just have no business cataloguing themselves as erotic. Erotic is not a dirty word. Like the god it is derived from, it is first and foremost characterized by love, and the love Eros offers us is born of pure primitive desire and fulfilled in the form of sensual union at its most gloriously primal. That’s the kind of sex I like to read about, and in turn try to deliver to my readers.