Erotica writer Sanjana Chowhan isn't afraid to tell it like it is. She is the author of the 'Office Quickies' series, and 'My Best Friend’s Brother', published on the Juggernaut app. She speaks to SheThePeople.TV about being a woman erotica writer in India, dealing with trolls and breaking the stigma around sex.
When did you start writing erotica?
I am an accidental erotica writer. I wrote a piece about being a woman on Tinder, after which my editor at Juggernaut, Trisha Bora, called and encouraged me to write erotica. I was flummoxed and said there is nothing erotic about my writing. She said I was honest and upfront in the way I write, and to give it a try.
We don’t have good erotica in the country. We only have Mills and Boon types of books. I have been trying to keep my writing urban and relatable.
I am a journalist and if I can put other articles under my name, then I should be proud to put this under my name too. I am not scared of the backlash, because I don’t think I am doing anything wrong
Many erotica writers do not write under their own names, what has it been like writing under your own name
There is nothing to be ashamed of. I am a journalist and if I can put other articles under my name, then I should be proud to put this under my name too. I am not scared of the backlash, because I don’t think I am doing anything wrong.
Also, if you are a consumer of erotica, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Erotic fiction is the most downloaded genre in India. Everybody likes to read it. So why not give readers what they like to read and be happy to give it under my name.
What is the toughest part about writing in this genre and what is the response you have gotten?
The toughest part was actually writing fiction, since I am a journalist and have only ever written non-fiction. But I am happy that there has been a good response to my writing. However, I have also received a lot of negativity on Twitter, and social media. People have said I am infusing a feminist narrative in Hindu women, I am telling men how to rape, and I was even called a retard.
Writing erotica sometimes makes men think that they have a free pass to be inappropriate with you
I don’t respond to it because I don’t like to dignify it. These things are laughable. In the beginning it was a bit upsetting and sad, but I decided to just forget about it.
Writing erotica sometimes makes men think that they have a free pass to be inappropriate with you. Once a renowned author decided to ask me about my sex life, and asked what is the wildest thing I have done.
What does it take to write a good sex scene?
A good sense of humour. It takes a lot of liberation and understanding of human emotion. There is so many emotions that go into the final act of sex even in real life, to fuel that sexual instinct. I want the nuances of women's sexuality to be understood. I want to make my scenes real. I want to talk about women stuck in marriages, who feel repressed and want to talk about their sexuality. I want to speak about homosexuality, older women, younger men, sex in different situations like the workplace or when someone else is in the room.
I want my writing to be relatable, light and funny and to make the reader feel like "I have done this too, this has happened to me too". I also want to open readers' minds.
At a time when films which explore female sexuality like Lipstick Under my Burkha are being banned, how important is it for more stories to be published and read? How do you think sex can be discussed without so much stigma?
It is laughable. I watched Lipstick Under My Burkha and it is hilarious that they wanted to ban it. We come from such a raunchy Bollywood culture. We have no qualms releasing films like 'Kya Kool Hum', which objectify women. How can we call ourselves a democracy when we we are banning films?
I think sex education is really important. Children need to know that sex is natural, at the same time they need to be taught what sexual abuse is. We cannot keep living in a repressed society.
Your stories are set in an office setting. Can you speak more about how you come up with your stories and what your writing process is like?
My first series was based on office experiences that I have seen or witnessed, heard about, and the potential about sexual tension that can arise in those situations.
My new novella is called 'My Best Friend's Brother'. I am interested in writing about women who are breaking away from repression and are in control sexually.
I keep my writing funny and snappy, because that is how I put a bit of myself in it. I am outspoken and brazen. I say it like it is.