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Fifty Shades of Grey and the Next Phase of Erotic Romance by Kaia Bennett

by on January 27, 2015

Unless you’ve been living alone under a rock—and that rock is on a planet in a galaxy far, far away—you’re probably aware that a movie adaptation of E.L. James’ bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey is hitting a local theater this February. Valentine’s Day, to be exact.

Since it’s an incredibly polarizing book series, whether that is a good or a bad thing is up to the individual in question. Did you watch the trailer as you kissed your Jamie Dornan poster while Beyonce’s Crazy In Love remix played in the background? You’ll probably think this is a good thing.

Or, did you sob over a bonfire, where the kindling used was all the copies of the book you could get your hands on, before the Beygency came to take you away for saying you hated the remix in public? You’ll probably think this movie is a bad thing.

If you’re me, you don’t fall into either of these camps. If you’re me, you didn’t even read the books, so you’re positioned in a nice, cozy neutral space, prematurely eating Valentine’s Day chocolate and waiting for the reviews. I’ll probably catch it eventually on HBO.

I’m not immune to its cultural effect though. Take the Buzzfeed vid above, which has me alternating between being weirdly turned on (Eugene Lee Yang, call me, baby!!! Seriously watching him respond to being topped was hot) and hysterically laughing (OMG Keith. OMG). But it does, as an erotic author, make me wonder about the next phase of my writing, and the next phase of erotic romance in general.

BDSM isn’t news to me. I’ve always found facets of it very hot as a reader, but I’m not in the lifestyle. On paper, my characters usually engage in the dominance/submission aspects of BDSM, but it’s not particularly scripted. They don’t identify as Dominant and Submissive out loud, there’s no safe words or equipment used, and that’s out of respect for the community, which I don’t want to portray incorrectly just for the sake of the titillation factor. It’s also just true to their characters. I’m not writing about BDSM, I’m writing about hot, rough sex and the emotional upheavals that come with mixing love into the equation.

There’s not a lot of planning involved in these kinds of sex scenes from the characters’ standpoint. It’s messy and my protagonists are slaves to the moment and their desires. This may have been a mistake on my part, but I always thought the reason I gravitated towards that instead of say, the bondage and discipline aspects of BDSM was because I didn’t want to explore such precise and deliberate actions in my work. Well, at least not yet. Like rope play for example. I’ve been outwitted by knots in my shoelaces before. Every time I try to imagine trying it/writing about it, I imagine myself having JD-from-Scrubs type daydreams where it all goes horribly wrong.

But I digress. I think the main question that comes up when I see the success of Fifty Shades and the tidal wave of erotic romances in general, is how can you keep pushing yourself as a writer? How do you keep from boring yourself, pigeon-holing yourself, or becoming a slave to your own preconceived notions? How do you write what you love and reach as many people as you can? How do you make a living at this without becoming a cog in the machine, a flavor of the month in a genre that’s looking for the next hot buzzword?

Many people found BDSM sexy way before Fifty Shades, and they’ll find it sexy long after the movies are in the can. They’ll move on to other stories whether they be kinky or vanilla. What will be working on in that time as writers?

For me, it’s never been about writing the most popular genre of the moment. It was about writing what intrigued me, writing the story I wanted to read. I thought as a writer BDSM wouldn’t necessarily be my thing, but like this video suggests, even if you hate Fifty Shades it has shown us that there is an interest in BDSM, a market for it. Even I, an individual who says let your freak flag fly on the regular, realized something while watching this hilarious vid. I kinda like the idea of a man being topped. I usually write submissive but strong females. What if the tables were reversed? How would I tackle that in my own writing?

And isn’t that what every author eventually asks themselves? How can I make this different somehow? How can I put my own spin on it?

The whole thing has made me mull over aspects of my writing , aspects I’d come to accept. I claim I like the spontaneity involved in certain aspects of D/s in my work, but at the end of the day it’s all scripted. I’m writing it that way, constructing these moments to feel spontaneous and wild and somewhat kinky. I’m in control every step of the way. What if I wrote a woman like that? If you don’t want to write the same thing over and over again, these are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself. I don’t know how I’ll answer them, or if I ever will, but it’s fun to think about.

It will be interesting to see what 2015 holds for us who love to read and write erotic romance. Perhaps it’s not just the beginning of the Fifty Shades movie franchise, or the emergence of mainstream acceptance of kink. Perhaps it’s the beginning of writers like myself—who already consider themselves free and accepting—thinking outside of the box. And hopefully readers will enjoy tagging along for the ride.

Kaia Bennett is a native of New Jersey, a college graduate and U.S. Army veteran who loves music, movies, astrology, tattoos, martial arts, animals and, of course, the written word. She heard the siren call of the writer as a teenage girl, but took her sweet time answering it until she had lived and loved enough to share her work with the masses.

She is an erotic author who loves to write stories with diversity, depth, realism and viscerally hot encounters that flirt shamelessly with the taboo. A lover of all genres and a voracious reader, she aims to write stories that are transformative for her characters and readers alike.

Kaia can be reached at

For more information please visit the following:

Twitter: @KaiaBennett


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