Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event: Elizabeth Thorne on Writing Lesbian Erotica

I write lesbian erotica because lesbian erotica was the first erotica I ever read... and loved. Although I’d been exposed to the sex scenes in romance novels and other forms of novel length fiction from middle school on, I didn’t begin to seek out erotica, perse, until I had begun to come to terms with my own sexuality. I still remember the thrill of reading the book "Lesbian Bedtime Stories" for the first time and thinking, "OH! That’s how this works." It made me want to write those types of stories myself.

I was also heavily inspired by a number of lesbian vampire erotica anthologies that came out at about the same time I did. The first erotic story I ever wrote, "Waiting for Sunset," was a lesbian vampire story, and it was also the first erotic story I ever sold -- to Circlet Press, an erotica publisher specializing in sci-fi erotica. At the time, I was fascinated by the vampire erotica genre, and I wanted to dip my teeth in (so to speak). I was also working in a sexual health research lab, and a lot of the work I was doing crept into the story as I wrote it.

Biology, and science, has remained a component of my erotica ever since then. One of my favorite stories is actually a bit of "What if?" wish fulfillment looking back at that same period in my life. Although I never engaged in hookups at scientific conferences, I always imagined that some truly fascinating things happened behind closed doors at the sexuality conventions I was attending, and so I decided to write about one of them. "Experimental" tells the story of a woman’s health researcher who is studying the female orgasm -- in some very unorthodox ways.

Actually, most of my lesbian stories are pretty unorthodox, in that they usually involve explicit elements of BDSM and power exchange. Although I write both heterosexual and lesbian BDSM (and sometimes even bisexual BDSM), I’ve found that one of the advantages of writing lesbian BDSM is that it removes my worries about contributing to gender stereotypes. Although all the submissive women in my stories submit from a place of strength and desire, I do sometimes worry that the submissive women in my heterosexual stories contribute to societal notions of male dominance. That’s far from how I intend them, and I try to be clear about that, but I love that it’s not even an issue when writing about lesbian relationships.

In the end, I suppose that I’m writing the sex I want to read in the world... my literary equivalent of "being the change I want to see." I have no idea whether or not Ghandi would approve.

-- Elizabeth Thorne

Elizabeth Thorne is a sexuality educator and writer who lives outside NYC . You can find more information about her and her work at


Jolie du Pre said...

I think a major draw of the M/F male dominance stories is the power the male has over his willing sub. Whether that is offensive or not, many readers like that scenario. In an F/F BDSM story with a female Dom, you don't have the male component, but she may still exhibit behavior associated with a male Dom. If readers like that, I'm not sure there's a problem. A female sub is not an unwilling participate. She can say "no" at any time. Therefore, if I wrote F/F BDSM, I wouldn't worry about possibly contributing to society's notion of male dominance if my readers are telling me that's what they want.

She said...

When I read I want a good story. I don't care if others like or approve of what I read. If it is a good story, that is all that is important.

leniking1 said...

Great article and good that you are such a strong writer in this genre. Congratulations!