Erotic After Dark Course - Q&A with Cate Ellink

Cate Ellink has been a South Coast Writers Centre member for several years, and we are excited to have her share her expertise in Erotic Writing. SCWC Director, Kirstin Bokor, asked her some interesting questions in anticipation of her Erotic Writing Workshop Series.

How long have you been writing Erotic Fiction?

I was first published in 2011. I don’t remember when I started, but I shared my erotic writing first in the mid-90s (yep, I’m old!) and was encouraged to continue and seek publication. It took many years before I braved that public step.

Do you write under a pseudonym?

Yes, Cate Ellink is a pseudonym. My family weren’t comfortable with me being published using my own name.

Tell us about your process: Pen, paper, word processor, how do you write?

I don’t have a particular process. I scribble on random notebooks and bits of paper. I type notes to myself on my phone when I have an idea. I type in Word documents between my day jobs. If I can, I love sitting in the evening and losing myself in a story (usually typing) but often that doesn’t happen. So I work in stolen moments of time, which is frustrating but it gets words continuously flowing even if it’s only a few at a time.

50 Shades of Grey might be the most famous example of erotic writing in recent years, can you comment on what the effect of that series was upon the genre as a whole?

I think 50 Shades shone a light on erotica/erotic writing and allowed people to comment and have an opinion. It gave exposure to something that is often confined to the shadows of society. I had hoped that it might make erotic writing a little more palatable to the masses, but, sadly, I haven’t seen any evidence of that in my circle of friends and family. But I’ve spoken to lots of readers who came to reading particularly erotic romance via 50 Shades, so the impact in the Australian romance reading community has been huge.

Anais Nin, DH Lawrence are two of the most famous erotic writers I can think of – is erotic writing an erotic scene within a larger work, or is it a genre of its own with rules?

That’s a good question. I believe it’s a genre of its own with rules. However, across the publishing industry that it’s not always the case. Books seem to get categorised ‘erotic’ when I wouldn’t deem them so.

My definition of erotic is that sex is the focus. Erotic literature plays and toys with the largest sex organ, the brain. For my mind to be engaged, I want details, or tension, or the use of a clever literary device or clever words to deliver a scene or a story. That’s where I think it’s a genre of its own and those are the ‘rules’.

I’m not looking for a book where there’s meaningless sex described in two sentences every few pages. That doesn’t engage my mind at all. And yet many books labelled ‘erotic’ are just that—a story full of meaningless sex briefly described.

Reading and writing is subjective. It’s possibly even more subjective when you’re trying to engage the erotic mind, so what suits me may not suit another. That’s where I find the beauty and the challenge of erotic writing.

Does writing sex sell?

Ummm… it does for a lot of people, unfortunately I’ve not cracked the recipe for good sales <grin> I think 50 Shades showed that a very good marketing campaign, and great word of mouth, sells books. I’m not good at that, largely because I’m still wrestling with acceptance of this sort of writing by family and friends.

If people are thinking of attending your upcoming workshop but aren’t quite sure – can you explain what they might expect? What aspects of writerly craft will we be concentrating on?

This is a writing workshop. It’ll be similar to a workshop about, say, character development or world building, except we’re going to talk about sex scenes, sexual tension and sensuality in the context of creating and writing a story.

The workshop is about creating a safe space where we can discuss erotic writing. Where we can look at erotic scenes and stories and analyse what works and what may not work. It’s a space to discuss word choices and writing techniques employed in the classics and recent erotic writing. I hope over the 4 meetings we will become comfortable as a group and we can share our writing, and possibly produce erotic short stories for publication.

I love erotic reading and writing but I’m not claiming to have any great skill or knowledge. I’ve spent years learning to feel comfortable writing explicitly and allowing that to be made public. This is not a “this is what you have to do” workshop. It’s a place for discussion, shared learning and writing.

Will you discuss strategies to publish erotic writing in these workshops?

Yes, we’ll certainly discuss some strategies and places where you can submit your work for publication. And if you’re interested in erotic writing and you haven’t found the Erotica Readers and Writers Association yet (https://www.erotica-readers.com/) I’ll make sure you know about that.

If someone is also new to erotic writing, can you share with us some of you favourite authors or books that you’ve read?

I began reading the Marquis de Sade (I had no idea what I was asking for when I requested it at the library!). Then I went on to John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill) and Anonymous’ The Romance of Lust. I moved into more modern books (this was in the 90s) and read Anne Rice (who was writing erotica as Anne Rampling and A N Roquelaure), Toshba Learner, and anthologies by Maxim Jakubowski and Susie Bright. More recently I’ve enjoyed Krissy Kneen’s career and writing development, and Kate Belle’s The Yearning and Being Jade.

I’ve quite an eclectic mix of erotic books. Pre-ebooks, it wasn’t as easy to find erotic novels in Australian libraries and bookshops. It’s so much easier now.

My reading is often erotic romance because that’s the genre I’m writing in, but I love reading anthologies to find new and interesting voices and style. I’ve been lucky enough to be published in anthologies by Rachel Kramer Bussel and Rose Caraway.


Featured Image Source: Harper Collins Australia

Written by SCWC

Posted on September 25, 2019