I use to avoid this topic for a few different reasons. First, it's just uncomfortable to talk about. Second, I have friends that write more contemporary romance and I didn't want to come off as judgmental. Third, romance and erotica are a HUGE market, and I didn't want to alienate myself from those readers.
Over the past few years, however, I have learned a lot. There's a big difference between romance, erotica, and that darker realm that we won't even talk about. A lot of best selling authors write in the first two genres, and they're fabulous authors. People enjoy reading romance, and I certainly have nothing against the writers that pen them. In fact, I envy quite a few of them and have considered taking a stab at it myself. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't. So...why not?
Well, for me it's all about my comfort level, and who I want to tell a story to. It all goes back to the very reason why I chose to write in the first place. For me, it began when I was very young (like, in first grade). I grew up on Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, and the Hardy Boys. I inhaled books. Sometimes, I would read two to three at a time. As I grew older, I advanced to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and yes, romance. I loved Nora Roberts, just to name one big name.
When it came to writing my own books, I went back to the type of story that made me passionate about reading in the first place: clean children's fiction. This is where my current middle grade mystery series stems from. (The Samantha Wolf Mysteries) They're light-hearted, clean, and have an ultimate good message for the reader.
My young adult sci-fi trilogy, (Forgotten Origins), is a bit edgier. Again, I wanted a clean read (or close to clean), that my teen daughter could read. She was thirteen when I started outlining it and was reading the chapters as I wrote them. It was a great experience to have her be a part of the process, and I even ended up using her as a model on the third book, and for some of my ads.
I guess if there was a take-away from my experience, is that in order for someone to be successful (in anything they pursue), is that it has to right for YOU. I believe that if I had forced myself to write a steamy romance, just because I thought it would sell more books, it wouldn't have been a good story. It's not what I'm passionate about (no pun intended). I'm a HUGE scifi fan, and my brain automatically goes to that type of story line. It was second nature for me to come up with a big, intricate plot involving aliens and DNA manipulation. It was tough, and it's a hard genre to compete in, but I don't regret it for one moment.
I believe that so long as you're pursuing what you love, you will find success. You have to stay true to yourself, and not let the market push you in a direction you don't want to go. I have a ton of respect for the romance authors that I know and they're just as dedicated and committed to their stories as I am.
I chose to write clean because it's what I like to write and read, not because I have an agenda.