The Erotica Panel, and pics of an RNA afternoon

Last Thursday, the RNA hosted an Erotica Panel at the New Cavendish Club, near Marble Arch. Facing the audience were three people well qualified to answer questions about the current trends in erotic fiction.  They were: Hazel Cushion (Accent Press/Xcite); Donna Condon (Harlequin Mills & Boon); Gillian Green (Ebury).

Hazel Cushion, Gillian Green, Donna Condon

By the end of a really entertaining, informative, and very amusing at times, afternoon, we’d learnt that:

*  the massive boom post 50 Shades of Grey is over, but the genre is still going strong. 50 Shades of Grey created a new readership for erotic novels.

*  that the difference between a sexy, romantic novel and an erotic novel is that the sexy, romantic novel is relationship-led. Erotic fiction is more explicit and more about the sexual action than the development of a relationship, and there doesn’t have to be a happy ever after.

*  60% of male action books are sold to women. The best-selling men-on-men novels are written by women, who are good at portraying emotion. The top fantasy of women is to watch men on men.

*  erotica has its own terminology, which includes potentially confusing letter combinations, and authors new to erotica should research the terminology as they would any other genre. They should also find out first of all what isn’t acceptable.

*  the first page should draw the author in. Readers read erotic fiction to get turned on, and they need a hint and a promise from the outset.

*  publishers would like to attract silver surfers to the genre, but are finding it difficult to do so in a non-patronising way. 60% of women are size 16 and above, and there’s a line called Rubenesque erotica.

*  as with any novel, an aspiring author of erotica should read a lot of similar novels, find their own erotic voice, and write what they feel passionate about. If they don’t, they won’t draw the readers in.

Gillian Green (Ebury)  is looking for erotic romance; perhaps trilogies. Good stories. Interesting characters. New adult (15+) at 90-100,000 words.

Donna Condon (HMB) is looking for originality. Great writing and an original spin on everything else out there.

Hazel Cushion (Accent Press/Xcite) is looking for novellas, 15-to 20,000 words. Relationship led. Conflict. Hot sex at the start. Climactic ending.

And now a few glimpses of before and after the event …

Maggi Fox

Myra Kersner, Pia Fenton

Evonne Wareham, Janet Gover




Fiona Harper, Denise Barnes

Judy Astley, Roger Sanderson, Jan Jones

Sue Moorcroft


Judy Astley, Denise Barnes, Katie Fforde, Jenny Haddon

Me, with a cup of coffee

Anna Scamens, waiting for arrivals


Catriona Robb, Janet Gover

Linda Hooper, Evelyn Ryle

Jan Jones


Linda Hooper, Eileen Dickson

… Yes, the bar!

Where else would an RNA function end …


Over and out for today!

  • John Jackson:

    A “Blow Up” Moment! Check out the reflection in the mirror – bottom row, middle pic. I’m sure you saw the original film – also an erotic classic in its way.

    Also, of course, another potential plot!


    • Liz:

      That is amazing! I hadn’t noticed that. Thank you for pointing it out. As it so happens, I could do with a plot idea …

      Many thanks, John.

  • Good post, Liz. I think I should have smiled … x

    • Liz:

      I thought it a good picture of you, Sue. It’s you at a pensive moment, I agree, but I quite like it.

  • Henriette Gyland:

    Sounds like an interesting and informative meeting. Wish I could have been there, but Thursdays are bad for me. Still don’t think I’ll be picking up my pen to write erotica, though…

    • Liz:

      Nor me. I haven’t actually read any – no, I haven’t read 50 Shades. I might alter that situation, though, as we were given some books to bring home with us, which I thought very kind of Hazel, Donna and Gillian. I should have really mentioned that in the blog.

  • Jan Brigden:

    Ooh, Liz, thanks for posting this – it sounds like a really good meeting. Very enlightening. Great pics too! Xx

    • Liz:

      It was hugely entertaining. As you can imagine, some of the jokes wouldn’t have been suitable for a blog, and wouldn’t have travelled well, anyway, but it was good fun as well as being informative.

  • Great report, Liz. Wish I could have been there. The information at these events is priceless, as is the friendship. I don’t think I’ll be writing erotica anytime soon – currently, it would read like a Carry On script, but never say never…
    Laura x

    • Liz:

      It really was a fun afternoon, Laura. I’m lucky enough to live sufficiently close to London to attend the New Cav events, which are always excellent. Funnily enough, they always end up with us going to the pub round the corner …

    • Love it, Laura – I think you should go for it!!

  • John Jackson:

    BTW – the idea of the RNA having an Erotica Panel for some totally inappropriate reason makes me want to giggle!! But than, i’m only a bloke (and one who hasn’t read 50 Shades…)

    John (lol)

  • Interesting post, Liz. It’s refreshing to have a group discussion on something like this, and I’d imagine attendance would have been greater and opinions more readily given now that it’s somehow more acceptable to write and read erotic romance and erotica since 50 Shades.

