From the instant of its release, I was braced for a passel of shocked reactions to A Place Of Our Own, and I was not disappointed. What surprised me was that about half my correspondents were shocked at the subject matter – they must have missed the part about it being a fantasy -- while the other half were incredulous for a wholly different reason: “You call this erotica? There’s practically no sex in it!”
Well, yes. That’s because in my view, erotica is about the evocation of desire. Anyone can write about sexual mechanics...and quite a lot of people have done so. I find that sort of “fiction” about as arousing as a medical journal. (Does your patient suffer from prolapse of the anus, Doctor?)
Good fiction must be about people and the changes they experience. When the subject is human desire, the changes can be quite dramatic, which is why sexual desire and its consequences are so important in so much fiction. But sex per se doesn’t evoke desire; it quells it. That’s the whole point!
Desire...longing...the idealized image of one’s unattainable beloved hanging eternally in the mind’s eye: these are things that motivate human contemplation, action, and the consequent changes. Not pleasant friction on the mucous membranes...or anywhere else on the body.