I met Michal Scott at a writer's conference last September, and all the writer/participants had the same reaction: "Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance? They let you do that?"
What impressed me so much about Michal is her engaging, down to earth personality and absolute joy and commitment she has to her work—no matter what form it takes—and to life.
Now, I'm Catholic (stop laughing) and my erotica is generally of the pagan variety. I don't think any traditional religion would appreciate my writing, and in fact, they'd likely banish me to eternal damnation.
But as with many vocal religious figures who strayed from the righteous path, the realities of their life and life experiences are much different than what they would have us believe. Witness the scandals facing the Roman Catholic Church as well as those of numerous Christian denominations.
So I applaud Michal for acknowledging that men and women of any faith, or no faith, can rejoice in the pleasures of sexuality without denying it's a basic and necessary human need--and write about it in a frank and realistic manner.
I've read some of Michal's stories. She was a finalist in the RWA Passionate Ink Chapter's Stroke of Midnight Contest, and I think it's safe to say we're going to see more of her work in print and on line. Go to her website and see read samples of Michal's truly inspired and poetic prose.
Can you tell us something about your background and how you define Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance?
I'm an ordained United Church of Christ minister and have been in ministry for thirty years, first as an ordained Presbyterian elder in 1980. I've been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2003.
I define Christian erotica as writing which explores the connection between our spiritual selves and sexual selves. The seeds for my Christian erotica were planted during my seminary days when because of feminist theology I discovered Christian mystics like Julian of Norwich and the love mystics of Begijns. In Christian erotica the partners are the protagonist and God. Because my goal is to achieve in my fiction the same ecstatic level conveyed and experienced in the prayers of these mystics only an erotic heat level will do.
Christian erotic romance is more than an inspirational romance with sex. When I write a Christian erotic romance it's always (or at least) a threesome. The partners are hero, heroine and God (or any others if you're writing about a ménage.) Again the spiritual dimension (or faith arc) is the driving force in the story. The sex is an indicator of the depth of the connection to God, i.e that procreative energy defined in the Christian New Testament (I John 4:8 - Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.) And again, for me only an erotic heat level does justice to the sexual/spiritual journey of my hero and heroine. In execution the difference between my Christian erotica and Christian erotic romance is the context. The hero and heroine's faith journey is always centered in/through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
What are the markets available for these genres, and is it a new phenomenon or one that has been operating under the covers for a while?
I belong to a group called Christian Erotic Romance Writers. Looking at their titles and the markets they sell in I would say it's been a phenomenon that has been operating under the covers for a while. Erotic publishers like Red Sage and Samhain are publishers I'm targeting. But I get surprises too. I got a request for a full from Harlequin Blaze, a line I would have thought too tame for what I write. We'll see.
Are your readers older, younger, in between, or both?
I'd say both. Possibly my age fifties and younger. But I have to admit it was one of my shut-ins (a woman in her eighties) who turned me on to romance.
Do you write in other genres, and if so, which. What is your favorite thing to write?
I write inspirational romance and have a book with White Rose Publishing entitled Through A Glass Darkly. I also write gothic romance and have a novella entitled Haunted Serenade coming out in Red Rose Publishing's Shadowed Hearts series. I must say erotic flash fiction is becoming my favorite thing to write.
Which piece of your writing is the most important or emblematic for you and why?
I have to say the erotica because I get to delve into the types of questions that called me in to ministry in the first place, namely, the journey to become ourselves and reconnecting that self with others and with the love that created the universe.
How do your family, friends, and associates feel about you writing in these genres, if they even know?
Everyone knows I write inspirational and gothic romance and are quite proud of me. I'm particular about who I share my erotica/erotic romance with. My female clergy colleagues get it right away and love it. My husband gets red in the face when he reads over my shoulder, but cheers me on. His qualm isn't with the heat level. It's the spirituality he can't buy into. (He's an atheist.)
You are a clergywoman who writes erotic fiction, and you're married to an atheist. Is this a function of your denomination being more accepting and permissive than most, or just a tribute to your personal strength ministerial abilities?
I think it's more a function of being in love. But I do know that being in a denomination that cares as much about "doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before God" (Micah 6:8) as it does about saving souls didn't hurt.
What I mean by this is, how do you capture the attention of those whose beliefs are so different than yours without alienating them?
By really taking Micah 6:8 to heart. You can't walk humbly before God if you're looking down your nose at other people or deciding their worthless because you don't agree with them. The core message of the gospel of Christ is it's all about love. Not judgment.
Do you think your newfound interest in erotic fiction is a function of being "older and wiser" as evidenced by the influence of your elderly shut in friend? Which, by the way, makes me think of Ursula LeGuin who wrote of "luxury love" in her collection Changing Planes.
Most definitely. When we're young and dumb we think we know it all, but as we experience more of life, we learn there's more to life than we'll ever know.
LOL! Young and dumb. I remember being worried how my grandmother, who was a devout Catholic (lighting candles, praying to saints, etc) would react when I told her I was getting divorced. She was so incredibly supportive. I think we underestimate the wisdom and insight that living instills in us.
Can you tell readers what is the best way to stay up to date on what you're writing and new releases?
Right now signing the guestbook on my website is the best way. I hope to launch a Facebook pan page and a blog after Thanksgiving.
Thanks for being here today, Michal. And for a fascinating look at a genre I had no idea even existed. And I thought I was brave writing a five flame novella.