Thursday, 18 January 2018
Writing About Naked People
Sales have exceeded what I expected (in that I have sales - I fully anticipated that nobody would ever buy a softcore niche-fetish coming-of-age lesbian love story from a first-time author with no experience of selling or marketing a book), and I've been working where I can on raising the book's profile with potential readers using social media.
To that end I've spent rather too much time in the world of naturism on Twitter.
Why naturists - or as some would have it, nudists? Well, I admit that the majority of naturists wouldn't consider reading an erotic lesbian coming-of-age story about exhibitionism (or at least, wouldn't admit to it!), but there are certain themes in my book that cross over a little with that particular world. Becky identifies as a nudist as well as an exhibitionist, after all - and there's a strong philosophy about accepting nakedness, about being proud of who you are and about problematic societal attitudes to women who choose to not be covered up all the time.
So I've been seeking out particular Twitter figures who promote naturism and pro-nudity stuff to try and subtly make people aware of my work.
There's another reason for this; I'm a little more familiar with that world, having been involved in social nude recreation for several years now, having first become interested in it in my mid-20s. Although I choose not to apply the term naturist to myself, I'm not averse to doing naturist things, in particular nude spas, beaches and social events. I keep the writer side of myself away from these things (hence the pen name) because there are some in naturism who would not approve of the fact that someone who writes sexy stories about naked girls might also be taking part in a nude social event - while I feel both my writing and my nude recreation are compatible, I know others don't share that view.
But regardless, I've found myself suddenly putting my view across about nudity and nakedness, and naturism, on social media, rather than just focusing on my writing. I do have certain opinions about these subjects; many of which I try to communicate in my fiction. I try to give a sense of fun and enjoyment of nudity; try to depict social and casual nakedness as well as the sexual side of what is enjoyable about being nude; and try to present a very "body positive" viewpoint from my characters.
I use nudism in my work too because it's a useful short-hand explanation of why a character might have no compunction about taking off their clothes in front of friends or family or even a stranger. It's an established trope, showing why a character might not have a taboo about nudity even when others around them do.
I also use nudism in my work because I enjoy writing characters, especially women, who have a certain amount of self-confidence. If you're someone who routinely gets naked with or in front of other people, you are likely to be someone who has confidence in yourself, and that is the sort of person I like to put in my stories.
What I don't like to do is what some other authors of erotica do, which is to use nudism and nudists in an absurdly cartoonish way in their fiction; for example, writing a story about a "nudist camp" which is full of partner-swapping swingers, group orgies and even incest.
That's not interesting to me as a writer, it belongs to the past, to 1970s sex comedy films full of "naughty nudists". I don't think it's very sex and I also find it very unrealistic.
What interests me more are modern day, 21st century attitudes to nakedness and nude recreation. My characters are usually young people aged 18-30, they aren't really interested in the seaside-postcard, holiday-camp version of naturism. They're more aware of things like Instagram body-positivity, the neo-hippy movement, and general changing attitudes to body shame that are happening across their generation. How do these people explore their own identity within these type of ideas? How do they explore their sexuality with them?
Sex and sexuality is often a taboo subject in naturism, for the simple reason that naturism seeks to break the instant linking of nudity and sex, arguing that mixed gender, cross-generational nude recreation is perfectly natural and not likely to produce any more sexual feelings than socialising clothed would. That's not something I disagree with personally, and I can support that with my own experiences.
But I'm also writing about sex, a lot of sex. The main narrative purpose of my books is to describe sex and relationships, and the main thing people are reading them for is the sex. I hope they also enjoy the characters and the plot but, well, it is erotica, there's going to be some fucking in there and they're going to be disappointed if there isn't.
As it happens, I think the sex in my stories is fairly soft-core. It's smutty, sure, and descriptive, but it tends to just be quite mainstream in terms of what the characters get up to. Many excellent erotic writers take their wagon far down the roads of kinky, explicit, hardcore filth but I'm happy hanging out in the parking lot.
But is the association between characters being nude and identifying as nudists, and them being described having (relatively soft-core) sex something that means my work gives a version of nakedness which naturists would find objectionable?
I would hope that it would not, and that people with an interest in both the innocent, positive side of being naked, and the fun and sexy side, find something in my work they like. Ultimately, I write what I want, but it's nice to think some people at least enjoy and appreciate it (and of course, buy the book!)
Best Friends With A Naked Girl can be read now on: