Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for X-Rated

Another subgenre that's booming is X-Rated erotica. Today, we have a special treat as I interview erotica author Betsy Dornbush, aka Ainsley.

What's erotica?

Erotica is romance, basically, with more graphic sex scenes and using specific and slang terminology rather than, or addition to, euphemisms. Scenes range from basic to elaborate, from conventional to fetish.

How does it differ from romance?  Is homosexuality allowed, for example?

Homosexuality precludes romance? Sorry, I’m being facetious (and teasing you, since I know that’s not what you meant). There is a lot of homosexual erotica out there, and by and large they are romances.

I think erotica differs from regular romance in a couple of notable ways. Romance is pretty formulaic. There’s little formula to erotica, though using such a structure isn’t frowned upon. I think good erotica is very much story-based, and more open to exploration of that story in a lot of ways. Also, the sex in erotica isn’t always between the primary love interests.

I find writing within the genre very freeing. The market is wide open to all sorts of stories. I’ve always wanted to write a space opera, which would be a tough sell on the regular SF markets. But my publisher picked it up immediately and my editor loved it. They’re even asking for a series.

How does it differ from pornography?

Hmm, good question. First to define pornography, because everyone might have a little bit different opinion on exactly what it is. I think the US in particular is so prudish about sex that a lot of people lump erotica and pornography together. To me there’s just as much entertainment value in a finely worded sex scene as in a finely worded fight scene. Content means less to me than good story and good writing.

So I might not have the same bias against pornography as your regular reader. I’ve never really thought of pornography as bad, per se, just another form of storytelling. But to me a workable definition of pornography means it is story-less. Turn on the TV and there’s two (or more) unnamed characters going at it. That feels like sex for sex’s sake.

Erotica always has a story and a lot more words are often dedicated to that story rather than the sex scenes.

But, even just a sex scene without the standard framework of plot around it, which I’ve both read and seen, still seems to contain some inkling of story. So it begs the question: can sex alone stand as story? I think it can. Without being too graphic here, think about how we as human beings think of story structure and compare it to the sex act, from first kiss to intercourse, and you might see what I mean. There’s a very similar cadence and pattern. It’s occurred to me that our sexual nature is the foundation of universal dramatic structure, first acknowledged by Aristotle in Poetics.

How has the explosion in electronic publishing affected erotica and why?

Erotica was at the forefront of electronic publishing, and they still are. By and large, most erotica is electronic only. I think the erotica genre publishers might be slipping in that slightly because they don’t take prompt advantage of newer electronic formats like Kindle and Nook. But they are still lightyears ahead of mainstream publishing when it comes to eBooks. As an aside: my editor for my erotica is every bit as rigorous as I’ve heard other mainstream authors describe. I think erotica and eBooks have a crap reputation for editing, which may have been true in the past and still true to a degree. It was something I definitely looked for in a publisher. I’m actually going through the process with my forthcoming book right now and hardly a page goes by without something to fix or rework.

Tell us about your work.

I write erotica about half time. I anticipate writing the second book of my space opera series this summer. Right now I’m working primarily on the second book of my urban fantasy series, SENTINEL, featuring demidemons rebelling against the demon king Asmodai. Plus, I’m polishing a futuristic fantasy entitled THE SILVER SCAR.

I also write short fiction, though less than I like with so many books stacked up to write. When people ask, I tell them I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer. Even my newer erotica has more of a SF/space opera flavor than romance or erotica.

Where can we find your work?

Last year Whiskey Creek Torrid released two of my erotic romances featuring vampires under the penname Ainsley: QUENCHED by Ainsley & E. C. Stacy, QUENCHER by E. Cameron Stacy & Ainsley. My erotic SF romance, LOST PRINCE, SALT ROAD SAGA Book 1, will be released in July 2011, also from Torrid.

I’m also anticipating the release of my urban fantasy, SENTINEL: ARCHIVE OF FIRE, this year, from Whiskey Creek’s mainstream imprint. Also, I just had a story released in a crime anthology entitled DEADLY BY THE DOZEN. You can learn more about my work at

Betsy's Bio:In 2010 Whiskey Creek Torrid published two of Betsy Dornbusch's erotic romances under the pseudonym Ainsley. The first installment of her erotic space opera series, The Salt Road Saga, will be released July of 2011, also from Torrid. SENTINEL: ARCHIVE OF FIRE, the first book of her urban fantasy series featuring demons rebelling against Asmodai, King of Hell, will also be released in 2011 from Whiskey Creek Press, under her own name. Her short fiction has appeared in print and online venues such as Thuglit, Sinister Tales, Big Pulp, Spinetingler, and the anthology DEADLY BY THE DOZEN. She's been an editor with the ezine Electric Spec for five years. She regularly speaks at local fan conventions and writers’ conferences. She’s the sole proprietor of Sex Scenes at Starbucks ( where you can believe most of what she writes. In her free time, she snowboards and sees punk rock concerts.


  1. This is wonderful, Betsy! Well said and succinct. May I quote you in my class at Colorado Gold this year?

  2. Hi Thea! You're more than welcome to quote me! :) --Betsy

  3. Great article. We need to do an erotica reading at Colorado Gold!

  4. Hhm. Betsy and Mario doing an erotic reading...
    I'd pay to see that! :)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. How about 2 am in the hospitality suite, Mario?