Cross-posted from: http://shoshannaevers.com/2015/11/saying-goodbye-to-erotic-romance/
Gather 'round, I have a story to tell. It's about why, after five years as a published erotic romance author, I am saying goodbye to the erotica and erotic romance genre. At some point soon it seems this will also mean goodbye to secular romance novels in general.
Here's what happened:
In late 2012, after the Sandy Hook shooting, I turned to God for answers (as did many others). Quick background: I was born and raised Jewish and was even practicing Orthodox Judaism for a few years around the time I met my husband in 2004. I kept kosher best I could, wore the long skirts, went to Shabbat dinners at the rabbi's house, and found my husband on Jdate, a Jewish dating site. I did all this in my ever-present quest to be closer to God. Unfortunately the harder I tried the further from God I felt. It wasn't working, so I tried harder. After three years I felt more separated from God than before I started my attempt to practice all the laws of the bible (specifically the Torah, the first 5 books of the Old Testament). When my Dear Husband (DH) was ready to be more relaxed in our approach to Judaism, I was ready with him — I stopped trying to earn my way into God's good graces.
In 2010 my first erotic romance was published by Ellora’s Cave, and my professional writing career began, to be followed by twenty-plus novels and novels, including six with Simon & Schuster/Pocket and a bunch of indie books. I never felt as if being Jewish and writing erotic romance was an issue at all.
Back to Sandy Hook. I promise it relates to why I'm no longer going to be writing erotic romance, although I'm sure many of you can guess at this point. For the first time in my life while reading the bible, numerous Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament (especially the books of Isaiah and Micah) just jumped out at me like crazy. I thought, "From the little I know about Jesus (mainly from the musicals Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar), these Messianic prophecies actually sound a lot like... Jesus." Which then made me think, "Oh no." Because that meant I had to read the New Testament to find out for sure, which is a pretty taboo thing for an Orthodox Jewish girl to do.
When I opened the New Testament and read about Jesus, something clicked. I then spent several months trying to ignore what I had just learned -- that there were 333 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, and that Jesus had fulfilled Every. Single. One. The statistical chances of that happening are astronomically low to the point of impossibility. Yet Christmas rolled around and I did what I always did — ignored the holiday and lit the Chanuka menorah instead.
It took me a while to warm up to the idea that, while I would always be Jewish by birth and race, down to my very DNA (97% Ashkenazi Jewish, just like my DH), that I was now of the belief that Jesus was the Messiah I had previously been waiting for. That made me a Jewish Christian. If you are Jewish and want to infuriate everyone in your family, try telling them the Good News. As far as my mom and dad (and siblings and extended family etc) were concerned, it was awful news.
In late 2013 DH and I were living in Idaho, attending church weekly, also attending bible studies weekly, and a woman's group weekly for me as well. For the first time in my life, I put up a Christmas tree December 2013. After about a year we got baptized, and DH started playing guitar in the church band. This whole time I had been easily able to separate my "real life" (including my spiritual life), from my writing career. Especially since at church, few people knew I was Shoshanna Evers since I go by my married name.
Those who knew I wrote secular romance novels, like my friends from church, wouldn't read my books. I was fine with that since I knew it wasn't their thing. No one chastised me about it (except for one random girl I didn't know, and I thought she was just being stupid), but I found myself justifying my career anyway. "It's just fiction," I'd say. "No one's actually 'sinning' in real life, anyway." When I met up with other writers, I'd joke about how I'd go to church in the morning and write hot sex in the afternoon.
At some point it just stopped being funny to me. I felt, to put it in "Christianese," convicted. As if God wanted me to feel badly about my hypocrisy so I'd rethink my career.
Though I attempted NOT TO ALLOW my faith to interfere with my successful writing career, my books began having progressively less sex and more God in them with each new book I put out. Not on purpose, mind you. One reviewer recently noted that "when they finally do get to be together, the [love] scenes are tasteful and not over the top." Could you imagine anyone saying that about a book from early in my career? Never! It became clear that whether I was willing to admit it or not, my books were getting cleaner and more romance and character/plot focused than sex-focused. It wasn't a deliberate change, it was just happening as I wrote. Once I sat down to think about why I was having so much writer's block, constantly procrastinating instead of working on my books, I realized why: I'm no longer excited to write erotica or erotic romance.
Maybe I've just burned myself out on it by being so prolific over the past five years, or maybe God really has just been changing my heart slowly enough for me to remain open to it. If you drop a frog in boiling water, he'll jump out. But if you put him in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will boil to death. Not saying I am a dead frog — just saying that if I had known when I first opened up that bible after Sandy Hook that my career would have to stop immediately, I never would have had the guts to look into Jesus for myself. If my friends at church had told me I was being a sinner by writing my books, I may have stopped going to church, or stopped being friends with them. I'm lucky that instead, this heart-change about what I should be writing versus what I was writing happened over the course of three years. The past three years have given me time to simmer a bit.
While my characters used to jump into bed with each other immediately, now I found myself halfway through writing the book without so much as a kiss happening. I've fought this feeling for the past year (2015), because I know what I'm good at, and I know what my readers like. I knew if I changed what I was doing too much, I'd lose most of my readers. Since writing is my full-time job, and it literally pays the bills, losing everything I've built in the past five years frightened me.
I'm still scared to death about this. But I've also reached a point where I feel like I'm hiding my true self, my true faith, and what I truly want to write. It's made being Shoshanna Evers uncomfortable for me, because I feel like I am no longer the same person who wrote The Enslaved Trilogy or The Man Who Holds the Whip. So even though I know this is going to be a hard pill to swallow for a lot of my readers and associates, I had to just come clean and say what I've been dealing with.
It's been an identity crisis of sorts: Who is Shoshanna Evers? Do I want to be that anymore? Do I have to be that, or can I reinvent myself?
At first I answered those questions like this:
- Who is Shoshanna Evers? An erotic romance author.
- Do I want to be that anymore? No.
- Do I have to be that in the future? Yes. My readers expect that of me, and they pay my rent. Besides, it's what I know how to do well.
- Can I reinvent myself? No. Who goes from being an erotica writer to an inspirational writer?
- Who is Shoshanna Evers? An erotic romance author (at the moment).
- Do I want to be that anymore? No.
- Do I have to be that in the future? NO. I may lose my beloved readers, I may lose my agent, I may lose my upcoming 6 book contract, but God will find a way to make it work out. He always does.
- Can I reinvent myself? YES. I'm only 36 years old. I have the rest of my adult life to write whatever I want. Thank God.
Continue Reading at http://shoshannaevers.com/2015/11/saying-goodbye-to-erotic-romance/