    I certainly found that when I facilitated a talk at my local library on “50 Shades and ‘those’ books” a couple of months ago. Little Gisborne library had a huge turnout and was packed with women aged 25 to 75 who were very vocal in their extremely varying opinions.

    • Liz:

      Many thanks for your comment, Beverley.

      Certainly, it’s a topic that we’re unlikely to have been publicly discussing a few years ago. As the three panelists said, 50 Shades created a whole new readership – not just people who’ve never read erotica before, but also those who have never read a full length novel before. It’s too soon to know, however, if the latter group will now start turning to books in their free time, but it’s to be hoped that they do. Especially to Choc Lit books!!

      The subject was requested by RNA members, who’ve seen the growth in popularity of erotic fiction and who are hearing about the sales that it generates. The weather was against us last week and although it was a reasonable turnout, it would have been better had the weather been kinder. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this topic turn up at the RNA Conference in July.

      • John Jackson:

        Could 50 Shades turn women on to reading in the same way Harry Potter turned millions of children on to books??

        Compare & contrast!!


        • Liz:

          Linking them both is an interesting idea, John – why, it could be a PhD thesis for someone! I haven’t read 50 Shades, and I’ve read only the first of the Harry Potter books, but they both certainly have an element of fantasy, and this seems to appeal to readers of all ages.

  • Thanks, Liz, it’s great to read your informative report of the meeting, thank you… but oh, the scope for me to put my Naughty Head on! I bet there were some laughs – you’ve been very discrete.

    • Liz:

      Indeed, there were a lot of laughs, Chris! Some would come across as too rude if read cold (hmm, not sure about my use of cold), and the joke probably wouldn’t survive being taken out of context, but it was a fun afternoon. And we were given books to take home, too!

  • I wish I could have been there if only to meet mates and barrack my publisher. I can say they tried to commission me to write an erotic novella in 2011 and the research sent my blood pressure up, let alone trying to write it. I backed out of the contract. It’s much harder (snigger) than it sounds.

  • Carol McGrath:

    Very good and I feel caught up now. Great pictures and it sounds interesting. Love your hair cut, Liz. It is fabulous.x

  • Oooh, naughty – but informative! Thanks, Liz. Will I give it a go? Um… Not sure. Would like to try. My first publisher said (looking at – shhhhh – s-e-x scenes in my book, Warrant for Love) that I should submit something to their ‘Scarlet’ line. Blushed at the thought. Relationship led gives me some hope though. You never know. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Liz:

      Yes, relationship-led and erotica aren’t normally seen together. Good luck if you do try that!

      Thank you for your comment, Sheryl.

  • Fab post Liz! I wish I lived closer to London, these events always sound interesting.
    Nice to put faces to names you see on twitter, too. :O)

    Kitty x

    • Liz:

      Many thanks for your comment, Kitty. Yes, I thought it’d be interesting for others to see what the RNA members who tweet look like, although they usually a lot better than my photos make them look! I hope to be able to add a photo of you to my rogues’ gallery one of these days 🙂

  • Jackie L:

    Great post Liz
    Was intrigued to see that women fantasize about men on men! I just don’t get it. Mind you having watched a programme on 15 stone babies ( grown up’s of course- doing what babies do!) I think there must be a parallel world out there that I just can’t imagine. Just makes me want to say “God Grief!!”
    I probably fantasize about treacle pudding and cream more!
    But would like to have caught up with RNA friends; last years conference is starting to seem like a lifetime ago. x

    • Liz:

      Many thanks for your comment, Jackie.

      My fantasy is sticky toffee pudding with extra toffee sauce, that doesn’t contain a single calorie.

      I hope to see you at the conference this year, which should be great fun.

  • I’m so glad they outlined the difference between erotica (a sexual journey) and erotic romance (a romance with hot stuff!) Very interesting, I’d have loved to attend, but being in the Frozen North, and believe me, that’s not a metaphor today, I couldn’t have attended.
    For those of you interested, my publishers, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain, are both attending the London Book Fair. Both important erotic romance and erotica publishers, so if you want to know more…
    Did they mention the “3 C’s”?

    • Liz:

      The 3 C’s, Lynne? No, I think not. It was a very interesting discussion, though, and all three publishers brought in books that we could take away, which most of us did. I personally haven’t read ’50 Shades of Grey’ and I’ll be interested to see something of the genre.

      Thank you for your comment.

  • So disappointed I couldn’t be there. Sounds like the best fun this side of Xmas!

    • Liz:

      We had a brilliant time. It’s a shame that you couldn’t have been there, Susan. All the RNA meetings at the New Cav are fun, though – not to mention in the pub afterwards – and perhaps you’ll be able to make a future one. I hope so.

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