Friday, October 13, 2017

Sex as metaphor, dialogue, plot.... (#lgbtq #giveaway #paradise @FarzanaDoctor)

All Inclusive cover

By Farzana Doctor (Guest Blogger)

Greetings, everyone!

Lisabet asked me to write about the following question:

I feature many erotic authors on this blog. Given that it deals with the swinging sub-culture, would you consider All-Inclusive to be erotica? How much explicit sexual content should readers expect?

Thanks for your question—it’s one I think about a lot.

I don’t consider the novel to be erotica, but literary fiction, and I know that the lines are fine between these two genres. Readers will see seven sex scenes where the main character, Ameera, explores her sexuality, often with couples.

I was recently invited to speak on a festival panel about these distinctions. All the panellists had written novels in which the sex lives of their protagonists were front and centre and yet they all insisted that their books were not erotica, but literary fiction. What made them say that? Here’s a list of things they said about their books, and I found myself agreeing with them:

-Sex as a metaphor. In All Inclusive, it’s a metaphor for the character’s overall growth. Sex strengthens her to explore some of the other, deeper issues in her life.

-Sex as form of dialogue, sometime without words. Writers use sex to show a character’s motivations and foibles. Ameera’s sex scenes allowed me to show her in some of her best and worst moments, where she is clumsy, awkward, inspired or transformed.

-Sex as a plot device. Ameera’s choice to have sex with swinger tourists (essentially, her tour company’s customers) puts her in peril, and this is part of the plot development.

So in literary fiction, sex scenes are not there for the enjoyment or titillation of the reader (although the reader might feel titillated). In fact, the opposite might be the writer’s intent. Some my readers have told me that Ameera’s sex scenes made them nervous or frustrated because she was risking her job.

I’d love to listen to a panel of erotica writers where they talk about why they place themselves in that genre, rather than in literary fiction. Might they say they do exactly the same things that literary fiction writers say they do? As I said, the lines are fine, and sometimes even controversial. We writers like the comfort of our own genre boundaries!

I’m curious what lovers of both genres would say about all of this. Feel free to drop me a line if you have an opinion!


A story about an all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, and the tragedies we can’t forget.

What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of having to see them again.

Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her, and they both must come to terms with the reason why he abandoned her.

A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and death, and reminds us that love is neither easily lost nor found.



June 21, 1985, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I’d been watching her for a full ten minutes. She sat at the table next to mine, reading a textbook entitled Understanding World Religions. It was the first day of summer and my second last in Canada.

She absent-mindedly played with her long auburn hair, her fingers moving like a magician’s, conjuring it into a single braid. She didn’t tie off the end, and her hair eventually resisted the arrangement and pulled itself free. I nibbled my honey cruller, and waited for her to notice me. For another ten minutes, I scripted my words. I was a chatty fellow back then, but it took immense bravery to speak to a woman I didn’t know. I chided myself: what did it matter if I sounded like a fool?

That looks like interesting reading.”

She glanced up, and her cheeks blushed crimson. I loved when white girls did that. It just isn’t the same with brown girls; their pigment allows them to mute their embarrassment. The girl smiled and nodded and returned to her textbook, her lavender highlighter squeaking across the page. But I could tell she was no longer concentrating on the material.

About the Author

Farzana Doctor is the author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement (which was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 One Book One Brampton winner) and the recently released All Inclusive which was a Kobo and National Post Best Book of the Year. Farzana was named one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now”. She is also a Registered Social Worker with a part-time psychotherapy practice. She curates the Brockton Writers Series.

Twitter: @farzanadoctor
Instagram: @farzanadoctor

Buy Links

Farzana Doctor will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner and a print copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners (US Only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Farzana,

A warm welcome to Beyond Romance.

I found your answer to my question interesting, but also revealing of what I consider to be a misconception about the genre of erotica. My definition of erotica is "fiction that explores the experience of desire". In erotica, sex, or at least sexual desire, is indeed "front and center". However, well-written erotica also uses sexual interactions (or fantasies--according to my definition, erotica need not include physical sex) to move the plot forward and as "dialogue".

I found the brief excerpt above does a lovely job of portraying desire.

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Lisa Brown said...

I enjoyed reading the excerpt to get to know your book; best wishes on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Farzana Doctor said...

Thanks for posting Lisabet! Yes, you're right. Most genres overlap!

Victoria Alexander said...

Happy Friday! Thanks for sharing the great post :)

Joseph Wallace said...

Who is your favorite literary villian? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Mary Preston said...

A better understanding. Thank you.

Farzana Doctor said...

Thanks for all your comments Lisa, Victoria, Joseph and Mary! Joseph, favorites are hard, but I liked Lulu in Lawrence Hill's The Illegal:

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