by K D Grace

One of the most intriguing parts of story for me has always
been the way in which the reader interacts with it, more specifically the way
in which the reader interacts with the characters in a story. I find that
interaction especially intriguing in erotica and erotic romance.

To me, the power of story is that it’s many faceted and it’s
never static. And, no matter how old the story is, it’s never finished as long
as there’s someone new to read it and to bring their experience into it. Like
most writers of fiction, I’m forever trying to analyse how a powerful story is
internalised, and why what moves one reader deeply, what can be a life-changing
experience for one may be nothing more exciting than window shopping for another.

In my own experience as a reader, there are two extremes. I
can approach a story as a voyeur, on the outside looking in from a safe distance,
or I can be a body thief at the other end of the spectrum and replace the main
character in the story with myself.

One extreme allows the reader to watch without engaging and
the other allows the reader to create sort of a sing-along-Sound of Music- ish
experience for themselves. As a reader, I’ve done both and had decent
experiences of novels doing both. As a writer, however, I don’t wish to create
a story that allows my reader to be a voyeur of a body thief.

As a writer I want to create a story that’s a full-on,
in-the-body, stay-present experience from beginning to end. I want characters
that readers can identify with and are drawn to but don’t necessarily want to
be. I want a plot that feels more like abseiling with a questionable rope than
watching the world go by from the window of a car. I want to create that
tight-rope walk in the middle. I want to create that place in story where the
imagination of the reader is fully engaged with the story the writer created.
That place is the place where the story is a different experience for each
reader. That’s the place where the story is a living thing that matters more
than the words of which it’s made up. It matters more because the reader has
connected with it, engaged with it, been changed by it. In that place, the
story and the reader are in relationship. Neither can embody the other, neither
can watch from a distance. The end result may be a HEA, the end result may be
disturbing and unsettling, but at the end of a really good read, the journey to
get there is at least as important as the end result.

Erotica and erotic romance are by their nature a visceral
experience. Though I think that’s probably true of any good story. I don’t
think good erotica can be watched from a distance any more than it can be the
tale of the body thief. While either will get you there, there’s no guarantee
that the journey will be a quality one. And I want a quality journey. I want to
come to the end wishing I hadn’t gotten there so quickly, wishing I’d had the
will power to slow down and savour the experience just a little longer. I want
to come to the end wondering just what layers, what subtleties, what nuances I
missed because I got caught up in the runaway train ride and couldn’t quite
take it all in.

A good read is the gift that keeps on giving. Long after
I’ve finished the story, the experience lingers, and little tidbits that I
raced through during the read bubble up from my unconscious to surprise me,
intrigue me, make me think about the story on still other levels, from still
other angles. When I can’t get it out of my head, when I find myself, long
after I’ve come to the end, thinking about the journey, thinking about the
characters, thinking about the plot twists and turns, then I know the story has
gotten inside me and burrowed deep. There was no pane of glass in between;
there was no body for me to inhabit because all bodies were fully occupied by
characters with their own minds and their own agendas. The experience extends
itself to something that stays with me long after the read is finished and
makes me try all the harder to create that multi-layered experience in my own