True Story: I write erotic novels

Interview with an erotica author

What’s it like to spend your workday coming up with euphemisms for sex acts? How does that affect your own sex life? And do you tell your parents? Today, erotica author Linda Mercury is telling us all about it!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi there! I’m Linda Mercury. I grew up in rural Northern Illinois and now live outside of beautiful Portland, Oregon. I’m 49 and absolutely looking forward to my 50’s. I write erotic paranormal romance. In my free time, I take naps and belly dance.

For those of us who don’t know, what’s the difference between a romance novel and an erotic novel? Is there a strict, specific difference?

There’s a lot of cross-over now between erotica and romance. In years past, people were much more cautious about sexually explicit material in a romance novel. The main difference I see these days is that romance has to have an emotionally satisfying ending. You can write an erotic tragedy (I’m not going to read it, but rock on with your bad self!), but for romance there had to have an emotional resolution between the lovers.The second difference is that romance comes in different heat levels than erotica. You can buy a romance without sex, but you’d

The second difference is that romance comes in different heat levels than erotica. You can buy a romance without sex, but you’d reeeeeaallly disappoint your readers if you left the explicit sex out of an erotic novel!

How did you find your way to writing erotic novels? 

I’ve had a lot of careers! I’ve been everything from a professional clown to an art model, and finally, a reference librarian. I decided I wanted to write full time after September 11 attacks. The tragedy woke me up. I realized I didn’t want to work in a library – I wanted my works in a library!

Erotic stories have always been important to me. I grew up in a very small town– and pre-Internet. I had nowhere to find good information on sex, let alone women’s sexuality and desires. I was desperate for anything that could show me what an emotionally and physically healthy sex life looked like.

What appealed to you about writing erotica?

That it can change the world, one person at a time! Patrick Califia, in the forward to Macho Sluts, wrote, “There is no easier, faster way to transmit information or a system of values than by presenting it in a format that makes people laugh, dance, get turned on, or just feel good.”

Even at a young age, I wanted to create a life where I could help people laugh, dance, get turned on, and have fun And if I can throw in feminism, politics, and excellent orgasms in that mix, I have done something wonderful for humanity.

Tell us about the sort of characters you like to write.

I like to make sure my books are as inclusive as possible. I’ve written Asian-American and Arabic characters, gay, straight, bi, and trans characters. All races, all sizes, all genders, all ages. I do paranormal characters, too, so I get to use lots of history and culture.

The one thing they all have in common is an urge for pleasure.

Where do you find inspiration?

Well, there is my own sex life, which is pretty excellent. I have wonderful friends who feel comfortable enough to tell me their fantasies and experiences. I look at erotic art and videos to help with sounds, positions, and costumes. Everything I see is copy, basically.

The one thing I really recommend for any person, not just writers, is to keep a secret journal of your own fantasies. If you don’t have a place with privacy, you can always name the file, “menstrual details”. Give yourself a chance to know what turns you on. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I imagine when you’re writing sex scenes it can be a struggle to find enough metaphors/synonyms/ euphemisms for what’s happening. How do you mix it without using the same words and phrases over and over?

Well, it’s hard.

Ok, that was punny. The most honest answer is, write what the characters would say. Is the lady in the story a demure, shy sort who couldn’t say the word ‘cock’ to save her life? What kind of words would this person use in the midst of passion and excitement? Would her partners torment her until she said it and meant it?

What would a person over seventy say? What is their vocabulary for sex? These are the kinds of questions I love answering when I write.

Do the people in your life know that you write erotica? 

Everyone knows – my Dad, my siblings, my nieces, my friends. Some people love what I do and some of them very carefully don’t talk about it at all.

Has writing affected your marriage at all? 

Writing has made my marriage even better, and it was good to begin with. We have fascinating conversations about both emotional and physical intimacy, the nature of fantasy, how to obtain consent, gender roles – everything, really.

Writing has improved my communication skills, too. I’ve come a long way from that small town in Illinois!

If someone has read zero erotica, what are some accessible, really well-written books they should start with?

I would recommend Emma Holly. Her writing is simply amazing. You care about her characters so much and their yearning leads to hot and emotional sex.There are days I think about her characters and wonder how their lives have turned out. That is some powerful writing!

Immodestly, I’d recommend my fourth book, Vamping It Up, for an erotic story with heart and self-discovery.

What have you learned from writing this that any of us could apply to our daily lives? 

Take very good care of your body! Practice good ergonomics. Get someone to check your posture, the height of your desk, even the angle of your computer monitor. Use eye rest software (I use a free one called Eye Leo which has an adorable cartoon leopard).

Move, stretch, dance, rejoice. Love your body, love your mind, and never stop orgasming.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Linda! Do you guys have any questions for her? 

P.S. True Story: I interviewed hundreds of people about sex and it totally changed the way I think about it.

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  1. Nikkie

    Lovely interview! But there are some errors in the article, some sentences appeared twice. (second and 10th question)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Eeep! Thanks for the head’s up – fixed!

  2. Liz

    This sentence is viewing in part for me; what is the rest of it?

    “You can buy a romance without sex, but you’d”

  3. Liz

    As a writer myself, this is an interesting perspective. I struggle with writing romance scenes, and the romance novels haven’t helped me much, either, so I’ve been considering…ehm…erotica novels? But I’ve also not, because Fifty Shades rather traumatized me, so I’ve been flip-flopping between “should I?” and “shouldn’t I”.

    My stories also aren’t focused entirely on the romance, but more coming-of-age versus something I can’t quite pinpoint right now—real life? trauma/tragedy? Meh.

    Anyway, loved this interview. 🙂

    • Linda Mercury

      Wow, Liz, I’m so sorry to take so long to get back to you. 🙁 Thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂

      I say, “Go for it!” in trying erotic writing. Try writing just one scene or one fantasy to see how it feels to you. Is it hard *ahem* difficult? Did you enjoy the process?

      It’s okay to just put words on the screen and see what comes out. I thought I was going to write screwball comedies when I started, but instead I found myself amidst vampires and lots of sex.

  4. Helena

    I’ve considered trying to write a romance novel, so it was really interesting to hear what the genre’s sexier cousin is like! And thanks for tip about the eye strain software!

    • Linda Mercury

      I hope your writing is going well! I’m glad you liked the eye strain software. It has really helped my career.

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