Writing what you know is commonly spoken about in author’s circles. Research is also a crucial part of writing a novel, and the genre of the work has no baring on the necessity of the sometimes arduous task.
Accurate information is the lifeblood of any literary work, since readers now-a-days can tell the difference between someone who knows what they are talking about and someone who is full of crap. We read enough, see enough, and interact enough on social media and the web to understand the basics as far as the world is concerned, and if we don’t, the truth is only a click away, so smoke and mirrors no longer work in the realm of contemporary romance.
And I very much write what I know.
All the novels in my Blurred Lines Series of blended erotic romances are set in Canada. And more specifically, the Province of Ontario (where I was born.) The cities and towns really do exist. All the restaurants, parks, stadiums, festivals, and landmarks that I refer to are real. All the food on the menu is actually there (unless they’ve changed the menu since the last time I visited.) All roads lead to home. The traffic is in real-time. The weather—hot or cold—is never exaggerated. And, ignoring the sex part, I’ve seen or done pretty much everything I write about. Also, I have a nursing background, so quite often anything medical is King in my writing.
I do a great deal of research, even surrounding places and things I’m familiar with. I check driving and walking distances on Google Maps before sending a character on their way. I check dates of festivals before claiming a character is leaving for the Cactus Festival in Dundas in the month of May (which is not when it runs, btw.) I don’t send anyone to a restaurant on a Monday when the place would normally be closed, and I don’t make up educational institutions, street names, liquor or beer brands, or create something that doesn’t exist in our province just for the sake of my story. Although, some of the main material is created in my mind—Macintyre & Anderson Architectural Firm for example. Corbin Macintyre owns half the firm he works for, so it needs his name on it. But all the supporting material in my novels is factual. Everything that fills in the background of my stories is authentic and truly Canadian.
But what about the sex in an erotic romance? What about—pardon the pun—the ins and outs of the intimacy written between the covers of a book. How accurate is it? How true to life can erotic romance really be?
Well, my books are not biographical as far as the bedroom goes, that much is true, trust me. And, obviously, most modern romances, no matter the sub genre, are pushing the limits on everything—multiple orgasms for the shapely size two female characters, men with genitalia fit for porn who can get it up repeatedly and still want more, and the always battered background that most romance characters originate from while they deal with shattered lives, desires that go beyond what most of us experience, and that underlying mystery that all main characters hide.
For most of us, we pick up a romance novel for entertainment and to lose our self for a few minutes or hours. We do it to arrive in someone else’s shoes, and to find something that will inspire, move us emotionally, educate, or fill a void.
But what does that mean for the accuracy of the sex in an erotic romance?
Well, imagination can carry an author a long way. A vivid one can turn something average into something utterly amazing. Research is vital, and although experience is not always needed for realism when it comes to writing sex, a solid grasp of human biology and the body’s processes can never hurt.
So again, I write what I know.
Like I said, I have a nursing background. I worked in a hospital setting for more than ten years, and in the community for about fifteen. My medical education certainly helps with the basics, like, what happens in hospitals and within our medical system in Canada, but it also helps with the finer details, like, how a foreskin works, what happens in the female body before, during, and after an orgasm, and what an average penis is really capable of—since I’ve had my hands on more of them than I would like to admit because of my nursing.
I try to bring real-life touches (again, no pun intended) to the steamier parts of my erotic romances. I try to keep it as factual as I can, while retaining the unbelievable stuff that pushes my erotica to the limits the reader is expecting (2 or 3, or even 5 orgasms, since who wants a female character who can’t climax when with her perfect man.) And gay or straight, hard or soft, my intention is to always keep the truth somewhere in my contemporary love stories, because real life doesn’t always fall short of fantasy. And learning can come from anywhere.